Chapter

Moral Philosophy and Wisdom Literature

Charles F. Briggs

in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature

Published in print January 2016 | ISBN: 9780199587230
Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191820410 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587230.003.0015

Series: Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature

Moral Philosophy and Wisdom Literature

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Later medieval England shared a culture of moral philosophical learning and literature which drew from a wide array of classical and late antique authorities, chief among them being Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Valerius Maximus, Vegetius, Martin of Braga, and the Disticha Catonis, as well as from biblical wisdom literature and several Arabic texts that posed as ancient works. For the most part, however, these works were not consulted directly but rather via medieval intermediaries, especially the compilations of the thirteenth-century Franciscan John of Wales, Jacobus of Cessolis’ De ludo scaccorum, John of Wales’s Policraticus, and Giles of Rome’s De regimine principum. If clerks were wont to consult the Latin originals of these works, lay readers and writers, including Langland, Gower, Chaucer, Hoccleve, and Lydgate, were more likely to avail themselves of vernacular translations of them as well as translations and adaptations of several of their ancient sources.

Keywords: moral philosophy; cardinal virtues; mirror of princes; translation; Aristotle; Cicero; Seneca; Valerius Maximus; Vegetius

Chapter.  11079 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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