The Pope’s Shoes: Cultural Glosses by Guy Jouenneaux in Badius’ 1493 Edition of Terence’s Comedies

A paper by K. O. Chong-Gossard, University of Melbourne for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 13 March in the Mcmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts.

The invention of the printing press with movable type in the mid-15th century revolutionized the study of the classics, and it is no surprise that one of the most popular printed authors was Terence, whose six Latin comedies had been indispensable in the education of schoolboys for centuries. Terence’s comedies contain many references to ancient customs and to figures from classical mythology, some quite direct, others oblique. For late-15th century readers unfamiliar with all aspects of antiquity, the significance of an invocation to Juno Lucina or the mention of a psaltria in a character’s speech could be lost. This paper examines how the commentary of Guy Jouenneaux (a.k.a. Guido Juvenalis), which was printed in Badius’ 1493 edition of Terence, explains the background of ancient cultural references in the plays. Examples in the Eunuchus alone include military terms like centurio and cornu, the etymology of peniculon (a long sponge), and the myth of Hercules and OmphaleMost notably, Jouenneaux describes Omphale’s sandals as similar to the pope’s shoes worn at the celebration of mass, which is itself a reminder to us that late 15th Europeans no longer wore sandals. By examining such cultural glosses, and in particular his erudite quoting of ancient writers (Cicero, Ovid, Sallust, Varro, and Festus being frequent), we can understand more precisely what Jouenneaux means in his first epistle (printed in Badius’ edition) when he proclaims his intention to explain every small detail (minima quaeque) of the Latin for students whose desire for learning (discendi cupiditatem) is hampered for lack of a teacher or lack of money.

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