Andreae Alciati Contra Vitam Monasticam Epistula - Andrea Alciato’s Letter Against Monastic Life

Critical Edition, Translation and Commentary

Dennis Drysdall

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Criticism of monastic life by one of Europe’s major Renaissance figures
In his letter Against Monastic Life (1514–17) Andrea Alciato, an Italian jurist and writer famous for his Emblemata, urges his friend Bernardus Mattius to reconsider his choice of monastic life. Alciato makes his argument by criticizing religious superstition, the Church’s hierarchy, and monastic practices, particularly the Franciscans’ hypocrisy, wealth, and divisiveness. Instead, he defends a stoic, civic humanism. Due to the troubled history of this unique manuscript and the inadequacies of the two subsequent editions, Alciato’s discourse has been obscured for centuries. This edition and translation seeks to make clear the biographical importance of the text for one of the major figures of the European Renaissance.

— Acknowledgements
— Introduction
— Appendices
— Note on the Text and Translation
— Text and Translation
— Index of Names

Format: Text edition - ebook

ISBN: 9789461661333

Publication: July 04, 2014

Series: Supplementa Humanistica Lovaniensia 36

Languages: English | Latin

Denis Drysdall is a Research Associate and retired Associate Professor of Romance Languages of the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Both the introduction and the translation of the Latin letter will doubtless interest anyone concerned with Alciato himself and his emblems, but also with questions relating to religion in the early modern period. It would be impossible to write about monasticism without coming to terms with the Franciscan order.
Peter M. Daly, McGill University, The Renaissance Quarterly, Volume 69, Number 4 | Winter 2016

Drysdall's edition is very well done, and the translation is excellent and very readable. The value of the work lies in the clear influence of Erasmus. Alciato refers by name to Erasmus's 1516 New Testament, the Instrumentum novum (101), and it is the source of Alciato's biblical quotations. There are also about thirty references to and quotes from Erasmus's Adagia. Likewise, Erasmus's letters to Alciato are in his Correspondence, and Alciato is cited by Erasmus in the Adagia. This edition shows the concerns of an Italian Catholic at the time of the start of Protestantism, and the arguments are similar to those that engulfed greater figures such as Erasmus and Luther in controversies.
Bruce McNair, THE NEO-LATIN NEWS Vol. 63, Nos. 3&4