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Medieval Mosaic: A Book of Medieval Latin Readings Paperback – April 1, 2003

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0865165434 ISBN-10: 0865165432

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Medieval Latin has long suffered from a history of misinformation that relegates its study often to the corners of pious seminaries or requisite graduate school courses. Classicists have long decried Medieval Latin as the regrettable devolution of a formerly glorious language. Such an attitude is, of course, as fallacious as it is ill-informed, and the perspicacious scholar of Latin has realized the wealth of delightful material there is available in the corpus of 'medieval Latin' for study and instruction, and the great number of medieval texts that will delight, amuse, touch, and inspire the eager Latinist. In his Medieval Mosaic: A Book of Medieval Latin Readings, A. W. Godfrey has afforded the student of Latin in both high school and college the opportunity to sample some of the best and most beloved Latin Literature from Middle Ages, and the generosity of his selection is assurance that there will be a rich variety of textual appeal. To be sure, from the 'age of faith,' many of the readings assume a religious or miraculous cast, but that should not deter anyone from use of the book: such readings are the authentic voice of the era, and to hold fast to historical accuracy, a book of Medieval Latin readings would be fraudulent if they were not readings incorporating religious sentiments. However there are also other genres represented in Medieval Mosaic: the earthy poems of folk life from the Carmina Burana; the self-absorbed musings of the philosopher Abelard in his memoir History of my Misfortunes, and the colorful recollections of the indiscreet Gregory of Tours in his History of the Franks. Godfrey also performs a great service to the Latin student by including material from every medieval century, the fourth the fifteenth, so that students are able not only to enjoy a wide survey of Medieval Latin material, but also to observe the subtle shifts in the Latin language as it moved progressively away from common parlance and into the revered halls of cathedral schools and universities. The collection of readings is prefaced with a perhaps too brief review of Medieval Latin philology, but, with the student of classical Latin in mind, Godfrey demonstrates some of the syntatical and semantic shifts that occurred in the language naturally over time. Each page is footed with a simple apparatus of the specifics of translation, or clarification of theme or imagery in the 'Supra' reading; each reading is prefaced with a brief mention of historical context of both author (if known) and the content to be read. The volume closes with abbreviated addenda that comprise a list of specifically Medieval Latin words, and a bibliography of medieval history and Medieval Latin anthologies: one would have hoped for lists of wider scope and annotation. Nonetheless, Medieval Mosaic is an appropriate and engaging compilation for use by intermediate Latin students, and it is a wonderful venue with which to introduce students to the notion of Latin as an organic idiom, one that did not die with the passing of Tacitus or Lucan, but persisted for centuries in diverse and novel venues. --June-Ann Greeley, The Classical Outlook

Language Notes

Text: English, Latin
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865165432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865165434
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
Medieval Mosaic: A Book Of Medieval Latin Readings by A. W. Godfrey (Department of Classics and European Languages at SUNY Stonybrook) is an excellent and enthusiastically recommended instructional text for intermediate-level students of the Latin language, and offers more than 75 selections of medieval Latin excerpts ranging from Tertullian, to The Nicene Creed, to the writings of St. Augustine, and more. An invaluable addition to academic Latin Studies instructional materials resource collections, the extensive annotations allow for close study and practice of the classic and instructional Latin language. Also very highly recommended is Professor Godfrey's beginning Latin textbook, Introducing Latin, which is currently in its 6th edition.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Randaal on September 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
A. W. Godfrey's Medieval Mosaic was the chosen text for my Medieval Latin class, but we were forced to discard it in favor of another text due to numerous typos and oversights. We compared typos in passages found throughout the text with a number of other versions of the Latin only to find that the vast majority of the errors were unique to Godfrey's edition. In many cases, misspellings were apt to cause confusion and mistranslations while Godfrey takes a number of liberalities when discussing peculiar uses of the Latin. My class' excited and hopeful approach to the text was quickly replaced with exasperation. Ultimately, we decided to take up Harrington, Pucci and Elliot's text because it offers better commentary, more thorough footnotes, and above all, significantly fewer typos.
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In Medieval Mosaic: A Book of Medieval Latin Readings, Godfrey has done a decent job of compiling (very) brief selections from a wide range of authors - both renown (Augustine, Boethius, and Aquinas) and less well known - ranging from Late (some might say closer to Mid-) Antiquity to the Renaissance. With that said, his work has many flaws.

First, Godfrey's introductions are frustratingly terse. They fail to appropriately historically contextualize the authors, and they do not place the selections themselves in their actually literary context. Thus, they the leave the reader disoriented when he begins trying to struggle through the selections.

Second, that struggle is only aggravated by the brevity of the selections. Not knowing the context (the first problem), the reader must begin reading at a seemingly random point in the narrative. By the time the reader has determined what is happening in the text, it is the end of the selection.

Third, Godfrey's footnotes are utterly unhelpful. Rather than offering definitions of uncommon terms, parsings of rare forms, and explanations of each author's own turns of phrase, Godfrey does not offer hardly any help.

In sum, this work might succeed as a reader for someone with an especially advanced knowledge of Latin, but it fails as an introduction to Medieval Latin for intermediate students (and beginning students would be totally lost in its pages).
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tara Overton on March 14, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a latin student. I do not have the strongest grip on the language. So if a student finds it justifiable to exploit the incompetency of this book, and by default its writer and editor, perhaps you can comprehend how terrible of an idea it is to buy or use this book.
The letters 'V' and 'U' are loosely interchangeable throughout latin, to a point. That point being if a word has one of each, you must either not change them, or change them both. Not only is this stupidity riddled throughout the book, there are sentences that are plagues repeatedly but the same absurdity. The blatant disregard for spelling and punctuation is insulting to the language, and I don't even like latin. The notes explain things that are understandable and things that are confusing are left unaddressed. Spelling mistakes that create new words for ancient latin make translating a joy, because their personal renditions render the words nonexistent.
The compiler chose writers who's own comprehension of latin were already atrocious interpretations of latin. The people that spoke latin had a difficult time understanding the writings, and he introduces half of them with an explanation basically saying that *this writer's latin sucks.*
This book is difficult because the compiler and editors of these works are apparently incompetent. At risk of others not taking me seriously, I will explain; unless you speak latin with at least some higher level fluidity, any attempts to translate without using at minimum one latin dictionary, WilliamWhitakersWords.com, and every latin note you've ever written, every expletive you know will leave your mouth multiple times, you will frequently utter "what?", and you will state or question on multiple occasions the idiocy of the literal makeup of the book.
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