Cultura teologica e ideologia nei Collectanea di Anastasio il Bibliotecario, con l’edizione critica e il commento del dossier documentario per Giovanni Immonide
1The doctoral thesis in Medieval Latin Literature, entitled « Cultura teologica e ideologia nei Collectanea di Anastasio il Bibliotecario, con l’edizione critica e il commento del dossier documentario per Giovanni Immonide », was directed by Prof. Francesco Santi. The thesis was presented on October 14, 2014, at the Institute of Human and Social Sciences-Scuola Normale Superiore of Florence.
2The thesis explores the reality of the papal culture and of internal Roman affairs during the second half of the ninth century, with particular reference to one of its major player, Anastasius the Librarian. The study focuses on the analysis of Collectanea, a collection of fifteen translations prepared by Anastasius at the request of John the Deacon whose intention was to arrange an ecclesiastical history. This attempt did not see in fact a realization : the hoped historiographical work was not – as far as we know – written. The study provides access to Anastasius creation process – how he obtained the sources and how he used them in his translations –, highlighting the relationships between intellectuals of the time, to clarify the complexity of the literary and ecclesiological project faced by Anastasius.
- 1 Scripta saeculi VII vitam Maximi Confessoris illustrantia, ed. P. Allen and B. Neil, Turnhout/Leuv (...)
3Since now studies on Collectanea have focused on the last seven pamphlets that are closely related to the life and works of Martin I and particularly of Maximus the Confessor ; Bronwen Neil and Pauline Allen devoted two books to this texts1 but their interest is focused primarily on Maximus the Confessor and Martin I and the role of Anastasius as a vehicle of transmission. The first eight documents of the Collectanea are crucial for the understanding of the relationship between theology, diplomacy and political power in anastasian thought. Till now this part of the Collectanea didn’t obtain particular attention because, unlike the other sections – as we will see further –, doesn’t relate directly to the lives of Maximus the Confessor or Martinus I ; this eight pamphlets reveal the difficult political state of the VII century and the relationships between East and West, a situation very similar to that experienced by Anastasius, that had do deal with the Photian schism and the debate on papal infallibility.
- 2 The events are described within the Life of Benedict III (Liber Pontificalis, ed. L. Duchesne, Par (...)
- 3 The charges were formalized during a synod convened by Hadrian II, held on October 12, 868, in San (...)
- 4 Gesta sanctae ac universalis octavae synodi quae Constantinopoli congregata est Anastasio biblioth (...)
- 5 Cf. Annales Bertiniani, ed. G. Waitz, op. cit., p. 92.
4In the first chapter I provide an overview of the historical background in which acted Anastasius, considering the political situation of the Holy See during the ninth century and the relations with the Carolingian and the Byzantine Empire ; the Librarian’s life was punctuated both by scandals and political success : on one hand he was often called upon to justify his rebellious behavior, as in the case of election to anti-pope after the death of Pope Leo IV2 and his possible involvement in the murder of the wife and daughter of Pope Hadrian II3, while on the other side was recognized his value when he played a key role in the condemnation of Photius and delivered into the hands of Hadrian II the acts of the Eighth Ecumenical Council deemed lost4. Anastasius was an invaluable collaborator of Nicholas I and of Hadrian II, who then gave him in 867 the office of Bibliothecarius romanae Ecclesiae5.
- 6 P. Chiesa, « Dal culto alla novella. L’evoluzione delle traduzioni agiografiche nel medioevo latin (...)
5Hallmark of his abilities was the mastery of the Greek language : Anastasius wrote, translating, twelve hagiographical works, two concerning ecclesiastical historiography, two regarding theology and was responsible for the translation of the acts of two ecumenical councils (seventh and eighth). In general he is interested about the personalities and works that have historical-political, ecclesiastical and theological features that could suit his propaganda purposes, within the project of claiming papal primacy and authority. His translating choices do not arise from cultural or liturgical needs : his works are part of a precise political project whose aim is to assert ecclesiastical autonomy and the primacy of the Papacy, against the claims of both the Byzantine and the Carolingian Empires6.
6The aim of the second chapter is to analyze the structure of Collectanea with a focus on the political situation of the seventh century, on the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius and his role in the theological debate, on the rise of monothelite dispute and the views of the popes from Honorius I to Martin I.
- 7 For the Life of John the Deacon see P. Chiesa, « Giovanni Diacono », in Dizionario Biografico degl (...)
- 8 The title Collectanea was given by the first editor of the dossier J. Sirmond, since the only manu (...)
- 9 Monothelism (the view that Jesus has two natures but one will) is a development of the monophysite (...)
- 10 Anastasii Bibliothecarii, Epistolae sive Prefationes, ed. E. Perels and G. Laehr, Berlin, 1928 (MG (...)
7Between 871 and 874 Anastasius sent to John the Deacon7 the so-called Chronographia Tripertita, a collection of texts by Nicephorus, Georgius Syncellus and Theophanes, while at the end of 874 he gave him the dossier of Collectanea8, concerning the monothelite controversy9, consisting mostly of works on Pope Martin I and Maximus the Confessor. Through the letters Anastasius attached to the two works, it is clear the intention to use both the collections for the same project. The ecclesiastical history that would result should have been the higher point of their cooperation : would spread the views of the Church of Rome around the disputes regarding council decisions and formulation of dogma, representing a sort of historical-theological encyclopedia. Anastasius himself explains his interest for papal history, especially the most ancient times, asserting that one cannot ignore the past and that history is essential for the understanding of the present time : Non enim […] modicae fructum utilitatis carpit, qui priscorum relegit actus10.
- 11 C. Leonardi, « Le lettere prologo di Anastasio Bibliotecario », in P. Lardet (éd.), La tradition v (...)
8There cannot be a right political life and even a proper theological science if there is no respect for the past ; only by learning from the tradition it is possible to build a political and intellectual positive thought11. In a time where political power and religion continued to face each over, through theological disputes, Anastasius feels the need to review the past so much like to his present, to show the sanctity of the Roman Papacy and its role as guardian of doctrinal orthodoxy. Pope Martin I and his companions not only become symbols but are elevated to the role of precursors of a fight at the same time doctrinal and political. Unfortunately nothing has survived of this hypothetical Historia designed by John the Deacon, except the preparatory works of Anastasius.
9The structure of Collectanea can ideally be divided into three sections that cover chronologically the main stages of the theological-dogmatic debate : the first group consists of works (composed between 640 and 646) that look at the causes and beginnings of monothelite heresy, the theological issues linked to the dispute and includes documents written by pope John IV, Maximus the Confessor and pope Theodore I :
- 12 CPL 1729 ; PL CXXIX, 561-566.
Apologia pro Honorio papa12
- 13 CPG 7697  ; PL CXXIX, 568-574 partim.
Tomus dogmaticus ad Marinum presbyterum13
- 14 CPG 7697  ; PL CXXIX, 573-576.
Diffloratio ex epistola s. Maximi ad Petrum illustrem14
- 15 CPG 7697  ; PL CXXIX, 577-578 partim.
Excerptum ex epistola s. Maximi de processione Spiritus Sancti15
- 16 CPL 1732 ; PL CXXIX, 577-582.
Sanctissimi Theodori papae synodica ad Paulum patriarcham Constantinopolitanum16
- 17 CPL 1732 ; PL CXXIX, 581-582.
Exemplar propositionis transmissae Constantinopolim a Theodoro17
- 18 CPL 1732 ; PL CXXIX, 581-584.
Theodori sanctissimi papae ad episcopos qui consecraverunt Paulum18
- 19 CPG 7702 ; PL CXXIX, 583-586.
Commemoratio quid legati Romani Constantinopoli gesserint [epistola sancti Maximi scripta ad abbatem Thalassium]19
- 20 BHL 5593-5594 ; CPL 1734.
- 21 This group is the only section that can be found also in a codex held in Roma, Vallicelliana, t. 9 (...)
10The second group covers a period of time ranging from 653 to 656 and consists of the Narrationes de exilio et morte s. Martini20 translated by Anastasius between September and October, 874. The Narrationes includes two letters of pope Martin I – Quoniam agnovit and Noscere voluit –, the Commemoratio eorum – an anonymous account of the trial of the pope in Byzantium – and two other letters of Martin I – Indicamus germanae and Omne desiderium21.
11The third group includes letters and document of and about Maximus the Confessor, pope Martin I and the other martyrs of the Orthodox faith, covering the events that took place between 655 and 658 :
- 22 CPG 7736 ; PL CXXIX, 604-622.
- 23 CPG 7701 ; PL CXXIX, 622-623.
Epistola Maximi ad Anastasium monachum discipulum suum23
- 24 CPG 7725 ; PL CXXIX, 623-625.
Epistola Anastasii ad monachos Calaritanos24
- 25 CPG 7735 ; PL CXXIX, 626-659.
Disputatio inter Maximum et Theodosium Caesareae Bithyniae25
- 26 CPG 7733 ; PL CXXIX, 659-682.
Epistola ad Theodosium presbyterum Gangrensem26
- 27 CPG 7968 ; PL CXXIX, 681-690.
12The third chapter on one hand provides an overview of the anastasian linguistic features and on the other shows the ideological and doctrinal operation that Anastasius pursues in his works ; what can be called Anastasius’ language must be understood through two different levels : the language that is proper to him, that set of syntactic rules, vocabulary and stylistic preferences he uses in his personal correspondence and the language of his translations, which results from the rules he follows translating and his personal form of language expression. It is a very complex relationship that originates from his way of working out the theory of translation from the greek, the availability of the Greek sources, and his ability in translating. What Anastasius seeks to achieve is an intermediate technique which on one hand is based on a literalism that respects the arrangement of the words, on the other on a syntactic yield correct in Latin, which becomes even more complete thanks to glosses that allow a better understanding of the text. This translating model is well described in his prefatory letter to the Collectanea :
- 28 Anastasii Bibliothecarii…, op. cit., p. 423, 26-8.
13Verum nos sic et haec et alia interpretandi propositum sumpsimus, ut nec ab ipsa verborum usquequaque circumstantia discessisse noscamur nec pro posse a sensus veritate decidisse videamur28.
14This original technique is closely connected with the philological awareness of Anastasius, who in his prologues shows how his work was not restricted to simple translation but also included significant additional information necessary for the interpretation of the text, such as information relating to the author of the work, the way it was written and its history, insights on the issues discussed and the existence of any previous translations. This usually leads to translations in which Anastasius does not observe fixed rules but follows different dictates, which often change in relation to the problem that had to be faced.
15This chapters are followed by the ratio edendi and the edition of the Collectanea ; through the prefatory letter we can establish that Anastasius had a particular interest for the texts of the first group, the only ones he widely explains to John in his letter ; these were hardly considered by modern scholars and I realized the first modern critical edition, also providing an updated list of biblical quotations ; to realize the task, since the pamphlets have survived in a single manuscript – Paris, BnF, lat. 5095, fol. 3r°-58v° –, I decided to preserve the text as it appears in the codex, keeping the medieval Latin forms and preserving orthographic variants. Following the edition of the pamphlets of the first group I provided the other texts of Collectanea, to give the chance of a complete reading of the work and thus show the overall image that actually Anastasius wanted to give to John the Deacon. For the Narrationes I provided an overhaul of the edition contained in B. Neil, Seventh-Century Popes and Martyrs : The Political Hagiography of Anastasius Bibliothecarius Turnhout, 2006 (Studia Antiqua Australiensia), based on a more careful interpretation of the text contained in Paris, BnF, lat. 5095 and together with a second apparatus reporting lessons from Epistolarum Decretalium Summorum Pontificum II Roma 1591, pp. 605-16 edited by Antonio Carafa ; for the works of the third group I presented the text reproduced in Scripta saeculi VII vitam Maximi Confessoris illustrantia ed. P. Allen and B. Neil, Turnhout/Leuven, 1999 (Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca, 39). In the appendix there is an italian translation of the Narrationes de exilio and an updated index of anastasian writings.
- 29 Anastasii Bibliothecarii…, ibid., p. 426, 1-3.
16Anastasian translations are definitely linked to political-diplomatic purposes, but they cannot be reduced only to this mere function and he cannot be considered as a simple performer of a cultural program ongoing in the early medieval papal Rome ; it is undeniable that he had a personal interest in this activity, a passion for the Latin style and speaking, for the recovery of the past that could be achieved in spite of the Greek sources ; when he describes the content of the pamphlets translated into Collectanea, it is with pride that he tells John that stilus epistolarum – of pope John and Theodore – Latina redolet eloquentia, ex quo liquido constat non Grece illas, sed Latine fuisse dictatas29. But all this work had a very specific purpose : Anastasius is related to an intellectual tradition that starts with the story of Pope Martin (649-655) and continues with the dispute of the Filioque (809-880) through the iconoclast crisis (727-843) ; he needs to justify from a doctrinal point of view his diplomatic needs. This doctrinal justification does not negate the virtue of the doctrine, his being held true by its proponents ; Anastasius shows a great strength in advancing debates active in his time, proving a strong intellectual awareness. He does not simply develop theories that could be useful for his political party but supports them with his intellectual activity. And this is particularly clear when Anastasius writes about the Honorian dispute in his letter to John, showing that this issue was crucial to defend papal primacy among his opponents ; his focus on the Christological aspect is functional to an ecclesiology, in an attempt to develop a real self-consciousness of the Papacy, which constitutes the basis for a doctrinal justification that has among its precursors Gregory the Great – which provides the theoretical basis on waiver to use ambiguous expressions for diplomatic reasons – and among its successors the great fortune of texts regarding the Filioque during the Council of Florence (1431-1439).
17The theological understanding becomes the basis of the anastasian project, and therefore of the political action of the Papacy, reinforcing the historical role of the latter ; attention to the liturgical aspect and the formulation of faith dogmas provides a further feature of this ideological construction since the Church reveals herself in them. All those who are part of this Church, who recognize themselves in Trinitarian theology developed through the councils, are led by the pope, the successor of Peter, chosen by Christ in human history, around which the entire humanity gathers and differs from the political forces that arise and disappear within the story itself.
1 Scripta saeculi VII vitam Maximi Confessoris illustrantia, ed. P. Allen and B. Neil, Turnhout/Leuven, 1999 (Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca, 39) ; B. Neil, Seventh-Century Popes and Martyrs : The Political Hagiography of Anastasius Bibliothecarius Turnhout, 2006 (Studia Antiqua Australiensia).
2 The events are described within the Life of Benedict III (Liber Pontificalis, ed. L. Duchesne, Paris, 1892, t. 2 p. 141-144).
3 The charges were formalized during a synod convened by Hadrian II, held on October 12, 868, in Santa Praxedes ; cf. Annales Bertiniani, ed. G. Waitz, Hannover, 1883 (MGH, Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum, V), p. 95.
4 Gesta sanctae ac universalis octavae synodi quae Constantinopoli congregata est Anastasio bibliothecario interprete, ed. C. Leonardi and A. Placanica, Firenze, 2012.
5 Cf. Annales Bertiniani, ed. G. Waitz, op. cit., p. 92.
6 P. Chiesa, « Dal culto alla novella. L’evoluzione delle traduzioni agiografiche nel medioevo latino », in C. Moreschini and G. Menestrina, La traduzione dei testi religiosi, Brescia, 1994 p. 153-154.
7 For the Life of John the Deacon see P. Chiesa, « Giovanni Diacono », in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, t. 56, Roma, 2001, p. 4-7 and L. Castaldi, « Le dediche di Giovanni Immonide », Filologia Mediolatina, 17 (2010), p. 39-68.
8 The title Collectanea was given by the first editor of the dossier J. Sirmond, since the only manuscript that transmits the collection as a whole (Paris, BnF, lat. 5095, fol. 3r°-58v°) doesn’t have any title or indication ; even Anastasius doesn’t choose a title, introducing each text as an independent section.
9 Monothelism (the view that Jesus has two natures but one will) is a development of the monophysite position ; the debate in Byzantium was particularly active for the need to create unity among the various dissident groups (religious and political). Patriarch Sergius I sent a letter to pope Honorius I in which he claimed silence on controversial expressions and asking his opinion : the answer of the pope was ambiguous and he used a different terminology that produced more disagreements. When Heraclius in 638 promulgated the Ecthesis in an attempt to impose monothelitism, strong pressures were made so that Rome also accept the new doctrine : the roman see refused and became the reference point of all dissidents, those who were in disagreement with the emperor. This tensions culminated with the arrest of pope Martin I in 653 (elected without the imperial iussio) formally accused of supporting the traitor Olympius but in fact he was guilty of having held the lateran synod that condemned monothelism. Pope Martin was brought to Byzantium were he was sentenced to exile in Cherson (were he died in 655).
10 Anastasii Bibliothecarii, Epistolae sive Prefationes, ed. E. Perels and G. Laehr, Berlin, 1928 (MGH, Epistolae VII, Karolini Aevi 5), p. 421 ; 1, 19-21.
11 C. Leonardi, « Le lettere prologo di Anastasio Bibliotecario », in P. Lardet (éd.), La tradition vive. Mélanges d’histoire des textes en l’honneur de Louis Holtz, Paris/Turnhout, 2003, p. 385-389.
12 CPL 1729 ; PL CXXIX, 561-566.
13 CPG 7697  ; PL CXXIX, 568-574 partim.
14 CPG 7697  ; PL CXXIX, 573-576.
15 CPG 7697  ; PL CXXIX, 577-578 partim.
16 CPL 1732 ; PL CXXIX, 577-582.
17 CPL 1732 ; PL CXXIX, 581-582.
18 CPL 1732 ; PL CXXIX, 581-584.
19 CPG 7702 ; PL CXXIX, 583-586.
20 BHL 5593-5594 ; CPL 1734.
21 This group is the only section that can be found also in a codex held in Roma, Vallicelliana, t. 9, fol. 166-173 ; cf. A. M. Giogietti Vichi and S. Mottironi, Catalogo dei manoscritti della Biblioteca Vallicelliana, t. 1, Roma, 1961, p. 152-162.
22 CPG 7736 ; PL CXXIX, 604-622.
23 CPG 7701 ; PL CXXIX, 622-623.
24 CPG 7725 ; PL CXXIX, 623-625.
25 CPG 7735 ; PL CXXIX, 626-659.
26 CPG 7733 ; PL CXXIX, 659-682.
27 CPG 7968 ; PL CXXIX, 681-690.
28 Anastasii Bibliothecarii…, op. cit., p. 423, 26-8.
29 Anastasii Bibliothecarii…, ibid., p. 426, 1-3.Haut de page
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Silvia De Bellis, « Cultura teologica e ideologia nei Collectanea di Anastasio il Bibliotecario, con l’edizione critica e il commento del dossier documentario per Giovanni Immonide », Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales d’Auxerre | BUCEMA [En ligne], 19.2 | 2015, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2015, consulté le 27 février 2017. URL : http://cem.revues.org/14242 ; DOI : 10.4000/cem.14242Haut de page
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