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Barbarian interest in the Excerpta Latina Barbari

Barbarian interest in the Excerpta Latina Barbari

By Benjamin Garstad

Early Medieval Europe, Vol.19:1 (2011)

Abstract: Joseph Justus Scaliger dubbed the text of Parisinus Latinus 4884, the sole surviving witness to a Merovingian Latin translation of a now lost Greek world chronicle, the Excerpta Latina Barbari. The name was essentially a judgement on the linguistic abilities of the translator, but it is suggestive. What is there in the chronicle to appeal to the ‘barbarian’ inhabitants of Gaul? An answer to this question can offer some insight into the provenance of a neglected, but intriguing text. It will be proposed that the Greek original of the Excerpta was composed as a gift for the Austrasian king Theudebert I and was intended to elicit his aid in the war against the Ostrogothic rulers of Italy. The translation is another matter. It seems to have been undertaken about two centuries later in the context of the missionary push to the north and east from Frankish territory.

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