Only every once in a while, does enough material remain to truly bring to life a person who is long gone. This is the real deal, and when it comes along, historians, paleographers, and editors alike rejoice.
While the notion of the ‘dark’ Middle Ages is – thankfully – no longer fashionable, the Carolingian Renaissance, its reform efforts, educational system, book production, continue to inspire. It will come as no surprise that Augustine was, once again, at the center of this intellectual riches.
I will give you a taste of Bede’s many accomplishments, not the least of which is his instrumental role in the diffusion of Augustine’s works.
Like all his other works, Augustine’s sermons were taken across the Mediterranean and copied and recopied throughout the Middle Ages. A crucial link in this chain of sermon manuscripts was Caesarius of Arles, who lived from c. 470 to 542 AD.
I would label him one of Augustine’s first editors, publishers, and publicists, because, just like a modern editor, Eugippius did three things to make his author a success.
Imagine putting pen to paper today and copying down a text in longhand. What are the chances it will still be around by the year 3500 AD? What would that require?
How did Augustine’s writings take their first, crucial steps in a centuries-long journey? How did they succeed in defeating the odds?