Review by: June-Ann Greeley, The Classical Outlook - May 18, 2004
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.
Review by: James Cox, Midwest Book Review -- Internet Bookwatch - October 1, 2003
A. W. Godfrey
1000 Brown Street, Wauconda, IL 60084
0865165432 $40.00 bolchazy.com
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.
Review by: David Standen, JACT Review - September 1, 2003
MEDIEVAL MOSAIC. A BOOK OF MEDIEVAL LATIN READINGS, Aaron W. Godfrey, Bolchazy-Carducci; 2003; p/b; £28.00; ISBN 0-86516-543-2
G has produced a commendable volume of selections from the period of Late and Medieval Latin for students who, he claims, `have completed at least a year of beginning college Latin.' He is certainly broad in his scope, with passages from the late 2nd/3rd century CE right up to some renaissance pieces from the 151 CE: he includes most of the big names of that period of 1300 years. Perhaps he has been a little over-ambitious in covering such a wide period in a book of some 300 pages? Perhaps, but he does it well, and there is sufficient here to whet the appetite of any student, and indeed of any casual Latinist who may be looking for something other than Cicero to read. The book is well produced with notes on each text at the foot of each page: this, I always feel, encourages the student to read more fluently as there is no need to turn to the back for the notes. He has included a very brief (three pages) glossary of words in the back, but is keen to point out in several places that any decent Classical Latin dictionary will cope with most words: he even directs the reader to such medieval Latin dictionaries as do exist currently.
In a five-page explanation of some features of Medieval Latin, G is at pains to point out that, for example, the diphthongs ae and oe become e, yet many examples of ae can be found throughout the book. Also he lacks the consistency which I feel is necessary to enable intermediate Latinists to cope with the vagaries of the medieval period: for example, on p. 173 he writes huius, yet on p. 218, hujus: on p. 51 we have festinaueramus, yet on p. 89 there is vvlpis. These are presented without explanation, either in the footnotes or in the introduction, to the student: while this may be suitable for a classroom, for a casual reader this may prove confusing and ultimately off-putting. Two final points also occur: are we still ascribing the Te Deum to St. Ambrose rather than St. Nicetas of Remesiana? When did the spelling of Sidonius Apollinaris change to Appolinaris?
DAVID STANDEN - St Mary the Virgin, Prittlewell