Johannes Scottus Eriugena


Life
?810-877 [var. 1180; ‘Irish-born’, occas. Erigena; err. Scotus Erigena, and occas. Duns Scotus or Scottus; not to be confused with John Duns Scottus]; served at court of Charles the Bald, c. 847 [var. Court of Charles II, c.851]; translator (858) and interpreter of neo-Platonic theology of Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, De Praedestinatione, condemned at Council of Valence, 855, and described as ‘pultes Scotorum’ (‘Irish porridge’); De Divisione Naturae (c.866); De Divisione condemned by Honorius III, 1225; placed in Index, 1685; commentary on the Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius;
 
according to tradition, he was killed by students when abbot of Malmesbury, though more likely he never left France; Bishop Ussher referred to him as Scotus Erigena in his Veterum epistolarum Hibernicarum sylloge (Dublin 1632); there was a life by John Colgan, who first claimed him as Irish (1655); his works were edited H. J. Floss in Migne’s Patrologia Latina; There is a modern edition of Periphyseon edited by Jeaneau (?1998); the standard biographer is James O’Meara. ODNB DIW DIB OCEL FDA OCIL
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Works
Luke Wadding et al., eds., Johannes Duns Scotus [sic], Opera Omnia, 12 vols. (1637; rep. Hildsheim: Olms 1968-69); Myra Uhlfelder, trans., Periphyseon [ On the Division of Nature] (USA: Bobbs-Merrill 1976); Michael W. Herren, ed., Iohannis Scotti Eriugenae ‘Carmina’ [Scriptores Latini Hiberniae, 12] (School of Celtic Studies 1993), viii, 179pp.

His poem “Homer Once Sang of the Greeks and his Trojans” is anthologised in the Penguin Book of Irish Poetry, ed. Patrick Crotty (2010).

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Criticism
J. J. O’Meara, Eriugena (Cork: Mercier 1969); The Mind of Eriugena: Papers of a Colloquium, Dublin, 14-18 July 1970, ed. John J. O'Meara & Ludwig Bieler(Dublin: IUP for RIA [1973]), xlii, 199pp. [incls. contribs. in English, French and German]; Dermot Moran, ‘Wandering from the Path’, in Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies (1982), pp.244-50; rep. of same in Crane Bag, 2. 1&2 (1978); Moran, ‘Nature, Man, and God in the Philosophy of John Scottus [sic] Eriugena,’ in Richard Kearney, ed., The Irish Mind (1985) also Dermot Moran, The Philosophy of Eriugena (C[ork] UP 1989).

See also John J. O’Meara, Studies in Augustine and Eriugena, ed. Thomas Halton (Washington: Catholic UP 1993), 375pp.; James McEvoy & Michael Dunne, eds., The Irish Contribution to European Scholastic Thought (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2009), 320pp.

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Commentary
W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984), cites commentaries on Martinus Caella’s De Nuptiis Mercurii et Philologiae (between 410 and 439) by Irishmen Dunchad, Eriugena, and Martin of Laon [16]. Further, Eriugena referred to Ulysses’s recognition by his dog [Argus] in De Divisione Natura, 3, 738C (Migne) [88]. Eriugena, asked by Charles the Bald with whom he was sitting at dinner, ‘Quid distat inter sottum et Scottum?’, answered courageously, ‘Tabulum tantum’ [‘the table’] [174]. Eriugena, known as Johannes Scottus; The Division of Nature (De Divisione Naturae), composed 862-66; neo-Platonist and Christian; based in his study of Chalcidius’ Latin translation and commentary on Plato’s Timaeus and his own translations of ‘Dionysius the Aropagite’ and Maximus Confessor, as well as St. Augustine. De Divisione takes the form of a dialogue between teacher and student; classifies phenomena in four categories, that which creates but is not created; that which is created and creates; that which is created and does not create; that which does not create and is not created.’ Stanford comments on its fluent Latin style, after Bieler. Quotes: ‘Sicut ergo lapis ille qui dicitur magnetes, quamuis naturalli sua uirtute ferrum sibimet propinquans d e attrahit nullo modo ut hoc faciat se ipsum mouet aut a ferro aliquid patitur quod ad se attrahit, it rerum omnium causa omnia quae ex se sunt ad se ipsam reducit sin ullo sui motu, sed sola suae pulchritudinis uirtute. [‘... so the Cause of all things leads back to itself all things that derive from it without any motion of its own but sole by the power of its beauty’ [192-93]. Further: Besides his obvious veneration for classical Greek thinkers, he apparently admired contemporary scholarship of 9th c. Constantinople; an epigram to the effect that that city is the new Constantinople has been attributed to him, ‘Constantinopolis florens nova Roma vocatur. / Moribus et muris Roma vetusta cadis.’ According to William of Malmesbury, he actually went to Athens ( De Gestis Pontificum Anglorum, 5, p.240; cf. C. H. Slover, ‘William of Malmesbury and the Irish’, in Speculum 2, 1927, 268-83). His admirers included [Pope] Sylvester II. Archb. Ussher mentions him in Veterum Epistolarum Hibernicarum Sylloge (1632), and probably presented two MSS of writings by him to the Library of TCD; Sir James Ware included him in his account of the writers of Ireland. In the late 19th c., William Larminie made a partial translation of the De Divisione Naturae, still unpublished [in 1984]. [Stanford, 193-94]. Bibl., The Mind of Eriugena, ed. J J. O’Meara & L Bieler (Dublin 1973), papers of the Dublin Colloquium of 1970. [notes, 200] Bibl., J. J. O’Meara, Eriugena (Cork 1969); I. P. Sheldon-Williams and L Bieler, eds., Ioannis Scotti Eriugena Periphyseon (De divisione Naturae). Liber Primus (Dublin 1968); Liber Secundus (Dublin 1972), the translation supplied in notes by by Sheldon-Williams; a third vol. to follow. ALSO L. Bieler, ‘Remarks on Eriugena’s Original Latin Prose’, op. cit., n.34.

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References
Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, selects from Lumine Sidereo Donysius Auxit Athenas; Hellinas Troasque Suos Cantarat Homerus; De Divisione Naturae; and Periphyseon, etc. BIOG & COMM, incl. M. Lapidge and R. Sharpe, A Bibliography of Celtic-Latin Literature 400-1200 (RIA Dictionary of Medical Latin from centic Sources, ancillary Publications 1 (RIA 1985, nos. 695-713, pp.183-92; also several Latin and French sources, incl. E Jeauneau, Jean Scot, commentaire su l’évangile de Jean, Source chrčtiennes, CLXXX (Paris: Edition du Cerf 1972).

James O’Meara, Eriugena (Mercier 1969), lists H. Hovelaque [professeur au lycée Saint-Louis], Anthologie de la Littérature irlandaise des Origines au XXe siècle (Paris Libraire Delagrave 1924), extracts: sur la raison; sur la procession des idées' son panthéisme; les cause premiers (pp.82-82).

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Notes
Is/Is not: Eriugena defined ‘his area of investigation as nature, which for him included all that is, and all that is not.’ (Dermot Moran, ‘Nature, Man and God in the Philosophy of John Scottus Erigena’, in Richard Kearney, ed., The Irish Mind, Dublin: Wolfhound 1985, pp.218-37).

Pelagius (aka Pelagius Brito, or Britannicus): the eponymous heretic of Pelagianism fame was called British by numerous contemporaries such as Augustine, Orosius, Prosper, and Marius Mercator but St. Jerome explicitly ridicules him as a ‘Scot’ (habet enim progeniem Scoticae gentis de Britannorum vicinia), who being ‘stuffed with Scottish porridge (Scotorum pultibus proegravatus) suffers from a weak memory.’ See The Catholic Encyclopaedia online; accessed 23.03.2010 - link supplied by Patrick Maume on the Irish Diaspora E-List.)

John Duns Scottus, author of Quaestiones quotuor voluminum scripti Oxoniensis Super Sententias, a R. P. Salvatore Bartolucio (Haeredes Melchioris Sessae 1580), [14, 798, [8]pp. [1st of 4 vols.]; Quaestiones Quolibetales Ionnnis Duns Scoti" (Ioannis Salis 1617), and Collationes, seu Disputationes feliciter incipiunt a F Paulino Berti Lucense (Ioannis Salis, 1618), 478, [2]pp, 210, [3]pp., colophon [16th and 17th c. vellum copies resp. held by Hyland Books and hearing faint stamp of English College, Rome, listed at €1,500 and €1,800 (Hyland, Cat. 260, 2011).

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