Vintage Books

CL.Claudiani Opera – 1665

This is the second edition of the works of the Roman poet Claudius Claudianus produced by Nicolaas Heinsius, 1620-1681, who was the only son of Daniel Heinsius. It was first published in 1650. Nicolaas never held any academic post. Let us see what Sandys tells about this genius: ‘His practice in versification, his wide reading in classical and post-classical Latin, and his knowledge of Greek literature made him an accomplished scholar. As a textual critic he had acquired an extensive knowledge of various readings by his study of MSS’. And: ‘In making his selection from the vast mass of variants, he was guided by a fine taste and a sound judgement acquired by long experience’.

And: ‘His editions of the Latin poets laid the foundation of the textual criticism of those authors, and he has thus obtained the title of ‘sopitator poetarum Latinorum.’ (Sandys 2,323/327). Heinsius consulted, he says in the praefatio, for his first edition some 28 manuscripts, ‘viginti enim & octo fere ad manum fuerunt, ut vides’. Among these were 2 from the University Library of Leiden, and 2 from the Bodleian. Also 2 that were in the possession of the successor of Plantin, the publisher Balthasar Moretus, manuscripts that were originally used for the Plantin edition of Claudian by Pulman. (Antwerp, 1571) Heinsius rebukes Pulman for having neglected one of these, which he calls ‘insignis’ and ‘probus’. Pulman used it sluggishly, ‘oscitanter’. Heinsius consulted also 3 manuscripts which the French librarian and collector of manuscripts Alexander Petavius (Petau) had send him, one of the Royal Library, one of his own, and one owned by J.A. de Thou (Thuanus). After his edition of 1650 Heinsius continued to consult during his diplomatic travels through Europe 10 ‘bis quini’ other excellent manuscripts containing texts of Claudian.

Heinsius gives in the new praefatio to this second edition, written 14 years after the first edition, ‘ante annos hosce plus minus quatuordenos’ a dazzling account of the books and manuscripts he consulted for the new edition. We also get a glimpse of the huge network of scholarly friends of which Heisius was a member.

This second edition was published, so the title says, by Cornelis Schrevelius, who took his doctoral degree in Paris as a Doctor of Medicine in 1627. Hence C.S.M.D., that is Cornelis Schrevelius Medicus Doctor. He taught classics at the Schola Latina at Leiden, where he had been raised himself. In 1642 he succeeded his father, Theodorus Schrevelius, as the rector (Moderator) of the school. He died in 1664, a few days after having completed this edition of Claudian. He raised at least 11 kids, and fell victim to the plague. (A.M. Coebergh van den Braak, Meer dan zes eeuwen Leids Gymnasium, Leiden, 1988, p. 47/55); includes also his portrait). The involvement of Schrevelius in publishing a new edition of Claudian was limited to the necessary, but ungrateful task of the beast of burden.