Martiani Capellae De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, Libri I-II, edited by Lucio Cristante; translation by Luciano Lenaz; commentary by Lucio Cristante, Ireneo Filip, Luciano Lenaz, with an unedited essay by Pietro Ferrarino, Hildesheim 2011 (Bibliotheca Weidmanniana, 15).
The De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii is a prosimetrical work - technically a satura Menippaea - divided into nine books and written by Martianus Capella, probably in the first part of the 5th c. (see author card). The author imagines that he is telling his son Martianus (1.2) the fabula of the marriage feast of Mercury and Philology (Books 1-2). The dowry that Mercury offers Philology consists of seven virgines; these represent the seven artes liberales, and each one demonstrates to the gathered divinities the basics of her eponymous discipline: Grammar (Book 3); Dialectic (Book 4); Rhetoric (Book 5); Geometry (Book 6); Arithmetic (Book 7); Astronomy (Book 8); and Music (Book 9). The work is thus something of a metaliterary joke, since Martianus develops an educational plan that is first of all configured as a recovery of the encyclopedic disciplines and of their epistemological status (Cristante 2008; Schievenin 2009). Martianus is not only concerned to do this, however, but reorganizes these artes and guarantees their transmission by entrusting his senilis fabula to his son (9.997). Philology, as the only person qualified to preserve and to organize the totality of knowledge, is to be the guide of these disciplines (Cristante 2008; Ferrarino 2011). Her leading role is articulated chiefly in the encomium that the nine Muses sing for her, which is punctuated by the antiphon: Scande templa, virgo, digna tanto foedere: te socer subire celsa poscit astra Iuppiter (2.117-26). This summa of knowledge has an extraordinary reputation in the medieval period, which took from Martianus the organization of knowledge into seven disciplines that was itself the basis for the future trivium and quadrivium (Nuchelmans 1957). Due to the popularity of this text we have a remarkable number of complete or partial manuscript witnesses (234 according to the tally of Leonardi 1959-60), for which the first printed edition was only prepared in 1499 (at Vicenza, by the press of Enrico di Ca’ Zeno da Sant’Orso). [G. Cattaneo; tr. C. L. Caterine].