Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/636

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other Greek manuscripts (one being an early and famous Catena on St John's Gospel), and two copies of most of the Old Testament in Hebrew are the striking features among the Biblical books. In the patristic section is a volume transcribed for the Cardinal which contains certain works then of very rare occurrence: Optatus of Milevis Against the Donatists, Origen De Principiis, Tertullian's Apology, and The Shepherd of Hernias. There are moreover two early Cyprians, and copies of the Latin versions, old or recent, of works of Athanasius, of Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelien, of Cyril, of Philo, of Aristeas, and of Dionysius. In addition to these, the presence of the earlier polemics against the Mohammadans, of works of Raymond Lull in great profusion, and of the new versions of Plato and Aristotle, gives a special character to this forgotten storehouse. In spite of the losses it has suffered, the library of Cues is to be reckoned among the most perfect and unadulterated examples that have survived of the collection of a single scholar of the middle of the fifteenth century.

So much as to the formation of libraries in various parts of Europe, and of its relation to the Christian Renaissance. We have designedly devoted a considerable space to this side of our subject, inasmuch as it has not as yet been adequately appreciated by the generality. To most men the study of inventories and catalogues seems dry work; but the evidence derivable from it is of a kind not easily to be upset. It must be remembered, besides, that the existence of these libraries did not affect their possessors only. Most of them were thrown open to students of all classes; so that they were centres not only for the preservation of literature, but for a wide and rapid diffusion of knowledge. We may have occasion to recur shortly to the topic of book-preservation. At present two other subjects intimately connected with the development of learning in the fifteenth century appear to require comment.

The first is the work of those who made translations of the newly imported Greek literature. The fact that very many of those who welcomed the fresh materials for study were unable to use them in their original forms needs little explanation. Petrarch himself never mastered Greek. But, whichever of several readily intelligible causes it was that gave rise to the demand for translations, it is certain that they were actually made in great numbers. There was, as we have noted, a considerable stock of them, of older date, already in circulation. Works of Origen, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, and Chrysostom were all available. Many of these, and particularly those by Burgundio of Pisa, were, or were accounted, obscure and barbarous: many other works of the same authors had never been current in Latin at all. There was thus room for a fresh translation of a whole literature. We have already encountered by the way the names of some of those who put their hands to the work. Probably the most important