Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/374

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Italian city states. Noteworthy among these were the famous priores artis at Florence. These were appointed governors of the Florentine republic when the Companies of the Arts seized the government in 1282.

The term prior was most commonly used to denote the superiors in a monastery, at first with an indefinite significance, but later, as monastic institutions crystallized, describing certain definite officials. In the Rule of St Benedict and other early rules the titles praepositus and praelatus (see Prelate) are generally used, but 'prior is also found signifying in a general way the superiors and elders in a monastery. When used by St Benedict in the singular number it seems (according to the commentator Ménard) to denote the abbot himself. At a later date in the order of St Benedict the title was applied to the monk next in authority to the abbot, though this usage was not adopted technically until the 13th century. In some monasteries several priors were to be found and generally at least two. Thus we find the terms prior, sub-prior, tertius prior, quarlus prior, quintus prior. The first prior was sometimes called prior major, sometimes prior claustralis. Occasionally both titles are found in one house, the latter ranking below the former. The first prior acted as vicar in all matters in the absence of the abbot, and was generally charged with the details of the discipline of the monastery. With the foundation of the order of Cluny in the 10th century there appeared the conventual prior who ruled as head of a monastery, but was subject in some degree to the archiabbas of the mother-house of Cluny. The Regular Canons later gave this title of prior to the heads of their houses, as did also the Carthusians and the Dominicans. It was in houses of these orders that the sub-prior became a regular official. Among the Dominicans the head of a province is known as the “prior provincial.” In the order of St John of Jerusalem (q.v.) a priory was a group of commanderies ruled by a “grand prior.”

The term prior was applied also in the middle ages in a very general manner. Thus there was the prior scholoe or leader of the choir, prior scriniariorum, &c.,

See Du Cange, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis, new edition by L. Favre (Niort, 1883, &c.); Sir William Smith and S. Cheetham, edd. Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (1875-1880).

(E. O'N.)

PRISCIAN [Priscianus Caesariensis], the celebrated Latin grammarian, lived about A.D. 500, i.e. somewhat before Justinian. This is shown by the facts that he addressed to Anastasius, emperor of the East (491-518), a laudatory poem, and that the MSS. of his Institutiones grammoticae contain a subscription to the effect that the work was copied (526, 527) by Flavius Theodorus, a clerk in the imperial secretariat. Three minor treatises are dedicated to Symmachus (the father-in-law of Boëtius). Cassiodorus, writing in the ninety-third year of his age (560? 573?), heads some extracts from Priscian with the statement that he taught at Constantinople in his (Cassiodorus's) time (Keil, Gr. Lat. vii. 207). His title Caesariensis points, according to Niebuhr and others, to Caesarea in Mauretania. Priscian's teacher was Theoctistus, who also wrote an Institutio artis grammatical. Priscian was quoted by several writers in Britain of the 8th century—Aldhelm, Bede, Alcuin—and was abridged or largely used in the next century by Hrabanus Maurus of Fulda and Servatus Lupus of Ferrières. There is hardly a library in Europe that did not and does not contain a copy of his great work, and there are about a thousand MSS. of it. The greater part of these contain only books i.–xvi. (sometimes called Priscianus major); a few contain (with the three books Ad Symmachum) books xvii., xviii. (Priscianus minor); and a few contain both parts. The earliest MSS. are of the 9th century, though a few fragments are somewhat earlier. All are ultimately derived from the copy made by Theodorus. The first printed edition was in 1470 at Venice.

The Institutiones grammatical is a systematic exposition of Latin grammar, dedicated to Julian, consul and patrician, whom some have identified with the author of a, well-known epitome of Justinian's Novellae, but the lawyer appears to be somewhat later than Priscian. It is divided into eighteen books, of which the first sixteen deal mainly with sounds, word-formation and inflexions; the last two, which form from a fourth to a third of the whole work, deal with syntax. Priscian informs us in his preface that he has translated into Latin such precepts of the Greeks Herodian and Apollonius as seemed suitable, and added to them from Latin grammarians. He has preserved to us numerous fragments which would otherwise have been lost e.g. from Ennius, Pacuvius, Accius, Lucilius, Cato and Varro. But the authors whom he quotes most frequently are Virgil, and, next to him, Terence, Cicero, Plautus; then Lucan, Horace, Juvenal, Sallust, Statius, Ovid, Livy and Persius. His industry in collecting forms and examples is both great and methodical. His style is somewhat heavy, but sensible and clear; it is free, not of course from usages of Late Latin, but from anything that can be called barbarism. Its defects may be referred in the main to four heads. (1) Priscian avowedly treats Greek writers on (Greek) grammar as his supreme authorities; and bears too little in mind that each has a history of its own and is a law to itself. (2) There had been no scientific study of phonetics, and consequently the changes and combinations of languages are treated in a mechanical way: e.g. i passes into a, as genus, generis, generotum; into o, as saxi, saxosus; q passes into s, as torqneo, torsi, &c. (3) The resolution of a word into root or stem and inflexional or derivative affixes was an idea wholly unknown, and the rules of formation are often based on unimportant phenomena; e.g. Venus, like other names ending in us, ought to have genitive Veni, but, as this might be taken for a verb, it has Veneris. Ador has no genitive because two rules conflict; for neuters in or have a short penult (e.g. aequor, aequoris), and adoro, from which it is derived, has a long penult. (4) The practical meaning of the inflexions is not realized, and syntactical usages are treated as if they were arbitrary or accidental associations. Thus, after laying down as a general rule for declinable words that, when they refer to one and the same person, they must have the same case, gender and number, Priscian adds that when there are transitive words we may use different numbers, as doceo discipulos, docemus discipulurn. He often states a rule too broadly or narrowly, and then, as it were, gropes after restrictions and extensions.

His etymologies are of course sometimes very wild: e.g. caelebs from caelestium vitarn ducens, b being put for consonantal u because a consonant cannot be put before another consonant; deterior from the verb detero, deteris; potior (adj.) from potior, potiris; arbor from robnr; verbnm from verberatus aeris, &c. Nor is he always right in Greek usages.

Priscian's three short treatises dedicated to Symmachus are on weights and measures, the metres of Terence, and some rhetorical elements (exercises translated from the Προγυμνάσματα of Hermogenes). He also wrote De nomine, pronomine, et verbo (an abridgment of part of his Institutiones), and an interesting specimen of the school teaching of grammar in the shape of complete parsing by question and answer of the first twelve lines of the Aeneid (Partitiones xii. versuum Aeneidos principalium). The metre is discussed first, each verse is scanned, and each word thoroughly and instructively examined. A treatise on accents is ascribed to Priscian, but is rejected by modern writers on the ground of matter and language. He also wrote two poems, not in any way remarkable, viz. a panegyric on Anastasius in 312 hexameters with a short iambic introduction, and a faithful translation into 1087 hexameters of Dionysius's Periegesis or geographical survey of the world.

The best edition of the grammatical works is by Hertz and Keil, in Keil's Grammatici latini, vols. ii., iii.; poems in E. Bährens' Poetae latini minores, the “Periegesis” also, in C. W. Müller Geographi graeci minores, vol. ii. See J. E. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship (ed. 1906), pp. 272 sqq.

PRISCILLIAN (d. 385), Spanish theologian and the founder of a party which, in spite of severe persecution for heresy, continued to subsist in Spain and in Gaul until after the middle of the 6th century. He was a wealthy layman who had devoted his life to a study of the occult sciences and the deeper problems of philosophy. He was largely a mystic and regarded the Christian