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Introduction – The Transformation of the Classics. Practices, Forms, and Functions of Early Modern Commenting

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Chapter Summary

Niccolò Perotti, Archbishop of Siponto, composed an extensive commentary on the first book of Martial's epigrams that numbered more than 1,000 folio pages, which would be some 3,000 modern standard pages. Perotti's commentary on Martial represents an extreme form of early modern commenting; nevertheless, it may serve as a paradigm for the processes by which early modern commentators transformed the texts of antiquity. Among the early modern intellectuals, the humanists excelled as the most prolific commentary writers, text editors, and collectors of knowledge, with an almost irresistible inclination to comment on all kinds of texts. On the history of commentaries in the classical tradition, there exists an excellent lexicon entry by Anthony Grafton. Tacitus was used as the central author in vivid debates on politics, especially with regard to the foundation of the monarchy and the attitude of the ruler toward changing religious matters.

Keywords: Anthony Grafton; early modern commentaries; Niccolò Perotti; Tacitus



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