THE INDEX TO ,PETRARCH'S LATIN WORKS AS
A SOURCE OF LA CELESTINA
F. Castro yGuisasola, in his Observaciones sobre las fuentes literarias de
La Celestina (Madrid, 1924), first drew attention to the use in La. Celestina
of entries from the index to Petrarch's Latin works. His treatment of the
subject (pp. 138-142 of his book) is not, however, full, as he himself admits;
nor is it free from inaccuracies. Another attempt to cover the same
ground may not, therefore, be entirely valueless.
Classic authors-the auctores of medieval education-were not read
simply for their literary value. As Dr. Curtius has shown, they were
regarded as authorities as well as authors'. They were valued for their
sententiae, or moral and philosophic comments. Wise readers were those
who, as the Pr6logo to La Celestina says,
las sentencias e dichos de phi16sophos guardan en su memoria para
trasponer en lugares conuenibles a sus autos ~ prop6sitos.
To transfer senientiae to a work of one's own was to enhance its values,
Readers were expected to recognize them,' and this recognition added a
certain intellectual pleasure to the moral benefit derived. So highly were
sententiae valued that lists of them were compiled and circulated: in the
index to Guillermo Antolin's Catdlogo de los codices latinos de la Real
Biblioteca del Escorial (Madrid, 5 vols., 1911-1923), there are such works as
P'Ublilius Syrus : Sententiae; Senecae sententiae, and Sententiae philoso-
There had always been additions to the canon of auctores in theology; towards the end of the Middle Ages, other non-theological writers
began to be elevated to the rank of auctores. Prominent among these was
Petrarch, largely because of his Latin prose works, and when a definitive
printed edition appeared, it was natural for it to include, as a form of index,
an alphabetical list of sententiae abstracted from the text. This edition
was published in 1496; three years, that is, before the first known edition
1 Emst Robert Curtius, European Literalu,e Q,ftd 1M Latin lYfiddlz Ages (tr. ,,"lillard R..
Trask, 1953), pp. 51-61.
. â€¢ Cosme G6mez, writing in the 17th century, describes La Celestina as aquelkÂ» breve obra
lI,na d, donai,es y graues sentencias.
â€¢ This last, a 14th century Ms, Q. I. 14 in the catalogue, contains extracts from 33 pagan
and Christian poets and prose-writers.
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