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MA/ResMA Tutorial Latijnse taal/literatuur: “Marius Victorinus, Liber de definitionibus“


Admission requirements

This course is open to master students in Classics and research master students in Classics and Ancient Near-Eastern Civilisations. Completed BA Classics.


In 1888 Thomas Stangl published the first and last critical edition of this short treatise on the 15 ways of definition, which had been attributed to Boethius for ages, until in 1877 Hermann Usener discovered that it was in fact written by the 4th century Roman professor of rhetoric Marius Victorinus. Stangl based his edition on three 10th century manuscripts, two from Munich (where he lived and worked as a school teacher) and one from Bern, and on the vulgate text printed in Migne’s Patrologia latina. Today we know of more than 20 manuscripts containing the Liber de definitionibus, so that a new critical edition is surely needed.
After a short introduction on Victorinus, the theory of textual criticism and paleography we will examine the text based on the new manuscript evidence and (hopefully) be able to draw a stemma at the end of the semester. Everyone interested in this tutorial should know, that the text is extremely difficult to understand and that there exists only a German translation of it. You should also be willing to collate a manuscript. Needless to say that everybody, who makes a contribution to this new edition, will be mentioned in the publication.

Course skills

To get familiar with the theory and practice of textual criticism and editing.


Mode of instruction

Tutorial with regular meetings.

Test method

Written paper (consisting of the collatio of one manuscript).


Blackboard will initially not be used.

Reading list

The following text edition will serve as a starting point of our work and should be copied by every participant.
Text: Thomas Stangl, Tulliana et Mario-Victoriniana. Programm des Kgl. Luitpold-Gymnasiums, München 1888 (reprinted in Hadot and Pronay)

Further reading (books need not to be acquired by participants):
Commentary and German translation: Andreas Pronay, C. Marius Victorinus, Liber de definitionibus. Eine spätantike Theorie der Definition und des Definierens, Frankfurt am Main/Berlin 1997 (Studien zur Klassischen Philologie 103)
On Victorinus: Pierre Hadot, Marius Victorinus. Recherches sur sa vie et ses œuvres, Paris 1971


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dr. Thomas Riesenweber