John Bellenden's Livy and Les Decades of Pierre Bersuire: The French in Bellenden's Scots

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When producing a Scots translation of Livy's History of Rome in 1533, John Bellenden harnessed Les Decades, the Middle French translation of Livy prepared by Pierre Bersuire in 1358. The French intermediary offered Bellenden not only a rich store of lexical possibilities when grappling with Livy's Latin, as has been partly recognized before, but also a way of structuring and presenting his translation. Inspired by the glosses with which Bersuire furnished Les Decades, Bellenden prepared his own commentary, explaining similar items of political, cultural, and religious interest. Following Bersuire's example, Bellenden's commentary encouraged the reader to approach Livy's History alongside a series of comparative texts, especially Ovid's Fasti and the Memorabilia of Valerius Maximus. Above all, Bellenden took from Bersuire the urge to understand antiquity, as far as was possible, on its own terms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalTranslation and Literature
Issue number1
Early online dateFeb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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