[Milton-L] Haklyut, Plutarch, Sidney and the Osiris myth

FLANNAGAN, ROY ROY at uscb.edu
Sun Jan 4 09:41:15 EST 2009

Here is a posting from FICINO and Katharien Eggert that Miltonists might be interested in, reading from the bottom up:

Dear David (and all), what an interesting trail of connections.  I'm much
less learned about European sources than are colleagues on this list, but I
do know that Spenser had access to this tale from the MORALIA on the
evidence of Book 5, canto 6 of THE FAERIE QUEENE (1596).  From that bit of
knowledge I was able to turn to James Nohrnberg's indispensable THE ANALOGY
OF THE FAERIE QUEENE (pp. 268-270), which cites Jacques Amyot's French
translation of the Moralia (1572).

Nohrnberg also cites this wonderful and apposite passage from Pico's
"Oration on the Dignity of Man" (1486):

"We shall at one instant descend, sundering the unity of the many, like the
limbs of Osiris, with Titanic powers; at another instant, we shall ascend,
collecting by the powers of Phoebus those same limbs into their original
unity.  At the last, in the bosom of the Father who reigns above the ladder,
we shall find perfection and peace through the felicity of theology."

A quick and none-too-systematic EEBO-Text Creation Partnership search shows
that "Of Isis and Osiris" is cited once in Philip Sidney's APOLOGIE FOR
POETRY (publ. 1595) and a bunch of times in Phillipe Du Plessis-Mornay's
TREWNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, trans. begun by Sidney and finished by
Arthur Golding (1587).  Thus, the Plutarch seems to have been known by the
crowd of Hakluyt acquaintances you mention below, David.  Stephen Batman's
GOLDEN BOOKE OF THE LEADEN GODDES (1584) mentions the first part of the
story -- Osiris's being cut into pieces and scattered by Typhon -- but not
his reassembly by Isis: "Osyris, Raygned in Aegipt, whom, Typhon, his owne
Brother, to obtayne the kingdome, inuaded, & takinge Osiris captiue,
murderously cut him into, 25. peeces sendinge eache peece to sundry
Conspiratours of his death, supposing thereby to haue obtayned their greater
fauours. But Isis, with the helpe of Oros her Sonne, reuenged her Husbandes
death, by hanging Typhon on a Gallowes."

All best,

Katherine Eggert
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of English
University of Colorado
226 UCB
Boulder, CO  80309-0226
(303) 492-7382
Katherine.Eggert at colorado.edu

----- Original Message -----
From: <mengelko at EMAIL.UNC.EDU>
To: <FICINO at listserv.utoronto.ca>
Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: Osiris and Isis in the Renaissance

> Prof. Sacks,
> This is  an interesting bit of antiquarianism. I think that the most
> likely source for Haklyut would be Servius's commentary on Vergil's Aeneid
> and Georgics--though Hyginus, Ovid, and Apuleius (as well as Tibullus)
> reference Osiris often enough.  Servius, however, references this story
> specifically a number of times: Bks, 4, 6, and 11 of the Aeneid; and  Bk.1
> of the Georgics elicit a specific mention of this story. Significantly,
> there was a substantial amount of work / chatter about Servius during the
> late sixteenth century and early seventeenth century. And leading the way
> was Pierre Daniel whose edition of Servius was published in 1600 at Paris.
> Your suspicion about a Dutch influence is, I think, correct; though not so
> much Lipsius perhaps (but if so his Electorum and De Amphitheatro would be
> the best places to start since they are miscellaneous in style, while the
> his Seneca and Tacitius would offer little on Osiris, since I'm unaware of
> Seneca mentioning him at all and Tacitus only once).  Rather the the
> Leiden circle circa 1593-1616  of Vossius, Scaliger, Grotius, Meursius,
> Heinsius, Vulcanius, et multi alii were rigorous grammarians in the style
> of Poliziano.  Scaliger himself was caught up in the debate about the
> authorship of Servius, and he and Daniel disagreed about much from what I
> understand; since Daniel had compiled bits and pieces attributed to
> Servius in order to form a "complete" version of the commentary.
> Scaliger's comment on Servius generally speaking was that "eruditissimus
> interpres Virgilii Servius, cuius commentariorum tantum hodie cadaver
> habemus monachorum barbarie ac spurcitia contaminatum." Moreover,
> Scaliger's interest in all things near-Eastern is well known--though I'm
> uncertain how this works in this instance. Still, if I were pursuing a
> Dutch lead these are the people with whom I would start; or more generally
> those commenting on Servius. Hope this helps somewhat.
> Cordially,
> Dustin Mengelkoch
> Quoting David Sacks <dsacks at REED.EDU>:
>> Dear Fellow Students of the Renaissance.
>>  I have a query about the usage in Europe during the Renaissance of  the
>> tale of Osiris and Isis as told by Plutarch in his MORALIA.  I am hoping
>> that some of you will have encountered references to this tale in the
>> writings of Renaissance intellectuals in any language from anywhere in
>> Europe prior to the Autumn of 1598. Let me explain:
>> As some of you may be aware, I have been engaged in a long-term
>> contextualized study of the career of Richard Hakluyt, author/editory of
>> Museum's conference on Richard Hakluyt (c, 1552-1616): Life, Times,
>> Legacy held in Greenwich, England from 15-17 May 2008,  Dr. Nandini Das
>> of the Dept. of English at University of Liverpool referred to an
>> intriguing passage in Hakluyt's writing where he used Plutarch's account
>> of Isis and Osiris  to describe his own work in reassembling into a
>> coherent whole the torn and scattered limbs of the history of English
>> navigation and discover.  What Dr. Das had to say about the image of
>> sparagmos in the passage fit very well with some of my own thinking about
>> Hakluyt's understanding of the providential history of the world.  This
>> autumn I began working my own way through the implications of the
>> extended metaphor.  It comes in the opening lines of the preface to the
>> reader in the first volume of the 2nd edition of PRINCIPAL NAVIGATIONS
>> (first publ. 1598).  The passage reads:
>> *******
>> "Having for the benefit and honour of my Countrey zealously bestowed so
>> many yeres, so much traveile and cost, to bring Antiquities smothered and
>> buried in darke silence, to light, and to preserve certeine memorable
>> exploits of late yeeres by our English nation atchieved, from the greedy
>> and devouring jawes of oblivion: to gather likewise, and as it were to
>> incorporate into one body the torne and scattered limmes of our ancient
>> and late Navigations by Sea, our voyages by land, and traffiques of
>> merchandise by both: and having (so much as in me lieth) restored each
>> particular member, being before displaced, to their true joynts and
>> ligaments; I meane by the helpe of Geographie and Chronologie (which I
>> might call the Sunne and the Moone, the right eye and left of all
>> history) referred ech relation to the due time and place: I doSpresume to
>> offer unto thy view this first part of my three-fold discourse."
>> *******
>> The reference to here to "torne and scattered limmes" derives directly
>> from Plutarch's treatment of the story--in particular to this passage
>> which appears towards the very beginning of the account where Plutarch
>> writes of  the Satan-like figure of "ignorance and self-deception" of
>> Typhon, the brother if Isis and Osiris, who
>> *******
>> "tears to pieces and scatters to the winds the sacred writings, which the
>> goddess collects and puts together and gives to the keeping of those
>> initiated into the holy rites, since this consecrationS induces a habit
>> of patient submission to the stern and rigorous services of shrines, the
>> end and aim of which is the knowledge of Him who is the First, the Lord
>> of All, the Ideal One."
>> *******
>> The translation here is from the Loeb Library's edition, but the
>> reference to "tearing" and "scattering" in it  accurately translates the
>> original Greek and is reflected in the usage adopted in  Latin editions
>> and in most vernacular translations (although not in Philemon Holland's
>> 1603 translation into English).
>> Hakluyt here seems to be equating the work of the explorers and
>> navigators whose stories he publishes in PRINCIPAL NAVIGATIONS with what
>> Isis is said to have done in gathering together Osiris's displaced limbs,
>> rejoining them into a whole body and revivifying him.  And he seems ro be
>> equating his own work in travelling from muniment room to muniment room
>> and library to library with the work Isis is said to have done on
>> collecting the torn and scattered pages of a "sacred text" and
>> reassembling them in to a single coherent narrative.
>> The metaphor of reassambling torn and scattered limbs was frequently used
>> after Hakluyt--e.g. by Milton in AREOPAGITICA, where the poet describes
>> the reassembling of truth--and in many later instances.  But Hakluyt was
>> more a collector than an author and among the things he collected and
>> used were other people's tropes and metaphors.  In this case, his use of
>> Plutarch's account of the myth appears to count on his readers already
>> being very familiar with how it was employed by others.  So I'm wondering
>> what Hakluyt's source or sources might be. Have any of you come across
>> use of the Isis and Osiris myth in any 16th cent. works published or
>> circulating prior to the dedicatory letter to Lord Charles Howard, Earl
>> of Nottingham and the Lord Admiral in the first volume of  PRINCIPAL
>> NAVIGATIONS; it is dated 7 October 1598 Old Style.
>> Hakluyt was well connected with a wide range of English and European
>> intellectuals and cosmographers, including the members of the so-called
>> "Sidney circle" in England, with the anti-Calvinist (avant-garde
>> conformist) religious party in the Church of England, with the supporters
>> of the house of Orange in the Dutch revolt (including Duplessis-Mornay),
>> with historiographers such as Thevet, and with the humanist Familists in
>> the Low Countries (especially Ortelius, but also by extenstion perhaps
>> Plantin and Lipsius). He also knew the Spanish sources (Acosta, Las
>> Casas) very well. I have the strong feeling that he must have gotten the
>> inspiration for his use of the Isis and Osiris myth from one of these
>> places--perhaps the Dutch humanists--Ortelius or Lipsius--are the most
>> likely possibilities for a source. But so far, I haven't been able to
>> locate one or even worked out where might be the likeliest places to
>> look. Any help from this learned group would be greatly appreciated.
>> With all good wishes for the New Year,
>> Best, David
>> David Harris Sacks
>> Richard F. Scholz Professor, Reed College
>> Life Member, Clare Hall, Cambridge
>> (on sabbatical and leave and resident in Cambridge in 2008-9)
>> PS Respond directly to me if you would prefer: dsacks at reed.edu
>> --
>> =========================
>> Professor David Harris Sacks, BA, AM, PhD, FRHistS
>> Richard F. Scholz Professor of History and Humanities, Reed College
>> Life Member, Clare Hall, Cambridge
>> On leave from Reed in 2008-9
>> *******
>> home:  16 Amhurst Court, Grange Road
>> Cambridge CB3 9BH
>> phone: +(0)1223-369419
>> UK mobile: +(0)7854-794187
>> --------
>> College: Clare Hall
>> Herschel Road
>> Cambridge CB3 9AL, UK
>> main office phone: +(0)1223-332360
>> fax: +(0)1223-332333
>> email: dsacks at reed.edu, dhs28 at cam.ac.uk
>> =========================

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