The Italian Connection: Evidence of the Collaboration
of Italian Speakers in the Preparation of Several Manuscripts
from the Era of Vakht’ang VI
Timothy P. Grove, Biola University
K. Kekelidze Scientific Seminar Series
National Centre of Manuscripts
Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
15 July 2009
The Italian Connection: Evidence of the Collaboration of Italian speakers in the Preparation of several manuscripts from the era of Vakht’ang VI
Timothy P. Grove
Biola University, La Mirada, California
Biola University, La Mirada, California
My academic interests include
• Italian Literature
• Neo-Latin Literature
• Georgian Astrological Manuscripts
My research here has focused primarily on two manuscripts:
• Q-867 (“Saet’lo Xiromant’ia”)
• Q-884 (a short introduction to astronomy attributed to Vakht’ang VI)
Georgian Use of an Italian Text
• Q-867 (“Saet’lo Xiromant’ia”) refers to a philosopher named “otaviobeltrano” (13v) and “beltrano” (30r)
• In fact, several sections of this manuscript, including many of the illustrations, are drawn directly from the Almanacco Perpetuo of Ottavio Beltrano, first published at Naples in 1639.
• These include chapter 13 (31r-36r, on eclipses), the horoscope for 21 June 1635 (58v-59r), and all of chapter 20 (60v-74v, the perpetual almanac, with its 28 illustrations).
Eclipses (Q-867) [illustration omitted]
Eclipses (Almanacco Perpetuo, p. 61) [illustration omitted]
Venus and Saturn (pictures and text, Q-867, 69v-70r) [illustration omitted]
Venus (picture and text, Almanacco Perpetuo, p. 164) [illustration omitted]
Saturn (picture and text, Almanacco Perpetuo, p. 165) [illustration omitted]
• Ottavio Beltrano (fl. 1620-1660) was a printer and miscellaneous writer active in and around Naples. His Almanacco Perpetuo was extremely popular and went through numerous editions. It continued to be printed even into the 19th century!
This text was also widely distributed in Georgia
Several other manuscripts either copy it or incorporate parts of it. These include:
• H-1658 (possibly from the late 17th century; this may actually be the original from which Q-867 was adapted, as the language is more archaic).
• K-598 (a manuscript at Kutaisi, dated 1768 and probably written by Georgian exiles in Russia; I learned of this manuscript from Tamara Abuladze).
• H-1235 (dated 1817)
• H-94 (19th century; an exact copy of the first half of the book—perhaps the second half was lost or bound separately?)
• A-889 (19th century; incorporates much of the same material).
The first chapter of the text refers to a phiklosopher named “ariaga.” This was Rodrigo de Arriaga, a Spanish Jesuit whose Cursus Philosophicus was first published at Antwerp in 1632. Several other writers from Western Europe are also mentioned in the text. It appears likely that an Italian visitor to Georgia brought several books with him which were used and adapted by Georgian scholars.
Collaboration of Italian Speakers
• The cosmogram on 36v is captioned as follows:
Chelum emp’ireum romel ars samotxe
*The Latin word coelum (or caelum, “heaven”) is pronounced as “chelum” only by Italian speakers!
Chelum emp’ireum romel ars samotxe [illustration and close-up from K-598 omitted]
• The astrological table on 46v is labeled with the letters ani, bani, chini, doni.
• This corresponds to a diagram in Beltrano’s Almanacco Perpetuo which is labeled A, B, C, D.
• Again, the letter C is pronounced as “ch” only by Italian speakers.
Chart of astrological aspects (Almanacco Perpetuo, p. 139) [illustration omitted]
Chart of astrological aspects (Q-867, 46v) [illustration omitted
Q-884 is a short introduction to astronomy compiled by Vakht’ang VI
The text contains numerous references to the “Latins” (lat’inni), along with Georgian transliterations of Italian terms.
Italian terms transliterated by Vakht’ang VI:
• chel dijove celo di Giove
• chiel di mart’e celo di Marte
• chielo disole celo del Sole
• chiledi venere celo di Venere
• chielo di merk’vrio celo di Mercurio
• solost’ici solstizii
• k’olurodele k’vinoci coluro degl’equinozii
• oridzonte orizonte
• t’orpik’odi k’ankro tropico di Cancro
• t’ropik’o del inverno tropico del inverno
• p’oloant artik’omde polo antartico
• The careful transliteration of such terms in their Italian pronunciation clearly points to the input of Italian speakers.
• The word-division in Georgian (different from the Italian word-division) demonstrates that the writer did not himself understand Italian grammar and syntax. His transcriptions of Italian terms were thus based on their sound, not on their appearance in print.
• It thus appears that both Q-884 and Q-867 (with its many variants) were written in collaboration with visitors from Italy, and possibly in the same milieu.
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