Scholarship and Science in Renaissance Oxford: The Books of Henry Savile (1549-1622)

July 16, 2014

Visitors to the Bodleianxavileexhib9 Library can still catch the exhibition accompanying the CEMS conference on ‘Scholarship, Science and Religion in the Age of Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614) and Henry Savile (1549-1622)’ (Merton College, 1-3 July). The conference was a truly international and interdisciplinary event, devoted to scholars who have never previously been commemorated by conferences in their own right. Though posterity does not look kindly on Savile’s sense of himself as Casaubon’s superior, the two men had much in common. Both studied Latin and Greek texts from the classical era to late antiquity, both were interested in secular and sacred historiography, and both faced complex choices between gaining support for their scholarship from religious and secular authorities and the intellectual independence essential for scholarship. As in all CEMS conferences there was a strong emphasis on local library resources – the Bodleian houses many of Casaubon’s as well as Savile’s manuscripts. The current exhibition, curated by Thomas Roebuck, brings to light some fascinating and under-studied sources. There are marginal notes in an edition of Euclid, drafts of his University lectures in astronomy, and scientific manuscripts he collected. Fascinating from the perspective of book history are printer’s copies of his translation of Tacitus and his edition of Chrysostom. A world of scholarship is opened up. Catch the exhibition before it closes on 3 August.

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