1. In 1547 King João III of Portugal recruited some foreign Humanists to revive the college at Coimbra, and one of these imported professors was the great Scottish Humanist George Buchanan, who had previously been plying his trade in France. The project eventually went sour, Diogo de Gouvea, the Principal of the university, was removed from office, and retaliated by arranging for Buchanan to be arrested by the Portuguese Inquisition on a bogus charge of heresy. He was apprehended in August 1550, put on trial, and sentenced to confinement at the monastery of San Bento, until his release in February 1552. In his 1580 autobiography, having summarized the episode, he wrote (§ 8), Hoc maxime tempore Psalmorum Davidicorum complures vario carminum genere in numeros redegit [“’Twas principally at this time that he rendered most of David’s Psalms into several sorts of Latin metre.”] In the Renaissance there was a well-established tradition of writing poetic Psalm paraphrases. It has been written (by Rivkah Zim): NOTE 1
…that paraphrase was a highly skilled process, and one best reserved for a well-learned man. The duty of the humanist poet as a moral teacher, and the end to which he applied his art, was the exploitation of those works which he considered appropriate for the promotion of sound judgment. As biblical poetry, the Psalms had the capacity to promote spiritual values, wisdom and eloquence simultaneously. The art of the psalm imitator, like any imitator, lay in transposing the biblical models into decorous forms and language.
At the same time, producing such paraphrases could be a spiritual exercise for the poet himself, since “Psalm translation provided more scope for independent statement than other scriptural translation, because the ambiguous ‘I’ of the Psalms leaves a space for the reader to insert a personal voice.” (But it seems perverse to look at this only from the reader’s point of view and ignore that of the writer.) NOTE 2 Imprisoned and thrown back on his own inner resources, it may have been the case that Buchanan employed these paraphrases as a vehicle for expressing an outpouring in spirituality provoked by this crisis in his life. In any event, devoting himself to this project would have offered welcome relief from the tedium of imprisonment.
2. At the same time, publishing Psalm paraphrases invited comparison with similar work by others (there may well have been a competitive dimension to such publication) and so served as a showcase for displaying one’s poetic abilities. This is certainly true in Buchanan’s instance: his set of paraphrases constitute a dazzling tour de force displaying his mastery of a wide range of lyric meters. The paraphrases began to appear in print in 1556, when Henri Estienne brought out a partial edition under the title Davidis Psalmi aliquot, and the Estiennes produced an undated full version, probably in 1565, entitled Psalmorum Davidis Paraphrasis poetica. The publication of these paraphrases did much to enhance Buchanan’s standing as one of Europe’s premier Neo-Latin poets, NOTE 3 and between 1565 and 1825 more than a hundred printings were issued in Scotland, England, and various nations of continental Europe.
3. I. D. McFarlane has taught us so much about Buchanan’s Psalm paraphrases, most recently in Chapter Seven of his magisterial 1981 Buchanan, NOTE 4 that it would be presumptuous to write about them extensively here. But there are a few points where what he wrote requires correction or supplementation. First, I should like to discuss the reason for Buchanan’s decision to write his paraphrases in a variety of lyric meters, rather than in, say, dactylic hexameters, as did Scipio Gentili, or elegiac couplets, in the manner of such Neo-Latin poets as Eobanus Hessus. Buchanan’s choice cannot simply be written off as an attempt to imitate Horace, since some of the meters he employed are not to be found in the Odes and Epodes. Rather, McFarlane pointed out that the preface to a partial set of lyric Psalm paraphrases published by Buchanan’s friend Jean de Gagnay in 1547 may have influenced Buchanan (I use McFarlane’s translation, pp. 279 - 81):
Nullus enim sacrorum librorum est in quo tot hominum genera contineantur…Itaque cum tam necessarium atque utilem esse Christianis librum maiores nostri intelligerent, probi constituerunt ut in divinis officiis psalmi decantarentur…Itaque genus aliquod tractandorum psalmorum (quod ad eorum lectionem pios homines imitaret) meditanti mihi nullum occurrebat commodius, quam si carmine tractarentur, quod id genus vi quadam et dicendi gratia allicere lectores soleat…Itaque cum iudicarem non omni pedi omnem calceum aptum esse, existimabam quoque non uno carminis genere tot tamque diversa psalmorum argumenta commode tractari posse, multoque fore commodius si variis odarum generibus describerentur…Ausus itaque sum, Deo vene iuvante, in vario odarum genera psalmos transfundere, quod nemo, opinor, ante me tentaverat.
[“There is no single one of the sacred books in which many kinds of man are to be found…and so, since our forefathers understood that the book was so essential and useful to Christians, they decided, in their integrity, that the psalms would be sung during divine service…and so, the most satisfactory way of dealing with the psalms (which would encourage devout men to read them), as I thought about the matter, seemed to be to handle them in lyric metre, because that form is wont to attract readers by a certain vigour and pleasing diction…And so, when I decided that one single type of shoe is not suitable for all feet, I thought by the same token that such different themes in the psalms could not be handled satisfactorily by one single lyric metre. It would be far better if the psalms were expressed in various types of odes…And so I made so bold, with God’s help, to transpose the psalms into various ode forms, a thing nobody, to my knowledge, had attempted before me.”]
4. The idea that Buchanan accepted Gagnay’s recommendation that the Psalms were best paraphrased in odes written in a variety of lyric meters matching their differing themes and moods may be true and valuable (Friedrich Widebram, in his 1579 Psalterium Davidis integrum carmine redditum made the same choice), as long as you do not attempt to bring it down to particular cases. By this I mean that it would be dangerous to argue that Buchanan selected a given lyric meter to render thus-and-such a Psalm for this reason, since it is impossible to form convincing associations between given Latin meters and particular moods. Buchanan, for example, paraphrases both Psalm CXXXVII (“By the Waters of Babylon”) and Psalm CXIV, a joyous hymn of triumph celebrating Israel’s escape from Egypt in the same elegiac couplets. So we cannot invoke any such understanding to explain Buchanan’s individual artistic choices.
5. It seems preferable to contend that Buchanan’s reason for writing his paraphrases in a variety lyric meters is not to be explained, at least primarily, by the influence of French predecessors, but rather was motivated by a more practical consideration. Here is an overview of the various meters he employed, listed in the order of their frequency of occurrence.
Iambic strophes III, VI. X, XXI, XXII, XXVII, XXXIV, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLI, XLIV, XLVIII, LIII, LXII, LXXIV, LXXVI , LXXIX, LXXXVII, XCII, CX, CXII, CXV, CXX, CXXVII, CXXXIII, CXXXIV, CXXXIX, CXLI (28)
Alcaic stanzas VII, VIII, XI, XV, XIX, XXX, XLVI, L, LVI, LVIII, LXXVII, LXXXII, XCI, CXXIII, CXXV, CXL, CXLVI (17)
Strophes consisting of 1 dactylic hexameter + 1 iambic trimeter II, XX, XXIV, LVII, LX, LXIX, LXXXIII, XCIII, XCV, XCVII, CVIII, CIX, CXVIII, CXXVI, CXXXVI, CXLVII (16)
Four-line stanzas of iambic dimeters XIII, XXXI, XXXVII, XLVII, LII, LIV, LIX, LXXXVI, XCVI, XCVIII, CXVII, CXLVIII, CXLIX, CL (14)
Dactylic hexameters I, XVIII, XLV, LXXVIII, LXXXV, LXXXIX, CIV, CVII, CXXXII, CXXXV (10)
Sapphic stanzas V, XVII, LI, LV, LXV, LXVII, LXXII, XC, CI, CIII (10)
Third Asclepiadean stanzas (3 lesser Asclepiadics + one glyconic) XXIII, XLII, LXXV, XCIX, CII (5)
Fourth Asclepiadean stanzas (2 lesser Asclepiadics + 1 pherecratic + 1 glyconic) IX, LXIV, LXXXIV, CXXX, CXLIV (5)
Strophes consisting of 1 lesser Sapphic + 1 glyconic XXXIII, LXX, CXXI, CXLII (4)
Elegiac couplets LXXXVIII, CXIV, CXXXVII (3)
Four-line stanzas of lesser Asclepiadics XXVIII, XL, LXXX (3)
Iambic trimeters XXV, XCIV, CVI (3)
Trochaic tetrameters CXIX, CXXIV, CXXIX (3)
Four-line stanzas consisting of 3 glyconics catalectic + 1 pherecratic CXVI, CXXII (2)
Four-line stanzas of hendecasyllables XXIX, XXXII (2)
Second Asclepiadean strophes (1 glyconic + i lesser Asclepiadic) XIV, XLIII (2)
Alcmanic strophes (1 dactylic hexameter + 1 dactylic tetrameter) IV, CXI (2)
Strophes consisting of 1 dactylic hexameter and 1 dactylic dimeter XII, LXXXI (2)
Strophes consisting of 1 iambic trimeter + 1 pentameter XXXVI, LXIII (2)
Anacreontics catalectic CXXXI (1)
Anapestic dimeters CXIII (1)
Three-line stanzas of 2 trochaic dimeters + 1 trochaic dimeter catalectic LXVI (1)
Strophes consisting of 1 dactylic hexameter + 1 anapestic dimeter catalectic LXVIII (1)
Strophes consisting of 1 dimeter catalectic + 1 iambic dimeter C (1)
Strophes consisting of 1 glyconic + 1 lesser Asclepiadic XXXV (1)
Three-line stanzas consisting of 1 dactylic hexameter + 1 dactylic dimeter + 1 iambic dimeter CXLV (1)
Three-line stanzas consisting of 1 dactylic hexameter + 1 iambic dimeter + 1 dactylic dimeter CXXXVIII (1)
Three-line stanzas consisting of 1 glyconic + 1 lesser Asclepiadic + 1 greater Asclepiadic XVI (1)
Trochaic tetrameters catalectic CV (1)
6. Many of these Psalms are organized in stanzas. In some cases, this is simply inherent in the traditional nature of the particular pattern, for example Alcaic and Sapphic stanzas, as anybody who has read Horace’s Odes in the original Latin will be well aware. But in other cases the stanzaic organization is imposed by Buchanan himself: many Psalms are composed in metrical patterns (for instance iambic dimeters) that would normally be written as monolithic blocks of lines, but paragraphing and punctuation articulate them into distinct stanzas of three or, more usually, four lines apiece. These, combined with all the paraphrases written in patterns consisting of two-line couplets or strophes, constitute the vast majority of items in the collection, and it is impossible to dismiss the impression that Buchanan favored these two types of organizing principle because he intended his paraphrases be set to music, as they indeed were, first by Jean Servin, who published elaborate polyphonic settings of the first forty-one paraphrases in 1579, scored for between four and eight voices, and then by Statius Olthoff, senior Cantor of the Rostock Gymnasium, who supplied simpler settings for Nathan Chytraeus’ edition, first published at Rostock in 1582, an edition so often reprinted that it came to provide what might be termed the canonic text of this set. At the risk of making a post hoc propter hoc argument, it may well be the case that Buchanan’s paraphrases proved so suitable for musical settings because such was their author’s original intention. If so, then it would be possible to make the claim that, in contrast to most other Renaissance Psalm paraphrases — and there is no visible reason for excepting those of Gagnay from this generalization — Buchanan’s paraphrases are no simple literary exercise, but rather a set of pieces intended for performance, possibly even in liturgical contexts.
7. Another subject about which McFarlane wrote had to do with the relation of Buchanan’s paraphrases to contemporary Hebrew scholarship (pp. 282 - 5). Not being a Hebrew scholar, I have no substantial contribution to offer, but it may be worthwhile to ask one question that did not occur to McFarlane: what version of the Bible did Buchanan employ? It may be significant that Buchanan did not follow the numeration of the Septuagint and Vulgate (a fact rather obscured by the fact that printed editions preface each Psalm with the first words of the Vulgate version), but rather he adhered to the numbering and Psalm-divisions of the Hebrew Massoretic text, familiar to modern readers from the K. J. V. He also reproduced its division into five Books, although the doxologies that conclude Books I - IV are omitted.
8. The third issue has to do with the remarkable success and longevity of Buchanan’s paraphrases, as evidenced by its huge number of editions. The main reason that so many printed texts were required is that his paraphrases were quickly appropriated by schoolmasters and used as classroom fare, at least in Scotland, well into the nineteenth century (one of the last editions, accompanied by the notes of Adam and James Dickson and published at Edinburgh in 1812, is very clearly designed as a textbook). It is conspicuous that the early schoolmasters who adopted these paraphrases were Protestants. This applies to the Scottish schoolmasters John Ray and Alexander Yule, NOTE 5 and, on the Continent, to the aforementioned Nathan Chytraeus, and, evidently, to Johann Sturm of Strassburg (McFarlane p. 265). Their reasons for latching on to Buchanan’s paraphrases is set forth by Chytraeus in his introduction (McFarlane p. 267):
…inter alias etiam placuit prudentissimis scholaris ut paraphrasis psalmorum Buchanani in prima classe proponeretur: ut nimirium ex ea pueri nostri, praeter veram pietatem et linguae Romanae puritatem, varias etiam carminum, maxime lyricorum dimensiones animo paulatim comprehenderent.
[“Among other things, the most experienced teachers resolved that Buchanan’s Psalm paraphrases be prescribed for the First Class, so that without doubt our pupils, in addition to learning true piety and pure diction of the Latin tongues, would gradually assimilate at the same time the various metrical schemes, especially of lyric poetry”]
9. Here the words praeter veram pietatem can probably be interpreted as implying that, in the eyes of Protestant educators, Buchanan’s paraphrases were deemed suitable material for the classroom, not just for their Latinity and exhibition of lyric meters, but because they were doctrinally comfortable. It is very much to be feared that there was a widespread belief that these paraphrases were Protestant in their orientation. They were, after all, written by a man who in later life came forward as the highly articulate spokesman for the Earl of Moray and the other Protestant Lords who had ejected Mary Queen of Scots. By the end of the sixteenth century this understanding had gained sufficient currency that the Catholic Luis de Cruz felt moved to issue his own counterblast, Liber Psalmorum cum poetica interpretatione Latina (Ingolstadt, 1597), and in introducing this work he wrote (McFarlane, pp. 273f.):
…etsi princeps poetarum sui temporis inscribatur.…praeter summam scelus, quo se per haeresim obstrixerit, id egisse videtur ne clarissima notissimaque de Christo opt. max. vaticinia, quae psalmis continentur, suo in carmine apparerent. Quo facto merito piis omnibus displicuisse potuit…
[“…and even if he is called the prince among the poets of his own time, apart from the gravest crime of heresy, he appears to have worked in such a way that the famous prophecies about Christ, which are to be found in the Psalms, fail to emerge in his poetry. In consequence, he managed deservedly to give offence to all men of true religion.”]
10. If friend and foe alike assumed that Buchanan’s paraphrases had a Protestant bias, then it is all too easy to imagine them receiving a Protestant reading: they are, in essence, a collection of Presbyterian battle hymns that can be “decoded” in such a way that the enemies against whom David is constantly complaining are Catholics, the Righteous can be equated with Protestants, the idolatry mentioned in some Psalms identified as the rigmarole of Papist superstition, and so forth. It is very much to be suspected that generations of Calvinist dominies applied such a reading to Buchanan’s paraphrases, embraced them for their supposed doctrinal soundness as well as their other qualities, and so regarded them as infinitely preferable to the questionable morality of Horace, and that this accounts for their remarkable durability.
11. But such an understanding of these paraphrases is completely insupportable. In his 1580 autobiography (§ 8 ad fin.), Buchanan writes that Scotis a tyrannide Guisiana liberatis eo reversus nomen ecclesiae Scotorum dedit [“When the Scots were freed from the tyranny of the Guises of France, he returned thither, and entered himself into the Church of Scotland.”] In other words, he only converted to Protestantism after returning to Scotland in 1561/62. But a decade earlier, at the time he was imprisoned for heresy, he was still a loyal Catholic, as McFarlane acknowledged (pp. 178f.) Modern scholars are agreed that the only reason for Buchanan’s collision with the Portuguese Inquisition was the personal malice of Diogo de Gouvéa, NOTE 6 so this shabby episode can in no way be interpreted as a sign of any substantial doctrinal deviationism. Then too, there is the matter of the canonry or benefice of Muneville-sur-Mar in the bishopric of Coutances, conferred on Buchanan in 1557. Although earlier biographers (such as McFarlane, pp. 177f., and D. M. Abbott in his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Buchanan) regarded this as a favor conferred on him by the Brissac family, who controlled the benefice, and argued that this did not necessarily imply that Buchanan had taken holy orders, Elizabeth Bonner has recently shown that he indeed was ordained as a Catholic priest. NOTE 7 She adds that upon his return to Scotland, which occurred no later than January 1562, Mary Queen of Scots granted him the abbey of Crossraguel together with its annual pension. Moreover, in 1567 the Antwerp Plantin edition of the paraphrases was prefaced by a summa privilegiorum granted by the local representative of Philip II, dated March 8, which would scarcely have been conceded had the authorities detected any whiff of heresy in them. Either word of Buchanan’s conversion had not reached the ears of these authorities, or it was deemed sufficient that after his conversion he continued to be a loyal subject of his Catholic sovereign (the tumultuous events that provoked his estrangement from her occurred later in the same year). A final point is that, according to Buchanan’s dedicatory epigram, the Catholic Queen Mary had read his paraphrases and signified her approval prior to their publication.
12. This is all well and good, the reader may think, but it is notorious that throughout the remainder of his life Buchanan continued to introduce changes into the text of these paraphrases. Even if in their original form they had no Protestant bias, may not one have been added after his conversion? The present edition is based on the text printed at London in 1580, and we shall see that it is of a distinctly Protestant provenance. To counter this possible objection, in the textual notes accompanying the present edition, this 1580 text is collated against the earliest printed edition I could easily obtain, the second one, produced by Henri and Robert Estienne at Paris in 1566. The two editions present plenty of divergent readings, but, with one conceivable exception, I believe the reader will agree that the differences are of an exclusively artistic nature, consisting of places where Buchanan has improved on what he originally wrote. NOTE 9 And the one possible exception to this generalization has to do with politics rather than religion. In the 1566 version, the conclusion of Psalm XLV reads:
Nec tu carminibus, regina, tacebere nostris.
Quaque patet tellus liquido circumsona ponto,
Posteritas te sera canet, dumque aurea volvet
Astra polus, memori semper celebrabere fama.
In the 1580 text, regina is replaced by rex magne. It looks as if the original version may have been written as a courtly compliment to Mary Queen of Scots, but that after Buchanan’s estrangement from Mary, caused by his disgust over her marriage to Bothwell and their combined attempts to quash any serious inquiry into the murder of Lord Darnley, the passage was rewritten. If this reading is correct, one must admit, it is odd that the dedicatory epigram to Mary that prefaced the original Paris editions is retained in the 1580 one. But this change appears liable to another possible interpretation, which is simply that Buchanan was correcting himself, realizing that there is a change of addressee at this point in the psalm (because the addressees are v. 49 rex,v. 56 virgo, v. 60 rex again). This latter understanding is in fact more likely, because in the 1580 edition Buchanan has made other alterations in the ending of his paraphrase of Psalm XLV to bring it more in line with the biblical text.
13. So, not entirely unlike the vernacular poet Sir David Lyndsay, with a magnificent unconcern for historical fact Buchanan became coopted as a wholly Calvinist writer. Witness the controversy that erupted in 1715 when Thomas Ruddiman, a Jacobite and not a Presbyterian, published his edition of Buchanan’s Opera Omnia, outlined by A. P. Woolrich in his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article, Scottish Calvinists have regarded Buchanan as a writer entirely their own. But in truth this view has no application to his Psalm paraphrases.
14. As intimated above, throughout his life Buchanan kept introducing changes and improvements in the text of his paraphrases. In some of his articles and his book chapter, McFarlane has described some of these, but there is no adequate substitute for a complete collation of the full range of manuscript and printed evidence. We may hope that such an edition appears in the future. The present one is considerably less ambitious, and is based on a single printed test. The one I have selected is Paraphrasis Psalmorum Davidis Poetica, multo quam antehac castigatior; auctore Georgio Buchanano, Scoto, poetarum nostri saeculi facile principe, Londoni, Thomas Vautrollerus 1580. This is the last version to appear during Buchanan’s lifetime, and probably represents the poet’s final thinking on the subject. NOTE 8 McFarlane (pp. 264f.) describes it:
[This edition is] extremely interesting: on the one hand, it is the first edition to appear in England, and indeed in Great Britain, and on the other, it contains certain readings which are not found elsewhere. The publisher, Thomas Vautrollier, was a French Huguenot who had moved to England during the 1560’s...It was he who published the first edition of the Baptistes in 1577, and during the years 1580 - 6 he was based in Edinburgh, though his wife ran the London press in his absence. He was in touch with Daniel Rogers who gave him a letter to hand to Buchanan:
Dedi autem in mandatis integerrimo viro Vautrollerio harum litterarum latori, ut exemplaria quaedam mihi istic comparet, ut cum amicis communicarem...Quod si respondisses, quid de nostra in poematum tuorum editione sententia (de qua superioribus meis literis tecum egi) iudicares. Vautrollerius quaedam ex ipsis, si non omnia, typis mandasset: nunc intacta iacent, donec quid de ordine in iis imprimendis observando statueris...
[“I instructed the honest Vautrollier, bearer of this letter, to procure some copies there for me, so that I could share them with friends...For if you let us have your reaction to our edition of your poems (about which I wrote earlier), Vautrollier would print some, if not all, from that edition. They are lying untouched at present, until you decide on the order to be observed in their printing.”]
Vautrollier therefore had the opportunity of meeting Buchanan, and it is very likely that his edition of the paraphrases was based on material supplied by the author himself; this would explain the variants not found in other editions. At the same time, the driving force behind this volume was surely Daniel Rogers; he represented in this matter the Sidney circle who admired Buchanan especially for his ‘divine’ poetry. Rogers tried to organize the London edition of November 1579, before concerning himself with the De iure regni, also to appear in London. In preparing this edition, he had also consulted [Johann] Sturm, [Jan] Dousa, and [François] Hotman; and Dousa was to express in his own poetry his admiration for Buchanan’s paraphrases. As we shall see, the Scotsman had been correcting his text for some years. Vautrollier had taken some features from the Plantin editions; the carminum genera and the numbering of the text every five lines, he also incorporated variants that can be found in the 1580 edition of Estienne, but these of course could equally have come direct from Buchanan. On the other hand there are several readings that appear to be unique to his edition.
15. Two further points may be made about Vautrollier’s edition. The first is, quite simply, that, perhaps because he himself was not on the scene to supervise the printing job at London, it is rife with typographical errors that require correction, in striking contrast to the very clean work of the Etienne and Plantin ones. The second is that one cannot help remarking on the extremely Protestant origins of this volume. Vautrollier himself was a Huguenot, the poet-diplomat Daniel Rogers (the son of the first victim of the Marian persecution, who as a little boy had been obliged to watch as his father was burned at the stake) was, understandably, an almost rabid anti-Catholic, and Sidney (and presumably the other members of the “Sidney circle,” whoever precisely McFarlane meant to indicate by that phrase) was likewise a militant Protestant. This is why, as indicated above, it is particularly significant that, for all the differences between the 1580 edition, coming out of this milieu, and the 1566 Paris one against which it has been collated, there are none that can be identified as motivated by changed doctrinal views.
16. For an accompanying translation I have selected that of Andrew Waddel, published together with another schoolboy edition containing a Latin text and and accompanying Latin prose “trot” and printed at Edinburgh in 1772 under the title G. Buchanan’s Paraphrase of the Psalms of David, Translated into English Prose, as near the Original as the different Idioms of the Latin and English Language will allow. Although written in rather stiltedly pseudo-archaic English in an attempt to imitate the style of the K. J. V., it has the merit of general accuracy. To suit the requirements of the present edition, this translation has been subjected to occasional slight modifications. Buchanan’s paraphrases require little explanatory annotation, but at a few points I have availed myself of Waddel’s notes. Normally an edition of the present kind would also employ commentary notes to point out echoes of classical Latin authors, but this is not necessary since the most important ones have already been observed by McFarlane (pp. 285f.). NOTE 10
17. In 1620 Alexander Yule (who Latinized is surname as Julius), a sometime Stirling schoolmaster, published a volume entitled Ecphrasis Paraphraseos Georgii Buchanani in Psalmos Davidis, containing both a text of Buchanan’s verse paraphrases and an accompanying set of prose ones intended as an aid for students. In the dedicatory epistle prefacing this volume Yule explains that these prose paraphrases had their origins in ones that Buchanan had dictated to him in his youth, subsequently collated against similar notes taken down by Buchanan’s nephew Thomas. Yule reports that what Buchanan had dictated (extemporaneously, as he had at least imagined) had a rough and unpolished character, and that Buchanan had given instructions that they should not be published, on the grounds that they were merely fare for children. Yule nonetheless took it upon himself to work them up to publishable condition. How much of the finished product is Buchanan’s and how much Yule’s is indeterminate. These prose paraphrases are included elsewhere in The Philological Museum, and for each of Buchanan’s verse paraphrases I have included a link to the prose equivalent published by Yule. In the same way, links are set against appropriate lines in the text that point to the scholia of Nathan Chytraeus, first published in his 1584 In Georgii Buchanani Paraphrasin Psalmorum Collectanea/
18. I should like to express my deep gratitude to Jamie Reid Baxter for keeping up a steady correspondence with me as I worked on this project, providing valuable information and serving as a sounding board. Whatever good qualities this edition may possess are in no small measure his doing. I am also grateful to Dick Wursten of Antwerp for discussing the ending of Psalm LXV and making me realize that the 1580 text of lines.56 - 60 is not viable.
NOTE 1 Rivkah Zim 152f. Metrical Psalms; Poetry as Praise and Prayer, 1535 - 1601 (Cambridge 1987) 80.
NOTE 2 Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon and Michael G. Brennan, The Collected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert Countess of Pembroke (Oxford, 1908) II.8.
NOTE 3 On the title page of the 1566 edition, Henri Estienne characterized Buchanan as poetarum nostri saeculi facile princeps, a sobriquet that stuck. As recently as 1982 Philip J. Ford published a book entitled George Buchanan Prince of Poets. For modern appreciations of the quality of his paraphrases, cf. Roger Green, “The Heavens are Telling: a Psalm-paraphrase-poem,” in George Buchanan Poet and Dramatist (ed. Philip Ford and Roger P. H. Green, Classical Press of Wales, 2009), pp.75 - 94, and “Poems and Not Just Paraphrases: Doing Justice to Buchanan’s Psalms,” in Syntagmatia, Essays on neo-Latin Literature in Honour of Monique Mund-Dopchie and Gilbert Tournoy (ed. Dirk Sacré and Jan Papy, Leiden, 2009), pp.415 - 29, as well as the Introduction to Greene’s George Buchanan, Poetic Paraphrase of the Psalms of David (Paris, 2011).
NOTE 4 I. D. McFarlane, Buchanan (Oxford, 1981), pp. 247 - 86. This chapter largely subsumes the contents two previous articles by McFarlane, “George Buchanan’s Latin poems from script to print: a preliminary survey,” The Library, fifth series XXIV (1969) 227- 332, “Note on the composition and reception of George Buchanan’s Psalm Paraphrases,” Forum for Modern Language Studies VII (1971) 319 - 60. Cf. also his “George Buchanan and European Humanism,” Yearbook of English Studies XV (1985) 33 - 47. Page citations ascribed to “McFarlane” refer to the book chapter.
NOTE 5 Ray was headmaster of The High School, Edinburgh, and seems to have been responsible for a 1615 edition of the paraphrases (McFarlane, p. 276). Yule, the headmaster of the Grammar School at Stirling, whose 1620 Ecphrasis Paraphraseos Georgii Buchanani in Psalmos Davidis is described below. Ray contributed a gratulatory epigram for this volume.
NOTE 6 This was acknowledged as early as W. Murison, English Historical Review 1907, p. 798. See most recently D. M. Abbott’s Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Buchanan.
NOTE 7 Elizabeth Bonner, “French Naturalization of the Scots in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,”The Historical Review XI (1997) p. 1096, citing Archives de l’eveche de Coutances et Avranche (Coutances, Registre des deliberations du chapitre) IX, fols. 144r - 146v. Cf. also R. A. Mason, A Dialogue on the Law of Kingship among the Scots (Aldershot, 2004) xxi.
NOTE 8 It is true that two other editions of about this time present their own idiosyncratic variants: the 1580 Paris (Estienne) and the 1582 Antwerp (Plantin). McFarlane (p. 266) writes of these, and the 1580 London, “On the assumption that they new variants all derived from the author at a fairly recent date, they suggest that Buchanan was hesitating almost until the day of his death on the most suitable reading for certain lines,” noting, too, that Alexander Yule’s 1620 Ecphrasis volume also contains idiosyncratic readings. But, as McFarlane was careful to note, the idea that these variants are in fact fresh ones, and not taken from earlier mss. that came into the hands of these various editors, is no more than a hypothesis, whereas we are about to see that the situation with the Vautrollier edition is considerably more certain.
NOTE 9 There is one evident exception to this generalization. At the beginning of January, 2011, Dirk Wursten of Antwerp contacted me concerning the text of Psalm CX.38 - 40, in which the text of the final edition has,
Sternet solo, torrentibus
E fortuitis, dum fugam premet, sitim
Victor levabit igneam.
This replaces the reading of the 1566 edition, which was:
Sternet solo, torrentibus
Late per arva sanguinis rivis sitim
Victor levabit igneam.
Wursten pointed out to me that the earlier version reflected the Medieval literal exegesis of Rabbi David Kimhi, subsequently publicized by Martin Bucer and adopted by the 1540 Swiss Latin Bible and the Psalter editions of Estienne, changing the object of the drinking, not “water from the brook,”as it is generally understood, but “the streams of blood floating from the corpses of the defeated enemies” (the preceding verses deal with David’s battle with the Ammonites). This had the effect of substituting a historicizing explanation for the standard Christological one. The new reading might therefore come as a surprise to the modern reader, for it substitutes a traditional interpretation for a clearly more scholarly one. Wursten points out to me that the interpretation urged by Bucer was rejected by Protestants, including Lutherans and Calvin himself, who derided the new understanding and insisted this verse indeed was a typological reference to Christ. In 1580, therefore, Buchanan may have substituted these lines to reflect his subsequent conversion to Protestantism. If so, this is the only rewritten passage in his paraphrases of which I am aware that may have been altered for a doctrinal reason. But, assuming this indeed was his motivation, it still seems unwise to attach any great significance to a single instance of such rewriting.
NOTE 10 For classical echoes in these paraphrases see also Roger P. H. Green, “Davidic Psalm and Horatian Ode: Five Poems of George Buchanan,” Renaissance Studies 14:1 (2000) 91 - 111 and “Classical Voices in Buchanan’s Hexameter Psalm Paraphrases,” Rensaissance Studies 18:1 (2004) 59 - 89.