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Introductionspacer

spacer1. Like his countrymen John Mair and George Buchanan, Florence Wilson — the dates of his birth and death are not known, and he Latinized his name as Volusenus — was one of those talented sixteenth century Scottish Humanists who found their way to France and enjoyed a flourishing career there. Born somewhere near Elgin and educated at King’s College, Aberdeen (presided over by his friend Hector Boece) he found his way to England by 1526 and somehow landed a position as tutor to Cardinal Wolsey’s natural son Thomas Wynter. Subsequently he gained the patronage of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who bestowed on him the living of Speldhurst in Rochester diocese. For some reason, possibly having to do with Fisher’s execution for treason in June 1535, he left for Italy in the hope of gaining a university position there. Falling ill at Avignon, he was befriended by Cardinal Jacopo Sadoleto, Bishop of Carpentras, who arranged for him to have a local schoolmastership. After a brief return to England in 1536, he found a teaching job at the college at Lyon, which he evidently held until his death at Vienne, sometime in the 1550’s. NOTE 1
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2. He also wrote. His earliest efforts were two commentaries on the Psalms written in England, Psalmi quintidecimi ennaratio (1531) and In psalmo nobis 50, Hebraeis vero 51, enarratio (1532), followed by an undated Scholia seu commentariorum epitome in Scipionis somnium. Two Books of epigrams were printed at Basel in 1538, and in 1539 he issued a Commentatio quaedam theologica dedicated to the citizens of Lucca, and in 1544 he published a Latin grammar. His major effort was the philosophical work De animi tranquillitate dialogus, first printed at Lyon in 1543. This dialogue, which significantly bears the same title as works by Seneca and Plutarch, is the contribution for which Wilson is chiefly remembered today.
spacer2. When one begins to read the Dialogus, he may pardonably imagine that Wilson was an Aristotelian. The earlier paragraphs have several allusions to “my Aristotle,” and, in the mouths of his interlocutors, “your Aristotle” (§20, §35, §45), and the first portion of the Dialogus does nothing very much to dispel this impression, since is concerned with such issues as defining and categorizing Man’s appetites and passions, discussing their relation to reason and to habit, stressing the need for reason to govern these appetites and passions, and expressing a strong preference for Aristotle’s Mean to the Stoic idea of apothecia or total freedom from any feelings whatsoever. Much of this thinking comes from the Nicomachean Ethics.
spacer2. Yet Wilson is capable of adopting a critical stance towards the philosopher. Thus we have such passages as §38, Aristotles ex animo et corpore hominem componit, verum quoties de intellectu aliquid statuendum est timide dubitanterque incedit, et licet passim τὸν νοῦν, hoc est mentem aut intellectum magna veneratione dignetur, implicatae tamen orationi forma in qua plurimus ille esse solet lectori non mediocres offundit tenebras. [“Aristotle composed Man of mind and body, but whenever he had to form some conclusion about intellect he proceeded timidly and hesitantly, and, although everywhere he honored νοῦς, i. e. the mind or intellect, with great reverence, the tangled form of discourse in which he was customarily enmeshed creates no little obscurity for the reader.”]; §56 Neque vos habeat admiratio ulla si me videtis frequentem in citando Aristotele. Non nego illum interdum lubricum et obscurum, interdum redundantem, interdum vanum denique deprehendi, sed certe acumine atque methodo in excutiendis subtiliter rerum naturis longe omnibus qui hactenus vel in Graeca vel in Romana lingua sunt exorti (nescio quid habeat ultima Indorum barbaria) praestitit, [“Don’t be at all surprised if you see me frequently citing Aristotle. I don’t deny that he’s sometimes slippery and obscure, and sometimes impossible to comprehend, but certainly, when it comes to acumen and method in subtly teasing out the nature of things, he far surpasses all those ever born who speak Greek or Latin”]; and §209 (discussing the proposition that the mind is immortal), Ex praestantissimis philosophis unus Aristoteles hic apparet anceps et sibi parum constare [“Of the leading philosophers, only Aristotle appears to be doubtful and lacking in self-consistency”]. Passages such as these go to show that Wilson was possessed of an intellectual independence that prevents us from classifying him as an Aristotelian.
spacer3. Also interesting is Wilson’s relation to Stoicism. Beginning at §43 he launches a sustained attack on their understanding of appetites and affections and their doctrine that these need to be removed altogether, which he describes as merely silly, and concludes that the view of “my Aristotle is far more reasonable and humane.” In this portion of the Dialogus he writes of them almost as if they are some kind of enemy camp, frequently employing polemical and disparaging language. But as the dialogue progresses, the relation of Aristotle to the Stoics seems to become progressively inverted. Especially when Wilson turns to his lengthy dream-decription, the core of his work, which begins at §95, the ancient authors he quotes the most are Stoic philosophers such as Seneca and Epictetus, as well as Cicero in his most Stoicizing works (such as De Officiis and the Tusculan Disputations) and Plutarch, and Aristotle fades from sight. At one point (§238) he draws up a reading list for the benefit of students of moral philosophy:

Si de his, qui extra religionem sunt, sit sermo, si non tam linguam expolire quam animum virtute collucupletare cupitis, nostra quidem sententia ex Graecis legendi sunt Plato, Plutarchus, Xenophon, ex Latinis Cicero et Seneca. Naturas rerum arte et methodo tradit Aristoteles, Plinius naturae historiam singulatim et citra illam doctrinae methodum copiose conscripsit.

[“If we are to consider those who are secular, if you desire not only to polish your language but to enrich your mind with virtue, in my opinion among the Greeks Plato, Plutarch and Xenophon are to be read, and Cicero and Seneca among the Romans. Aristotle discusses nature with art and method.”]

Aristotle, to be sure, has a place on the list, but in a distinctly subordinate position. It looks almost as if Wilson’s attitude towards Aristotelianism and Stoicism underwent considerable evolution during the composition of his work.
spacer4. The upshot of this is that, if you wish to classify Wilson as a philosopher, the only reasonable verdict is that the Dialogus is an eclectic work. And yet there is a danger in this categorization, if it is taken to imply that the Dialogus is nothing but a réchauffé of Graeco-Roman thinking about moral philosophy, perhaps little more than an attractively-written assemblage of time-honored bromides on the subject. Such a reading would have the effect of denying Wilson any originality and depriving him of any place in the history of Western thought.
spacer5. But Wilson’s Dialogus is in fact a work of considerable originality, for Wilson’s object was to create a blending of Graeco-Roman thinking about moral philosophy with Christian theology. Two ways in which Wilson achieved this are too obvious to require expatiation here. First, the Dialogus contains a large number of references to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and many quotations from Scripture. And, of course, the way in which these quotations are intermingled with others drawn from a wide variety of Greek and Roman authors carries its own message of blending. The second such way is illustrated by a remark at §108 (one of a very large number of similar statements), Sunt ergo haec propria animorum bona atque ornamenta tanto praestantiora iis quae ad corpus pertinent quanto res incorporea et intelligens animus corpore, quod crassum est et suo sibi ingenio brutum, est excellentior. [“So these proper goods and ornaments of minds are just as much more excellent than those pertaining to the body as incorporeal things and the intelligent mind are to the body, which is gross and brutish by its very nature.”] Throughout the dialogue we are constantly told that genuine tranquility of mind can only be achieved by repressing our appetites and desires for the things of this material world. Mind and soul are temporarily trapped in the prison of the body, and must not succumb to its false promises of pleasure. This message is Christian, and also Platonic, but is foreign to the Peripatetic and Stoic ethical traditions on which Wilson otherwise draws.
spacer6. The third way in which Wilson manages to impart a Christian element to the ethical teachings of the Greeks and Romans is more subtle but no less important. In Latin, the words anima and animus may look and sound quite alike, but they have very different meanings: used properly, anima corresponds to the Greek ψυχή, and animus to νοῦς: i. e., anima denotes the breath of life, the life principle that suffuses our entire body and survives us after death, whereas animus denotes the mind. Ancient philosophers could be very explicit in insisting on this distinction (as did Lucretius at De Natura Rerum III.136ff., with William Ellery Leonard’s verse translation).

Nunc animum atque animam dico coniuncta teneri
inter se atque unam naturam conficere ex se,
sed caput esse quasi et dominari in corpore toto
consilium, quod nos animum mentemque vocamus.
idque situm media regione in pectoris haeret.
hic exultat enim pavor ac metus, haec loca circum
laetitiae mulcent: hic ergo mens animusquest.
cetera pars animae per totum dissita corpus
paret et ad numen mentis momenque movetur.
idque sibi solum per se sapit et sibi gaudet,
cum neque res animam neque corpus commovet una.
et quasi, cum caput aut oculus temptante dolore
laeditur in nobis, non omni concruciamur
corpore, sic animus nonnumquam laeditur ipse
laetitiaque viget, cum cetera pars animai
per membra atque artus nulla novitate cietur;
verum ubi vementi magis est commota metu mens,
consentire animam totam per membra videmus
sudoresque ita palloremque existere toto
corpore et infringi linguam vocemque aboriri,
caligare oculos, sonere auris, succidere artus,
denique concidere ex animi terrore videmus
saepe homines; facile ut quivis hinc noscere possit
sudoresque ita palloremque existere toto
corpore et infringi linguam vocemque aboriri,
caligare oculos, sonere auris, succidere artus,
denique concidere ex animi terrore videmus
saepe homines; facile ut quivis hinc noscere possit.

Hearken my other maxims.
Mind and soul,
I say, are held conjoined one with other,
And form one single nature of themselves;
But chief and regnant through the frame entire
Is still that counsel which we call the mind,
And that cleaves seated in the midmost breast.
Here leap dismay and terror; round these haunts
Be blandishments of joys; and therefore here
The intellect, the mind. The rest of soul,
Throughout the body scattered, but obeys-
Moved by the nod and motion of the mind.
This, for itself, sole through itself, hath thought;
This for itself hath mirth, even when the thing
That moves it, moves nor soul nor body at all.
And as, when head or eye in us is smit
By assailing pain, we are not tortured then
Through all the body, so the mind alone
Is sometimes smitten, or livens with a joy,
Whilst yet the soul’s remainder through the limbs
And through the frame is stirred by nothing new.
But when the mind is moved by shock more fierce,
We mark the whole soul suffering all at once
Along man’s members: sweats and pallors spread
Over the body, and the tongue is broken,
And fails the voice away, and ring the ears,
Mists blind the eyeballs, and the joints collapse,-
Aye, men drop dead from terror of the mind.
Hence, whoso will can readily remark
That soul conjoined is with mind, and, when
’Tis strook by influence of the mind, forthwith
In turn it hits and drives the body too.

What Lucretius writes about animus and anima is of course colored by his materialistic way of thinking, yet this passage serves as a memorable illustration of the distinction ancient philosophy made between mind and soul.
spacer7. In translating Wilson’s dialogue one quickly comes to realize that the traditional differentiation between these words is not maintained, which is doubly surprising, both because Wilson’s philosophical approach otherwise features a great deal of distinction-drawing and because he repeatedly expresses concern for observing the niceties of Latin style, even going so far in one passage (§239) as to criticize Erasmus in this respect. In this dialogue one encounters passages (such as §20) where he writes about the animus possessing qualities, such as immortality, that both pagans and Christianity traditionally attribute to the anima. Contrariwise, there are times when he palpably employs anima to denote the same thing he normally calls animus (as at §23 and §37). At first sight a translator is troubled by this seeming confusion, both because it appears to represent an exasperating example of linguistic imprecision, and because decisions constantly have to be made, on the basis of context, whether it is the mind, the soul, or both, that is currently being discussed.
spacer8. But, thinking about it a little more, one comes to realize that this confusion is purposefully introduced, and can even be identified as a fundamental feature of Wilson’s philosophical approach. Usually — the Pythagoreans and Platonists were exceptional — the aim of ancient philosophy was the cultivation and improvement of the mind, whereas Christianity is characterized by a concern for the welfare of Man’s immortal soul. Wilson’s crucial innovation is to resort to a deliberate imprecision of language to blur (or, more precisely, all but abolish) the distinction between the mind and the soul. The ancients’ philosophical prescriptions for improving the mind could by this means be appropriated en bloc and blended together with traditional Christian teachings. Thus an eclectic mixture of ancient moral philosophy, in which Aristotle and the Stoics predominate, becomes incorporated into Christian doctrine. In result, the cardinal philosophical formula of subordinating one’s will, and also one’s emotions, desires, and what Wilson calls affections, to the rule of reason becomes, in effect, a Christian virtue. This, I suppose, represents an attempt to forge a new Humanistic theology by adding to traditional Christian thought an infusion of the best of moral teaching pagan philosophy had to offer.
spacer9. The result is startling, and produces on the reader an effect not entirely unlike a visit to the Duomo di Siena. One enters this structure and sees, embedded in its magnificent mosaic floor, quotations drawn from such pagan writers as Euripides and Seneca, and a portrait of Socrates is also present. One gains the impression of having entered a structure that is at once a Christian church and a temple of the Muses, or at least a Christian church designed to make the Muses feel at home. In the field of ecclesiastical architecture, the Duomo is a bold experiment in creating some sort of fusion of Christianity and secular Humanism, and it is no accident that Sienna’s greatest son was the Humanistic scholar-poet Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who governed the Church as Pius II. Indeed, his nephew Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, who later ruled as Pius III, planned on bringing the Duomo project to a kind of logical conclusion when he added to it the Piccolomini Library with its ten biographical panels by Pinturrichio, which was intended to house the library of Humanistic texts assembled by his great uncle. The library never fulfilled its intended purpose, but if it had, then the Duomo would indeed have been simultaneously both a church and a museum in the full sense of the word, a remarkable proclamation of the essential oneness of Christianity and secular Humanism.
spacer10. The Duomo was of course a mad project that was never repeated, for it attempts to bring together very different spiritual, intellectual and historical traditions that in fact do not always sit together very well. It can produce reactions of incredulity and amusement in the modern visitor, and it is all too easy to imagine it eliciting reactions of dismay and even downright anger in a visitor who happens to be a believing Christian. It must be admitted that Wilson’s grand attempt to unite Graeco-Roman moral philosophy with Christianity is likewise a failure. At one point (§68) he issues a bold and confident proclamation, Sed video me iam in illud Chrysippi et Stoicorum incidisse vitium, qui (ut scribit Cicero) de animi perturbationibus disputantes magnam partem in iis definiendas ac partiendis sunt occupati, orationis paullum admodum ad animorum curationem, quae sola in morali disputatione quaerenda videtur, accommodantes [“But I see I have now fallen into that mistake of Chrysippus and the Stoics, who (as Cicero writes) consumed a great part of their discussions of the mind’s perturbations to their definitions and divisions, devoting very little of their exposition to the cure of minds, which seems to be sought only in moral disputation.”] The problem with this statement is that the moral teachings of ancient philosophy may be well and good in their own way, but no loyal son of the Church such as Wilson professed to be — more on this below — can pretend that they are necessary for salvation. Hence at the end of the dialogue his enterprise suffers a grand collapse. The bulk of the Dialogus is devoted to a dream-vision providing a description of the temple of philosophy, but it turns out that there is a second, superior temple higher up the hill, that of Christianity. In response to Francesco Micheli’s question whether it is possible to gain access to the higher temple without first going through the lower, Wilson is obliged to admit (§273), Plane licet, prioribus praeteritis, hoc est citra exactam et curiosam naturae indagationem Christianae tranquillitatis fructus illos suavissimos colligere, et pene adducor ut credam feliciores esse quibus hac transitione uti contingit [“It is indeed possible to do so by bypassing what comes before, by which I mean that it is possible to harvest that most sweet fruit of Christian tranquility without any careful and precise investigation of nature, and I am all but induced to believe they are more blessed who can employ this shortcut.”] At the very least, this comes dangerously close to being a disavowal of his earlier assertion of the preeminence of moral philosophy, a claim which it impossible for a Christian to maintain. And, if the entire apparatus of Graeco-Roman philosophy is dispensable, the question why the seeker of tranquility of mind should bother to have any recourse to it is inevitably raised, and some readers may regard the answers Wilson seeks to provide in the remainder of this paragraph as feeble and unconvincing.
spacer11. The relation of Humanism to Christian belief, which was not always simple or easy, is one of the great themes of the intellectual life of Europe during the Renaissance. Wilson’s Dialogus may not have much of a place in the history of philosophy, strictly speaking, but for students interested in this question of the coexistence of Humanism and Christianity, this work, like the Duomo di Siena, exerts a certain fascination.
spacer12. It is by now obvious that the Dialogus is a religious document as well as a philosophical one, so it will prove useful to calibrate his religious position. He repeatedly describes himself as a Catholic, but this characterization requires a number of qualifications. First, he was obviously hot for Church reform. At a number of points he inserts severe remarks about the worldliness and luxury of the higher clergy. At §224 he writes, Fuit et mihi aliquando in aula antistes longe illustrissimus, in cuius fidem ac clientelam iuvenis admodum falso splendore captus me contuleram, blue sed cum vidissem crebro supplicandum esse et perferenda multa taedia ob nescio quod fortunae praemium, barbara quadam fortasse superbia ductus, contemsi diutuis perferre turpes illas et libero homine indignas moestias, protinusque miseriarum contemnere et calcare mercedem coepi. Magno emitur quod precibus, turpissime quod adulationibus. [“I had a patron once at court, a bishop; as a young man I was very captivated by his false splendor and placed myself under his protection and tutelage. blue But when I perceived that I would have to be a constant beggar and endure many tediums for the sake of God knows what reward of fortune, I was perhaps induced by some barbaric pride and scorned to bear those base doldrums, unworthy of a free man, any longer, and I straightway began to feel contempt for those miseries and disdain their profit. Something which is bought dearly by entreaties is most basely purchased by flatteries.”] As a young man at the court of Henry VIII he had plenty of opportunity to observe Cardinal Wolsey, and clearly he did not like what he saw.This experience, it is easy to suppose, colored his view of the upper levels of the Church hierarchy, although he does manage to find good things to say about Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester (§113) and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (§239, §268).
spacer13. Second, for some reason he had special regard for a group of Italian reformers, several with ties to the town of Lucca, men who, if not exactly Protestants, were close enough to being such that they incurred the wrath of the Church and were driven into exile. At §2 he speaks favorably of three such Italians who were obliged to flee to Geneva, Bernardino Ochino, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Paolo Lacisi, and at §158 he inserts his poem in praise of an old friend from his English days, the Lucca Humanist Antonio Bonvisio, a reform-minded Humanist who found refuge in London and became a familiar figure on the local intellectual scene. And, of course, one of his two interlocutors in this dialogue is Francesco Micheli, a member of a prominent reforming Lucca family, who had his own problems with the Inquisition. Like his dedication of Commentatio quaedam theologica to the citizens of Lucca, his choice of Micheli as the principal interlocutor in the Dialogus seems intended as a provocative indication of his true sympathies. While not an actual Protestant, Wilson appears to have been a kind of Catholic equivalent of a “low church” Anglican.
spacer 14. Another reformer of a very different kind about whom Wilson has nothing but good things to say is Henry VIII, who is is mentioned repeatedly, always in respectful terms. Indeed, although he is otherwise mentioned favorably, Wilson inserts a remarkable statement into his observations about Bishop John Fisher at §239, who in his opinion was vir in theologicis studiis doctissimus et, si non magistratui, illius etiam studioso (ut plerisque placere video) contumacius restitisset, virtutis exemplar absolutum [“a man most learned in theology, who would have been a complete model of perfection had he not stubbornly opposed his sovereign (who was most devoted to him, as I perceive many to think).”] The issue at stake, of course, was Fisher’s outspoken objection to Henry’s divorce and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, for which both he and Sir Thomas More were sent to the block, earning themselves martyrdom in the eyes of the Church (they were canonized together in 1935). This is a doubly strange thing to say, both because it is scarcely a proper Catholic evaluation and because during the years that Wilson had lived in England he had enjoyed Fisher’s patronage, so that one cannot help thinking of a statement by Seneca that he quotes at §264, dixeris maledicta cuncta, cum ingratum hominem dixeris [“You have pronounced every imprecation when you have called a man an ingrate.”] A possible motive for taking this line is suggested by a 1536 letter to Cromwell in which he reported he had written a pamphlet defending Henry, and hoped in exchange to retain his profitable Speldhurst living (it should be noted that this implies a willingness to join the Church of England in order to hang on to the benefice). Even after Cromwell was no longer in power to help him, he may have written as he did because he wanted to leave the door open for a possible return to England.
spacer15. Third, some of what Wilson writes in the Dialogus might have struck a contemporary Catholic as doctrinally unsound (although, admittedly, it should should be borne in mind that this work was written before the Council of Trent, when the theological battle-lines were drawn more firmly). At §253 he makes some remarks about human sinfulness and helplessness which his friend Francesco Micheli immediately pounces on for coming too close to the Protestant doctrine sola fide, i. e. the idea that Man’s salvation is a matter of divine grace exclusively, and that human good works are of no avail. In the following paragraph Wilson tries to clear himself of this charge and claims Versor item in caussa cum ea moderatione et ecclesiasticae auctoritatis reverentia ut neminem nisi vel impium vel stolidum sermo meus offendere possit [“I am involved in this cause with such moderation and reverence for the authority of the Church that my discourse could offend nobody but an impious man or a fool.”] I leave it to the individual reader to evaluate the effectiveness of his defense. Even more conspicuously, there is his remark at §272, Et sane in hac rerum nocte, si libros illos excipias, nihil prorsus est in divinis rebus lucis, quapropter par est omnino eos ipsos omni studio atque observantia, perinde ac thesaurum aliquem incomparabilem, et conservare et venerari [“And indeed in this darkness of things, if you except those books of Scripture, there is no illumination of divine things, so that it is reasonable for us to cherish and worship them with all our zeal and devotion, as if they were some incomparable treasure.”] This looks very much like an enunciation of the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura:, and no room is allowed for the teachings of the Church as a source of illumination.
spacer16. Finally, if Wilson regarded himself as a loyal Catholic, it is worth considering what precisely he meant by this. A possible indication is given at §260, where he writes Iam et ecclesiae, hoc est tot praestantium in omni sapientiae genere virorum, summus de Christiano dogmate consensus, iam inde ab eius exordio in hunc usque diem non parum hic obtinere debet momenti. Non enim solum doctrinam hanc (quod impii quidam caussati sunt) amplexa est indocta turba aut aliquot anus, sed summa atque in omni philosophia exercitissima ingenia, quod qui latius narratum cupit consulat scriptores eos qui illustrium nostrae religionis virorum catalogum composuerunt [“Next the consensus of the Church, i.e. of so many men excellent in every manner of wisdom, which has existed from its beginning down to this very day, ought to be of no little weight. For not only has the unlettered mass of men, or some old women, embraced this teaching (as some impious men have complained), but also consummate intellects thoroughly versed in every kind of philosophers, and if a person wants this told in fuller detail let him consult those writers who have compiled a catalogue of the famous men of our religion.”] Reading this, one might be tempted to surmise that, in his eyes, the Church consisted primarily of an intellectual heritage, rather than an ecclesiastical organization headquartered at Rome. All in all, one has the impression of a Catholic who is not quite convinced of the complete rightness of his Church’s posture in all things, and whose mind is by no means closed to the arguments of its opponents. NOTE 2 Investigation of his other writings, particularly the Commentatio quaedam theologica, might help determine with greater exactitude the degree to which Wilson's religious thinking was influenced by the Lucca reformers, but what he writes in the Dialogues provides plenty of grounds for suspecting that his underlying intention in writing the Dialogus was to introduce his own brand of reformation by “modernizing” Catholicism and making it more congenial to contemporary, Humanistically-educated intellectuals. The Dialogus, in short, represents his attempt to devise a new Christian Humanism.
spacer17. The Dialogus was first published by the Lyon printer Sébastian Gryphe, and reprints were issued at Leiden in 1637, and at Edinburgh in 1707 and 1751. It is a measure of the reputation Wilson once enjoyed among his fellow countrymen that this 1751 edition was prepared for use as a textbook at the High School of Edinburgh. In addition, three of Wilson’s poems embedded in the Dialogus appear in the Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum anthology (Amsterdam, 1637), and these same items, together with the concluding paragraphs of the dialogue itself, are included in Patrick Adamson’s Poemata Sacra (London, 1619). This present edition is based on the earliest text available to me, the 1707 Edinburgh one. I should like to give my utmost thanks to Jamie Reid Baxter for originally suggesting that the Dialogus merited inclusion in The Philological Museum and for offering me encouragement and advice as I worked on this project. I am no less indebted to Ian Cunningham, former Curator of Manuscripts at the National Library of Scotland, for consenting to share with me his partial translation of the Dialogus. Although the translation presented here is entirely my own, I freely admit to having availed myself of his solutions at some points; at many others his version put me on the right path to understanding Wilson’s Latin.

 

Notes

spacerNOTE 1 I use Florence as the form of Wilson’s Christian name because thus it is written in the O. D. N. B. Dominic Baker-Smith, who has written quite a bit about him, prefers the form Florens. For further biographical information about Wilson see the works listed as Suggesed Further Reading immediately below. The beginning-point for all biographical information is the short sketch Flor. Voluseni Ortus, Vita & Mors included at the end of Adamson’s Poemata Sacra (pp. 77 - 79) and printed at the beginning of both eighteenth century editions of the Dialogus.

spacerNOTE 2 I have only considered Wilson’s religious alignment down to the time when he wrote the Dialogus. A 1546 letter from Cardinal Sadoleto urging him to remain loyal to the Church despite the burning of learned men shows that by then, if not before, he was palpably wavering in the faith.

 

Suggested Further Reading

Baker-Smith, Dominic, “Antonio Buonvisi and Florens Wilson: corrigenda and a note,” Moreana - Angeres 266/267 (2006) 253f.

— “Florens Wilson: A Distant Prospect," in Janet Hadley William (ed.), Stewart Style 1513 - 1542: Essays on the Court of James V (East Linton - Melksham, Wilts., 1996) 1 - 14.

— “Florens Wilson and his Circle: Emigrés in Lyon, 1539 - 1543,” in Grahame Castor and Terence Cave (edd.), Neo-Latin and the Vernacular in Renaissance France (Oxford, 1984) 83 - 97.

Broadie, Alexander, “Philosophy in Renaissance Scotland: Loss and Gain,” in John MacQueen, Humanism in Renaissance Scotland (Edinburgh, 1990) 88f.

Durkan, John, “Wilson [Volusene], Florence,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Alasdair A. MacDonald, “Florentius Volusenus and Tranquillity of Mind: Some Applications of an Ancient Ideal,” in Alisdair A. MacDonald, Zweder R. W. M. von Martels, and Jan R. Veenstra, Christian Humanism: Essays in Honour of Arjo Vanderjagt (Leiden - Boston, 2009) 119 - 138.