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A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications

  • Classification – name: Literary studies
  • Author: Ludmila V. Evdokimova
  • Pages: 62-90
  • Publisher: A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IWL RAS Publ.)
  • Rights – description: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (СС BY-ND)
  • Rights – URL: Visit Website
  • Language of the publication: Russian
  • Type of document: Research Article
  • Collection: «The History of Literature»: Non-scientific sources of a scientific genre
  • DOI:
  • EDN:

  • Year of publication: 2022
  • Place of publication: Moscow
  • PDF

  • Evdokimova, L.V. “ʽThe Speculum Historiale’ of Vincent of Beauvais: from the History of Antiquity to the History of Ancient Literature.” “The History of Literature”: Non-Scientific Sources of a Scientific Genre. Ex. ed. Maria R. Nenarokova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2022, pp. 62–90. (In Russian)

About the author:

Ludmila V. Evdokimova, DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia; Professor, Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Novokuznetskaya 23 b, 115184 Moscow, Russia.

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“The Speculum Historiale” — the fourth volume of the encyclopaedia of Vincent of Beauvais, called the “Speculum majus” — comprises a narrative of world history from the creation of the world to the middle of the 13th century. In the chapters of “The Speculum Historiale”, which refer to ancient authors, Vincent depends heavily on the second part of the chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea, preserved in the Latin translation by Jerome. Using the chronology of this work and also numerous mentions of ancient authors by Eusebius, Vincent and his collaborators supplemented these elements with excerpts from other books and integrated all of them into the volume of “The Speculum Historiale”. Thus, the volume comprises a great variety of materials having either a direct or sometimes indirect relation to literature. Writers, philosophers, other authors appeared as individuals significant in the history; their works became equal in importance to the principal historical events. Materials related to literature or culture form separate chapters, or a series of chapters: the history of culture is presented as part of history in the broad sense of the word, without completely coinciding with it. The article discusses the sources of chapters about Aesop and some other Greek poets, as well as Horace, Virgil, Plautus and Terence. These texts can be divided into three groups: some of them met the needs of Dominican preachers, they were processed according to Christian guidelines; others conveyed the testimonies of earlier ancient writers, which have not lost their significance today. And the third group transmitted medieval ideas about some authors and genres. This diverse material and the place that it occupied in “The Speculum Historiale” allows us to trace how the contours of the history of literature become discernible in the framework of history. A few centuries later, in the first volume of the “Histoire littéraire de la France” (1733), the same contours become more apparent: although the history of literature acquires the status of an independent discipline here, its close connection with history determines both the general purpose of the book and the content of many chapters.

  • Keywords: Vincent of Beauvais, “The Speculum Historiale”, chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea, st. Jerome, ancient literature, Aesop, Horace, Virgil, Plautus, Terence, Valerius Maximus, Romulus collection, scholia to Horace and Terence.


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