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John Skelton and Poetic AuthorityDefining the Liberty to Speak$
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Jane Griffiths

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273607.001.0001

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Amplifying Memory: The Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus Siculus

Amplifying Memory: The Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus Siculus

(p.38) 2 Amplifying Memory: The Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus Siculus
John Skelton and Poetic Authority

Jane Griffiths (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Skelton's titles give some sense of the views of the poet available to him, and the way in which he redefines them depends not on theory but on his own practice as a writer. This chapter begins with a re-examination of its implications, focusing on his early translation of the Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus Siculus (c.1487). Although the Bibliotheca has been neglected critically, it is none the less central to Skelton's understanding of the writer's authority. It provides him with a number of commonplaces on the subject of writing that recur again and again in his later works. More importantly, however, his practice as translator repeatedly demonstrates the extent of the writer's influence over his subject. Where his source-text presents the historian as one whose authority is derived from his material—that is, in the writings of previous historians—Skelton's translation proposes an altogether different relation between the writer and his subject-matter. His source consistently discusses the writer's res (or subject-matter) in classical terms, as independent from the verba (or the words in which it is clothed). Thus, the meaning of the original may be transferred intact, unaffected by its treatment by a new writer or translator.

Keywords:   John Skelton, Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus Siculus, writer's authority

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