The „Online Repertory of German Translations of Antiquities 1501-1620,“ funded since 2019 by the German Research Foundation, is intended as a basic philological project that will comprehensively index German translations of antiquities between 1501 and 1620. The aim of the project is to compile a repertory that for the first time records all textual evidence (prints and manuscripts) produced between 1501 and 1620 that transmit translations of Latin and Greek works of antiquity and late antiquity (up to ca. 600 AD) into German. Thus, for the first time, the translation of ancient texts in the German-speaking world for the epochs of humanism and the Reformation, which form the starting point of the cultural technique of translation central to the early modern period, is recorded with quantitative precision in its medial basis. For the translations of works of Christian antiquity, the repertory even offers the first overview ever for the period covered.
All textual witnesses are searchable in the database. In addition, detailed descriptions provide information on the structure of the often complex prints and manuscripts; biographies and lists of research literature on all translators who can be identified by name provide access to their scholarly research. In this way, a digital empirical basis is created on which research in linguistics, media studies, or cultural history can be based in this period, which is central to early modern translation culture.
Preliminary work and temporal boundaries
ORDA16 can draw on several important preliminary works for this purpose. For the period from 1450 to 1550, there is a printed bibliography that claims to be complete (Worstbrock 1976), which includes prints and manuscripts alike, but which was compiled before the retrospective national bibliographies (VD16 and VD17) were created and, moreover, needs to be supplemented and corrected in some places. For the period 1501 to 1550, Worstbrock’s printed bibliography will therefore be integrated into the planned online repertory and, where necessary, supplemented or corrected. For the years 1551 to 1620, for which no special bibliography of translations of ancient works into German yet exists, it will be continued. Deviating from Worstbrock’s concept, however, translations of works of Christian antiquity, which he – following an outdated understanding of antiquity – had completely excluded, will be systematically integrated.
The year 1501 is set as the upper temporal limit of the online repertory, since most translations of ancient works are already listed in the Marburg Repertory of Translation Literature in German Early Humanism (MRFH), which also includes early printed works and manuscripts. In this way, a duplication of the work already done in the MRFH is avoided. The year 1620 is chosen as the lower temporal boundary, which has already served as a dividing mark for the lexica of authors on the early modern period (VL16 and VL17) and can be considered the epochal boundary between late humanism and the Baroque in German literary history.
The criteria for inclusion in the online repertory is a definition of ‚translation‘ that we have developed following the comparable RCC project, which records all translations printed in the British Isles or published in print in English. The following criteria apply for inclusion as a text witness of a translation of an ancient work into German:
- The text witness identifies itself as a translation of an ancient work, by naming an ancient author or/and work title in the title, incipit, colophon, or other place.
- The text witness is identified by existing bibliographies as a translation of an ancient work.
- The text witness is identified by project leaders and editors as a translation of an ancient work.
- The text witness provides a translation into a variant of the German language.
The aim is to record all textual witnesses – handwritten and printed – of German-language translations of antiquities. For texts in print, the respective edition is the text witness; the copies listed in the previous repertories are included, if necessary with links to digital copies. For pragmatic reasons, however, a time-consuming search for all copies preserved in libraries or in private ownership is not planned for the time being.
A sufficiently broad, easily accessible and searchable empirical basis, on which linguistic, media or cultural studies research in the period between ca. 1460/70 and 1620, which is so important for early modern translation culture, could be based, has been lacking up to now. Therefore, it had to be compiled anew for each individual project in a time-consuming and possibly also cost-intensive manner.
Services of the database // searchable quantities
The following data are recorded and are searchable via the database:
- Authors (of the templates)
- translator (if named)
- complete transcription of the title
- edition name
- Place of printing
- printer-publisher or printer and publisher
- Year of origin
- Extent of printing
- Sheet collation
- dedicatees, contributors and other persons involved in printing
The following are also included in the bibliographic records
- tables of contents of the textual witnesses (dedication letters, prefaces, registers, sections/books of the translated work)
- Links to VD16 and VD17
- Inclusion of the copies recorded in VD16/VD17 in libraries in the German language area
- Links to existing digital copies of prints and manuscripts (VD 16 digital; USTC; etc.)
For translators known by name, a biogram and a list of research literature are also included.
By systematically recording prosopographical data (translators, printers, dedicatees, and other participants), translation networks can be identified and analyzed. The aim is to index holdings that have not already been indexed by means of a pure bibliographic record (VD16/VD17) or provision of prints (VD16 digital); rather, this is being done for the first time with regard to the question of translations of ancient authors into German, at least for the period between 1551 and 1620.
Instructions for using the search mask of ORDA16 can be found here.