The „Online Repertory of German Translations of Antiquities 1501-1620,“ funded since 2019 by the DFG, sees itself as a philological groundwork project that comprehensively indexes German translations of antiquities between 1501 and 1620 (for the reception of Christian antiquity from 1450). A sufficiently broad, easily accessible and searchable empirical basis, on which linguistic, media or cultural studies in this period, which is so important for early modern translation culture, could be based, has been lacking up to now; it therefore had to be compiled anew for each individual project, which was time-consuming and possibly also cost-intensive. The aim of the project is to compile a repertory that for the first time covers 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 the German language. For the translations of works of Christian antiquity, the Repertory even offers the first overview ever for the extended period from 1450 to 1620. 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 that was central to the early modern period, is precisely recorded in terms of its medial basis.
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. This creates a digital empirical basis on which research in linguistics, media studies, or cultural history in this period, which is central to early modern translation culture, can be based upon.
The most important addition to the second funding phase (since 2022) is the transcription of all paratexts from the first printings of the translations recorded in the database. This includes (dedicatory) letters, prefaces, introductory poems, and explanatory notes on the originals, as well as supplementary information such as commentaries, indexes, and indices. These paratexts of the first printings as well as any newly added paratexts in later editions, in which the translators provide information about their activity and give an account of it, are the most important sources for a history of translation theory and a historical semantics of translation, since hypotheses about the theory and history of early modern translation can be developed much more soundly on this comprehensive empirical basis than on the few loci classici of early modern translation literature, which are cited again and again.
Preliminary work and temporal boundaries
ORDA16 can rely on several important preliminary works. For the period from 1450 to 1550, there is a printed bibliography with a claim to completeness (Worstbrock 1976), which covers both prints and manuscripts, but which was compiled before the retrospective national bibliographies (VD16 and VD17) were created and, moreover, is in need of supplementation and correction in some places. For the period 1501 to 1550, Worstbrock’s printed bibliography will therefore be integrated into the 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 had completely excluded, are systematically integrated. For the period from 1450 to 1500, there exists a 2012 completed database, the Marburger Repertorium zur Übersetzungsliteratur im deutschen Frühhumanismus (MRFH), a project only recently (2012) completed. The problem of avoiding a duplication of the work already done in the MRFH on the one hand, while on the other hand being able to take new research results into account, is met by ORDA16 with the distinction between a narrower and a broader period of investigation. For the period from 1450 to 1500, the MRFH is supplemented both by the basic recording and indexing of works of Christian antiquity and by approximately 63 additional translations that were not considered by the MRFH because they were not considered humanistic according to the state of research at the time. For the narrower period from 1501 on, however, thoroughness is aimed at. The year 1620 is chosen as the lower temporal boundary, which already served as the dividing line 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.
Early modern translations of antiquities have also received attention through classical philology (e.g., Walde/Egger [eds.] 2010). However, since the corresponding reference works always include only a selection of authors and works, they can offer important summaries, but cannot replace a complete bibliography of German translations of antiquities.
The criterion 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 available 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.
Services of the database // searchable quantities
The following data are recorded and are searchable via database queries:
- authors (of the original)
- 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
- collational formula
- 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 (VD16 digital; USTC; etc.)
In addition to the specific search function, general overviews of the respective databases are also offered:
By systematically recording prosopographical data (translators, printers, dedicatees and other participants), translation networks can be identified and analyzed. The aim is to make holdings accessible that have not already been achieved by a mere bibliographic recording (VD16/VD17) or provision of prints (VD16 digital); rather, this is being achieved for the first time with regard to the question of translations of ancient authors into the German language, at least for the period between 1551 and 1620. For the translators known by name, a biography and a list of research literature are also included.
Instructions (in german) for using the search mask of ORDA16 can be found here.
MRFH = Marburger Repertorium zur Übersetzungsliteratur im deutschen Frühhumanismus, URL: www.mrfh.de.
RCC = The Renaissance Cultural Crossroads Catalogue, URL: www.dhi.ac.uk/rcc/
USTC = Universal Short Title Catalogue, URL: www.ustc.ac.uk/
VD16 = Das Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts, URL: www.vd16.de.
VD17 = Das Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachraum erschienenen Drucke des 17. Jahrhunderts, URL: www.vd17.de.