M.H.K. (Maarten) Jansen Mphil

  • PhD student (2008, supervisor: prof. dr. Ineke Sluiter)
  • Classical languages and culture
  • Neo-Latin literature
  • Renaissance humanism

Personal Homepage: www.hum.leiden.edu/​icd/​organisation/​members/​jansenmhk.html

Fields of interest

  • Virgilian scholarship of the early modern period, esp. commentaries on the Aeneid.
  • Knowledge management in the early modern period and the relation between various forms of intellectual discourse.
  • The conceptualization of classical antiquity in the Renaissance.


Early modern Latin commentaries on Virgil’s Aeneid Characteristic for scholars of the early modern period is the orientation toward classical antiquity and the enormous effort to consolidate and manage knowledge. In the last decades, much attention in Renaissance studies has been given to the ways in which the vast amount of knowledge available was structured and organized by early modern scholars. One of the most recent works in this field is Blair (2010), who focuses on compilatory works such as dictionaries and encyclopedias; some earlier important studies are Grafton & Jardine (1986), and Moss (1996). Within this large area of research, there has been given surprisingly little attention to the genre of the early modern commentary: though the importance of the commentary for early modern scholarship is beyond discussion, almost no systematic studies of the topic have been undertaken. There are numerous case studies on individual commentaries and some attempts at a more general overview of the genre, but no studies of a more general scope. This brings about two disadvantages: first, this important field of knowledge organization is for a large part uncharted; second, commentaries that are studied are often considered in isolation and not as part of a broader intellectual discourse.

These two desiderata are at the basis of this dissertation. Through it, I wish to contribute to (1) a more informed understanding of the early modern commentary and (2) of its position within the early modern social and intellectual context. Moreover, it is my aim to (3) situate the commentary not only in its contemporary surroundings, but to consider also the question of continuity and discontinuity in the tradition of writing commentaries (which goes back to antiquity itself). These three goals can only be achieved by emplacing strict limitations on the topic of my research. I have therefore chosen to concern myself only with early modern commentaries on the foremost literary author of the classical tradition, an author with a central position in early modern education, whose works are accompanied by an almost continuous tradition of scholarship from antiquity onwards. This author is of course Virgil.

In this dissertation, I will discuss various aspects of early modern Latin commentaries on Virgil’s Aeneid. I will confine myself to commentaries on this work only, because of the vast amount of commentary available on this work alone.  In view of my three research goals that were set out above, I will approach these commentaries from two different angles. Firstly, I will analyze the social and intellectual context in which these commentaries were used, for the commentary has never been an isolated genre. This question is related to the current debate in early modern studies regarding scholarship in the early modern period. Secondly, I will be interested in what these commentaries tell about the continuity or discontinuity of antique and medieval Virgilian scholarship into the early modern period. This research topic not only contributes to our understanding of Virgilian scholarship, but also delves into the issue of the continuity of intellectual traditions and learning.

Both research questions – the one offering a diachronic, the other a synchronic perspective – come together in the domain of intellectual history, so that the results of the research for this dissertation will not only contribute to Virgilian studies, but also to our understanding of the intellectual discourse in the early modern period.

Curriculum Vitae

Member of the University Council of Leiden University.   2008-present
PhD Candidate in Latin and Renaissance literature, Classics department, Leiden University.

student assistant at the edition of the Erasmi Opera Omnia (Huygens Institute)

student assistant to the professor of Latin ( Leiden University)
M.Phil Literature (cum laude) (Leiden University)

Thesis: ‘Latomus contra Erasmus: An Example of Early Modern Streitkultur. A Paradigmatic Case-Study of Latomus, De trium linguarum et studii theologici ratione dialogus and Erasmus, Apologia contra Iacobum Latomum’ (supervisor prof. dr. K.A.E. Enenkel)

BA Classics (Leiden University)

Thesis: ‘Caesar dum canitur…; Accounts of the Battle of Actium in Roman Poetry as Discussion on the Conventions of Genre.’ (supervisor prof. dr. J. Booth)

For more information, see my profile on LinkedIn.

Teaching Activities

2010: BA1 Latijn proza: Cicero’s tweede Philippica, theorie en praktijk van de Romeinse rhetorica (Latin prose: Cicero’s Philippica 2 and Roman rhetoric; Leiden University)

2009: BA1 Latijn Taalverwerving 1b/c (Elementary Latin; Leiden University)

2008: BA1 Latijn Taalverwerving 1a (Elementary Latin; Leiden University)


M.H.K. Jansen, ‘Epigramma cultum and the Greek Anthology: case studies from Michael Marullus’ Epigrammata’, in: Enenkel, Rijser & De Beer, ‘The Neo-Latin Epigram: Toward the definition of a Genre’ [in print]

Last Modified: 31-01-2013