The humanist, biblical scholar, and hebraist Benito Arias Montano, and ‘Reassembling the Republic of Letters in the Digital Age’

As the volume describing the discussions and conclusions of the inter-disciplinary community drawn together under the aegis of the COST-funded ‘Reassembling the Republic of Letters‘ initiative is made available online,[1. Howard Hotson and Thomas Wallnig, eds, Reassembling the Republic of Letters in the Digital Age: Standards, Systems, Scholarship (Göttingen, 2019). {See: <>)] it is particularly fitting to celebrate in tandem the publication in EMLO of a correspondence catalogue for a Spanish humanist compiled by a scholar at the heart of this Action’s pan-European community. The inventory of the letters of Benito Arias Montano has been contributed to EMLO by Antonio Dávila Pérez, Professor of Latin Philology at the University of Cadiz and editor of the scholarly research project Benito Arias Montano: Epistolario.

‘Benito Arias Montano: Epistolario’, Univeristy of Cadiz. (See: <>)

This project, which focusses on Arias Montano’s correspondence and is working towards a complete edition, was founded in 1995 by Professor J. Gil and Professor J. M. Maestre Maestre, and it has been developed within the Research Group ‘Elio Antonio de Nebrija‘ at the University of Cadiz.

Benito Arias Montano (c. 1525/7–1598), a key figure in the religious and cultural history of the sixteenth century, is best known today for his editorial oversight of the Biblia Regia (often described as the ‘Antwerp Polyglot’), which was commissioned by Philip II from the printer Christophe Plantin. Amongst Arias Montano’s correspondents a number of key humanists are to be found, including Justus Lipsius, Carolus Clusius, Laevinus Torrentius, and Adrianus Junius, as well as Plantin himself. Professor Dávila Pérez proved an invaluable member of the scholarly community that engaged in the wide-ranging discussions held over the four years between 2014 and 2018 under the aegis of the COST ‘Reassembling the Republic of Letters’ Action, and his significant contribution to EMLO, which may be viewed now alongside growing clusters of Iberian correspondence metadata, is appreciated greatly.

A formal launch for the COST Action’s volume will showcase the fruits of these recent years of discussion and is being planned for October this year (details, when available, will be posted in a forthcoming blog). In the meantime, the volume has been made available online. Judging from conversations taking place in King’s College, Cambridge, this week at the Training School arranged by the Networking Archives project (in which, of course, both Cultures of Knowledge and EMLO both play crucial roles), the publication is proving indispensable already to those interested in the potential of transnational digital infrastructure to facilitate multilateral collaboration in the reassembly of scattered documentation. And, of course, metadata for this scattered documentation are precisely what scholars require to chart the shapes and patterns within the early modern scholarly communities we have under investigation.


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