Multilingual Stemmatology

Multilingual Stemmatology: Understanding multilingual tradition and development of medieval texts. The Physiologus as a feasibility study.

Institute(s): Goethe University

Financed with funds from the project executing agency: Apr. 2016 – Feb. 2017 as pilot project

Project collaborators

Dr. Caroline Macé, Goethe University
Armin Hoenen, Goethe University


The Physiologus is an important and influential medieval text on animals as moral and allegorical examples. Originating in Egypt in the second or third century B.C. and coming from ancient sources, this text, originally written in Greek, was extremely widespread, with translations into various oriental languages as well as Latin and from Latin into the western vernacular. Each language has its own complicated manuscript contexts and indirect traditions. A clear overview of the entire tradition in all languages is still lacking, and the state of research is largely that of the end of the 19th century. A cross-lingual stemmatological approach is needed to address this problem.

It is planned to work on a short excerpt on animals in physiology, which appears particularly stable in terms of versions and reviews: panther, whale and partridge. This section will be examined in all available languages. One of the important innovations in the project will be the attempt to enable a multilingual comparison of manuscripts (automatic multilingual collation), possibly by using a meta-language to compare texts in different languages.


Corpus of literary translations (Project Gutenberg) on multilingual alignment and analysis in development

Relevant publications

  • Parvum lexicon stemmatologicum on-line:
  • Caroline Macé, “Textual Criticism”, in: Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Literature, ed. by Stratis Papaioannou, Oxford – New York: Oxford University Press (accepted, forthcoming).
  • Caroline Macé & Jost Gippert, “Textual Criticism and Editing in the Digital Age”, in: Oxford Handbook of Greek & Latin Textual Criticism, ed. by Wolfgang de Melo & Scott Scullion, Oxford: Oxford University Press (accepted, forthcoming).
  • Caroline Macé & Jost Gippert, “The Tradition of the Physiologus in Greek and in its early medieval translations”, Revue d’Histoire des Textes (in preparation, to be submitted in December 2016).

Further information

Participation in workshops:
4.10.2016, Antwerp, Workshop “Digital Scholarly Editing and Textual Criticism (Organized by DiXiT)”:

15.10.2016, Nice, Workshop “Automated computer methods treating -abundant manuscript traditions (Encyclopedia, Physiologus, …)”:

Preparation of a DFG-FWF project on multilingual stemmatology together with Prof. Dr. Tara Andrews (University of Vienna) (expected date for submission: 1.11.2016)

Preparation of an international conference in Paris on 15-17 June 2017: “The Physiologus between East and West. Diffusion and transmission of an early Christian text on nature” – Organizers: Anna Dorofeeva (Goethe University), Stavros Lazaris (CNRS, UMR Orient & Méditerranée / Labex RESMED), Caroline Macé (Goethe University), Arnaud Zucker (Université Côte d’Azur)

Preparation of a book “An introduction to stemmatology in the digital age”, in cooperation with an international team: Marina Buzzoni, Aidan Conti, Elisabet Göransson, Odd Einar Haugen, Armin Hoenen, Philipp Roelli.