The Project

Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum: single volume (binding)
Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum:
single volume (binding)

Latin was Scotland's third language in the early modern period, alongside Scots and Gaelic. However Professor Robert Crawford dubbed it Scotland's literary 'lost continent' (Scotland's Books: The Penguin History of Scottish Literature, 2007) due to the lack of sustained academic research into Scoto-Latin texts, and translation thereof. The Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum huius aevi illustrium (DPS, Amsterdam, 1637) is the most important of these neglected texts. Edited by the Fife laird Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit and the Aberdonian poet Arthur Johnston, it represents the zenith of Scotland's burgeoning Latin culture during the renaissance and reformation. Although volumes of poetry by multiple authors were produced locally in the same period for occasions such the royal visit of James VI and I in 1617, the DPS (totalling 1,272 pages) is the only anthology of Scottish Neo-Latin poetry ever produced for an international audience, or on such a large scale. The earliest poet included in the collection is the pre-Reformation Neo-Platonist Florens Wilson (d. c. 1551), but the rest were active in the reign of King James VI and I, worked in a wide variety of occupations, and were both Protestant and Catholic. The DPS also paradoxically shows that Neo-Latin humanist culture, with its reverence for the classical (and pagan) past, became immensely popular in Scotland at the exact same time as Scotland became one of the most doctrinaire Reformed countries in Europe. By translating a carefully chosen selection of poets in the DPS, the project sought to better understand why it was that in a country traditionally seen as embracing the vernacular post-reformation, Latin continued to play such an important cultural role.