Gaston Javier Basile
Reshaping Nature: Humanist Scientific Translations in the Late Italian Quattrocento
Gaston J. Basile is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics at the University of Buenos Aires. He has conducted postdoctoral research on topics related to the genesis of Greek scientific discourse, the Italian humanists’ intellectual engagement with Greek and Latin texts and, most recently, on the theory and practice of translation in the Italian Quattrocento with a special focus on scientific texts. He was visiting scholar at the Università degli Studi di Siena (2011 and 2016); postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Buenos Aires (2015-2017); Visiting Scholar at the Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humbodlt-Universität (2018); and Erasmus/Henri Crawford Fellow at the Warburg Institute, University of London (2019).
The late Italian Quattrocento saw an unprecedented interest in natural science. Interpretatio – the term which best describes this process of textual criticism, exegesis, and translation – was, beyond doubt, the hallmark of the early humanist engagement with the natural world. This interdisciplinary project explores fifteenth-century humanist Neo-Latin translation and interpretation of Greek texts on natural science (Aristotle, Dioscorides, Theophrastus, Hippocrates, and Galen). Through a selection of translator’s prefaces and textual outputs, epistolary correspondence between leading humanists, and specific treatises dealing with the exegesis or translation of scientific authors, the project explores the role played by translation in the shaping of natural scientific knowledge, the reconfiguration of disciplinary areas of expertise, as well as the circulation and practical use of the newly translated or retranslated texts both within academic circles and as operational tools for practicing doctors, botanists and apothecaries. The study focuses on the challenges humanists faced when translating scientific literature, their interpretive operations, as well as their meta-reflection on translation, language and the natural world.