We know sadly little about the practice of language learning in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Eleanor Dickey’s two volumes on The Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana are destined to heal this deficit. She publishes a number of Western medieval manuscripts that are virtually unknown outside a circle of specialists and have been published only once, in 1892 as part of a corpus of Latin glossaries, and that contain a body of texts used to teach Greek to Latin speakers, parts of which date back to much earlier periods. Each manuscript is essentially a bilingual phrase book designed for different situations, from classroom experience and scenes from daily life to legal encounters; as in modern text books, these situations are developed in simple dialogues. The manuscripts are Carolingian and later, but the language is much older: as Eleanor Dickey shows, it goes back at least to the early Imperial epoch. Although the manuscripts belong to one single tradition of language teaching, each one presents an autonomous text, based on a specific late antique and medieval teaching tradition. Dickey thus edits each manuscript or group of closely connected manuscripts as a text of its own, with a palaeographical apparatus and a translation; each edition is introduced by a detailed introduction on the source text or texts and a commentary, especially on points of textual and cultural traditions and language.
The two volumes belong very closely together, and it is the earlier volume of 2012 that prefaces the entire corpus with an introduction to the genre of these colloquia and its history in ancient language teaching that is vital for understanding the second volume as well. Together, they open up a forgotten world of foreign language teaching and learning – in the Imperial Age both Greek by Latin speakers and Latin by Greek speakers, in the Medieval West Greek by a small group of Latin speaking monastic students –, and they do so in an exemplary edition that will form one of the basic tool for all future research in ancient teaching traditions and in any study of ancient bilingualism. We think that this very learned and beautifully produced work lives up to the best traditions of innovative and eye-opening research performed with almost self-effacing scholarly rigor and richly deserves the Goodwin Award.