The next in the Ordered Universe symposia series starts today. The research group will be taking its final look, at least in session, at the treatises On the Liberal Arts and On the Generation of Sounds (De artibus liberalibus and De generatione sonorum). So, vowel shapes, musical measure, the powers (or not) of astrology, and Grosseteste’s rising familiarity with the De anima of Aristotle. It is a great pleasure to welcome everyone to Durham, and to begin the series funded by the AHRC in this way. We will also be examining the Middle English reception of the two treatises, in a beguiling and complex text, in a single manuscript, the Seven Liberal Arts. David Thomson will lead us in these discussions, and has prepared a corrected edition of the text. At least we are not alone in having to work very hard to keep up with Grosseteste, the compiler of the Middle English makes no mere translation but in his choice of passages and the organisation of his work makes an intelligent and interesting commentary on the original treatises. Sigbjørn has done a super join putting together the editions for the Latin works, with help from the team, especially Neil, Cecilia and Faith. David Howard will be bringing together the work on the scientific side for the De generatione sonorum – coming to a science journal near you soon, we hope – vowel recognition and shape, and much more besides.
We encounter Grosseteste in these two texts at the beginning of his writing career, although the De artibus liberalibus survives in only a very few manuscripts. It is, however, hauntingly beautiful, full of energy and curiosity (although not in the medieval sense, which was sinful!), with a sense of confidence and quest. Where Grosseteste leads, we follow.