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The roots of Conimbricenses
The Conimbricenses were Jesuits who took over the intellectual leadership of the Roman Catholic world from the Dominicans at the end of the 16th century. Notable Conimbricenses include Luis de Molina (1535–1600) and Francisco Suárez (1548–1617).
The Coimbra Commentaries, also known as the Conimbricenses, are a group of eleven books on Aristotle (of which only eight can be called commentaries). The names of 200 Jesuits, including those of professors and students, appeared repeatedly on the college registries. From the late 16th to early 17th centuries, the university produced voluminous commentaries on Aristotle's philosophical writings. These commentaries were, in fact, dictated to the students by the professors, and as such were not intended for publication. They were published,fraudulently. In order to interpret and disown incorrect and unauthorized editions, Father Claudius Acquaviva, the General of the Society of Jesus, assigned Father Peter Fonseca - the provincial of the Portuguese province - the task of supervising the revision of these commentaries for authorized publication. Fonseca was called "the Aristotle of Portugal" by Charles Herbermann in his book, The Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Coimbra Commentaries
The treatises appeared in the following order:
- Commentarii, Collegii, Conimbricenses, Societatis, Jesu in octo, libros Physicorum, Aristotelis, Stagyritæ, (Coimbra, 1591, reprint Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1984);
- Commentarii, Collegii, Conimbricenses, Societatis, Jesu in quattuor, libros, Physicorum, Aristotelis de Cœlo (Coimbra, 1592);
- Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Jesu in libros Meteororum Aristotelis Stagyritæ (Coimbra, 1592);
- Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Jesu in libros Aristotelis qui Parva naturalia appelantur (Coimbra, 1592);
- Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Jesu in libros Ethicorum Aristotelis ad Nichomachum aliquot Cursus Conimbricensis disputationes in quibus præcipua quaedam Ethicæ disciplinæ capita continentur (Coimbra, 1595);
- Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Jesu in duos libros Aristotelis De generatione et corruptione (Coimbra, 1595, reprint Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 2003);
- Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Jesu in tres libros Aristotelis De Anima (Coimbra, 1592 reprint Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 2006). This treatise was published after the death of Father Emmanuel Golz (whom Father Fonseca had commissioned to publish the earlier volumes) by Father Comas Maggalliano (Magalhaens). To it he added a treatise of Father Balthazaar Alvarez De Anima Separata and his own work Tractatio aliquot problematum ad quinque Sensus Spectantium;
- Commentarii Collegii Conimbricensis Societatis Jesu In universam dialecticam nunc primum (ed. Venice, 1606, reprint Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1976) The works commented are: In Isagogem Porphyry, In libros Categoriarium Aristotelis, In libros Aristotelis de Interpretatione, In libros Aristotelis Stagiritae de Priori Resolutione, In primum librum Posteriorum Aristotelis, In librum primum Topicorum Aristotelis and In duos libros Elenchorum Aristotelis.
A foreword prefixed this last treatise, disowning any connection with the work published at Frankfurt in 1604 and claiming to be the "Commentarii Conimbricenses". It reads in part, "Before we could finish the task entrusted to us of editing our Logic, to which we were bound by many promises, certain German publishers fraudulently brought out a work professing to be from us, abounding in errors and inaccuracies which were really their own. They also substituted for our commentaries certain glosses gotten furtively. It is true these writings thirty years previously were the work of one of our professors not indeed intended for publication. They were the fruit of his zeal and he never dreamed they would appear in print."
The last treatise was prepared for printing by Father Sebastian Couto. The eight parts formed five quarto volumes in wide circulation and appeared in many editions. The best known were those of Lyon, Lisbon and Cologne. The Commentaries are in Latin and are supplemented by reliable explanations of the text and exhaustive discussion of the Aristotelian system.
- The Conimbricenses. Some Questions on Signs, Milwaukee: Marquette University Press 2001 (Translation with introduction and notes by John P. Doyle of the commentary to the first chapter of Aristotle's De Interpretatione).
- The Latin texts of the Commentaries (PDF)
- Introductory note to the Commentaries by António Manuel Martins
- Bibliography by Mário Santiago de Carvalho
- In libro de generatione et corruptione, In octo libros physicorum, In libros meteorum, In libro de anima in PDF or JPEG format at University of Coimbra’s site.