Dynamics of Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

De Smet, Ingrid

‘An art not known to the Ancients’: falconer’s parlance in Jacques Auguste de Thou’s Hieracosophion sive de re accipitraria libri III (1582/84-1612)

In Renaissance France, hunting, including falconry, was a favourite pastime of the nobility and the court: the sport had developed a particularly rich, but also very specific terminology, which French poets of the time readily exploited. When composing his substantive, didactic poem on falconry through the medium of Latin, however, Jacques Auguste de Thou cast himself as a pioneer on the subject, as he needed to resort to ingenious solutions in his descriptions of the range of birds of prey used for the hunt and of their training and care. Based on research undertaken for a critical edition of the poem, this paper will discuss a number of the strategies used by de Thou in his transposition of a sixteenth-century ‘vernacular’ art into a lexis that did not easily fit, as well as the challenges posed by this process for the contemporary reader/translator.