Aelius Donatus

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Aelius Donatus (* around 310, † around 380) was a Roman grammarian and rhetoric teacher . All that is known about his life is that he was the teacher of St. Jerome .

Aelius Donatus, also known as Donat, wrote a number of works, several of which have been preserved:

  • A partially incomplete commentary on the dramatist Terenz , compiled from other commentaries; it is only preserved as an adaptation.
  • His life Virgil is based probably on the lost Vita Suetonius , some fragments containing his notes on Virgil's poetry, but breaks down after the Eclogues (also Bucolica called) suddenly stop; From Servius , who at the same time strongly criticized it, only two introductions of the work have been preserved: on the one hand the biography of Virgil, on the other hand that of the eclogues .
  • His two grammatical textbooks ( artes grammaticae ) are by no means original in terms of content and draw from the same sources as the grammarians Charisius and Diomedes . Nonetheless, they became so widespread that they can, without exaggeration, be described as standard works of late antiquity, the Middle Ages and, in some cases, the early modern period. This applies in particular to the outline of the theory of parts of speech known under the name Ars minor , which is held in question-and-answer form and is aimed at a novice audience. The more extensive Ars maior , on the other hand, is designed for advanced learners and also addresses, for example, the complex of language skills (vitia et virtutes orationis) . Both works have been translated into annotated German study editions (2008 and 2009).

Donatus' popularity ultimately led to the fact that in the Middle Ages he was the namesake for vernacular grammar treatises of all kinds (the so-called Donate ). An Alemannic adaptation of De octo partibus orationis ars minor was written by Conrad Bücklin (* u 1429) in the 15th century with the title Diß ist der Donat jm Latin And the interpretation of word to word Ouch der sin jn tütschem . In the early days of European book printing, the "Ars minor" was often printed as a school book in the vicinity of the inventor Johannes Gutenbergs. One of the types is called the "Donat calendar type" and was also used for the 31-line letter of indulgence, which probably came from Gutenberg's printer and was completed on October 22, 1454 at the latest. The complete catalog of Wiegendrucke (GW) lists 24 Donat issues (GW 8674–8697), all undated, distinguishable by the number of lines per page.

Aelius Donatus should not be confused with Tiberius Claudius Donatus , author of an Aeneid commentary (interpretation) , who lived about fifty years later.

Text editions and translations

  • Axel Schönberger : The Ars minor of Aelius Donatus: Latin text and annotated German translation of an ancient elementary grammar from the 4th century AD . Valentia, Frankfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-936132-31-1 .
  • Axel Schönberger: The Ars maior of Aelius Donatus: Latin text and commented German translation of an ancient Latin grammar from the 4th century for advanced beginners. Valentia, Frankfurt 2009, ISBN 978-3-936132-32-8 .


Overview display


  • Louis Holtz: Donat et la tradition de l'enseignement grammatical: Étude sur l'Ars Donati et sa diffusion (IVe-IXe siècle) et édition critique . Center national de la recherche scientifique , Paris 1981.
  • Louis Holtz: Aelius Donatus. In: Wolfram Ax (ed.): Latin teachers in Europe. Fifteen portraits from Varro to Erasmus of Rotterdam. Böhlau, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-412-14505-X , pp. 109-131

Web links


  1. ^ Friedrich Winterhager : Latin lessons for nuns in the Ebstorf monastery around 1490 under the influence of the Bursfeld reform movement. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 34, 2015, pp. 79–85, here: pp. 80–82.
  2. Bücklin, Conrad. In: Burghart Wachinger et al. (Hrsg.): The German literature of the Middle Ages. Author Lexicon . 2nd, completely revised edition, volume 1 ( 'A solis ortus cardine' - Colmar Dominican chronicler ). De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1978, ISBN 3-11-007264-5 , Sp. 1112 f.
  3. ^ Ferdinand Geldner: The first typographic prints. In: The current state of Gutenberg research (= library of books , 1), ed. by Hans Widmann. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1972, pp. 148-184, especially pp. 158-168.