The Wandering Scot Thomas Seget’s album amicorum

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  • 1 IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca

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This paper presents the first complete edition of Thomas Seget’s album amicorum, held at the Vatican Library (Cod. Vat. Lat. 9385). A friend of Galileo and Kepler, Seget was a background figure who played an important role within the learned world of the late Renaissance. Largely invisible in modern scholarship, figures like Seget played significant functions as cultural intermediaries and international political agents, thus occupying a new and critical position within the learned world of early modern Europe. Seget’s album amicorum offers a unique collection of autograph notes (including Galileo, Sarpi, Lips, Ortels, Pinelli, Welser, De Put, Querenghi, Fabri de Peiresc, Pignoria and Possevino, to mention but a few) which allows us to reconstruct the web of connections Seget managed to weave on his way from Leuven to Padua, as well as during the years he spent in Italy within Pinelli’s circle. Although the album stops at the end of 1600, Seget’s networking activity continued, with ups and downs, throughout his life, and is reconstructed here by way of published and unpublished documents. The paper comprises an Introduction, with a biography of Seget; a Note to the text, providing key elements to understand the role of the album amicorum in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as presenting the criteria of the present edition; a critical edition of Seget’s album; and three appendixes: a chronological table of the entries in the album; the transcription of entries by Seget in some of his friends’ albums; and the transcription of a few hitherto unpublished manuscript documents with information about Seget’s life and whereabouts.

  • 3

    Luther Blissett, Q (Turin: Einaudi, 1999; new edition, 2000), p. 422.

  • 6

     See Erich Trunz, “Der deutsche Späthumanismus um 1600 als Standeskultur,” in Deutsche Barockforschung. Dokumentation einer Epoche, edited by Richard Alewyn (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1965), pp. 147-181; see also Axel E. Walter, Späthumanismus und Konfessionspolitik. Die europäische Gelehrtenrepublik um 1600 im Spiegel der Korrespondenzen Georg Michael Lingelsheims (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 2004); and Antje Stannek, “Peregrinemur non ut aranae [sic] sed ut apes: Auslandserfahrungen im Kontext adeliger Standeserziehung an der Wende vom 16. zum 17. Jahrhundert,” in Späthumanismus. Studien über das Ende einer kulturhistorischen Epoche, edited by Notker Hammerstein and Gerrit Walther (Göttingen: Wallstein 2000), pp. 208-226.

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  • 9

     See Edward Rosen, “Thomas Seget of Seton (1569 or 1570-1627),” The Scottish Historical Review, 1949, 28: 91-95. Other spellings include Segget, Seggat or even Segeatte; in order to avoid mispronunciations while in Italy, Seget opted for the latinized name Seghetus, often referred to as Seghet(t)o.

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  • 14

    Joose Lips, Epistolarum selectarum centuria singularis. Ad Italos & Hispanos, quive in iis locis (Antwerp: Jean Moretus, 1601), p. 62.

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  • 15

    In 1599, Seget contributed two short epigrams to one of his friend’s early works: see Eric De Put, Modulata Pallas, sive septem discrimina vocum (Milan: Ponziani, 1599), p. 18.

  • 28

    Paolo Gualdo, Vita Ioannis Vincentii Pinelli, patricii genuensis (Augsburg: ad insigne pinus, 1607), p. 52.

  • 32

     See Eric De Put, Epistolarum fercula secunda (Haynau: Claude de Marne, 1603), no. VIII, 8 August 1601, pp. 27-28; no. LII, 4 July 1601, pp. 95-97 (in which we read this encouragement: “Eià mi Segete, æterni sumus. Ha|beant sibi suas divitias divites, suas voluptates juventus; non invidemus. Erimus, quando illi non erunt: erimus, quamdiu litteræ erunt, non nomine tantum, sed luculentâ commendatione Doctrinæ ac Virtutis, quam utramque magis magisque amemus ac sectemur,” pp. 96-97); and no. LXXIII, 29 August 1601, p. 112. They are all sent from Milan to Venice; from the latter we gather that Seget had sent De Put a few poems. Other two earlier letters to Seget are available: see Eric De Put, Epistolarum promulsis. Centuria I et innovata (Leuven: Flavius, 1612), no. XX, 10 June 1598, pp. 29-30; and no. XXXIII, 13 July 1599, p. 46.

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  • 39

    Already in 1601, one month before Pinelli’s death, De Put invited Seget to join him in Milan, offering to host him at his own place. “Rescinde modò nodum damnosæ moræ, & ad nos transvola: nactus fueri<s> fortassis urbem, certè amicum ex animo tibi faventem. – unum & commune periclum, / Vna salus ambobus erit. [Virgil, Aeneis, II 709-710]. Ecce, domum & amœnam & capacem satis conduxi, in qua quietè hilaritérque simus, & ab arbitris remoti. Si non negas, utrique prospectum est”: De Put, Epistolarum fercula secunda (cit. note 32), p. 96.

  • 43

     See François Hotman, Francisci et Joannis Hotomanorum patris ac filii, et clarorum virorum Ad eos Epistolae (Amsterdam: George Gallet, 1700), pp. 461-465. In a letter from Giovan Battista, dated October 30, Seget is informed that De Put left Milan for Leuven, where he was appointed as successor to Lips (see ibidem, p. 461).

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  • 44

    Ludovico Settala, Commentariorum in Aristotelis Problemata tomus II (Frankfurt: Claude de Marne & Heirs of Johann Aubry, 1607), p. [8].

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  • 45

    Rome, Biblioteca Angelica, Ms. 1313, ff. 105v-106r.

  • 48

    Thomas Seget, Μελετήματα Ὑπόγεια (Hanau: Claude Marne & Heirs of Johann Aubry, 1607), p. 9.

  • 57

    Szymon Szymonowicz, Odae II ([Hanau]: [s. e.], 1608). The small book opens with Seget’s letter to Georg Michael Lingelsheim, dated 10 January 1608; the odes are dedicated to Tomasz Zamoyski (1594-1638), son of the nobleman and statesman Jan Zamoyski (1542-1605), and to Jerzy Zamoyski, Bishop of Chełm (1601-1621). In the letter to Lingelsheim Seget discloses how the manuscript reached him: ibidem, f. (:) 2r. This is further evidence of Seget’s involvement in the trade of books and manuscripts (as was customary at the time, among intellectuals), an activity he probably started when he was at Pinelli’s house in Padua. Another conspicuous example is the manuscript of Dante’s Commedia, as well as the other manuscripts Seget owned and then passed on to Pinelli; and the manuscript of Girolamo Maggi’s De equuleo: see above, notes 26 and 22, respectively.

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  • 58

    Szymon Szymonowicz, Poematia aurea cum antiquitate comparanda, edita ex Bibliotheca Ioachimi Morsi (Leiden: Marcus Jacob, 1619), pp. 6-25.

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  • 61

    Thomas Seget, Idyllia duo (Krakow: Andrzej Piotrkowczyk, 1611), ff. A 3v-4r. This exceedingly rare booklet also includes a poem Seget wrote on his way to Italy, in 1597, while he was travelling along the banks of the Rhine (ff. [B 1v-2r]). In 1610 Seget also contributed two epigrams to Gottfried Smoll, Manuale rerum admirabilium et abstrusarum (Hamburg: Georg Ludwig Froben, 1610), pp. [24-25].

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  • 65

    Johannes Kepler, Dissertatio cum nuncio sidereo nuper ad mortales misso a Galilaeo Galilaeo (Prague: Daniel Sedesanus, 1610), f. A 2r. While in Prague, Seget sent to August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, a copy of Abram Colorni, Scotographia overo, scienza di scrivere oscuro (Prague: Johann Schumann, 1593): see Gustavi Sileni Cryptomenytices et cryptographiae libri IX, in quibus et planissima Setganographiae a Johanne Trithemio… enodatio traditur (Lüneburg: Johann & Heinrich Stern, 1624), p. 185; Seget, described by August as doctissimus vir (ibidem), also contributed a short epigram to the book, in which he plays with the august name of its author.

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  • 66

    Johannes Kepler, Narratio de observatis a se quattuor Iovis satellitibus erronibus, quos Galilaeus Galilaeus mathematicus florentinus iure inventionis Medicaea sidera noncupavit (Frankfurt: Zacharias Palthen, 1611), ff. *4v-** 1v. With Kepler, on August 30-31 and September 7, was also Benjamin Ursinus: see ibidem, ff. *3r, *4r and **v. In the Narratio Kepler describes Seget as “vir iam celebrium virorum libris et litteris notus” (ibidem, f. *4v); in the Dissertatio (cit. note 65) as “noster Segethus, multiplici vir eruditione,” p. 27. In a letter to Kepler, dated 20 July 1614, Michael Gehler fondly recalls the magnificus Wacker and the amoenissimus Seget: see Johannes Kepler gesammelte Werke, vol. 17: Briefe 1612-1620, edited by Max Caspar (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1955), p. 115.

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  • 70

    Letter to Galileo, 24 October 1610, in Le Opere di Galileo Galilei (cit. note 69), vol. 10, no. 417, pp. 454-455. Kepler would have preferred not to include Seget’s poems in the Narratio (he would have liked them to be printed separately), but gave in on Seget’s insistence, so as not to offend him: see his letter to Galileo on 24 October 1610, in Johannes Kepler gesammelte Werke, vol. 16: Briefe 1607-1611, edited by Max Caspar (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1954), no. 597, pp. 341-342. Galileo referred to Seget in two other letters to Giuliano de’ Medici, on 11 December 1610 and 1 January 2011, sending his greetings: see Le Opere di Galileo Galilei, vol. 10, no. 435, p. 483; and vol. 11, no. 451, p. 12. Too late: in his reply, the ambassador said that “Il Sig. Seghetti se ne è ito in Pollonia a vedere que’ paesi, in compagnia del Sig. David Riches” (ibidem, no. 472, 7 February 1611, p. 43).

  • 78

    Szymonowicz to Seget, 13 June 1613, ibidem, pp. 50-54.

  • 82

     See Elias von Steinmeyer, Die Matrikel der Universität Altdorf (Würzburg: Königl. Universitätsdruckerei H. Stürz, 1912), vol. I, p. 128 (no. 3809). Martin Ruar had registered in Altdorf on 6 May 1611 (see ibidem, p. 115, no. 3408).

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  • 85

     See above, pp. 364-365.

  • 102

    Thomas Seget, De contemnendis Imperitorum Vocibus (Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Martin Wachenhäuser, 1654), f. A 2r.

  • 108

     See Robert Keil, Richard Keil, Die deutschen Stammbücher des sechzehnten bis neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Grote’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1893); Werner W. Schnabel, Das Stammbuch. Konstitution und Geschichte einer textsortenbezogenen Sammelform bis ins erste Drittel des 18. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003); Walther Ludwig, Das Stammbuch als Bestandteil humanistischer Kultur. Das Album des Heinrich Carlhack Hermeling (1587-1592) (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006), especially pp. 7-21; and June Schlueter, The Album Amicorum and the London of Shakespeare’s Time (London: The British Library, 2011), especially pp. 8-28.

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  • 110

    Disce — sibi = Claudian, De quartu consulatu Honorii Augusti panegyricus, 228.

  • 164

    Hoc — manet = Cicero, De amicitia, 19.

  • 188

    Me — tegat = Seneca, Hercules furens, 196-197.

  • 196

    Felix — vitae = Politian, Rusticus, 17-21.

  • 266

    truculentis pelagi = Catullus, Carmina, 63.16.

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