The RETRAPA Project is supported by MIUR- "Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca scientifica e tecnologica", and is one of the "Italian research projects of international relevance" awards for 2006 (PRIN 2006), Research Title «I Padri greci nelle versioni latine degli umanisti: realizzazione di una banca dati informatica della tradizione manoscritta e a stampa (secc. XIV-XVII)». Only one research unit is involved in the project, and the database is run at the Dipartimento di Scienze Musicologiche e Paleografico filologiche (Faculty of Musicology, Cremona), where the unit is based.
Scientific context of the project
The Church Fathers played a very important role in that wide recovery agenda of the antiquitas, typical of the Fifteenth Century. In fact, Humanist intellectuals never conceived the patristic tradition as different from, or less important than, the classical. They rather saw it as comparable to it and as an integral part of a unitary, all-encompassing cultural heritage, which it was their task to bring back to life and, as it were, rediscover in its full complexity. The various disciplines associated with the humanist renovatio - philosophy, theology, philology, literature - also turned to the Greek and Latin Church Fathers: often, due to specific historical circumstances (expecially on the occasion of Church Councils). Manuscripts of Church Fathers' works were collected, copied, annotated, corrected and found new homes in the libraries of princes, ecclesiatics and private citizens. The Church Fathers' writings were read, commented, translated into both Latin and the vernacular languages, and they sometimes became the topic of heated intellectual debates (the furore surrounding Bruni's translation of Basilius' Oratio ad adulescentes will suffice as an example). By returning to these texts, humanists had the possibility of going back to the very origins of Christian thought and using its foundations not only for learning purposes, but also as a base for the new Renaissance ideas of 'man' and humanitas.
It is well known that (unlike Classical literature), the Church Fathers' influence in the fifteenth century has received little scholarly attention until recently. Only in the last few years research projects and scientific initiatives have concentrated on this vital aspect of humanistic culture. From 1997 onwards regular colloquia on «Church Fathers and Humanism» have been promoted by S.I.S.M.E.L, and the important exhibition "Umanesimo e Padri della Chiesa" was hosted by the Biblioteca Laurenziana in 1997. All these initiatives have stressed the need for specifically dedicated studies. Nevertheless, no tools are available for the study of the Latin translations of the Church Fathers, which were the most important medium to promote the knowledge of the Patristic heritage in the West.
The RETRAPA Project aims to fill this lacuna by making available a comprehensive electronic database of all Church Fathers' Latin translations.