Smyth (Marina)

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Smyth, Marina, “Monastic culture in seventh-century Ireland [2018 Farrell Lecture]”, Eolas: The Journal of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies 12 (2019): 64–101.  
By the seventh-century Irish scholars, based most likely in monasteries, were making well-considered and original contributions to the corpus of Latin Christian literature. Investigation of the world around them reveals a similarly creative culture from which emerged grand and complex endeavors calling for careful planning, mental and manual skill, patience and hard work.
Smyth, Marina, “Once in four: the leap year in early medieval thought”, in: Immo Warntjes, and Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (eds), Late antique calendrical thought and its reception in the early Middle Ages: proceedings from the 3rd International Conference on the Science of Computus in Ireland and Europe, Galway, 16-18 July, 2010, 26, Turnhout: Brepols, 2017. 229–264.  
A survey of early medieval computistical works into the early Carolingian period reveals a number of interesting and unexpected themes on the subject of the leap year. Representative examples are presented in this paper. It was common knowledge that Julius Caesar, in order to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons, had introduced the practice of inserting an additional day in February every four years, so that the date we would call 24 February occurred twice in that fourth ‘bissextile’ year. There was uncertainty as to why this additional day was called bissextus. More curiously, there were two schools of thought on the duration of the bissextus: was it a 24-hour day or a 12-hour day? The more scientifically inclined understood that the leap-year day was necessary because the solar year is a quarter of a day, a quadrans, longer than the 365 days of a normal calendar year. From that perspective, it followed that each year contributed a 6-hour quadrans toward the bissextus. There was, however, a long tradition, which was imported into Britain and Ireland, that the annual contribution to the bissextus was a 3-hour quadrans. Some of the justifications, implications and consequences of this erroneous belief are examined, and it is noted that these are mostly found in texts with insular connections.
Smyth, Marina, “Isidorian texts in seventh-century Ireland”, in: Andrew Fear, and Jamie Wood (eds), Isidore of Seville and his reception in the early Middle Ages: transmitting and transforming knowledge, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016. 111–130.  
Smyth explores the longstanding assumption that, due to trading contacts between Spain and Ireland, the complete works of Isidore found their way to Ireland very soon after his death in 636. This assumption has been rendered increasingly untenable by recent studies of the early manuscript transmission of Isidore’s works. The chapter pays particular attention to the De natura rerum and the various books of the Etymologiae in order to generate a more nuanced profile for the transmission of Isidore’s works in Ireland.
(source: Introduction to this volume)
Smyth, Marina, “The word of God and early medieval Irish cosmology: scripture and the creating word”, in: Jacqueline Borsje, Ann Dooley, Séamus Mac Mathúna, and Gregory Toner (eds), Celtic cosmology: perspectives from Ireland and Scotland, 26, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2014. 112–143.
Smyth, Marina, “Zoologists in seventh-century Ireland?”, in: Amber Handy, and Brian Ó Conchubhair (eds), The language of gender, power, and agency in Celtic studies, Dublin: Arlen House, 2014. 59–74.
Smyth, Marina, “From observation to scientific speculation in seventh-century Ireland”, in: Mary Kelly, and Charles Doherty (eds), Music and the stars: mathematics in medieval Ireland, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013. 73–98.
Smyth, Marina, “The seventh-century Hiberno-Latin treatise Liber de ordine creaturarum. A translation”, Journal of Medieval Latin 21 (2011): 137–222.  
This article consists of both an introduction to, and a translation of the Liber de ordine creaturarum, an anonymous treatise written in Ireland in the second half of the seventh century. After summarizing the theological and cosmological content of the treatise, the introduction examines the date, the early manuscripts, the linguistic features and other elements in the text pointing towards an Irish environment. The reception of the Liber de ordine creaturarum is also traced: its influence was particularly strong in Anglo-Saxon England, but early Irish and Anglo-Saxon missionary activity and the mistaken attribution to Isidore of Seville ensured that the treatise spread throughout most of medieval Europe.
(source: Brepols)
Smyth, Marina, “The dove and the star: enduring ideas from seventh-century Ireland”, Peritia 20 (2008): 98–134.
Smyth, Marina, “The date and origin of Liber de ordine creaturarum”, Peritia 17–18 (2003–2004): 1–39.
Smyth, Marina, “The origins of Purgatory through the lens of seventh-century Irish eschatology”, Traditio 58 (2003): 59–90.
Smyth, Marina, “The Irish Liber de numeris”, in: Thomas OʼLoughlin (ed.), The Scriptures and early medieval Ireland: proceedings of the 1993 Conference of the Society for Hiberno-Latin Studies on Early Irish Exegesis and Homilectics, 31, Steenbrugge, Turnhout: In Abbatia S. Petri, Brepols, 1999. 291–297.
Smyth, Marina, Understanding the universe in seventh-century Ireland, Studies in Celtic History, 15, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1996.
Smyth, Marina, “The earliest written evidence for an Irish view of the world”, in: Doris Edel (ed.), Cultural identity and cultural integration: Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages, Blackrock: Four Courts Press, 1995. 23–44.
Smyth, Marina, “Isidore of Seville and early Irish cosmography”, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 14 (Winter, 1987): 69–102.
Smyth, Marina, “The physical world in seventh-century Hiberno-Latin texts”, Peritia 5 (1986): 201–234.  
Exegesis, grammar and the date of Easter were not the only intellectual concerns of seventh-century Irish scholars. Their works reveal a surprising interest in the physical world for its own sake, not merely as containing signs of higher religious truths. Their cosmological system was remarkably consistent, though it must seem naive to the modern reader. A basic assumption was that all matter was made up of some combination of the four elements: fire, air, water, and earth. Particular doctrines were derived from christian sources and from some measure of observation. There is no awareness of the secular scientific tradition of late antiquity – not even indirectly through the works of Isidore of Seville. This was just as well, since it gave these Irish scholars the freedom to speculate independently – the essential condition for all scientific advance.
Smyth, Marina, “Das Universum in der Kosmographie des Aethicus Ister”, in: Heinz Dopsch, and Roswitha Juffinger (eds), Virgil von Salzburg: Missionar und Gelehrter. Beiträge des Internationalen Symposiums vom 21.-24. September 1984 in der Salzburger Residenz, Salzburg: Salzburger Landesregierung, 1985. 170–182.
Smyth, Marina, “Understanding the universe in seventh-century Ireland”, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1984.


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