The Project

Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum: single volume (binding)
Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum:
both volumes

The DPS is too large a text to translate and edit in the life of any single project, but the project team surveyed the biographies and bibliographies of each poet and identified where the DPS captured unique texts not extant elsewhere and where it simply reproduced verbatim copies of entire works widely available in print. Using this analysis, the team then identified poets who spent their careers primarily in Jacobean Scotland or at the court of James VI, and whose works were either wholly or near-wholly extant only within the DPS. The initial range of poets selected for translation by the project were (total pages in the DPS denoted in square brackets):

  • Henry Anderson (fl. early 17th century), a Perth merchant [19]
  • Robert Ayton (1570-1638), a courtier at the court of James VI and I [37]
  • William Barclay (c. 1570-c. 1627), a doctor in England and Scotland [5]
  • Thomas Craig of Riccarton (1538?-1608), an advocate [39]
  • Henry Danskin (fl. early 17th century), a St Andrews university regent [15]
  • Peter Goldman (fl. early 17th century), a Dundee doctor [12]
  • James Halkerston (c.1540-c.1615), a soldier and mercenary in Scotland and France [2]
  • Adam King (c.1560-c.1625), a professor of philosophy and mathematics at Paris then advocate in Edinburgh [52]
  • John Maitland of Thirlestane, royal secretary and chancellor (1543-1595) [6]
  • Thomas Maitland (c. 1548-1572), a courtier and diplomat [36]
  • Andrew Melville (1545-1622), church reformer and university principal [67]
  • Hercules Rollock (c. 1546-1559), a grammar school master and advocate [64]
  • John Scot (d. before 1619), a student and kinsman to Scotstarvit [9]

This grouping equated to 363 pages of the text, or 28.5% of the entire work. These 13 men collectively provided a useful cross-section of Jacobean society, in terms of both careers and religious outlook. They worked in a broad range of 'middling' professions, with several working directly for the king. 6 were Protestant, 2 were Catholic, 2 (King and Thomas Maitland) were likely Catholic but conformed to Protestant rites publicly, and 3 (Anderson, Goldman and Scot) had unknown religious sympathies at the outset of the project (but were confirmed to be protestants as the project research progressed). However, one key link between them is that they all worked and lived in Scotland in the reign of James VI and I. Nearly all of them came into contact with the royal government and court at some stage in their careers. Some, like the Royal Secretary John Maitland, directly worked for the king. Others, like the church reformer Andrew Melville, stood in opposition to his religious and political policies. Hercules Rollock relied on the king's favour to secure positions as both the short-lived commissary court judge of Dundee in 1580 and then as the master of Edinburgh High School in 1584. Several contributors produced poetry for James' royal entries, including Henry Anderson at Perth in 1580, and Henry Danskin and Peter Goldman on the king's return to Scotland in 1617. The poets thus came from both sides of the confessional divide, but all used Latin as a shared mode of cultural expression and identity regardless of their confessional or political leanings, often as a means by which to impress their colleagues and the king himself.

As the project developed, the final grouping of poets chosen for translation altered slightly. In the period between applying for the grant and receiving the award, Professor Dana F. Sutton completed an electronic critical edition of the epigrams by John Maitland for the Philological Museum. The project team also discovered that Dr Will Poole of New College Oxford was already engaged in detailed research relating to the life and work of Peter Goldman, the results of which were published in the edited collection of essays related to the project in 2016. Finally, as our research progressed we found that virtually every poet we were translating had written substantial works focussing on James VI and his personal reign in Scotland up to 1603, and we replaced Henry Danskin’s contribution to the DPS (which focussed on James' return to Scotland in 1617) with that of Patrick Adamson (1537-1592), archbishop of St Andrews, whose five-page 'birth-poem' (genethliacum) for James was published in Paris in 1566 but had never been translated. Adamson's poem provided a much more useful comparative piece to the other poems on the site, particularly to another genethliacum for James by Thomas Craig of Riccarton (d1_CraT_001). Including Adamson but excluding Danskin, Goldman and John Maitland, overall the project produced editions of 11 poets in the DPS, totalling 335 pages of the entire two-volume text, or 26.3% of the text.