Volusenus, Florentius

views updated


Also Florence Wilson, Scottish humanist; b. Morayshire, Scotland, c. 1500; d. c. 1557. He studied at Aberdeen under erasmus's friend, Hector Boece, before moving to Paris, where about 1526 he became tutor to Thomas Wolsey's son. Thus introduced to English affairs, and supported by Thomas Cromwell, he played a minor role in Henry VIII's divorce negotiations. After teaching in the school founded by sadoleto at Carpentras (1535) he eventually settled in Lyons, where he was still active in 1551.

Volusenus's Scholia in Somnium Scipionis (1529) shows a cautious taste for the Christian Platonism of Ficino, while commentaries on Psalms 15 and 50 (153132) associate him with the scholars around J. lefÈvre d'Étaples. In these, enthusiasm for Hebrew and patristic studies was clearly opposed to the Sorbonne dialectictans who "lack the fire and force of speech that stirs the mind to love." This pastoral concern was reflected in his Commentatio theologica (1539), where the spirit of the devotio moderna was clothed in Ciceronian eloquence; yet he admired St. Thomas Aquinas and censured Erasmus's ignorance of philosophy.

Like his friend Thomas Starkey, Volusenus supported the English schism in its early years; but in 1536, the year of Reginald pole's Defence, he left the country for the last time. The works of his Lyons years show no departure from orthodox doctrine; and his teaching on justification, described as Lutheran, was basically anti-Pelagian, and indebted to St. John fisher. Certainly his sympathies were wide: his friends included Protestant and Catholic martyrs, while his writings dealt with the inner life and shunned polemic. The lengthy dialogue De animi tranquillitate (1543) rehearsed pagan wisdom before arriving at a Pauline vision of the cross, true seat of inner peace. Volusenus's final work, it ran through six editions and was admired in settings as diverse as Renaissance Siena and Boswell's Edinburgh.

Bibliography: j. durkan, "The Beginnings of Humanism in Scotland," Innes Review 4 (1953) 1113. Musa Latina Aberdonensis, ed. w. d. geddes (Aberdeen 1910) 3:449455. f. buisson, Sébastien Castellion, 2 v. (Paris 1892) 1:3536.

[d. baker-smith]