I guess most, if not all, of classical-period works that have survived, were translated. But I'm certain many of the medieval era works were never published in a language other than their Latin original. Among those, I wonder which are the most prominent (at least at the time of their publish); namely those which had some noticeable impact.

  • 3
    Great question. If you ask anyone in medieval studies, the gap is even more dramatic: "How many notable works have a critical edition in Latin?"
    – brianpck
    Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 14:02
  • Maybe lorem ipsum dolor sit amet could be a nice example, because it is not translatable at all ? : )
    – oguzalb
    Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 17:56
  • @d_e I think there may be some fragments of (known and unknown) ancient works only discovered in the last century, that are not translated. Does this count?
    – K-HB
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 20:48
  • @K-HB, I would say does it not only count, but also fascinating :). now I'm curious... what works are you referring to?
    – d_e
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 21:29
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    @d_e If I remember correctly they found some really used legal documents on papyri in the last decades. These are separate works and may not have all been meanwhile translated. I doubt they are "notable" though.
    – K-HB
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


One very important work seems to be never translated: The glossa ordinaria on the Corpus iuris civilis. This is the result of more than a century of work of law professors (esp. in Bolonga; caled glossators) commenting in glosses on the text of the (later so called) Corpus iuris civilis bundled by Accursius (d. 1263).

The glossa ordinaria became soon the the first resource when dealing with a question of Roman law. There was the saying: Quidquid non agnoscit glossa, non agnoscit curia. Until the early 17th century almost all printed editions of the Corpus iuris had also the glossa ordninaria.

To proof the absense of a translation is a bit difficult, but I think I can make it plausible.

I did not found any new print of the glossa ordinaria after 1627 (Lyon, digitalized, linked on Wikipedia). There is a reprint of a edition of Venice 1488 printed in 1968ff. (Corpus glossatorum iuris civilis. Curante iuris italici historiae instit. taurinensis univ. rectore ac moderatore Mario Viora. Augustae Taurinorum) and a reprint of the Lyon 1627 edition in 2014 (Reprint Vico Verlag, Frankfurt am Main), but no critical edition (so explicitly Wikipedia; Brill's New Pauly (s.b.) does mention a repertorium of manuscripts, but no edition).

Seeing that there is no modern edition it is improbable that there is a modern translation. And in its best times everyone dealing professional with Roman law knew enough Latin to use the glossa ordninaria, so an old translation is improbable too.

Main source:

Dolezalek, Gero (Aberdeen RWG), “Glossators”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 09 September 2020 http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e1402770 First published online: 2006 [paywall]

  • Interesting. Thanks for the share.
    – d_e
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 6:22

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