Volume 79, Issue 4, Fall 2005
John Scottus Eriugena
Paul Edward Dutton
The Short History of One of Eriugena’s Inventions
The ninth-century Irish philosopher, theologian, and speculative grammarian Eriugena invented a number of words, chiefly in order to accommodate Greek terms in Latin. Filiolitas or “sonship” was one of these and a particularly distinctive new word, which almost no one but Eriugena seems to have used. Indeed it appears in all the works ascribed to him and serves both as a word for adoptive sonship in a theological context and as a relative noun in grammatical references. The appearance of the word in a letter of King Charles the Bald may also suggest Eriugena’s authorship of that letter.