Monday, 24 February 2014

The colloquium by Aelfric of Eynsham: whipping pupils for the sake of learning Latin?



Recently I published the full texts of the colloquium by Alcuin.  By chance I found another colloquium too, written by Abbot Aelfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010). As Aelfric was a common name in Anglo-
Saxon England, he has been confused till the middle of the 19th century with Aelfric of Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury.  
Aelfric of Eynsham was prolific writer of homilies, vitae and other Christian literature in Anglo-Saxon, but he was also concerned with raising the standard of Latin. In order to improve this, he wrote a grammar, a glossary of some 3000 words and a colloquium. As this colloquium was extensively used, various versions exist, and I am not quite sure which edition this is, but as far as I could see on internet, it agrees with a manuscript at Leyden University.
As with Alcuin, this colloquium is not without humour. First of all, the magister asks the pueri if they want to be beaten by a whip while being taught Latin and the pupils agree that for the sake of learning they indeed want to. Now this indeed must be the dream and paradise of every teacher Latin: pupils asking to be beaten!  However they continue saying that he is far too kind to do this.
The magister further asks what kind of profession the pueri are doing or are being trained for. A lot are mentioned and he is asking details about every profession. I have only included the monk to be and the poor boy who has to plough the fields. Here too there is humour as Aelfric let the boy complain about the hardship of ploughing and tending the cattle. Did Aelfric remember himself how hard it was?


Colloquium Ælfrici.

1 Nos pueri rogamus te, magister, ut doceas nos loqui latialiter recte, quia idiotae sumus et corrupte loquimur.
2 Quid vultis loqui?
3 Quid curamus quid loquamur, nisi recta locutio sit et utilis, non anilis aut turpis.
4 Vultis flagellari in discendo?
5 Carius est nobis flagellari pro doctrina quam nescire. Sed scimus te mansuetum esse et
nolle inferre plagas nobis, nisi cogaris a nobis.
6 Interrogo te, quid mihi loqueris? Quid habes operis?
7 Professus sum monachus, et psallam omni die septem sinaxes cum fratribus, et occupatus
sum lectionibus et cantu, sed tamen vellem interim discere sermocinari Latina lingua.
8 Quid sciunt isti tui socii?
9 Alii sunt aratores, alii opiliones, quidam bubulci, quidam etiam venatores, alii piscatores,
alii aucupes, quidam mercatores, quidam sutores, quidam salinatores, quidam pistores,
coci.
10 Quid dicis tu, arator? Quomodo exerces opus tuum?
11 O, mi domine, nimium laboro. Exeo diluculo minando boves ad campum, et iungo eos ad
aratrum; non est tam aspera hiems ut audeam latere domi pro timore domini mei, sed
iunctis bobus, et confirmato vomere et cultro aratro, omni die debeo arare integrum agrum
aut plus.
12 Habes aliquem socium?
13 Habeo quendam puerum minantem boves cum stimulo, qui etiam modo raucus est prae
frigore et clamatione.
14 Quid amplius facis in die?
15 Certe adhuc plus facio. Debeo implere praesaepia boum feno, et adaquare eos, et fimum
eorum portare foras. O! O! magnus est labor. Etiam, magnus labor est, quia non sum liber.
…..
160 O, probi pueri et venusti mathites, vos hortatur vester eruditor ut pareatis divinis disciplinis
et observetis vosmet eleganter ubique locorum. Inceditis morigerate cum auscultaveritis
ecclesiae campanas, et ingredimini in orationem, et inclinate suppliciter ad almas aras, et
state disciplinabiliter, et concinite unanimiter, et intervenite pro vestris errantibus, et
egredimini sine scurrilitate in claustrum vel in gimnasium

latialiter  = latine (latialis: of Latium)


pro doctrina (grammaticae Latinae): for the sake of the `doctrine’ (of Latin grammar)
anilis:  of an old woman
mansuesco mansuevi mansuetum: to become soft, gentle
Quid habes operis?: What kind of work do you do?
profiteor professus sum: to declare, promiss
psallo: to sing hymns
septem sinaxes: seven meetings for prayer (sinaxis or synaxis)
sermonicor: to speak, converse
arator –oris (m.): ploughman
opilio –onis (m.): shepherd
bubulcus: herdsman
venator –oris ( m.): hunter
piscator –oris (m.): fisher
aucupator –oris (m.): fowler (a hunter of wildfowl.)
sutor –oris (m.): shoemaker
salinator –oris (m.): a dealer in salt
pistor –oris (m.): baker
coci = coqui (`cooks’.  I wonder whether this was pronounced as `cochee’ or that the c here was treated as k.)
nimium: exceedingly
diluculum: daybreak, twilight (di + lux)
mino: to drive cattle (minando = minans. In ME Latin the abl. of the gerundive has the meaning of the nom. of the participle.)
aratrum: plough
lateo latui: to lie hid, hide
bubus: abl. of bos `rind’
confirmato vomere et cultro aratro: fitting the plough with its ploughshare and blade
stimulum: prick, goad
raucus: hoarse
clamatio –onis: screaming
praesaepe -is (n.): stable
boum: gen. pl. of bos
fenum: hay
adaquo: to bring water
fimim: dung
foras: outside
probus: good, excellent
venusti mathites: pleasant pupils (venustus is thus glossed by Aelfric in Anglo-Saxon and mathites is a Greek word.)
eruditor: teacher
ut pareatis divinis disciplinis et observetis vosmet eleganter ubique locorum: That you may obey the divine teaching and express yourself neatly (in Latin) in all kind of circumstances.
inceditis: you proceed (to mass). One would expect incedite.
morigerate obediently
ausculto: to hear
campana: bell
oratio –onis (f.): prayer
suppliciter: humbly
almus: feeding, hence `holy’
concino concinui: to sing harmoniously
intervenite pro vestris errantibus: intercede for those of you who are sinning.
scurritiltas –atis (f.): buffoonery, scurrility
gimnasium: school



Here is the complete text:


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