Friday, 4 April 2014

Jacques the Vitry, Exempla, 60: A devilish wife.

Jacques de Vitry  (c. 1160/70 – 1 May 1240) was an industrious  French writer and preacher.  Being a prolific reader, he must have had an easy access to all kinds of stories and he used these stories to make his sermons more vivid. The sermons are not that interesting, but the anecdotes have been separately collected and edited.  Harrington gives a few specimens in his Mediaeval Latin, but unfortunately, there is no internet edition from which I can copy-paste.  To my luck, I discovered that someone had already taken the trouble to type this text over and put it on internet. My thanks go to that anonymous Latinist!
The following exemplum illustrates Proverbs XXI, 19: Melius est habitare in terra deserta, quam cum muliere rixosa et iracunda. ( KJV: It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.)
Jokes and complaints about quarrelsome women can be found all over the world. I have once been told that the Chines character for quarrel consists of two women under one roof, but as I can’t read Chinese, I am unable to verify this. I hasten to say that thus far I have had no personal experience with such women.

The Latin is easy enough and the mediaeval spelling should cause no trouble.

Jacques de Vitry, Exempla, 60 (ed. P Lehmann, Munich, 1914)

Audivi quod quidam demon in specie hominis cuidam diviti homini serviebat et, cum servicium eius et industria multum placerent homini, dedit ei filiam suam in uxorem et divicias multas. Illa autem omni die et nocte litigabat cum marito suo nec eum quiescere permittebat. In fine autem anni dixit patri uxoris sue: 'Volo recedere et in patriam meam redire.' Cui pater uxoris ait: 'Nonne multa tibi dedi, ita quod nichil desit tibi ? Quare vis recedere ?' Dixit ille: 'Modis omnibus volo repatriare.' Cui socer ait: 'Ubi est patria tua ?' Ait ille: 'Dicam tibi et veritatem non celabo, patria mea est infernus, ubi nunquam tantam discordiam vel molestiam sustinui, quantam hoc anno passus sum a litigiosa uxore mea. Malo esse in inferno, quam amplius cum ipsa commorari.' Et, hoc dicto, ab oculis eorum evanuit.

dives, divitis: rich
in uxorem: as wife
litigo: to quarrel
maritus: husband
desum: to be wanting
socer soceri (m.): father in law
celo: to hide, conceal
molestia: distress
sustineo sustinui sustentum: to sustain, endure
patior passus sum: to suffer
commoror: to abide, remain
evanesco evanui: to disappear

The link where I found the text:

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