Sunday, 24 April 2016

Caeserius of Heisterbach: A grave warning.

The process of imposing celibacy on priests was long and difficult. Many priests had some concubine, this of course very much against the official doctrine. Of course women had to be warned against entering such relationships and the following story makes clear the consequences: they will go to Hell! Apart from reflecting social conditions, this story is also interesting for the various fairy-tale and folk-tale elements: the encirclement with a sword to create a safe space (also known from the werewolf story in Petronius’ Satyricon), the Devil disguised as hunter and the opening of the grave to prove the truth.
The story is taken from Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Dialogus Miraculorum, a vast collection of short miracle stories, compiled in the early decades of the 13th century. Priests used this collection for illustrating their sermons, but I wonder how many with a concubine would have used this story.

Caesarius of Heisterbach, Dialogus Miraculorum, distinctio 12, capitum 20

Concubina cuiusdam sacerdotis cum esset moritura, sicut a quodam religioso didici, cum multa instantia calcios sibi novos et bene taccunatos fieri petivit, dicens : Sepelite me in eis, valde enim mihi erunt necessarii. Quod cum factum fuisset, nocte sequenti longe ante lucem, luna splendente, miles quidam cum servo suo per viam equitans, femineos eiulatus audivit. Mirantibus illis quidnam hoc esset ; ecce mulier rapidissimo cursu ad eos properans, clamavit : Adiuvate me, adiuvate me. Mox miles de equo descendens, et gladio circulum sibi circumducens, feminam bene notam infra illum recepit. Sola enim camisia et calciis praedictis induta erat. Et ecce ex remoto vox quasi venatoris terribiliter buccinantis, nec non et latratus canum venaticorum praecedentium audiuntur. Quibus auditis illa dum nimis tremeret, miles cognitis ab ea causis, equum servo committens, tricas capillorum eius brachio suo sinistro circumligavit, dextera gladium tenens extentum. Approximante infernali illo venatore, ait mulier militi : Sine me currere, sine me currere ; ecce appropinquat. Illo fortius eam retinente, misera diversis conatibus militem pulsans, tandem ruptis capillis effugit. Quam diabolus insecutus cepit, equo suo eam iniiciens, ita ut caput cum brachiis penderet ex uno latere, et crura ex altero. Post paululum militi sic obvians, captam praedam deportavit. Qui mane ad villam rediens, quid viderit exposuit, capillos ostendit ; et cum minus referenti crederent, aperto sepulchro feminam capillos suos perdidisse repererunt. Haec contigerunt in Archiepiscopatu Maguntinensi.

sicut a quodam religioso didici: the stories are told by an elderly monk to a novice
cum multa instantia: with great urgency
calcius (calceus): shoe
taccuno (tacono): to patch up (this word doesn’t fit well for new shoes and one branch of manuscript has consutos `stichted’)
fieri petivit: asked to be made
sepelio sepelivi sepultum: to burry
equito: to ride a horse
eiulatus –us (m.): wailing, lamenting
infra: within the circle
camisia: linen shirt
induo indui indutum: to dress
venator venatoris (m.): hunter (venaticus: belonging to the hunt)
buccino (bucino): to blow the horn
nec non: and also
latratus –us (m.): barking
trica: tress
brachium: arm, hand
circumligo: to bind
extentum: drawn
sine: from sino!
diversis conatibus: after several attempts
inicio inieci iniectum: to throw in/upon
crus cruris (n.): leg
obvio (+ dat.): to meet
expono exposui expositum: to relate
reperio repperi (reperi) repertum: to find
in Archiepiscopatu Maguntinensi.: in the archdiocese of Mainz

Monday, 11 April 2016

A complain from an Irish monk.

Sedulius Scottus was an Irish monk living in the ninth century and flourishing around 840 - 860.. Nothing is known about his early life. According to the English wiki entry, he stayed at Iceland in a monastery set up by Irish monks, but when the Vikings came to settle there, they were driven away. This interesting piece of information is absent from Hellen Waddell’s biographical note, so I am not sure about this claim. What is certain is that he went to Liège, where bishop Hartgar took care of him  Sedulius Scottus was very learned, being both fluent in Latin and Greek – very rare in Western Europe at that time. He was a prolific writer in Latin and a translator of Greek. No wonder Hartgar was found of him and made him his clerk. A lifelong friendship developed, which came to an end by Hartgar’s death – deeply bemoaned by Sedulius.  He must have had a fine sense of humour as is clear from this poem in which he asks bishop Hartgar for a drink: he needs it for writing poetry. Indeed, monk or not, an Irishman.  


Ad Hartgarium

Nunc viridant segetes, nunc florent germine campi,
nunc turgent vites, est nunc pulcherrimus annus,
nunc pictae volucres permulcent ethera cantu,
nunc mare, nunc tellus, nunc celi sidera rident.

At non tristificis perturbat potio sucis,
cum medus atque Ceres, cum Bacchi munera desint,
heu - quam multiplicis defit substantia carnis,
quam mitis tellus generat, quam roscidus ether.

Scriptor sum (fateor), sum musicus alter et Orpheus,
sum bos triturans, prospera quaeque volo.
sum vester miles sophie preditus armis;
pro nobis nostrum, Musa, rogato patrem.

virido: to become green
seges, segetis (f.): corn
germen, germinis (n.): bud
turgeo tursi: to be swollen
vitis, vites (f.): vine
permulceo permulsi permulsum: to charm
potio, potionis (f.): a drink
At non tristificis perturbat potio sucis =  At non potio (me) perturbat (cum) trisificis sucis : but no drnik disturbs me with saddening liquor.  Tristificus refers to the effect of too much alcohol and perturbat is at first sight also strange, but remember that this poem was written in a joking spirit.
medus: mead
Ceres: beer
defit: (rare form) passive of deficio: `is lacking’
multiplicis carnis substantia: the substance of multiple flesh are the various forms of alcoholic drinks mentiond above.
roscidus: dewy (roscidus ether = rain)
trituro: to thrash, tread (bos triturans: "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it for the oxen that God cares (1 Corinthians 9.9)   

prospera quaeque volo: I want all that is prosperous (for you)
praeditus (c. abl.): gifted with        
rogato: 2nd sg fut imperat act   

There are various translations on internet, but the one by Hellen Waddell is the only one I can copy paste.                           

The standing corn is green, the wild in flower,
The vines are swelling, 'tis the sweet o' the year,
Bright-winged the birds, and heaven shrill with song,
And laughing sea and earth and every star.

But with it all, there's never a drink for me,
No wine, nor mead, nor even a drop of beer.
Ah, how hath failed that substance manifold,
Born of the kind earth and the dewy air !

I am a writer, I, a musician, Orpheus the second,
And the ox that treads out the corn, and your wellwisher I,
I am your champion armed with the weapons of wisdom and logic,
Muse, tell my lord bishop and father his servant is dry.                         


Friday, 1 April 2016

How sweet was my dog!

I love dogs and cats, but my house is small and what space I have is crammed with books, so there is hardly room for a pet, though a cat would be very useful as mice are running over the sink. Spells against mice have not been successful thus far and they seem be resistant against poison. Anyway, no room for a pet, but there is always some room for a book about pets, provided it pertains to classical antiquity. This week I bought a book with lamentations on animals in classical literature (G. Herrlinger, Totenklage um Tiere in der Antiken Dichtung, Tübingen 1930).  I discovered it at the lowest shelf of a second hand bookshop, somehow lost between German literature and for a price for which you can hardly buy a loaf. This is not the kind of literature I will read from beginning to end, but it is interesting to see what kind of poems have been written and indeed some are real inscriptions like this one. It is dated AD 100-200 and is thought to come from Salernum. A little bitch (catella), named Patrice, has died and her owner has made a tomb stone for her with a marble relief and an epigram. The habits of this charming dog are readily recognizable for any dog owner.  Actually, this dog must have been utterly spoiled:  gremio poscere blanda cibos `on (my) lap begging flatteringly for food’. I am sure Patrice was never denied whatever she wanted!

CIL 10, 00659

Portavi lacrimis madidus te nostra catella,
quod feci lustris laetior ante tribus.
ergo mihi, Patrice, iam non dabis osculla mille
nec poteris collo grata cubare meo.
tristis marmorea posui te sede merentem
et iunxi semper Manib(us) ipse meis,
morib(us) argutis hominem simulare paratam;
perdidimus quales, hei mihi, delicias.
tu dulcis, Patrice, nostras attingere mensas
consueras, gremio poscere blanda cibos,
lambere tu calicem lingua rapiente solebas
quem tibi saepe meae sustinuere manus,
accipere et lassum cauda gaudente frequenter
(final line missing)

portavi: to the grave
madidus: wet
lustris tribus: three lustra  (15 years, ablativus temporis)
ante: adverb!
osculum: kiss
collum: neck
cubo: to lie down, recline
mereo: to deserve
Manes: the souls of the departed. Iunxi Manibus meis = I unite after my death = forever
argutus: acute, witty
paro + inf.: be about to, resolved to
deliciae –arum: delight, love
attingo attigi attactum: to come to
gremium: lap
lambo: to lick
calix calicis  (m.):cup
lassum: me, when  tired
cauda: tail


Translation by E. Courtney (1995)

Bedewed with tears I have carried you, our little dog, as in happier circumstances I did fifteen years ago. So now, Patrice, you will no longer give me a thousand kisses, nor will you be able to lie affectionately round my neck. You were a good dog, and in sorrow I have placed you in a marble tomb, and I have united you forever to myself when I die. You readily matched a human with your clever ways; alas, what a pet we have lost! You, sweet Patrice, were in the habit of joining us at table and fawningly asking for food in our lap, you were accustomed to lick with your gready tongue the cup which my hands often held for you and regularly to welcome your tired master with wagging tail . . . . . .