Saturday, 5 November 2016

Carmina Burana 117: vows, vows.

I have a weak spot for mediaeval Latin, actually for the Middle Ages as a whole. The centre of the town I live is dominated by two late mediaeval churches and almost every town or hamlet in my province has a church from at least 1400. The physical nearness of such buildings serves as a kind of bridge overlapping ages. I have read with reading club Das Nibelungenlied, Dante’s Inferno and a mediaeval chronicle written in a monastery nearby. So now and then I read texts in Middle English and Middle Dutch and I am now trying to decipher Beowulf. Maybe I am a reincarnation of some vagans scholasticus: reading, writing, pubs and good company.

The following poem is from the Carmina Burana. A lover declares his unconditional love for a girl and any tongue saying otherwise is lying! Our ardent lover swears by all pagan gods that he will love her and only when a reversal of the natural order shall appear, he will stop loving her. But wait: this poem was written by a Christian author, so calling upon pagan gods with no existence outside literature is misleading! I guess he vowed to these gods with every new love.

This poem hardly needs a vocabulary and commentary, but in case someone likes to use it for teaching purposes, feel free to use it.

Carmina Burana 117



Lingua mendax et dolosa,         false ; deceitful (full of dolus `deceit’)

lingua procax, venenosa,              bold, insolent ; venomous

lingua digna detruncari                 to be cut off

et in igne concremari,                    to be burnt



Que me dicit deceptorem            que = quae ; deciever

et non fidum amatorem,

quam amabam, dimisisse             to have sent away

et ad alteram transisse!               alteram (puellam) : to have gone to



Sciat deus, sciant dei:

non sum reus huius rei!                 guilty of

sciant dei, sciat deus:

huius rei non sum reus!



Unde iuro Musas novem,              therefore ; to vow, swear; nine

quod et maius est, per Iovem,     greater

qui pro Dane sumpsit auri,           Dane = Danae ; took the form of

in Europa formam tauri;                in Europa = pro Europa

Jupiter went after Danae in the form of golden rain and after Europa as a bull.

Danae is a Greek name (Δανάη) and hence has no ablative. Note that the ae in Danae is dissyllabic (Danaë), but this pronunciation was not recognized in Mediaeval Latin.



Iuro Phebum, iuro Martem,         Phebum = Apollo

qui amoris sciant artem;               Mars had an affair with Venus. Apollo had a lot.

iuro quoque te, Cupido,

arcum cuius reformido;                 bow; to fear



Arcum iuro cum sagittis,               arrows

quas frequenter in me mittis:

sine fraude, sine dolo

fedus hoc servare volo!                 fedus = foedus



Volo fedus observare!

et ad hec dicemus, quare:       hec = haec ; why

inter choros puellarum

nichil vidi tam preclarum.     nichil = nihil; such a beautiful thing (neuter!)

The re in quare is long in in Classical Latin, but not Mediaeval Latin.



Inter quas appares ita

ut in auro margarita.                    pearl

humeri, pectus et venter              shoulders (umeri) ; breast ;  belly

sunt formata tam decenter;



Frons et gula, labra, mentum      forehead ; neck ; lips ; chin

dant amoris alimentum;                amoris `to my love’(gen. ob.) ;  nourishment

crines eius adamavi,                       hair

quoniam fuere flavi.                       because ; fuere = fuerunt ; blond



Ergo dum nox erit dies,                 until

et dum labor erit quies,

et dum aqua erit ignis,

et dum silva sine lignis,                  forrest ; wood



Et dum mare sine velis,                  sails

et dum Parthus sine telis,             missiles, arrows

cara michi semper eris:                 michi = mihi

nisi fallar, non falleris!                   I will be cheated

The Parthi (Persians) were famous for their bows. Of course this topos is taken from classical literature.

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