Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Walter of Châtillon: On the murder of Thomas Becket.

When in 1170, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered at the instigation of King Henry II, the whole Western world was shocked. Initially both were close friends, but as the dispute between Rome and the kings of Europe about the ultimate authority heightened, Becket chose in 1164 the side of the Pope. Becket fled to France There was a kind of reconciliation in the summer of 1170 and Becket was allowed to return to Canterbury, but King Henry refused to give Becket a kiss as a sign of peace (stanza 2, 3-4). The dispute about authority was still not settled and kept lingering. "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?", is King henry reported to have said. Four knights took this as an order and in the evening of December 29 they forced themselves into Canterbury Cathedral and slew Becket in from of the altar.
Note: this is the very short version of this event.
The French poet Walter of Châtillon (1135 – 1190 or 1201) was furious and wrote this poem.

Orba suo pontifice
tristatur Cantuaria.
O monstrum gentis Anglicae
scribendum in historia,
quod stantem pro iustitia,
quod viventem canonice,
martyrizavit publice
tyranni violentia!
      O regio
digna res epitaphio!

orbus: bereaved
tristor: to mourn
monstrum: evil deed
quod: because
stantem, viventem: Becket
canonice: according to the rules of the Church
O regio etc: i.e. for defaming the royal epitaph of Henry II. Digna res is of course ironic.

Haec levis excusatio
quae praetendit ad populum :
`Dum osculum refugio,
quod pacis est signaculum,
proditionis iaculum
nequaquam’, inquit, `iacio’,
ac si non sit proditio,
quod non praecessit osculum!
O regio etc.

excusatio –ionis (f.) : excuse
dum = cum: because
osculum: kiss
proditio  -onis (f.): betrayal
iaculum: javelin
nequaquam: not at all
ac si non: and if it is not
praecedo –cessi –cessum: to precede

O quanto dignus fulmine
vel qua Megaera creditur!
Infausto natus omine,
cui scelus obicitur,
rex abusive dicitur
qui totus est in sanguine ;
sic emutato nomine
rex in tyrannum vertitur.
O regio etc.

O quanto: O how much
qua Megaera: of some Megaera (one of the Furies)
infaustus: unlucky
cui scelus obicitur: who is reproached for (such a) crime
abusive: wrongly
emutato nomine: the name being altered

In tota regum serie
quos habuit Brittania
ab antiqua barbarie
quae processit a Phrygia
pollutus hac infamia
numquam fuit rex Angliae,
in isto tribus regiae
degloriavit gloria.
O regio etc.

barbaries = barbaria
a Phrygia:  according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Brutus, cousin of Aeneas, was the first king of Britain (Phrygia is modern Turkey)
pullutus rex
in isto (rege)
tribus –us (f.): tribe, lineage
gloria: abl.

Vittae imbelles gerere
licebat priscis vatibus
et bellis non intendere
sacris sacratos usibus;
sed nunc moris est regibus
in pace pacem solvere
et suis pontificibus
Parcarum fila rumpere.
O regio etc.

vitta: headband
gero gessi gestum: to wear
priscus: of old
licebat…vatibus et sacratos plus an acc. cum inf. with sacratos (priests, clergymen) as acc. and sacris usibus as adverbial phrase (according to sacred customs). These two different constructions are for reasons of rhythm and rime.
intendo intendi intentum: to strive for (mostly constructed with acc, but here with dat.)
moris est: it is of practice  = it is practice
pacem solvere: to dissolve peace
Parcarum fila: the threads of the Parcae, the goddesses of fate
rumpo rupi ruptum: to break

 Afbeeldingsresultaat voor murder becket

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Carmina Burana 162: summer holliday.

Within a few weeks students at universities will have their well-deserved holiday and can put their books aside for eight weeks. The end of an academic year is not only a relief for modern students, but also for their consocii in the Middle Ages. No wonder that a number of mediaeval student songs address this theme: time for Venus and Bacchus! The following song is an example of this, but unfortunately the melody is not or just poorly notated. Between the lines it gives us also a glimpse of the poor conditions of students. They had to pay cash for every lecture, so little money was left for food and drink. Only during the period the universities were closed they could afford wine: Bacchus instead of Neptune (= water) and away with tristis ieiunus! Till the university opens again…

Carmina Burana 162

O consocii,
quid vobis videtur?
quid negotii
nobis adoptetur?
leta Venus ad nos    iam ingredietur,
illam chorus Dryadum sequetur.

O vos socii,
tempus est iocundum,
dies otii
redeunt in mundum;
ergo congaudete,    cetum letabundum
tempus salutantes <ob>  iocundum.

Venus abdicans
cognatum Neptunum
venit applicans
Bachum oportunum,
quem dea pre cunctis    amplexatur unum,
quia tristem spernit et ieiunum.

His numinibus
volo famulari!
ius est omnibus,
qui volunt beari;
que dant eccellenti    populo scolari,
ut amet et faciat amari.

Ergo litteris
cetus hic imbutus
signa Veneris
militet secutus!
exturbetur autem    laicus ut brutus!
nam ad artem surdus est et mutus.

As a bonus this song in Middle-high German


Svoziv vrowe min,
la mih des geniezen:
du bist min ovgenschin.
Venus wil mih schiezen!
nu la mih, chuniginne, diner minne niezen!
ia nemag mih nimmer din uerdriezen.

My sweet lady,
let my enjoy this;
you are the shine of my eyes.
Venus wants to shoot me!
Now let me, queen, have your love!
Yes, I can never have enough of you!

(may be lines 2 and 4 must be exchanged.)

consocius: fellow
quid vobis videtur: what are your plans (some scholars read nobis for vobis)
negotium: affair, business
adopto: to choose
ingredior ingressus: to approach
leta = laeta
chorus Dryadum: choire of Nymphs, i.e. a band of maids
iocundus: joyful
otium: leisure
cetus = coetus: a coming together, (sexual) union, company (so in 5.2)
letabundus: full of joy
ob must be inserted, both for metrical reasons and for making sense of tempus iocundum, so salutantes cetum letabundum ob tempus iocundum
abdico: reject
cognatus: kinsman
Neptunum: as the god of the sea, he is stand for water
applico: to join
oportunus: friendly
prae cunctis: above all others
amplexo: to embrace
sperno sprevi spretum (-ere): to despise
ieiunus: fasting (to be taken with tristem)
numen numinis (n.): god
famulor: to serve
beor: to be happy
que = quae
eccellenti = excellenti: thanks to their learning students and scholars felt superior to the uneducated masses, as is lo clear in stanza 5
imbutus: steeped in
signum: banner
exturbo (-are): to expel, thrust out
ut brutus: as being stupid
artem: i.e. the art of love
surdus: deaf