Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Jacques de Vitry, exemplum 248: a clever adulteress.

A class of literature already in existence in Antiquity, but very popular in de Middle Ages, were the Exempla, anecdotes to illustrate a moral point. These exempla were often used by preachers to ornate their sermons. Especially for such purposes collections of exempla were gathered and one of those collectors was Jacques de Vitry (Jacobus de Vitriaco, c. 1160/70 – 1 May 1240), a French theologian. These stories have often a comic and even absurd twist and are full with stereotypes.  Still – or because of that - they do have their  charm, and as the language is often quite simple, they can serve as easy reading, be it not in flawless Classical Latin. In the following story a wife has to bring the best tooth of her husband to her lover, as proof that she loves him more than her husband. Shrewd wives and credulous men are recurring topics in exempla and I guess much to the joy of the public.
There is no translation, but that isn’t necessary with these simple texts.

Jacques de Vitry, Exempla, number 248 (text after Jakob Ulrich, Proben der Lateinischen Novellistik des Mittelalters, Leipzig 1906)

Audivi de quadam mala muliere, cui maritus ejus per omnia credebat, quae cum ire vellet adulterum suum, dicebat viro suo, "Infirmus es, intra lectum meum, et sudabis, et vide ne surgas donec dixero tibi." Tunc illa firmans ostium camerae, et secum clavem portans, ibat, et non revertebatur usque ad vesperum. Illе vero credens se esse infirmum, non audebat de lecto surgere donec rediret uxor ejus, et diceret, "Amice, potes surgere: video quod curatus es ab infirmitate." Quadam autem die, cum illa diceret adultero quod diligeret eum plusquam maritum suum, ille respondit, "In hoc probabo quod verum est quod dicis,  si meliorem dentem quem habet maritus tuus dederis mihi." At illa ad maritum reversa, cepit plorare et tristitiam simulare. Cui maritus ait, " Quid habes ? Quare luges?" At illa, "Non audeo dicere." "Volo," inquit, "ut dicas mihi." Cumque ille multum instaret, tandem illa dixit, "Tantus fetor ex ore tuo procedit, quod jam non possum sustinere." Ille vero admirans et dolens ait, "Quare non dixeras mihi prius: possemne aliquod remedium adhibere?" Cui illa, "Non est aliquod remedium, nisi ut facias extrahi dentem illum ex quo tantus fœtor procedit." Et ita ad exhortationem uxoris fecit extrahi bonum et sanum dentem quem illa ostendit illi, et statim dentem illum asportavit et dedit leccatori. Non est facile credendi uxori nec consiliis adulterae acquiescendi.

maritus: husband
credo credidi creditum (+ dat.): to trust
per omnia: completely
infirmus: ill
intro (-are): to enter
lectus: bed
sudo (-are): to sweat
vide: take care
donec: until
firmo (-are): to lock
ostium: door
camera: chamber, room
audeo ausus sum: to dare
deligo delegi delectum: to love
in hoc probabo: I will believe with this (proof)
cepit = incepit: began
ploro (-are): to cry
lugeo luxti luctum: to mourn, lament
insto institi (-are): to urge, press
tandem: finally
fetor fetoris (m.): bad smell
admiror admiratus: to wonder
doleo dolui: to suffer, to feel sorry
adhibeo adhibui adhibitum: to furnish, apply, give
ut facias extrahi dentem: that you make the tooth to be extracted = you let extract the tooth
quem illa ostendit illi: whom she pointed to him
asporto = abs-porto (-are): to carry away, transport,
leccator leccatoris: drunken person, lecher,  adulter
non..acquiescendi: It is not easy to trust a wife nor (is it easy) to believe the counsels of an adulteress. (Note facile plus genitive: in ML the genitive is often substituted for the dative. Apart from that in CL facile is also constructed with the infinitive and ad plus gerund, never with the gerund in the dative. ML happily mixes all constructions.)

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Carmina Burana 10: the sin of simony.

In Acts 8:9-24 we are told of Simon Magus, according to Acts a kind of sorcerer, but more likely to be one of the many leaders of religious sects. This Simon was baptized and when he saw the powers of the Apostles in healing people, he offered them money for receiving these powers too.  By various early Christian authors he is mentioned as the founder of a sect, but little is further known of this sect. Simon had however also a further life in Christian texts as the arch-briber and his name became synonym with the buying and selling of lucrative ecclesiastical functions. In the apocryphal Acts of Peter (ca. 250 AD?) we are told of a contest at Rome between Saint Peter and Simon Magus. The latter shows his power by flying through the air, but Peter prays that he may fall and thus happens.
Simony was endemic in the High Middle Ages, much to the frustration of poor scholars and clergymen, but apart from satirizing there was little they could do. One such a satire is Carmina Burana 10: in short and biting lines the author complaints about the practise of simony. Almost every line is an allusion to the Vulgate, of which I have noted a few. There is no English translation of this song. The text is taken from the critical edition by Hilka/ Schumann (1930-197)). Note how often the name of Simon occurs: fill in the name of almost every oligarch and this song has not lost it 

Carmina Burana 10.

Ecce sonat in aperto                       in the open
vox clamantis in deserto:               Mt. 3:3, Isaiah 40:3
nos desertum, nos deserti,            we (are) the desert, we are deserted
nos de pena sumus certi.               pena = poena (punishment)
nullus fere vitam querit,                 fere: almost, vitam = Christ
et sic omne vivens perit. querit = quaerit (seeks)
omnes quidem sumus rei,              pereo: to pass away, reus: guilty
nullus imitator Dei,
nullus vult portare crucem,
nullus Christum sequi ducem.       as leader
quis est verax, quis est bonus,      verax: truthful
vel quis Dei portat onus?               onus oneris (n.) : burden
ut in uno claudam plura: let me finish much in one word
mors extendit sua iura.
iam mors regnat in prelatis:          prelatus: bishop etc.
nolunt sanctum dare gratis,          sanctum: the sacraments
quod promittunt sub ingressu,      at the start of their office
sancte mentis in excessu;              in ecstasy with their `holy’ mind
postquam sedent iam securi,
contradicunt sancto iuri.
rose fiunt saliunca,                          saliunca: wild nard, i.e. weed
domus Dei fit spelunca.                  den (of thieves)
sunt latrones, non latores,            latro (m.) robber, lator (m.): bringer
legis Dei destructores.
Simon sedens inter eos
dat magnates esse reos.                he makes the powerful guilty
Simon prefert malos bonis,           bad persons over good
Simon totus est in donis,
Simon regnat apud Austrum,        (kingdom of) the South, cf Dan. 11.5; Mt 12.42
Simon frangit omne claustrum.    breaks open every lock
cum non datur, Simon stridet,      strideo: to make a harsh moise
sed si detur, Simon ridet;
Simon aufert, Simon donat,          aufero: to take away
hunc expellit, hunc coronat,         expello: to expel, drive away
hunc circumdat gravi peste,          surrounds with a severe illness
illum nuptiali veste;                         wedding clothes
illi donat diadema,
qui nunc erat anathema.               anathema: forbidden, e.g. Deut. 7.26; Jos. 7.13
iam se Simon non abscondit,        abscondo: to hide, conceal
res permiscet et confundit.           permisceo: to confuse
iste Simon confundatur,                 confundo: to confound, put to shame
cui tantum posse datur!                 tantus: so much
Simon Petrus hunc elusit             Saint Peter deceived him
et ab alto iusum trusit;                   and drove (trudo) him down (iusum) from the high sky;
dum superbit motus penna,          while he (Simon) took pride moved by feathers,
datus fuit in gehenna.                     he was given to hell
quisquis eum imitatur,
cum eodem puniatur                      let him be punished in the same way
et sepultus in infernum                   sepelio: to burry
penas luat in eternum! Amen.      let him pay his penalty forever!

The death of Simon Magus, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)