Monday, July 7, 2008

Odd bits and pieces

An anglo-saxon hagiographer weighs in on some philosophical controversies, miraculously decided:

Iterum ipsa mater quadam die stans in aecclesia stipata civibus, causa sanctam missam audiendi, sensit uenisse animam pueri, quem gestabat in utero, et intrasse in eum, sicut postea ipse sanctus, qui nasciturus erat, iam episcopus, gaudendo nobis narravit. Ex quo ostenditur eum electum Deo extitisse etiam antequam nasceretur, et animam hominis non a patre vel a matre uenire sed a solo cratore unicuique dari.

--Aelfric, Life of St. Ethelwold, in "Three Lives of English Saints," ed. Michael Winterbottom, Toronto Medieval Latin Texts 1, 1972.

"Again, one day his mother standing in the crowded church for the sake of hearing Holy Mass, felt the soul of the child she carried in her womb to have come and entered, as afterwards the saint himself who was to be born, now a bishop, related to us with rejoicing. From which it is shown that he was elect of God even before he was born, and [that] the soul of man comes not from the father or the mother but is given to anyone by the creator alone."

This short saint's-life, which I looked in to on a lark from Livy burnout last night, is full of awesome/funny stuff. For instance, this story of the bottomless cup of mead:

Venit ergo rex quadam die ad monasterium, ut edicifiorum structuram per se ipsum ordinaret; mensusque est omnia fundamenta monasterii propria manu, quemadmodum moruos erigere decreuerat; rogauitque eum abbas in hosptio cum suis prandere. Annuit rex ilico; et contigit adesse sibi non paucos uenientes ex gente Northanhymbrorum, qui omnes cum rege adierunt conuiuium. Letatusque est rex, et iussit abunde propinare hospitibus medonem, clausis foribus, ne quis fugiendo potationem regalis conuiuii deserere uideretur. Quid multa? Hauserunt ministri liquorem tota die ad omnem sufficientiam conuiuantibus; sed nequiuit ille liquor exhauriri de uase, nisi ad mensuram palmi, inebriatis Northanhymbris suatim ac uesperi recedentibus.

I'll leave that one for the real enthusiasts.

Finally, a health regimen from Chaucer, which, unattractive as it is to my own taste, we would all be wise to follow. From The Nonnes Preestes Tale:

"No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte;
Nir diete was accordant to hir cote.
Repleccioun ne made hire nevere sik;
Attempre diete was al hir phisik,
And exercise, and hertes suffisaunce."

I suppose I can without "repleccioun" of "deyntee morsels" if I can have "hertes suffisaunce," which, as Chaucer recognizes, comes from books rather than food. But quotes demonstrating Chaucer's book-lust will have to come some other time.

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