RIDDLE POSTS BY CONTRIBUTOR: NEVILLEMOGFORD

Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 5

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 07 Jun 2021
Matching Riddle: Lorsch Riddle 5

I wanted to introduce this riddle with an appropriate pun, but unfortunately it was in very pour taste. That’s because the solution is a cup, probably of wine.

As with many of the Lorsch riddles, the subject is not a particularly original one. The eighth century churchman and poet, Aldhelm, wrote a riddle on a cup (Riddle 80). Cups also appear as solutions in Bern Riddle 6) and probably Exeter Book Riddles 11 and 59 too. Riddles on wine include Symphosius Riddles 82 and 83, Bern Riddles 13 and 63, and Aldhelm Riddle 78.

Monkwine
“A monk drinking wine, from the late 11th century/early 12th century Tiberius Psalter (London, British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius C VI, folio 5v).” Photograph from The British Library Digitalised Manuscripts (copyright: British Library).

Interestingly, this is one of only two Lorsch riddle that are written in the third person—the other is Riddle 7. #LatinGrammarFanclub members will have noticed that although these adjectives are singular, all subsequent nouns, verbs, and adjectives are in the plural. In my translation, I have rendered this “poetic plural” in the singular.

The riddle begins by describing the cup as lucidus (“clear, glorious”) and laetus (“happy, luxuriant”), as it takes on the persona of the drinker. It is as if the wine cup is the life of the party! It “often sits with five limbs” (saepe solent quinis considere ramis)—this does not describe the creature’s arms and legs, but rather the five digits of the hand that hold it. This seems to be a variant of a common riddle motif that describes the fingers used for writing and other activities as three mysterious creatures—I mention this in my commentary on Bern Riddle 25. As with other alcohol riddles, there is a sense that the drink is always in command, even as it is held in the hand. The wine “commands” or “demands” (iubrere) drinkers to be joyous, when aedibus in mediis, literally “in public houses or halls.” Sadly, I am writing this commentary in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I haven’t visited one of these places for quite some time. Even though I rarely drink alcohol, I am very jealous of the cup right now!

Nunwine
“A nun drinking wine, from Hieronymus Bosch’s early 16th century masterpiece, The Haywain Triptych.” Photograph (by the Bosch Project) from Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

We saw that Lorsch Riddles 2 and 3 juxtaposed the images of freedom and capture to create apparent paradoxes. Line 4 does something similar, telling us that the cup “plays” (ludere) and yet is also “held” (teneri). It then goes on to describe drinking as kissing—this is another common trope in early medieval riddles. The riddle’s use of quin (“even”) suggests that this is intended to be mildly salacious and risqué, with the sense of “he even kisses people!”

The tone changes notably in lines 6 and 7, when the cup’s draught has been drained, and tantumque remanet adhaerens / lucidus in ramis (“only a gleaming residue remains on the limbs”). The tone is an unmistakably nostalgic one—in a similar way, when all the joy of the party has passed, only glorious memories remain… and for those who have overdone it, a hangover too!

Tags: latin 

Related Posts:
Commentary for Exeter Riddle 11
Exeter Riddle 59
Bern Riddle 6: De calice
Bern Riddle 13: De vite
Bern Riddle 63: De vino

Bern Riddle 6: De calice

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Thu 26 Nov 2020
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Bern Riddle 6: De calice
Original text:
Nullus ut meam lux sola penetrat umbram
Et natura vili miros postpono lapillos.
Ignem fero nascens, natus ab igne fatigor.
Nulla me putredo tangit nec funera turbant:
Pristina defunctus sospes in forma resurgo
Et amica libens oscula porrego cunctis.
Translation:
No one penetrates my shadow like light does,
and, cheap by nature, I have no time for wondrous gems.
Being born, I carry fire. Once born, fire wears me out.
No rottenness affects me, nor do funerals upset me.
When dead, I rise again, unharmed and in a pristine form,
and I willingly offer friendly kisses to all.
Click to show riddle solution?
Cup


Notes:

This edition is based on Karl Strecker, ed., Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Vol. 4.2 (Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1923), page 739.

Lines 1 and 4 follow the preferred reading in Fr. Glorie, ed., Variae collectiones aenigmatum Merovingicae aetatis, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 133A (Turnhout: Brepols, 1968), page 552.



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Lorsch Riddle 6

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Thu 22 Apr 2021
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 6
Original text:
Nubibus e tetris vidi dilabere quendam.
Ipsa velox cecidit super ardua tecta domorum.
Mollis erat visu necnon lenissima tactu,
Inde cadens iosumque cavavit leniter asprum.
Dura super terram sibimet qui terga cadenti
Praebuit, infixus terrae stabilisque manendo.
Translation:
I saw a certain thing melt from terrible clouds.
It fell quickly over the lofty roofs of houses.
It looked soft and it also felt very smooth,
and then, falling, it softly covered a rugged landscape.
As it fell, it showed itself to be a hard covering over the earth,
firm and fastened to the earth while it lasts.
Click to show riddle solution?
Snow


Notes:

This edition is based on Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Palatinus latinus 1753, folio 117r. You can find images of this manuscript here.

“Dura su[per] [t]erram” (line 5) follows Dümmler, Ernst. Poetae Latini aevi Carolini. Volume 1, MGH. Berlin: Weidmann, 1881. Page 22.



Tags: latin 

Boniface Riddle 6: Misericordia ait

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:
Moribus en geminae variis et iure sorores
Instamus domini cunctis in callibus una.
Sed soror in tenebras mortales mergeret atras,
Et poenas Herebi lustrent per devia Ditis,
5  Regmina si saecli tenuisset sola per orbem.
Illius adversas vires infrangere nitor,
Clamans atque “soror,” dicens, “charissima, parce.”
O genus est superum felix, me virgine nacta:
Regmine nempe meo perdono piacula terris.
  Do vitae tempus, superis do lumen Olympi,
Ingenti mundi variis cum floribus arvo,
Aurea gens hominum scandat quod culmina caeli.
Ast tamen altithroni non sacris finibus absum,
Impetrans miseris veniam mortalibus aevi,
15  Tranando iugiter Christi per saecla ministro.
Translation:
Behold! Twin sisters with different customs and law,
we step together on every path of the Lord.
But my sister would plunge mortals into the terrible darkness,
and the punishments of Erebus would spread across the winding roads of Dis,
5  if she alone ruled the entire world.
I try to break her hostile powers,
saying and calling, “Dearest sister, have mercy!”
Oh, the earthly race is lucky that I—a virgin—have been born.
Indeed, I forgive sins on earth by my rule.
10  I give the time of life, and I give the light of highest Olympus
to the vast, many-flowered plains of the world,
so that the golden race of men might ascend the heights of heaven.
Nevertheless, I am not distant from the holy boundaries of the high-throned one,
obtaining mercy for the wretched mortals of the earth,
15  and constantly crossing the world as Christ’s servant.
Click to show riddle solution?
Mercy


Notes:

This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.

Note that this riddle appears as No. 4 (De virtutibus) in Glorie’s edition and 4 in Orchard’s edition.



Commentary for Bern Riddle 6: De calice

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 11 Jan 2021
Matching Riddle: Bern Riddle 6: De calice

“Hold me now. La, la, la, la!” Often, when I am writing on a particular theme, a song starts playing over and over in my head. My internal soundtrack for this commentary has been the 1983 hit, “Hold Me Now,” by The Thompson Twins. And it is a very fitting song, since this is the first of three riddles that are all about things that hold other things—that is to say, containers!


This riddle is all about a cup. Cups are a common riddle topic—they also feature in the Lorsch (Riddle 5) and Aldhelm (Riddle 80) riddles, and possibly the Exeter Book riddles too (Riddle 63). In the Early Middle Ages, cups and goblets were generally made from wood. Those made from glass or metal were luxury items at the upper end of the market.

Glassmaking was a highly specialist skill in early medieval Europe, just as it is today. There is plenty of archaeological and textual evidence for glassmaking in 7th and 8th century England—religious hubs such as Glastonbury Abbey were also early centres for glass production, and several sources mention the emigration of glassmakers from the continent during this period (Broadley, pages 1-7).

Several centres of glassmaking existed in medieval northern Italy, with Venice being the most notable. Some of the earliest evidence for Venetian glassmaking comes from the excavation of a 9th century glass factory on the Venetian island of Torcello. Glass droplets and smashed crucibles were found, alongside what may have been a furnace—the glass was produced by fusing silica with natron (a naturally occurring mix of soda ash and other minerals) imported from the Middle East (Whitehouse, pages 76-7).

Glass 1
“Glassware from Trieste, 7th-9th century. Photograph (by Giovanni Dall'Orto) from Wikipedia Commons

The cup in our riddle is made from translucent glass, as made clear by lines 1 and 2—it isn’t decorated with gems, as some expensive metal goblets or chalices might be. Line 3 refers to the melting of silica (i.e. sand or limestone) in a furnace to produce molten glass. It also notes that fire-damaged glass will fracture easily.

Lines 4 to 6 are particularly fun, because they describe the cup as a kind of amorous zombie who kisses everyone. They begin by explaining that the cup cannot rot (unlike wooden cups), and that the cup does not care about death. They then go on to talk about the cup’s own death and resurrection—perhaps with the Christian idea of the resurrection of Jesus in mind. The word defunctus means “dead,” but also “used up’ or “finished.” Thus, the cup that has been finished will be raised again when it is reused. This reminds me of when I worked in a pub—when I cleared the bar, I would ask drinkers if their nearly empty glasses were “dead.” Alternatively, defunctus alludes to the practice of melting down and reusing discarded glass (see Wickham, page 702). The riddle closes with the once-dead object offering kisses. Figurative kissing appears in several Bern riddles, including nos. 5, 35, 42, and 46. In this case, kissing is a metaphor for drinking.

Zombie Love
“Two zombies kissing. Photograph (by Jeremy Keith) from Wikipedia Commons(licence: CC BY 2.0)

So there we have it. Time and time again, the Bern Riddles show how a few lines about an everyday object can hold the most extraordinary ideas. Next time you drinking from a cup, remember that you are also kissing a zombie.

Notes:

References and Suggested Reading:

Broadley, Rose. The Glass Vessels of Anglo-Saxon England c. AD 650-1100. Oxford: Oxbow, 2017.

Whitehouse, David. “The "Proto-history" of Venetian Glassmaking.” In Neighbours and Successors of Rome: Traditions of Glass Production and use in the Later First Millenium AD. Edited by Daniel Keller, Jennifer Price and Caroline Jackson. Oxford: Oxbow, 2014.

Wickham, Chris. Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. pages 728-741



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Related Posts:
Exeter Riddle 63
Bern Riddle 6: De calice
Bern Riddle 7: De vesica
Bern Riddle 8: De ovo

Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 6

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 07 Jun 2021
Matching Riddle: Lorsch Riddle 6

There’s no riddles… like snow riddles… like no riddles I know!

Snow
”Snow-covered house in Val d'Isere, France. Photo (by Macca958) from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 4.0)”

Lorsch Riddle 6 is one of two riddles in the collection that are written from an observer’s point of view—the other is Lorsch Riddle 8. It uses the first person alongside the perfect tense, which gives the impression that the speaker is recalling a singular, miraculous event that they witnessed. This is an example of riddling misdirection, since snow in most of the British Isles is a common, seasonal affair. As with other medieval riddles that employ this technique, this may be intended to show the reader that prosaic events can also be marvellous. Thus, we come to realise that the everyday natural world is just as full of miracles as the pages of the Bible or the stories of the saints. We still find this attitude in our cultural works today, for example, in popular science books and television programmes. I also have a far sillier example: the song “Miracles” by the Insane Clown Posse (which includes profanity in places). This curious ditty has rightly been a target of internet ridicule for its ridiculous lines about the natural world, such as “Flipping magnets, how do they work?” But the idea that the song expresses (very badly!) is that everyday events can be miraculous. So, there is a link between an early medieval Latin riddle and the Insane Clown Posse—who would’ve thought it!

ICP
”Insane Clown Posse. Photo (by SullyDC) from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY 2.0)”

There are a few things for #Latingrammar fans to note in this riddle. Firstly, a few of the pronouns and adjectives used to describe the snow are masculine (quondam, infixus), whereas the others are feminine, in agreement with the grammatical gender of nix (“snow”). Secondly, the deponent infinitive dilabi is rendered as a regular infinitive, dilabere, here. Thirdly, there is a very typical medieval use of the gerund in line 6 (infixus terrae stabilis manendo), with the sense of “while it lasts…” rather than “by lasting...”

In terms of content and narrative rather than grammar, this riddle is very straightforward—it is largely descriptive. Snow falls from the clouds onto the houses. It is soft and smooth. And it covers the earth for a time. And there’s snow more to say about it, really!

Tags: latin 

Related Posts:
Lorsch Riddle 8

Bern Riddle 7: De vesica

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Thu 26 Nov 2020
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Bern Riddle 7: De vesica
Original text:
Teneo liquentem, sequor membrana celatum,
Verbero nam cursu, visu quem cernere vetor.
Impletur invisis domus, sed vacua rebus.
Permanet, dum cibum nullum de pondere gestat.
Quae dum clausa fertur, velox ad nubila surgit,
Patefacta nullum potest tenere manentem.
Translation:
I hold liquid and I follow that which is hidden by skin,
and on the road, I beat that which I am forbidden to see.
My home is filled by the unseen, but it is empty of stuff.
It endures when it holds a weightless citizen.
When it is sealed up, it rises swiftly to the clouds.
Opened, it can hold no leftovers.
Click to show riddle solution?
Bladder


Notes:

This edition is based on Karl Strecker, ed., Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Vol. 4.2 (Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1923), page 740.

A list of variant readings can be found in Fr. Glorie, ed., Variae collectiones aenigmatum Merovingicae aetatis, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 133A (Turnhout: Brepols, 1968), page 553.



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Lorsch Riddle 7

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Thu 22 Apr 2021
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 7
Original text:
Scribitur octono silvarum grammate lignum.
Ultima terna simul tuleris si grammata demens,
Milibus in multis vix postea cernitur una.
Translation:
A tree of the forests is written with an eighth stroke.
If, mad, you should remove the last three strokes together,
you would barely find one in many a thousand.
Click to show riddle solution?
Chestnut, chestnut tree


Notes:

This edition is based on Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Palatinus latinus 1753, folio 117r. You can find images of this manuscript here.



Tags: latin 

Boniface Riddle 7: Patientia ait

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:
Per me probantur veri falsique prophetae,
Atque mali expulsi sanctorum a limite longe.
Tempora non perdunt pro me pia facta peracta.
In proprium meritum pressuras verto reorum,
5  Et miro exemplo scaevorum dira piacla
Nisibus eximiis commuto in premia sancta.
Tetrica multorum per me compescitur ira,
Igneus atque furor rixae cum torribus ardens.
Altrix virtutum, custos et sancta vocabor.
10  Arte mea iugiter conplentur iussa superna,
In caeli cuneo Christi quia sedibus asto.
Tranquilla aeternum regem comitabor in aevum.
Translation:
True and false prophets are tested through me,
and the wicked are driven far away from the borders of the saints.
Times do not ruin the good deeds done for me.
I overturn oppression by the guilty as they deserve,
5  and with exceptional labours, I turn the terrible crimes of the wicked
into holy rewards by my wonderous example.
I hold back the fierce rage of many,
and fiery anger, burning with the brands of strife.
I am called the nursemaid and holy guardian of the virtues.
10  Heavenly commands are continually fulfilled by my skill,
because I stand among the army of heaven in the realm of Christ.
I will serve the everlasting king for eternity.
Click to show riddle solution?
Patience


Notes:

This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.

Note that this riddle appears as No. 7 (De virtutibus) in Glorie’s edition and No. 7 in Orchard’s edition.

Line 4, meorum > reorum, following Fr. Glorie (ed.), Variae collectiones aenigmatum Merovingicae aetatis. Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 133A. Turnhout: Brepols, 1968. Page 295.



Commentary for Bern Riddle 7: De vesica

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 11 Jan 2021
Matching Riddle: Bern Riddle 7: De vesica

The second of three container riddles, this is an interesting and rather tricky riddle, which describes an animal bladder used in two different ways. Bladders, usually from domesticated pigs, are excellently stretchy containers.

Bladder
“Two Boys Blowing a Bladder by Candle-light (1773) by Peter Perez Burdett. From Wikipedia Commons (© public domain)

Lines 1 and 2 are all about stretchiness. They refer to the use of a bladder to carry water when used by humans. In line 1, the expanding bladder “follows” (sequi) the liquid that it hides when it stretches as it is filled. The beating of the liquid in line 2 probably refers to the water sloshing around during a traveller’s journey (cursus).

At this stage, the bladder still speaks in the first person. However, from line 3 onwards, the third person is used—and then it starts to describe an empty bladder. This is introduced with the apparent paradox of a thing that is both “filled” (impletur) and “empty of stuff” (vacua rebus). The problem of the vacuum was an ancient one, which had been debated by Plato and Aristotle. As Paul Winterfeld observed, we should not be surprised that the Bern riddler also found this scientific-philosophical problem intriguing (Winterfeld, p. 292).

The weightless citizen in line 4 is air, which the bladder holds for as long as it “endures” (permanet). Some manuscripts replace civem (‘citizen’) with cibum (“food, nourishment”), but the idea of a sausage or other food that is both empty and filled does not really work.

In the final two lines, we are told that the bladder floats when blown up with air, and it cannot carry anything when burst. The Middle Ages had balloons too!

Balloons
“Balloons. Photograph (by Bigroger27509) from Wikipedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 3.0)

It is amazing that six short lines about an ordinary container can hold so many extraordinary ideas. Riddle 7 begins with the bladder’s stretchiness, before taking in vacuums, the weight of air, and balloons. As I suggested in the previous commentary, riddles are perhaps the most fantastic containers of all.

Notes:

References and Suggested Reading:

Winterfeld, Paul. “Observationes criticalae.” Philologus vol. 53 (1899), pages 289-95.



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Related Posts:
Bern Riddle 6: De calice
Bern Riddle 7: De vesica
Bern Riddle 8: De ovo

Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 7

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 21 Jun 2021
Matching Riddle: Lorsch Riddle 7

This riddle is a puzzle about Latin spelling that conceals a hidden joke about female sexual promiscuity. And once you’ve solved it, you will say to yourself, “Ah, it’s that old chestnut!”

Chestnut riddles also appear in another medieval riddle, Bern Riddle 48—which I wasn’t very complementary about in my commentary on it! But the two riddles do not share much in common except the solution.

Chestnut
”Renoir’s Chestnut Tree in Bloom (1881). Photo (by Vassil) from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC0 1.0)”

The riddle opens by telling us that “a tree of the forests” (silvarum… lignum) is “written with an eighth stroke” (scribitur octono… grammate). Spelling-related riddles occur elsewhere in the early medieval riddling tradition, most notably in Exeter Riddle 13, where the six + four chickens seem to represent the six consonants and four vowels of ten cic[c]enu (“ten chickens”).

The answer to this puzzle is “the chestnut tree” (castanea), which has eight letters. This is confirmed when we read lines 2 and 3, which say that “if you remove the last three strokes together… you would barely find one in many a thousand” (ultima terna simul tuleris si grammata… milibus in multis vix postea cernitur una). If we remove the last three letters from castanea, we get the feminine adjective form casta (“pure, chaste”). Thus, the misogynistic “joke” is that there are very few chaste women—one in a thousand.

But why would removing three letters make you demens (“mad”)? Paolo Squatriti (page 119) has suggested that this is because nea is a meaningless word in Latin. But I wonder whether this is a cunning bilingual pun. The riddle tells us to remove the “last” (ultima) three words. Perhaps the riddler wants us to think of the Old English word nea[h], which means “last”—although this presumes that the author was English, which is nut at all certain.

Notes:

References and Suggested Reading:

Squatriti, Paolo. Landscape and Change in Early Medieval Italy Chestnuts, Economy, and Culture. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 2013. Pages 117-8.

Tags: latin 

Related Posts:
Exeter Riddle 13
Bern Riddle 48: De castanea

Bern Riddle 8: De ovo

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Fri 27 Nov 2020
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Bern Riddle 8: De ovo
Original text:
Nati mater ego, natus ab utero mecum;

 Prior illo non sum, semper qui mihi coaevus.

 Virgo nisi manens numquam concipere possum,

 Sed intacta meam infra concipio prolem.

 Post si mihi venter disruptus ictu patescat,

 Moriens viventem sic possum fundere foetum.
Translation:
I am the mother of a son, born from a womb with me.

 I am not older than him; he is always the same age as me.

 I cannot ever become pregnant unless I remain a virgin,

 but, virginal, I conceive my child within.

 If my belly opens afterwards, burst by a stab,

 dying, I can give birth to a living child.
Click to show riddle solution?
Egg


Notes:

This edition is based on Karl Strecker, ed., Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Vol. 4.2 (Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1923), page 740.

A list of variant readings can be found in Fr. Glorie, ed., Variae collectiones aenigmatum Merovingicae aetatis, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 133A (Turnhout: Brepols, 1968), page 554.



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Lorsch Riddle 8

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Fri 23 Apr 2021
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 8
Original text:
En video sobolem propria cum matre morantem,
Mandrae cuius pellis in pariete pendet adhaerens.
Translation:
There, with its own mother I see a child lingering,
whose pelt hangs stuck to the wall of his pen!
Click to show riddle solution?
Egg, foetus


Notes:

This edition is based on Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Palatinus latinus 1753, folio 117r. You can find images of this manuscript here.



Tags: latin 

Boniface Riddle 8: Pax vere Christiana

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:
Pacificum passim fieret mortalibus aevum,
Aeternum imperium regerem si sola per orbem.
Xristicolis quondam a caeli sum carmine missa,
Vera dei soboles ortu dum saecla beavit.
5  En regnatoris saeclorum nomine ditor,
Regno inter Christi semper vernacula vernas,
Et terras iustorum habitans regina vocabor,
Caelicolaeque tenent iugiter me in culmine caeli,
Regmina quaecunque inlustro mea gaudia gestant
10  In quibus et non sum, precibus iam rogor adesse.
Spiritus et corpus, si digner servier ipsis,
Tetrica pugnarum non torquent bella proterva.
Infames fugio discordias semper ubique.
Arbiter aethralis iussit me hoc semper habere.
15  Nisibus infringor scevorum et mente maligna,
Aurea mira mihi sed parta est aula polorum.
Heu miseris longe quis sum mortalibus aegris!
Qui in proprio tecto me dedignantur habere;
Clauditur his superum caeli sub cardine regnum.
20  Quapropter populi talem non spernite sponsam,
Qua sine non caeli penetratur virgine templum!
Translation:
There would be a peaceful age for mortals everywhere
if I alone governed the abiding, worldly realm everywhere.
Once I was sent in a verse from heaven to the Christians,
when the true child of God blessed the world with his appearance.
Hark! I am called by the name of the ruler of the ages
and I govern always among the servants in the kingdom of Christ,
and, living in the lands of the just, I am called “Queen,”
and the heaven-dwellers guard me always in the heights of heaven,
and my joys are carried in all the dominions that I adorn,
10 and prayers call for me to be in those that I am not.
Spirit and body, if I deign to be served by them,
do not hurl themselves into fierce, violent war.
I flee from notorious discord, always and everywhere.
The heavenly judge has commanded me to remain here forever.
15 I am weakened by the efforts and the wicked thoughts of evil ones,
but the wonderous, golden palace of the skies has been given to me.
Alas, I am far from those wretched, troubled mortals!
They scornfully reject having me under their roof;
The upper kingdom under the pole of the sky is locked away from them.
20 And so, oh nations, do not reject such a bride;
the temple of heaven cannot be entered without this maiden.
Click to show riddle solution?
Peace


Notes:

This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.

Note that this riddle appears as No. 8 (De virtutibus) in Glorie’s edition and 8 in Orchard’s edition.



Commentary for Bern Riddle 8: De ovo

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 11 Jan 2021
Matching Riddle: Bern Riddle 8: De ovo

There are several words that describe the last of the container riddles. Egg-cellent! Egg-quisite! Ab-shell-utely egg-ceptional! Can you guess what it is yet?

Line 1 begins egg-actly as you would expect a riddle about eggs—with a ‘who came first’ paradox. However, this is not the usual chicken-and-egg paradox, but rather an embryo-and-egg one. The paradox is resolved by recognising that the mother (the egg) and child (the embryo) are siblings because they were both born together. Unusual birth stories like this are very common in the Bern riddles.

Line 2 explains that the egg remains unbroken whilst it is ‘pregnant.’ The word intacta can mean “intact,” but also “chaste,” which plays on the idea of a virgin birth. Although the Bern riddles are never explicitly Christian, they do occasionally refer subtly to religious motifs such as this one.

The final two lines hint at the idea of caesarean birth and maternal death during childbirth, but they really describe the breaking of the egg by the emerging young.

Egg
“Tortoise hatchling. Photograph (by Mayer Richard) from Wikipedia Commons(licence: CC BY-SA 3.0)

This riddle shares several interesting language features with others in the collection. Firstly, rather than using the genitive personal pronoun, mei (“my”), it uses the dative, mihi (“to me”). This dative of possession is not at all unusual, but the Bern riddler seems to have been a fan of this construction—they use it extensively. Secondly, this is the first time that we encounter the words venter (“belly, womb, bowels”) and fundere (“to pour out,” “to give birth to”)—both words feature prominently in other descriptions of birth and the body in the Bern riddles (see Riddles 19, 21, 23, 31, 40, 47, and 53).

This takes us to the end of the “container” series of riddles. Sadly, it also brings us to the end of all my egg puns. I guess the yoke is on me!

Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Related Posts:
Bern Riddle 6: De calice
Bern Riddle 7: De vesica
Bern Riddle 8: De ovo

Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 8

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 21 Jun 2021
Matching Riddle: Lorsch Riddle 8

This teeny-weeny egg riddle really cracks me up.

Well, that is, assuming that it is about an egg at all! Dümmler (page 22) titled it as De ovo (“About an egg”) in his edition, but Glorie (page 354) calls it De fetu (“About an embryo”).

However, egg is definitely the more persuasive solution, and the clues sit well with a tradition of egg riddles. The late antique Latin riddler, Symphosius, wrote a riddle about a chick in an egg, possibly drawing on an earlier Greek egg riddle.

Mira tibi referam nostrae primordia vitae:
Nondum natus eram, nec eram iam matris in alvo;
Iam posito partu natum me nemo videbat.

[I will relate the wondrous beginnings of our life to you:
I was never born, nor was I already in the womb of a mother,
A birth already laid, no one ever saw me born.]

Symphosius, “Riddle 14: Pullus in ovo (“Chicken in an egg”)”

This riddle plays on the ancient “who was born first, the chicken or the egg?” paradox that still exists today. It also contrasts the egg with the womb, and oviparous birth (i.e., from an egg) with viviparous (i.e., live) birth. The anonymous 8th century English riddler, Eusebius (usually thought to be a pseudonym for Hwaetberht, abbot of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow), also wrote an egg riddle (No. 38) that plays on this difference.

Bern Riddle 8 does something similar but adds lots of characteristically wacky detail.

Chick
”A chicken egg hatching. Photo (by Linsenhejhej) from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 3.0)”

However, Lorsch Riddle 8 isn’t interested in the egg as a womb, and closer analogues can be found in two early medieval prose riddles. The first appears in the Collectanea pseudo-Bedae, an early medieval collection of 388 short texts of various kinds, which probably dates from the 8th century.

Vidi filium cum matre manducantem, cuius pellis pendebat in pariete.

[I saw a son with a mother, eating, whose skin hung on the wall.]

Collectanea Pseudo-Bedae, No. 18.

A very similar riddle appears in a mid/late 9th century manuscript from the monastery of St Gall (St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 196), in a list of one-line enigmata interrogativa (“riddle-questions”).

Vidi hominem ambulantem cum matre sua et pellis eius pendebat in pariete.

[I saw a man walking with his mother, and his skin hanging on the wall.]

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 196. Page 389.

These three riddles have a lot in common, and they are clearly part of a single tradition. They are all written in the first person, and they all open with the verb videre (“to see”). They all include a mother and child, whom they describe using the formula cum matre (“with a mother”), which is followed by a present participle describing the child (mandicantem, ambulantem, morantem). And they all include the phrase pellis in pariente (“skin on the wall”). This “skin” is the membrane of the egg, a metaphor that also appears in a chicken riddle, Exeter Book Riddle 13, which describes how fell hongedon… on seles wæg (“skins hung on the walls of the hall”) There are some important differences between the three riddles, however. Lorsch—the only one written in verse—is written in the present tense, rather than the past tense. It also includes several nice additional touches, such as the idea that the chick is morantem (“waiting or lingering”), and the description of the egg as a mandra (“pen”), and example of riddling misdirection that makes the reader imagine that the “child” is a pig or horse. Oink, oink, cluck!

How can we sum up this riddle? Well, medieval riddles often take the formulaic aspects of the tradition and play with them in small but creative ways. I think this is Lorsch Riddle 8 in a nutshell (or should that be eggshell?)—it is formulaic, but it still manages to be a little bit eggspressive

Notes:

References and Suggested Reading:

Collectanea Pseudo-Bedae. Edited by Martha Bayless and Michael Lapidge. Scriptes Latini Hiberniae Vol. XIV. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1998. Page 122.

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 196. Images are available at E-codices.

Dieter Bitterli. The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book and the Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009. Pages 117-8.

Dümmler, Ernst. Poetae latini aevi Carolini. Volume 1. MGH. Berlin: Weidmann, 1881.

Fr. Glorie (ed.). Tatuini Opera Omnia. Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 133. Turnholt: Brepols, 1958.

Lendinara, Patrizia. “Gli “Aenigmata Laureshamensia.”” Pan, Studie dell’Istuto di Filogia Latina, Volume 7 (1981). Pages 73-90 (81-3).

Symphosius, “Aenigma 14: Pullus in ovo.” In Symphosius: The Aenigmata: An Introduction, Text and Commentary. Edited by T. J. Leary. London: Bloomsbury, 2014, Page 40.



Tags: latin 

Related Posts:
Bern Riddle 8: De ovo
Bern Riddle 13: De vite

Bern Riddle 9: De mola

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Fri 27 Nov 2020
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Bern Riddle 9: De mola
Original text:
Senior ab aevo, Eva sum senior ego,
Et senectam gravem nemo currendo revincit.
Vitam dabo cunctis, vitam si tulero multis.
Milia prosterno, manu dum verbero nullum.
Saturamen victu, ignem ieiuna produco,
Et uno vagantes possum conprehendere loco.
Translation:
I am older that this age, I am older than Eve,
and no one stops the running of my heavy old age.
I will bring life to everyone if I extract life from many.
I destroy thousands but I punch no one.
Sated, I bring food; hungry, I bring fire,
and I can keep the wanderers in one place.
Click to show riddle solution?
Millstone


Notes:

This edition is based on Karl Strecker, ed., Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Vol. 4.2 (Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1923), page 740.

Lines 2 and 5 follow the preferred reading in Fr. Glorie, ed., Variae collectiones aenigmatum Merovingicae aetatis, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 133A (Turnhout: Brepols, 1968), page 555.



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Lorsch Riddle 9

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Fri 23 Apr 2021
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 9
Original text:
Candida virgo suas lacrimas dum seminat atras,
Tetra per albentes linquit vestigia campos
Lucida stelligeri ducentia ad atria caeli.
Translation:
When a shining white virgin sows her dark tears,
she leaves foul tracks across the white fields,
leading to the bright halls of the starry sky.
Click to show riddle solution?
Pen, quill


Notes:

This edition is based on Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Palatinus latinus 1753, folio 117v. You can find images of this manuscript here.



Tags: latin 

Boniface Riddle 9: Humilitas cristina fatetur

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:
Hic inter numeror sacras vix sola sorores,
Vestibus in spretis specie quia nigrior exsto.
Multi me spernunt, cunctis dispectior en sum,
In terris nusquam similatur vilior ulla,
5  Libertatis opem dominus sed dabit in aethra:
Ima solo quantum, tantum dio proxima caelo.
Terras indutus me Christus sanguine salvat;
Ardua caelorum conscendet culmina nullus,
Si me forte caret, propria nec sorte sorores.
10  Cum domino Christo una sit carissima sponsa!
Ruricolae et reges, pueri innuptaeque puellae,
Innumeri heroes nati melioribus annis,
Sanctorum excellens martyrum pulchra corona,
Terribilesque viri meritis cum matribus almis:
15  In tanto numero, excepta me, viribus audax,
Altithroni nullus capiet pia gaudia regis,
Ni iugiter nutrix et tutrix omnibus adsim,
Aeterni placans et mulcens pectora regis.
Flebilis et vacuus vocitatur mente monachus,
20  Acta mea pravo tumidus si corde refutat.
Terrigenis paucis conprobor amabilis hospes,
Et tamen altithroni nato lectissima virgo.
Trano comes plures ducens super aethra phalanges,
Viribus et sponsi fidens sum sancta virago.
25  regi regnorum mea simplex foedera servo.
Translation:

Here, I alone am barely counted among the holy sisters
because I am darker in appearance, in despised clothes.
Behold! Many reject me and everyone looks at me,
and never does anyone on earth appear cheaper,
5  but the Lord will reward me with freedom in heaven:
as much as I am in the lowest place, I am also nearest to divine heaven.
Christ, who wore me, saved the earth with his blood;
no one will climb the lofty heights of heaven
if they happen to lack me or my sisters,
10  since I am the dearest bride of Christ the Lord!
Peasants and kings, boys and maidens,
innumerable heroes born in better times,
a beautiful and exulted circle of the saintly martyrs,
men venerable for their merits, with indulgent mothers:
15  in such a number, confident in their powers, without me
none of them will gain the sacred joys of the high throned king,
unless I, nursemaid and tutor, am always with them,
soothing and softening the heart of the eternal king.
A ruler is called lamentable and thoughtless
20  if they arrogantly spurn my deeds with a wicked heart.
I prove to be a loveable guest for few earth-dwellers,
but a most excellent maiden for the son of the high throned one.
A companion, leading many battalions, I sail upon the sky,
and I am a holy warrior, trusting the might of the groom.
25  Honest, I keep my compacts with the king of kings.
Click to show riddle solution?
Humility


Notes:

This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.

Note that this riddle appears as No. 9 (De virtutibus) in Glorie’s edition and No. 9 in Orchard’s edition.

Line 4, sit > sim, following Andy Orchard (ed. & trans.). The Old English and Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2021. Page 197.



Commentary for Bern Riddle 9: De mola

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 11 Jan 2021
Matching Riddle: Bern Riddle 9: De mola

Riddles are usually fun, but this one really grinds you down—because it is about millstones!

Three Bern riddles describe the process of processing cereals into flour. Riddle 12 describes how it is reaped and threshed, and Riddle 17 describes how the flour is sieved. In this riddle, the grain is ground into flour—and this process described in a charmingly bizarre fashion.

“A video showing the milling process in a late eighteenth century mill in Maryland, USA. The technologies are not medieval, but the basic principles are similar. ”

Millstones always come in pairs. In larger, water-powered mills, a runnerstone would rotate and grind against a static bedstone. In smaller handmills, a pair of quernstones would be placed together and the top stone would be rotated by hand—this could be a laborious process. Animals could also be used, as demonstrated by the Old English word esolcweorn (lit. “donkey-millstone”). Grain was poured through the hole in the centre of the stone, and, once ground into flour, found its way out to the millstone’s outer edge through furrows cut into the stones. Although windmills did not arrive in Europe until the 11th century, watermills and handmills were both common across Europe from ancient times. Because of its economic and cultural importance, milling is a common theme in all kinds of medieval documentary and literary texts, from Gregory the Great in the 6th century to Chaucer and Boccaccio in the 14th.

Now back to the riddle! It is easy to overlook the poetic form of the Bern Riddles, simply because the content is so interesting. But this riddle begins with a great example of how these riddles can use alliteration and assonance within and across lines. The word “Eva” alliterates and assonates nicely with the previous riddle subject, ovum (“egg”), as well as the words aevum (“age”) and ego (“I”) in the same line. The first line also contains two-fold alliteration on s- (“senior,” “sum,” “senior”).

Millstone
“The author, very excited about an abandoned millstone at Two Bridges, Dartmoor.”

Line 1 also contains an intriguing sub-riddle: why is the millstone older than Eve? It could simply refer to the hard-wearing limestones, granites, and sandstones that were typically used for milling. Or it could allude to the fact that, according to Genesis, God created the earth on the first day, and dry land—including rocks—on the third day, three days before he fashioned Adam and Eve. But it also seems to be drawing on wider associations of millstones with cyclic time and aging—the stone’s hardness and heaviness, circular shape, and associations with work naturally lent itself to this. For example, in Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Rule, a reference to the millstone in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 18:6) is said to represent “the cycle and labour of this worldly life” (secularis vitae circuitus ac labor) (Gregory, PL77:16B). When viewed in this way, the riddle seems to be playing with the idea that the millstone is as old and unstoppable as worldly time itself.

Line 3 relies on the extended sense of vita (“life”) as “sustenance.” The millstone takes the “many” dead grains and transforms them into flour for everyone. Line 4 continues this theme, by explaining that the millstone destroys or humbles (prosternere) thousands, i.e. it crushes thousands of individual grains. It does this without striking or punching them, since the process is one of crushing and cutting.

Line 5 alludes to a very real problem. When turned without grain, millstones could create dangerous sparks, and when combined with combustible flour in the air, this was a serious hazard for millers. Thus, the millstone makes food when fed, but fire when “hungry.”

Riddles like this one rely on a whole host of cultural and intertextual references, and we have only touched the surface here. We often imagine of writing as a creative act, but we do not often think this about reading. This is one of the great things about the Bern Riddles—you get to be a really creative and imaginative reader, trying out all kinds of associations and seeing if they fit. Even if you know a riddle’s solutions straight away, it is only the beginning of the game. If I wanted to put it into puns, I might even say that the best riddle-readers go against the grain and leave no stone unturned. If you can do that, then riddling is sedimentary, my dear Watson!

Notes:

References and Suggested Reading:

Gregory the Great, Liber regulae pastoralis. In Sancti Gregorii Papae I, opera omnia. Edited by J.P. Migne. Vol. 3. Patrologia Latina 77. (Paris: Ateliers Catholiques, 1862), 7-126, pages 17-18.

Rahtz, P. & Bullough, D. “The Parts of an Anglo-Saxon Mill”. Anglo-Saxon England. Vol. 6, (1977), pages 15-37.

Squatriti, Paolo. Water and Society in Early Medieval Italy, AD 400-1000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pages 126-159.



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

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Bern Riddle 9: De mola
Bern Riddle 12: De grano
Bern Riddle 17: De cribro

Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 9

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 21 Jun 2021
Matching Riddle: Lorsch Riddle 9

We're on a road to nowhere.
Come on inside!
Takin' that riddle to nowhere,
no solution in sight.


Riddles like to talk about footprints and tracks, roads and courses, paths and ways. Not only is the “path” or “track” a major trope in medieval riddling, but it is also one of my favourite tropes too! I love the way that a single idea links so many very different things across multiple riddle collections, including ploughs and oxen, the sun and moon, rain and clouds, and books and pens. It works as a kind of giant, intertextual metaphor which reveals all kinds of hidden connections between the disparate things that it describes.

Footprint
”Footprints in the sand. Photo (by Júlio Reis) from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 2.5)”

The early medieval riddle tradition is often said to begin with the Riddles of Symphosius, an anonymous collection of 100 Latin riddles probably written in the 4th or 5th century in North Africa. We find a few mentions of paths and tracks here and there in Symphosius’ riddle, for example in a riddle on a goat (No. 35) and an arrow (No. 65). But Symphosius is more interested in things that explicitly don’t leave tracks. Thus, in Symphosius Riddle 13, a ship tells us that curro vias multas, vestigia nulla relinquens (“I run many roads, leaving no tracks behind.”) Similarly, the stylus in Symphosius Riddle 1 describes how it is used to write and erase on wax tablets, saying that altera pars revocat quicquid pars altera fecit (“the second part annuls whatever the first part creates”). Symphosius may have been drawing on earlier works that describe other things that move without leaving a trace, such as this ancient Greek riddle:

Εἶδον ἐγώ ποτε θῆρα δι᾿ ὕλης τμητοσιδήρου
ὕπτιον ὀρθὰ τρέχοντα, ποσὶν δ᾿ οὐχ ἥπτετο γαίης

[I once saw a beast running straight on its back through a wood cut by the steel, and its feet touched not the earth.]

“Enigma 14,” The Greek Anthology, Book 14. Pages 36-7.

The answer is a louse, in case you were wondering—the wood is the head full of hair and the steel is a comb! Anyway, Symphosius’ idea of a thing that erases their own tracks was enthusiastically adopted by medieval riddlers. The 9th century scholar and poet, Alcuin of York, includes the idea as a trick question in his mathematical puzzles, Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes (“Questions to Sharpen the Young”).

Bos qui tota die arat, quot vestigia faciat in ultima riga?

[An ox ploughs for the entire day—how many footprints does he make in the final furrow?]

Alcuin, Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes. Number 14, column 1148.

The answer is none, since all the footsteps are erased by the plough that comes behind it! Other examples of riddles that describe things that leave no tracks include Bern Riddles 11, 55 and 59, and Exeter Riddle 95.

Plough
”The biblical figure, Tubalcain, and his plough, from Bodleian Library MS. Junius 11, page 54. Photo from Digital Bodleian (licence: CC BY-NC 4.0)”

However, another group of riddles talk about footprints that are very visible. These riddles describe the marks made by the pen on the page as if they were the tracks made by the plough in the field. For example, the 8th century Archbishop of Canterbury, Tatwine, wrote riddles on a pen (No. 6) and parchment (No. 5) that tell us:

In planum me iterum campum sed verterat auctor

[But a creator had turned me into a level field.]

Tatwine Riddle 5: De membrano. Page 172, line 3.


Planos compellor sulcare per aequora campos.

[I am forced to plough flat, level fields.]

Tatwine Riddle 6: De penna. Page 173, line 4.

Similarly, Exeter Riddle 51 speaks of four amazing creatures (i.e., the fingers) who leave swearte… lastas / swaþu swiþe blacu (“dark… tracks, very black footprints”). Another pen riddle, by the anonymous 8th century riddler, Eusebius, link the nourishment grown in the field with the spiritual harvest carried on the page: sed mea nunc sapiens vestigia quisque sequetur (“but now all the wise follow my tracks”).

Today’s riddle is firmly in this tradition. But rather than depicting the pen as a plough, it begins by describing it as a “virgin” (virgo), a portrayal that contrasts glaringly with the portrayal of most women as unchaste in Lorsch Riddle 7. She irrigates the page with dark, inky “tears” (lacrimas), which reminds me of how Tatwine Riddle 6 describes ink as the tears from a writer’s labour. The second line sets up the apparent paradox that such a person could leave tetra… vestigia (“foul footprints”) on the white “fields” (campos). And the last line adds a twist—these foul, filthy tracks nevertheless lead “to the bright halls of the starry sky” (lucida stelligeri… ad atria caeli). The meaning is that the written word, which transmits wisdom and Christian doctrine, can lead a person to heaven.

Lorsch Riddle 9 only has three lines, but it is part of a much larger conversation with other riddles and riddle collections. So, when you read other medieval riddles, try to see how many examples of tracks and traces you can find! But don’t read too many, or you might stay up long pasture bedtime!

Notes:

References and Suggested Reading:

The Greek Anthology, Books 13-16. Edited and translated by W. R. Paton. Volume 5, Loeb Classical Library 86. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1918. Pages 25-108.

Alcuin, Propositiones ad acuendos iuvenes. In Alcuini Opera Omnia. Edited by Jacques-Paul Migne. Volume 2. Patrologia Latina, Volume 101. Columns 1143-1160.

Fr. Glorie (ed.). Variae collectiones aenigmatum Merovingicae aetatis. Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 133. Turnhout: Brepols, 1968, Page 182.

Symphosius. Symphosius: The Aenigmata: An Introduction, Text and Commentary. Edited and translated by T. J. Leary. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.



Tags: latin 

Related Posts:
Commentary for Exeter Riddle 51
Exeter Riddle 21

Bern Riddle 10: De scala

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Fri 27 Nov 2020
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Bern Riddle 10: De scala
Original text:
Singula si vivens firmis constitero plantis,
Viam me roganti directam ire negabo;
Gemina sed soror meo si lateri iungat,
Coeptum valet iter velox percurrere quisquis.
Unde pedem mihi nisi calcaverit ille,
Manibus quae cupit numquam contingere valet.
Translation:
If I lived alone and stood with firm feet,
I would not let myself go upon a straight path when asked.
But if my twin sister joins my side,
anyone can go upon a speedy journey.
And so, if he does not step upon my foot,
he can never reach that which he wants in his hands.
Click to show riddle solution?
Ladder


Notes:

This edition is based on Karl Strecker, ed., Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Vol. 4.2 (Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1923), page 741.

A list of variant readings can be found in Fr. Glorie, ed., Variae collectiones aenigmatum Merovingicae aetatis, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 133A (Turnhout: Brepols, 1968), page 556.



Tags: latin  Bern Riddles 

Lorsch Riddle 10

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Fri 23 Apr 2021
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Lorsch Riddle 10
Original text:
Saeva nefandorum non gessi furta latronum
Nec diro humanum fudi mucrone cruorem,
Sed tamen in laqueo reus ut fur pendeo longo.
Si quis at ardenti tangit mea viscera flamma,
Mox simul egregiam lumen dispergo per aulam.
Sicque meo noctis tetras depello tenebras
Lumine, clarifica perfundens luce sacellum.
Translation:
I did not carry out violent robberies like abominable brigands,
nor did I spill human blood with a dreadful blade,
yet I hang on a long noose like a guilty thief.
But if someone touches my insides with a burning flame,
I will scatter light through the excellent palace straight away.
And so, I cast the repulsive shadows of night
with my glare, drenching the chapel with bright light.
Click to show riddle solution?
Lamp, sanctuary lamp


Notes:

This edition is based on Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Palatinus latinus 1753, folio 117v. You can find images of this manuscript here.



Tags: latin 

Boniface Riddle 10: Virginitas ait humilium

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:

Vitae perpetuae vernans cum floribus almis,
Inclita cum sanctis virtutum gesto coronam,
Regis saeclorum matrem comitata Mariam,
Gaudens quae genuit proprium paritura parentem,
5  Impia qui proprio salvavit sanguine saecla.
Nuncupor angelicis et sum germana ministris,
Ignea conculcans spernendo ludicra luxus.
Tollitur in caelum rumor meus ante tribunal,
Almae martyrii dum gestant serta sorores;
10  Sanctorum frontem praecingens floribus orno,
Aurea flammigeris tranent ut ad astra coronis.
Igneus ut Phoebus splendentes sidera supra,
Tangor non pullis maculis speciosa virago.
Hac auri vinco specie gemmata metalla,
15  Virgine me facie quia non est pulchrior ulla.
Me cives caeli clamant: “clarissima virgo,
In terris longe fueras, soror inclita, salve!”
Lucida perpetuae expectant me premia vitae,
Internusque dies atque inmutabile tempus,
20  Vivida quique mei proiecit foedera iuris.
Mentis eius non ingredior habitacula demum.
Translation:

Flourishing with the bountiful flowers of perpetual life,
and famous, I wear the crown of virtues with the saints,
an escort to Mary, mother of the king of the world,
who, pregnant and rejoicing, gives birth to her own parent,
5  who saved the impious world with his own blood.
I am and I am called the sister to angelic servants,
I despise and I spurn trifling, burning luxury.
My reputation is carried up to the court in heaven
whilst my kind sisters carry the garlands of martyrdom;
10  I crown and adorn the head of the saints with flowers,
so that they can fly to the golden stars with fiery crowns,
Like Phoebus, shining above the stars.
I am a beautiful virgin, untouched by dark stains.
I best the sparkling metals with this kind of gold,
15  because none appear more beautiful than me, a virgin.
The people of heaven call out, “Brightest maiden,
you have long been in the world—welcome, famous sister!”
They await the shining rewards of everlasting life with me,
the day yet to be revealed and time immutable.
20  If anyone has cast away the life-bearing covenant of my law,
I do not enter the dwelling-place of their mind after that.
Click to show riddle solution?
Virginity


Notes:

This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.

Note that this riddle appears as No. 10 (De virtutibus) in Glorie’s edition and No. 10 in Orchard’s edition.



Boniface, Epilogue to the Virtues

NEVILLEMOGFORD

Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:
Agmine post iuncto multis cum milibus una
Carmen selectum dicemus famine miro,
Cetera quod numquam modulatur turma piorum,
Aetherium dulci laudantes carmine regem,
Qui proprio nostram mundavit sanguine vitam,
Cui meritas grates sanctas sine fine canemus.
Translation:
After the host has been joined, together with many thousands,
let us sing in wondrous voice an excellent song,
which the other band of the blessed never perform,
praising in sweet verse the king of heaven,
who purified our life with his own blood,
and to whom we will endlessly sing the deserved holy thanks.
Click to show riddle solution?
N/A


Notes:

This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.

The epilogue appears at the end of Boniface’s riddle on virginity (No.10). Dümmler includes the two together, but editions by Glorie (page 309) and Orchard (page 200) list them separately, just as I have done here.