Boniface Riddle 18: Vana gloria, iactantia


Date: Wed 28 Jul 2021
Original text:

Versicolor varie migrans per saecula lustro,
Auribus atque oculis serviens per devia duco.
Non una specie, varia sed imagine ludo,
Auri flaventis passim argentique micantis
5  gemmiferas species, ut ament, mortalibus apto,
Luciflua ut perdant venturae praemia vitae.
Omnigeno iugiter mortales agmine vasto:
Rurigenas animas perdens per vulnera sterno,
Incautis semper furtim mea spicula mitto.
10  Arte mea perdunt multi pia facta laboris.
Ieiunium pariter, solamina et pauperis aegri,
Almisonaeque preces claris cum laudibus una
Clam pereunt, factor si non est cautus in actu.
Talia patrantem vocitant me “virgo maligna,”
15  Aurea venturae qui quaerunt munera vitae.
Non cesso spolians plures mercede futura.
Terrigenas Christi pervertens omnia tempto,
Intemerata fides nusquam ut videatur in orbe.
Aeterna infelix perdet habitacula miles,
20  Et gemma et aurum et vestis, lanugine texunt
Quam Seres vermes, propria ad mea iura recurrunt.
Omnia humanis non necessaria rebus,
Quae homines longe lateque habere videntur.
Usibus ecce meis serviunt sub mente superba.
25  Falsior inter nos probatur nulla sororum.


I wander across the world, changing into different colours;
serving the ears and eyes, I lead them in devious ways.
I do not have one shape, but rather I play around in various forms.
I prepare the jewelled shapes of yellow gold
5  and sparkling silver for mortals everywhere, so that they love them
and lose utterly the splendid rewards of the life to come.
I constantly ruin mortals in all kinds of groups:
destroying country-born souls, I smash them down with injuries,
and I always cast my arrows stealthily at the unsuspecting.
10  By my art, many utterly lose the sacred results of their labour.
Fasting, along with the comfort of the poor and sick
and nourishing prayers, together with loud praise—
these mysteriously perish if the doer is not careful in the doing.
Doing such things, I am called “evil virgin”
15  by those who seek the golden gifts of the life to come.
I do not stop stripping many people of future rewards.
Corrupting Christ’s earth-dwellers, I test everything,
so that undefiled faith is never seen on earth.
The unlucky soldier loses the eternal home utterly.
20  The jewel, gold, and clothes woven in thread
by silkworms—they come back to my own possession.
There is nothing essential in the human things
that people are seen to have, far and wide.
Behold! Under a proud mind, they serve my purposes.
25  None among the sisters is shown to be falser.

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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 vitiis) in Glorie’s edition and 20 in Orchard’s edition.