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In such a fog, the unaided translators struck out on a variety of courses. None of them was so extreme as the Anglo-Norman adaptor, Simund de Freine, who simply eliminated all mythological and historical references. The closest to Simund among the translators is the anonymous author of the Wallonian prose version, who eliminated some proper names and simply misread others. His version of the Orpheus passage Book III, meter 12 correctly identified the hero but omitted any direct mention of the names Eurydice, Thrace, Taenarus, Ixion, Tantalus, Tityus, Tartara, as well as allusions to Cerberus and the Furies, all to be found there.
The work of the Sicilian, Bonaventura da Demena, represents a slightly higher stage in the confrontation of this mysterious lore; for while he missed many names and misread others, he refused to shrink from the task of providing some narrative when the text seemed to be calling for it. Extenuating next to nothing, the translator of the first mixed version correctly apprehended more names than any of the translators considered so far, omitted some, and altered or explained by circumlocution a few others.
Occasionally the translator yielded to a popularizing impulse, as when he rendered Arcturus as the char Saint Martin; but here he was rescued by his revisor who turned that reading into Septentrion and corrected his misinterpretation of that troublesome Neritii ducis as Hercules. The work of the glossator of this revised mixed version will be discussed in connection with the uses other translators made of the formal mythological glosses of William of Conches and Nicholas Trevet. But it is time to leave these amateurs behind and turn to the translators who were more successful and more systematic in responding to Boethian allusion.
To structure the basic discussion of this and the next two chapters, I will draw on a distinction which was made by William of Conches and was taken with varying seriousness by several of the French translators and manuscript illustrators. Fable si est chose feinte semblant de veir, ausi come fait Ovides. Hystoire si est chose feite recontee issi come ele fu feite. Integumentz est quant om dit une chose e senefie autre, si come est ici de Orpheo.
In the case of both William of Conches and his French translator, we have here a technical topos of medieval exegesis that did not find much other expression in the bulk of vernacular versions of the Boethian text. He nowhere mentions this, in keeping with his exclusion of any consideration of vernacular versions from his commentary. This happily gives me the opportunity to make what I think is an important connection between the art of the translators and that of the miniaturists.
Medieval manuscript illustrations of the Consolatio can be usefully divided into those which depict narrative episodes and those which present static allegorical tableaux, with the former quite outnumbering the latter. For this discussion I shall limit myself to examples from two MSS representing the extremes in this distinction. James, Astrik Gabriel, and myself. Folio 60 of the Cambridge MS shows three scenes from the narrative fig. On the left are three swine munching acorns—the transmuted companions of Ulysses. These scenes are realistic, the latter two seeming to be glimpsed through open windows.
With these representations let us compare some of the elegant miniatures in MS B. These beautiful half-page paintings are quite different in character from the sketches in the Trinity Hall MS. In the scene illustrating the Ulysses episode, we have clearly emblematic allegory fig. On either hand is a group of figures facing front. To the left stand several men, a woman, and Boethius, who modestly points to the crew on the right, a collection of beastheaded figures with human bodies and dress. The scene, of course, illustrates no action from the appropriate meter, but rather a moral lesson implicit in it.
I will glance at just one other of the several illustrations in this MS worth calling attention to for their contrast with more narrative-based art. The interpretation of Fortune and her wheel is divided into two tableaux, and that on the left showing Philosophy consoling Boethius in prison is traditional fig. Figure 1. Boethius protects Paulinus from the palatini canes. Cambridge, Trinity Hall MS 12, fol. Figure 3.
Circe and the transformed crew of Ulysses. MS fr. Figure 5. Another wheel of fortune. She extends her arms and thus links the two scenes. But we do not see the wheel turning and precipitating the powerful into adversity—as in the whirling scene in the Cambridge MS fig. Three personages are seated on chairs at the quarters of the wheel; a fourth sits between the upright supports of the wheel.
The king is at the top, but on the left is a bourgeois holding a full purse, and on the right a young man beholds himself in a mirror. Below, a knight grasps a lance. The wheel thus shows the personified goods of Fortune: power, riches, beauty, and glory. The artist has combined in a static scene the two Boethian themes of the wheel and the gifts of Fortune. The two approaches that we find in these MSS to making the Boethian message graphic are related to the sorts of translations which carry that message. This version is, in fact, the least allegorized of those medieval French translations of the Consolatio that elaborate the text.
In contrast to most of the other versions, the only moral it attaches to the Ulysses episode is that brief one written by Boethius himself. There are thus parallels to be found in these MSS between the narrative techniques of the translators and the methods of illustrators as they opt for literal or allegorical paths to Boethian allusions. Not many of the translators actually cited the three-way distinction among kinds of scholastic interpretation.
But in the versions of the Consolatio by those translators whose narrative additions I will characterize as fable, history, or integument, it is the category of pure fable that least predominates. When the author of the earliest prose version, or Pierre de Paris, or the Anonymous of Meun related a classical fable, he generally strove to close it with a moralization in keeping with the methods of the Latin commentators. But occasionally he did not, and the resulting tales can be divided into two groups according to whether they are simply informative library exercises, or have some thematic relation, for better or worse, to the discursive matrix around them.
It seems that the appearance in the fable of winged Mercury was the justification, although Pierre engages in some ingenious stretching of its relevance before falling flat with his concluding advice:. Et dient les fables que celuy Mercurius fait descendre dou ciel la gelee. Et por ce que par la influence de une estoyle, qui est molt resplendissable et qui blanchoie, vient le froit en les terres, si veut dire la Philosophie que auci celuy Mercurius est au ciel et est guyor de cele estoile, tout auci et celuy qui vodra aler en ciel si avra belles pennes et cleres et nettes et molt ligeres, par les queles il porra voler jusques au ciel.
I find it demanding too great a leap of literary faith to picture Pierre smiling ironically over his advice that those who would fly to the heavens will need light, well-feathered wings for the trip. The case is otherwise, however, with some of the unmoralized additions of the anonymous Burgundian author of the earliest translation.
He has received high praise from Antoine Thomas for his intelligence and discrimination, and I am inclined to agree. In view of his intelligence, and the Dedalus example aside, it is wise to proceed with his elaborations on the assumption that he knew what he was doing with them. Two examples will be offered whose relation to the Boethian text exhibits in turn the virtue and vice of the eclectic methods of medieval art.
Here is how the Burgundian tells it:. Juno dist que li hom esteit plus luxuries que la femme. Jupiter dist non. En tel maniere il vit dous serpenz ajoster ensemble e devint femme; autre feitz les vit ajoster e redevint home, car li serpent esteient de tel nature. Jupiter e Juno vindrent devant lui. Tyresias juja que la femme aveit. Juno fu corrocee, si li traist les iouz; Jupiter li otroia que fust devineor e que seust ce que esteit avenir. Oddly enough, after relating this same anecdote, the Latin commentary edited by E. Tiresias was cited in the first place because of the pathetic equivocation of his prophecy.
The anecdote told above shows what enormous lack of real foresight he used in acquiring his weak gift by venturing lightly considered judgments in the company of Juno, and it further alludes to the experience he gained as a whore after first seeing the snakes—surely no confirmation of his credibility. But Arcas grew into a young hunter who one day happened upon his mother the bear and, in his ignorance, attacked her. Even Jupiter found this unseemly and so made constellations of them both. And that is why these constellations do not set like the others. What makes this example so astonishing to us is the context into which it is set, for meter 6 of Book IV is a profound lyric expression of the theme of the common bond of mutual love by which all things seek to hold to the supreme good:.
In this elevated context of universal love, with its specific references to the absence of discord in the heavens, this little fable might unintentionally take on a wryly undercutting function, and its downright talk of seduction, pregnancy, assault and battery, whores, and divine vengeance might grate harshly against the smooth Boethian harmonies if we did not know that such inorganic juxtapositions are exactly characteristic of much quite unironic medieval art.
More will be said of this later. Here it will simply be observed that one effect of such juxtapositions is to return the Consolatio some distance along the road to satire as it was anciently understood by those authors cited earlier who allowed cynicism and obscenity to mingle with higher things in their medleys of prose and verse. While the value of the effects here is dubious, as it has been largely throughout this initial chapter, it will not remain so in the examples to come. The Historian in his bare was hath many times that which we call fortune to overrule the best wisdom.
Many times he must tell events whereof he can yield no cause: or, if he do, it must be poetically. The medieval french translators of Boethius regularly elaborated, occasionally at great length, the historical citations scattered throughout the Consolatio. Part of the reason for the expansion is the common feeling that the reader needs more information, but equally important for our understanding of how medieval texts grow is the fact that Jean carried the odd word coemptio directly into his version. The most primitive state of his text reads:. The effect of this new reading is to correct and refine the language of the preceding version.
For example, it corrects the reading of Campaniam prouinciam and replaces the overstrong degaster with the more general domagier. Whan that Theodoric, the kyng of Gothes, in a dere yeer, hadde his garneeris ful of corn, and comaundede that no man schulde byen no coorn till his corn were soold, and that at a grevous dere prys, Boece withstood that ordenaunce and overcom it, knowynge al this the kyng himselve. Whan it was in the sowre hungry tyme, ther was establissed or cryed grevous an unplitable coempcioun, that men seyen wel it shulde gretly tormenten and endamagen al the provynce of Campayne, I took stryf ayens the provost of the pretorie for commune profit; and, the kyng knowynge of it, Y overcom it, so that the coempcioun ne was nat axid ne took effect.
Coempcioun is to seyn comune achat or beyinge togidre, that were establissed upon the people by swich a manere imposicioun, as whoso boughte a busschel corn, he most yyve the kynge the fyfte part. Thirty Latin words have been drawn into words in the vernacular, and many medieval hands have helped in the pulling.
It was to this sort of gloss that Jean de Meun and his revisors limited themselves in their rare excursions beyond the Boethian letter. By far the most impressive example of this sort of background history appears in the lengthy prologue of the Anonymous of Meun in which he devotes over lines to recreating the sixth-century milieu in which Boethius was condemned to death.
In all, it is a noteworthy account to have appeared in a vernacular tongue. Of greater moment for the present discussion, however, are those historical examples which Boethius himself cites as relevant to the illustration of his philosophical message. In these, the translators found available for their elucidations such figures as the tyrant Dionysius the Elder, Romulus, Regulus, Fabricius, Brutus, Cato, Nero, Seneca, and others to whom Boethius alluded, sometimes obliquely, as he conjured up instances which gave structure and perspective to the terror of his own situation.
It is so partly because almost all of the translators—as well as Jean de Meun, Boccaccio, and Chaucer—essayed it. The reasons for its popularity are easy to see. But it is extremely important, because it is bracketed with explicit statements about the operation of Fortune and the nature of tragedy. In the statements immediately preceding the example of Croesus, Philosophy speaks in the persona of Fortune and justifies her ways to man. Of interest are both the pattern and motive of her actions. Ius est mari nunc. The morphological parallelism of frugibusque with frigoribusque emphasizes the polarity and rightness of the seasons as frost follows upon fruit.
Here again the syntactical symmetry recalls the simple inverse relation of the two states—weal and woe—of human fortune and the irrelevance of human qualities of will and intention to these sublunary processes. Tragedy consists in the outcry against this situation. The implication here is that Fortune is so indiscriminate that she will regularly and mechanically throw down the happy and, it is important to add, the guiltless. For Boethius it is tragic to expect any other treatment, and humans are free at least to control their expectations.
But for some medieval authors, as we shall see, it is tragic to have deserved such treatment. But before we begin to discriminate among these accounts it will be of use to have as a touchstone a fuller and more authoritative narration of the story of Croesus than Boethius supplies. Herodotus divides the major portion of his first Book between accounts of the careers of Croesus and Cyrus. Two aspects of his treatment are of interest here.
But neither does he let the facts fall where they may. The main details that characterize his treatment of the story are these. Croesus is seen early demanding of Solon, the wise man of Athens, some recognition of his particularly blest estate 1. Two important scenes follow. And the second is his confrontation of the Delphic oracle. In this latter scene, Croesus chides the priestess for having let the gods deceive him by implying that he could attack the Persians successfully.
In the self-recognition of this flaw, of course, we can see one of the links that Herodotus makes between history and tragedy. The scene at the pyre is important because of its centrality to the medieval accounts of Croesus. It then develops that Cyrus and his interpreters, on listening to Croesus reminisce about Solon, repent of the decision to burn him and order the fire quenched. In spite of this uncertainty about the major force driving Croesus down, it is clear that Herodotus contrived a literary narrative about the process that has discernible tragic overtones.
He achieved these by a variety of means, two of which call for notice here. This constant foreshadowing contributes a solid sense of inevitability to the history that undercuts the equivocation of the explicit interpretations. The second literary strategy, and the one which at least one French translator rediscovered, is the establishment of symmetry between the careers of Croesus and Cyrus. In the speech in which he gives this counsel, his last in the book, Croesus unwittingly—and Herodotus intentionally—engages in irony and, furthermore, employs what came to be in the Middle Ages the chief emblem of tragedy:.
And disaster has been my teacher. With such heavily dramatic devices at work in his narration, Herodotus could afford to be somewhat vague in his strictly historical explanations of the fates of Croesus and Cyrus. He had tragedy working for his history, and, in their own ways, so did the medieval translators of Boethius. In the hope of demonstrating how the interpolated narratives put the medieval stamp on the Boethian conceptions of Fortune and tragedy, I shall also appeal to treatments of the story of Croesus in other vernacular works contemporary with the French translations.
Renaut de Louhans, for example, extends the genre of tragedy to encompass some familiar medieval works:. But it is in their narration of the story of Croesus itself that the translators, now transformed into adaptors, reveal most accurately the actual positions of their concepts of Fortune, history, and tragedy around the Boethian nucleus. There were many possibilities. The gloss appended to the earliest French translation of the Consolatio is derived, like most of the expansions on mythological themes in that work, not, as Pierre Courcelle implies, from the commentary of William of Conches, but from the Vatican Mythographies.
The interpretation of this legend by William of Conches as it appears in the gloss added to the revised mixed version is more complex than that derived from the Vatican Mythographies and suggests a contest between God and the Devil within the person of Croesus. One MS of the revised mixed version—B. Harley —notes fol.
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In the course of her lengthy interpretation of the puzzling dream of Croesus, Phania paints a Boethian miniature of Fortuna:. Richece, eneur e reverence. Two things contort the motions of this witless tennis player, however, and they are the love theme of the Roman and the psychologizing methods of its authors. But news of the power of courtesy, as Jean knows, arrives too late for Croesus. Both symbols are too crude for their jobs. She is silent also on who sent the life-saving rain, which just came.
At this point Renaut brings in the portentous dream and its interpretation by the unnamed daughter of Croesus, whom Renaut takes some care to characterize. She is frightened, appropriately, both by her father and by the contents of his vision, and she in no way resembles the sententious love-struck girl depicted by Jean de Meun:. Ce que vo songe signifie? And so it came to pass that in a little while the king of Persia seized him and hanged him from a gibbet. So much for Croesus, but for Renaut the story is not over. By connecting the tragedy of this King Perses with that of Croesus—they were in fact separated in history by some years—Renaut creates a symmetry and poetic justice in the acts of Fortune that remind us of the perfect Judge behind her, directing her choices if not her fickle manner.
The continuous presence of the humanized Fortuna, who manipulates the guilty Croesus like a puppet, makes less mechanical the action of the Boethian personification. And, even though Croesus does not make proper use of his free will, the existence of a human will free to contemn the world is manifested here in the untemptable stoic Paulus, who cared nothing for palaces and treasures and the other gifts of Fortune and consequently defeated King Perses and wept for him too.
This angry, pithy girl is just the sort of hybrid that the manuscript process of compilation engenders, bearing the likeness of neither of the answerable parents. In the first chapter I characterized the Dominican Renaut and the Anonymous of Meun as classicizers of the kind recognized by Beryl Smalley as existing among the English friars. And the Anonymous may himself have been a member of the preaching order. But first his flaws. Such details, of course, soon exhaust their value in establishing verisimilitude. When we turn to the account of Croesus proper, we see at once both how concerned the Anonymous is with our grasping the lesson of the exemplum and the fact that he perceives a real structure in the narrative:.
No sooner has Daniel expounded the third word than Cyrus puts the guests to flight. Having ignored the example of his friend Balthasar who failed to heed a miraculous warning, Croesus now disregards the very marvel that moved the relentless Cyrus to his only merciful act. Not only is Croesus pictured here as unfeeling, he is also subsequently shown in the guise of a political rebel:.
The opaque and implacable Cyrus seizes him again, and once more Fortune spares him, this time from the pyre. From these excerpts I think it can be seen that the Anonymous has hit, however amateurishly, upon one of the richest resources of Boethian tragedy, namely, the revelation through structure, through cumulative repetitions, of the terrible swings of weal and woe to which human life is subject, regardless of personal merit. Lydgate begins his Book II with assurances that it is not Fortune who gives men the fall but vicious living, and that Fortune has no dominion over princes governed by reason.
Both seem to accept that aspect of the newer medieval tradition, sketched by John L. Grigsby, 17 that makes Fortune the bailiff of God, the judge who probes our culpability. Jean and, to a lesser extent, Renaut turn their art to characterizing the guilty parties. The victims are more carefully drawn and the mediating automata more delicately articulated, because it is human psychology that is beginning to rule both earth and heaven.
Lydgate and the Anonymous of Meun, on the other hand, seize on the tragic potential in the structure of the story of Croesus, while merely making the proper noises about Fortune. Although Lydgate had learned his Chaucer well enough to take pathos where he found it, the lack of guilt in his Croesus returns a Boethian tone to the story. Tragedy is the outcry against such unforeseen reversals as Croesus experienced, and tragedy becomes ironic to the extent that the audience can see the reversals coming.
It is the contribution of the Anonymous of Meun that he regularized the pendulation of events above the head of Croesus and so raised an exemplum to tragic status. The complementary interests of Renaut and the Anonymous in characterization and underlying structure, psychology and dramatic irony, thus bring to the medieval French versions of the Consolatio something of those polarized points of view that see tragedy now as a process set in motion by the violation of moral law, human or divine, now as a condition mysteriously imposed by an omnipotent external fate.
When boethius had Lady Philosophy contemn the self-serving Stoics and Epicureans for tearing the garment she had woven with her own hands, he used a metaphor that came to be developed in the Middle Ages into a theory of truth in Scripture and, with weaker claims, in fiction. Medieval terminology for the allegorical sense varied from integumentum in William of Conches and John of Garland to involucrum in Peter Abelard and John of Salisbury, but its meaning was stable.
Jean wrote:. Among the models on which the translators drew for their narrative dilations of the Boethian text, these Latin commentaries of William of Conches and others naturally figure prominently. As I shall show, they are important also for giving the translators something of the terminology noted above concerning the allegorical use of such narratives. Here I will explore in more detail the use the translators made of this third term both in theory and practice.
The first is that the main technique used by the commentators to reveal the truth beneath the veil of myth was etymology; the second point is that they also strove for polyvalence. Their followers, the translators, also made some use of this technique, even when they did not take it directly from the commentaries. But their use of it is limited and subservient to other techniques. But it may be urged that in doing so he has failed to recognize the method in the madness of the translator.
Pierre therefore finds the essence of the first in their piggishness and of the second in their isolation from others—men who live in pits. Could Plato have asked for more? For an example of what less inept translators did with the techniques of the professional commentators, I turn first to the lengthy telling of the story of Orpheus by the anonymous Burgundian author of the earliest French translation and its moralization adapted from the commentary of William of Conches.
And I will confine my illustrations here to the relations on Orpheus, although I could as easily have used Hercules, to whose labors the Anonymous of Meun and Renaut de Louhans each devote over lines. By this term, Jeauneau means the valued multiplicity of competing and even contradictory interpretations to which any particular text could give rise.
This kind of polyvalence was carried into the glosses of the translation printed by Colard Mansion:. Mais a cestuy enfer povons nous descendre par trois voyes. William himself is responsible for initiating this habit at least in the telling of the Orpheus legend, for he abandons the strictly Boethian details and adds the late classical story of Aristaeus, which he took from the Vatican Mythographies. Aristaeus, through the transvaluation beloved by allegorists, becomes Virtue, which seeks to lift Desire from earthly things.
Desire flees Virtue and descends to the pleasures of the world. One effect of such repeated narrations was to minimize the allegorical interpretation as the translators sought additional narrative details to enliven and distinguish their redactions. Je i sui venuz por ma femme, que est morte novelement. To the narrative texture of the earliest version, the Burgundian also added other medievalizing details. En coer cui Dieu amours adourne. The story of Tytius follows, in eighty lines, and for this the Anonymous had to turn elsewhere for information.
It begins with a retelling of the Ixion story but quickly passes into a lengthy dramatized narration of the judgment of Paris, in which Juno, Pallas, and the victorious Venus are seen as representative of the active, contemplative, and worldly lives. Finally, the translator returns to Orpheus for thirty-two concluding lines which lightly finish with a musical lesson:. The first is that the translator is quite aware of the structure of his narrative. Before showing the one important effect this has, I should perhaps instance a couple of examples of this contrived scholarship.
Instead of attempting to harmonize their accounts, however, the Anonymous simply exhausted the interest that each had for him and then moved on. Thus, because Vincent noted that Boethius mentioned both Arion and Orpheus in his discourse on music, the Anonymous acquired one reason for interpolating the story of Arion into his translation. But something quite different emerges from the translation just surveyed. As the Anonymous of Meun begins to multiply and elaborate on the sinful characters inhabiting hell, our interest turns to them and especially to the variety of reasons for their presence there.
And as he elaborates on Orpheus as a failed contemplative, we can begin to discern in the whole collection of these persons something of a typical medieval panorama of the deadly sins. In Ixion we see the prideful seeker of personal glory; in Tantalus both the angry and the covetous man; and in the first Tytius, the lustful man guilty also of vaunting pride, while in the second Tytius, we have a more complex kind of Faustian pride in his knowledge and ability to prophesy.
Where in this spectrum lies the sin of Orpheus? Our first comparative glimpse comes in the characterization of Arion as a figure puzzled by his good fortune:. Where Hercules opts for the active life—a taste for which he inherited from Juno—and Paris chooses the blandishments of Venus, Orpheus is exhibited as too passive and enervated to concentrate on the gift of Pallas: a life of disinterested contemplation of such things as the music and mathematics exalted earlier.
Thus, I think it is possible to see in Orpheus a victim of the medieval equivalent of the Boethian disease itself: the sin of acedia. Concerning the kind of reallegorizing I am attempting here, Siegfried Wenzel offers a valid caution in his study of acedia. In the sequence of equivalents of pride, anger, lust, and avarice that we see in the repeated portraits of Ixion, Tantalus, and Tytius, the association of Orpheus with tristitia and torpor animi allows us to fill the gap left for a victim of sloth; and, secondly, the positive portraits of Hercules, Paris, and the lucky Arion deepen by contrast the sad passivity of Orpheus.
Where William of Conches allegorized out of existence the patent and miserable defeat of Orpheus in Hades, the Anonymous of Meun, then, found in his miscellaneous materials the makings of a portrait of Boethian sloth. Thus the narratives based on the elaboration of the Consolatio by the Latin commentaries occasionally came to ignore the associated allegorical interpretations, because the fictive details accumulated by the translators were more easily structured by popular medieval schemata—such as the seven deadly sins—than by those arguments of interest to Neoplatonists.
I think this interpretation of the significance of the Orpheus legend is retained in the much-revised copy that appears in the only other manuscript of the version by the Anonymous of Meun: B. But the MS, so far from being negligible, is remarkable, I believe, and that for the evidence it offers of a real attempt at significant structural revision of the story so as to eliminate the very repetitiveness to which Thomas objected.
That is, he may have decided that the story of Arion and some of the following matter on Calliope was of sufficient tangency to allow him to go on with the rest of the Orpheus story and return if time permitted. Other conjectures are of course possible, but it is the substantive revision of the latter part of the Orpheus material that is of greatest interest. Before the large gap, this second MS lacks only eight lines from the copy in MS —except for initial lost folios—but after the gap the compression is considerable. The two sections of new matter, however, are treated more cautiously.
Only four lines are dropped from the final relation on Tytius, and these do not affect the new interpretation derived from Trevet. In all, the repetitive second half of the Orpheus meter is reduced by some lines without significant loss of detail important to our understanding of the perils of Orphic paralysis. The deduction to be made from all this is that some medieval editor attempted to overcome one of the structural defects of eclecticism by making a narrative of cleaner lines, and it was on rewriting the exclusively narrative passages that the revisor expended his greatest effort.
The first two-thirds of the poem consist of fifty-two seven-line stanzas devoted to a somewhat aureate narration of the legend. The first narration has been adapted to the succeeding commentary by the inclusion of the Aristaeus episode and the naming of the Furies. When we narrow the focus from these structural matters to view the texture of the poem on Orpheus written by the Anonymous of Meun, we can see even more clearly how far we have come from an exclusive interest in moralization on the way to the delight in pure narrative exhibited by Renaut de Louhans.
For example, William of Conches had supplied the Anonymous with the barest details of the fables of Ixion and the judgment of Paris. I quote a bit of the latter:. Vnde in fabulis invenitur quod tres dee Iuno, Pallas, Venus iudicio Paridis que dignior esset aureo pomo quesierunt, quia Iupiter diffinire noluit. Quod non fuit aliud quod tres vite sunt, scilicet teorica id est contemplativa, practica id est activa, philargiria id est voluptaria. Et ponitur Pallas pro contemplativa, Iuno pro activa, Venus pro voluptaria. Quod potest probari per premia que promittuntur Paridi.
Pallas namque promittit sapientiam quia contemplatione fit aliquis sapiens. Iuno divicias quia per activam vitam acquiruntur divicie. Venus promittit feminam quia in ea est maxima voluptas. Iste tres dee pro pomo certant, id est pro beatitudine, quia unaqueque videtur facere beatum. Sed Iupiter hoc noluit diffinire ne libertatem arbitrii videretur auferre. Vnde querunt iudicium Paridis, scilicet cuiuslibet hominis.
Sed Paris adquiescit Veneri quia maxima pars hominum consentit voluptati.
But Dame Venus has the longest, most persuasive speech and the most insistent character. Paris responds by throwing the apple at her feet and pledging himself to her in perfect courtly homage. In contrast, the version of the Orpheus meter by Renaut de Louhans represents the ultimate stage in the gradual rejection of explicit moralization in favor of the temptations of the integument, although it could have been written no more than two decades after the work of the Anonymous of Meun. The narrative is everything.
We have seen in the progress observed in this chapter something like a structural reflex of the situation described by Donald R. Howard in his study of Chaucer, Langland, and the Pearl -poet. We have, in effect, the replacement of the allusive, rhetorical Boethian mode by an explicit, narrative one, after an hermeneutic interlude. The story of Orpheus had served Boethius as an exemplary allusion to the necessity for the good man to keep his eye on celestial things.
Scholastic commentary explicated and rationalized the appearance of this pagan myth in its revered authority by allegorizing it, but medieval scholarship also contributed to the accumulation of additional narrative traditions. Villon, Le Testament, In the discussion thus far we have seen some examples of that terminology in operation. When the medieval translators elaborated on the allusions to classical myth and history in the Consolatio, they were exercising their right to gloss and comment, define and describe, diminish or augment.
In this final chapter we shall be looking at the ultimate stages of those processes heretofore discriminated, but the evidence will differ in two ways from that considered earlier. Part of the process of medievalizing the Consolatio consisted in submitting this valued text to the currents of poetic experimentation running so strongly through the century of Machaut and Deschamps.
The meters had received continuous attention, of course, throughout the Middle Ages, both from scholars and poets. This revision may stand as a sign of the times, for the only translations to be restricted to single metrical schemes throughout the text were the first mixed version and that by the Anonymous of Meun, and the latter, as we have seen, enormously elaborated his version in other ways. In his wholly verse translation, Renaut de Louhans used eight-line stanzas for his prologue and Book I—except for one meter—and then changed to couplets for Books II through V, again with the exception of two stanzaic interpolations.
In his interpretation of the second meter of Book I, Renaut experimented by turning it into six twelve-line stanzas riming a a b a a b b b a b b a. A closer look at these variations will, I hope, demonstrate the vitality of formal experimentalism as an aspect of medievalization as well as show the diverse effects of such efforts on the Boethian meaning.
For the epitome in MS B. I see three states. The second, and most common, state is represented by MSS B. This state is like the first except that it reduces the first two stanzas to six lines each by simple omission of lines. The third state is actually a compilation occurring only, to my knowledge, in MS B.
This is a tiny instance of the very general medieval situation which I would call the socialization of creativity. In such an environment it is not necessarily so that genius is an asset nor origin in an uncouth province a liability, for the odder effects of both may be eliminated. The abbreviation in MS B. Its author was more monk than philosophe. For the opening meter of Book II, the translator wrote six stanzas on the following complex pattern:.
And, finally, he ventured thirty-two long, and suitably epic, lines for his version of Book IV, meter When we move from these formal details to look at the last phases of the medieval conquest of the content of the Consolatio, the record becomes that of an inevitable failure on the one hand and on the other of a convincing victory; because while the translators were only slightly more successful than the commentators in Christianizing this work, they were able to universalize much of its message. Although there is adequate evidence that Boethius was a Christian, commentators on the Consolatio since the earliest Carolingian glossators have been troubled by its lack of Christian focus or, indeed, reference.
Pierre Courcelle has convincingly argued the decent compatibility of these facts by showing that although the Consolatio belongs to the ancient genre of the apocalypse, its revelations concern exclusively human wisdom, perfected in Neoplatonism and personified in Lady Philosophy. This explains her silence on matters of divine revelation:. This explication would not, of course, have satisfied most medieval commentators, who attempted in various ways to Christianize Boethian views, particularly those on cosmology, the eternity of the world, and the pre-existence of souls.
What is relevant to our argument is that these attempts to Christianize the doctrine of the Consolatio failed to persuade contemporaries. To the extent that the translators followed the model of the commentators, they too failed. What modest success they did achieve came about solely through the subversive effect of assumed Christian ethic in their narratives. Both of the translations which take their glosses from William of Conches represent serious efforts to bring into the vernacular certain explicitly Christian interpretations of problematical doctrine in the Consolatio.
In addition, the earliest translation draws upon the Christianizing tenth-century commentary of Adalbold of Utrecht for its gloss on Book III, meter 9. The explicitly Christian allegorization of Boethian fable is of interest, however, because an author who says Ulysses reminds us of Christ may be more persuasive than one who simply contradicts Boethius. Par Ulixes qui est estranges de toz, pooms entendre Jhesu Crist qui est veire sapience. Il vint a Troie, ce est en cest munde e venqui le deable e sez compaignons, e retorna par mer, ce est sofri maintes turbacions en cest siecle, e herberia en la maison de Circe, mais ne but pas de ses herbes.
Ce est, Jhesu Crist fu veirs hom e fu entre les temporels ovres, mais non pecha. Il perdi moltz de ses compaignons poi en retornerent ensemble lui. Perhaps more successful in giving at least a Christian tone to the Consolatio are those instances of the apt use of a Christian example where none at all exists in the Boethian text. No example is adduced, doubtless because the annals of Rome are not crowded with hypersensitive heroes, but the glossator of the revised mixed version found a touching medieval example in William of Conches and used it, shorn of all scholastic comment:.
By doing so they make both truth and illustration more familiar, while extending to the Boethian deity such qualities as compassion. This non-discursive sort of Christianization of the text is also achieved to a lesser extent by the illustrators, and I will call attention to but a single example that Courcelle also notes. He is adorned with the philosophic wings that the Lady was shown giving him in a previous icon.
Above them, two angels point to the figure of God, who is pronouncing a blessing. By universalization I mean the extension of the text to new and larger audiences through an increased range of tones and points of view, 15 and preliminary to a demonstration of this extension we need some idea of the limits placed on tone and audience by the original work. In fact, he all but excludes everything unsolemn. Boethius does tell one joke Bk. II, pr. In this, the translators were like the mendicant John Ridevall in following St.
The extent to which Boethian tones are limited by his presumed audience has never been sufficiently stressed. For the group to which not only the Consolatio but the theological tractates was addressed was aristocratic and educated. I, pr. On all those other profane fellows she would not waste her time. This elitism is to be seen most dramatically, however, in the introduction to the tract De Trinitate which I quote from the Loeb translation:. For, apart from yourself [Symmachus], wherever I turn my eyes, they fall on either the apathy of the dullard or the jealousy of the shrewd, and a man who casts his thoughts before the common herd—I will not say to consider but to trample under foot, would seem to bring discredit on the study of divinity.
So I purposely use brevity and wrap up the ideas I draw from the deep questionings of philosophy in new and unaccustomed words which speak only to you and to myself, that is, if you deign to look at them. The rest of the world I simply disregard: they cannot understand, and therefore do not deserve to read. In the first of these little tales, in fact, Pierre catches Philosophy in the act of having wrapped up nothing.
She had just stated Bk. III, pr. At this point Boethius accuses her of weaving labyrinthine arguments, and the remainder of their dialogue concerns varieties of proof. It concerns a hermit who gave penance to a murderous thief on condition that he restrain himself whenever he heard churchbells. The thief continued in his evil ways until one day, while in the act of assaulting a merchant, he heard the bells. The thief gave up his attack and tried to flee, but the merchant, believing that he had vanquished the thief, chased him and killed him.
The text continues:. We thus pass from the lofty position of Boethian logic that the perfect deity can author no evil to the ethical mystery of his power to detect the saving spark in thieves and murderers, and we similarly pass from Roman notions of human virtue to one that sees it as essentially non-public and apolitical. Hi semper eius mores sunt ista natura. Into this elevated and abstract discourse, Pierre intrudes the oriental fable of the cat and the candle, which he mistakenly attributes to Marie de France:.
Et auci de. In this comic picture of the once obedient little cat flinging aside his appointed candle to chase a rat, Pierre strikes a note characteristic of Gothic naturalism. Such stories recast Boethian solemnity into household figurines, redirect Boethian themes, and expand their application to include homely, pedestrian contexts. A sort of democratization of the aristocratic doctrine ensues and produces a two-way effect. The less than noble are introduced to the virtues of stoicism, and the stoics are humanized.
To tender medieval minds, fair bodies belonged to women, and details about this new female Alcibiades began to accumulate in glosses to the Boethian text. At the same time legends were growing about the medieval Aristotle, too, and with more point. What I would stress is the relevance of this interpolated story to the matrix of the Consolatio. Inasmuch as it appears in Book II, prose 4, just after a biographical passage on Boethius, it might be argued that it contributes some desperately needed humor to the internal dynamics of the dialogue between the Lady and the Exile.
In the poem immediately following, the steady man is shown laughing at the elements. A comic tale inserted between the two could make this transition seem more probable. Of far greater importance is the close connection between the theme and imagery of this tale and recurrent Boethian concerns. In this respect the final contrast of the fabliau is most significant.
The last profession rejected by the scholar before he descends into assininity is that of astronomer, and the emphasis of the account is on the profound technical complexity of the subject. And it is also far more tolerant than Boethius of the failure to succeed. The last illustration to be used in this study also comes from the translation of Renaut de Louhans, and it seems to me that it draws together many of the medievalizing forces, both formal and thematic, that have been discussed in this and the preceding chapters.
Into his version of Book II, meter 7, Renaut interpolated some twenty stanzas of six lines each, riming a a b a a b. Their theme is seen in the first and last words of each of those stanzas: La Mort. Formally, they intrude on the customary couplets of this meter and signal their superior importance by their intricate pattern. Book II, meter 7, focuses on the vanity and evanescence of earthly fame. And since his renown will one day fade too, the great man is doubly doomed, because he will die a second death. For instances of those whom death has humbled, Boethius cites the consuls Fabricius, Lucius Junius Brutus, and the elder Cato.
His illustration, as well as his audience, is clearly patrician. The clergy is fully represented, and the Christian infiltration of the aristocratic ranks of Boethian personnel becomes here a mortal rout of clerks, priests, cardinals, popes, prelates in furs, clergied canons, cloistered monks, and veiled nuns. Following them troup emperors, kings, dukes and counts, and knights-at-arms.
Death robs the rich villain of his wine and bread, and pitilessly takes the husband of the burdened wife. Death comes to advocates despite their pleas, and to physicians for all their oaths. It comes en masse in plagues but stealthily to suicides.
It is everywhere, in fields, woods, and parks; in town and court and countryside. It plies the seas to every port. It comes home to take the sucking babe. And that audience included many an unpatrician face not the least illuminated by thought of earthly fame nor worried about any death but the first. But it is time to conclude. One persistent question about medieval culture concerns the relationship between the international world of Latin philosophy, theology, science, and art on the one hand and on the other the various popular vernacular literatures.
A few writers like Dante and, on less exalted levels, Robert Grossteste, Richard Rolle, John Gower, and Alain Chartier have provided answers of their own by writing in both Latin and the vernaculars and on a variety of topics; but their situations are untypical. Recent explications of medieval literature reveal opposing views of the commerce between intellectual strata in the Middle Ages. We have, for example, the judgment of C. A contrary view would deny the cultural dichotomy and regularly bring to discussions of what is at stake in the adventures of Beowulf and Chauntecleer the citation of patristic apologists and Carolingian postillators.
The translations considered here provide novel testimony about just what kind of matter travelled down the medieval cultural scale. The true medieval audience for the Latin Consolatio was academic, and through its interest in cosmology and technical questions of orthodoxy and authority it created a demand for copies of the text and commentaries. But the appeal of such matters to the vernacular audience was limited. But Chaucer was prepared to concede most Boethian technicalities upward to Bradwardine. With the disintegration of the scholastic assumptions about the relevance of the Consolatio, copies, commentaries, and translations continued to be produced, but these last became accessible to other literary currents.
The prime effect of its new academic status of obsolescent venerability was the liberation of the vernacular Boethius to poetic experimentation and narrative elaboration. Lesser authors than Jean and Chaucer applied their techniques not to original works but to the transmutation of a prestigious text. Without the pressure of academic assumptions about traditional distinctions between text and gloss, about canons of relevance in explications, and about adherence to a textual tradition, the translators played.
The earliest translators inherited from the Latin tradition the convention of philosophical and mythological glosses. They also exhibited a seemly inhibition in their strict adherence to prose throughout their versions. But translators like Bonaventura and Pierre merely imitated the outward form of the scholastic texts while resorting to their own popular resources for the medievalizing substance. Further decay of the academic format can be seen in those early mixed versions in which the glosses are selective and uncontroversial.
As long as the Consolatio maintained its prestige in the schools against the encroachments of Aristotelianism, nominalism, and the contempt of familiarity, the production of vernacular versions formally reflected that reverence. But the Dominican and Benedictine religious who later romanced and refined the verse versions were exploiting the relaxation of academic conventions by certain kinds of poetic experimentation, unruffled by the intellectual storms higher up. According to Ernst Curtius, St. Thomas Aquinas viewed poetry as the lowest of all sciences—his Aristotelian source being the Metaphysics and not the Poetics —and this was essentially a new view in opposition to the older northern rhetorical tradition embodied in the poetic epics of Bernard Silvester and Alain of Lille, and in the literary studies of John of Salisbury and William of Conches.
It is possible to see, in consequence, a progressive weakening of the bonds between the two medieval cultures downward from Dante through the early Italian humanists and the English classicizers to the French translators, and this deterioration parallels the dissolution of that marriage of poetry and philosophy—successful in Dante—but on severe trial in the French adaptations of the Consolatio. The late classical union of philosophy and poetry achieved by Boethius was, as I have sketched, partly a formal matter of alternating the styles appropriate to prose and verse, partly an epistemological matter involving the quest for divine knowledge by both human reason, metaphorized as an ascent, and by Platonic reminiscence, made concrete through allusions to human and mythological history.
Beyond this, the late medieval translators often lost the Boethian formal distinction by rendering the Consolatio entirely in prose or verse. In Dante the result is a series of dramatic narratives arrayed within an eschatological scheme; in the classicizing friars something of the same motivation produced pagan tales and moralitates set within explications of Holy Writ; while in certain of the French versions of Boethius the result is an attractive mixture of translation, gloss, and narrative elaboration.
Here, I shall glance back at some of those results in terms of the failures and successes of the narratives as they extend or subvert Boethian meanings. One of the structural effects of eclecticism results from drawing together several tellings of a story with much overlap of detail. This is neutral as regards meaning and may simply produce, as in the case of the relation of the Orpheus legend in the earliest prose translation, a mechanically repetitive account. But two of the narratives by the Anonymous of Meun realize two aesthetic possibilities of inorganic structure.
The first of these successes is also partly owing to the shrinking interest among vernacular writers in the allegorical lucubrations of the schoolmen. Because he could discard much of the allegorizing that accompanied the narrative details gleaned from Fulgentius, Vincent of Beauvais, and the glosses, the Anonymous of Meun could also let those details fall in the direction of newer categories like the panorama of Deadly Sins.
And the problematical redundancy of his account could be refined away by such revisions as that in MS B. By associating Orpheus with acedia and Boethius with Orpheus, the Anonymous set the characterization of the Boethian malady of paralyzing ignorance within a rich medieval framework of greater accessibility.
The collection of reversals that the Anonymous assembled add up to a clear structural realization of the ideas that Fortune strikes with mechanical dispassion and that tragedy bewails such clockwork. The tonal results of such inorganicism as we find exhibited in these translations appear to be even more mixed than those effected in structure. It must be granted, I think, that a number of the interpolated narratives, particularly those which were identified as pure fable—having little purpose beyond the merely informative—occasionally and inadvertently sabotaged the tone of their context.
Partly this is due to the very limited range of tones permitted by the solemn purposes and lofty audience of the original Consolatio, but the apparent damage is also the result of the very freedom with which medieval authors assembled their bits and pieces into art. When a translator intrudes into a hymn of universal love a rape story, he may impede our comprehension of universal love.
Between these extremes occur some interesting effects of medieval literary eclecticism. I have claimed that the translators who reproduced the tendentious arguments of apologists for Christian cosmology shared their failure to significantly Christianize the Consolatio.
But some translators were more successful in imparting a broadly Christian tone to the work. Thus, while Boethius certainly asserts the omnipotence of God, the vernacular adaptors extended the range of illustrations to include qualities of mercy and forgiveness in him. Similarly, the conception of human psychology that emerges from the interpolation of the homely instances that Pierre de Paris and Renaut de Louhans gathered of failed scholars and repentant thieves is more complex and more tolerant of complexity.
And while those methods may at times have cast an icon ungainly as a hawk in armor, more frequently they reflect the consolation His creatures have taken in the witty diversity of their imperfection. Quoted from Nat.
Stewart, Boethius: An Essay Edinburgh, , p. Richard Green Indianapolis, , pp. See the commentators mentioned in note 14 to the Introduction. For the source of this passage, see Georg H. Bode, Scriptores rerum mythicarum latini tres Cellis, , p. Silk, ed. Godley, rev. Loeb Classical Library London, , vol. Bode, Scriptores rerum mythicarum latini tres Cellis, , pp. Paris, , vol. I have used MS B. London, Grigsby, ed. See also, M. Helm Leipzig, , pp.
But Grosseteste saw curiositas like a backward glance? Harvey Wood, 2nd ed. Boetius usi sunt n. In Remigius; see Acta Sanctorum Jan. To cite the opinion of C. This tale is reminiscent of the popular medieval story of Eppo the thief; see J. Crosland, Medieval French Literature Oxford, , p. This work also alludes to the story of the cat and the candle, lines Wulff and E. Willard Trask New York, , pp. The selections are the following:. Calixto fu fille del roi Pandion. Il descendi as terres e prist la forme de Diana sa dame, e vint a li. Calixto ot un enfant au tens que ot nom Arcas.
Arcas li enfes crut e fu bachelier e alot sovent chacier. Il li otroierent. In turn the print lacks line For line 33, MS Roy. Il fist les selves moveir e corre a sei par ses plorables chanz, e constreinst les [fol. Orpheus prie pardon par dolce proiere as seignors des armes.
Les treis deesses serors, Megera, Alleto, Tesiphone, vengerresses des felonies les quels demeinent les armes noissantz par paor, e eles tristes ja emmostissent de lermes. Li voltors, quant il est saols par les chantz, ne depecea la gole de Ticii, del geiant. Nuls ne le poet doner. Amors est la plus grantz leis a sei. Ce est, amors est senz lei. Amors a lei estre senz lei. Heu las, Orpheus vit la soe Euridicem issi aveit nom sa femme pres de le issue de la nuit, ce est del oscur enfer.
La glose de cest metre: Nos devons saveir que li demonstrementz des auctors e des philosofes est feite par treis manieres: par fables, o par estoires, o par integument. Hystoire si est chose feite recontee [fol. Ce est la fable de Orpheo. It aveit une femme qui aveit a nom Euridice. Ele esteit molt bele e delitable. Li serpentz la morst, e ele fu morte. Li cers aleit segurement ensemble le lion. Il se compleinst des damnedeus desus, e descendi en enfer. Les armes comencerent a plorer por le dolz chant. Li torment de Ixyon de la roe cessa. Yxion fu uns geiante qui apela Junone, la femme de Jupiter, de gesir od sei, e por ce il a tel poine en enfer que il est torneez en une roe.
Par Junonem devoms entendre la vie temporel. Par Yxion, qui vost gesir o Junone e qui est tornoiez en la roe, devoms entendre celui qui quiert delit as temporels choses, mais ne poet venir a fin. Tan- [fol. Il sofreit tel poine en enfer: il a faim, e a une pome vermoille pendue devant sei; quant il la viout prendre, ele fuit ariere. Par Tantalus qui despist Pallas entendoms les usuriers qui despisent la sapience spirital. Li voltors ne traist la gole de Ticii por les douz chanz. Sapience senz eloquence petit parfite, car ele est come li tresors resconduz e li arcs que non est tenduz.
Euridice ce est bien disantz. Ele esteit bele e delitable, ce est, qui bien dit, si est de bones murs e delitables e amiables. Ou par Euridice pooms entendre la sapience del sages. Ares en grezeis, ce est vertus en romans. Theos, ce est Dex. Mais ele fuit par les prez, ce est, par les delitz del siecle. Orpheus conut la mort de sa moillier e fist grantz plaignementz. Il chanteit dolcement par sa harpe por sei conforter, ce est, il diseit dolces paroles e raisnables. Li lievres ne doteit neient le chien. Ce est, li feibles ne doteit neient le fort, car li fortz esteit atemprez par les dolces paroles.
Ce senefie que li sages parole reisnablement des temporels choses. Par les treis serors que plorerent devoms entendre que nos pechoms en treis manieres en cest siecle, que nos entendoms par enfer: en penser, en dit, e en fait. Quant li sages hom parole, cez treis serors deivent plorer e repentir. The following are the major deletions and revisions of this section to be found in MS B.
Deleted passages: lines ; ; ; ; Rewritten passages: for lines read:. For lines read:. The following readings from MS N.
There are many variants in the MSS and the Croquet print; e. Lines closely follow the text of Renaut in MS B. Philosophie raconte en ceste part.
Si vint une matinee pres de une tour ou Aristote estudoit, et estoit cele tour assize en une belle praerie. Et lors sailly avant Alixandre et escria et reprist son maistre Aristote et se il fu vergoingnos, nous ne le doit demander. Selected variants. For other variants of lines and end, see the article by Astrik Gabriel cited in the discussion.
Thompson Collection 45 and 87; Heidelberg, Univ. NB 87; Leningrad, Publichnaja Bibl. A95 Possibly Version Bruxelles, Bib. Abelard, Peter, Adalbold of Utrecht, 6 , 9 , Adam, 82 - 83 , Aemilius Paulus, 19 , 44 , Aeneas, Alain of Lille, 21 , Alcibiades, 78 - 79 , - Alexander the Great, 63 , 79 , - Alexandria, school of, 4. Alfred king of England , 5 , 8 , 19 , Andreas Capellanus, Anonymous Benedictine. See Consolatio , version Anonymous Burgundian. See Consolatio , version 1. Anonymous of Meun.