Version classiqueVersion mobile

An Anglo-Norman Reader

 | 
Jane Bliss

Religious Writings

Biblical and Apocryphal

Texte intégral

Proverbes de Salemon (chapter 7)1

  • 1 Dean 458. Sanson de Nantuil, Les Proverbes de Salemon, ed. Isoz (ANTS 44, 45, 50), vol. I, pp. 143– (...)
  • 2 Legge (pp. 36–42) and Dean both date the work to c. 1150.
  • 3 vv. 4603–17, her pp. 40–41.

1Sanson de Nantuil wrote these Proverbs as a book of instruction, perhaps for the young Roger de Condet (aged about twelve).2 Children’s literature as we know it did not exist: children were taught from books we should now consider to be intended only for adults, or from primers when they learned Latin at school. Such books of instruction were not uncommon; this one differs from the Apprise, above, because that is about table-manners and not, as here, biblical exegesis. The writer does not address the child directly, except towards the end. He prefers to speak as if in the voice of Solomon. Legge offers a passage from Sanson’s chapter 7 to illustrate the quality of his writing,3 hence my choice. There is a list of vices in the Book of Proverbs (6:16–19), so Sanson’s book of instruction could perhaps have been placed beside the Deadly Sins later in this book. A further note about the difficulty of generic grouping: Dean catalogues some Anglo-Norman proverb texts in her section 6 (entitled Proverbs); others, including this chapter, in section 10 (Biblical).

2The following is number VII, corresponding to Prov. 7:1–23. I have not transcribed the Latin because it matches the text in LV exactly, and can readily be consulted there or in AV. The Litera translates the Latin (rather freely), and the Glose comments on it.

Text

LITERA

[34b] Ci amonestet li escriz:
‘Garde mes paroles, cher fiz,
E mes comandemenz de lei
Remenbre e repun en tei. [4588]
Garde ben ço que ai comandé,
Si vivras plus benü[e]ré.
Garde ma lei, kar mot le voil,
Com la purnele de ton oil. [4592]
Fermement en tes deiz la lie [34c]
K’el ne te laist faire folie.
Es tables de tun queor l’escrif,
Si te garderat sain e vif. [4596]
Sapïence apele seror,
Cointise amie par amor,
Ki te gard d’estrange moiller
K’el ne te puisset desvëer, [4600]
E d’altrui femme ki parole
Est feinte e dolce e humle e mole.’
‘Des fenestres de ma meison
Esgardai,’ ço dit Salemon; [4604]
‘Par les chancelx gardai e vi
Les petiz que jo la choisi.
Les petiz vi, s’ei esgardé
Un damisel molt forsené. [4608]
Par ces places le vi aler,
Joste un angle el vespre arester;
Lez la veie de sa meison
Alot regardant environ, [4612]
El seir obscur, quant avesprout
E la nut alques s’espeisout.
Une moiller ad encontree
Ki putement ert atornee, [4616]
Apareillé a almes prendre,
Solum ço que jo sai entendre.
Molt resemblot ben lecheresse,
Kar jolive ert e jangleresse. [4620]
Ne poeit en maison durer
Në a nul repos arester;
Une sole hore ne se sist
K’el n’alast fors e revenist. [4624]
Par ces angles alot guaitant,
Veies e places trespassant.
Un jovencel ateint e trove
K’el baiset mot, blandist e rove. [4628]
Od humble vot dit: “Ami cher,
Pur salu deu sacrifier,
Hui ai jo ben mes voz renduz [34d]
Quant mis desir m’est avenuz. [4632]
Encontre vos eissi pur tant
Ke de vos oi desirer grant
Ke jo vos peüsse vëeir.
Or vos ai trové, mun espeir. [4636]
Ensemble aiuns hui mais delit.
De cordes ai teissud mun lit,
Tapiz depeinz ai estenduz
Ki de Egipte me sunt venuz. [4640]
De mirre ai mun lit arrosé
E de canale e de aloé.
Venez! Alum nos deporter
De noz mameles enivrer, [4644]
E tote nut nos delitons
Es enbraciers que coveitons,
Tant que li jorz seit esclarci,
Kar ja nulx ne nos savrat ci. [4648]
Mis sire n’est pas en maisun,
Loinz est en altre regïon;
Sun sac portat e sa vitaille
Kë a pece ne li defaille. [4652]
En pleine lune deit venir
A sa meisun e revertir.”
Od bel parler e od blandir
Le lïet e fait enz venir. [4656]
Aprés li vait d’altretel guise
Com li bos al sacrifise,
E com aignelét enveisé
Ki deit estre sacrifie; [4660]

Translation

LITERA

  • 4 LV amicam tuam; AV ‘thy kinswoman’. Sanson uses the vocabulary of medieval love: ‘amie par amor’. I (...)

3This is what the Scripture tells us: ‘Keep my words, dear son; remember and treasure up within you my commandments of the law. Keep well what I have commanded, and you will live more blessed. Keep my law, for I do wish it, as the apple of your eye. Bind it fast into your fingers, so that it will not let you do any foolishness. Write it into the tablets of your heart, and it will keep you alive and safe. Call Wisdom [your] sister, and make Understanding your lover,4 who will guard you from the stranger so that she cannot lead you astray, and from the other woman whose talk is false and sweet, humble and soft.’

  • 5 The little people, ‘petiz’; both Legge and AV have ‘simple’ here.

4‘I looked out at the windows of my house,’ says Solomon, ‘I looked through the lattice, and I saw the simple ones that I could perceive there. I saw the simple ones,5 I saw a very foolish-looking young man. I saw him go around the streets, and stop by a corner in the evening. He went along towards her house, looking about him, in the dark of the evening as twilight fell and the night thickened. He met a woman who was dressed like a harlot, all ready to steal souls as far as I could tell! She looked every inch the lustful lady, being gay and flirtatious. She could not keep indoors, nor sit still to rest; never an hour could she stay, without going out and coming in again. She would go prowling round the corners, crossing the squares and the streets. She found a young man, and caught him; she fawned on him and cajoled him, making her command. Meekly she said,

  • 6 This mention of sacrifice is ominous, given the image of sacrificial victims below.
  • 7 Here is an example of the husband who has gone away, perhaps on a pilgrimage, leaving a clear field (...)

5‘“Dear friend, I have just performed my devotions, sacrificing to the gods for my own good;6 now my desires have come upon me! I have come out to find you, because I yearn for you so much, I wanted to see you. Now I have got you, or so I should hope. From now on we can have such fun together! I have wreathed my bed with ribbons, and I have spread decorated tapestries that came to me from Egypt. I have sprinkled the bed with myrrh, and with cinnamon and aloes. Come along! Let’s go and enjoy ourselves, and get drunk at each other’s breasts! We can take our pleasure all night, in the embraces we have longed for, until the daylight comes; nobody will know we are there. My lord is not at home: he has gone off to another part of the country, taking his bag, and his provisions which he won’t run short of for a long time. He’ll be back only at the full moon, when he’ll return.”7

6‘With sweet speech and coaxing she binds him and brings him in. He goes after her just like an ox to the sacrifice, or like the happy little lamb that is to be slaughtered.

Simple est e fol, ne set u vait,
Ne quë a lïens seit atrait,
Tresk’ele ait sun gisier perciét
De sun dart dun el l’ at fichiét. [4664]
Si com oisel ki est hastis
D’aler al laçon u est pris,
Ne set ne ne veit le peril
De s’alme qu’il met en peril.’ [4668]

GLOSE

[35a] Ci ne nos esteot pas noter
Ço k’a sun filz suet regreter:
Si com dis ainz sovent regrete
Ço dunt velt plus qu’il [4672]
s’entremete.
El regreter k’il fait sovent
Velt que guard sun comandement,
Cure en ait de altretel baillie
Com de sun oil que pas n’oblie. [4676]
Ne pot dreit vëeir ne choisir
Senz sun comandement tenir.
Sapïence apelet seror:
Çö est d’eclesïal amor, [4680]
E de fraternel alïance,
D’aveir en fei une creance
Kil guard de sieute d’eresie:
Ço est la moiller dun le chastie, [4684]
Ki d’eclesïal casteé
S’estranget en male ordeé,
E de gesir en tel ordure
Se delitet a desmesure; [4688]
Od dolce parole qu’el feint
Quiert k’a sun soil altres ameint.
Mais Deus esguardet de toz
l’estre,
E par cancelx e par fenestre. [4692]
La fenestre de sa maison
Est l’ordre des clers que veüm.
Del cancel est li cielx notez
Dun il nos at toz esgardez. [4696]
Si com li Salmistre suelt dire:
‘Del cel regardet nostre Sire.’
Les fiz des omes ad veüz
E com il se sunt contenuz. [4700]
D’ileoc esgarde toz noz estres,
E des deciples e des meistres;
D’ileoc esguardet feble e fort,
Lor guarisun e lor confort, [4704]
Les justes e les pechëors [35b]
Ki grant mester unt de socors.
Un jovencel i veit desvé,
Avoiltre e senz estableté. [4708]
Desvez est cil ki est en rage
E estrangez de sun corage.
Cil est de corage estrangié
Ki d’eresie est aprismé, [4712]
E avoiltre est quant seinte iglise —
La bele espose qu’aveit prise —
Ad pur la siute d’eresie
Folement laissié e guerpie. [4716]
Par places le vit trespasser:
Ço est par errors del secle aler
Ki a mort meinent lor errant
Tresque vait s’espose fuiant. [4720]
Quant joste l’angle s’arestut,
De tenir fei lors se remut.
Ki en angle vait arestant,
Dejoste veie e regardant, [4724]
Senblant mostret de repentir
Ke n’ait suen del chemin tenir,
Kar de veie de verité
S’est a malices encliné. [4728]
Ço qu’alout el vespre a seriz
Lez la meison la meretriz,
Quant li jor esteit avespré
E la nut ert en obscurté, [4732]
Notet que peché vil e ort
Hastet celui kil fait a mort.

  • 8 Isoz notes the rhyme is suspect; a suggested reading is ‘De s’ alme quil met en eissil’(of his soul (...)

7He is innocent and foolish, with no idea of where he is going, nor that he is being led into a snare, until his throat is pierced by the blade she sticks him with. Just as the bird is hasty to go towards the wire that will capture it, he neither knows nor sees the peril that endangers his soul.’8

GLOSE

  • 9 Isoz notes that ‘regreter’ is used to mean ‘beseech, call upon’ (her note to v. 2999); her glossary (...)

8There is no need for us to point out that he often admonishes his son; as I said before, he often repeats what he most wishes him to be concerned with.9 The plea he so often makes is for him to keep his commandment; he should be concerned with it in the same way, and not forgetful of it, as if it were his own eye. He cannot see or perceive correctly unless he keeps his [father’s] commandment.

  • 10 Isoz notes that ‘sa’ is missing both here and at v. 4597 above.
  • 11 Isoz notes that ‘soil’ means both ‘filth’ and ‘threshold’.

9He calls Wisdom [his] sister,10 and that is churchly love and brotherly togetherness, to trust in faith to protect him from the following of heresy. That is the woman through whom he is chastised, who estranges herself from religious chastity by her horrible filth, and who delights outrageously in lying in such filth; she puts on a sweet voice in order to lead others into her pigsty!11

10But God watches over the existence of all, through the lattice and through the window. The window of his dwelling, that is the clerical orders as we know. The lattice, that means the heavens, from which he watches us all.

  • 12 Ps. 14:2 in AV (13:2 in LV).

11As the Psalmist says: The Lord looked down from heaven.12 He saw the sons of men, and how they conducted themselves. From there he can see all our doings, of the disciples and of the masters. From there he watches the weak and the strong, their healing and their comfort; and the just, and the sinners who have such great need of help.

12He sees a mad young man, adulterer, unstable. A madman is one who is raving, and stranger to his own heart. And if he is stranger to his own heart he is making friends with heresy. He is an adulterer, because he is mad enough to leave and abandon Holy Church — the lovely wife he had taken — so as to follow heresy.

  • 13 Isoz notes other possible meanings for ‘a seriz’.

13He sees him wandering the city squares; that is, he is erring in the ways of the world, which lead their wanderers to death as they flee away from their wife. When he stops by the corner, that is when he leaves hold of his faith. Whoever goes to loiter at corners, looking about by the roadway, seems to be showing repentance without holding to his own path; for he has turned from the path of truth towards wickedness. That he was going stealthily13 in the evening towards the house of the bawd, when the daylight was gloaming and the night was dark, means that vile and dirty sin hastens him who commits it towards death.

En tenebres se deit haster,
Kar a tenebres deit aler. [4736]
Nuit de pechiét l’at esciwé
Quant de fei guerpist la clarté.
Encontre lui vent la moiller
Ki li fait iglise avoiltrier. [4740]
En sa manere est atornee
De enginz, e d’arz enloçunee,
Ki a putain sunt covenable [35c]
E dun el seit plus decevable; [4744]
Apareillé a almes prendre
En quanqu’el lor pot feire
entendre,
Kar li erites toz celz enble
K’a sa siute aünet e assemble. [4748]
Gangleresse est a conturber
Paiz de seinte iglise e meller.
Vaie e jolive, e toz tens quiert
Com hom ki ja saols nen ert. [4752]
Eglise queort a conturber
E genz a sa siute torner.
En pais une hore estre ne pot,
Kar feus de coveité l’esmuet. [4756]
En maisun ore ne pot estre,
Tost cort a l’us u a fenestre;
Poroffret sei e sun servise
Pur vendre sa marcheandise. [4760]
Sa meisun celx nos senefie
K’ele ad atraiz a eresie.
Cels ne li sunt pas soffeisanz
Se novels n’esteit decevanz. [4764]
Tost est defors, tost est es
places,
Kar nient traçables sunt ses traces.
Les delitos es places prent,
Les paiens defors ensement. [4768]
Es places solent cil hanter
Ki delit aiment seculer
De lecheries de moiller,
D’oïr chanter e fableier. [4772]
Celx atrait a sei eresie
Par les deliz de puterie.
Par plusors vices le[s] sumont
Tant ke en lor siute de tot sunt. [4776]
Del defors not paiene gent
Ki lei n’unt ne doctrinement,
E telx pot l’um tost engingner
E a lor sieute acompaigner. [4780]
Fors sunt de lei de seinte iglise [35d]
D’enseignement e de justise.
Joste les angles sunt guaitant,
Lor sogez a mal enortant. [4784]
Le jovencel que la saisist
Est avoiltre, que tant blandist
Od le crimene de sun delit
Ke la l’ameine u el l’ocit. [4788]
Baisier enthoschet lechëor
E entalente de folor.
Tant sevent blandir li erite
Ke lor temptatïon delite. [4792]
Debonairetéd vunt mostrant,
E de tant sunt plus soduiant.
De ço que dit al lechëor
Ke sacrifier dut cel jor: [4796]
Li erite unt costume e us
Ke de ço k’il desirent plus.
Ensorquetot de tot lor faiz,
Coment qu’il seient vilz e laiz, [4800]
Pur lor salud funt sacrifise
Male de crimenes e de vice.
Sacrefice est al lor quider,
Purquant nel deit l’um si nomer, [4804]
Kar ren n’i est sacrifiét,
Mais en pechez tot ordei[é] t.
De lor immolatïon dit
Li prophetes en sun escrit [4808]
Ke Deus en s’alme la haeit
Ne ja lor dons ne recevreit.
Pur ço li dit la meretriz,
Solunc l’usage de ses diz, [4812]
Ke ses voz out renduz el jor
Quant sun desirét lechëor
Poeit vëeir e enbracer
E d’avoiltre delitier. [4816]

14He must hasten in the shadows, for into shadows he must go. When he abandoned the light of faith, the night of sin blinded him.

15The woman came to meet him, who made him unfaithful to the Church. She is apparelled from head to foot with tricks, and with studied arts proper to a harlot, that make her all the more deceitful. She is all set to entrap souls, those whose attention she can grab, for the heretic steals away all those whom she gathers and collects in her train.

16She is gossipy, so as to disturb and confuse the peace of Holy Church.

  • 14 Isoz offers this rendering of the line (citing a passage from Bede).

17She is flighty and frivolous, constantly on the prowl like one who can never have enough. She wants to disturb the church and make people follow her. She cannot sit quietly for an hour, because she burns with covetous longing. She cannot stay an hour in her house, but is for ever running to the door or the window. She offers herself and her favours, to sell her services. By her house, we understand that means those she has drawn into heresy. These are not enough for her, unless she can be ensnaring new recruits.14

  • 15 Bede is cited again in the editor’s note.

18Quickly outside, quickly into the streets! Her footprints are invisible; she catches lechers in the city’s squares, and pagans out there too.15

19Those places are frequented by people who love worldly delights, and frolicking with ladies, and hearing songs and fabulous stories. She reels these in, to her heresy, through their appetite for whoremongering. She incites them via their many vices, until they have totally become their followers.

20Outsiders are called pagans, because they have no law or learning; it is easy for her to entrap such as these are, and add them to the entourage [of vices]. They are outside the law of Holy Church, and outside all teaching and justice. They lie in wait at the street-corners, exhorting their victims to evil.

21The young man she snatched there is an adulterer, whom she so coaxed by criminal pleasures that at last she had him where she could kill him.

22Kissing intoxicates the lecher, and sucks him into evil deeds. The heretics are so clever at flattery that their very temptations are a delight. They go about looking debonair, and thus they are even more seductive.

  • 16 Isoz notes this line as slightly problematic; I have followed the suggested meaning.
  • 17 Is. 1:11–14

23As for what she said to the lecherous young man, that she had to sacrifice that day — the heretics, in custom and practice, have anything they want. Especially for all their deeds, however vile and ugly they are, they make an evil sacrifice [involving] both criminal acts and vices.16 Sacrifice is what they believe in, but nobody must call it so, for they do not sacrifice anything there! They just dirty everything with sin! Of their immolation, the Prophet says in his book that God hates them in his soul and will never accept their offerings.17 That is why the harlot, following her usual words, told him she had done her vows for the day, when she could see and embrace her desired lover and pleasure herself with adultery.

Sacrefise en deveit doner
Quant lieu aveit de mal ovrer.
De l’achaison qu’ele a mostree [36a]
Pur quei contre lui ert alee: [4820]
Dit que veier l’out desiré,
Pur çol quist tant qu’il l’out trové.
Ci volt noter e esclarier
Les treis maner[e] s de pecher: [4824]
En pensé, en dit e en fait,
Ki alme a dampnatïon trait.
De cordes ad teissu sun lit:
Repos par ço not e delit, [4828]
Kar plus est molx e aësiéd
Ke lit de fust apareillét.
Des cordes pus senefïer
Ke om les fait pur traire e lier, [4832]
E cil ki a erite assent,
Lïez est e traiz a torment.
De tapiz peinz l’at portendu,
Ki d’Egipte li sunt venu: [4836]
De tapiz peinz pöons noter
Lor grant facunde de parler.
Les arz dun il unt escïence
Lor est ornement d’eloquence. [4840]
Dialetiche unt el gangler
E es raisuns d’argumenter.
Des arz orgoillos sunt e fiers
Dunt almes sevent engingner. [4844]
Des Ehnuchis unt lor sens pris
E en lor siute se sunt mis.
Ehnuchi sunt d’Ehsna nomé
Dunt lor non est pris e formé. [4848]
Un mont suelt l’um Ehsna clamer
Ki toz tens suelt ardre e fumer,
Del feu d’enfern est sopirail
Ki jameis n’avrat definail. [4852]
D’ileoc sunt nomé Ehnuchi
Ki entosché sunt e bruï
De l’enfernal feu d’averice,
Ki començail est de tot vice. [4856]
Li erite dunt nos parlons [36b]
Tenent la siute a ces felons;
E comunelment lor merites
Partirunt putains e erites. [4860]
Des tapiz not — ki bel sunt peint —
Ke en lor parler sunt humle e feint.
D’Egipte sunt; çö est boisdie
Kë en latin nos senefie. [4864]
Canele, mirre e aloé
Ad a odor sun lit poldré:
Ço est qu’il prametent pareïs
A celx que de lor siute unt pris; [4868]
Celestïen odor prametent
Se de lor siute s’entremetent.
Od tel odor de traïson
K’il donent en abusïon [4872]
Quant d’eresie traiter
Se quident si seintefier,
Quident que seit ben e justice
Tot lor delit e [lor] malice. [4886]

24She had to do sacrifice when she saw the opportunity to do evil. As for the reason she gave him, why she had come to meet him: she said she wanted to see him, and so had sought him until he found her.

25Here we note and explain the three ways to sin: in thought, in word, and in deed. These lead to damnation.

26Her bed was woven with ribbons; these mean repose and luxury, because such a bed is softer and easier than a bed made of wood. They signify cords that are made to bind and to draw, and those who assent to heresy are bound and dragged into torment.

  • 18 The vivid pictures on Amphiarax’ chariot (above) seem to leap offtheir painted surface, to move and (...)
  • 19 These figures act like personifications.

27She adorned it with pictured tapestries that came to her from Egypt. We may observe the great speaking power of these pictures.18 The arts they demonstrate are their ornaments of eloquence. There is Dialectic in their gossip, and in their excuses for argument. These Arts are proud and arrogant, and clever at entrapping souls.19

  • 20 The editor notes this unusual ‘derivation’ (perhaps a garble of Latin ethnicis). Whatever source Sa (...)

28They get their ideas from the pagans, and follow in their entourage. These pagans, or Ethnicans, are named from Etna; they are called that because of it.20

  • 21 I Tim. 6: 10

29There is a mountain commonly called Etna, that used to burn and smoke ceaselessly; it was a vent for the fires of Hell that shall never be quenched. From it the Ethnicans are named, who are scorched and poisoned with the hellish flames of avarice. This is the root of all the vices.21 The heretics we are speaking of are among the followers of these villains; their rewards will be shared among heretics and whores.

  • 22 Isoz is uncertain whether Sanson is indicating an etymology or an association of ideas (for example (...)

30The tapestries, that are so beautifully painted, signify those whose speech is so humble and feigned. They are from Egypt, which means deception as we know from Latin.22

  • 23 Isoz offers variant readings: ‘around such people there is the stench of treachery’.

31She has sprinkled her bed with cinnamon, myrrh, and aloes to perfume it: this means they promise Paradise to those who join their following. They promise celestial fragrance to them, if they undertake to join them. With such odours of treason,23 that they improperly exploit and give out when they expound heresy, they reckon to sanctify themselves; they think all their wickedness and debauchery is just and right.

Come së od l’apostle Dé
Peüssent dire en verité
Ke de Crist fussent bon odor,
Mais il en sofferunt püor. [4880]
Si sunt coverz lor orz pechez
Com est li femiers ennegiez :
Defors unt bele coverture
E dedenz püor e ordure. [4884]
A tel coverte tricherie
M’est vis que la putain l’envie
Ki sun cors voldreit sazïer
De la fain de sun desirer, [4888]
De sa lecherie achever
Dunt molt se desire enivrer.
Par l’atrait des vices menors
Le puesset traire as nouaillors. [4892]
Si com li bevere ad delit
De beivre petit e petit
Tressi que tant s’est enivré [36c ]
Ke de sun cors n’ad pöesté, [4896]
Dunc est del tot pris e lacié
E aresté el vil peché,
Dunc ad acompli l’enbracier
Dun dist qu’ele aveit desirer, [4900]
Kar a sa siute l’ ad torné
Dunt en enfer serrad dampné,
E parmeindrat en itel guise
Tressi quë al jor de juïse : [4904]
Jorz ert de pardurableté
Quant li bon serrunt enoré,
Li mal en tenebres obscures,
En aspres peines e en dures. [4908]
De l’home ki n’est en maisun
Solunc expositors noton —
Dunt la lecheresse ad parlé,
Ki longe veie esteit alé — [4912]
Enmanüel Deu, Jesum Crist
De ki eresie banist,
Pur tolir nostre sacrament,
Kë il n’est pas corporelment [4916]
En seinte eglise consacré
Solunc fei de cristïenté,
Ne de mort n’est resuscitez,
Ne sus el cel nen est montez, [4920]
Ne d’espirit nes vint doctriner
A hues seinte glise garder :
Ço est la meisun que Crist laissat,
Ki cele longe veie alat. [4924]
Del sac k’il portat entendum
Glorie de resurrectïun,
E quë il ad od sei porté
Enor de nient mortalité [4928]
Dunt la cort del ciel fud goiose
E est de toz biens plentëose.
En pleine lune deit venir
A sa maisun revertir. [4932]
Pleine lune ert dunc veirement [36d]
Quant Deus vendrat al jugement,
Kar consummez serat cist mont
E les overaignes ki i sunt. [4936]
Cist mond n’est hore plus estable
Ke lune [ki] est defiesable.
Ne duret mie longement
Corot në esl [ë] ecement ; [4940]
Novelers est, kar sovent triche,
Tost i est l’um e povre e riche.
De lune pleine renotum
Ke dunc serrat perfectïon [4944]
Des esliz ki en Dampnedé
Avrunt lor parfite clarté,
Ki en obscurté sunt mundaine,
Si com est lune ki est pleine. [4948]
Veiet iglise — la moiller —
Quant sun espos deit repairer
Ne l’ait eresie avoltriee,
Kar ele en serreit corocié, [4952]

  • 24 II Cor. 2: 15 This passage is cited in La Vie seint Edmund le Rei, ed. Russell, in a description of (...)

32It is as if, with the Apostle of God, they could say truly that they are a sweet savour of Christ,24 but they will endure the stench of [their wickedness and debauchery]! They have covered up their filthy sins like a dungheap under snow: outside it is a beautiful covering, but inside it is stink and muck.

33It seems to me that the harlot wanted just such covert treachery when her body wanted to slake the hunger of its desire, to satisfy the lechery with which she so badly wanted to intoxicate herself. By the temptation of smaller vices, she could drag him on to the worst of them.

34It is like one who loves drinking, and goes from small sip to small sip until he is so drunk he has no control over his body, and is therefore taken and entangled and captured in vile sin.

35Then she has carried out the embrace she said she desired so much: she has enticed him into her following, for which he will be damned in Hell. He will stay there, just like that, for ever until the Day of Judgement! That is the day of eternity, when the good shall be honoured. The wicked shall be [thrown] into darkest shadows, into harsh and bitter pains.

  • 25 See above, where the woman says her lord is away. This passage refers to the Church’s tenet that th (...)
  • 26 Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost.

36We note what the authorities say about the man who is not at home, the one the harlot talked about, who had gone on a long journey. Lord Emmanuel! Jesus Christ! Heresy proclaims, to take away our sacrament, that he is not consecrated bodily by Holy Church according to the Christian faith.25 And that he did not rise from the dead, and did not ascend into Heaven, and his Spirit did not come to teach for the benefit of Holy Church.26 [Holy Church] is the house Christ left, when he went on such a long journey. By the sack he carried, we understand the glory of resurrection; that he carried it with him, means the honour of immortality. The court of Heaven rejoices at it, and it is filled with all good things!

37At the full moon he will return and come back to his house. The full moon is, indeed, when God will come in judgement. This world and all its works shall be consumed.

  • 27 Isoz notes that Sanson may have made up the word ‘defiesable’, perhaps conflating ‘vanish’ and ‘fai (...)

38This world is never stable for an hour, like the moon when it is on the wane.27 Neither anger nor joy can survive long; it is fickle, often deceptive, for a man may be suddenly poor and rich.

39But let us explain that the full moon is when the chosen ones achieve their perfection, their perfect light in the Lord God, who had been in earthly darkness. This is like the moon when it is full.

40Let the Church, that is the woman, see when her husband is due to come home; that she has not defiled herself with heresy. For this would make her anguished,

  • 28 I omit the Litera in Latin, as above, which corresponds to Prov. 7:24–7 (in LV); f. 37a begins here

Ki de parler bel e mentir
La corrunt e fait mesbaillir;
Par bel semblant, par bel parler,
La feit de sun espos sevrer. [4956]
Li fols quidet que veir li die,
La putain sielt a eresie;
Ne plus que bof raisun n’entent,
Ainz vait a sa mort simplement; [4960]
E com aignel mesconoissant,
Ki n’est saives ne entendant,
Ne set que l’um le deit lïer,
Trencher le col e escorcier. [4964]
Sovent traient erite a mort
Les fiz d’iglese par tel sort,
Ki hastent lor perditïon
Come li oisel al laçon [4968]
U il est pris e retenuz
E cil avoiltrez e perduz.28

LITERA
[37a] Por ço dit enprés Salemon:
‘Fiz, or m’oies e mun sermon; [4972]
A mes paroles que jo di
Entent, filz, nes metre en obli,
Kë es veies de cel putage
Ne seit giens forstrait tun corage, [4976]
Ne que tu deceüz ne seies
Par ses senters ne par ses veies.
Kar molt plaiez ad degetez
E tres forz ocis e tüez. [4980]
Sa maisun sunt veies de bas;
Kis vait trebuche eneslepas,
Perçanz es entrailles de mort
Senz merci e senz nul confort.’ [4984]

GLOSE
Ci voil vëeir e denoter
S’il i ad que determiner.
Sun fiz amoneste e aprent,
Si com vos ai noté sovent. [4988]
Pur ço covent que melz retienge
Sun sens e ke plus l’en sovenge,
Ke par mals diz soduit ne seit
Del ben aprendre qu’amer deit. [4992]
Par coveitise ad molt navrez
Ke pus ad a enfer getez.
Tres forz ad soduiz e matez
E des tres saives des edez, [4996]
Dunt uns fud cist reis Salemon,
Ki l’escrit fist dunt nos parlom,
Par enging de moiller refud
Samson fortisme deceüd; [37b] [5000]
E li tres saives reis David
En fud deceüz e traït;
E Origenes d’eresie:
Ço est la noualdre puterie. [5004]
Navré en furent e ocis
E es peines d’enfern assis.
Asez est ocis ki la vait,
Mais alquant d’elx en sunt sotrait [5008]
Ke le redemptïon de Dé
Ad par sa mort d’ileoc osté.
De la maisun as bas degrez,
A la moiller dunt vos oëz, [5012]
Denotuns d’enfer les tormenz
U plors ert e escroiz de denz
Kar molt est basse e tenebrose
E de toz tormenz angoisose. [5016]
Perçant es entrailles de mort,
Senz pïetéd e senz confort.
Ileoc prendrunt une merite
Ensemble e avoiltre e erite. [5020]
Asez en sunt garni sovent:
N’i ad mais os chastïement.

41whose fair speech and lies had corrupted her and put her in a sorry plight. A fine external show, and lies, that is what makes a breach with her husband.

42The fool believed she spoke truly, and followed the harlot into heresy, understanding reason no more than the ox that goes innocently to its death. And like the unsuspecting lamb, which is neither wise nor intelligent, and does not realise they are going to tie it, and cut its throat, and skin it. The heretics often drag the sons of the Church to death the same way; they hurry towards their doom as the bird hurries towards the snare in which it is caught and held, and it is defiled and utterly lost.

43[LITERA] This is why Solomon says, next, ‘Son, now listen to what I say. Hear the words I’m speaking, my son, and don’t forget them! So, don’t ever let your heart be dragged into the way of such harlotry, and do not be deceived into her paths and byways. For she has destroyed many wounded, and she has killed and slaughtered the strong. Base are the ways to her house, and those who go there stumble immediately; they are pierced to the bowels by Death, without mercy and without any solace.’

  • 29 Isoz gives a passage from Bede with which to compare these lines.
  • 30 A typically misogynistic cliché; a list of famous men destroyed by the wickedness of women (see, fo (...)
  • 31 This is a reference to the Harrowing of Hell: an apocryphal story that Christ went into Hell, betwe (...)

44[GLOSE] Here I want to see and comment, about what can be decided. He warns and teaches his son, as I have often shown you. Therefore it is important to retain his meaning properly, and to remember it, so that you will not be seduced by evil words and you will learn what you must love. Covetousness has wounded many who are then thrown into Hell. The strongest have been seduced and undone, and the wisest among the ancients. One of them was this King Solomon,29 who made the book we are talking about; then the powerful Samson was deceived by the wiles of a woman.30 The wise King David was deceived and betrayed by them; and Origen was deceived into heresy, which is the worst of filth. These men were wounded and killed, then assigned to the pains of Hell. Those who end up there are thoroughly dead, but some of them were taken out when God’s redemption brought them away by his death.31

  • 32 Matt. 8: 12
  • 33 The next chapter begins: Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? (Prov. 8:1). T (...)

45That house of infernal steps, belonging to the woman you have heard about; by this we mean the Hell of torments where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth,32 for it is very deep and dark, and filled with every kind of agonizing torment. Without pity or comfort, Death having pierced them to the very bowels, they there take what they deserve together with adulterers and heretics. Many are often saved, for there is no further reason to chastise them.33

The Creation, by Herman de Valenciennes34

  • 34 ‘The Creation’ (in ANTS Essays, OPS 2); Dean number 485 (section 11, entitled Apocryphal).
  • 35 The edited text is published in a collection of essays, entitled exactly as the work appears in my (...)
  • 36 Dean lists it among ‘Apocryphal’, which is incorrect for this piece, but the larger Roman de Dieu t (...)
  • 37 Narrative passages would be recited by a ‘lector’; performances envisaged for this text would be op (...)
  • 38 Rev. 12:7–9.

46The entry in Dean’s catalogue does not list this piece independently, although it mentions de Mandach’s edition of a part of the Geneva manuscript (formerly Phillipps 16378). The editor calls it an unpublished Mystery Play.35 If indeed it is one, it would rank with Dean’s short list of Anglo-Norman Drama (numbers 716–19, in her Homiletic section). Creation is not a very exact title,36 since the piece is closer in its subject-matter to the Jeu D’Adam. Herman wrote twenty-two mystery plays, according to de Mandach (p. 251). His introduction gives further description of Herman’s work: this is a ‘chameleon’ text that defies generic classification; the likelihood of stage performance cannot be ruled out,37 and the dramatic character of Herman’s Bible as a whole has often been pointed out. But there is little in the way of address to the audience. Our story is found in the first four chapters of Genesis, although the three angels are not named in that book: these appear passim elsewhere in the Bible. Other differences from the Genesis text are that the rebellion of the angels is added, not occurring in the Bible until the Book of Revelation;38 further, God does not make coats of skins for Adam and Eve in Herman’s version.

47As is often the case in medieval French, verb-tenses are inconsistent compared with those in modern languages. Although it is impossible to follow the changes exactly in translation, I generally aim to reflect at least some of them so as to convey a feeling of the original. Of course if the text were actually set as a play, many of the tenses would be present-forms rather than past-forms. However, the use of ‘tu’ and ‘vous’ is more consistent than in many texts: God says ‘tu’ to Adam (unless talking to both of them), and he says ‘vous’ to God. The use of ‘tu’ is more likely between both speakers of differing rank in much though not all written speech. Adam and Eve say ‘tu’ to each other throughout, unusually; it is almost (not quite) a rule that close friends and lovers use ‘vous’ to one another.

  • 39 Base MS formerly Cheltenham Phillipps 16378, supplemented from a twin copy in Pembroke College Camb (...)

48For the manuscripts,39 see de Mandach’s introduction (no folio numbers are given in the edition).

Text

1
Cumencement de sapience, ce est la tumor deDeu,
Qui fist e ciel e terre, eve e fou, en tens breu;
Angles fist e archangles, mult les mist en bel leu.
Nus truvum en escrit de latin e de ebreu:
Partie en tresbuchast en leu malvei e greu, [5]
Quant il voldrent regner, tolir li regne a Deu.

2
[L]’autre part qui remeist d’orgoil ne sout nent.
Ele remist en cel, si sert Deu bonement;
Al sun servise fere lui estait enpresent.
Nuns lur duna li Sire, par sun grant escient, [10]
Michaël, Gabriël, Raphaël, si l’entent.
Provost fist Michaël sur cel asemblement.
Tuit sunt obeissant al soncumandement.

3
Quant furent trebuchez en enfer les cheitis,
Perdirent la clarté, si sunt tuit ennercis. [15]
Mult unt malveis ostel, n’est pas bon lur deliz.
La se sunt herbergez; iloc meindrunt tut dis.
Apros nostre Sire sur tere paraïs
Arbres i ad plantez, qui tut tens sunt fluriz;
Idunc furmat Adam, iloc denz l’admis. [20]

4
Quant de terre l’out fait, idunc si l’esgarda.
Fait l’out en sa figure, grant sens i purpensa.
Volt qu’il eit cumpanie, e il la li duna.
Une coste del lez del cors li desevra.
Adan s’i ert endormiz, pas ne s’en esveilla. [25]
Dementers qu’il dormist, e Deus Evamfurma.

5
Dunc s’esveilla Adam quant out asez dormit.
Deus l’at araisunet e mult bel li ad dit:
‘Adam, ore as cumpanie, e as mult grant delit.
Tu feras mun cumand senz nul cuntredit. [30]
Paraïs te cumand!’Adam li respundit:
‘Volenters, le men Sire, trestut a vostre dit!’

Translation

  • 40 Cf. Job 28:28; this is a common sentiment in religious writing.

49The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom…40

50… God, who made heaven and earth, water and fire, in a short time. He made angels and archangels, and set them in a beautiful place. We find it written, in books of Latin and Hebrew, how some of them tumbled down into an ugly unhappy place, because they wished to reign, and to take the reign from God.

  • 41 The verbs in this passage are singular, because their subject is ‘one part’ and ‘the other part’ of (...)

51The others who are left know nothing of such pride; they stay in heaven, serving God faithfully. They were prompt in his service.41 God gave them names, in his wisdom: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael; this was his intention. He made Michael their high provost, and they are all obedient to his commands.

52When the wicked ones had fallen into Hell, they lost their brightness and became all blackened. They have bad lodging there, and their delights are not delightful! That is where they are given to live, and will be for ever. After that, Our Lord planted trees in the place of Paradise, that were ever in flower. Next, he made Adam, and put him in it.

53Having made him of earth, he looked at him. He had made him in his own image, which he thought was a wise decision. He wants him to have company, and so he gives it him: he took a rib out of the side of his body. Adam was asleep, and did not wake; while he was sleeping God made Eve.

54When Adam had finished his sleep, he woke up. God addressed him, saying kindly ‘Adam, now you’ve got a companion, and will have great delight! You must obey my commands without any argument. I commend Paradise to you!’ Adam replied ‘With pleasure, my Lord! Anything you say!’

6
‘Adam, od ta cumpainne, paraïsgarderas.
Del fruit de ces tuz arbres, si tei plest, mangeras,
Fors sul cest pumer; de cest ne gusteras! [35]
Si tu bien le [me] gardes, mut grant pru i avras;
Si en manjües d’une, la mort en recevras.
Eva, ne l’entenz tu?’ — ‘Sire, nel tienc en gas.’
‘Issi le te cumand sur la joie que tuas!’

7
Dunc s’en vet li Sauveres, n’i vot plus demurer, [40]
Lasus en [sun] haut ciel ses angles visiter.
Li dïables d’enfern ne se volt ublïer:
De mut grant felunie se prist a purpenser.
‘Cil hom ki [la] fait est, nus vot deseriter!
Si puis a lui venir e la dedenz entrer, [45]
De cel fruit devehed lur ferai joguster.’

8
Li culverd s’en issit de cel enfern pudlent;
Musçat se en paraïs, suz l’erbe cum serpent.
Al pumier est venuz ki ert mis en defens.
Tut entur s’avirunot, aguaitat en tuz sens [50]
Que Adam nel i soust, ki ert de grant purpens.
Aperceut tres bien que Eva n’ert mie de grantsens.

9
‘Eva, ça vien a mei! Parole al messagier!
Ça vien a mei parler desuz icest pumier!
Asmei ici que volz; pren de cest mangier!’ [55]
‘Ne frai, kar il fu deved des hier.’
‘[Manjüe], bele suer, nen avras desturber!’
‘Nen os, pur mun Criatur, que nen aie encumbrer.
Jo l’eim de tut mum quor! Ne l’os pascurucer!’

10
‘Eva,’ dist li dïables, ‘tu faz mut grant folie! [60]
Tu dis que de cest fruit nen gusteras mie.
Ça vien plus pres de mei! Escute, bele amie!
Tei fist Deus e tun sire: or en ad grant envie.
Pur ço ad pris le fruit en la sue baillie,
Qu’il vul que tu perdes la permanable vie. [65]
Mangüe! Nel duter! Ne te chalt k’il die!

55‘Adam, you and your companion are to look after Paradise. You can eat fruit from all these trees, if you like. All except this apple-tree — you mustn’t taste any from it! If you look after it well for me, you will have great honour. But if you eat from this one, you will have death. Eve, did you hear me?’

56‘Sir, I don’t take this lightly.’

57‘This is my command, by the joy that you enjoy!’

  • 42 Here, as elsewhere in medieval writing, is an anachronism: God has not yet become the Saviour.

58Then the Saviour,42 not wanting to stay any longer, went away to the high heaven to visit his angels.

59The Devil of Hell does not want to lose any time, and begins to plot a wicked felony.

60‘This man he’s made here, he wants to disinherit us! If I can get to him, and get into him, I can make him have a taste of this forbidden fruit.’

61The evil creature came out of his stinking Hell. He concealed himself in Paradise as a snake, under the grass. He arrived at the tree that had been prohibited, and coiled himself all round it. He kept watch in all directions so that Adam, who was very wise, wouldn’t know [he was there]. He had realised quite well that Eve wasn’t very wise.

62‘Eve, come over here to me! Talk to the messenger! Come and talk to me here under this apple-tree! Come close if you like, and take this food!’

63‘No, I’m not going to! It was forbidden, yesterday.’

64‘Eat, lovely sister, it won’t do you any harm!’

65‘But I daren’t, for my Creator, get into any trouble. I love him so much, and I don’t dare make him angry!’

66‘Eve,’ says the Devil, ‘You’re being a fool. You say you won’t even taste this fruit. Come on, lovely friend, come closer and listen! God made you and your husband; now, he is very jealous of you. That’s why he took this fruit under his own control, because he wants you to lose everlasting life. Eat! Don’t be frightened! Pay no attention to what he says!

11
Saciez, bele suer, si tost cum tumangeras,
De ma buche en la tue, e tu la receveras,
Perdras sanz demurance icest sen que ore as:
Ceo que ainz ne veïs, certes idunc verras! [70]
Quant tu en avras mangied, a tun seinur en durras!
Il ferat tun cumand, certes, isnelepas.’

12
La lase prent la pume ke li fud deveé,
La parole de sun Meistre tut i ad ublïee.
Ad Adam est venue, en sa main l’ad portee. [75]
Adam, quant vit la pume, mut l’ad esguardee;
Il li dist ducement: ‘Que as tu, [mal] senee?
Ki te dunat la pume? — ‘Ele me fu dunee!’
‘Las! Jo criem que [tu] serras a curt termeenganee.

13
‘Ma amie, jol sai bien, e vei a tun semblant, [80]
Que [mangeras] del fruit dunt tu n’as cumant.
Ki te dunat la pume? Di mei! Jol te demand!
Certes, si la mangües, nus en serrum perdant.’
Ço repunt la chaitive: ‘N’est pas al cuvenant!
Mangüe od mei, bel sire! Gred t’en saverai grant.’ [85]

14
‘Certes,’ ço dist Adam, ‘mez nus vient obeir
A nostre Creatur, ne devum pas mentir,
Car aprés cest mesfet, tart ert del repentir.
Se mangües la pume que jo te vei tenir,
De cest liu u sumus, nus estuverad eissir. [90]
Peines granz e travalz nus cuvendrat sufrir:
Ne voil certes, par veir, de cest liupartir?’

15
‘Nenal,’ ço dist Eve, ‘ceo n’est pas cuven[an] z.
Ki le frut me duna, me dist tut autre sens:
Mangüe, frere, od mei! Nus remeindrum chaienz.’ [95]
‘Volenters, bele suer!’ Eh las, cum mal purpens!
Manjüent de la pume ki lur fud endefens.

16
Li dïables s’en turnet, quant les ot enganed;
Bien sot qu’il serrei[en] t de paraïs geted.
Nostre Sire i descent: tost les ad apeled: [100]
‘Dites, Adam, u estes? Purquei ne respunez?’

67Understand, my dear, that as soon as you have received it — from my mouth to yours — and have eaten it, you’ll immediately lose the feelings you have now. And you’ll be able to see what you’ve never seen before! When you’ve had some, give some to your husband. He’ll do what you tell him right away.’

68The silly girl takes the apple that was forbidden, completely forgetting what her Master said. She comes to Adam, holding it in her hand. When Adam sees the apple he takes a good look at it. Then he says gently ‘What have you got there, you idiot? Who gave you that apple?’

69‘I was given it.’

70‘Oh, horror! I’m afraid you’ll very soon be caught in the trap! My love, I can tell, and I can see it in your face, you’re going to eat that fruit you’ve been told not to. Who gave you this apple? Tell me, I insist! No question, if you eat it we’ll be lost.’

71The poor girl replies ‘No, that wasn’t in the agreement! Eat with me, dear husband, it would make me so happy!’

72‘Yes, I’m sure,’ says Adam, ‘but we’ll have to obey our Creator and we can’t lie to him. Because, after this sin it will be too late to repent. If you eat that apple I can see in your hand we’ll be forced to leave this place where we are now, and we’ll have to bear great pain and travail. Surely you don’t want to leave this place?’

73‘No,’ says Eve, ‘but that isn’t what it meant. Him, he who gave me the fruit, told me something quite different. Eat with me, dear brother, and we’ll stay here!’

74‘With pleasure, dear sister!’

75Alas, what a disastrous idea! They are eating the apple that was forbidden them!

76The Devil went home once he had tricked them. He knew they were going to be thrown out of Paradise.

77Our Lord comes down, immediately calling them.

78‘Speak, Adam! Where are you? Why aren’t you answering?’

‘Sire, chi sui, respuis, de fuille acuveitez.
Sire, jo ai mesfet. La vengance enprenez!’
‘Certes, si ferai jo. Saciez: n’i remandrez!

17
Pur ceo que obeïstes a Eve plus que a mei, [105]
Maleïçun te duins, si remandrat a tei.
Tu creïs lu dïables ki unques n’ot lei.
Il chaïd de lasus par sa malveise fei.
Is fors de paraïs, meine ta femme od tei!
Si en terre ne guaines, n’averas autre cunrei!’ [110]
‘Sire,’ ço dist Adam, ‘certes ço peisedmei.’

18
Dolenz s’en est essud Adam de paraïs.
Sa femme meined od sei, essilliez e mendis:
Des fuilles e de herbe sunt cuverz e vestiz.
Mut est grant [la] lur perte, quant ne lur est amis [115]
Li Sires kis furmat, mut les ad enhaïz.
Tant od Adam dame Eve k’il en ot dous fiz:
Li uns ot num Abel e li autres Chaïns.

19
Mut [par] fud de Chaïn male engendreüre:
Unkes mere ne portat si male porteüre. [120]
Quant il fud hume parfait, gueres de Deu n’ot cure;
A mort haïd Abel, la sainte crïature.
Tued l’ad li culverz par grant malaventure:
Mort le laissad gisant, cele saintefigure.

20
De lasus de halt ciel descendit li Furmiere, [125]
Est venud a Chaïn: ‘Diva’, fet il, ‘fel liere!’
Enemis Damnedeu, que as tu fet de tun friere?’

‘Ne me fud cumanded, ne jo n’en sui gardere.’

‘Maleite seit cel’ ure que t’engendrat tis pere,
Que en terre nasquis del ventre ta mere! [130]

21
Diva, traitre culvert! Tu es Deu enemis!
Tu as mort mun enfand, Abel, u l’as tu mis?
Mut m’as tu curucied: il ert mut mis amis.’
‘Jo ne sai u il est,’ ceo li respunt Caïnz.
‘Ne me fud cumandet, ne en garde nel pris.’ [135]

  • 43 The explanation, that they knew they were naked and so were ashamed, is missing here.

79‘Lord, yes, I’m here answering you, all wrapped up in leaves.43Lord, I have sinned — now begin your vengeance!’

80‘Indeed I shall. Know that you cannot stay here! Because you were more obedient to Eve than to me, I give you a curse that shall remain with you. You believed the Devil, who has no law. He fell from on High because of his disloyalty. Get out of Paradise, and take your wife with you! If you can’t get a living from the earth, you’ll get no other provision!’

81‘My Lord,’ says Adam, ‘I am truly sorry.’

  • 44 These are protection against cold, and not for shame.

82Out of Paradise went Adam in grief, leading his wife with him, exiled and beggarly. They covered and clothed themselves with leaves and grass.44 Their loss is all the greater because they are no longer friends with the Lord who made them, and now hated them.

  • 45 Lit. ‘Adam had her so much that…’ but this will not do. Use of ‘to know’ in its so-called ‘biblical (...)

83Adam took his lady Eve, and had two sons of her,45 one named Abel and the other Cain. Cain was the begetter of a wicked race; never did mother bear such evil offspring. When he was grown to manhood, he cared nothing for God; and his hate for Abel, that holy creature, was deadly. This wicked man killed him in a dreadful way, and left the saintly body lying dead.

84Down from the high heaven came the Maker, and approached Cain. ‘What’s this! Foul thing! You enemy of God, what have you done with your brother?’

85‘I wasn’t told to look after him, so I’m not his keeper.’

86‘Cursed be the hour your father begot you, and that you were born of your mother’s belly into the world! Ah, you treacherous monster! You enemy of God! You have killed my child Abel — where have you laid him? You have angered me greatly — he was my dear friend.’

87‘I don’t know where he is,’ says Cain. ‘I wasn’t put in charge of him, so I didn’t take any notice.’


‘Ki tun pere e ta mere getat deparaïs,
Tant fort t’ad enganed que tun frere asocis.

22
Ne te sai que duner, fors ma maleïçun!
Tu seies maleït od tute ta possession,
Li enfand qu’engenderas, tuit cil de ta maisun! [140]
Que laburras en terre, unkes nen ait fuisun!
Tu irras de cest siecle en grant perdicïun!
En enfern seit tis ostals, tut sanz remissïun!
Abel en paraïs seit odabsoluicïun!’

23
Finad sa parole Deus, si [s’e] n est turnez; [145]
L’aneme Abel en cunduit, e liu cors est remés.
Grant duel en fait li pere quant li enfés est truvez.
Li dui portent le tierz, dedenz terre est posez.
Del duel ne vus sai dire ki la fu demenez;
Asez i plured Adam, puis s’en est [re]turnez. [150]

24
Od sa bele muiller puis cunversad Adans;
Par la volunted Deu ad engendrez enfanz:
Meschines e vatlés, de petiz e de granz.
Le frere prent la surur, de Deu en unt le cumand.
Dunc departent les terres, les forez e les chans: [155]
De la terre a partir ne remist unspans.

25
De la mort Abel forment Deu pesad:
A Chain ne a sun lignage amistied ne mustrad.
Lunkes meistrent sur terre, unc nes regardad.
Male vie menoent, puis [qu’Il] les adossad. [160]
Puis qu’Il les maldist, unc plus nes amad:
Forment s’en repentid qu’Il unkes lescriad.

26
Lunges vesquid Adam, e sa femme autretal.
Andui furent morz, n’i ot cuntrestal.
Quant paraïs guerpirent, a sei firent grant mal: [165]
Quant turnerent del siecle, truverent mal ostal.
Andui trebucherent enz al feu enfernal:
Tuit cil ki de lui naistrent reçourent altretal.

  • 46 Cain was a tiller of the soil, and Abel was a shepherd.

88‘The one who threw your father and mother out of Paradise has so beguiled you that you have killed your brother! I can’t think what to give you except a powerful curse: you shall be cursed with all that is yours, the children you engender, everybody in your household! Whatever work you do in the earth, may it never come to harvest!46 You shall quit this world, utterly damned, and your dwelling shall be in Hell without any pardon! Abel shall be in Paradise, with remission of all sins!’

89God ceased speaking, and turned away. He took the soul of Abel with him, leaving the body there. The father made great mourning when the son was found. The two of them carried the third, and put him in the earth. I don’t know how to express the sorrow they felt; Adam wept many tears before he came away.

  • 47 Albina and her sisters had children who coupled brother with sister, without God’s permission (Des (...)

90Then Adam communed with his beautiful wife, and by God’s will he made children. There were boys and girls, large and small. The brothers took the sisters [to wife], as God had given them permission.47 Then they shared out the lands, the forests and fields, until there was not a scrap of earth left to be divided.

91God was bitterly unhappy at Abel’s death. He showed no love for Cain or his lineage; they lived long in the earth but he never looked at them. They led a vile life, since God had turned his back on them. Since he had cursed them, he never cared for them again. He bitterly regretted ever having created them.

  • 48 This ending is rather abrupt, with no suggestion that one day the children of Adam will be redeemed (...)

92Adam lived for a long time, and so did his wife. Then they died, because there was no help for it. When they left Paradise they did themselves no good, because when they left this earth they found a worse place. Both fell down into the infernal fire, and all those born of him will do likewise.48

Notes

1 Dean 458. Sanson de Nantuil, Les Proverbes de Salemon, ed. Isoz (ANTS 44, 45, 50), vol. I, pp. 143–56; notes in vol. III, pp. 110–11. A prose paraphrase of some fifty years later is Les Paroles Salomun, ed. Hunt.

2 Legge (pp. 36–42) and Dean both date the work to c. 1150.

3 vv. 4603–17, her pp. 40–41.

4 LV amicam tuam; AV ‘thy kinswoman’. Sanson uses the vocabulary of medieval love: ‘amie par amor’. In Edouard, the Nun of Barking uses the term ‘fin’ amur’ for the love of God; this predates its use for earthly or ‘courtly’ love.

5 The little people, ‘petiz’; both Legge and AV have ‘simple’ here.

6 This mention of sacrifice is ominous, given the image of sacrificial victims below.

7 Here is an example of the husband who has gone away, perhaps on a pilgrimage, leaving a clear field for the sinful wife (cf. the Fabliaux, above).

8 Isoz notes the rhyme is suspect; a suggested reading is ‘De s’ alme quil met en eissil’(of his soul, that he puts into exile). It will be seen how far this litera differs from the text of the Old Testatment.

9 Isoz notes that ‘regreter’ is used to mean ‘beseech, call upon’ (her note to v. 2999); her glossary gives ‘admonish’ for this line.

10 Isoz notes that ‘sa’ is missing both here and at v. 4597 above.

11 Isoz notes that ‘soil’ means both ‘filth’ and ‘threshold’.

12 Ps. 14:2 in AV (13:2 in LV).

13 Isoz notes other possible meanings for ‘a seriz’.

14 Isoz offers this rendering of the line (citing a passage from Bede).

15 Bede is cited again in the editor’s note.

16 Isoz notes this line as slightly problematic; I have followed the suggested meaning.

17 Is. 1:11–14

18 The vivid pictures on Amphiarax’ chariot (above) seem to leap offtheir painted surface, to move and shout and wage war. The chariot also had depictions of the Liberal Arts, here shown to be sinful. Note the slippage of the subject ‘they’ from the tapestries to the pictures to the arts to the pagans.

19 These figures act like personifications.

20 The editor notes this unusual ‘derivation’ (perhaps a garble of Latin ethnicis). Whatever source Sanson used for the Ehnucis, the connection between Etna and Hell was in fact well known, chiefly from Isidore of Seville’s famous ‘etymologies’ (see, first, OCL).

21 I Tim. 6: 10

22 Isoz is uncertain whether Sanson is indicating an etymology or an association of ideas (for example, Is. 36:6), that Egyptians are untrustworthy.

23 Isoz offers variant readings: ‘around such people there is the stench of treachery’.

24 II Cor. 2: 15 This passage is cited in La Vie seint Edmund le Rei, ed. Russell, in a description of the saintly man (vv. 1857–66).

25 See above, where the woman says her lord is away. This passage refers to the Church’s tenet that the consecrated bread of the Mass is really, and bodily, God.

26 Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost.

27 Isoz notes that Sanson may have made up the word ‘defiesable’, perhaps conflating ‘vanish’ and ‘faint’.

28 I omit the Litera in Latin, as above, which corresponds to Prov. 7:24–7 (in LV); f. 37a begins here.

29 Isoz gives a passage from Bede with which to compare these lines.

30 A typically misogynistic cliché; a list of famous men destroyed by the wickedness of women (see, for example, the ‘Wife of Bath’s Prologue’, in Chaucer, Riverside, ed. Benson).

31 This is a reference to the Harrowing of Hell: an apocryphal story that Christ went into Hell, between his death and his resurrection, and brought out some of the souls who had been placed there before the coming of the New Testament (people in the Old Testament, however virtuous, could not believe in a Christianity that did not yet exist).

32 Matt. 8: 12

33 The next chapter begins: Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? (Prov. 8:1). This is glossed as the ‘espositor’ attempting to make his voice heard.

34 ‘The Creation’ (in ANTS Essays, OPS 2); Dean number 485 (section 11, entitled Apocryphal).

35 The edited text is published in a collection of essays, entitled exactly as the work appears in my bibliography (and short-form running headings). Therefore, although listed bibliographically in this book by its title for ease of reference, it is not set out in the usual ‘author-title’ sequence.

36 Dean lists it among ‘Apocryphal’, which is incorrect for this piece, but the larger Roman de Dieu that includes it contains much that is apocryphal.

37 Narrative passages would be recited by a ‘lector’; performances envisaged for this text would be open to a comparatively unrestricted public, young and old, lettered and unlettered.

38 Rev. 12:7–9.

39 Base MS formerly Cheltenham Phillipps 16378, supplemented from a twin copy in Pembroke College Cambridge.

40 Cf. Job 28:28; this is a common sentiment in religious writing.

41 The verbs in this passage are singular, because their subject is ‘one part’ and ‘the other part’ of the host of angels.

42 Here, as elsewhere in medieval writing, is an anachronism: God has not yet become the Saviour.

43 The explanation, that they knew they were naked and so were ashamed, is missing here.

44 These are protection against cold, and not for shame.

45 Lit. ‘Adam had her so much that…’ but this will not do. Use of ‘to know’ in its so-called ‘biblical’ sense is hardly better.

46 Cain was a tiller of the soil, and Abel was a shepherd.

47 Albina and her sisters had children who coupled brother with sister, without God’s permission (Des Grantz Geanz).

48 This ending is rather abrupt, with no suggestion that one day the children of Adam will be redeemed. See de Mandach’s p. 253 for continuation of the ‘cycle’.

Acheter

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search