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For help with the transcriptions I must thank Margaret W. Epro and William Roach of the University of Pennsylvania. Portions of this study have appeared in one form or another in Romance Philology, Annuale Mediaevale, The Chaucer Review and elsewhere. Financially, the project has been supported by grants from the academic Councils of the University of Florida and from the American Philosophical Society. In the ultimate stages of its writing, this study has profited from the close reading given it by friends and colleagues, especially the late William Matthews, to whom I dedicate this work, and Lynn White, Jr.

Because I have not accepted all of their suggestions, I must take more than the customary responsibility for the remaining infelicities. To many other persons—my wife Roxanne, friends, colleagues, librarians, and typists—I owe a large, and by now uncollectable, debt. An unlikely emblem comes to mind concerning the medieval Boethius. In one of the upper rooms of smaller Egyptian antiquities in the Louvre is a statuette of the hawk-headed god Horus clad in the ceremonial armor of a Roman centurion, his fierce little head craning out of the hammered breastplate.

The effect is startling and serves as a reminder of how ancient are the processes of cultural assimilation and how curious their products can be. Although more than a millenium farther along in time, the late medieval French versions of the Consolatio philosophiae are another such set of products, and to them and to the processes of making Boethius medieval that bronze figure relates as well. For one thing, the same Alexandria that saw the meeting of Antony and Cleopatra also witnessed the encounter between Christian revelation and Neoplatonic speculation, the two poles of an intellectual tension in Boethius that exercised scholars—and translators—throughout the Middle Ages.

And in the end they themselves succeeded in outfitting her in modes that Boethius would surely have found strange but, perhaps, comely. Some of the medieval reverberation of Boethius was picked up by the surveys of Howard R. Patch on the traditions of Boethius and the goddess Fortuna. In this study I have undertaken a portion of this task. I concentrate on those half-dozen versions of the Consolatio that freely diverge from the Boethian text and specifically on the parts of those versions showing significant narrative interpolations. The discussion of these narratives is conducted under three heads: Here they simply indicate three different kinds of stories: The fate of allegory in these vernacular versions is significant.

Fix Central

The interpolations of the later translators become characterized by such a compelling interest in narrative that the allusive mode of the Boethian original is altered, and the allegorical interpretations of the Latin schoolmen fall by the wayside. But the situation today is still largely what it was in when E. Since his remark only one of these thirteen translations has been edited—that of Jean de Meun—and for the study of interpolated narrative that version is one of the least interesting.

Some of the reasons for this neglect are linguistic and bibliographical. Of the early prose versions, the four that are extant in unique MSS are also in unusual dialects, while two of the verse versions exist in over thirty MSS each, and one mixed version has survived in about fifty copies. There are other obstacles to editing, reminiscent of those Pierre Courcelle encountered in attempting to identify and classify MSS of the commentaries: I have sought a compromise. Because many of the texts I discuss are either unpublished or available only in fragments or obscure printings, I have included in an appendix a very generous sample of the narratives to be found in these translations.

But I have indicated variant readings only where I could see some literary reason for their existence. Without apologizing for the obvious limitations of this procedure, let me say that I have been very solicitous of interesting variants and have rejected a great many of the other kind. Finally, I must add that I am no Romance philologist and would wish that I had been preceded by a few technical experts into parts of this remote, but rich country. The Consolatio philosophiae was composed around —in the prison of Pavia according to legend—and became one of the works of late classical antiquity that medieval authors knew best and cited most willingly.

For seven centuries it remained a classic to be commented on in the schools and continuously recopied. Between the Carolingian period and the end of the fifteenth century almost three dozen commentaries were written on the work. The following sketch of that interest draws most heavily on the account by Pierre Courcelle. It is difficult for us to comprehend the doctrinal agonies that the Consolatio provoked in its medieval students. Many medieval readers caught in it a glimpse, otherwise denied, of the strange doctrines of the last pagan school of Alexandria and its predecessors: Porphyry, Proclus, Ammonius, Olympiodorus and others.

That beginning, nevertheless, was impressive. Rediscovered and promoted by Alcuin, the Consolatio enjoyed a considerable vogue among Carolingian commentators, and the earliest known commentary is apparently one of the best. It is preserved, among other places, in two anonymous manuscripts of St. Gall, where it may have been composed around and used by Notker a century later for his Old High German version of Boethius. When confronted, finally, with the Neoplatonic theories mentioned above, the monk falters, as many have since, and acknowledges that not all that Boethius wrote may conform to dogma.

Around Remigius compiled a commentary that survives in one form or another in about thirty manuscripts. In the course of identifying the Second Vatican Mythographer as Remigius, Courcelle describes his typical method: But at the same time, Remigius interpolated into this commentary on Statius the gloss which he had composed on Boethius. Finally, with the aid of the First Mythographer, the two works of Lactantius Placidus, and the interpolation drawn from his own commentary on Boethius, Remigius ingeniously composed his own mythography and attempted to give to it a certain unity.

Courcelle speaks of him as a tireless annotator who would sacrifice nothing antique, even doctrines that tended to heresy, and who showed an indulgent ingenuity in sanitizing for his students many troublesome Boethian notions. An anonymous commentary in Brussels MS is no less Eriugenan than Remigius, according to Courcelle, but it is better documented and written. Such enthusiasts were too much for Bovo of Corvey d. This vigilant abbot saw in the doctrines of the Consolatio and in the explications of Remigius a clear and present danger.

With impartiality, he moves through the Consolatio pointing to what must go and what a good Christian may accept. Adalbold, Bishop of Utrecht d. Secondly, Adalbold explicated by means of a harmony of pagan and Christian philosophers, tumbling together citations from Hermes, Plato, David, John the Evangelist, St. Jerome, and the commentaries of Boethius on Porphyry and of Gregory on St. All of this testimony allows Adalbold to find for Plato on nearly every issue, including the world soul. Finally, the commentary is important from our point of view because it was translated in its entirety and inserted into the first French translation of the Consolatio —the only instance of so partial an exposition of Boethian Platonism reaching the vernacular.

After Adalbold, nothing further on the Consolatio appeared in the eleventh century, but the vigorous defence of Boethian Platonism begun by Remigius and continued by Adalbold reappeared and reached its apogee in the commentary of William of Conches ca. But where the earlier commentators distorted Boethius to render him more safely Christian, the celebrated scholar of Paris and Chartres makes Platonism Christian by fiat, and those pagan myths that might, if taken literally, have proved distracting, go down easily in the honey of allegory.

In the midst of long scholastic digressions on the theory of tides or mythological explications taken directly from Remigius, William defends against real opponents his distinctive beliefs. Most of these find their focus in Book III, meter 9, where, for example, Plato is found guiltless of the belief that creation took place in two steps—first a chaos of elements and then their orderly arrangement.

As William sees it, the operation of natural laws on created matter is all that is needed to explain the evolution of men from mud by evaporation caused by the stars. This, of course, accords perfectly with scripture: None of these, however, exerted an effect on the French translations. While no new commentaries survive from the thirteenth century, St. This new taste for Aristotle is strong in the commentary written by the English Dominican friar, Nicholas Trevet, sometime before This most popular of medieval commentaries Courcelle lists 42 MSS relies heavily on the work of William of Conches—identified merely as commentator —and disagrees extensively with it.

Everywhere the Platonism of Chartres is attacked and replaced with the Aristotelian interpretations increasingly in vogue in the thirteenth century. Trevet rejects, for example, the identification of the world soul with the Holy Spirit and goes on to reduce that force to the motions imparted to the celestial spheres by the prime mover. The commentary of Tholomaeus de Asinariis mildly Christianizes Boethius and prudently defends him and Plato against the assaults of Trevet, while that of William of Aragon excuses Boethius because of his work on Aristotle.

Following them, the humanists Jodocus Badius Ascensius and Niccolo Perotti tended to take the Consolatio as a literary masterpiece fit for stylistic analysis and comparison to Horace. Of the late medieval commentaries mentioned by Courcelle, only that of Regnier of Saint Trond ca. Both of these latter were to be found in the noble but obscure meter 9 of Book III.

The world view there expounded did not deceive most medieval commentators, but those who attempted to render it ideologically orthodox failed by their tendentiousness, while those who relished its exotic doctrines had acquired a taste not available to ordinary medieval mortals. There can thus be little doubt that in the world of Latin scholasticism the Consolatio was what Courcelle calls a ferment of humanism.

But by a curious turn, at the moment humanism triumphed Boethius was laid aside.


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Before the end of the ninth century the text was accessible in England, and later in Germany, in translations which both paraphrased and annotated the original. King Alfred produced a version in Old English prose and later versified the parts of this version representing meter in the original in accordance with alliterative traditions.

Gall—or his pupils—made a version in Old High German. The language of central France was cautiously approached as versions were made first in Anglo-Norman, then in Burgundian and Wallonian, and by such outsiders as the Sicilian Bonaventura da Demena and Pierre de Paris, who despite his name was no Parisian. A sort of linguistic stability was finally achieved in the translation by Jean de Meun, and it found instant popularity.

On this prose base, the processes of manuscript transmission began to work as successive revisions and compilations refined the text linguistically and doctrinally, while revisions of a later efflorescence of verse translations refined a new host of narrative elaborations on the Boethian text. The longest exception to the borrowings from William is a gloss of twenty manuscript pages appended to the translation of Book III, meter 9.

This gloss is a translation of all that remains of the Christianizing commentary on the Consolatio written by Bishop Adalbold of Utrecht d. Thomas identifies the dialect of its unknown author as Wallonian and points to his mediocre knowledge of Latin. Generally, it is a poor performance. No use is made of it in this investigation. The region is the hinterland of Messina, and Bonaventura may have composed his version under the patronage of Charles of Anjou.

It survives in a single MS that was assigned by Delisle to the fourteenth century. What he made of classical mythology will just be touched on in chapters one and three. A fourth early translation, one which Antoine Thomas studied in detail, is to be found only in Vatican Library MS lat. The comparison does not reflect credit on Pierre, however, who discharged his office of purveyor of culture to the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem on the island of Cyprus in an aggressively ignorant fashion.

During his residence on the island he composed two works now lost: His surviving works consist of the translation of the Consolatio and a French paraphrase of the Psalter with a commentary drawn largely from the Glossa ordinaria. His language shows him to be a non-Frenchman, possibly from the Dalmatian coast, who thought he had acquired enough French, island Greek, and school Latin to bring the classics to the Hospitallers.

Pierre seems to have been commissioned to supply an unnamed patron with this glossed translation of the Consolatio. Not only was the task in many ways beyond his capacities, however; he also apparently labored under the additional handicap of having no immediately available secondary sources.

It is for exactly this reason that his work is of particular interest in the present study. It is all the more remarkable that he shows not the slightest reticence in displaying his ignorance. He insists, in fact, on annotating all but a few of the philosophical distinctions and rhetorical allusions in the Boethian text. To support his conclusions he drew not only on his quite personal view of Aristotelianism but on folklore and homely contes. His translation will provide, in consequence, some of the most effective examples of medievalization to be pondered in the final chapter.

Because of the renown of its author as well as its intrinsic merit, the medieval translation of the Consolatio made by Jean de Meun the only one to have been printed since the sixteenth century has been intensively studied Thomas III, Delisle I. I mentioned at the beginning of this survey that the chief deterrent to the popularity of the first four prose versions of the Consolatio was that they were dialectally offcenter and, in two cases, intellectually aberrant.

Discriminating some of the characteristic literary effects of these manuscript processes will be the secondary interest of this study, because such revision can provide clues to the comtemporary interpretation of works from an age which lacks more overt forms of literary self-evaluation. Another scribe, Matthias Rivalli, addressed himself, ca.

This version marks the beginning of vernacular attention to the Consolatio as a literary masterpiece with forms worth imitating. As the translator says in his brief introduction:. It attempts no interpolations, either of doctrine or narrative. For our purposes the most interesting thing about the text is the use made of it by Renaut, an anonymous revisor, and a subsequent glossator. On the basis of this mixed translation from Lorraine, a seventh version was made, and it became the most popular of all medieval versions, for its two states survive in a total of fifty-one MSS, and these MSS, more than those of any other version, tend to be very handsome and costly productions Thomas VI, Delisle II.

It is not too difficult to determine the reasons for its success. Fully as germane to its popularity is the fact that most MSS of this revised translation contain an extensive intertextual commentary, derived from William of Conches. The author of the commentary and the revisor of the original mixed version were different persons.

This is apparent not only from the fact that some MSS lack the glosses. Where Boethius wrote in Book II, meter 7, of the bones of Fabricius, this revised mixed version asks: This text was printed in Lyon in , , and , and in Paris in Four medieval French translations of the Consolatio are wholly in verse, all of them, I believe, postdating the prose versions. Sometime after the famine of , to which he alludes, and before , when the earliest surviving MS was copied, a very prolific poet served up an obviously digressive 12,line version of Boethius Thomas VII, Delisle IV.

Of its author, only the birthplace—Meun—is known. Although this eighth version is interesting from several points of view, it will be discussed most extensively in chapter 3 as one of the more extreme attempts to integrate material from the Latin mythographies, commentaries, and encyclopedias into a verse Roman de philosophie. This ninth translation, extant in over thirty MSS, was revised at least twice and one of the revisions was in turn reworked. There is additional evidence of its popularity in the possibility that Villon may have known of it and that Pierre Salmon, a Burgundian agent at the court of Charles VI, worked extracts from it into a version of his rambling Demandes addressed to the king.

This version was printed in Geneva before The translation in MS B. It is nothing of the kind, sharing, in fact, only a few miscellaneous lines with that version. Another curious MS, B. One of its concoctions is discussed in the last chapter. The chief interest the MS offers for the present study lies in the stylistic refinement to which an otherwise acceptable vernacular Boethius has been subjected. By the beginning of the fifteenth century the doctrinal problems had been ironed out and the canonical fables selected; only polishing remained.

Less has been published about the thirteenth and last medieval French version of the Consolatio than about any of the others. It is in mixed verse and prose and appears, mingled with an anonymous translation of the commentary of Regnier de Saint Trond, in a print issued by Colard Mansion in Bruges in and reissued with an added preface by Antoine Verard in Paris, Having come through these necessary preliminaries, we repeat that the prime focus of the discussion to follow is literary, that we are always concerned with the meaning and aesthetic effect which the many interpolated narratives generate in themselves and in their Boethian contexts.

We will also attend to some consequences of these narratives having been submitted to the protean processes of manuscript transmission. Earlier surveys of the versions include: Paris, , 4: More recent bibliographic work: Other editions are in progress. Paris, Arsenal , which appears to be in the tradition of his inferior branch b. Langlois, Vie en France, 4: Les Demands faites par le roi Charles VI, ed. Crapelet Paris, , or that in J. Press, , although I have checked them against the standard critical edition by Ludwig Bieler, Boethii Philosophiae Consolatio, Corpus Christianorum ser.

The problems and challenges this logical structure has given translators are the subject of F. In the course of the Consolatio, principally in the verse passages, Boethius resorts to mythological exempla in the careers of Ulysses, Orpheus, Hercules, and their satellites; to rhetorical allusion to such natural entities as the winds Auster, Boreas, Corus and the rivers Euripus, Hermus, Indus , and to many other personifications and places from Tartarus to Thule. In addition, Boethius calls on human history—almost exclusively pre-Christian—for some forty illustrations from the lives of real persons from Aemilius Paulus to Zeno the Eleatic.

One place to begin is with a consideration of what these allusions and exempla meant to Boethius. And because most of them occur in the verses, a prior question should be what the use of verse itself meant to Boethius. Stewart and Pierre Courcelle, to take an older and a recent authority, concur in observing that, except for the basic notion of a medley of prose and verse, Boethius owed little to the earlier uses of satura by Menippus of Gadara fl.

The regular appearance of poetry in the midst of a prose that to us at least is always difficult and sometimes dry, was doubtless intended to serve a double purpose: Courcelle has this to say about what Boethius does and does not take from satura: Green, a careful modern translator of the Consolatio, that Boethius seems to concur in the medieval estimate of poetry as one of the lower arts ancillary to dialectic when he alludes to the use of verse as rest and refreshment. The near-contradiction in these various comments is that their authors see the verses as secondary in importance to the prose discussion at the same time as they would claim for them an artistic status at least equal with that of the prose.

La plus grant partie del livre est faite par prose, quar Boece ne fu menor de Tulle en prose, ne Vergile en metre. Four of them are sung by the narrating Boethius, and when we look at these verses we can better see the range of non-discursive, and non-refreshing, uses of poetry. In these five varieties of discourse—and there are others—we can see some of the ways in which verses clearly not intended to refresh anyone are linguistically and functionally distinguished from the prose. In function the prose is restricted to rational dialectic, with the form limited to catechism, syllogism, and dialogue, none of which are to be found in the verses.

Boethius himself tells us Book V, prose 4 that rational argument is only an intermediate stage in the levels of awareness from brute sensation to an intelligence of divine order. These levels constitute a spatial metaphor, but Boethius also uses a temporal metaphor that can be related to his use of poetic mythology. This temporal metaphor arises from his allegiance to the Platonic doctrine of reminiscence: Remembering the truth is not the same as discovering it by syllogistic argument, and recalling the human past may be a temporal analogue to the spatial ascent to intelligence.

Recollections of the pagan gods, heroes, and great men who form the myth of the past constitute a succession of flashbacks in human time which collectively mirror truth as it rests in eternity, where all events are perceived by the Boethian God as simultaneous. Although we cannot foresee the future, the more we remember of the past, the more like God we can become. This reminiscence has a practical use too. History and myth are as true, then, as a syllogism is true, but their vehicle is more properly verse just as the most proper vehicle of the syllogism is prose.

And the proper linguistic expression of the ultimate intelligence of timeless, spaceless divine order may be neither of these, but rather the laughter of a Troilus in the eighth sphere. Just as the conclusion to a syllogism is implicit in its premises, just so the ultimate object of each chain of reminiscence is already contained in the memory.

The function of allusion is to set the memory going, turning over its riches until the desired truth is reclaimed. A highly developed poetry of allusion is essentially non-narrative inasmuch as the narrative links are left to be supplied by the memories and imaginations of all those initiated into the rhetorical arcana. Not surprisingly, the men who translate such a poetry for an uninitiated audience will be moved to reconstruct the suppressed narrative links, on the score that such details will be unfamiliar to this new audience.

The following discussion will focus on two aspects of this task: We shall see, for example, that certain of the translators worked in a near vacuum, and a dark one at that. Others, such as Bonaventura da Demena and Pierre de Paris, aggressively amplified their translations on the basis of homely religious or secular materials and fearless misinterpretations. Still other translators, Renaut de Louhans and the Anonymous of Meun, for example, bear interesting though differing resemblances to the commentators described by Beryl Smalley as classicizers of the English mendicant sort.

But the chief lesson of the translations is always to be sought in their tendency to medievalize the Consolatio in popular ways unavailable to the Latin commentators and to do so in a straightforward fashion uncomplicated by the ulterior purposes of higher art forms. Additionally, it will be seen that the illustrators of manuscripts of the translations reflected in their own medium quite parallel medievalizing tendencies.

The Boethian uses of mythology and human history fascinated the vernacular translators for reasons doubtlessly far removed from those governing their original creation. But even while the doctrine of reminiscence was not available to guarantee a serious reception for the allusive passages, such passages tended to become the chief attraction, especially in the work of those translators who versified the whole of the Consolatio. Like mathematics to a Pythagorean, it was lore for the initiated. No one, of course, could be expected to identify such minor Goths and Romans as Conigastus and Trigula, Canius and Papinianus, but the truly embarrassing difficulty lay elsewhere.

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. In his gloss on Book IV, meter 7, William observed that such stories as those of Agammemnon, Ulysses, and Hercules teach us by three methods: Quia dixerat sapientes cum omni fortuna bellum conserere, ad illud prelium hortatur nos in istis versibus tribus modis: It is on such a distinction that the translator of the earliest French version of the Consolatio drew when he prefaced his comments on the legend of Orpheus with these remarks: 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.

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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.

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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. Boethius protects Paulinus from the palatini canes. Cambridge, Trinity Hall MS 12, fol. Circe and the transformed crew of Ulysses. 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: 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.

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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. In scornful illustration, he mentions the absurd prophecy of Tiresias: Here is how the Burgundian tells it:.

Juno dist que li hom esteit plus luxuries que la femme. 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: The medieval french translators of Boethius regularly elaborated, occasionally at great length, the historical citations scattered throughout the Consolatio. In the course of outlining his personally costly services to the state in Book I, prose 4: 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:. Only a short time after this first state appeared, a long gloss was added after the word comme: Still later, two MSS revise the gloss on coemption, giving after peuple: 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. But even this variety of annotation can produce arresting effects, as does the gloss in the revised mixed version which cites some modern instances of worthies whom death has confronted violently: 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.

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Of interest are both the pattern and motive of her actions. The pattern is simple polarity, and the motive is conformity with the lawful operation of non-human nature: Ius est mari nunc. The morphological parallelism of frugibusque with frigoribusque emphasizes the polarity and rightness of the seasons as frost follows upon fruit.

And so Fortune deals with man, with an added touch of pleasure in the process: 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.

Following the Croesus example, Fortune asks: 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.


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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. Qui doit arriver, se produire; futur. Dont le tirage est bon, mauvais.


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