The experience of the Civitas nostrae dominae reginae angelorum (hereafter referred to as the Civitas), an obscure Spanish sea-coast settlement of the eleventh century, has been unaccountably ignored in the secondary literature on the Black Death. This oversight is all the more inexplicable since we have rich resources available to us for such a study. The city council records survive in part in the Civic Archives1* and the sole copy of the Chronicon of the so-called Anonymus Losangelensis survives in the same archives.2
The Civitas was a happy place in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, as many German travellers attest.3 Favorably placed between hills and ocean, and enjoying the benefits of a mild climate, only too apparent to the Northern European traveller, the Civitas also enjoyed material prosperity. Abundant crops were grown in the mild climate in the vallis Imperialis to the east, and Moorish irrigation methods seem to have survived, increasing the productiveness of an already fertile soil.4 There seems to have been abundant timber, as a number of wooded areas names (see map) indicates to the most casual investigator.5
There seems to have been a certain British and Welsh influence, as the silva Anglorum and the campus Griffith indicate.6 The Civitas is even mentioned in the Cid (line 6490). The town seems to have had a cathedral school attached to it in the late twelfth century, and there are indications of medical studies being undertaken there.7 Its population may be estimated from parish records at approximately 11,000 in the early fourteenth century.8 Clearly, the population had been expanding during the preceeding centuries, as the existence of the new suburbs (vicus dictus dignus garriendi and vicus Sepulveda) indicates.
The approach of the plague was heralded, as in the collective memory of most towns, by a number of omens. Mysterious clouds of noxious fog had gathered over the city for many years before 1348/49. A flood had destroyed part of the town in 1345 when rains swelled the streams leading from the collines Baldwini.9 The flood stopped just short of the cathedral, a miracle which was felt to be due to the intervention of the Virgin, the protectrix of the Civitas, as the Anonymus tells us.10 Finally, there had been an earthquake in 1347, centered in the montes sancti Fernandi, and this event gave rise to renewed fears of flooding.
Given this climate of opinion, it is surprising that the city council records show nothing of the concern about the approach of the plague which one might expect. The council seems to have debated garbage removal schemes, for which, one might note, the city was famous.11 German travellers never fail to remark upon the cleanliness of the city, and there is evidence that the town of Narbonne sent a delegation to the Civitas to inspect its garbage removal setup.12
It has been argued by Velasquez,13 among others, that these garbage removal efforts were stepped up in the winter of 1348/49 as a health measure in preparation for the Black Death. However, I could find no positive evidence for Velasquez' assertion. The city council seems only to have debated the question, but not to have ordered any action to be taken.
The mayor (rector civium), one Samuelis Iorta, whose name suggests Jewish ancestry but who seems to have been a Christian, seems not to have been in the city during the plague. This has been urged to me by the municipal archivist of the Civitas, Sr. Juan Valdez, as an example of flight from the city during the plague, as is best exemplified in Boccaccio's Decameron, but the mayor seems not to have been in the Civitas before the onslaught of the Black Death either. There are obscure references in the narrative of the Anonymus Losangelensis to Samuelis' struggle with the praeses of the county, who is called either Rainaldus or Georgius Ghippus14 and is denoted by a nickname of sorts: actor comitatus nostri or actor imaginibus moventibus. Neither of these names is understood or paralleled by names given to other Spanish counts in the fourteenth century.
Nonetheless, the town seems to have supported its mayor in his juncatae, as his travels on behalf of the town are called in the narrative of the Anonymus. The term, almost certainly a vernacular expression, is related to the Latin juncus, a reed, which seems to be a reference to the weakness of the count. It is paralleled in the famous Don Quixote by Melisandra's description of Don Quixote himself as a caño, in mocking reference to his military prowess.15
In particular, Samuelis received crucial support from the Civitas' bishop John. This is shown first of all the the well-known letter from the episcopal chancellor, Bernard of Silva Sancta, which begins Rainalde infans and in which Bernard makes clear reference to his activities as a go-between in the negotiations between Samuelis and Rainaldus.16 Bernard could scarcely have offerred his services to Samuelis without his bishop's knowledge and permission.
However, there are a number of mysteries connected with this letter, some of which have attracted the attention of the philological journals. Rand wrote a brief note on the curious salutation which Bernard addresses to Rainaldus.17 Rand concluded on the basis of the use of the word infantes in the Cid that Rainaldus had regal ambitions, but this seems mistaken to me.18 Rainaldus always denied having such ambitions, as in the Anonymus (fol. 140r), where he is recorded as having said, Si nominatus ero, non curram; si electus ero, non serviam. Moreover, I have found other letters of the period in the Civitas archives which begin with the same salutation: it seems to be a mark of affection in some instances, but in most it is simply the ordinary salutation, which the inhabitants of the Civitas used to address anyone to whom they wrote.
The second mystery was discussed by Zappa in his Göttingen dissertation of 1843 on the behavior of the inhabitants of Silva Sancta in the struggle of the Civitas with count Rainaldus.19 Zappa, with typical early Victorian moral fervor, noted the general tendency of these inhabitants to support Rainaldus against Samuelis, but denounced their support as a manifestation of their loose morals. Now, it is true that most of the inhabitants of Silva Sancta supported Rainaldus, but their support seems to have been predicated upon the fact that Rainaldus came from Silva Sancta and retained a considerable amount of property there (imagines moventes = moveable property?).20 It is only natural to assume that many of the inhabitants of Silva Sancta were either former associates of Rainaldus or were his dependants, whence their support for him.
No, the real mystery is why Bernard broke with his neighbors and supported Samuelis. The solution may lie in a phenomenon reported by the Anonymus Losangelensis. There was, it seems, a group of sun-worshippers (solilatres) in the Civitas, who engaged in riotous and lascivious orgies.21 Now, these sun-worshippers, who seem to have appeared on the scene immediately after the Black Death (in the spring of 1349), were recruited largely from among the inhabitants of Silva Sancta who had survived the plague.
Since the bishop and the cathedral school, of which the Anonymus was almost certainly a member, set themselves firmly against the cult, which the bishop denounced in fierce terms ('Godless', 'pleasure-oriented', 'copper-toned', 'herenecal' and so forth),22 we may be sure that Bernard rejected the heretical excesses of his neighbors. He had joined the cathedral chapter by 1334 at the latest, when he witnessed a document, and was appointed chancellor when his predecessor died of the plague. Having a foot in both camps, so to speak, he was the perfect intermediary between Rainaldus and Samuelis: he had contacts among the inhabitants of Silva Sancta and thence the ear of Rainaldus; but he also had a record of moral and political solidarity with Samuelis and the bishop.
The plague swept into the Civitas in mid-winter of 1348/49. The Anonymus tells the usual tales of thousands dead, of a dearth of burial places (a new cemetery, the cemeterium silvae caespitis, was consecrated in 1349), of immoral behavior of all sorts. The Civitas' experience seems to have differed little from that of other towns in Europe.
There are three major effects of the plague in the Civitas. The first concerns the nunnery of Cor immaculatum, with its famous schola librorum. The sisters of this Benedictine nunnery gave up their habits and began to live in the world as laywomen, a decision which the bishop denounced in thundering sermons in the winter and spring of 1349.23 But, in a striking anticipation of the Brethren of the Common Life and their schools to the north, the nuns continued to live in communities, and continued to give instruction in the schola librorum.
Nor did their tradition of book illumination suffer. Soror Corita, the most famous of the school's illuminators and one of the few fourteenth century Spanish illuminators of books known to us by name, continued her activity, and indeed, some of her most beautiful work dates from the period after the plague. What is striking about her illuminations is that they do not turn to the usual post-plague themes of death and judgement, but continue, as before, to be joyful and beautiful. Further research into her work is called from, especially since it seems to run counter to the thesis of Millard Miess.
The most striking change wrought by the plague is that the city council renamed the principal streets of the Civitas: the via campi pistoris became the via libera sancti Jacobi, the via Sepulveda became the via libera regni aurei, the principal east-west road became the via libera sanctae Monicae, and a road leading through a previously unnamed wood was dubbed the via silvae paradisi, the wood being appropriately renamed at the same time. The via libera venturae also appears at this time in the records.
Let us briefly investigate the significance of these names. First, the viae liberae. Tolls had been imposed by the count, Rainaldus, which the burghers of the Civitas felt to be excessive -- this, at least, is what the Anonymus Losangelensis tells us, and, indeed, it may well have been the subject of the negotiations between Rainaldus and the town's mayor Samuelis. The viae liberae may, by their names, commemorate the successful outcome of negotiations between count and mayor. It is certain at least that we hear of no tolls being collected for the next fifty years. If the above is correct, it is a signal phenomenon, paralleled only by the charter of St. Omer in 1127; merchants often requested, always desired, but rarely received complete freedom from tolls.
Saint James, after whom the first of the roads is named, is clearly the great Santiago of Compostella. The renaming of the road may indicate that pilgrimages were undertaken with increased frequency as a result of the plague, and the street renamed which those pilgrims took on their way out of the Civitas.24 The Anonymus tells us, however, of no major pilgrimages, but that, of course, does not mean that they were not undertaken.
The name regnum aureum is very obscure. I have suceeded in finding only one parallel use of the words regnum aureum. The moralist and popular preacher Daniel Burgensis Ellae, who wrote some fifty years later, denounced the regnum aureum of those who had become rich and influential through inheritances of dead relatives.25 But the meaning which Daniel seems to place on the words cannot be what the city council intended. We shall have to be content to leave the meaning of the name via libera regni aurei enshrouded in mystery.
Devotion to St. Augustine may have lain behind the reconsecration of the principal east-west route as the via libera sanctae Monicae, but it is unprecedented to associate deliverance from the plague with Augustine or his mother.26 Perhaps the traditional status of Pasadena as the birthplace of Paulus Orosius suggested the name -- the via libera sanctae Monicae does lead to Pasadena -- but this is sheer speculation.
The wood later called the silva paradisi had long figured in the life of the Civitas. The provenience of the master of Tours, Bernard Silvestris, who is known to have been a Spaniard, has been conjectured, on the basis of traditions recorded in the necrology of Cor immaculatum, to have been the Civitas' forest.27 Clearly, the hope that the departed would go to heaven led the town to rename the forest and the road leading to it. The fact that the new cemetery was situated in the forest doubtless also served to suggest the name.
The via libera venturae clearly expresses a fear of the future and of the Last Judgement.
In conclusion, we may point out the unique reaction of this hitherto neglected Spanish town to the Black Death: the successful fight of its burghers against the tolls and exactions of the local count, commemorated in the renaming of the principal streets; the artistic renaissance of the post-plague period; and the curious religious aberrations recorded by the Anonymus Losangelensis.
The great age of the rediscovery of ancient texts has clearly come to an end, but this is not to say that there cannot yet be imporant additions to our stock of the heirlooms of antiquity. It is the happy, albeit slightly abashed, task of this paper to present the first published news of a very recent discovery which promises to add significantly to our understanding of some of the major intellectual currents of late antiquity. This report falls naturally into two parts, one the recounting of the discovery of the manuscript and a reconstruction of its history, the other some account of the text itself (which is not published here -- see below).
On January 16, 1967, there passed away in El Paso, Texas, one of the last living links with the American frontier, Brigadier General William Jefferson Glasgow, USA (Ret.), who at 101 had been for the last three years of his life the oldest living graduate of the United States Military Academy. Born in St. Louis on May 18, 1866, William J. Glasgow was the son of Edward J. and Harriet Kennerly Glasgow. His father was at that time in the mercantile and banking business in St. Louis, but had led an adventurous life in the southwest during the days before and during the Mexican War, serving under President Van Buren as American consul at Guaymas, later setting himself up as a trader at Mazatlan, fighting under Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan, and acting towards the close of that war as American Commercial Agent at Chihuahua. (Two of Glasgow's sisters married sons of General William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.)1
Brigadier General Glasgow was survived by a short time by his wife, the former Josephine Magoffin, three years his junior; she was the daughter of former El Paso mayor Joseph Magoffin and the granddaughter of James W. Magoffin, one of the founders of El Paso. Until the general's death they lived, with their daughter Olivia Magoffin Glasgow, in the mission-style adobe Magoffin Home, the oldest house still standing in El Paso, built by Mrs. Glasgow's grandfather during the 1840's. When General Glasgow, of the West Point class of 1891, retired from the army for disability in 1927, he and his wife returned to El Paso to fix up the old homestead and live out the remaining forty years of his life;2 he was active and alert throughout his last years. (The home is now open as a museum run by the El Paso County Historical Society; with thick adobe walls, running around three sides of a courtyard opening to the west, the house is filled with the curios of several generations of pioneers. That the spirit thrives in the family is evidenced by the display (in one of the small rooms across the court from the main wing of the house) of a seven-foot ivory tusk from an elephant shot on safari by the general's son in 1959).
Though he spent forty years in the military, Glasgow never saw overseas duty in wartime. His first action out of the Academy, as a shavetail in the Cavalry, was "stern-chasing" the Apache Kid through New Mexico. But his most active period of service was under General John J. Pershing on the punitive expedition into Mexico in 1914 in pursuit of Pancho Villa after the infamous raid on Columbus, New Mexico. The records of that expedition have some blank spaces in them and it is apparently to one of those blank spaces which we owe our discovery.3
For upon General Glasgow's death, in accordance with his will, his substantial collection of public and private papers and his private library (not without its own bibliographical rarities, since some of the volumes therein were inherited by Gen. and Mrs. Glasgow from their own families) were given to the United States Government to be preserved and made available for scholars at the Fort Bliss Replica Museum in El Paso.4 That facility is not, to tell the truth, fully staffed to handle scholarly accessions of this magnitude, and the process of classifying and evaluating the holdings of the Glasgow collection is progressing slowly.
The particular item with which we are concerned is a vellum manuscript, approximately 8« by 11 inches in size, containing fifty-three leaves written on one side only, with a space of approximately one line separating each line, discovered in a file labled only "Mexico -- 1914", the other contents of which are two badly disintegrated Spanish-language newspapers (not yet identified) and a few laundry bills from a cleaners in Columbus, New Mexico.5 The manuscript itself appears to be immensely old in comparison with the other materials (this can be confirmed by an olifactory examination with appropriate equipment); it is written in Latin in an unusual script not unlike the court hand (first named by E.A. Lowe as "Smith-Corona Pica") practised in the Emirate of Granada in the fifteenth century. There is no explicit title on the first leaf of the manuscript (which does seem to be intact, containing a continuous text in its entirety), but the first line (fol. 1r) begins with the phrase Domino Hiraio ilustro et sagacisimo...
Immediately, of course, this line recalls to mind a mysterious work long believed to have been completely lost, known only from a sixteenth-century Spanish library catalogue. I refer, naturally, to the much-disputed De pulchris imaginibus attributed to one "Hiraya al-Ustra" and believed by some scholars to be the only extant treatise (already believed, though with difficulty, to have been written in Latin, as were all the other items in the same catalogue) by a Moslem Arab dealing technically with iconographic questions.6
It is at this point that we can begin to piece together the history of the manuscript. For the catalogue in which mention of this work takes place is the famous listing of all the works in the private library of the fabulously wealthy Spanish savant of early sixteenth-century Seville, Utopius de la Quesnia, a man of European reputation for his learning and a personal friend of Sir Thomas More.7 As is well known, in a moment of crisis arising out of de la Quesnia's unorthodox approach to his religion and his neighbor's daughter, he shipped for New Spain in 1534, carrying with him little more than the clothes on his back. Thus, when his library was incorporated in the royal library of the court of Castile, it came as a surprise to find that half a dozen manuscripts were missing and never found.8 One of these was the curious treatise of "Hiraya al-Ustra". The others, a curious selection but not (since they were all preserved elsewhere) to scholars an exciting one, included Apuleius' Golden Ass, Petronius' Cena Trimalchionis, the satires of Juvenal and a manuscript of uncertain contents taken from the works of Ovid.
Now, Utopius de la Quesnia never reached the New World; he disappears from sight when he boards that ship, the Submarina Amarilla.9 A manifest of the passengers who debarked at Veracruz tallies in every detail with that of those who embarked at Cadiz except for the absence of de la Quesnia. Whether he had smuggled some of his moveable wealth aboard with him, only to be murdered for it, or whether natural causes took their toll, we shall never know; but the appearance in Mexico of one of the missing manuscripts from his own library lends credence to the former theory. What precisely was the history of the little manuscript in Mexico is only a matter for speculation, but it is a matter of record that General Pershing's troops took the liberty of pillaging some of the villas of the wealthy landowners whose land they crossed in pursuit of Pancho Villa.10 Apparently General Glasgow did not scruple to allow such activities by his own troops; in all probability he did not take part himself, but when this curious document was found, he took it from the soldiers who would have no use for it, filed it and forgot it. (In confirmation of this absence of mind, there is no evidence that he ever paid the laundry bills contained in the same file, amounting to $4.14.) The history of the manuscript, from Spain to the Fort Bliss Replica Museum, is now clear.
But what of the earlier history of this text? And what is it? From centuries in Arabic hands, the text is in a difficult, but not undecipherable, state. There is no internal direct evidence for the authorship of the work; the first line, mistaken by Arabic scribes and Spanish bibliographers alike for an attribution of authorship, is in fact only a dedication. It is from that we must take our clue. Consider the following text:
Et animadvertebam et videbam in ipsis corporibus aliud esse quasi totum et ideo pulchrum, aliud autem, quod ideo deceret, quoniam apte accommodaretur alicui, sicut pars corporis ad universum suum aut calciamentum ad pedem et similia. Et ista consideratio scaturriit in animo meo ex intimo corde meo, et scripsi libros 'De pulchro et apto', puto, duos aut tres; tu scis Deus; nam excidit mihi. Non enim habemus eos, sed aberraverunt a nobis nescio quomodo.
Quid est autem, quod me movit, domine Deus meus, ut ad Hierium, Romanae urbis oratorem, scriberem illos libros? Quem non noveram facie, sed amaveram hominem ex doctrinae fama, que illi clara erat et quaedam verba eius audieram, et placuerant mihi. Sed magis, quia placebat aliis et eum efferebant laudibus stupentes, quod ex homine syro, docto prius graecae facundiae, post in latina etiam dictor mirabilis exstitisset et esset scientissimus rerum ad studium sapientiae pertinentium, mihi placebat.11
Here, I think we can conclude firmly, is the key to the mystery. Consider the following points: (1) This refers to a work of St. Augustine's which was not preserved under his own name, an unlikely event unless by some chance his name had been removed from the only existing copies.12 (2) The name of the dedicatee, Hierius, would frequently in works of this sort appear at the beginning of the first paragraph.13 (3) The various spellings of the alleged author in the Spanish sources can all be reduced to some such opening phrase as Domino Hierio illustre et sagacissimo ... (4) The work as it stands in the MS is divided into two books.
The most surprising fact in the transmission of this work, however, is that very absence of Augustine's name from the work. It is inconceivable that the work could have virtually perished had Augustine's name remained prominent on the manuscripts. But there is an embarrassing, but obvious solution to this dilemma as well.
Phrasing this as delicately as possible, it would appear that those things which Augustine took to be pulcher at the time he was teaching at Carthage, that cauldron of flaming loves (Conf. 3.1), were things of a rather earthy sort, and the aptness by which they were judged had more to do with their aptitude for various private activities of which Augustine was then fond than with eternal notions of esthetic order and harmony. The work's contents appear to be a carefully, even artfully, wrought description, in some considerable and explicit detail, of the charms of a surprisingly large number of young ladies of Augustine's acquaintance. But far from maintaining the air of aloof and mocking propriety in the midst of lasciviousness which characterizes most erotic Latin, this work spares no expense, leaves no stone unturned and leaves nothing to the imagination. Rather it very nearly exhausts the imagination by its concatenation of lush and titillating descriptions. It has no redeeming social value. There remains considerable paleographic and lexicographic work to be done in deciphering the exact sense of the text in many places, but the general drift is never anything but explicitly clear.14 A final confirmaing detail of Augustinian authorship is in the large number of Greek terms, both technical and colloquial, which are used in the descriptions, obviously a tribute to the early career of Hierius.15
There are certain problems attendant upon the publication of the text, for the obscurity of the text will necessitate that it be accompanied by a commentary. But when several specimen pages of the text and commentary were sent out to various scholarly journals, every single one sent back an immediate rejection notice and one (Traditio) refused to return the typescript, claiming to have shredded it immediately upon reading. There is a letter in our files offering to publish the work in translation under the rubric of a "Ribald Classic", but the particular journal does not usually reach an audience with sufficient scholarly expertise to appreciate the importance of this work. When the assistance of Mr. P.R.L. Brown, of All Souls', Oxford, was sought in this matter (and specimen pages sent to him), he responded curtly with a telegram saying only, "I am heart-broken." He has refused to answer any further correspondence (and has not yet returned the specimen pages).
In conclusion, it is clear that we are in control here of a major event in the scholarship of late antiquity, but one which promises to cause no end of heartache and, quite possibly, the ruin of several academic careers.16 Already there are insinuations and innuendos in certain circles that all this sensationalism must be part of an elaborate conspiracy to defraud the American academic community. The problems raised, then, are obviously difficult ones which will be a long while in the resolution, though, of course, we shall overcome. In the meantime, the manuscript can be inspected by competent scholars at the Fort Bliss Replica Museum (over 21 please). Unfortunately, concern for copyright, etc., makes it impossible for us to allow copies to be made at this time (and we are very, very suspicious of those persons who have not returned the specimen pages they were sent).
The implications for all future scholarship remain, however, undeniable. It is clear that we have at last identified the missing link in the intellectual development of Augustine, the long-sought connection between the impudent little monkey swinging on the branches of pear trees and the staid old biship. That this discovery has led us into unexpected territory was only, after all, to have been expected; the time is fast approaching for an altogether new assessment of all the evidence for the early life of the great African.
The text of the Translatio S. Ieremiae edited below is found in MS Lat. 1933 of the Isidore Newman School, fol. 13r-18r. The hand is clearly that of either a late seventh-century Visigothic scribe or one of his friends, and a marginal notation in the famous Corbie ab script would indicate that at least in the ninth century it belonged to that famous Gallic monastery. The note itself is of more than passing historical interest, since it appears to shed some light on one of the famous disputes between Ratramnus and Radbertus of that monastery: Cur non mitto meos tibi, Radberte, libellos? Ne mihi tu mittas, Radberte, tuos. Vale, Ratramnus (f. 15r). In the twelfth century the manuscript appears in the catalogue of the books of St. Médard of Soissons. Apparently it was in the twelfth century that it was bound into what is today Isidore Newman 1933, since the preceeding and following folia of that manuscript contain sermons to be preached at St. Médard in die casus celi.1 After the twelfth century, it is impossible to trace the manuscript until it appears in New Orleans some time since that city's foundation.
The text was apparently not available to the Bollandists, since volume Dec. IV of the Acta Sanctorum makes no mention of the translation. It is hoped therefore that the present edition may be of value to Jeremian scholars who have long wondered just what became of his remains. I print the text as it is given in the manuscript, errors and all, without editorial intrusions.
Incipit narratio qualiter delatum est corpus beatissimi Ieremiae a bubulcis ab urbe Novae Portae in civitatem Dallasensem
Sacrosancti corporis beati Ieremias egregii professoris magistri translationem quam deprehendimus nonnullos latius se hactenus sicut ipsa per alios sub testimonio veritatis nobis innotuit, ita in multorum noticiam scripto qualicumque declarandam et manifestandam suscepimus, et velut de latibulis ignorantie in lucem agnitionis describendo perduximus.2 Huius sane opusculi lucubratiuncula ideo a nobis videbitur assumpta, non quod in nobis aliqua emineat scientia, sed hoc idem fratribus valde desiderantibus et instanter postulantibus minime obtemperare nefas putavimus, presertim cum iocundum sit et oportunum valde nequaquam ignorare ubinam tam preciosus thesaurus habeatur reconditus, quo egrotorum anxie querentum tam in corporibus quam in animabus gemina solet emanare salus.
Constat nimirum quod tanto quisque sanctus a fidelibus excellentius veneratur et excolitur et instantius requiritur, quanto certius per corporalem presentiam in loco adesse non dubitatur. Igitur qualiter venerabilis pontifex Ieremias, vel a quibus personis de urbe Novae Portae cuius primus pastor insignissimus extiterat et in qua per multos annos humatus fuerat, divino nutu sit translatus in hortis universitatis, scilicet in universitate rationalitoris australis venerabiliter habeatur reconditus. Huius evidentis inditii testimonio cunctis scire volentibus compertum manifestamus.
Tempore quodam, contigit quod unus de fratribus nostris, nomine Richardus,3 ad Cantabrigiensem urbem, que est urbs sordidissima sita in Nova Anglia, nostre utilitatis causa directus, per civitatem Novae Portae transitum faceret. Ad quam, cum pervenisset et advesperascente iam die, hospitium in suburbio ipsius ante fores cuiusdam antiqui collegii accipiens, intrasset, venit ad eum quidam ipsius loci veteranus professor, et nimia senecta iam grandeuus deferens ei caritatis munusculum fructus, scilicet pomorum. Cumque cepisset cum eo familiariter colloqui, diligenti percunctatione sciscitatus est quisnam esset vel de qua civitate vel de qua universitate adveniret. Cui, cum supradictus frater profiteretur se de civitate Dallasensi et universitate rationalitoris australis studentum fore, ille senior subintulit dicens: "Numquid nostris aliquid de sanctissimo patre nostro cum honore debito venerando Ieremia, qui nostre patrie et urbe civitatis extitit primus predicator et doctor apostolicus et a beato comite stabuli consecratus presul inclitus, quoniam in loco sacro sanctum corpus illius sepultum credatur? An tam preclari patroni memoria apud vos celebris habetur?"
Ac hec ille respondens ait: "Novimus quippe et bene novimus, quia idem venerabilis pater sicut civitati huic ita nichilominus populo4 a deo missus predicator primus erogavit verbum salutis et civitatem prosimam nostram que dicitur iste saltus predicationis illustratione fecit illustrem. Quodcirca non solum memoria ipsius apud nos in maxima veneratione est, verum etiam sacra corporis presentia in universitate nostra creditur esse celeberrima."
Tunc senior ille, repletus spiritu letice, in hec verba prorupit dicens: "O frater, si fidem polliceris quod a me acceperis secretum te fideliter servaturum et nemini in hac provintia proditurum, pandam tibi nunc veritatis testimonium cuius ego bene conscius sum. Hoc autem facere ideo opere michi precium videor, ut per te quem servum dei intueor, vestratibus me prodente fiat revelatum et cognitum quod nostratibus constat esse absconditum. Re etenim vera ad profectum Christicolarum et deo famulantium competens est, et valde proficuum, ut tam preciosa gemma anima venerationis cultu dignissima et tam preciosus thesaurus cius suavissimo odore et virtute precipua infirmi sanantur, leprosi mundantur, a demonio vexati liberantur, mesti consolantur, et quique flebiles cum poscentes ab eo redeunt sua vota ferentes, ubi divina dispensatione locum accepit requietionis, ibi excellentius honoretur sub privilegio maxime venerationis, tantoque fiat celebrior in veneratione cunctorum, quanto cerciori testimonio fuerit preclarior in cognitione multorum."
Accepta igitur ab illo sponsione celandi, sic exorsus est: "Ne mireris, domine, mi si antiquiora in auribus tuis modo revolvo, quoniam multum temporis est ex quo ego vivo, et idcirco multa me vidisse profiteor que istius cui homines qui michi videntur etate impares penitus ignorant. Tempore antiquo elapso, gesta est res quam narro.
"Exigentibus nostrotum pro camium meritis, facta est fames valida in tota tellure huius regionis. Qua cottidie invalescente et nimia acerbitate in dies grassante, compulsi sunt plurimi tam professores quam studentes exire de hac civitate et per affines et amicos in aliis partibus victus alimoniam queritare. Huius igitur famis necessitudine, vehementissime coartati et coangustati maiores nostri iminiens periculum egestatis evadere sollicite premeditantes domnum propositum, qui tunc civitatis huius populum regebat pariter conveniunt, anxietatum suarum calamitatem flebiliter coram eo detegunt, quid inter hec eis agendum sit, consilium eius sollisita mente expetunt astruentes nequaquam se posse ibi diutius immorari ubi sub magna egestate constaret illos de vita periclitari. Quo audito, domnus propositus, precaventes quod nec sibi nec illis sufficienter adessent necessarii sumptus, iniit cum illis tale consilium: ut electis tantum quatuor professores, qui in maiorum collegum reliquas sanctorum et quoque ornamenta in thesauro reposita fideliter possent custodire et sacerdotale officium ibidem sedulo adimplere, ceteri propositi auctoritate sinerentur abire.
Dein iubente proposito et tocius professorum consultu deliberatum est quatinus de alia collegia circumquaque positis corpora sanctorum et preciosiora pignora reliquiarum assumpta in principalium collegium beati Calhouniensis in unum collecta venerarentur et custodirentur cum summa diligentia et incontaminanter permanerent illesa, inter que pater amantissimus Ieremias et pastor magnificus tanquam preclarior lucerna dignitatis refulgebat eminentia. Quid amplius loquar? Nobis tantum quatuor professores, ut prelibatum est, ad id officium deputatis et publico iuramento terribiliter astrictis, ne tam preciosus thesaurus aliqua factione vel fraude imminueretur a nobis aut ab aliis. Mox discessum est.
"Interim, dum hec agerentur, factum est in una dierum et ecce Dallasenses bubulci cum multo apparatu ab Nova Anglia revertentes repente apparuerunt viri honorificentissimi et quantum datum est intelligi in divitiis potentissimi, habentes in comitatu suo equos onustos, mulos et asinos (qui in supradicta civitate Cantabrigiense abundant) copiosas advehentes divitias. Qui cum introissent civitatem unius noctis accepere hospitium. Quid plura? Die iam in vesperum declinante, ventum est ad universitatem. Quam ingressi super altare beati Calhouniensis votiva deo et sanctis eius munera offerunt, et mox completa oratione et a nobis decursa vespertina synaxi hospitium repetunt, et qui in eis cernebantur praestantiores atque ditiores ad cene sue convivium nos simul quatuor caritativa invitatione pertrahunt. In quo scilicet convivio, cum nos cibo potuque habundantissime refecissent, diligenti ceperunt indagatione percunctari, quid cause extiterit quod tam pauci in urbe inveniebantur clerici, vel quinam essent sancti illi, qui in maximo templo Domini honorifice videbantur sepulti.
"Quibus cum miseriarum nostrarum erumpnas exposuissemus, et sanctorum sigillatim intimavissemus, audito nomine beati Ieremiae, completa cena, surgentes a mensa, clanculo nos hiis verbis alloquuntur: 'Prudentes viri et deo tenurati professores, qui sicut a vobis didicimus ad magnam indigentiam redacti estis et solatio necessarii victus destituti, cur non acquiescitis consiliis nostris et redimitis animas nostras de imminenti periculo famis? Cur non accipitis a nobis quantitatem auri vel argenti sicut placuerit in oculis vestris, ut fame non pereatis sed ut magis vivere possitis? Et concedite nobis beati Ieremiae patris nostri et doctoris egregii, qui circum circa regionem nostram a sordibus ydolorum evacuavit, evangelica illustratione illustravit, museion castelli gaudii primus fundator extitit, et populum catholica fide sublimavit. Accipite nunc quod promittimus et date quod petimus. Nempe non est peccatum grande ubi redemptio vite humane in causa dinoscitur esse.'
"Proh dolor, hiis et huius modi affatibus seu persuasionibus illecti et maxime egestate nimia addicti, heu heu, rumpimus iuramentum et, accepta pecunia non minima, tradimus eis quesitum sanctum. Qui, gaudio magno repleti, una nobiscum noctu intrant venerabile templum et, diligenter obseratis ostiis et repagulis firmiter premunitis, nos quatuor accedimus ad tumbam sancti corporis. Et aperientes urnam in qua iacebit, concedimus eis sancta membra.5 Illi autem fusis precibus lacrimonis, devotissime ea suscipiunt, et in optimo pallio praeparato et extenso venerabiliter componunt, et in pera sua celeriter recondunt, et sic clandestina repedatione ad hospicium redeunt. Mane autem facto, surgentes diluculo egrediuntur de urbe cum magna festinatione et ingenti tripudio exhilarati, deferentes secum inestimabilem thesaurum quesitum et inventum comitante eos divina gratia reversi sunt in civitatem suam glorificantes et laudentes deum.
"Hec tibi serve dei in vera confessione deo teste curam intimare, ut per te fiant nota ceteris fidelibus in urbe vestra commanentibus et hoc notum sit illis omnibus quoniam re vera et absque ulla dubitatione beatus Ieremias, prohdolor, hinc est sublatus et ad vestram civitatem translatus ibique veraciter credatur humatus."
Noverint cunti in quorum manus hec scripta pervenerint, quod huius textus narrationis nullum recipit commentum falsitatis, sed potius gaudet preclara subnixus luce veritatis. Amen. Amen. Bulla. Bulla.
In his recent monograph on Charlemagne,1 Ernst Ferkel-Kaninchen has concluded that "there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory that Alcuin was in fact a hippopotamus."2 This assertion has won wide critical acceptance. Even Ursula Furchtbar, who otherwise finds Ferkel-Kaninchen's work "totally without redeeming social value" has praise for this aspect of his theory. "One is forced however to agree," she writes, "with Ferkel-Kaninchen's conclusion that neither Alcuin, nor, one might add, Charlemagne himself was a hippopotamus."3 New data, however, has recently come to light which suggests that we would do well to put aside our prejudices and re-examine the evidence from a more objective standpoint than has been the case in recent decades.
I refer, of course, to the startling discovery by Professor Mario Libidine of the remains of two manuscripts in the privy at St. Gallen. These have been firmly dated to the reign of Charlemagne, and they bear the titles Historia excellentis regis magistri animalis nudi (henceforth abbreviated HERMAN) and Magistri excellentis ludibunda vita in Nilo (henceforth MELVIN).4 Unfortunately, all but the titles of these manuscripts have perished. While this makes it somewhat difficult for the responsible scholar to discuss their contents with total confidence, some central facts clearly emerge. The wording of HERMAN, to be sure, is obscure, as the preponderance of genitives makes it unclear whether the animal nudum is in fact Alcuin or the king.5 The word order, however, strongly suggests the former, and it is here that MELVIN may be of help. For MELVIN makes clear that Alcuin spent some time in the Nile River: combining the evidence of HERMAN and MELVIN, then, we are entitled to conclude that the reference is indeed to Alcuin -- to Alcuin as an animal nudum familiar with no less central a hippo habitat than the Nile itself.
We are thus forced to re-open the issue. It may be, as many scholars have argued, that Alcuin was not in fact a hippopotamus -- that the article by Hildegard Hippo in the National Hippopotamus (August 1955) represented, as was suggested by several critics in the '60s and '70s, an effort to "distort the evidence to fit a previously conceived theory."6 But in the light of Libidine's discoveries, it is surely no longer possible to argue with Ferkel-Kaninchen that "there is absolutely no evidence" to support Alcuin's hippodom. Evidence there certainly is; and here lies an open field for further endeavor by scholars of the rising generation -- a subject indeed which I have recommended without success to several students as a possible topic for a master's thesis or even a doctoral dissertation.
This eleventh century copy of a tenth century work is known to have a varied, if somewhat sketchy history. From unpublished letters found in the belfry of the Church of St. Simeon in Madrid, we know that this particular work was commissioned by Hassan IV, hypocondriac Caliph of Cordova, in 1046. The copyist and artist is believed to have been one Sa'hadi ibn Fouod, but years of mistreatment by bats have rendered the letters of commission practically unintelligible. Similar copies of ibn Fouod's work exist in the Dublin National Museum and the archives of the University of Vienna, and most experts agree that the manuscript, if not by the hand of the Master himself, is certainly of his school.
The document itself is the opening page of an anonymous tenth century Moorish work entitled On Jewish Medicine. Caliph Hassan IV is known to have ordered copies of many such works, for in his precarious state of health he liked to have the comforting presence of experts, both past and present.1
The work is typical of eleventh century Moorish calligraphy, the heavy use of gold leaf contrasting with a deep blue made from crushed lapis lazuli mixed with egg whites. Below the title are the opening lines of the work.
It was the famous ninth century Jewish doctor of Cordova, Smuel ibn Rushd, who first stated the concepts which were to govern Spanish medicine for years: metatarsalus coniungitur cum tarsalo, tarsalus coniungitur cum tibia fibulaque, tibia et fibula coniunguntur cum femure, femur coniungitur ...2
Here the manuscript breaks off, presumably to carry over onto the next page. The rest of the book, which was lost in a manner to be described below, was probably not decorated in so lavish a fashion, which is typical of such works. A thirteenth century copy of On Jewish Medicine exists in Barcelona, written in Latin, which was presumably the language in which the book was composed.3 It contains the phrase -- well-known and oft-quoted -- filius meus, medicus Judaeus, but the work itself is rather dull, containing only the collected prescriptions of ibn Rushd (sume duas pilulas et veni mihi bene mane),4 but without any indication of which maladies the prescribed drugs were to cure.
As to the history of the actual manuscript, we know that it was delivered to Hassan IV in April of 1047. The Sultan died soon after, perhaps of a severe peptic ulcer brought on by overstress. There is no record of the manuscript for some years, although there is some evidence that it was in the library of the de la Quesnia clan in the early fifteenth century.5
The next appearance of the manuscript is among the papers of Roderigo Lopez, the Portuguese Jewish physician of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Lopez was found guilty of plotting to poison the Queen and was hanged at Tyburn on 7 June 1594.6 Lopez' property, of course, reverted to the crown upon his death, and a catalogue of James I's library from 1613 lists a Worke on Eville Wichkreffte in the Heathhen Tounge which may be our manuscript.7
In 1715 our document was sold at auction to one Thomas, third lord Cruikshank, who in a letter of his friend John Carlisle (dated Sept. 10 of that year) reported that he had bought a book of what he believed to be "Ribalde Persian folke tales" and which he hoped to have translated for the amusement of the "Monday Night Circle". The exact nature of this literary salon is unknown,8 but it may have consisted of gentlemen interested in antique literature. It is known, however, that ladies were admitted to the group, which seems a fairly unusual practice for the time. The manuscript remained in the hands of the Cruikshank family, but it was never translated. In 1816 the daughter of the sixth Lord Cruikshank, Margarite, eloped with the Irish stableboy, Thomas O'Leary, and fled to America, taking the book with her in the hope that the gold leaf would provide some ready cash. In a letter to Mrs. Peter Marigold of Peoria, Illinois, written in 1843, Mrs. O'Leary expresses her puzzlement that only the last page of the book was decorated,9 and she tells how a fuel shortage on the boat trip to America resulted in the burning of all but the presently existing page. The O'Leary family settled in Chicago, where their most notable activity was the raising of 11 children. The youngest, Lawrence, was born in 1842. In 1878, he married the former Hannah Shepherd. Upon his mother's death in 1881, he inherited the document from her. In 1886, he was run over by a street car, and his widow began to keep a boarding house on the corner of Maple Avenue and Winston Street in Chicago. The manuscript was apparently kept in a cast iron box along with assorted recipes, board receipts and hat pins, and the box seems to have survived -- with its contents intact -- a rather well-known accident Mrs. O'Leary had in 1892.
In 1919, Mrs. O'Leary left the box to her nephew, Jeremiah O'Leary of Boston. Mr. O'Leary discovered the manuscript, and kept it for years between the pages of an 1842 edition of Augustine's Confessions. In 1938, it is known that he inquired into the possibility of having the gold leaf made into a tooth capping, but this proved to be infeasible. Upon his death in 1944, the manuscript fragment became the property of his widow, the former Helen Healy. In 1968, when her daughter, Ann O'Leary Ball, was preparing to leave for an extended stay in Beirut, Mrs. O'Leary -- aware in her characteristic fashion that the document was from "somewhere over there"10 -- gave it to her daughter. Mrs. Ball, unable to read the Arabic hand, and far more interested in items made of copper, gave the manuscript leaf to her son, David H. Ball, now residing in New Haven, Connecticut, under a pile of paperwork. He has kindly donated the manuscript in honor of the occasion.
Our Spirtual Leader and Holy Father Pope Paul VI recently* exhorted all the faithful of the Church of Rome to increase their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in part as a means of emphasizing the rightful role of women in the life of the Church through the example of the most liberated woman of all the ages, Mary, liberated from the stain of original sin, liberated from the mortal corruption of the tomb, never subjected to loss of meaningful life purpose through slavish identification with her husband's career, is without question more relevant to modern women than many feminists acknowledge, and therefore worthy of more serious and comprehensive scholarly study than has heretofore been accorded her. Therefore, it seems most appropriate for a Roman Catholic woman scholar to offer as a tribute to her Roman Catholic professor, friend and mentor a study on one sister who was a key figure in the drama of the Virgin Birth -- the midwife Salome.
This study will consist of four parts: 1) a discussion of the Biblical references to women named Salome, establishing conclusively the lineage of our protagonist; 2) an examination of the midwife Salome of the Pseudo-Matthaei Evangelium, including a water-tight identification of this woman with that of the New Testament accounts; 3) important philological notes on the name Salome, revealing the inscrutable working of God's plan for salvation through her unquestionable Jungian compulsion of the name; and 4) a history of devotion to St. Salome in the Middle Ages, and the potential for the same in the New World, where the center of her cultus will, hopefully soon, be established in the South-Western United States.
The conclusion of this study must perforce be left for the Last Judgement.
First, we must deal with the popular misconception of the 'biblical' Salome, the daughter of Herod the Tetrach, who danced with the head of John the Baptist on a (silver?)1 platter. Actually, as this story is related in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9) the ballerina in question is referred to only as the 'daughter' or the 'girl'. The first identification of her as 'Salome' is by Josephus, who was (after all) a Jew -- the best-known reference to her by this name is in the play by Oscar Wile, who was (with no intended sexual slur) a decadent, and this play was set to music by Richard Strauss, who was (alas! in spite of Rosenkavalier) a German. These testimonies can, therefore, be safely disregarded.
Now, the Salome who is clearly mentioned in the New Testament is the wife of Zebedee, the mother of St. James the Great and St. John the Evangelist. Let us point out in passing that this is a rather distinguished nuclear family. This Salome is listed amoung the women who followed Jesus from Galilee (Matthew 27:55); she was, in one account at least, one of those who discovered the empty tomb after the Resurrection of Jesus (Mark 16:1); she is perhaps best known for her request that Jesus place her sons on his right and left hands when he attains his kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21).2
For all of this evident honor, there have been further attempts to glorify St. Salome (on the basis of John 19:25) by identifying her as a sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Baring-Gould disputed this claim on textual grounds, and argued convincingly that St. Salome was the daughter of Cleophas or Alphaeus, the brother of St. Joseph. Baring-Gould constructed for us the genealogy shown here. There is clearly no need to stretch the truth, to strain credulity by claiming other than ideological sisterhood with the Blessed Virgin Mary: in St. Salome we have a niece of St. Joseph, the daughter of another of the women who visited the sepulchre (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10), the sister of St. James the Less among other sanctified sibilings, the first cousin once removed of the Blessed Virgin, and the seond cousin of our Lord Jesus Christ. An impressive array.
In the Pseudo-Matthaei Evangelium, an early medieval Latin rendition of the second-century Greek Protoevangelium of James (which, incidentally, has been shockingly neglected by narrow-souled modern rationalistic scholars)3 there is a charming and theologically insightful variation on the nativity story as related in the Gospels. On the way to Bethlehem, Mary is overtaken by the time of her delivery. Joseph makes a bed for her in a convenient nearby cave, and goes immediately to fetch a midwife. An embarassment of riches: he returns with two, Zelomi and Salome. However, as they approach the cave, they notice a dense cloud enveloping the Virgin, which is gradually dispersed by a bright light, in which is seen the infant Jesus. Precocious for his age, the baby immediately crawls from what seems to be the general region of the abdomen4 to his mother's breats, and begins to nurse. Too late to serve any useful purpose, and profoundly sceptical of the apparent lack of blood and gore usually accompanying the birth of a child, Zelomi enters the cave and says to Mary, Dimitte me, ut tangam te, whereupon, finding Mary's virginity intact, she exclaims, Domine, domine magne, miserere ... nulla sanguinis pollutio facta est in nascente; nullus dolor in parturiente; virgo concepit, virgo peperit et virgo permansit.5
Salome, still waiting outside (and this is important: remember: "Thomas was not with the other disciples" John 20:24) finds this extremely unlikely, and so applies to Mary for equal research privileges. Her investigation reveals the same data as that of Zelomi, but with painfully severe consequences: Dum autem manum suam a palpitatione retraheret, aruit manus eius.6 As Doubting Salome stands lamenting her withered hand, a "splendid youth" advises her to worship the newborn child, and touch him with her wounded hand for a certain cure, "for he is the saviour of the ages, and all hope is in him". Sure enough, Salome is immediately healed, and goes out "proclaiming the great things which she had seen, and which had happened, and how she had been healed -- and thus, by her preaching, many believed".7
Can there be any doubt that this illustrious disciple who, in spite of the human frailty of her doubt, was the first to be cured by Jesus, the first to proclaim the Good News (remember -- even the shepherds and the Magi were yet to come; and John the Baptist had not yet seen Jesus), this inexplicably neglected apostle could be other than the Salome of the Gospel accounts? Let us examine the story more closely.
When Joseph sought help for his wife, he returned with not only Zelomi (apparently, the local midwife, as she entered the cave first etc.) but also with this tag-along, Salome. We must remember that there was some hard feeling among the relatives of Joseph about the seemingly untimely and indiscreet pregnancy of his Betrothed. Is it not conceivable that a family representative might have been sent along on the journey to Bethlehem to keep watch over the outcome (so to speak) of this scandal? Then, we have the evidence of Salome's doubt about the miracle of the birth of Jesus. Having been convinced that Joseph's wife was a loose woman, is it any wonder that her change of mind was of necessity a dramatic one? Finally, we have the testimony of her witness in the Pseudo-Matthaei Evangelium and of her faithfulness to Jesus in the Gospels -- complementary accounts. Clearly, Salome was impressed for life with the miracle of the Incarnation; also, no doubt, she was grateful about the cure of her withered hand. The identification seems clear; it is only to be regretted that this earliest chapter of her ministry was inexplicably omitted from the Synoptic Gospels.
In considering documents from an age far more aware of the richness of the symbolic meaning of words than our own, we must not ignore any etymological evidence which could be brought to bear on the problem at hand (as it were), especially the evidence of proper names. The potency of one's name, and the consequences of its meaning for one's life has been acknowledged by moderns only through the vehicle of Jungian symbols -- but it was almost certainly an accepted reality in the lives of Hellenistic and Early Medieval Christians. Let us examine, then, Salome, the feminine of the Hebrew name Salomon. It is easily established that there is a relation between these names and the Hebrew word for peace (shalom). As first apostle of the Good News, Salome certainly had a vested interest in peace. Moreover, and more striking yet, is the fact that the semitic root of all these words (shalam) bears the more exact meaning of completeness, soundnesss and/or intactness.8 How divinely providential that St. Salome, philologically the 'one of completeness', was the definitive witness that, even after the birth of Jesus, Mary's virginity was intact!
There is an Early Medieval legend of the voyage to Proven‡e of St. Salome along with Sts. Mary, Martha and Lazarus.9 Recorded in what Baring-Gould terms a "religious romance", and attributed to Rabanus Maurus,10 it is the first mention of the cult of St. Salome in the West. The "invention"11 of the bodies of Sts. Mary and Salome in the Camargue took place in 1448, and was instituted as the feast of the "revelation"12 of the female saints in Proven‡e by Pope Nicholas V, to be celebrated on December 31.13
There is no clear evidence of the celebration of this feast in America. However, recent research has revealed a natural setting for Salomenian devotion in the Harcuvar Mountains just north of Salome, Arizona.14 Once again, calling forth the wonders God has wrought through etymology, it should be noted that Harcuvar is derived from either the Semitic root harah, meaning to swell or become pregnant; or -- reading the het as the article "the" -- from the root cavar, explained by Gesenius to be "a root of doubtful authority -- but signifying, as far as can be derived from its derivatives, to dig, to bore through, as in the Sanskrit k'hur, or to cleave -- very many interpreters suppose the verb itself to be found in a passage much discussed as relating to the Messiah (Psalm 22:17)".15 In either case, the Harcuvar Mountains are philologically the mountains of birth, and probably have a relation to the birth of Jesus.
Perhaps this is the site given to those of us who are chosen (though many be called) to work and pray for the erection of a shrine to St. Salome, the first apostle, the defender of the virginity of Mary -- at which we may worship, as in the words of the Abbot of Celles (surnamed the Idiot): "Draw me after thee, oh Virgin Mary, that I may run to the odor of thy perfumes."16
It has recently been proven1 that the Vulgate Cycle, also called the Pseudo-Map Cycle, is in fact the work of Walter Map. The extreme structural complexity of some of the works of this cycle, especially the prose Lancelot, has led to much critical conjecture about the place of such complicated narratives in the romance genre. Recent work on the newly discovered Codex Egregius, the manuscript found in the Abbey of St. Swithin on the Rough, Glastonbury, gives evidence that the primary importance of the Vulgate Cycle is to be found not in the romance genre, but in the art of tapestry-weaving as practised in the thirteenth century.
Codex Egregius, a collection of miscellaneous texts in the library of the Abbey of St. Swithin, incorporates the correspondence of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Walter Map about the tapestry-group commissioned by Queen Eleanor. This was to be a most ambitious project and the planning alone required twenty years' labor on the part of several workers before the tapestries, unfortunately destroyed in the sixteenth century, could be executed.
It is especially interesting to note that critics of the Vulgate Cycle have fallen back on metaphors and analogies to weaving in their analyses of the romances. They speak of "interlaced structure,"2 or "seamless construction,"3 of a "structure so closely interwoven that, if but one narrative thread is broken, the whole unravels."4 There was more truth in this figurative language than any of the authors realized, for without a doubt, as Epistula IV, Galterius ad Alianoram reginam, indicates, the Vulgate Cycle is the actual blueprint, the step-by-step pattern of the tapestries executed by Walter for Eleanor.
There is yet another instance of the critics' coming close, but not sufficiently so, to the truth behind the Vulgate Cycle and its entrelacement. Several critics, notably von Carmine, de Frap and Vinelever have defended the idea of an "architect" behind the Cycle. They have all been in agreement that the Cycle is much too large to be the work of one man, but they consider it quite possible for a team of writers, guided by an "architect", to produce the fairly coherent Cycle. If one substitutes instead the idea of a "designer", all becomes clear. The primary conception is Walter's -- inspired and approved by Eleanor -- but the minor details of the blueprint were then sketched out for the weavers by Walter's associate workmen.
If, to our modern ideals, the elaborate romance-blueprint seems excessively elaborate, we must consider that most of the weavers, if not all, were illiterate. Following the model of the refectories of monasteries, where pious works were read by one monk to the others during meals, the "factories" which produced Eleanor's tapestries found a way to guide the many weavers in their tasks. The patterns of adventures, which change with a frequency quite bewildering to modern readers, were given a concrete form by the weavers who listened to them in the execution of their work. Perhaps at no other time was the medieval principle of dulce et utile better employed and expressed that in Walter's great project.
The preceding discussion has elements of conjecture; for until the patterns have been followed in an attempt to duplicate the tapestries,5 we cannot be completely sure of the theories here set forth. Based on the evidence of the Codex Egregius, however, there is no doubt that the "tapestry technique" of the Vulgate Cycle will yield admirable results.
It is necessary to consider the implications of this whole problem for medieval scholarship. We have had the Vulgate Cylcle under critical observation for nearly a hundred years. We have had fine examples of woven tapestries for a much longer time. This would not seem to be a problem equal to that faced by translaters of Egyptian Hieroglyphics before the Rosetta Stone. The evidence was always before our eyes. It might be, on the other hand, said that what was before us -- that is, tapestries -- did not offer much of a clue; after all, set against the complexity of the Vulgate Cycle, especially the Lancelot, there seems to be no basis for comparison between a hunt scene and the seemingly endless complexities of the Vulgate romances.
This objection shows, however, that we have neglected one of the important characteristics of medieval writing, whatever its provenance or purpose -- the hidden expression of truths, the love of figurative language. We have forgotten about the reverse of the tapestries. In the welter of thread-patterns that the hidden side reveals, one finds the correspondence with the romances that must have delighted their creator. After all, the hunt scenes are simply the result of the right thread in the right place. To amend the statement made above, the evidence was before our eyes if we looked in the right place. The patterns for Eleanor's tapestries are a reminder that we are dealing with an age that was not limited by our ideas of the "right" or the "wrong" side, an age that placed much fine carving in its cathedrals, where it would never be seen, an age where everything could and probably did stand for something else. An obscure codex has shown a way to find out what medieval romance literature was really about.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, this Inferno only lends itself to a limited number of clever little diagrams, the most felicitous of which is reproduced here. Its most distinctive features stem from the fact that the university which forms its metaphorical basis had no all- encompassing theology or value-system by which all its members operated -- thus accounting both for the absence of a Virgil to guide the narrator and for the presence of the self-service elevator, a common twentieth century device which did not obligate its operator to confront any particular floor, or any floor or "stack" whatsoever. Unlike Dante's 'circles', the stacks are not arranged in an ethical hierarchy (at least there is little scholarly evidence to suggest that university students of this era were philosophically guided by the Dewey decimal system). The label of the top stack is merely an editorial suggestion based on contemporary documents, but the situations of the smoking lounge and the Snack Bar are explicitly dealt with in the following cantos.
Although modern scholars were heretofore possessed of only that fragment of the 'boredom' canto which was loosely based on Dante's ninth circle, further research has located what is now considered to be a major portion of the work. For the first time, arrayed amoung an embarassment of borrowings from Dante's IXth, XVIIIth and XXXIIth cantos, are here displayed both a more rounded view of the narrator and the finer points of his theology.
Had I the mental energy or the time that would be fitting for the treatment of those more weighty topics which I have been assigned, I would pluck more readily the fruits of my intellectual genius; but since I have not, it is not without trepidation and a generous dose of caffeine that I bring myself to speak, for to bastardize the spirit of Dante is no enterprise to undertake in sport or for a tongue that cries, "Argle-bargle!" or "Screw this!" at three o'clock in the morning. But may that chutzpah aid my pen which aided me to apply in the first place to this university which it is hard to speak of, so that the fuzziness of the brain may not detract from the beauty of its intent. O beyond all others in this benighted and burdened crowd, better I should be at Albertus Magnus or Durham Business College!
There is a place in this Inferno called the Snack Bar, and all metal and silver-colored is the wall that runs around it. Right in the middle of its bare space stands a structure which is divided into countless pockets, which I saw were all filled with food or drink, and nearby was another structure where crowds of signs and posters vied for my attention. Although all of these things reposed behind glass doors and like constraints, I felt myself still to be overwhelmed at the multitude of choices contained therein. I was thus easily inclined to move from there to the long stretch of smooth-walled corridor which opened up at the end of the Snack Bar, leading downwards and away from that place.
When I was down on the basement level, far below the vending machines, I began to wonder whether my retreat was perhaps foolish; yet my feet were still and I stayed gazing around at the blank and windowless walls. Even as I tried to sort out the contents of my mind, I could go no farther than, "Yet I must explain this conflict! Or else ..." The confusion and cowardice in me seemed then to be accentuated by a cloud of dark air and dense smoke which I perceived to arise nearby.
I may have contemplated more, but I no longer remember what I thought, for my sight had drawn me to the center of the smoke, which issued from the tips of three burning cigarettes. These were held by three who had the parts and bearing of students, but their manner of smoking was such as I had never seen before. The first inhaled only, the second only exhaled, but both went on incessantly in this way. The third of these smokers inhaled and also exhaled, but as he had no cigarettes of his own, I saw him borrow from the other two. And I heard him tell them several times that he had nothing of his own to smoke because he would soon quit smoking; yet as I watched, he continued at a pace with the others.
O you who are of patient wit, mark well this enigmatic image, for it shall be explained in time.
While I was still much distracted with the miraculous nature of this sight, I heard a voice say (but not to me), "Smith, please return Anthro 20b materials -- Smith." At which I turned in wonder and saw before me a room which through sleep had the atmosphere of death and not of life. Never did a lecturer in Linsley-Chittenden or far-off Harkness in a droning voice make a snoring so thick in his class as was here, for had East Rock fallen on it, it would not have been enough of a noise to cover up the creaking and groaning at even one edge of that room. And as the student wavers between panic and indifference with regard to academic demands, and is not very convincing in either pose, just so these suffering ones were tossed incessantly between sleep and wakefulness, and could not enjoy the one or make use of the other. Some had their faces down, others faced upwards, but all were twisted in most awful and uncomfortable postures, and all were trapped as though frozen on couches which were neither for sleeping nor studying on, but which rather served their occupants as coffins of Naugahyde. I gazed about at the scene, and as it was nearly as flaccid and tedious as my metaphors, I turned my face away in great sorrow.
Whether it was this sorrow, or fate, or my desire to have the plot move somewhere, I do not know, but, walking among the bodies, I struck my foot hard in the face of one.
Sleeping, he shouted at me, "Why dost thou trample one me? Unless thou comest to aid me with Midterm-papers, why dost thou molest me? And who art thou, that goest among the Apathetic striking one's cheeks harder than if thou wert awake? Be off!" he cried, "for I am doomed to be trapped in an eternal reading period, on the never-ending night before an exam in a course so dry its very name is sawdust on my tongue. I warn thee, look to thy feet, or thou willst have to look at my footnotes: e.g. Duera,12 Beccheria,13 Gianni de'Sondanier,14 Ganelon15 ..."
But I had already left, that I might wander further amongst the souls in order to determine their names and their reasons for staying in the airless room where I beheld them. My first question I dismissed after a short time, for their disposition was such as to remove all of my desire to know them. As to the second, I determined to make an inquiry to satisfy my curiosity. Taking hold of one whose eyes were half-closed in a strange and painful fashion, I addressed myself to her and to her fellows, "Friends," (for although I had no cordial feelings towards them, I called them thus because it seemed to me as though I knew them) I said, "why stay ye here, with minds and bodies unsated!"
At this there arose such a clamor of voices that I was much amazed at its coming from so sluggish a throng. She whom I held cried scornfully, "But I am too large to leave through these doors; I know not how or why I came in in the first place." Another nearby replied with equal fervor that it was rather the room which was too small. Some others insisted that they were too small to push open the door, and others still blamed the huge size of the room itself; but whatever the peculiarities of each one's delusions, they were all adamant and firm in their beliefs. Indeed, the arguments of some were so convincing that I was nearly won over, and I wondered within myself whether I had been foolish in thinking I could enter and exit as I pleased.
Some of the souls kept up an endless repetition in this wise, while the rest returned to their original agonies, saying that it was to no avail to try to instruct me as to their plight. But although I had no words with which to combat the masses, they had made so clear to me the nature of the place that I began to perceive that this was the abode of the bored and the boring, and that the more discourse I held with them the worse off I would be for it. It was thus without a word that I made my escape through the door (which was indeed of the size which I had first seen it to be).
I had now no desire but to return to the upper level which I had left, for that state seemed to me infinitely preferable to this other. But scarce was I outside the door when I nearly stumbled over the smoke-enshrouded trio which stand ever as symbols of that place which they guard, and as I was regaining my balance, my gaze met for a moment full in the face of the third. The expression which met mine in turn was one composed of I know not what; it seemed at times surprised, then scornful, then envious; but I was mostly disconcerted at the sight of the cigarette which he held, for, seeing that it was nearing its end, I took fright that he might request his next of me. And although I still had many questions as to those in the room -- their reasons for arriving and their chances for departure -- I felt it best to consider these at a safe distance, and without the aid of those on that level.
Discoursing with myself in this manner, I soon arrived whence I had left previously. Glad though I was of my escape, it seemed to me profitable to consider further that which I had escaped from, and the means by which I might in future avoid it.
It was to facilitate this end that I went in search of that liquid which turns the mill-wheels of intellect and ensures the steady flow (if not the quality) of Philosophy. Yet no sooner was I standing before the coffee machine than my hopes were dashed; for, though I had the wherewithal to obtain my desires, it was not in proper distribution. So urgent was my need for change that I turned hastily away and, in doing so, stumbled over the feet of one who stood behind me. O gentle readers! Believe me when I say that this was the figure of Allegory. There was much in her bearing which I cannot describe, but as I fell, I knew that it could only be she. Believe also that she had no change for me, and that, when I learned thus, the words came gushing forth from my lips:
"Are you my guide, who guides me not, but lets me wander without direction or constraint?"
"Only one of them," came the reply.
"And is this," I continued, scrabbling about at her feet for the money I had let drop, "is this the source of my problems; that, although I know the straight paths and the unobstructed doorways of this place, I have constructed for myself such a labyrinth of metaphors good and bad, of symbols, of intellectual turnings and twistings, and of maladroit sentence structure that the truth of my story is trapped in my telling of it?"
"Only one of them," she repeated, and -- as she stepped over me to place her coins in the machine -- she wore a smirk from which I learned as much as from her words.
Ye who are obviously of immense patience in reading these lines, be not fooled by the deceptive past-tense of my words; for my journey is not that of a mere three days, and I am not so lucky as the ancients in keeping separate my crimes from my punishments; nor indeed, in being sure of the borderlines between my Florence, my Inferno and my Paradiso.
Though early references to the Saxon reformer's concern with oral hygiene are met with in Matthias Flacius Illyricus, and though scattered mention occurs in historical works by Fabricius, G. Arnold, Mosheim, Johann Gottlieb Gottlob Gnadenstuhl and Walch the Younger, as well as in an appendix by Theodosius Harnack, serious attention to our problem came first in Gerhard Bleistift's 1897 Dorpat Habilitationsschrift Die Bedeutung Luthers für den Fortschritt des deutschen Zahnwesens. However, it was not until 1909 that Ernst Pribatsch, following the lead of Max Weber, argued in the Abhandlungen der Herzoglichen Akademie zu Chemnitz that Luther's Faustian individualism and restlessly this-worldly focus had provided Protestant Germans with the decisive impulse (Ansatz bzw. Anlass) to pioneer in the introduction of toothpaste to the European continent. J.G.H. Evans-Gillies carried this line of argument further by arguing on the basis of Puritan tract usage of the apocalyptic topos "by the breath of His mouth shall He slay them" that proto-capitalism was furthered amongst the rising middle class in the Civil War by means of producing woollen dental floss in an entrepreneurial version of the putting-out-system that served a new and primarily Low-Church market (see his Dental Floss, Enclosure Acts and the Ranters (London School of Economics Studies nø 33), London 1929).
As seems apparent, early research tended to polarize according to confessional orientation. In answer to Bleistift and Pribatsch, the Roman Catholic scholar Ildefons Rosenkranz amassed a nine-volume collection of statements by Luther tending to show a deranged obsession with oral activity on the part of the reformer. In addition, Rosenkranz claimed that Luther had bad breath (see his Oralität, Halitose und Luthertum (Stimmen aus Neuschwanstein 514-523), Schwangau 1913-27). Pribatsch and indeed the majority of the Luther Renaissance saw Rosenkranz as too gullible in assessing the authenticity of statements attributed to Luther -- though Karl Holl took a few pot shots at Pribatsch's claim in a review of a later work by the Jena ordinarius (see Bücherbericht des theologischen Mundsantitätsvereins 231 (1928)). But it remained for the French Protestant Émile Plombière to subject the Pribatsch hypothesis to withering criticism on the ground that Luther developed no systematic program of oral hygiene despite his occasional praise for oral proclamation of the Gospel (see Plombière, Essai sur les falsifications dentales chez l'école pribatschienne, Strasbourg et Neufschƒtel 1936, repr. Darmstadt 1961). Meanwhile an American scholar, Frank Houston, in his Open Wider: A Study of the Law-Gospel Hiatus in Luther's Thought on Oral Hygiene, Philadelphia 1938, claimed to find elements of truth in all positions in the controversy.
Nazi scholarship was at first divided on the issue. While Falk von Lederstreicher denounced Luther's presumed introduction of toothpaste as a Judaizing innovation that tended to denature the Volksgeist by degenerating and softening natural tooth enamels already subjected to inordinate wear due to the pressures of greedy urban life (Zahnkrem, Boden und Bekenntnis, Erlangen 1933), on the other hand Reichsunterkirchengeheimrattensuperintendential-zahnpastenbeaufträgter Otto Schmidt saw Luther's furtherance of a good habitus after meals as a further unfolding of the Augustinian teaching on grace characteristic of the Aryan peoples in their revolt against the torments of Old Testament legalism (Beruf, Gnade und fleissiger Prophylaxis, Leipzig 1936). The latter view prevailed after the eclipse of the Deutsche Christen movement. Both Nazi views received trenchant, even mordant, criticism in the numbers of the short-lived Barthian journal Zwischen den Zähnen.
The whole question lay in this confusion until Heinz-Horst Wildgrube initiated a new approach in his Die Dentifrizfrage beim jungen Luther in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 1965). Wildgrube opposed both the earlier psychological reductionism of Rosenkranz and the recent attempt of Lars Larsson to argue that extraction of the wisdom teeth precipitated a paradigmatic castration complex in the young Luther that found wide resonance in early modern society (Psychology Today, April 2, 1964, 32-43). Contending as well that research among historians of Luther's intellectual development had reached an impasse on account of a question mal posée, Wildgrube broke with previous scholars by refusing to structure his anaylsis around either Luther's so-called "upper" and "lower" estates of oral hygiene or around the place of bodily health in Luther's exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount bzw. Plain. Instead, in a work displaying masterful acquaintance with Luther's early Randbemerkungen bzw. marginalia, Wildgrube insisted that the crucial passage was an early notation in the lectures on Judith and Tobit in which the doctores sanctae scripturae are called the wisdom teeth in the corpus christianorum, thereby demonstrating both Luther's early (1499) experience of the evangelical Durchbruch and Luther's unqualified acceptance of the notion of a corpus christianorum, albeit one already at this early date understood as centered around the proclamation and teaching of Scripture as the source of the viva vox.
The most recent scholarship reveals a hot debate between Marxist and 'bourgeois' scholars. Already Engels had contended that the early modern drive toward dental hygiene was of ambivalent value in that it in part served to take the mind of the proletariat off the real source of its troubles. A group of postwar East European scholars, most notably Bedrich Hrozny and Ulrich Präzel, has gone beyond Engels to argue that all positive, non- consciousness-obfuscating advances in dental hygiene were in fact introducted by Thomas Müntzer, whose liking for the "breath of His mouth" text had hitherto gone unremarked (see esp. Präzel, Chiliasmus und Prophylaxis in dialekto-materialistischer Beleuchtung, Hepinoe“: Festgabe an Leo Stern, Berlin 1962). The fanciful use of evidence inherent in this approach has lately aroused comment (see for example Jürgen Picht, Luther und Strukturalismus, Bonn 1970).
Rather than predict the direction of future research, I have thought it best to append a short selection of Luther texts pertaining to the problem. It has seemed wise to eliminate some of the more technical early exegetical material utilized by Wildgrube's exhaustive text-critical study.