Glossary for a Future Translation of Deliberatio Supra Hymnum Trium Puerorum

Trivent Publishing, vol. III

Tezaurul scufundatThe first editor of Saint Gerard’s treatise, the bishop Batthyány, have in his edition of Deliberatio some erroneous explanations in footnotes which risk to distort the meaning of the text. In this short essay we intend to correct some of those errors and to prepare Deliberatio supra Hymnum trium puerorum (Albo-Carolinae, 1790) for a future translation.

1. “quemadmodum potentes in theoricis aiunt: Nec vero declinandum, quamlibet circulosum”1

Here, bishop Batthyány translates the ambiguous lexeme circulosum2circulosam3 as in the following: “Circulosum: id est: tortuosum [tortuous, sinuous], implexum [tangled]”4. Unfortunately, these synonyms allow the loss of precious connotations which logica vetus had provided to the Latin word circulosum. This syntagma is used by Gerard as a scholarly reference to the logical error known as circulus in probando (proving in circles, using a conclusion as the premise in an argument) or erorem circularem (the circular error) which defined for Aristotle a syllogism which uses the conclusion as a premise for the demonstration itself. This is, in fact, the origin of the expression “vicious circle” (circulosum vitiosum), which defines, in rhetoric, the error of not having an equilibrium in demonstration.

This error (dicimus circulum seu erorem circularem) is discussed by Artistotle in his treatise on logics translated by Boethius as Analytica priora seu resolutoria (see II, 57b, 18 – 59b, 1). Boethius re-opens the discussion on this “circular error” of logics in his De syllogismo categorico – a treatise which was circulated until the time of Abelard as an exemplification of the logica vetus. However, Boethius does not forget to remind to the reader that “this think is useful in the syllogisms which are made in circle, the syllogism that are discussed in the [Aristotle’s] Analytics 5.

The usage of the term ciculosum demonstrates that Gerard had already studied the curricula liberale – or art of discourse (artes sermocinales), which defined the trivium and which made from the ancient logics an important part of the medieval man teaching. Preserving this connotation, we have an important argument for the assumtion that Gerard was one of those dialecticians seduced by logica vetus, and that he was (in terms of mentality and training) on the side of the “great theoreticians” (potentes in theoricis) whom Gerard suggestively refers, and not only in this phrase, but also when he reminds to the “liberal” Isingrim in Chapter II of Deliberatio about “your theoreticians” (tuus theoricis). This context do not conduct us to the “masters of contemplation [sic]6, as Batthyány translated the syntagm potentes in theoricis, which is another erroneous translation of the bishop.

The logical concept of “circular error” was highly used in the liberal arts and it becomes to define in the post-Carolingian epoch, through the Alcuinus’ rhetoric manual De rethorica et virtutibus, the “circular & indirect argumentation” (circuitionem), having as antonym the “clear, direct argumentation” (perspicue), with the theacher’s recommendation that the rhetor must use “sometimes the clear argumentation, other times the indirect argumentation” (Aliquando perspicue, aliquando per circuitionem)7. The idea of “circularity” as synonym for a difficult, tangled argumentation is kept up until today when we see it represented in rhetoric by the circumlocution (Fr., circonlocution), a periphrastic proceeding of substitution for one difficult word with an expression.

By translating “quemadmodum potentes in theoricis aiunt: Nec vero declinandum, quamlibet circulosum” with “like the great theoreticians say: one must not give up, no matter how much one has to move on circle”, it will be better preserved the medieval interest for the Aristotelian theory of circular syllogism. Furthermore, this translation may also better show (maybe in a footnote) that Gerard had knowledge of logica vetus, just like the great medieval thinkers such as Boethius, Alcuinus (De rethorica), Abbo Floriacensis (Syllogismorum categoricorum et hypotheticorum enodatio), Garlandus Compotista (Dialectica), up until Abelard’s Dialectica – who all kept Aristotle’s syllogistic theory alive.

Concerning the phrase Nec vero declinandum, quamlibet circulosum, it should be highlighted as well that it needs no quotation marks, and it must be considered a personal thought of Saint Gerard, but which includes as reference an entire rethoric tradition.

2. “De istis pomis in canticis Ecclesia fatetur: Omnia poma nova, et vetera reservavi fratrueli meo”8

First of all, canticis is here a plural (in Ablative form) and does not refer to the singular canticum from Canticum Canticorum Salomonis, as the editor Batthyány suggests9. In our opinion, canticis does not make reference here to the Song of Solomon, but to the medieval set of church songs known as Canticis temporale et sanctorale, un antiphonarium which was spread in the (post) Carolingian epoch as a liturgical calendar, summing occasional Gregorian songs and hymns. Such a collection of hymnica pro Angelorum chorum can be found in Ms. 40047 from the State Library of Berlin, a manuscript originating10 from the beginning of the eleventh century from the Quedlinburg Abbey. On Folio 102v of this manuscript one can find the antiphon Omnia poma nova et vetera (which is also the first line of the song), with the indication that it should be sang with the choir on the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, on September 8th.

Secondly, the verse which Batthyány presumed that was integrally from the Song of Songs 7:13 (“Both new and old fruits, I have saved up for my little brother”) would lead to the conclusion that Gerard was not fully acquainted with the Sacra Scriptura (!). The verse 7:13 from the Song of Songs being in the vulgata editioomnia poma, nova et vetera dilecte mi servavi tibi (Both new and old fruits, I have saved up for you)”.

The reference to the antiphon dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the Chapter II of Deliberatio can be an important clue for dating this chapter. Its writing should be placed around the date of September 8th (1044), an important date in the calendar of a community which had just decreed Hungary as the Kingdom of the Holy Virgin (Regnum Marianum). This is the day in which the liturgical calendar of Quedlinburg (XIth century) recommendes11 to be sung hymns dedicated to Virgin Mary – among them being the one which refers to the “fruits” of the New and the Old Testament, to which the versepoma nova et vetera” of the Song of Solomon symbolically makes reference.

It should be highlighted that the biblical syntagma poma nova et vetera” reappears in the last paragraph of Gerard’s treatise, where, in fact, the entire verse from the Song of Songs reappears: “Omnia poma nova, et vetera dilecte mi servavi tibi12. Its appearance may certify that Gerard knew the Sacra Scriptura and that he come to prepare the Virgin birth celebration in another year, mybe in the year of Gerard’s martyrdom, around September 24th 1046. This supports the idea (already known by exegets) that Deliberatio remained unfinished at Chapter 8, as well that Gerard wrote up until so close to the date of his death.

For future translations of the phrase “De istis pomis in canticis Ecclesia fatetur: Omnia poma nova, et vetera reservavi fratrueli meo”, I recommend the following translations: “The Church talks about these fruits: in all new and old fruits, from the Songs, which I dedicate to my little brother.” In this construction, fratrueli makes hints to Isingrim, himself a yunger Benedictine monk, but also to “the friends who make me hear your voice” from the Biblical text, with reference to the friends of the Virgin who “lives in the garden.”13. It should be noted however that reservavi (1st person singular, indicative) is not servavi (I keep) from the Biblical text, but “I dedicated,” indicating here that Gerard dedicates to his younger brother and friend Isingrim the song of the antiphon which he was in the process of preparing for the Episcopal liturgy of the Holy Saturday. It should also be highlighted that this cantum had been recently introduced to the twelfth-century antiphonarium ophicii and it did not exist in the tenth-century codex hymnologicus from Saint Gallen.

In this light, the dates of September 8th 1044 and September 8th 1046, pointed out by the annul hymnology, become benchmarks for dating the treatise of Saint Gerard. Consequently, this is as well the reason for highlighting the importance of the translation of this phrase, which does not belong to the Song of Songs but to the codex of hymns with fixed days to be sung.

3. „Non ignoro linguam frequenter reverberatam theologorum, atque maxima necessitate pro rosis in eloquiis ignitis Dei uti saliuncis, quemadmodum in contemplationibus iudicii mundi valde astrictus perhibetur, ubi partem vasorum Dei leniter affatim tetigit”14

The difficulty in this phrase is given by “saliuncis/saliunca”, an antique glosseme which remained until today a large question mark for philologists. Herba saulica appear in all modern botanical dictionaries as “Nardus celtica,” with its definition taken from Theatrum botanicum,15 or from Dictionarium botanicum.16 However, in Gerard’s text, herba saulica has a completely different meaning, thus not referring to the herb known as valerian (as herba saulica appears translated in the philological dictionaries, including the Latin-French one, Gaffiot, 1934). But before understating the meaning of the medieval term saliunca, the history of this lexeme should have a short excursus. Just like Bishop Batthyány also shows, saliunca is mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Historia Naturalis, XXI, 7, as a fragrant plant which was “rather a herb than a flower” (herba verius quam flos). It should be highlighted here that Batthyány distorts a bit Pliny’s classification writing that saliunca was “rather a herb than a tree” (herba potius, quam arbor)17. As Plinynoted, the plant mostly grew in Pannonia, a detail which makes the editor Batthyány to say, filled with pride, that this is “proof that Saint Gerard wrote his book in Hungary, in the areas of Cenad, where the saliuca abounds”.

However, the one who assimilated the saliunca with the valerian was Dioscorides (De materia medica, I, 7), who equalled the saliunca (here, αλιούγγια) with nardus celtica (κελτικέ νάρδος). If for Pliny, saliunca was used as a natural perfume for clothes, for Dioscorides his aliungia was a remedy for nausea – thus a large question mark was placed between the similarities of the two.

Everything becomes more complicated with Virgil. In his Bucolicon liber, V, 17, he equalled the “humble saliunca” (humilis saliunca) with the “garden of red roses” (Puniceis rosetis – where rosetum is in fact “garden of roses,” not a simply “rose”): “…as far as the humble saliunca is from the garden of red (Carthaginian) roses…” It is interesting that Gerard keep this comparative context, between the saliunca and the rose, highlighted in his case by the conjunction atque, which usually introduces a comparison. However, the passage in Gerard’s text cannot be a direct link to Virgil – it is rather a locus communis from the medieval paremiology, which fixed the virgilian comparison between the humble saliunca and the wondrous garden of red roses (Puniceis rosetis).

In any case, this is where the medieval understanding of the Latin saliunca should be found. In the monastic environment, the lexeme used to mean “torn”, as direct reference to Isaiah 55:13, the verse which Saint Jerome translated as “Instead of the thorn bush (saliunca) the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle (urtica), the myrtle will come up (Pro saliunca ascendet abies et pro urtica crescet myrtus)”. By equalling the Hebrew ha-Naatzutz with the Latin saliunca, Saint Jerome clarified for ever the meaning of the Latin word saliunca as “thorn, briar”. This is the plant which allowed the glossers of Isaiah to make a comparison between the unfaithful man with a land covered by thorn bush and nettle, and the faithful man with the land covered with myrtle and cypress, as the Garden of Eden is.

Altogether, this would also be the meaning in Gerard’s phrase, quoted above, which may be translated as: “I know well that the language of the theologians often reflects something. Just like the ardent words of God need to be treated just like roses, in the same way does the one without knowledge must be touched with thorns in order to be on the side of God’s vessels.”

1 Sancti Gerardi Episcopi Chanadiensis Scripta et acta hactenus inedita, cum Serie Episcoporvm Chanadiensivm, Opera, et studio Ignatii Comitis de Batthyan, Episcopi Transylvaniae, Albo-Carolinae (Typis Episcopalibus, 1790), 1-2: “but as the great theologians say: one must not give up, regardless of how much one has to circle around.” (henceforth: Batthyány).

2 Ibidem, 2.

3 Ibid., 64.

4 Ibid., 2, footnote 1.

5Hoc tamen prodest ad ostensionem syllogismorum quae fit in circulo, quam in Analyticis diximus”, Boethius, De syllogismo categorico, II [811D], in MPL 64, col. 812a.

6 Batthyány, 24, footnote a.

7 Alcuinus, De rethorica et virtutibus, 21, in MPL 101, col. 930d.

8 Batthyány, 26: “The Church talks about these fruits in All the New and Old Fruits, from the Songs, which I dedicate to my little brother.”

9 Ibidem, footnote a.

10 On the dating, see: H. Möller, Das Quedlinburger Antiphonar…, vol. I: Untersuchungen, (Tutzing, H. Schneider 1990), 32-38.

11 See idem vol. III: Fotografische Wiedergabe, fol. 101r-103v.

12 Batthyány, 297.

13 C.C., 8, 13

14I know well that the language of the theologians often reflects something. Just like the ardent words of God need to be treated just like roses, in the same way does the one without knowledge must be touched with thorns in order to be on the side of God’s vessels,” Batthyány, 10.

15 J. Parkinson, Theatrum botanicum (London, 1640), 118.

16 R. Bradley, Dictionarium botanicum, vol. II (London, 1728), f.p.

17 Batthyány, 10, footnote n.


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