Chapter 2.13

<Quāle cōnsilium īdem cum prīmātibus suīs dē percipiendā fide Chrīstī habuerit, et ut pontifex eius suās ārās prōfānāverit>

[1] Quibus audītis, rēx suscipere quidem sē fidem, quam docēbat, et velle et dēbēre respondēbat. [2] Vērum adhūc cum amīcīs prīncipibus et cōnsiliāriīs suīs sēsē dē hōc conlātūrum esse dīcēbat, ut, sī et illī eadem cum illō sentīre vellent, omnēs pariter in fonte vītae Christō cōnsecrārentur. [3] Et adnuente Paulīnō, fēcit, ut dīxerat. [4] Habitō enim cum sapientibus cōnsiliō, sciscitābātur singillātim ab omnibus, quālis sibi doctrīna haec eātenus inaudīta, et novus dīvīnitātis, quī praedicābātur, cultus vidērētur.

[5] Cui prīmus pontificum ipsīus Coifi continuō respondit: ‘Tū vidē, rēx, quāle sit hoc, quod nōbīs modo praedicātur; ego autem tibi vērissimē, quod certum didicī, profiteor, quia nihil omnīnō virtūtis habet, nihil ūtilitātis religiō illa, quam hucusque tenuimus. [6] Nūllus enim tuōrum studiōsius quam ego cultūrae deōrum nostrōrum sē subdidit; et nihilominus multī sunt, quī ampliōra ā tē beneficia quam ego et maiōrēs accipiunt dignitātēs, magisque prosperantur in omnibus, quae agenda vel adquīrenda dispōnunt. [7] Sī autem diī aliquid valērent, mē potius iuvāre vellent, quī illīs impēnsius servīre cūrāvī. [8] Unde restat ut, sī ea quae nunc nōbīs nova praedicantur, meliōra esse et fortiōra habitā exāminātiōne perspexeris, absque ūllō cūnctāmine suscipere illa festīnēmus.’

[9] Cuius suāsiōnī verbīsque prūdentibus alius optimātum rēgis tribuēns assēnsum continuō subdidit: ‘Tālis,’ inquiēns, ‘mihi vidētur, rēx, vīta hominum praesēns in terrīs, ad comparātiōnem eius quod nōbīs incertum est temporis, quāle cum tē residente ad caenam cum ducibus ac ministrīs tuīs tempore brūmālī, accēnsō quidem focō in mediō et calidō effectō cēnāculō, furentibus autem foris per omnia turbinibus hiemālium pluviārum vel nivium, adveniēns ūnus passerum domum citissimē pervolāverit. [10] Quī, cum per ūnum ōstium ingrediēns mox per aliud exierit, ipsō quidem tempore quō intus est hiemis tempestāte nōn tangitur, sed tamen parvissimō spatiō serēnitātis ad mōmentum excursō, mox dē hieme in hiemem regrediēns tuīs oculīs ēlābitur. [11] Ita haec vīta hominum ad modicum apparet; quid autem sequātur, quidve praecesserit, prōrsus ignōrāmus. [12] Vnde, sī haec nova doctrīna certius aliquid attulit, meritō esse sequenda vidētur.’ [13] Hīs similia et cēterī maiōrēs nātū ac rēgis cōnsiliāriī dīvīnitus admonitī prōsequēbantur.

[14] Adiēcit autem Coifi, quia vellet ipsum Paulīnum dīligentius audīre dē Deō quem praedicābat verbum facientem. [15] Quod cum iubente rēge faceret, exclāmāvit audītīs eius sermōnibus dīcēns: ‘Iam ōlim intellēxeram nihil esse, quod colēbāmus; quia vidēlicet quantō studiōsius in eō cultū vēritātem quaerēbam, tantō minus inveniēbam. [16] Nunc autem aperte profiteor, quia in hāc praedicātiōne vēritās clāret illa, quae nōbīs vītae salūtis et beātitūdinis aeternae dōna valet tribuere. [17] Vnde suggerō, rēx, ut templa et altāria, quae sine frūctū ūtilitātis sacrāvimus, ōcius anathēmatī et ignī contrādāmus.’ [18] Quid plūra? [19] praebuit palam adsēnsum ēvangelīzantī beātō Paulīnō rēx, et abrenūntiātā idolatriā fidem sē Christī suscipere cōnfessus est. [20] Cumque ā praefātō pontifice sacrōrum suōrum quaereret, quis ārās et fāna īdōlōrum cum sēptīs quibus erant circumdata prīmus prōfānāre dēbēret, ille respondit: ‘Ego. Quis enim ea, quae per stultitiam coluī, nunc ad exemplum omnium aptius quam ipse per sapientiam mihi ā Deō vērō dōnātam dēstruam?’ [21] Statimque, abiectā superstitiōne vānitātis, rogāvit sibi rēgem arma dare et equum ēmissārium, quem ascendēns ad īdōla dēstruenda venīret. [22] Nōn enim licuerat pontificem sacrōrum vel arma ferre vel praeter in equā equitāre. [23] Accīnctus ergō gladiō accēpit lanceam in manū, et ascendēns ēmissārium rēgis pergēbat ad īdōla. [24] Quod aspiciēns vulgus aestimābat eum īnsānīre. [25] Nec distulit ille, mox ut adpropiābat ad fānum, prōfānāre illud, iniectā in eō lanceā quam tenēbat; multumque gāvīsus dē agnitiōne vērī Deī cultūs, iussit sociīs dēstruere ac succendere fānum cum omnibus sēptīs suīs. [26] Ostenditur autem locus ille quondam īdōlōrum nōn longē ab Eburācō ad orientem ultrā amnem Doruventiōnem, et vocātur hodiē Godmunddingaham, ubi pontifex ipse īnspīrante Deō vērō polluit ac dēstrūxit eās, quās ipse sacrāverat, ārās.

EDWIN CALLS A COUNCIL TO DISCUSS ADOPTING THE NEW FAITH

(1) rēx ... respondēbat: rearrange as rēx respondēbat sē quidem et velle et debēre suscipere fidem quam docēbat. The word order emphasizes the key point, conversion (suscipere). Notice the use of the imperfect tense: Edwin is taking his time making a decision.

(2) Vērum adhūc: “but still”

cum amīcīs ... dīcēbat: rearrange as dīcēbat sēsē conlātūrum esse cum amīcīs et cōnsiliāriīs suīs dē hōc.

et illī: “they too”

eadem cum illō sentīre: “to hold the same beliefs with (as) him”

(4) sciscitābātur ... quālis ... vidērētur: indirect question

quālis: “what sort,” goes with doctrīna and cultus.

doctrīna haec eātenus inaudīta: “this previously unknown doctrine” (literally, “this docrtrine up to this point unheard”)

COIFĪ, THE CHIEF PAGAN PRIEST, MAKES THE CASE FOR CHRISTIANITY

Coifi, the pagan chief priest, makes a utilitarian argument: no one has honored the old gods as much as he has, and little benefit has he gained from it. The new religion should be followed if it is found to bring more benefits.

(5) prīmus pontificum: partitive genitive: “first of his priests”

Coifī: nominative

modo: “now”

quod certum didicī, profiteor, quia: “I confess that I have learned for a fact that…”

hūcūsque: “up to now”

(6) Nūllus: = nēmo

tuōrum: “of your subjects”

studiōsius: comparative adverb: “more studiously”

sē subdidit: “has subjected (or, devoted) himself” (> subdo)

quae agenda ... disponunt: “which they undertake either to do or to acquire”

(7) inpēnsius: comparative adverb: “more unstintingly” (than others)

(8) sī ea ... perspexeris: ea is the direct object of perspexeris, 2 sing. fut. pf. active indicative > perspicio. Future more vivid condition, (AG 516.c) with horatatory subjunctive in the apodosis (515.a) “if you perceive these things … let us make haste.”

habitā exāminātiōne: ablative absolute: “once there’s been an inquiry”

THE SIMILE OF THE SPARROW

This section includes a famous simile, comparing human life to the flight of a sparrow through the king's hall. An Anglo-Saxon hall, believed to be that of King Edwin, was excavated at Yeavering, Northumbria, in the 1950s. A computer-generated reconstruction of the Great Hall (with a fly-through by a sparrow), created by Oxford Arch Digital for the website Past Perfect, can be seen in the media tab.

(9) Cuius: i.e., of Coifī

suāsiōnī: with tribuēns assēnsum: “assenting to the persuasive speech…”

alius optimātum rēgis: “another of the king’s best men”

Tālis ... quāle: introducing a simile. The main structure of the sentence is: Tālis vīta vidētur mihi quāle cum ūnus passerum pervolāverit domum: “this life seems to me like when a sparrow flies through the house” (see articulated text).

ad comparātiōnem ... temporis: ad comparātiōnem + genitive: “in comparison with”: eius temporis refers to the afterlife, which is
“uncertain.”

tē residente: ablative absolute

ad caenam: ad cenam; ad, here, means “at”

tempore brūmālī: ablative of time when

accēnsō quidem focō … calidō effectō caenaculō, furentibus … turbinibus: ablatives absolute

ūnus passerum: “a lone sparrow” (Garforth)

(10) Quī cum ... ingrediēns: “who, while entering…”

parvissimō spatiō serēnitātis ad mōmentum excursō: parvissimō spatiō excursō is an ablative absolute (“when the briefest space has run out”); serēnitātis either goes with spatiō (“space of peace”) or with ad mōmentum (“after a moment of peace”). In translation, it’s probably best to simplify: “after the briefest moment of peace has run out” (literally, “when the briefest space of peace has run out after a moment”)

(11) ad modicum: “for a brief time”

quid autem sequātur … praecesserit … ignōrāmus: indirect question

autem: adversative (“but”)

(13) maiōrēs nātū: “older,” “more senior”

dīvīnitus admonitī: “divinely inspired”

prōsequēbantur: “proceeded to say” (Garforth)

COIFĪ DESTROYS THE PAGAN ALTARS

(14) quia: “that,” introducing indirect discourse in the subjunctive.

verbum facientem: agrees with ipsum Paulīnum, and fills out the meaning of audīre: “to hear Paulinus speaking.”

(15) iubente rēge: ablative absolute: “at the king’s command”

exclāmāvit: the subject is Coifī

colēbāmus: colere, here, means “worship”

quia vidēlicet: “no doubt because”

quantō ... tantō minus: correlatives: “the more ... the less …”

(16) profiteor, quia: quia, here, means “that,” introducing indirect discourse

quae ... tribuere: the antecedent of quae is vēritās; rearrange as: [illa vēritās] quae valet tribuere nōbīs dōna vītae, salūtis, et beātūdinis aeternae.

(17) suggerō ... ut: “I suggest that ….”

ōcius: “without delay” (> ōcior)

anathēmatī: “curse, excommunication” (DMLBS, anathema c).

contradāmus: “deliver, consign” (DMLBS, contradere)

(19) ēvangelīzantī beātō Paulīnō: literally, “to the evangelizing blessed Paulinus.” Colgrave-Mynors translates praebuit ... adsēnsum ēvangelīzantī beātō Paulīnō as “accepted the gospel which Paulinus preached.”

(20) praefātō pontifice: i.e., Coifī

quaereret: the subject is Edwin

quis … dēbēret: indirect question, introduced by quaereret

sēptīs: = saeptīs; saepta are “enclosures”

quis … aptius quam ipse: “who more fittingly than I myself?”

dēstruam: the subjunctive is deliberative (AG 444); for dēstruam (which is first person through atrraction to coluī) read dēstruat: “who could destroy…”

ad exemplum omnium: “as an example for everyone”: the genitive is objective (AG 348).

(21) superstitiōne vānitātis: “superstition of vanity” can be translated as “vain superstition” (see the introductory notes on Bede’s Latin §A.1.2).

equum ēmissārium: “stallion” (DMLBS, ēmissārius 2)

(22) praeter in equā: “except on a mare.” Evidently it wasn’t permitted for a pagan priest to carry arms or ride a horse other than a mare.

(23) ēmissārium: stallion

(25) mox ut: “as soon as”

multumque gāvīsus: “and rejoicing much (greatly)”

iussit sociīs: iubēre + dative object: “he ordered his companions”

(26) Ostenditur: “can be seen”

locus ille quondam: “that former place”

Eburācō: Eburācum is York

ad orientem: “to the east”

amnem Doruventiōnem: the River Derwent

Godmunddingaham: Goodmanham

eās, quās ipse sacrāverat, ārās: echoes Vergil, Aeneid 2.501–502: vīdī Hecubam centumque nurūs Priamumque per ārās / sanguine foedāntem quōs ipse sacrāverat ignēs.

NOTE: Lemmatization of Anglo-Saxon Names
—: declined forms unattested
[ ]: nominative forms unattested (back-formed for purposes of lemmatization)
*: form unattested but hypothesized based on existing patterns


amīcus amīcī m.: male friend

cōnsiliārius –ī m.: counsellor, advisor

pariter: alike

Christus –ī m.: Christ

cōnsecrō cōnsecrāre cōnsecrāvī cōnsecrātus: to consecrate

adnuō –ere –nuī (ūtus –rare): to nod to; with dat.

Paulīnus –ī m.: Paulinus, Bishop of York, 625-633; bishop of Rochester, 633-644

habitus habitūs m.: garment, attire; way of life

scīscitor –scīscitārī : to examine, interrogate

singillātim or singulātim: one by one, individually

doctrīna –ae f.: teaching, doctrine

eātenus: so far

inaudītus –a –um: unheard, unheard of

dīvīnitās –tātis f.: divinity

praedicō –āre –āvī –ātum: to preach

cultus cultūs m.: religious observance, worship

pontifex pontificis m.: priest

Coifi — m.: Coifi, Pagan priest at the court of Edwin 2 of Northumbria

continuō: immediately

praedicō praedicāre praedicāvī praedicātus: to proclaim

profiteor profitērī professus sum: to confess

omnīnō: entirely

ūtilitās ūtilitātis f.: usefulness

religiō religiōnis f.: religion

hūcūsque: up to this point, thus far

studiōsus –a –um: eager

cultus cultūs m.: religious observance, worship

subdō –ere –didī –ditus: to put under; place or fasten under

nihilōminus: nevertheless

maior māius: bigger

prosperō –āre: prosper, cause to succeed, make happy

adquīrō –ere –quīsīvī –quīsītus: to seek in addition

dispōnō dispōnere dispōsuī dispōsitus: to place, arrange, distribute

potius: rather, more

impēnsus –a –um: ample

restō restāre restitī: to resist

praedicō praedicāre praedicāvī praedicātus: to proclaim

melior melius: better

exāminātiō –iōnis f.: weighing, testing, trial, examination

perspiciō perspicere perspexī perspectus: to see through

cūnctāmen –inis n.: delay, hesitation

festīnō festīnāre festīnāvī festīnātus: to hurry

suāsiō –iōnis f.: suggestion, recommendation, advice

prūdēns: prudent

optimās –ātis: of the best or noblest

tribuō tribuere tribuī tribūtus: to assign

adsēnsus –ūs m.: an assenting; answering sound

continuō: immediately

subdō –ere –didī –ditus: to put under; place or fasten under

comparātiō comparātiōnis f.: comparison

incertus –a –um: uncertain

resideō residēre resēdī ressus: to remain

cēna cēnae f.: dinner

minister ministrī m.: attendant, servant

brūmālis –e: wintry

accendō accendere accendī accēnsus: to kindle, set on fire

focus –ī m.: fireplace

calidus –a –um: warm, hot

effectus –ūs m.: action; effect

cēnāculum –ī n. : upper room

furō furere: to rage, be mad

forīs: out of doors outside

turbō turbinis f.: whirlwind

hiemālis –e: of or belonging to winter, wintry

pluvius –a –um: rainy, bringing rain

nix nivis f.: snow

passer passeris m.: sparrow

cieō –ēre –cīvī –citus: to cause

pervolō pervolāre pervolāvī pervolātus: to fly through or over

ōstium ōsti(ī) n.: door

intus: within, inside

serēnitās –ātis f.: clearness, serenity, fair weather

mōmentum –ī n.: weight, importance

excurrō –currere –(cu)currī –cursum: to run out, hasten forwards

regredior regredī regressus sum: to go back, return

ēlābor elabī elapsus: to slip away

modicus modica modicum: moderate, modest, temperate

quid: what; why

quid: what; why

praecēdō –ere –cessī –cessus: to go before

prōrsus: forwards; straightway

īgnōrō īgnōrāre īgnōrāvī īgnōrātus: to not know; ignore

doctrīna –ae f.: teaching, doctrine

meritō: deservedly

videor vidērī vīsus sum: to seem; be seen

maior māius: bigger

nātus –ūs m.: birth, age (used only in the abl.)

cōnsiliārius –ī m.: counsellor, advisor

dīvīnitus: by a god, by inspiration

admoneō admonēre admonuī admonitus: to admonish, remind

prōsequor prōsequī prōsecūtus sum: to follow

adiciō adicere adiēcī adiectus: to throw to

Coifi — m.: Coifi, Pagan priest at the court of Edwin 2 of Northumbria

Paulīnus –ī m.: Paulinus, Bishop of York, 625-633; bishop of Rochester, 633-644

dīligēns: careful

praedicō –āre –āvī –ātum: to preach

quod: the fact that

exclāmō exclāmāre exclāmāvī exclāmātus: to exclaim

quod: the fact that

vidēlicet: clearly

studiōsus –a –um: eager

cultus cultūs m.: religious observance, worship

vēritās vēritātis f.: truth

tantō: by so much

apertē: frankly, openly

profiteor profitērī professus sum: to confess

praedicātiō –ōnis f.: teaching; sermon

vēritās vēritātis f.: truth

clāreō clārēre — —: to be bright, shine

beātitūdō –inis f.: felicity, blissfulness

tribuō tribuere tribuī tribūtus: to assign

suggerō –ere –gessī –gestus: to bring or put under or up to; supply

altāria –ium n.: the upper part of an altar; a high altar

ūtilitās ūtilitātis f.: usefulness

sacrō sacrāre sacrāvī sacrātus: to consecrate

ōcior –ius: swifter

anathema –tis n.: offering; excommunication

contrādō –dere –didi –ditum: to deliver together or wholly

palam: openly

adsēnsus –ūs m.: an assenting; answering sound

ēvangelizō –āre –āvī –ātum: to evangelize, preach the Gospel

Paulīnus –ī m.: Paulinus, Bishop of York, 625-633; bishop of Rochester, 633-644

abrenūntiō –āre –āvī –ātum: to renounce

īdō(lo)latria –ae f.: idolatry, idol-worship, paganism

Christus –ī m.: Christ

cumque: whenever, always

praefor –fātus sum: to say beforehand; praefātus: aforementioned

pontifex pontificis m.: priest

sacrum sacrī n.: a holy thing, (religious) rite

fānum –ī n.: temple

īdōlum or īdōlon –ī n.: an idol; ghost

saeptum –ī n : enclosure, boundary; defined geographical area, precinct

circumdō circumdare circumdedī circumdatus: to surround

profānō –āre –āvī –ātum : to profane

stultitia –ae f.: stupidity

dēstruō –ere –strūxī –strūctus: to destroy

abiciō abicere abiēcī abiectum: to throw down/away

superstitiō –ōnis f.: religious awe; superstition

vānitās –ātis f.: absence of purpose

ēmissārius –iī: emissary

īdōlum or īdōlon –ī n.: an idol; ghost

dēstruō –ere –strūxī –strūctus: to destroy

pontifex pontificis m.: priest

sacrum sacrī n.: a holy thing, (religious) rite

equa equae f.: mare

equitō equitāre equitāvī equitātus: to be a horseman; to ride

accingō –ere –cīnxī –cīnctus: to gird on

lancea –ae f.: lance

ēmissārius –iī: emissary

īdōlum or īdōlon –ī n.: an idol; ghost

quod: the fact that

aestimō aestimāre aestimāvī aestimātus: to appraise

īnsāniō īnsānīre īnsānīvī īnsānītum: to be mad, insane

apprōpriō –āre: to make one's own, to appropriate

fānum –ī n.: temple

profānō –āre –āvī –ātum : to profane

iniectus –a –um: thrown

lancea –ae f.: lance

multum: much, a lot

āgnitiō –ōnis f.: recognition

cultus cultūs m.: religious observance, worship

socius –iī m.: ally, comrade

dēstruō –ere –strūxī –strūctus: to destroy

succendō –ere –cendī –cēnsus: to set on fire from beneath; (fig.)

fānum –ī n.: temple

saeptum –ī n : enclosure, boundary; defined geographical area, precinct

īdōlum or īdōlon –ī n.: an idol; ghost

Eburācum or Eborācum –ī n.: York

Oriēns –entis m.: rising; east

Doruventiō –ōnis f.: the river Derwent

Godmunddingaham: Goodmanham, Yorkshire

pontifex pontificis m.: priest

īnspīrō īnspīrāre īnspīrāvī īnspīrātus: to breathe into; inspire

polluō –ere –uī –ūtus: to soil

dēstruō –ere –strūxī –strūctus: to destroy

sacrō sacrāre sacrāvī sacrātus: to consecrate

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