Chapter 4.24

<Quod in monastēriō eius fuerit frāter, cui dōnum canendī sit dīvīnitus concessum>

[1] In huius monastēriō abbātissae fuit frāter quīdam dīvīnā grātiā speciāliter īnsignis, quia carmina religiōnī et pietātī apta facere solēbat, ita ut, quicquid ex dīvīnīs litterīs per interpretēs disceret, hoc ipse post pusillum verbīs poēticīs maxima suāvitāte et compūnctiōne compositīs in suā, id est Anglōrum, linguā prōferret. [2] Cuius carminibus multōrum saepe animī ad contemptum saeculī et appetītum sunt vītae caelestis accēnsī. [3] Et quidem et aliī post illum in gente Anglōrum religiōsa poēmata facere temtābant, sed nūllus eum aequiparāre potuit. [4] Namque ipse nōn ab hominibus neque per hominem īnstitūtus canendī artem didicit, sed dīvīnitus adiūtus grātīs canendī dōnum accēpit. [5] Unde nīl umquam frīvolī et supervacuī poēmatis facere potuit, sed ea tantummodo quae ad religiōnem pertinent religiōsam eius linguam decēbant. [6] Siquidem in habitū saeculārī usque ad tempora prōvectiōris aetātis cōnstitūtus, nīl carminum aliquandō didicerat. [7] Unde nōnnumquam in convīviō, cum esset laetitiae causā dēcrētum ut omnēs per ōrdinem cantāre dēbērent, ille, ubi adpropinquāre sibi citharam cernēbat, surgēbat ā mediā cēnā et ēgressus ad suam domum repedābat.

[8] Quod dum tempore quōdam faceret, et relictā domū convīviī ēgressus esset ad stabula iūmentōrum, quōrum eī cūstōdia nocte illā erat dēlēgāta, ibique hōrā competentī membra dedisset sopōrī, adstitit eī quīdam per somnium, eumque salūtāns ac suō appellāns nōmine: ‘Caedmōn,’ inquit, ‘cantā mihi aliquid.’ [9] At ille respondēns: ‘Nesciō,’ inquit, ‘cantāre; nam et ideō dē convīviō ēgressus hūc sēcessī, quia cantāre nōn poteram.’ [10] Rūrsum ille quī cum eō loquēbātur, ‘Attamen,’ ait, ‘mihi cantāre habēs.’ [11] ‘Quid,’ inquit, ‘dēbeō cantāre?’ [12] Et ille, ‘Canta,’ inquit, ‘prīncipium creātūrārum.’ [13] Quō acceptō respōnsō statim ipse coepit cantāre in laudem Deī conditōris versūs quōs numquam audierat, quōrum iste est sēnsūs: ‘Nunc laudāre dēbēmus auctōrem rēgnī caelestis, potentiam creātōris et cōnsilium illīus, facta patris glōriae. [14] Quōmodo ille, cum sit aeternus Deus, omnium mīrāculōrum auctor extitit, quī prīmō fīliīs hominum caelum prō culmine tēctī, dehinc terram cūstōs hūmānī generis omnipotēns creāvit.’ [15] Hic est sēnsūs, nōn autem ōrdō ipse verbōrum, quae dormiēns ille canēbat; neque enim possunt carmina, quamvīs optimē composita, ex aliā in aliam linguam ad verbum sine dētrīmentō suī decōris ac dignitātis trānsferrī. [16] Exsurgēns autem ā somnō, cūncta quae dormiēns cantāverat memoriter retinuit, et eīs mox plūra in eundem modum verba Deō dignī carminis adiūnxit.

[17] Veniēnsque māne ad vīlicum quī sibi praeerat, quid dōnī percēpisset indicāvit, atque ad abbātissam perductus iussus est, multīs doctiōribus virīs praesentibus, indicāre somnium et dīcere carmen, ut universōrum iūdiciō quid vel unde esset quod referēbat probārētur. [18] Vīsumque est omnibus caelestem eī ā Dominō concessam esse grātiam. [19] Expōnēbantque illī quendam sacrae historiae sīve doctrīnae sermōnem, praecipientēs eum, sī posset, hunc in modulātiōnem carminis trānsferre. [20] At ille susceptō negōtiō abiit, et māne rediēns optimō carmine quod iubēbātur compositum reddidit. [21] Vnde mox abbātissa amplexāta grātiam Deī in virō, saeculārem illum habitum relinquere et monachicum suscipere prōpositum docuit; susceptumque in monastērium cum omnibus suīs frātrum cohortī adsociāvit iussitque illum seriem sacrae historiae docērī.

[22] At ipse cūncta quae audiendō discere poterat, rememorandō sēcum et quasi mundum animal rūminandō in carmen dulcissimum convertēbat, suāviusque resonandō doctōrēs suōs vicissim audītōrēs suī faciēbat. [23] Canēbat autem dē creātiōne mundī et orīgine hūmānī generis et tōtā Genesis historiā, dē ēgressū Israel ex Aegyptō et ingressū in terram reprōmissiōnis, dē aliīs plūrimīs sacrae scrīptūrae historiīs, dē incarnātiōne dominicā, passiōne, resurrēctiōne, et ascēnsiōne in caelum, dē spiritūs sānctī adventū et apostolōrum doctrīnā. [24] Item dē terrōre futūrī iūdiciī et horrōre poenae gehennālis ac dulcēdine rēgnī caelestis multa carmina faciēbat, sed et alia perplūra dē beneficiīs et iūdiciīs dīvīnīs in quibus cūnctīs hominēs ab amōre scelerum abstrahere ad dīlēctiōnem vērō et sōllertiam bonae āctiōnis excitāre cūrābat. [25] Erat enim vir multum religiōsus et rēgulāribus disciplīnīs humiliter subditus; adversum vērō illōs quī aliter facere volēbant zēlō magnī fervōris accēnsus; unde et pulchrō vītam suam fīne conclūsit.

[26] Nam propinquante hōrā suī dēcessūs, XIIII diēbus praeveniente corporeā īnfirmitāte pressus est, adeō tamen moderātē ut et loquī tōtō eō tempore posset et ingredī. [27] Erat autem in proximō casa in quā īnfirmiōrēs et quī prope moriturī esse vidēbantur indūcī solēbant. [28] Rogāvit ergō ministrum suum vesperē incumbente, nocte quā dē saeculō erat exitūrus, ut in eā sibi locum quiēscendī praeparāret; quī mīrātus cūr hoc rogāret, quī nēquāquam adhūc moritūrus esse vidēbātur, fēcit tamen quod dīxerat. [29] Cumque, ibīdem positī, vicissim aliquā gaudente animō ūna cum eīs quī ibīdem ante inerant loquerentur ac iocārentur, et iam mediae noctis tempus esset trānscēnsum, interrogāvit sī eucharistiam intus habērent. [30] Respondēbant: ‘Quid opus est eucharistiā? Neque enim mōrī adhūc habēs quī tam hilariter nōbīscum velut sospes loqueris.’ [31] Rūrsus ille: ‘Et tamen,’ ait, ‘afferte mihi eucharistiam.’ [32] Quā acceptā in manū interrogāvit sī omnēs placidum ergā sē animum et sine querēlā contrōversiae ac rancōris habērent. [33] Respondēbant omnēs placidissimam sē mentem ad illum et ab omnī īrā remōtam habēre, eumque vicissim rogābant placidam ergā ipsōs mentem habēre. [34] Quī cōnfestim respondit: ‘Placidam ego mentem, fīliolī, ergā omnēs Deī famulōs gerō.’ [35] Sīcque sē caelestī mūniēns viāticō vītae alterīus ingressuī parāvit; et interrogāvit quam prope esset hōra quā frātrēs ad dīcendās Dominō laudēs nocturnās excitārī dēbērent. [36] Respondēbant: ‘Nōn longē est.’ [37] At ille: ‘Bene, ergō exspectēmus hōram illam.’ [38] Et signāns sē signō sānctae crucis reclīnāvit caput ad cervical, modīcumque obdormiēns ita cum silentiō vītam fīnīvit. [39] Sīcque factum est ut, quōmodo simplicī ac pūrā mente tranquillāque dēvōtiōne Dominō servierat, ita etiam tranquillā morte mundum relinquēns ad eius vīsiōnem venīret, illaque lingua, quae tot salūtāria verba in laudem conditōris composuerat, ultima quoque verba in laudem ipsīus, signandō sēsē et spīritum suum in manūs eius commendandō, clauderet; quī etiam praescius suī obitūs extitisse ex hīs quae nārrāvimus vidētur.

CAEDMON LEAVES THE FEAST

Caedmon, a herdsman in the abbey of Streanaeshalch (Whitby), is the first named poet to have written in the English vernacular. Although Bede himself gives Caedmon's Hymn only in a Latin prose version, the original Anglo-Saxon version is preserved in several medieval manuscripts, including two eighth-century manuscripts—the Moore MS. in Cambridge (M) and the Leningrad Bede in St. Petersburg (L). You can see Caedmon's Hymn at the bottom of the page in the Leningrad Bede here, and listen to it in the LibriVox recording.

(1) in huius monastēriō abbātissae: Streanaeshalch (Whitby); huius abbātissae refers to Hild.

dīvīnā grātiā: ablative of specification, or respect (AG 418) with īnsignis

post pusillum: “after a very short time,” “quickly”

poēticīs maximā … compositīs: poēticīs conpositīs is ablative of means; maximā suāvitāte et conpūnctiōne are ablatives of description: “of the greatest sweetness and (religious) feeling.” For compūnctiō = “religious feeling” inspired by music, see TLL, compūnctiō 3.0.2171.79–83.

(2) Cuius … accēnsī: re-order: cuius [i.e., eius, referring to Caedmon] carminbus animī multōrum saepe accēnsī sunt ad contemptum saeculī et appetītum vītae caelestis.

(3) Et quidem et aliī: “And others also, to be sure …” a concession looking forward to sed nullus.

(4) nōn ab hominibus neque per hominem: quoting Galatians 1:1 (Vulgate): Paulus apostolus nōn ab hominibus neque per hominem sed per Iēsum Christum et Deum Patrem (“Paul, an apostle not by men nor through a man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father”)

grātīs: “freely,” adv. with accēpit; the word is emphasized by being separated from the verb it modifies (hyperbaton).

(5) poēmatis: genitive, partitive with nīl (AG 346)

sed ea: understand poēmata

(6) siquidem: “at any rate”

in habitū saeculārī usque ad tempora prōvectiōris aetātis cōnstitūtus: “while he was in secular garb, all the way up to the time of more advanced age.”

cōnstitūtus: the use of the perfect participle of constituō to mean “situated in a certain way,” “being” is common in later Latin; here the sense is temporal, “while he was.”

aliquandō: “ever,” “at any time”

carminum: partitive genitive (AG 346) after nīl, “no songs.”

(7) esset … dēcrētum: impersonal (“it had been decreed”)

ut … dēbērent: for ut after the verb dēcernō (“decide that”), see AG 563.d.

citharam: lyre or harp. A letter from Cuthbert, the abbot of Bede's own monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow, to the Archbishop of Mainz attests to the popularity of the cithara: delectat mē quoque citharistam habēre ... quia citharam habeō, et artificem nōn habeō. (“I too enjoying having a cithara player … because I have a cithara, and I do not have a performer.”) Fragments of a 7th century Anglo-Saxon lyre found at Sutton Hoo are now in the British Museum, along with a modern replica.

CAEDMON’S HYMN

(8) tempore quōdam: “once”

nocte illā: ablative of time when

per somnium: “in a dream”

compententī: “appropriate” (DMBLS, competere 2.b)

(10) cantāre habēs: “you must sing” (DMLBS, habēre 20).

(12) creātūrārum: > creātūra -ae, f., “created universe, creation” (LL)

(13) facta Patris glōriae: “the deeds of the Father of glory”

(14) cum sit aeternus Deus: causal, “since he is…”

quī prīmō … creāvit: re-order: quī, omnipotēns cūstōs hūmānī generis, prīmō creāvit caelum filiīs hominum prō culmine tectī, dehinc creāvit terram.

filiīs hominum: dative of reference (AG 376): “for the sons…”

prō culmine tēctī: “as the roof of a house”

cūstōs … omnipotēns: in apposition with quī (i.e., Deus)

(15) neque enim possunt … trānsferrī: re-order: neque enim carmina possunt trānsferrī…

ex aliā in aliam linguam ad verbum: “from one language to another word-for-word”

(16) et eīs … adiūnxit: re-order: et mox adiūnxit eīs plūra verba carminis dignī Deō in eundum modum.

in eundum modum: “in [according to] the same style”

CAEDMON BECOMES A POET AND A MONK

(17) Caedmon is examined to verify his story and determine the source of his inspiration (to make sure it is divine and not demonic). See articulated text.

dōnī: partitive genitive with quid (“what gift”) (AG 346)

iūdiciō: ablative of means

quid vel unde …: indirect questions after ut probārētur: “so that it might be determined” (TLL, probō 10.2.1470.66).

(18) vīsum est: “it seemed clear that”

caelestem: the key word, emphasized by hyperbaton. Caedmon was inspired by heaven, not by demons.

(19) sermōnem: “narrative” (DMLBS, sermō 4.d).

(20) optimō carmine quod iubēbātur conpositum reddidit: re-order: reddidit (id) quod iubēbātur compositum optimō carmine; “he rendered what he was assigned (into something) composed in excellent verse.” reddere “render” takes a double accusative (AG 391). The word order as written emphasizes the key point, the excellence of the verse.

(21) prōpositum: “way of life” (with monachicum)

susceptumque … adsociāvit: re-order: adsociāvit [illum] susceptum in monastērium cum omnibus suīs cohortī frātrum; the subject of adsociāvit is still abbātissa (Hild), and the verb is transitive: “She joined him, having been received into the monastery with all her people, to the company of the brothers.”

seriem: “narrative, account, description (of events)” (DMLSB, seriēs 2.d) (22) rememorandō: “thinking over” (LL, see DMBLS, rememorārī 3). The object is cuncta.

mundum: “ritually clean”; according to the Moasic law only such animals as chewed cud and had cloven hoofs were “clean” and might be eaten (Colgrave-Mynors).

suāviusque: adverbial with resonandō (“by singing very sweetly”)

doctorēs … audītōrēs: object and predicate accusative after faciēbat

suī: “of himself” (genitive pronoun).

(23) tōtā Genesis historiā: “the whole story of the Book of Genesis”

terram reprōmissiōnis: the Promised Land

(24) hominēs ab amōre … cūrābat: vērō (“and indeed”) introduces a further point, with no adversative force (DMLBS, vērō 1.a). et joins dīlēctiōnem and sollertiam. Vērō is normally the second word in its clause, but ad dīlēctiōnem functions like a single word. “He took care to draw men away from the love of sin, and indeed to waken them to love of and aptness for good works.”

(25) vērō: here the word is adversative: “however” (DMLBS, vērō 1.b)

THE DEATH OF CAEDMON

(27) in proximō: nearby

quī … vidēbantur: “those who seemed”

(28) in eā: understand casā.

quī mīrātus cūr … vidēbātur: re-order: quī (the servant) mīrātus(est) cūr (is) quī (Caedmon) nēquāquam adhūc moritūrus esse vidēbātur hoc rogāret.

(29) aliquā: somehow

loquerentur ac iocārentur: Caedmon and his servant (ministrum, above, 28) seem to be the subjects of these plural verbs; in the next clause the subject is tempus, and then Caedmon alone is the subject of interrogāvit.

(30) opus est eucharistiā: opus est (“there is need of”) takes an intrumental ablative (AG 411.a).

habēs: habēre + infinitive of purpose = “to be in a position to” (AG 460.a)

(33) eumque … rogābant … habēre: Classical Latin would use an indirect command with rogāre (AG 563).

(35) caelestī viāticō: viāticum = the Eucharist.

ingressuī parāvit: parāre + dative = “to prepare for”

quam prope: how near (in an indirect question)

ad dicendās … laudēs: ad + gerundive expressing purpose

laudēs nocturnās: Lauds

(38) signāns sē signō sanctae crucis: i.e., crossing himself

(39) quōmodo … ita: correlative: “just as…so…”

ultima verba … clauderet: “concluded his last words.”

quī … vidētur: re-order: quī etiam, ex hīs quae nārrāvimus, vidētur extitisse [i.e, fuisse] praescius suī obitūs.

ex hīs: “based on these things”

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