Friday, October 29, 2010


The Malediction of Bishop Ernulphus

From the malediction of Bishop Ernulphus (tr. Lawrence Sterne in Tristram Shandy), here is an excellent, all-purpose curse, suitable for delivery against your worst enemy:
May he be cursed in living, in dying. May he be cursed in eating and drinking, in being hungry, in being thirsty, in fasting, in sleeping, in slumbering, in walking, in standing, in sitting, in lying, in working, in resting, in pissing, in shitting, and in bloodletting!

May he be cursed in all the faculties of his body! May he be cursed inwardly and outwardly! May he be cursed in the hair of his head! May he be cursed in his brains, and in his vertex, in his temples, in his forehead, in his ears, in his eyebrows, in his cheeks, in his jaw-bones, in his nostrils, in his fore-teeth and grinders, in his lips, in his throat, in his shoulders, in his wrists, in his arms, in his hands, in his fingers! May he be damn'd in his mouth, in his breast, in his heart and purtenance, down to the very stomach! May he be cursed in his reins, and in his groin, in his thighs, in his genitals, in his hips, and in his knees, his legs, and feet, and toe-nails!

Maledictus sit vivendo, moriendo, manducando, bibendo, esuriendo, sitiendo, jejunando, dormitando, dormiendo, vigilando, ambulando, stando, sedendo, jacendo, operando, quiescendo, mingendo, cacando, flebotomando.

Maledictus sit in totis viribus corporis. Maledictus sit intus et exterius. Maledictus sit in capillis; maledictus sit in cerebro. Maledictus sit in vertice, in temporibus, in fronte, in auriculis, in superciliis, in oculis, in genis, in maxillis, in naribus, in dentibus, mordacibus sive molaribus, in labiis, in gutture, in humeris, in harnis, in brachiis, in manibus, in digitis, in pectore, in corde, et in omnibus interioribus stomacho tenus, in renibus, in inguinibus, in femore, in genitalibus, in coxis, in genubus, in cruribus, in pedibus, et in unguibus.
The passage above can also be found in Thomas Hearn, ed., Textus Roffensis (Oxford, 1720), pp. 57-58, and in Stephanus Baluzius Tutelensis, i.e., √Čtienne Baluze of Tulle (1630-1718), Formulae Veteres Exorcismorum et Excommunicationum XX (Migne's Patrologia Latina vol. 87, col. 954). It reminds me of ancient curse tablets. See, e.g., Auguste Audollent, Defixionum Tabellae (Paris: Fontemoing, 1904), p. 191 (#135, side A, as emended on pp. 192 and 420), tr. John G. Gager in Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992; rpt. 1999), p. 172:
Malcius (the son or servant) of Nicona: (his) eyes, hands, fingers, arms, nails, hair, head, feet, thigh, belly, buttocks, navel, chest, nipples, neck, mouth, cheeks, teeth, lips, chin, eyes, forehead, eyebrows, shoulder-blades, shoulders, sinews, bones, merilas, belly, penis, shin: in these tablets I bind (his) business profits and health.

Malcio Nicones oculos
manus di[g]itos brac(h)ia<s> un[gue]s
capil(l)o(s) caput pedes femu[r] vent[r]e(m)
nat[e]s um(bi)licu[m] pectus mamil(l)as
collu[m] os buc(c)as dentes labias
me[nt]u[m] oc(u)los fronte(m) supercili(a)
scap(u)las (h)umerum nervia<s> ossu(m)
merilas vent[r]e(m) mentula(m) crus
qua(e)stu(m) lucru(m) valetudines defi[g]o
in (h)as tabel(l)as.
I haven't seen Leslie F. Smith, "A Pagan Parallel to 'Curse of Ernulphus'," Classical Journal 46.6 (March 1951) 303-304.

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