Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Fonder of Wine Bibbing than Bible Reading

Dear Mike,

Mediaeval monastic lumpen could be obdurate misobiblists, as Richard of Bury (1287-1345) complained (Philobiblon 5.78-80, tr. Ernest C. Thomas):

Liber Bacchus is ever loved,
And is into their bellies shoved,
    By day and by night;
Liber Codex is neglected,
And with scornful hand rejected,
    Far out of their sight.

And as if the simple monastic folk of modern times were deceived by a confusion of names, while Liber Pater is preferred to Liber Patrum, the study of the monks nowadays is in the emptying of cups and not the emending of books; to which they do not hesitate to add the wanton music of Timotheus, jealous of chastity, and thus the song of the merrymaker and not the chant of the mourner is become the office of the monks.

Flocks and fleeces, crops and granaries, leeks and potherbs, drink and goblets, are nowadays the reading and study of the monks, except a few elect ones, in whom lingers not the image but some slight vestige of the fathers that preceded them.

Liber Bacchus respicitur
    et in ventrem traicitur
    nocte dieque;
liber codex despicitur
    et a manu reicitur
    longe lateque.

tanquam si cuiusdam aequivocationis multiplicate fallatur simplex monachica plebs moderna, dum Liber pater praeponitur libro patrum, calcibus epotandis non codicibus emendandis indulget hodie studium monachorum: quibus lascivam musicam Timothei pudicis moribus aemulam non verentur adiungere, sicque cantus ludentis non planctus lugentis officium efficitur monachale.

greges et vellera, fruges et horrea, porri et olera, potus et patera, lectiones sunt hodie et studia monachorum, exceptis quibusdam paucis electis, in quibus patrum praecedentium non imago sed vestigium remanet aliquale.

Best wishes,

Eric [Thomson]

Wine-bibbing monk, from British Library
manuscript Sloane 2435 (ca. 1285), f. 44v
(Aldobrandino of Siena, Li livres dou santé)

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