Friday, January 02, 2015


Joy on Receiving a Letter

St. Jerome, letter 7.2 (to Chromatius, Jovinus, and Eusebius; tr. F.A. Wright):
Now I talk to your letter, I embrace it, it carries on a conversation with me, it is the only thing here that knows Latin. In this place an old man has either to learn a barbarous jargon, or else to hold his tongue. The handwriting I know so well brings your dear faces before my eyes; and then either I am no longer here or else you are here with me. Believe love when it tells you the truth: as I write this letter I see you before me.

Nunc cum vestris litteris fabulor, illas amplexor, illae mecum loquuntur, illae hic tantum Latine sciunt. Hic enim aut barbarus seni sermo discendus est aut tacendum est. Quotiensque carissimos mihi vultus notae manus referunt inpressa vestigia, totiens aut ego hic non sum aut vos hic estis. Credite amori vera dicenti: et cum has scriberem, vos videbam.
J.N.D. Kelly (1909-1997), Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1975), p. 49, n. 15:
The older reading 'barbarus semi-sermo' ( = 'the barbarous gibberish'), which has good MS support, seems preferable to 'barbarus seni sermo' ('at my advanced years I must learn a barbarous speech'), which Hilberg adopted.

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