Letters of Lothar

I completed these translations some time ago but now have no time to do anything with them.  Suggestions on how to improve them are welcome.  Email me: rmp422 [at] gmail [dot] com OR richard.pollard [at] ubc[dot] ca

See also my ongoing work on a new critical edition, commentary and translation for Heito's Visio Wettini: http://sites.google.com/site/visiowettini/

© Richard M. Pollard, Ph.D. (U.B.C. Dept. of History), 2009-2011.  To cite this page:

Richard Matthew Pollard. 'Letters of Lothar I'. Accessed MONTH DAY, YEAR. http://sites.google.com/site/lettersoflothar/

[ ] Text enclosed in square brackets is not in the text, but suggested for sense, or provides an alternative (with ‘?’) for the word just translated; [?] indicates the preceding word is difficult to render
[lit. ] Indicates the literal translation (as opposed to that chosen by the translator)
< > Indicates a translator’s comment or query
<?> Indicates a passage whose interpretation is doubtful, ending </?>
Punctuation has been altered at some points to preserve sense

N.B. Notes are at the foot of this page

 Lothar, Epist. 38, c. 842-6

The Well-Being of the Famed, Orthodox and August Lothar speaks Greeting to [lit. of] his Hrabanus Maurus.
 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 475-6


A roughness of speech hinders me, surrounded as I am by a vulgar tumult [whose] ears have been cut off, even as I desire to repay your address to me with the duties of mutual communication; [yet] I speak, [since] the ardour of love forces me, and with sought-out help I pay the debt. The extensive charity of God grants strength to [lit. of] the mind: for He suggests words to those speaking and grants speech to emit to those who are not able to speak [for themselves]; He seeks out everyone, he invites all, and he presents himself to those ages <either Ages of the world, or ages of people, sc. children> which do not know to say prayers. <?> Let not our absence force you to miss us [lit. your missing of us], since insofar as the corporeal sight perceives, the sight of the eyes does not limit the breadth of the mind, if [the thing seen?] it is seized in the mind by immediate translation; but rather [the mind] spreading [the thing] out in its great breadth, represents the absent body by spiritual action; </?> whereby the affection of those loving purely does not know to wander. And for that reason we ask that the desire in your heart for [lit. of] our presence be frequently increased, and [we ask] that you, <?> not far off from your own oversight, always remaining within your devoted mind [perhaps: always remaining devoted <reading devotus for devoto> in your mind?] </?> , [by] your assiduous asking beseech the omnipotent Lord untiringly for the safety of my soul, and of my wife and children, so that with grief held at bay, we might rejoice by granting of the Kingdom together with its goods: for this Kingdom is by far the greater than the kingdom of the world, [a Kingdom] where now nothing adverse occurs whereby you shall be afflicted by grief, but [where] you will exult with perennial joy: this [fate?] is the true judgement and the arrival at victory.
Desideranti mihi tuo alloquio mutui reddere alloquii officia, vulgari tumultu cesis auribus circumseptus, facundiae horror arcet, fateor, cogit dilectionis ardor, et prerogante suffragio debitum persolvo.  Dat vires animi caritas diffusa Dei: suggerit enim verba loquentibus illisque donat edere sermones, qui loqui non valent; omnes expetit, universos invitat, et illis occurrit aetatibus, quae vota dicere non sapiunt.  Absentia nostra desiderium tuum non coarctet, quoniam quantum corporeus intuetur aspectus, amplitudinem mentis oculorum visus non coangustat, si subito translatu rapitur in animo; sed ingenti amplitudine spatians, absentiam corporalem spiritali representat officio; quoniam pure diligentium peregrinari nescit affectus.

Et ideo flagitamus, ut desiderium tuo in corde nostra de presentia crebro augeatur, et tu a conspectu tuo non procul elongatus animo devoto in tuo semper manens cunctipotentem Dominum infatigabiliter obsecret vestra assidua flagitatio, nostra pro incolomitate animi, coniugis prolisque, ut represso luctu, concesso regno simul cum bonis laetemur: regnum est enim regnoque seculi longe prestantius, ubi iam non adversi aliquid contingit, unde merore adfligaris, sed perenni gaudio exultabis: hoc iudicium est verum ad victoriamque perventum.

Some confer on their faith small or large things out of devotion, [while] you have conferred on us, through your gifts, a very great book on [lit. of] the most noble general Jesus Nave [Joshua]. And this man [lit. who] prefigured the image of the eternal king Jesus Christ, such that we might accompany Jesus prepared for battle; nor otherwise are we able to go forth to capture victory, unless we obey the Lord of virtues. Moreover we should wish and entreat by all our prayers [lit. it is to be wished by us and entreated by all our prayers] to endure under such a master the victorious service necessary for His triumph. This is therefore the shape of the struggle and of the finished course of obtaining victory, [victory] which both overcomes the form of the earthly condition, and is raised up beyond the limits of corporeality by the grace of the divine Spirit. <i.e. a metaphor for both the struggle on earth, sc. Joshua, to the ultimate reward it will garner, sc. Christ?>

Alii conferunt ex devotione fidei suae parva vel magna, tu contulisti muneribus tuis nobis maximum librum ducis nobilissimi Iesu Nave, qui tipum veri regis aeterni Iesu Christi preferebat, ut Iesum comitemur armati, nec aliter ad capessendam victoriam valemus accedere, nisi Domino virtutum adhereamus.
Optandum vero nobis est, et votis omnibus ambiendum, sub tali magistro victricem tolerare militiam peragendam triumpho illius.
Haec est ergo forma certandi consummatique cursus obtinendae victoriae, que et formam terrenae conditionis exsuperat, et ultra corpulentiae facultatem gratia divini Spiritus erigitur.

It is now right for us to pursue the promise of an explanation <reading expositionis for expositio> of other divine books [made by, lit. of] your beatitude, about which [lit. as] the bearer of the [aforementioned commentary] told us, and let us ask after it thusly, so that you do not delay [to give] to our thirst [an exposition from] the beginning of the book of Genesis up to ‘viam ligni vitae’ <Genesis 3.24>; [and] join forces and ally your will with Bede [lit. (the will) of Bede], until what one lacked, the other completes. I ask that you expound in spiritual sense the words of Jeremiah, up to the place where the Lamentations <Jeremiah is believed to be the author of Lamentations, as well as ‘Jeremiah’> are finished, with the prayer <Lamentations 5>, on which we do not find an exposition by the great interpreter Jerome. <Jerome’s commentary ended at Jeremiah 32> Moreover [the book] of Ezechiel in the last vision, from that spot, in which the homilies of the most blessed pope Gregory stop, even unto the end of the prophecy, in which [prophecy] the sense of our interpreter <sc. Gregory?> works according to the anagogical and ethical: we seek that your generosity open up [this prophecy, translating ‘quam’].[1] Consider the benefits, whatever you spend, and with balanced scales examine those things received. If you shall have received [just a] portion, you will have a debtor on account of the remainder; if you completely cease to be a creditor, by so much the better it is that each procure what satifies his lot and multiplies his interest, first in the present, then in the future which cannot perish.

Beatitudinis tuae promissio et de divinis aliis libris expositio, ut portitor nobis retulit, quaerenda nobis via est, et sic quaeramus, ut siti nostrae non differas Genesis initium libri usque "viam ligni vitae" secundum litterae sensum iungas opes, socies voluntates tuas cum Bedae, dum quod alter desideravit, uterque perficiat.

Hieremiae sermones, in quibus magni interpretis Hieronimi expositio non invenitur, ad locum usque Trenos finitos, cum oratione, rogo ut spiritali sensu exponas.
Hizechiel vero in ultima visione, ab eo loco, in quo papae beatissimi Gregorii homiliae terminantur, usque ad finem prophetiae, in qua nostri interpretis sensus iuxta anagogen rimatur etiam ethicam, quam quaerimus tua largitio aperiat.

Adpende beneficia quaecumque largiris, aequatisque lancibus ea que redibentur examina.

Si partem receperis, habebis in residuo debitorem; si totum creditor esse desisti, quanto melius est utrumque prospicere quod et sortem repleat et usuram multiplicet, aliud in presenti, aliud in futuro quod perire non possit.

I [must] say that your dwelling pleases us, so long as it is believed to be apart from any ostentation. For the rustic solitude of the mountains pleases the interior man more than the regal beauty of the cities; [solitude] where no envy of a jealous person deceives the tranquil heart with a [false] happy look, <?> nor is shared subterfuge in crafty crime begun by the hidden flattery of simulated speech </?>. It helps the mind to look over whatever lies at hand with internal contemplation; [it helps?] first to lift up the eyes from the depths, then to despise the valleys from on high, and to stretch to higher things with as much ardour as [the mind?] will have eagerness on having attained those high things. <i.e. Lothar is telling Hraban to stay in his isolated refuge and meditate>

Placet, inquam, habitatio tua nobis, si creditur ab omni iactantia aliena. 
Plus enim interiorem hominem rustica montium solitudo, quam regalis urbium pulcritudo delectat; ubi nulla liventis invidia tranquillum pectus hilari mentitur intuitu, nec fucati sermonis adumbrata blandities artifici scelere mutua fabricatur astutia.  Iuvat animum quicquid adiacet obtutu interiore percurrere: modo de profundis oculos elevare, modo despicere convallia de supernis, tantoque flagrantius ad altiora pertendere, quanto cupidius ad alta pervenerit.

Be well in the Lord and be mindful of our requests, which were inserted in two letters, so that your cleverness grants what kindness seeks, and on account of the the long duration of time we earnestly implore that your memory not forsake the moderation of slowness <i.e. please stop being so slow>.

I have sent to you two letters, of which one is only to be read, but this other one is to be read and placed first in the book of your work.
Vale in Domino et memento petitionum nostrarum, quae insertae sunt in duabus epistolis, ut sollertia tua tribuat quod benignitas petit, et propter diuturnitatem temporis obnixe imploramus, a moderatione tarditatis memoria tua non discedat.

Duas tibi epistolas misi, quarum una tantum est legenda, haec vero altera et legenda et in libro operis tui anteponenda.

 Hrabanus, Epist. 39, c. 842-6

Hraban, the lowest of the servants of God, wishes for eternal salvation in Christ for his most serene and excellent emperor august Lothar.

 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 476-8

God is a witness of how much the zeal of my mind loves you, because I desire both that things are always prosperous for you here, and that good things follow on for you in the future eternal life; and I pray unceasingly so that the clemency of omnipotent God keeps you safe from all your enemies here [on this earth], and makes you a participant, together with all His saints, in His eternal beatitude in the celestial Kingdom.

Quantum vos animi mei intentio diligat, Deus testis est, quia et hic vobis semper prospera adesse et in futura vita aeterna bona succedere desidero et hoc oro assidue, ut omnipotentis Dei clementia hic vos a cunctis hostibus protectos diu servet incolomes, et in regno caelesti simul cum sanctis suis aeternae beatitudinis efficiat participes.

Wherefore I also desire to fulfill your wish according to your petition and following the sense of the letter, which you have sent to me; [and thereby I desire] to direct to your presence whatever I shall have been able, with divine Grace allowing, to elaborate in studies on [lit. of] sacred letters or in tracts on [lit. of] the divine scriptures, so that you may have it <i.e. ‘whatever I shall...’>. And [in] examining [it] together with your learned teachers, whatever you shall have found there well and correctly said, please attribute this to His Grace, from Whom comes [lit. is] every good; but if it seems to you that something is placed there otherwise than the rule of Truth teaches, please take care to tell me this even quicker, so that I might either correct my error, or if something is said [which is] unclear, I may speak more plainly. For thus [only] will I achieve the reward [lit. fruits] of my labour, if it <i.e. my work> shall have been useful to those who have chosen to use it.

Unde etiam voluntatem habeo iuxta petitionem vestram et secundum tenorem epistolae, quam mihi misistis, voto vestro satisfacere et quicquid in studiis sacrarum litterarum vel tractatibus divinarum scripturarum, divina gratia largiente, elaborare potuero, vestrae presentiae potissimum dirigere, ut habeatis illud, et simul cum vestris eruditis doctoribus examinantes, quicquid ibi inveneritis bene et congrue dictum, eius gratiae hoc deputetis, a quo est omne bonum; si quid vero aliter, quam regula veritatis doceat, ibi positum vobis videatur, hoc etiam mihi citius intimare curetis, ut aut errorem meum corrigam, aut si obscurius dictum sit, planius dicam. 
Sic enim laboris mei fructum consequar, si illis utilis erit, qui eo uti elegerint.

 I have completed as far as I could what you enjoined in your letter in placing three petitions together, namely, that I should explain for you the historical sense in the beginning of Genesis, that to the tract of St. Jerome on the prophet Jeremiah I should complete that which remained after the 6th book of [Jerome’s] exposition unto the end [of Jeremiah]. And composing the exposition on the book of Genesis, I have explained, insofar I as I believe sufficient, the historical sense as well as the allegorical, following the works of the holy fathers. If anyone, however, seeks longer things <i.e. explanations?>, let him read the books of St. Augustine [called] De Genesi ad Litteram, and there he will filnd all things sufficiently explained. I have now sent to you divided into 20 books the exposition on Jeremiah, moreover, in as much as I found it explained in the writings of the holy fathers, and insofar as I was able to conjecture from my own understanding.

Quod autem in epistola vestra subiunxistis tres petitiones simul ponendo, hoc est, ut historicum sensum in exordio Genesis vobis explanarem, et de tractatu beati Hieronimi in Hieremiam prophetam id quod post sextum librum expositionis eius usque ad finem restat supplerem, feci quantum potui.
Et expositionem in librum Genesis condens, sensum in eo historicum necnon et allegoricum oportunis locis iuxta sanctorum patrum documenta, quantum satis credidi, explanavi. Si quis autem maiora quaerat, legat libros beati Augustini de Genesi ad litteram, et ibi sufficienter omnia exposita inveniet. Expositionem vero in Hieremiam, quantum ex sanctorum patrum sententiis explanatam inveni, et quantum ex proprio sensu conicere valui, iam vobis in viginti libris comprehensum transmisi.

The third thing you asked for, on Ezechial, you hold completed in the present little work, in as much as my infirmity of body and smallness of talent allowed; for I did this not as if I were a successor of Pope Gregory, completing what he began, as he taught the people by the composition of [these] homilies, [which] nevertheless he did not bring to the end of the prophecy. [Instead I worked] as if an imitator and a disciple, following the footsteps not only of the aforementioned Pope, but also those of other holy doctors. [Indeed, as to the latter point] In composing the work that you asked for, I placed the opinions of individual doctors alongside each passage, together with notes of their names, not only in the last part of the prophecy, but through the whole <i.e. Hraban added other doctors’ opinions to supplement even the parts that Gregory had dealt with>. But what divine Grace conceded to me to discover, I inserted at the same time.

Quod vero tertio loco postulastis de Ezechiele in presenti opusculo, prout infirmitas corporis et parvitas ingenii sivit, confectum habetis; feci enim non quasi successor papae Gregorii et predicator plebis Dei, supplendo hoc quod ille omiliarum conditione populum docens inchoavit, et tamen usque ad finem prophetae non perduxit, sed quasi imitator et discipulus, non solum ipsius memorati papae, sed et aliorum sanctorum doctorum vestigia sequendo.

Condens opus quod rogastis, non tantum in extremam partem, sed in totum prophetam et singulorum doctorum sententias per singula loca, simul cum nota nominum eorum, posui.

Quod autem mihi insuper divina gratia investigare concessit, simul interposui.

And just as I completed the tract on Jeremiah in 20 books, thus I completed that one <i.e. on Ezechial> in the same number [of books], beseeching the reader, that he not think the expansiveness of this work tedious, but let him read from it those things that he chooses for himself, if he declines to read the whole, in the knowledge that I did this <i.e. made my work long> not rashly but to useful purpose. For if in seeking too much after brevity I passed by those things, which the holy doctors judged to be necessary for those reading [scripture], there is a chance that I would have harmed those wanting to unravel the difficulties [lit. singular] of the prophetic book more than I would have benefited [them]. For I did not insert here everything that I found explained [on this book, translating ‘inde’], but only those things that I judged would be necessary on the subject. Indeed I have omitted [consideration of / quotation of] the Septuagint edition in many places, namely where I thought it unnecessary to include [consideration of / quotation of] it, followings the precept of St. Jerome in this [decision], who spoke thusly about the controversy of translators in the first book of the tract on the prophet Esaiah: ‘In the exposition of holy scriptures we ought to seek the truth, not contention’; and who spoke thusly in his tract on [lit. of] Ezechial: ‘I warn the reader not to be disturbed by the diversity of translations, but rather in the present place [and especially] in the measures of the temple to be contented by Hebraic truth.’ <reading Jerome directly here makes this quotation more clear, as Jerome inserts ‘et maxime’ after ‘loco’>

Et sicut Hieremiae tractatum in viginti libris consummavi, sic et istum eodem numero terminavi, petens lectorem, ut non tediose accipiat prolixitatem huius operis, sed legat inde ea quae sibi elegerit, si totum legere despexerit, sciens, quod non inconsulte, sed magis utiliter hoc fecerim.

Quia si ultra modum brevitati studens ea, quae sancti doctores necessaria legentibus fore iudicabant, intacta preterirem, forsitan scire volentibus difficultatem prophetici libri magis nocerem quam prodessem: non enim omnia, quae inde exposita repperi, hic posui, sed tantummodo ea, quae inde necessaria fore iudicavi.

Septuaginta vero editionem in plerisque locis omisi, ubi eam videlicet ponere non necessariam arbitrabar, preceptum beati Hieronimi in hoc ipso observans, qui de interpretum disceptatione in libro primo tractatus in Esaiam prophetam ita dicit: "In expositione sanctarum scripturarum veritatem debemus sequi, non contentionem"; qui et in tractatu Ezechielis ita ait: "Lectorem ammoneo, ne translationum diversitate turbetur, sed ut in presenti loco, in mensuris templi Ebraica veritate contentus sit".

Nor do I think necessary to keep quiet about something I have learned from others, that certain pedants have derided me about my work [lit. in this], because in making excerpts from the writings of the holy fathers, I noted their names in front, or because I have relied more on the opinions of others, than I developed my own. To these I can easily respond on this question [translating ‘ad hoc’]. For have I sinned in this, [simply] because I have judged the masters of the Church to be worthy of veneration and I have placed their opinions, just as they wrote them, together with their names in oportune places in my little works? For it seemed to me more salubrious that I should rely on the teachings of the holy fathers, keeping my humility, than through arrogance to publish indecently my own ideas, as if I were seeking praise for myself. [This is especially so] when even the Lord master seems to teach that this ideal of the highest humility <i.e. not speaking from oneself, as Hrabanus has been careful to avoid> is to be enacted, by a certain lesson of his, when He [lit. who] says, disputing against the unbelieving Jews and his detractors in the Gospel: ‘He who speaks from himself, seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of Him, who sent him, this one is truthful, and there is no injustice in him.’ <John 7.18, my translation> Whereby the most noble doctors, namely blessed Jerome and Augustine, as well as others likewise, are found not only to support their writings with testimonies from [lit. of] the holy books, but also to strengthen their own opinions with the words of preceding fathers, since their little works would be all the more acceptable to their readers, the more [those readers] considered them to be more certain and stronger through [use of] suitable sources. <'firmiora ... considerarent' is supplied by the editor of the Latin text>

Nec etiam illud silendum arbitror, quod quibusdam narrantibus comperi, quosdam sciolos me in hoc vituperasse, quod excerptionem faciens de sanctorum patrum scriptis, eorum nomina prenotarem, sive quod aliorum sententiis magis innisus essem, quam propria conderem; quibus ad hoc facile respondere possum.  Quid enim peccavi in hoc, quod magistros aeclesiae veneratione dignos iudicabam et eorum sententias, prout ipsi eas protulerant, oportunis locis simul cum nota nominum eorum in opusculis meis interposueram?  Magis enim mihi videbatur salubre esse, ut humilitatem servans sanctorum patrum doctrinis inniterer, quam per arrogantiam, quasi propriam laudem quaerendo, mea indecenter proferrem, quando hoc summae humilitatis exemplar et magister ipse Dominus faciendum quodammodo sub exemplo docere videatur, qui in evangelio contra Iudaeos incredulos et vituperatores suos disputans ait: "Qui a semetipso loquitur, propriam gloriam quaerit; qui autem quaerit gloriam eius, qui misit illum, hic verax est, et iniustitia in illo non est".  Unde nobilissimi doctores, beatus videlicet Hieronimus atque Augustinus, necnon et alii similiter, inveniuntur non solum sacrorum librorum testimoniis sua scripta probare, sed etiam precedentium patrum dictis suas sententias roborare; quatinus eo acceptiora illorum opuscula legentibus forent, quo certiora ac firmiora per idoneos testes ea esse considerarent.

Indeed let those who seek praise and desire to be seen [well] by people say or write whatever they want, and let them acquire for themselves praisers and flatterers, whenceever they might; ‘for me, however, it is good [enough] to stay close to God at all times in my life and to put my hopes in the Lord God’, ‘such that I announce all His praises in the gates of the daughter of Zion’; <Psalms 72.28 and 9.15, my translation> namely in those gates about which it was written: ‘The blessed who walk on the footpaths of life and enter through the gates into the city’ <Apoc. 22.14> so that they arrive at those gates of celestial Jerusalem, about which it is said through the psalmist, ‘Praise the Lord, Jerusalem, praise your God, Zion, since He strengthens the bolts of your gates, [since] in you He blesses your sons.’ And this happened at that time, when the bridegroom entered, just as we read [lit. it is read] about the virgins in the Gospel: ‘and those who were ready, entered with him to be married [lit. to go to marriage], and the door was shut’. Shut, of course, not for the punishment of imprisonment, but for sempiternal beatitude, because neither will anyone after go out, nor will anyone else afterwards enter <?: I’m not quite sure how the logic in this sentence works>

May God deign to consummate your long and long-safe life with eternal beatitude!
Illi enim, qui laudem quaerunt et ab hominibus videri appetunt, dictent vel scribant quicquid voluerint, et laudatores suos atque adolatores, undecumque possint, sibi adquirant: "Mihi autem adherere Deo omni tempore vitae meae bonum est et ponere in domino Deo spem meam".  
"Ut adnuntiem omnes laudes eius in portis filiae Sion": in illis videlicet portis de quibus scriptum est: "Beati qui ambulant in semitis vitae et per portas introeunt in civitatem"; quatinus perveniant ad illas portas Hierusalem caelestis, de quibus per psalmistam dicitur: "Lauda, Hierusalem, Dominum, lauda Deum tuum, Sion, quoniam confortavit seras portarum tuarum, benedixit filios tuos in te".  Quod illo tempore accidit, quando sponsus intraverit, sicut in evangelio de virginibus legitur: "Et quae parate erant, intraverunt cum eo ad nuptias, et clausa est ianua". Clausa scilicet non ad custodiae poenam, sed in beatitudinem sempiternam, quia nec inde quisquam ulterius exibit, nec aliquis postea novus intrabit.

Vitam vestram longaevam et diu incolumem Deus omnipotens aeterna beatitudine consummare dignetur!

 Lothar, Epist. 49, c. 854-5

Lothar, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Eternal God, August Emperor by the ordering of Divine Providence, gives greeting to Hraban, [his] venerable archbishop and orthodox Master.
MGH Epp. 5, pp. 503-4


Although in usual lent custom we tried to persist rather strictly to studies of divine readings, in order to more fully capture the internal edification of the mind, we felt the lack of readings suited for recitation in the sollemnities of masses on successive weekdays, [readings] joined and ordered according to the congruity of the occasion [lit. times] by the holy fathers, based on [lit. from] the words of the Gospels and of various holy histories, the exposition of which [readings], since it had pleased the ancient and modern fathers to explain [such things] with great searching in their collections, [were] to be read to us at mealtimes, so that amongst fragile, failing foods our interior person would not be cheated of the unfading feasts of spiritual nourishment. [But] some of them <i.e. these expositions> we find less [easily], especially since the aforementioned holy fathers only collected from the tractates of great and famous men expositions of those [readings], which are read on Sundays or especially on Feast days, with the catholic populace coming together into one, [passing by the occasions of] weekdays, fasts, rogations, tribulations of enemies, deprivations of hunger and poverty, too frequent inundations of rains, hardnesses of the earth <i.e. through drought>, sterilities of fruits, many feasts of saints, commemorations of the dead, sacred orders [ordinations?], even the fasts of Lent, and twelve readings of easter and pentecost and other things, which your holiness thinking more carefully is easily able to notice, on account of the breadth of [your] work and carefulness [reading probitatem] of your labour, the ambrosia of which <written?> [work] we were then mournful to have lacked. Indeed, your paternity knows well that we cannot bring all our commentaries on all expeditions, [commentaries] in which the aforementioned readings are contained, [laid out?] according to the order of things described and the exposition of these events,[2] since generally only a single biblioteca historiarum[3] can, we difficulty, be brought [on my travels].

Cum solito quadragesimali more divinarum lectionum studiis artius niteremur insistere, ob internam scilicet aedificationem animi plenius capessendam, non minus inheserunt desiderio nostro lectiones continuis feriis missarum sollemniis ad recitandum adhibite, iuxta congruentiam temporum a sanctis patribus ex evangelicis diversarumque historiarum sanctarum coadunatae ordinataeque sententiis, quarum expositiones, dum in priscorum modernorumque patrum collectariis summa indagine percontari libuisset, refectionis nobis tempore recitandas, ut inter deciduas epulas interior homo noster spiritalis alimoniae non fraudaretur inmarcescibilibus dapibus, nonnullas earum minus reperimus, presertim cum memorati sancti patres illarum tantum expositiones ex magnorum inlustriumque virorum tractatibus collegerint, quae diebus dominicis vel precipuis tantum festivitatibus catholico in unum populo confluente leguntur, pretermissis feriis, ieiuniis, rogationibus, tribulationibus hostium, famis inopiaeque penuriis, imbrium inundationibus nimiis, telluris squaloribus, frugum sterelitatibus, sanctorum crebris festivitatibus, mortuorum commemorationibus, sacris ordinibus, quattuor etiam temporum ieiuniis, pasche et pentecostes duodecim lectionibus et ceteris, que sanctitas vestra diligentius perpendens facile valet animadvertere, propter prolixitatem operis atque improbitatem laboris, quorum ambrosio liquore funditus nos tunc caruisse doluimus.  Siquidem bene novit vestra paternitas omnem nos commentariorum copiam, in quibus iuxta gestarum rerum ordinem et expositionem prefate continentur lectiones, in cunctis expedicionibus non posse semper gerere et habere, cum sola historiarum bibliotheca difficile possit etiam haberi plerumque.

Meanwhile we lay out great thanks and praise to omnipotent God, who amongst other gifts of generosity deigned to illuminate us also by a radiance, not less so <translating ‘dispari’, which strictly goes with ‘iubare’> than [He did for] our predecessors. For if He provided to them <i.e. his predecessors> Jerome, Augustine, Gregory, Ambrose and very many others, the same Maker conferred on us Rhabanus Maurus, of the same merit and wisdom. Go, therefore, my holy father and most excellent master, and kindly turn an ear to the prayers of one asking, and be favourable to his wishes as an untiring worker; take up the toil of the task, so that, through you, we are able to obtain the object of our desire. By continuous prayers therefore we implore your kindness to send expositions of all the aforementioned readings, collecting them together into one volume, such that with the epistles <of Paul?> always preceding, or the readings, which in place [of the epistles] are recited at suitable times from a certain history <i.e. book of the O.T.?>, the Gospels always follow, according to the order appended to this letter. But if you find anything [listed] there less well <i.e. if he cannot find an explanation of a reading on Lothar’s list>, we beg you to apply yourself more fruitfully, and with careful diligence, to all the homilies or sermons, relating to various times (both feasts and fasts), brought to bear on the populace in the church by the holy fathers. [The result should be that] no reading at all can be found in the whole lectionary, of which a homiletic sermon and complete explanation is not found in the aforementioned book that you are to compile. Also, to these [readings I want explained?] add the benedictions, by which Jacob blessed his sons and [lit. or] predicted things to come; but also [include] the blessings, by which Moses, man of God, blessed the sons of Isreal at the end of his life; [include] also a sermon to be read on the feast of All Saints’, and [one to be read on] the Invention <reading ‘inventione’> of the Holy Cross <May 3rd> and on the Raising [Aloft of the Cross] <reading ‘exaltatione’> <this latter feast is on Sept. 14th>.

Interea inmensas omnipotenti Deo laudes gratiasque rependimus, qui inter cetera largitionis dona non dispari nos quoque quam predecessores nostros doctrinae suae iubare inradiare dignatus est. Nam si illis Hieronimum, Augustinum, Gregorium Ambrosiumque et ceteros quam plurimos prebuit, et nobis idem opifex eiusdem meriti et scientiae contulit Rhabanum Maurum. Ergo age, pater sancte praestantissimaeque magister, postulantis precibus aurem benignus accommoda et votis indefessus exsecutor faveto, suscipe laboris ergastulum, ut per te desiderii nostri nancisci valeamus effectum. Igitur obnixis precibus almitatem tuam deposcimus, ut nobis in uno volumine omnium memoratarum lectionum expositiones colligens digeras, ita ut precedentibus semper epistolis vel lectionibus, que earum loco congruis temporibus ex quacumque historia recitantur, semper evangelia subsequantur iuxta ordinem huic epistole subnexum. Quod si minus quid ibi inveneritis, vos, quesumus, sollicita cura uberius adhibeatis iunctis omeliis vel sermonibus diversorum temporum et ieiuniorum seu festivitatum a sanctis patribus in ecclesia ad populum habitis, ut nulla omnino in toto lectionario possit repperiri lectio, cuius in memorato codice a vobis colligendo plena non inveniatur expositio et omeliaticus sermo. His etiam, quesumus, addite benedictiones, quibus benedixit Iacob vel predixit ventura queque filiis suis; sed et benedictiones, quibus Moyses homo Dei filiis Israhel extremo vitae suae tempore benedixit; sermonem etiam in omnium sanctorum festivitate legendum, inventionem sancte crucis et exaltationem.

And do not let the laborious breadth of this work seem harsh to you, since a sweet and clear repayment shall await [you]; for as the prophet sais ‘They who raise up many to righteousness will be like stars unto perpetual eternities’ <Dan. 12.3>. Let my rest be the exaction of your labours, and let the sweat of your brow [lit. the labouring one] be the complete restorative to a thirsting mind. And let me say [lit. I say] that no excuse of the weight of age should be used as objection, since the youth of your talent remains fresh, nor should you let it bother you, if perhaps you shall have found something trivial and foolish inserted into the following order [of readings to be expounded], since your sanctity shall have undertaken (to it) that it returns [the order, the work...] to us according to the suitable order, finished and polished in all things according to our request. But if, on account of the immensity of the expositions the thickness of two volumes is not able to contain the whole of the work, divide it into 3 volumes, so that the division is favourable to fullness <i.e. so they can be as long as necessary>, and fullness does no harm to thickness <i.e. makes them too big to bind>.

Nec vobis dura videatur operis huius laboriosa prolixitas, cum suavis et lucida retributionis maneat merces, ut enim ait profeta: "qui ad iusticiam erudiunt plurimos, erunt sicut stellae in perpetuas aeternitates". Sit ergo nostra quies vestri laboris exactio et sudor esurientis ac sitientis animi plena refectio. Nulla, inquam, senii obiciatur adgravationis excusatio, cum iuventus ingenii maneat indefessa, nec vos moveat, si quid fortasse minus ineptumque in subsequenti ordine inveneritis insertum, cum vestra ob id susceperit sanctitas, ut nobis plenius iuxta conpetentem ordinem remittat per omnia ad votum nostrum expletum atque politum. Quodsi propter inmanitatem expositionum duorum voluminum densitas tanti operis summam continere nequiverit, vos in tribus dividite voluminibus, ut et divisio plenitudini faveat et plenitudo densitati non noceat.

 Hrabanus, Epist. 50, c. 854-5

Hrabanus, most lowely servant of the servants of God, daily wishes for and prays for eternal salvation in Christ for august Lothar, [his] most glorious lord and [one who] by the merit of right faith and true religion and good study [is] rightly to be venerated by all Catholics.
 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 504-5

[I received?] Your letter, which you sent to me [and in which] you complain, that you did not have a suitable exposition of the divine readings and of the chapters of the Gospels, which are read in celebration of the Mass in church of God during the whole year, [and in which] you exhort my smallness, that I should collect from the works of various fathers those things, which they published on this subject <translating ‘inde’>, and compile them into one volume. And therefore, although I was hesitant to begin this [task] on account of the sickness of my body and the languor of my mind - [for] I, who though there was never much to me [lit. though I was never anything], nevertheless now am other than I used to be because of great age, according that [saying] of the gentile poet, whereby he says: ‘Age bears off all things, even the mind’, and I cannot [now] continuously work at my reading, as once I was accustomed to do, insofar as it was allowed, since my bed receives me supine more often than my chair holds me thinking or teaching - but nevertheless because I did not want to resist your wish, but rather chose to obey [you] in all things inasmuch as I could, I began the work which you requested, and though it is not very worthy, nevertheless I took pains to finish and complete it with a brief exposition of the readings, as much as my strength allowed. The first part of which [work], namely from Christmas to Easter, suited to the present season, I have sent to you for reading. But the following part, I have decreed to finish by similar study [zeal?], insofar as possibility allows, [and] with divine Grace granting [me strength].

Epistola vestra, quam mihi misistis conquerentes, quod non haberetis idoneam expositionem lectionum divinarum atque evangelicorum capitulorum, quae per totum annum in missarum celebrationibus in eclesiis Dei leguntur, exhortantes parvitatem meam, ut de diversorum patrum opusculis colligerem ea, que ipsi inde tractando ediderunt, atque in unum volumen colligerem; hoc ergo cum trepidarem incipere propter corporis egritudinem et animi debilitatem: qui licet numquam aliquid fuerim, longe tamen propter grandevam aetatem modo aliud sum quam eram, iuxta illud gentilis poete quo ait:
'Omnia fert aetas, animum quoque' nec lectioni possum assidue operam dare, sicut quondam solebam quantum licebat, quoniam sepius suscipit me lectulus meus cubantem, quam cathedra tenet meditantem aut docentem, sed tamen quia vestrae voluntati resistere nolui, sed parere elegi in omnibus quantum potui, opus quod postulastis inchoavi, et licet non condigne, tamen brevi expositione lectionum illud consummare atque conficere, quantum vires sinebant, studui.   Cuius primam partem vobis modo, hoc est a nativitate Domini usque in pascha, pro oportunitate temporis ad legendum transmisi. Sequentem autem, prout possibilitas sinit, simili studio, largiente divina gratia, complere decerno.
Let it become God’s will, that this be completed to your benefit according to the desire of your good wish, so that from this thanks might be given to God. And anything good that His servants have is conferred to them by His gift, because according to the passage of James the Apostle ‘every perfect thing given and every perfect dift is from on high, descending from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration <James 1.17, my translation with suggestions from Douay-Rheims>, because He ‘does all things that He wills in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in all the deeps’ <Ps. 134.6, likewise>, and there is no one who can resist His will, [and?] ‘the Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him: and in them that hope in his mercy’ <Ps. 146.11, Douay-Rheims>.

Fiat Domini voluntas, ut ad vestram utilitatem iuxta bone voluntatis appetitum hoc perficiatur, quatinus inde Deo gratiae referantur. Cuius dono servis suis quicquid boni habent confertur, quia iuxta Iacobi apostoli sententiam "omne datum optimum et omne donum perfectum desursum est, descendens a patre luminum, apud quem non est transmutatio nec vicissitudinis obumbratio", quia ipse "omnia quecumque vult facit in caelo et in terra, in mare et in omnibus abyssis", et non est qui possit resistere voluntati eius, "bene placitum est Domino super timentes eum et in eis, qui sperant in misericordia eius".

Nevertheless it is to be made known to you, that I have not kept completely the order of composition dictated by [lit. ‘according to’] that chapter, which followed your letter, [first] because our manuscript, in which the readings about the divine scriptures have been collected, does not follow this course, and [second because] I did not find readings given for [from? lit. of] all the epistles and gospels even in the just-mentioned book of mine. For that reason I have changed the text of this work in several places, according to the rite of my church and the custom of the office, which we celebrate there. I have omitted to enumerate the series of readings and Gospels on a few feasts of saints in the book [‘capitulare’], because I chose to put [such a series (or perhaps ‘section’), translating ‘eam’] about/on the feasts of saints all together [‘pariter’] near the end of this work, insofar as it seemed necessary to me, so that there the prudent reader, if he wishes to read anything on this subject, might easily find it.

Intimandum tamen vobis est, quod iuxta illud capitulare, quod vestram epistolam sequebatur, non per omnia conscriptionis ordinem servavi, quia nec codex noster, in quo ipse lectiones de divinis scripturis collecte sunt, hunc tenorem habet, nec etiam in praedicto capitulare nostro continuatim per omnia lectiones epistolarum atque evangeliorum positas repperi.  Idcirco iuxta ritum ecclesiae nostrae et morem officii, quem ibi celebramus, im plerisque locis textum huius operis commutavi.   Omisi etiam in quibusdam sanctorum festivitatibus in capitulare seriem lectionum et evangeliorum numerare, quia prope finem huius operis de sanctorum festivitatibus, quantum mihi necesse videbatur, pariter eam ponere elegi, ut ibi lector prudens, si quid inde legere vellet, facile ibi invenire posset.

Therefore, searching amongst of all these things <this is loose but the best I can make of it>, following the Apostle, hold to what is good, and choose out what pleases you well. For the Lord gave to you intelligence in all matters, such that you should be able to discern what is useful and what is superfluous in the present little work. Do therefore as God shall have inspired in your heart. For it suffices to me, that I have directed the work to be tested by the trial of your examination, [this] work that I made not without toil, obedient to your order. Order that work to be read in your presence, and if you should spy anything in it either not rightly explained, on account of the weakness of my intellect, or [anything] marred by an error of the scribes, make it be corrected by your learned readers; for thus a worthy reward will be perpetually paid to you in heaven by Christ, Lord of all, in exchange for your effort and at the same time for [your] correction of me.

May Christ, the light, the way, the life, Salvation, save you unto eternity!

Be well, you great honour of our country, you beloved Caesar!

Vos ergo de his omnibus iuxta apostolum probantes quod bonum est tenete et quod bene vobis placeat eligite. Dedit enim vobis Dominus in omnibus intellectum, ita ut bene possitis, quid utile et quid superfluum sit in presenti opusculo, discernere. Facite inde quod Deus cordi vestro inspiraverit. Sufficit enim mihi, quod, vestro imperio obtemperans, opus, quod non sine labore confeci, vestri examinis iudicio ad probandum direxi.
Iubete illud coram vobis legi et si quid in eo propter tenuitatem sensus mei non rite prolatum vel scriptorum vitio depravatum conspexeritis, per vestros eruditos lectores facite illud corrigi, et sic vobis merces condigna pro vestro bono certamine et nostra simul correctione a Christo omnium domino perpetualiter recompensabitur in caelis.

Lux via vita salus Christus vos salvet in aevum!

Magnus honor patriae, caesar amate, vale!

 Hrabanus, Epist. 51, c. 847-55

[Hraban wishes] Health, Victory and Perpetual Life for the most Beloved August Emperor Lothar.
 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 505-6


May your kindness know, my lord, that just as you ordered me to write the first part of the homilies on the Gospel and Apostolic readings, which I indeed completed up to the eve of Easter, beginning from Christmas, and which [thus] completed, I sent to you, thus [also] I have [now] worked out the second part, [which treats] from Easter to the fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost <~ August>, so that you might have something that might be read in suitable hours in your presence, should it please you, in this time of Spring and Summer. I foresee and plan to finish the third part, if God shall have willed thus, [which will run] from the aforementioned ending <i.e. the end of the second part> unto the end of the year, and I likewise intend to send this [work] to you, when it is finished [lit. when it shall have been finished]. In this third part [lit. where], also, near the end of the work, are written sermons on the feasts of the Saints and also about other celebrations, which were decreed to be observed by the holy fathers for various reasons. At the very end, moreover are placed readings which are read in the Vigils of the dead, according to your request.

Cognoscat almitas vestra, mi domine, quod sicut primam partem homiliarum in lectiones evangelicas atque apostolicas mihi scribere iussistis, quam etiam a natali Domini incipiens usque in vigilias paschae perduxi et vobis peractam transmisi, ita a pascha usque ad quintam decimam dominicam post pentecosten secundam partem pertraxi, ut haberetis quod in praesentia vestra tempore veris et aestatis, si vobis ita placeret, horis competentibus legeretur. Tertiam vero partem a termino supra notato usque ad finem anni perducere, si Deus ita voluerit, cogito atque decerno, et vobis eam similiter, cum perfecta fuerit, transmittere dispono, ubi etiam prope terminum ipsius operis de sanctorum festivitatibus necnon et de aliis celebritatibus, quae de diversis causis observandae a patribus statutae sunt, sermones conscripti tenentur. Ad extremum vero lectiones, quae in defunctorum vigiliis leguntur, iuxta quod postulastis positae sunt.

Let it be the will of the Lord, that [this work] be to your benefit as well as to the benefit of your friends/retinue <translation ‘vestrorum’>. For I have done as much as I could, but I do not doubt that what inability denied to me, you will complete <reading adimplere rather than adimpleri> using your healthy prudence and good zeal. I have faith, therefore, [that] should a not small consolation thus be conferred on me <i.e. the consolation of Lothar fixing up Hraban’s unfinished work>, also for you an eternal reward in heaven shall be prepared by the Giver of all good things, on account of the work you finished.

Fiat Domini voluntas, ut tam ad vestram quam ad vestrorum utilitatem proficuum sit. Ego enim quantum potui feci, vos autem quod mihi impossibilitas denegavit, per vestram sanam prudentiam et bonum studium adimpleri non dubito. Confido ergo, quod sic mihi consolatio non minima conferatur, et vobis pro perfecto opere aeterna merces a bonorum omnium largitore in coelis praeparetur.

 Lothar, Letter to Pope Leo IV (Epist. 46), c. 847-849in

Lothar, by divine providence August Emperor, your spiritual Son, sends perennial greetings in the Lord to our Most Holy and Reverend Spiritual Father, Leo, Supreme Bishop and Universal Pope.
 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 609-611


Supreme providence wanted the Apostolic seat, which, on account of [its connexion to] the most blessed prince of the Apostles, is the foundation and head of sanctity throughout the whole world whithersoever the Christian religion is spread, to hold the primacy of churches for the following reason: so that in whatever cases, questions or business dealings ecclesiastical necessity should demand [it], all might run back as if to the mother of religion, and font of equity.[4] For that reason we judge that your prudence to have learned by frequent audiences and by the telling of many, and especially by the series of our letters [written] to your predecessor, or by the truth of those [letters], which were sent to the Apostolic see when my lord and father [was] alive, how the holy church of Rheims has lacked for a very long time the sacerdotal and pontifical honor, as well as its old dignity, [not only] in the times of my aforementioned father, my lord of blessed memory, [but] also in my days and even of my brother, glorious king Charles. And the reason for this is as follows. Ebbo, then archbishop of that same seat in the time of the most unhappy discord, which, because of the Devil’s minions, endured between us and our father, had incurred <in the subjunctive because Lothar’s quod-clause is giving the ‘reported’ reason for why something happened, implying he knows this only at second-hand> the wrath of our oft-mentioned lord and father, on account of some intrigues and jealousies. In turn, [Ebbo], accused in an episcopal synod, either with his conscience accusing him and convicting him, or because canon law beset him on all sides, assumed certain bishops as chosen judges in name and office, with their agreement <translating ‘sibi conscios’>. And by public confession in sight of everyone, and by a written document proferred by himself and confirmed by the subscription of his own hand <i.e. his signature>, he judged himself unworthy and unsuitable of the office of the episcopate, and asserted that a successor ought to be chosen for him. And he confirmed by the aforementioned subscription [also] that by canonical authority he could make no further requests about this case <i.e. he could never again reopen it>, and he also offered this subscription to the synod. And we have taken care that the examplar of this document, taken from the archive of the church of Rheims, be sent to you.

Sedem apostolicam, quae per beatissimum apostolorum principem in universo orbe, quaqua versum religio christiana diffunditur, caput et fundamentum est sanctitatis, idcirco superna dispositio primatum optinere voluit ecclesiarum, ut in quibuscumque causis, questionibus, sive negotiis ecclesiastica suaderet necessitas, omnes quasi ad matrem religionis, fontemque recurrerent aequitatis. Proinde quod iam et auditu creberrimo et multorum relatione, ac permaxime scriptorum nostrorum ad praedecessorem vestrum serie, sive eorum etiam quae, superstite domno et genitore nostro, ad sedem apostolicam directa sunt veritate, vestram arbitramur comperisse prudentiam, qualiter sancta Remensis ecclesia temporibus divae memoriae praefati domni genitorisque nostri, et nostris quoque sive fratris nostri gloriosi regis Karoli diebus, diutissime sacerdotali et pontificali honore, pristinaque dignitate vacaverit, ex ea causa, quod Ebbo, tunc archiepiscopus eiusdem metropolitanae sedis, cum tempore infelicissimae discordiae, quae operante diabolo per satellites suos inter nos genitoremque nostrum aliquandiu duravit, propter quasdam factiones et simultates offensam saepedicti domni et patris nostri incurrisset. In episcopali denuo con ventu appellatus sive convincente et arguente conscientia, sive quia eum undique leges ecclesiasticae constringebant, quosdam episcopos ex eodem conventu, electorum iudicum nomine et officio sibi conscios assumpsit, et manifesta in conspectu omnium confessione scriptoque a se prolato et manus propriae subscriptione roborato, se episcopatus officio indignum alienumque iudicavit, utque successor sibi subrogari deberet, asseruit, et ut hac de causa nullam ulterius repetitionem auctoritate canonica facere posset, prefata subscriptione firmavit, quam etiam synodo optulit: cuius scripti vobis exemplar ab archivio Remensis ecclesiae sumptum curavimus destinandum.

But by many causes and events emerging afterward, the aforementioned church of Rheims, as we mentioned above, long lacked the pontifical dignity <i.e. did not have a proper bishop>; [this was] either because certain men, given over to worldly cares and substituted againsts the divinely promulgated rules, were put in charge of the same see, and on account of these [failings] <lit. ‘on account of this’>, they refused to take up the pastoral burden, or [because] they stood as leaders of other churches, and with peace divinely returned <i.e. the end of conflicts between Lothar and his brothers?>, [these bishops] preferred to return to their own seats.

Sed variis deinceps emergentibus causis atque eventibus, quia aut saecularibus dediti curis et contra promulgatas divinitus regulas substituti quidam in eadem sede praefuerunt, et ob hoc pastoralem sarcinam suscipere rennuerunt, aut aliarum ecclesiarum praesules extiterunt, et reddita divinitus pace, sedes suas repetere maluerunt memorata Remensis ecclesia diu pontificali, ut supra diximus, caruit dignitate.

And when, with a pact of friendship made between us and our brothers, our kingdom had been equally divided, nay distinguished into three parts, and the oft-mentioned church of Rheims had fallen to the lot of our brother Charles, who, considering the loss [sufferred by] the church, made venerable monk and priest Hincmar, a man quite learned and refined, of the monastery of the most blessed martyr Denis, to be ordained as bishop, by the consent of the bishops and clergy and people of the metropolis <’metropoleos’ is a genitive form, used also by Gregory the Great> of Rheims. But because frequent complaint has been made about this [appointment] by Ebbo [lit. a complaint of pleading Ebbo has been made] that unjustly was a successor appointed for him while he <i.e. Ebbo> was still alive, moved by his most pressing petition, we took care to make known his complaints to your predecessor Pope Sergius. And we implored him [lit. begging] that if he thought it to be proper, he should send suitable men from his staff, who, together with the consultation of the bishops of the province, would be able to investigate the case of each [man] <sc. Ebbo & Hincmar>, and to canonically resolve [the question]. We asked this because [lit. since] we were not at all able to learn the course of events clearly, as we did afterwards, [since] we were in Italy throughout that time, when those things, which we explained above, were done about the aforementioned Ebbo. Nevertheless, we believe that your reverence certainly knows [lit. that you not at all cannot know] the reason why your aforementioned predecessor did not send these legates we sought.

Cum vero firmato inter nos fratresque nostros amicitiae foedere, regnum nostrum aequaliter in tres partes divisum immo distinctum esset, et saepedicta Remorum ecclesia sorti fratris nostri Karoli obtigisset, ipse damnum perpendens ecclesiae, Hincmarum venerabilem monasterii beatissimi martyris Dyonisii monachum atque presbiterum, virum sane doctum atque eruditum, consensu episcoporum clerique et populi Remensis metropoleos ordinari fecit antistitem.
Sed quia frequenter ad nos pro hoc ipso Ebonis facta est conquestio causantis inique sibi adhuc superstiti successorem adtributum fuisse, instantissima eius peticione commoniti, curavimus querelas eius sancto decessori vestro Sergio papae significare, obsecrantes, ut si ipse ratum esse decerneret, ex suo latere viros idoneos destinaret, qui una cum episcoporum ipsius provintiae tractatu, causam utriusque inquirere et canonice definire valerent, quoniam nos per illud tempus, quando ea, quae supra comprehendimus, de iam dicto Ebone gesta sunt, in Italia degentes, nequaquam ad liquidum, ut postea comperimus, rerum ordinem scire valuimus. Cur tamen praefatus decessor vester legatos a nobis petitos non miserit, vestram reverentiam nequaquam credimus ignorare.

Now, however, Hincmar offers synodal acts to us about his confirmation and the restoration of the church of Rheims,[5] [and] entreated our magnificence to obtain, by our intervention, the pallium for him from your paternity, just as your predecessors granted [it] to his [predecessors]. And we have reckoned that his petition, is to be fulfilled by a definitive and absolute judgement, especially because we know <i.e. have read> the synodal acts of the cisalpine provinces, which acts, [since] they ought to have been sent to your predecessor, we have also decreed should be sent to you through the care of [Hincmar?]. We did this because [lit. since] it is right that your sanctity should consent to the honour <i.e. the office conferred> of him to whom you know the totality of bishops gives favour.[6] And now therefore committing the petition of the aforementioned archbishop, one wholly devoted to and beloved by us, to your judgement, we unhesitately assert this: [namely] that if, in giving honours to him, and in confirming his status, you have decreed to follow the custom and benevolence of the fathers and your predecessors, you will receive worthy obdience and most gracious service more fully and easily. <Lothar’s or Hincmar’s?>

Nunc autem suprascriptus Hincmarus archiepiscopus clementiae nostrae synodalia gesta super confirmatione sui et restauratione Remensis ecclesiae offerens, petiit magnificentiam nostram, ut a vestra paternitate ei pallium, sicut praedecessores vestri suis largiti sunt, interventu nostro optineremus. Cuius petitionem rato et absoluto iudicio implendam existimavimus, praesertim cum gesta synodalia provintiarum cisalpinarum novimus, quae etiam, ut antecessori vestro mitti debuerunt, destinanda vobis ipsius cura decrevimus, quoniam sanctitatem vestram eius honori consentire decet, cui plenitudinem episcoporum favere cognoscitis. Itaque iudicio sententiaeque vestrae petitionem iam dicti archiepiscopi, nobis admodum devoti dilectique, ex integro committentes hoc indubitanter asserimus, quoniam, si in dandis ei honoribus, confirmandoque ipsius statu morem benivolentiamque patrum et praedecessorum vestrorum imitari decreveritis, condigna obsequia gratissimamque vicem plenius faciliusque recipietis.

Otherwise we beseech you frankly <forgive the pun>, and we ask earnestly from your paternity that, whether the aforementioned archbishop shall have visited your sanctity on his own, or shall have sent legates of his church, you not deny to them the full force of your affability and conversation and familiarity, and instead [we ask] that you treat him as well as his men most kindly, for our sake [lit. for our love], and whatever he shall have asked of you with good reason, may you grant [along] with the grant of the pallium.

May divine Grace keep your paternity safe and mindful of us.

fiducialiter supplicamus, et obnixe ex vestra paternitate deposcimus, ut sive memoratus archiepiscopus per se ipsum vestram adierit sanctitatem, sive legatos ecclesiae suae direxerit, affabilitatis et conloquii familiaritatisque vestrae eis integerrimam copiam non negetis, sed benignissime tam ipsum quam etiam suos pro amore nostro tractetis, et quicquid ex vobis competenti ratione poposcerit, cum largitione pallii impleatis.

Memorem nostri paternitatem vestram incolomem gratia divina custodiet.

 Hrabanus, Epist. 28, c. 840-2

Hraban wishes Strength, Life and Perpetual Salvation upon the most Excellent Emperor Lothar.
 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 442-44


After my smallness published little commentaries on the Heptateuch and on the books of Kings and on Chronicles, and after the little expositions of the books of Ester, Judith and Machabees, as well as of the book of Wisdom and Ecclesiastes, and after the labours of other small works of my own <i.e. not exegesis?> at last I have put my hand to Jeremiah, so that, with sayings of the holy fathers gathered from all over, I might also open up the meaning of this prophecy a bit to the avid reader. And a necessity weighed upon me to accomplish this task, because I could not find anywhere a whole copy of the explanations of Jerome on this prophet, but only the first 6 books, which reach nearly to the middle of the prophetic book. And that most clever man Cassiodorius Senator said that he likewise could not find [the rest], though he gives witness that [Jerome] wrote 20 books on the topic. And thus <translating the ‘ut’ in ‘ut quia beati’>, with the prodding of my brothers who study the divine books with us, I myself have given effort to writing. Thereby also, what I was not able to finish from [the work of] one expositor and interpreter of the divine books, I would at least fulfil their petition[8] from many doctors and their diverse works. For it is said that Origin expounded the present prophet in 45 homilies in Greek, of which I have found 14 translated, which helped me not a little in this work, and [indeed] the explanations of the other prophets, which the aforementioned interpreter of the divine law published, in many places clearly explained passages of Jeremiah [for me]. Thus also blessed pope Gregory was more than a little helpful to us in our dictating <i.e. to scribes?>, he who in explaining passages of the holy books in his custom across various works, also unknotted many of the testimonies of that prophet.

Post commentariolos, quos mea parvitas in Eptaticum et in libros Regum atque in Paralipomenon aedidit, postque explanatiunculas historiarum Hester, Iudith et Machabeorum, necnon et voluminis Sapientiae atque Ecclesiastici aliorumque opusculorum meorum labores ad extremum in Hieremiam manum misi, ut, collectis undique sanctorum patrum sententiis, huius quoque prophetae sensus aliquantulum avido lectori aperirem. Eaque mihi ad hoc faciendum incubuit necessitas, ut quia beati Hieronimi explanationes in hunc prophetam nusquam ad integrum repperire potui, sed tantum primos sex libros, qui pertingunt pene usque ad medietatem voluminis prophetici, -- sicut nec vir sollertissimus Cassiodorus Senator invenire se posse asserit, quem tamen viginti libros inde scripsisse testatur -- cogentibus fratribus nostris, qui nobiscum divinos libros scrutantur, ipse scribendi impenderem studium: ac sic quod ex uno expositore et interprete divinorum librorum efficere non potui, saltem ex pluribus doctoribus eorumque diversis voluminibus illorum petitioni satisfacerem. Nam fertur Origenes XLV omiliis praesentem prophetam Attico sermone exposuisse. Ex quibus XIIII tantum translatas inveni, quae me in hoc opere non parum adiuvabant, explanationesque ceterorum prophetarum, quas praefatus divinae legis interpres aedidit, multis in locis Hieremiae sententias lucide exposuerunt. Sic et beatus papa Gregorius non parum nobis in dictando profuit, qui in diversis opusculis suis more suo divinorum librorum sententias exponendo, istius quoque prophetae plurima testimonia enodavit.
Therefore, with these things considered I decided to write one little work, which I nevertheless decided to spread across 20 books, lest the length of the books should produce impatience in the reader, and indeed so that brevity makes him <i.e. the reader> sharper for examining the individual points. Nor ought anyone call my efforts [lit. me] in the composition of this work presumptuous or unnecessary, as if [coming] after the best and most eloquent expositors, I, ineloquent and meagre in talent, wished to obscure by rash boldness the studies of great men. [No one should say this,] since they have [lit. he has] seen that I have collected the sayings of the fathers and that I have preserved everywhere their sense - though in some places for the sake of brevity I used my own words. [Furthermore,] the words or arguments that stand on the page have their source marked alongside. [Therefore] let them [lit. he] think it a convenient compendium, when they find gathered into one book what was to be read [only] in multiple codices; nor is it now necessary for them [lit. him] to labour in searching, when they find it sorted out to their ease by the labour of others.

His ergo omnibus consideratis unum opusculum condere disposui, quod tamen in viginti libros dispertire decrevi, ne longitudo librorum fastidium lectori faceret, immo brevitas ad singula discutienda acutiorem redderet.

Nec me presumptiosum aut superfluum quisquam in conditione huius operis debet dicere, quasi post optimos et disertissimos expositores ego elinguis et tenuis ingenii magnorum virorum studia temerario ausu velim obfuscare, cum me viderit eorum sententias collegisse et ipsorum sensus ubique servasse, licet in aliquibus brevitatis causa propriis sermonibus usus sim, notatis forinsecus eorum nominibus, quorum verba aut sensus in pagella consistunt; habeatque satis commodum compendium, quando id, quod in multis codicibus patrum scrutari debuit, in unum reppererit collectum: nec iam sibi laborare necesse esse inquirendo, ubi aliorum labore quieti suae invenerit consultum.

Finally, since a letter sent from your exellence, o Emperor, recently came to me, urging my smallness to explain for you the book of this prophet <i.e. Jeremiah> and also that I should work through, in a moral and mystical sense, the last part of the prophecy of Ezechial, from that spot, where the blessed pope Gregory finished his exposition of it ([an exposition which consisted of] ten homilies [on] the moral and allegorical sense [of the book]), up to the end [of the prophecy]. [But] it seemed arduous and very difficult to me, that I, weak and unwell and not so much sickly in body as also diminished in intellect, should attempt to obstinately attack this task, as if I were equal to it, [this task] which the most learned and eloquent masters of the Church judged to be beyond their powers and [from which] they blanchingly retreated. And though there was never much to me, nevertheless now I feel myself to be far different than I once was: now, oppressed with weighty illness, I lie more often in my bed, than I sit in my study for reading or for writing. Since for that reason ‘my harp is turned to mourning and my organ into the voice of those weeping’ <Job 30.31>, it pleases me more to bewail my sins than to make music by chant, speaking to the Lord [by quoting] the prophet: ‘I have been bent and humilitated completely: I roared by the groaning of my heart. And before You is all my desire, and my wailing has not been hidden from Thee. My heart has been thrown into disorder in me, and my fortitude has deserted me, and the light of my eyes <i.e. my sight> is not with me.’ <Ps. 37.9-11> ‘Pity me, according to Your great mercy, erasing my iniquity’ <Ps. 50.3>, ‘since my soul trusts in You.’ <Ps. 56.2> ‘Don’t cast me into the time of senility, and when my strength fails, do not abandon me!’ <Ps. 70.9>.

Ergo quoniam nuper epistola de excellentia vestra, o imperator, missa ad nos pervenit hortans parvitatem meam, ut huius prophetae librum vobis exponerem ultimamque partem Ezechielis prophetae, ab eo loco, ubi expositionem eius beatus papa Gregorius in decima omelia morali sensu atque allegorico finivit, ego usque ad finem morali sensu mysticoque perducerem: quod mihi arduum valdeque difficile visum est, ut hoc, quod doctissimi atque dissertissimi ecclesiae magistri ultra vires suas esse iudicaverunt et stupendo ab eo declinaverunt, ipse infirmus et debilis et non tam corpore aegrotus quam etiam sensu minutus pertinaciter quasi ad hoc idoneus temptarem aggredi. Qui licet aliquid magni numquam fuerim, tamen modo longe aliud me esse sentio quam fueram: qui gravi aegritudine pressus iam saepius in lectulo accumbo, quam ad scribendum vel ad legendum in meditatorio sedeo. Idcirco quoniam "versa est in luctum cythara mea et organum meum in vocem flentium", libet me magis peccata mea plorare quam cantu musicam sonare, dicendo ad Dominum cum propheta: "Incurvatus sum et humiliatus sum usquequaque: rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei. Et ante te est omne desiderium meum, et gemitus meus a te non est absconditus. Cor meum conturbatum est in me et deseruit me fortitudo mea et lumen oculorum meorum non est mecum". "Miserere mei secundum magnam misericordiam tuam delens iniquitatem meam" "quoniam in te confidit anima mea". "Ne proicias me in tempore senectutis et, cum defecerit virtus mea, ne derelinquas me".
Therefore, for this reason [I] gave up other things or rather left them for a suitable time, [namely] if perhaps the Lord should want to grant health to me through the immense grace of his benevolence, and [thereby] confer the possibility of writing and reading. For the moment I commit to your devotion and authority the present work of exposition, namely of the prophet Jeremiah, which I began with your well-remembered father August Louis still living, and which I had finished after his death. [I do this] so that you have it, and you read it, and you use it, along with your friends, for advancing [lit. exercising] your good study. And since the wishes of the many are all different, and so their talents, and their opinions change, it pleased me that I should seek you as the one and only benevolent and most wise judge [of my work], o most holy and august emperor Lothar, you whose mind divine wisdom illuminates, and does not permit to be marred by the trickery of jealous people, nor [does divine wisdom allow your mind] to be seduced by the strategem[s] of evil men, but [instead] it keeps you within the rule of equity and justice and leads you carefully on the way of truth. Therefore to you, a fair judge, I offer the present work, so that by your examination it be tested purely, and that it be guarded by your authority against the jealous snappings of envious men. For when I have had you as a favourable and kindly judge, I reckon for nothing the false opinions of others, and instead I will persevere as a lover of your justice, and a devoted follower of your holy wish[es], faithful to you as long as I shall live, so long as Christ allows.

Igitur ob hanc causam ceteris omissis vel potius ad aptum tempus reservatis, si forte Dominus per inmensam pietatis suae gratiam voluerit sanitatem mihi tribuere facultatemque legendi atque scribendi conferre, modo presens opus expositionis videlicet Hieremiae prophetae, quod bonae memoriae genitore vestro Hludowico Augusto adhuc vivente inchoaveram, et post obitum eius consummaveram, vestrae devotioni simul et auctoritati committo, ut habeatis illud legatisque et ad bonum studium vestrum exercendum cum vestris eo utamini. Et quoniam plurimorum diversae sunt voluntates et differunt ingenia vacillantque sententiae, placuit mihi te unum ac solum iudicem benevolum et sapientissimum expetere, sanctissime atque augustissime imperator Hludhari, cuius mentem divina sapientia illustrans non permittit fraude invidorum corrumpi, nec versutia perversorum seduci, sed in aequitatis et iustitiae regula conservans per viam veritatis sedulo deducit. Tibi ergo aequo iudici praesens opus offero, ut tuo examine ad purum probetur, et tua auctoritate contra invidos aemulorum morsus tueatur. Cum enim habuerim te propitium et benignum iudicem, pro nihilo aliorum opiniones falsas deputo, sed tui iuris amator ac tuae sanctae voluntatis devotus exsecutor, fidelis tibi, Christo tribuente, quamdiu vixero, perseverabo.

May the eternal goondess of Good, and His excellent majesty over all, continue to keep the most serene and pious August [Lothar] safe from his enemies on earth, and may He afterwards allow [Lothar] to reign blessedly and perpetually in heaven.
Aeterna Dei bonitas et super omnia excellens maiestas serenissimum ac piissimum Augustum ab hostibus in terra diutius protegat inlaesum et postmodum in caelis faciat perpetualiter regnare beatum.

 Hrabanus, Epist. 46, c. 841-851

Hraban, most lowly of the servants of God, prays for salvation in Christ to his famed mistress Ermengarda the August, most worthy of every honour.
 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 500-501


Mindful of your kindness and sweetness, by which you received me ([though I was] unworthy) in a past time at Mainz, when you were there yourself with lord emperor Lothar, always thereafter I have devoted [sc. to you] and I have besought the Lord with continual prayers, so that He might deign to multiply for you that which I first heard about you by your good repute [reading bonā famā; text as edited would be ‘about you of good repute’], and then in your presence experienced, and [that He might deign] to lead you to the reward of eternal beatitude. I trust in my God, that He will never allow that mind, which he illuminates, through His benevolence and His true charity, by the gift of His Spirit, to be free from the felicity of eternal beatitude, because good will stands as the beginning and the makings of true beatitude. <i.e. she will always have a good will, and thus will never be free from some measure of aeterna beatitudo?> Perfection of it [good will?], however, is the gift of God alone.

Memor clementiae vestrae et mansuetudinis, qua me preterito tempore in Mogontiaco oppido indignum suscepistis, quando ibi apud dominum Hlotharium imperatorem presentialiter affuistis, semper deinceps devotus fui et Dominum assiduis precibus deprecabar, ut hoc, quod antea de vobis bonae famae audivi et postea praesens expertus sum, inenarrabili gratiae suae dono vobis multiplicare atque ad praemium aeternae beatitudinis perducere dignetur. Credo in Deo meo, quod illam mentem, quam sui spiritus munere per benivolentiam et veram caritatem illustrat, numquam ab aeternae beatitudinis felicitate vacuam fieri permittat, quia bona voluntas verae beatitudinis inicium et incrementum extat. Perfectio autem eius solius Dei donum est.

But I, because I can add nothing to your virtues and spiritual richness, have decided to share with you, if you think it worthy, that which, from the generosity of divine piety, I have been able to work out in meditating on and discussing the Holy Scriptures. As such I sent first to your dginity my exposition of the book of queen Ester, whose prudence, constancy of mind, and victory over enemies provides a most noble example to all the faithful, so that they trust that they will be liberated from all enemies, [so long as] they keep the divine law and keep faith in the goodness of God. But if these things <i.e. which I have written> shall first have been kindly taken up by your excellence, then afterwards I [shall] dispose myself to confer more [to you] by similar study out of [lit. in] my loyalty to you.

May divine majesty deign to keep your life free from harm, and flourishing in prosperity!

Ego autem, quia nichil vestrae opulentiae et virtutibus addere possum, saltem hoc quod ex largitate divinae pietatis in sacris scripturis meditando et disserendo elaborare potui, vobiscum, si dignum ducitis, participare decerno. Idcirco primum vestrae dignitati expositionem libri Hester reginae transmisi, cuius prudentia et constantia mentis victoriaque de hostibus nobilissimum quibusque fidelibus praebet exemplum, ut divinam legem servantes et spem firmam in Dei bonitate habentes confidant se de universis inimicis liberandos. Si autem hec benigne a vestra excellentia primum suscepta fuerint, deinceps plura in obsequium vestrum simili studio conferre dispono.

Vitam vestram illaesam et prosperitate pollentem maiestas divina conservare dignetur.

O powerful queen, I beg you accept an example

of a powerful queen very pleasing to God.

She rightly oversaw the salvation of he people

- behold the very propitious goods of her life.

Saving her relatives by prayers, she trampled enemies also,

believing in the Lord, she rejoicingly subdued all.

Likewise also [Ermengard] always have care of your

subject people, revealing this [care][9] in countenance, mind and deed.

Then to you the heavenly-throned One will provide

joyful times, a pacified realm, all things good and just.

And after this life you will climb to the ark of life,

in order that there you might have the blessed kingdoms of heaven.

The delights of the world perish, every beautiful thing perishes,[10]

the kingdoms of the world fall to ruins, the world itself falls to ruin,

and [likewise] the right and authority, the vitur and glory of the world,

the day itself passes, black night fades in the sky.

The leaves fall, the arbutus trees grow dry in the forests,

the languid seeds fall down with the flower cut.

All beautiful things of the world are everywhere[11] overturned.

Only the Love of Christ remains all around.

And whatever good things the brief guest does,

remain safe above with the piety of God.

For this reason I advise that whatever of outstanding

work your right hand can effect, you do with much effort.

Because after this life, there is no possibility of doing good,

but instead each heaps the fruit of one’s [past] work,

the time is now suitable and acceptable to serve Christ,

God, Whom love serves well.

To this One, offer your obedience in mind, deed,

and in kind speech, and thus you please the Lord.

<?> Hidden rewards [with] perpetual gifts in them</?>[12]

Are for this reason kept for you and glory with God.

Let the majesty of the heavenly thunderer lead you thither,

that you may live always happy in the ark of heaven.

I have written these verses for you, Queen, as I lie

sick in bed, [but] you be well forever.


O regina potens, exemplar posco potentis

Accipe regine valde Deo placite,

Que gentis propriae praefecit rite salutem

Ecce sue vite valde benigna bona.

Salvans cognatos precibus contrivit et hostes,

In Domino sperans cuncta subegit ovans.

Sic quoque subiecte curam tu semper habeto

Plebis, hanc relevans oreque, mente, manu.

Tunc tibi celsithronus prestabit tempora leta,

Pacatum imperium, cunctaque iusta, bona.

Et post hanc vitam conscendes lucis ad arcem,

Illic quo teneas regna beata poli.

Delicie mundi pereunt, perit omneque pulchrum,

Regna ruunt mundi, mundus et ipse ruit,

Et decus et sceptrum, virtus et gloria mundi,

Transit et ipsa dies, nox ruit atra polo.

Folia decidunt, arescunt arbuta silvis,

Flacida deciso gramina flore cadunt.

Omnia vertuntur mundi speciosa per orbem,

Solus amor Christi semper ubique manet.

Et quecumque facit parvi bona temporis hospes,

Salva manent sursum cum pietate Dei.

Quapropter moneo quicquid tua dextera possit,

Egregii nimium strenue fac operis.

Post quia hanc vitam iam operandi est nulla potestas,

Sed fructus operis quisque metet proprii,

Tempus nunc aptum est atque acceptabile Christo

Inservire Deo, cui bene servit amor.

Huic tu mente, manu <...> et sermone benigno

Obsequium presta, sicque places Domino.

Premia perpetuis in se recondita donis

Hinc tibi servantur gloria cumque Deo.

Quo te perducat maiestas celsitonantis,

Ut vivas felix semper in arce poli.

Hos tibi decumbens eger, regina, grabatto

Composui versus, tu sine fine vale.

Hrabanus, Epist. 52, c. 855

To the Most Excellent and Serene King LOTHAR the meanest [13] servant of your Sublimity HRABAN [sends greetings]

The Cena Cypriani[14] occurred to me, as I desired to write something for your dignity which would be delectable and would sharpen the acumen of your thinking; in this work is contained the recollection of many men. But because therein are some names, which are not found in the sacred books, with these omitted I went through the pages of the O.T. and collecting the names of many fathers I put together this little work in which the characteristics of both the good and bad [characters] are found. Indeed I trust that these things will both be welcome to your serenity in your re-reading or hearing [of the text] for the sake of humour <i.e. ‘for better appreciating its humour>, and useful on account of how it recalls to mind many things <from the Bible?>. Therefore when your highness shall have wished to read or hear these things <i.e. the Cena>, returning to the pages of the O.T., you would [lit. will] find why particular characteristics are imputed to particular individuals. But because [those pages of the O.T.] did not make complete mention of all characters <i.e. the references are scattered across many pages>, there was need of a compendium, lest the longness [of the O.T.] should produce weariness <i.e. for one searching out the characteristics of individual figures> and such that brevity should sustain [excite?] the mind of the reader.
MGH Epp. 5, p. 506


Cupienti mihi vestre dignitati aliquid scribere, quod delectabile foret et acumen sensus vestri acueret, occurrit mihi caena Cypriani, in qua multorum memoria continetur. Sed quia inibi quedam talia repperiuntur nomina, que in sacris non inveniuntur libris, his omissis percurri paginas veteris scripture et multorum nomina patrum colligens hoc opusculum perparvum compegi, in quo et bonorum et pravorum officia repperiuntur. Quoniam, sicut presens aecclesia malorum et bonorum in se congeriem retinet, ita et hec scedula utrorumque ordines in se continet. Hec vero vestre serenitati relegenti sive audienti et grata fore credo ad iocunditatem et utilia propter multarum memoriam rerum. Cum ergo vestra celsitudo hec legere aut audire voluerit, recurrens ad veteris instrumenti paginas, quare singulis singula sint inputata, repperiet. Sed quia non omnimodis omnium fecerunt mentionem, causa fuit compendii, ne prolixitas fastidium pareret et brevitas animum legentis attolleret.

 Angelomus, Epist. 7, c. 851-2

ANGELOMUS, meanest of monks, by pleadingly entreating entreats to obtain perennial glory for the most Glorious and Distinguished Emperor, Lord LOTHAR, always August.
 MGH Epp. 5, pp. 625-30


Recently your sage prudence deigned to summon me, [who was] staying in your palace under pretence (I should say) of teaching the liberal arts and especially of unwinding of the divine scriptures, to your wise presence (just as you remember) and to hold prayer with me <or perhaps, a ‘spiritual discussion’?>. But after the conversations about the celestial life and the support of prayers, it pleased [you] to order, by command, nay rather by direction, that I effect by the work of the pen a short text on the Song of Songs, one following the interpretations of the old fathers and according to the limits of my talent; [for in the Song of Songs] it is agreed that the marriage of Christ and the Church, and mysteries of allegories are contained beyond the other books of the Old Testament. Also [you ordered], so that I speak truthfully, that I should not refuse to expound [it] nor omit to show [it] to the presence of your highness, whereby your wisdom might have [it] frequently read for your ears after the affairs of state. [Your wisdom thereby shall] extend itself in contemplation, by reading spiritual things for the sake of consolation, away from the tumult of problems of the empire and especially from the loss (though we trust it was God’s will) of your most holy wife, [who was] chosen for the college of saints and inscribed with the brilliance of beatitude; [on account of whom you] remain alone sighing and groaning, just like a solitary turtle dove, whose nature, so the scientists say, is such that if once it has perchance lost its mate, it seeks not another, but keeping chastity it remains in a certain way a widow. And about the turtle dove we read in the same book ‘The voice, he says, of the turtle-dove was heard in our land’ <SofS, 2.12>, that is, the [voice] of Christ speaking: ‘Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven approaches!’ <Matt. 3.2>. ‘And your cheeks are beautiful like those of a turtle-dove’ <SofS 1.9>, with the lines of your cheeks filled with tears, and you were able to pour out prayers in hiding to the Lord for your excesses and for the absolution of the most pious empress.

Nuper etenim excubante me in vestro sacro palatio sub optentu, inquam, traditionum liberalium artium enucleationumque divinarum scilicet scripturarum dignata est vestra sagax prudentia, sicuti non est inmemor, accersire vestrae sollerti presentiae mecumque habere oraculum. Sed post spiritalia caelestis vitae colloquia et suffragia orationum placuit imperando immo intentando imperare, ut stili officio iuxta sensum antiquorum patrum et frugalitatem ingenioli mei opusculum in Canticis canticorum Salomonis, ubi Christi et aecclesiae coniunctio allegoriarumque misteria pre caeteris veteris testamenti biblis contineri probantur, digererem et, ut ita dicam, exponere non abnuerem atque presentiae culminis vestri ostendere non omitterem, quo haberet crebro post dispositionem rei publicae frequentata auribusque lectione relata sollertia vestra, in contemplatione se extendens a tumultu causarum imperii atque potissimum de amissione sanctissimae coniugis Deo annuente, ut credimus, collegio sanctarum allectae alboque beatitudinis inscriptae consolationis gratia legendo theorica, et velut turtur singularis, cuius natura est, ut phisici ferunt, si semel coniugem casu perdiderit, alium non requirere, sed castimoniam servans vidua quodammodo permanere, solitarius ingemiscens atque paenitens. De quo in eodem libro legitur: "Vox, inquit, turturis audita est in terra nostra", id est Christi dicentis: "Paenitentiam agite, appropinquabit enim regnum caelorum".   "Et pulchrae sunt genae tuae ut turturis" imbre lacrimarum genarum rimulis infusis, preces pro vestris excessibus et absolutione piissimae imperatricis Domino in abscondito fundere quivissetis.
And with this heard, growing pale at the weight of the work, I began to wonder, astonished, nay rather stupefied, why it had pleased your clemency to injoin so great a task, one to be feared even by the most learned men, to unlearned me, [who does] not possess all the disciplines of the liberal arts, and [who is] weak in the oracles and texts of the divine scriptures, [especially] since you have many more learned men under your rule <translating monarchia>, who have been able to handle [such subjects] honestly and catholicly. But considering the reasoning of your command, and going over quietly that apostolic dictum by which it is said: ‘Be subject to every human creature for God’s sake, whether to a distinguished king, or to dukes, just as if they were sent by Him’ <1 Peter 2.13-14>, but also especially [with] that [saying of] the Lord [in mind], when it is promised: ‘Amen’, He said, ‘I say to you that whatever you ask for in prayer, trust that you will receive it, and it will be done for you.’ <Mark 11.24, my translation>, and noticing also with the consideration of my mind, that what is ordered by such great majesty, would not be without divine assent, I presumed not to refuse with a bold countenance by any apology or twise of excuse, but rather (as I was able), supported by divine aid, I attempted to be obedient, though hesitatingly, to the imperial orders.[15]

Quo audito pondus tantae rei expavescens attonitus, immo obstupefactus, admirari caepi, cur clementia vestra tantum opus, viris etiam eruditissimis formidandum, mihi indocto omnesque liberalium artium disciplinas non nacto atque oraculis elogiisque divinarum scripturarum inbecilli iniungere libuisset, cum plures haberet in monarchia doctiores, qui honeste et catholice tractare potuissent. Sed censuram imperii vestri considerans tacitoque pertractans illud apostolicum quo dicitur: "Estote subiecti omni humanae creature propter Deum, sive regi quasi precellenti, sive ducibus tamquam ab eo missis", sed et potius illud dominicum, ubi pollicetur: "Amen, inquit, dico vobis quicquid orantes petitis, credite, quia accipietis et fiet vobis"; animadvertens quoque interna trutinatione mentis, quod sine nutu divino non foret, quod a tanta maiestate imperaretur, temerario ore refragare nullo apologetico anfractuque excusationis presumpsi, sed magis ut quiverim divinis fretus suffragiis, imperiis imperialibus quamquam pavidus obsecundare temptassem.
<?> But I did not think it of little import that I should not seem to exceed the bounds of regular discipline and, without the affirmations and likewise the orders of my magnificent lord and abbot (namely your uncle Drogo), call the pen to writing </?>,[16] not only because he is the son of Charlemagne and brother of your most holy and pious father, Louis Caesar, but [also] because he was the highest bishop and my outstanding abbot. And when I had brought the matter by suggestion to his ears, and had indicated the order of the matter <i.e. how things had unfolded with Lothar?>, with [these facts] taken in by ear, he not only did not refuse [the idea],[17] but, as he is very mild and persuadable by affability, and most distinguished in kindness and most eager toward every good thing, in the custom of his modesty he frankly ordered me not only with free authority, but [also] with flattering calmness and pious address, that I should not refuse to approach, insofar as I was able, the imperial[ly-set] task and spiritual deed.

Sed non floccipendens, quod sine magnifici domini et abbatis mei, scilicet Druogonis patrui vestri, assertionibus pariterque iussionibus, ne regularem excedere viderer disciplinam et stilum appulere ad exarandum debuissem, non solum quia Karoli Magni imperatoris filius atque frater sanctissimi et piissimi genitoris vestri Hludowici cesaris, sed quia erat summus pontifex atque abba meus egregius. Cumque sacris eius auribus suggerendo intulissem et ordinem rei indicassem, quo auribus hausto non solum rennuit, verum, ut est mitissimus et affabilitate suadibilis, benignitate prestantissimus et ad omne bonum ferventissimus, more suae modestiae non tantum ingenue libera auctoritate imperavit, sed blanda tranquillitate et pio affatu ut augustale opus et spiritale decus quomodo quivissem aggredi non abnuissem.
Hearing this, and then at last roused by his <i.e. Drogo’s> exhortations, [and] driven by your well-meaning accostings and holy commands, and especially supported by divine aid, [and] provoked by the words [prayers?] of the holy doctors, [and] because I find no single [composition?] on the whole from anyone, I will attempt to heap up and confine in the limits of a little book that which I was able to find sprinkled about in the words of the holy doctors (amongst those works in our possession), and especially [in the words] of the most blessed Roman pope Gregory of decorous eloquence; [a work which is] brought together, with my pen using a brief (though unpolished) style rather than full style, both from the teaching of the master <i.e. Gregory? Or singular for plural?> and from the conjecture of my own thinking. [I did this so that] your highness might have something just as an ‘encheridion’, namely a little excerpt manual, which it may please to read out at suitable times, with God so wishing, after the business of rulership, and after the worries of the Church, for seeking divine consolation <reading ‘ad consolationem divina rimandam’>. And since a resting man is not able to go over the wide field of scripture, let it not irk him to study at least briefly our little writings.

Quod audiens sic iam tandem eius exhortationibus animatus, vestris almificis affaminibus sanctisque iussionibus adactus, potissimumque divinis auxiliis fretus, sanctorumque doctorum orationibus provocatus, quod, o doctissime princeps, in doctorum penes nos sanctorum sparsim invenire potero, presertim in beatissimi papae Gregorii Romanae decoris eloquentiae dictis, quia a nullo solum per omnia repperio compactum atque ex traditione magistri ingeniive mei coniectura stilo currente, commatico potius compendiosoque sermone, licet inpolito, aggredi temptabo et in libelli modum finire conabor, ut habeat vestra celsitudo velut encheridion, hoc est manualem quodammodo libellum excerptum, quem congruis horis lectitare Deo favente post studia imperii, post sollicitudines aecclesiae ad consolationem divina rimando complaceat. Et quia campos divinarum scilicet scripturarum non valet percurrere latissimos, breviter saltem stromata nostra non pigeat scrutari quietus.

 But it ought to be recognised that, [though it] is the custom of certain writers, we on the contrary have not marked out on the page the names of the individual doctors [we have used] seperately with clear letters, <?> but rather we have decided to join together from the writings of those expositors some things out of many, namely with superfluous things omitted by cutting back for brevity, [while] many things [we decided] to make longer by interpolating some things of our own, namely by choosing out some things from longer works[18] (following/according to their sense) to conjoin. Thus indeed we have decreed to thus complete [this] little book of sayings, by adding on brief things and in turn longer things, with various allusions to [lit. of] dramas continuing throughout,</?>[19] not fearing those learned men, who twist up their noses as if they were wise, nor those, who are prompter to reprehend than to imitate, and who are not able to do what they grumblingly strive to repoach. For we know, we know, that in a church organ some pipes are longer, others shorter, but with one breadth given by the bellows and with a learned hand guiding, and pressing with the fingers, the voices of the trumpets, although there are different pipes, sweetly render a harmony and a sweetly tuned harmonious song to astonished ears as if [they were] a single trumpeter.[20] Thus indeed, although there are some sentences that are longer with superfluous things cut out, and others briefer with necessary things added in, with the Holy Spirit puffing through a single body, [and] with the hand directing, and with its digits holding the pen, we shall have dared to complete the commentaries of my little manual using [lit. with] sententiae stuck together in turn. [We did this] with that one advising, who says prophetically in this book <the SofS> about the blended gifts of the Church: ‘Cyprus with nard, nard with saffron, sweet cane and cinnamon with all the woods of Lebanon <i.e. frankincense?>, myrrh and aloe, with all the best perfumes’ <my translation, with suggestions from Douay-Rheims>. But as to how these virtues of the church sing together all blended, alternating with each other, I will discuss later in its own place.

Sed sciendum vero, quia ut moris est quorundam scriptorum, non in pagella e regione singulorum doctorum viritim litteris insignitis assignaverimus nomina omnia, sed ex eorum dictis profecto expositorum nonnulla compaginare ex multimodis, breviter recidendo videlicet demptis superfluis, multimoda, nonnulla vero ex prolixioribus sensum eorum sequentes coniungere decerpendo, aliqua nostra interpolando augmentare censuimus longiora. Sic nimirum sic diversis allusionibus dramatum percurrentibus brevia syrmataque vicissim nectendo sententiarum explere libellum sancivimus, non pertimescentes litteratos, qui nasum veluti sapientes contorquent, nec eos, qui promptiores ad reprehendendum quam ad imitandum, quique quod reprehendere subsannando moliuntur, adimplere nequeunt. Scimus namque, scimus, quod concentu organi fistulae aeris aliae longiores sunt, aliae breviores, sed uno flatu follibus amministrato et docta manu imperante digitisque attrectando unam, cum sint diversae fistulae, armoniam velut salpix, tubarum voces atque concentum dulci cantilena melos afflando attonitis auribus suaviter reddunt. Sic profecto cum sint aliae sententiae longiores recisis superfluis, aliaeque breviores additis necessariis, flante Spiritu sancto per corpus unum imperante manu digitisque stilum tangentibus, vicissim conglutinatis sententiis dictationes enchyridionis explere ausi erimus, adminiculante illo, qui in hoc libro de aecclesiae donis permixtis ait prophetice: "Cyprus cum nardo, nardus cum croco, fistula et cinnamomum cum universis lignis Libani, myrra et aloe, cum omnibus primis unguentis". Sed qualiter istae virtutes aecclesiae alternando sibi permixtim concinant, suo in posterum dicemus in loco.
Whence now at last I suppliantly beg the imperial office and equally those who shall have perhaps had the opportunity to read [my work], that [the imperial office] not take horror at it or neglect it, but let it read through by perusal using diligent consideration, and gratefully let it search out the medicines of the soul, because in the custom of physicians, who take care to weigh [things] with the balances of an accurate scale so that they can properly put together various unguents and antidotes, such that one thing does not outbalance another, [and such that] even less do they leave out useful things from others, [with the result that] they instead put together balanced [medicines with the help of the] scale, I have attempted to weigh these sententiae by the balanced scale of my mind, and to put together (in a way) both antidotes and medicines for souls.

Unde iam tandem supplex exoro decus augustale aeque et eos quibus fortassis legere contigerit, ut quod ego more medicorum ac pigmentariorum, qui ut diversa unguenta et antidota temperatim possint componere, bilanciis statere aeque ponderare satagunt, ut una alteram non superabundet, nec de aliis minus utilia derelinquant, sed aequa lance sua componant, studui aequali lance mentis trutinare sententias et mella quodammodo et antidota animarum componere, non horrescat nec squalescat, sed diligenti exagio lustrando perlegat, atque medicamina animae gratanter investiget.
But before the prologue comes to its end, it should be noted that nothing carnal nor historical is to be sought in this book, and instead let it not be doubted that the mysteries of allegories are contained [within]. For reference is made to ‘kisses’, ‘teats’, ‘cheeks’ and ‘legs’. In such words the sacred writing is not to be laughed at, but rather [reading maius for maior] the mercy of God is to be considered, because when He refers to the members of the body, He thereby calls [us] into His affection <affection for Him or by Him?>. That is, we should consider how wondrously and mercifully He works with us, He who descends even unto the words of base love, as Pope Gregory explains,[21] so that He might light up our heart[s] to incite sacred love [lit. ‘to the incitement of sacred love’]. But as He debases Himself by speaking thus, thereby He exalts us to understanding, because from the words of this [base] love we learn with what strength we are to burn in love of divinity. But we should carefully watch out lest we return to thinking about exterior things, when we have heard the words of exterior love. For this scripture is, in [terms of] words, just like a painting in [terms of] colours and contents. And one would be very foolish who pays such close attention to the colours of the painting, that he ignores the contents. And if we embrace the words, which are said to be the outside, and we ignore the meaning, it is as if we hold only to the colours [of the painting], ignoring the contents which are depicted. Indeed, we know that after man was expelled from the joys of paradise, and came into the peregrination of the present life, he had a heart blind to spiritual understanding. And if it were said, by the Divine Voice, to this blind heart ‘Follow God’ or ‘Love God’, on account of the frozen torpor of insensibility he would not grasp what he heard. Therefore the Divine Word spoke to the languishing and frozen soul through a few enigmas, and [working] from the things which [man] knew, He secretly suggested the love which [man] knew not, and [thus] made for the soul placed far off from God a something like a machine (as the aforementioned writer <Gregory> says) so that by [this machine] man might be lifted to God <Moralia in Job VI.37>. Indeed, with the enigmas interposed, while man recognises in the words something which is his <i.e. familiar>, in the sense of the words he understands something which is not his <i.e. divine>, and [thus] through earthly words eternal words are understood.

Sed antequam prolegomena ad calcem perveniat, notandum est, quod in hoc libro nil carnale nilque hystoriale requirere debeat, sed allegoriarum misteria contineri non dubitet. Nominantur enim in hoc libro oscula, nominantur ubera, nominantur genae, nominantur femora. In quibus verbis non irridenda est sacra descriptio, sed maior Dei misericordia consideranda est, quia dum membra corporis nominat, sic ad amorem suum vocat. Unde considerandum est, quam mirabiliter nobiscum et misericorditer operetur, qui ut cor nostrum ad instigationem sacri amoris accenderet, usque ad turpis amoris, ut papa Gregorius exponit, verba descendit. Sed unde se loquendo humiliat, inde nos ad intellectum exaltat, quia ex sermonibus huius amoris discimus, qua virtute in divinitatis amore ferveamus. Hoc autem nobis sollerter intuendum est, ne, cum verba exterioris amoris audivimus, ad exteriora sentienda remeamus. Sic enim est scriptura haec in verbis, sicut pictura in coloribus et rebus. Et nimis stultus est qui sic coloribus picturae inhereat, ut res ignoret. Nos enim si verba, quae exterius dicuntur, amplectimur et sensus ignoramus quasi ignorantes res quae depicte sunt solos colores tenemus. Scimus enim, quia, postquam genus humanum a paradysi gaudiis expulsum est et in istam peregrinationem vitae presentis veniens cecum cor ab spiritali intellectu habet. Cui ceco cordi si diceretur voce divina: "Sequere Deum" vel "dilige Deum", per torporem insensibilitatis frigidum non caperet quod audiret. Propterea per quaedam enigmata sermo divinus animae torpenti et frigide loquitur et de rebus quas novit latenter insinuat amorem quem non novit et animae longe a Deo infra positae, ut prefatus tractator ait, quasi quandam machinam fecit, ut per illam levetur ad Deum. Interpositis quippe enigmatibus dum quiddam in verbis cognoscit quod suum est, in sensu verborum intellegit quod non est suum et per terrena verba sperantur aeterna.
For this reason, o most invincible Caesar, we beg, that you seek after nothing historical in this volume, but that you seek out the flowers of allegory along with the moral sense, which [moral interpretation] we have decided to adjoin in certain places for your consolation, lest pressed only by the word-plays of allegories your highness loses patience for reading theoretical things. Let [your highness] hear also what is said through that same Solomon: ‘It is the glory of God to conceal the word and the glory of kings to seek it out’ <Prov. 25.2>[22] For God appears all the more gloriously to the mind seeking Him out, the more subtlety one investigates so that He appears. Therefore we ought to seek out what God conceals with mysteries. Indeed for that reason follows ‘and the glory of kings is to seek out the Word’. For kings are those who know to rule and understand not only the kingdoms of the earth, but also their bodies and the motions of the flesh. To whom it is also said through the Psalmist: ‘And now kings, understand: be instructed, you who judge the earth’ <Ps. 2.10> et cetera. Therefore the glory of kings is to investigate the word, because it is [to] the praise of those living well to look closely at the secret things [within] the commandments of God. Therefore, most glorious Emperor, examine the scriptures, so that by penetrating and understanding the divine mysteries your wisdom and intelligence may be able to rule and understand the desires and motions of the flesh, and [so that your wisdom may be able] to teach others subject to your rule, and to govern most honestly [your] actions <reading actus for mactus, cf. MGH, note l> with prudence and foresight.

With these things examined, nay rather entreated beforehand, at last we will attempt to turn the pen to those things which you commanded. May your glory, the splendour of the Franks, always be well in Christ, by flourishing in felicitous successes.

Idcirco, o invictissime cesar, oramus, ut nil in hoc volumine hystorialiter requiras, sed flores allegoriarum cum morali intellectu investiges, quem quibusdam in locis ob tuam consolationem subnectere decrevimus, ne solummodo allegoriarum allusionibus pressus violenter vestra celsitudo theoretica legendo fastidiat. Audiat etiam quod per eundem Salomonem dicitur: "Gloria Dei celare verbum et gloria regum investigare sermonem".Menti enim Deum quaerenti tanto Deus gloriosius apparet, quanto subtilius investigatur ut appareat. Debemus itaque quod Deus misteriis celat requirere. Ideoque sequitur: "et gloria regum investigare sermonem". Qui enim non solummodo regna terrarum, sed corpora sua vel motus carnis regere et investigare noverunt, reges sunt. Quibus et per psalmistam dicitur: "Et nunc reges, intellegite, erudimini, qui iudicatis terram" et reliqua. Regum ergo gloria est investigare sermonem, quia bene viventium laus est perscrutari secreta mandatorum Dei. Scrutare ergo, gloriosissime imperator, scripturas, quatenus misteria divina penetrando et intellegendo desideria et motus carnis investigare et regere vestra sapientia et sollertia ceterosque imperio vestro subiectos docere et mactus prudentia consultuque honestissime gubernare valeat.

His itaque prelibatis immo efflagitatis, tandem ad ea quae imperastis stilum flectere conabimur. Valeat semper in Christo prosperis successibus pollendo gloria vestra decusque Francorum, oramus.

 * * *  * * *
Behold at last you note, magnificent Caesar, that nothing historical <i.e. literal> is found in this volume, as we said in the introduction; but rather all things are redolent with the word-plays of allegories, and are perfumed by the motions of dramatic things and the sweetnesses of moral [meanings?]. Wherefore I wish to persuade, nay rather suggest (although rashly) to the excellence of your highness, as one who has obtained now a great knowledge of wisdom, and ensured the defence and oversight of the holy Church, that you not only protect [the Church] by the support of arms against the incursions of outside peoples, [while] standing on the battlefield defended by columns of captains and girt with troops of knights, but also that you remain devoted and zealous toward the holy teaching and understanding of the divine scriptures, namely so that amongst your subjects you may defend that same holy Church from the barbs of evil internal spirits, who always seek to extinguish not the bodies but the the souls of the faithful, [you being] equipped with the shields of the Gospels, girt with the swords of the divine scriptures, adorned with the spears of [Patristic?] sententiae.

Ecce tandem animadvertis, magnifice Cesar, quoniam, ut in ysagogen praefati sumus, nil hystorialiter in hoc volumine repperitur, sed omnia allegoriarum allusionibus redolent et dramatum decursionibus moraliumque suavitatibus fraglant. Quocirca suadere, immo suggerere, quamquam temere, excellentiae culminis vestri exopto, ut qui iam magnam sollertiae sapientiam nactus estis et defensionem tuitionemque sanctae aecclesiae indeptus, ut non solum armorum suffragio in procinctu bellorum constitutus, cuneis procerum vallatus et turmis militum constipatus ab incursionibus exterarum gentium adversariorum eam protegas, verum sacrae doctrinae et intellegentiae divinarum scripturarum devotus et sedulus persistas, ut eandem sanctam aecclesiam in subiectis ab internorum videlicet malignorum spirituum iaculis, anciliis evangeliorum munitus, gladiis divinarum scripturarum accinctus, spiculis sententiarum ornatus, defendere possis, qui semper non corpora, sed animas fidelium extinguere querunt.
* * *
 * * *
Now at last with God’s help the book demands an end, [a book] which we brought to the end with Himself advising, and using (I believe) correct and true investigation according to the the sententiae <reading sententias> of the doctors and the weakness of our intellect; [thus] we have tried to obey (though blanchingly) your august imperial decrees, o august Caesar. And I, a suppliant, supplicatingly entreat the excellence of your highness, that your nobility should not decline to peruse this [book] with careful examination, and that your wisdom should likewise attempt to read through the minor works of the holy doctors with the greatest attention. For if the emperor Theodosius,[23] born and educated under the empire, was of such great excellence that he obtained the single rule of the whole world, [and such that] took care to copy out completely with his own weak fingers and hands that most polished ([indeed] wondrous in its polish) book of Priscian the grammarian, the glory of Roman eloquence, and, cutting off social intercourse, with imperial banquets despised, he was accustomed always to live from the monetary reward of this [book? i.e. the price of sale of the copies?], and he burned with such zeal, that by continuous meditation and in his own hand he wrote out the divinely inspired Roman law, and he cut back and coerced by his stubbornness the distorted customs of the Romans to the norms of rectitude using (in a way) the scalpel of the law, so much that with these things done an angelic trumpet[er?][24] from on high intoned to him in a nocturnal vision and brought voice to him through the apparition in [lit. of] a dream, saying: ‘Let not’, he said, ‘the book of the law retreat from your lips, meditate on it day and night’ <cf. Ps. 1.2>, <here taking up the ‘for if’ from the beginning of this long sentence> how much the more ought you, o most meek Prince, ponder by continual meditation the authority of the hallowed scriptures[25] and seek after the heights of the divine law as if they were [the summit of] a mountain, so that instructed in spiritual teaching, you may be able to sagely betake yourself to the higher places of virtues <i.e. heaven>, and call others to the path of rectitude. Certainly you shall not be able to completely reach there <reading quo for quod, i.e. heaven?> and climb that mountain of divine scripture, except with wise study, purity of heart and chastity of body.

Iam enim tandem aliquando Deo favente liber finem postulat, quem calcetenus ipso adminiculante recta, ut credimus, indagine veraque iuxta sententiam doctorum nostrique fragilitatem sensus perduximus et imperialibus decretis atque augustalibus, o Cesar auguste, quamquam pavide parere studuimus. Quem supplex supplicando supplico excellentiae culminis vestri, ut subtili investigatione lustrare nobilitas vestra non pigeat, et summo studio sanctorum doctorum opuscula pari vestra sollertia perlegere studeat. Si enim Theodosius imperator, in imperio natus et educatus, tantae excellentiae extitit, ut singularem totius orbis monarchiam obtineret, Prisciani grammatici, Romanae aeloquentiae decoris, librum dissertitudine mira dissertissimum, calcetenus teneris digitulis propriisque articulis describere curaret, atque ex eius precio distractoque commertio despectis imperialibus dapibus vivere semper consueverat, et tanto studio viguit, ut iugi meditatione et propria descriptione legem Romanam divinitus inspiratam describeret, et mores Romanorum distortos mucrone quodammodo legis ad normam rectitudinis corrigeret atque a sua duritia coherceret, adeo ut his expletis angelica salpix nocturna visione celitus ei intonuit et per oroma somnii gratulando vocem extulit dicens: "Liber, inquit, legis non recedat de ore tuo, meditare in eo die ac nocte, quanto magis, o mitissime princeps, debes propriis studiis sacratarum scripturarum auctoritatem iugi meditatione percurrere et altitudinem divinae legis velut quodammodo montem appetere, ut doctrina spiritali instructus, et te sagaciter ad altiora virtutum provehere, et alios ad tramitem rectitudinis provocare valeas. Quod profecto plenius penetrare et quodammodo montem divinae scripturae subire, nisi sollerti studio et puritate cordis et pudicitia corporis non quiveris.

For the holy scripture, as the oft-mentioned writer says <Gregory I>, is a mountain, from which the Lord comes in[to] our hearts. About which the prophet says ‘God will come from mount Lebanon and the holy from a cloudy and crowded mountain’ <cf. Habacuc 3.3, but in the Itala>. That mountain is crowded by sententiae and cloudy through allegories. But let it be known, that when the voice sounds on the mountain, we are ordered to wash our clothes and be cleansed from every iniquity of the flesh, if we would hurry to approach the mountain <Exod. 19.10>. For it is written that ‘If a beast shall have touched the mountain, it will be stoned’ <Hebr. 12.20>. A beast touches the mountain, whenever anyone given over to luxury or irrational impulses approaches the highness of the holy scriptures, and does not understand it according to how he ought, but instead turns it irrationally into an explanation/description of his own bodily pleasure/desires. But that absurd or slow-in-the-head man, if he shall have been seen about this mountain, let him be killed by the harshest pronouncements, just as if by stones <cf. Greg. I, Moralia, VI.37>. For that mountain burns, because those whom holy scripture fills up spiritually are lit up with the fire of love. And for this reason it is said through Moses: ‘In his fiery right-hand [was] the law’ <Deut. 33.2, cf. Douay-Rheims; possibly ‘in his right-hand was the fiery law’, as in the King James>. Because in the minds of the elect, who are to be set at the right hand of the judge, the divine precepts are redolent, and have been lit up with the ardour of charity. And for that reason, o augustal dignity and glory of the people of the Franks, take care that you climb that mount while you possess chastity of body and a rational mind, and penetrate the things to be read whilst lit up by the fervour of charity, so that on account of the merit of intelligence/understanding and [on account] of others whom your sage prudence shall have taken care to correct, you shall certainly merit to go, at last and with the Lord’s will, to the mountains of sweet smells, namely the high abodes of the angels, and by the support of their prayers [you shall merit] to be placed at the right hand of the Judge, alongside the holy <i.e. Christian> emperors and consuls, and likewise [you shall merit] to hear from the Lord: ‘Well, good and faithful servant, because you were trusty in overseeing a few things, I will set you over many; enter into the joy of your Lord’ <Matt. 25.23>.

Scriptura etenim sacra, ut saepe prefatus tractator ait, mons est, de quo in nostris cordibus Dominus venit. De quo propheta dicit: "Deus a Libano veniet et sanctus de monte umbroso et condenso". Iste mons condensus est per sententias et umbrosus per allegorias. Sed sciendum, quia cum vox in monte sonat, vestimenta lavare precipimur et ab omni inquinatione carnis mundari, si ad montem festinemus accedere. Scriptum quippe est: "Quia si bestia tetigerit montem, lapidabitur". Bestia tangit montem, quando quis luxuriae aut inrationabilibus motibus deditus scripturae sacrae celsitudini appropinquat, et non eam secundum quod debet intellegit, sed inrationabiliter ad suae voluptatis intellegentiam flectit. Sed iste talis absurdus vel sensu piger, si circa hunc montem visus fuerit, atrocissimis sententiis veluti lapidibus necetur. Ardet enim iste mons, quia sacra scriptura quem spiritaliter replet amoris igne succendit. Unde per Moysen dicitur: "In dextera eius ignea lex". Quia in electorum mentibus, qui ad dexteram iudicis statuendi sunt, flagrant precepta divina et caritatis ardore succensa sunt. Idcirco, augustale decus et Francorum gloria gentis, rationabilibus mentibus et castimonia corporis stude montem istum subire et fervore caritatis succensus legenda penetrare, ut pro merito intellegentiae et aliorum, quos corrigere vestra sagax prudentia studuerit, profecto montes aromatum, id est celsitudines angelorum, tandem Domino favente adire atque eorum suffragiis orationum ad dexteram iudicis cum sanctis imperatoribus et consulibus collocari merearis, pariterque audire a Domino: "Euge serve bone et fidelis, quia super pauca fuisti fidelis, supra multa te constituam, intra in gaudium Domini tui".

Adnuntiatio of Lothar at the first assemby of Meersen, 847

To us and to my brothers it seemed right that we should join ourselves together, so as to seek after the will of God, [so as to find out?] how the holy Church can be repaired [lit. is able to have been recovered] and how both we, and you, and that [whole] Christian populace can have peace. And we did just that now, and thus we are [disposed to] each other, just as brothers ought rightly to be. And may you know that for certain, [namely] that - thanks be to God! - we are thus and thus we wish to remain in the future with God’s help, and each of us is prepared to bear assistance to the other both in [terms of] counsel and in [terms of] [military?] support, in whatsoever [matters] we shall have been able, just as brothers ought to do by [lit. in] the will of God and in their common profit.

 Adnuntiatio Domni Hlotharii  - MGH Cap. 2, n. 204, p. 70

Nobis et fratribus nostris visum fuit, ut ad Dei voluntatem querendam, qualiter sancta ecclesia recuperata esse possit et pacem et nos ac vos et iste populus christianus habere possimus, nos simul coniungeremus, sicut nunc fecimus, et sic simus inter nos, sicut fratres per rectum esse debent. Et pro certo illud sciatis, quia, gratias Deo! sic sumus et sic permanere adiuvante Deo inante volumus et in consilio et in auxilio unusquisque erga alterum parati sumus adiutorium ferre, sicut fratres in Dei voluntate et communi profectu facere debent, in quibuscumque potuerimus.

 Adnuntiatio of Lothar at the second assemby of Meersen, 851

We wish that you know what our attendence here was <i.e. meant?>. We came here, so that, with God’s help, we might, alongside our vassals, consider the will of God, and the state of the holy church and of the kingdom, and [consider] your and our common profit; and thus we have done. And - thanks be to God! - we on these matters united both with each other and with our vassals, just as we recognise that there is a need [of support? i.e. an obligation?] for us both within the kingdom and outside the kingdom, in our marches.[7]

 Adnuntiatio Hlotharii - MGH Cap. 2, n. 205, p. 74

Volumus, ut vos sapiatis, quid noster adventus hic fuerit. Venimus hic, ut simul adiuvante Deo cum fidelibus nostris de Dei voluntate et statu sanctae ecclesiae ac regni et communi nostro ac vestro profectu consideraremus, sicut et fecimus; et gratias Deo! sumus inde sic adunati et nos ad invicem et cum fidelibus nostris, sicut nos recognoscimus, quia et infra regnum et extra regnum per marcas nostras nobis est necessarium.

Notes to the Translation

[1] Possibly, with suitable changes of punctuation ‘may your generosity open up what we seek also according to the ethical sense also’. Neither the PL text (PL 110, col. 496A) nor the MGH is quite clear here.

[2] Cf. the translation by De Jong, in Hen & Innes, The Uses of the Past, p. 192, which translates ‘iuxta gestarum rerum ordinem et expositionem’ as ‘historical and allegorical’, which does not seem quite right. It would seem this sentence refers to the fact that the commentaries are laid out in the liturgical order of the passages / readings, with appended expositions. It would seem that Lothar is complaining that while he could look up the meanings for all the weekday, etc., readings in his collection of Biblical commentaries, he does not have a work which discusses the readings alone and specifically.

[3] Again, see De Jong’s article in The Uses of the Past on this term.

[4] Cf. W. Ullmann, The growth of papal government in the Middle Ages, 2nd ed., London, 1962, p. 172.

[5] Knowing Hincmar, these were doubtless bad forgeries - RMP

[6] A contradiction of the high-sounding platitudes at the beginning of this letter?

[7] On the obscure meaning of necessarium here, cf. the adnuntiatio Ludowici that follows: unusquisque nostrum paratus est, ut suum fratrem, ubicumque necessitas fuerit, et infra patriam et foris patriam ... adiuvet (‘... wherever there is a need ...’) and cf. capit. 3 on p. 72.

[8] Petitioni is what the earlier quod must refer to, though Hraban has made it slightly unclear in his phrasing, even if strictly speaking he is not incorrect. The sense is the petitio = quod ... efficere non potui.

[9] Or perhaps ‘revealing your model, Ester’?

[10] Perhaps an example of Ubi sunt qui ante nos fuerunt? Cf. Curtius, European Literature, trans. Trask, pp. 80-2.

[11] Perhaps, ‘in time’, as orbs also suggests a cycle of time.

[12] Possibly ‘Rewards, filled in themselves by perpetual rewards...’ These two lines are rather opaque to me, hence my rendering of it is only a best guess. I asked my friend Giancarlo Ciccia (a Ph.D. candidate in Latin Composition in Rome) about this line and he thought my translation a reasonable one of a garbled line, though he did suggest that ‘hinc’ might mean ‘after this life’. Cf. Bede, De Die Judicii, l. 139: praemia perpetuis tradens caelestia donis; Alcuin, Carmen 76, in MGH Poetae I, p. 297, l. 21: praemia perpetuis semper mansura diebus; Pachasius Radbertus, Egloga, in MGH Poetae III, p. 51, l. 165: Premia perpetuis firmantur denique donis.

[13] Apparently the use of ultimus for ‘lowliest’, which is clearly the meaning intended here, is quite rare.

[14] The Cena Cypriani is a sort of Biblical parody, where characters from all over the Bible attend a dinner hosted by Joel. Biblical characters act according to their recognisable characteristics, but in humorous ways; e.g. Judas offers silver (which he received for betraying J.C.!) as a host gift. A theft takes place and a ‘dinner party mystery’ ensues. Ed. C. Modesto, Studien zu Cena Cypriani und zu deren Rezeption, Tübingen, 1992.

[15] For this and especially for what follows in the next paragraph, Angelomus’ earlier letter makes the sense very clear. In fact, this letter seems nothing more than a paraphrase, in places, of the earlier text (in MGH Epist. 5, p. 623): Sed cum negare non valerem, tandem assensum prebere decrevi et ad aliqua licet temere et formidolose digerenda sum aggressus, eo videlicet iure ut intra domesticos parietes secretius retinerent, nec alicui ad legendum traderent, et tunc mea imperitia, verum et temeritas legentibus detecta manifesta foret et oblocutionibus occasio panderetur reprehendentium. Nam stilum cum ad primum librum describendo appulissem, ut abdite abdita auctore Deo congererem, extimplo mea impudentia est detecta, et sacris auribus magnifici Drogonis, egregii scilicet pontificis, quo nichil nobilius nichilque sanctius est, revelata nugacitas. Quo comperto cepit ingenue libera auctoritate imperare, ut darem operam et ceptum opus non sinerem, sed sagaciter calcetenus perducerem. Cuius quoque preconiis nullatenus resistere valui, verum nec tantae auctoritati renuere presumpsi, non solum quidem quia filius erat prestantissimi Karoli cesaris, immo frater mitissimi Hludowici principis, verum etiam quia preclarus erat pontifex et abbas meus egregius.

[16] This passage is extremely difficult to render but I think I have the sense correctly. My friend Giancarlo Ciccia is also due thanks for his advice here. Cf. the note above, which also makes things more clear.

[17] Here I read ‘non solum non rennuit’ rather than ‘non solum rennuit’, as this emendation is the only thing that makes the sentence take on a (semblence) of logic. Another possible emendation would be ‘adnuit’ (assented) for ‘rennuit’ (refused).

[18] I.e. from the more complete statements of a particular writer?

[19] I must admit that this clause sic diversis ... percurrentibus is almost completely obscure to me, even after many hours of thought. Thanks too to Mayke de Jong for helping here.

[20] Salpix is no doubt from Aldhelm, who uses this extremely rare word thrice.

[21] Although the MGH editor here exclaims about this ‘Nescio ubi’ (p. 628, n. 1) this whole sentence, and indeed, much of this section (which may be why it is clearer than Angelomus’ usual lumpy prose), comes from Gregory’s Expositio Super Cantica Canticorum, PL 79, with this passage at col. 473b-c: Hinc est enim quod in hoc libro, qui in Canticis canticorum conscriptus est, amoris quasi corporei verba ponuntur, ut a torpore suo anima per sermones suae consuetudinis refricata recalescat; et per verba amoris qui infra est, excitatur ad amorem qui supra est. Nominantur enim in hoc libro oscula, nominantur ubera, nominantur genae, nominantur femora; in quibus verbis non irridenda est sacra descriptio, sed major Dei misericordia consideranda est; quia dum membra corporis nominat, et sic ad amorem vocat, notandum est quam mirabiliter nobiscum et misericorditer operatur. Qui ut cor nostrum ad instigationem sacri amoris accenderet, usque ad turpis amoris nostri se verba distendit. Sed unde se loquendo humiliat, inde nos intellectu exaltat; quia ex sermonibus hujus amoris discimus qua virtute in divinitatis amore ferveamus.

[22] Cf. again for this whole section Gregory I’s Expositio, PL 79, col. 474a: Gloria Dei celare verbum. Menti enim Deum quaerenti tanto Deus gloriosius apparet, quanto subtilius atque interius investigatur, ut appareat; sed nunquid quod in mysteriis Deus celat, nos requirere non debemus? Debemus utique, nam sequitur: Et gloria regum investigare sermonem.

[23] Cf. here Aldhelm, Liber de Septenario, et de Metris, Aenigmatibus ac Pedum Regulis, PL 89, coll. 236d-237a: Nam inclytus ille Theodosius, ut prisca veterum opuscula produnt, qui totius propemodum mundi gubernans monarchiam maritabatur, et regalibus florentis imperii sceptris undecies labente annorum circulo feliciter fungebatur, quotidiani sumptus alimoniam et corporeae sustentationis edulium, in quibus mortalium vivacitas vescitur, in praecelso potestatis culmine antiquarii scriptoris mercimonia indeptus est, malens Scripturarum emolumento litterarum carnalis vitae nutrimenta per laboris exercitium adipisci, quam inertis desidiae torpore tabescens gratuitis epularum deliciis saginari. I would translate this as: ‘For that famed Theodosius, as the old works of the ancients tell us, who was married and held the reigns of nearly the whole world, and happily exercised the regal duties of the flourishing empire for 11 years, while he held the highest office obtained daily nourishment and food for corporeal sustenance, by which the energy of mortals is maintained, as the pay of a calligrapher, preferring by the profit of written letters to get nourishment ... through the exercise of labour, than to be sated with the free delicacies of banquets, languishing in the torpor of inert idleness’. Aldhelm goes on to relate the story of how Theodosius was believed to have copied with his own hand the 18 books of Priscian, which is surely a confusion between a scribe named Theodosius and the Emperor.

[24] Salpix seems only to have been used by Aldhelm, Laud. Virg. 21 (i.e. a different text of Aldhelm to that in the note above - perhaps A. had an MS with both?).

[25] The expression sacrata scriptura is extremely rare, A. probably got it from Ambrose, Exhortatio Virginitatis, IX.57, PL 16, col. 353b: Idque sacratae Scripturae docetur testimonio...

The text of these translations was completed by Richard Matthew Pollard, 2009-2010