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P. Platonizing Directions in Virgilian Allegory

P. Platonizing Directions in Virgilian Allegory

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ambition and detail, this commentary seems to bring intermediate developments to a culmination. We know little of the stages in which earlier notes by

Servius (some of them incipiently allegorical: see above, IV.B.2) and ‘‘Master

Anselm’’ (see above, IV.O) were accommodated to these new interests. The

notes translated below, however, represent growing interest in ‘‘integumental’’

reading of the Aeneid, which nonetheless preserves many of the preoccupations of more literal commentaries. They are taken from Cambridge, Peterhouse College, MS 158 (twelfth century). Most of the notes there are written

in the margins of the Aeneid itself, and many come directly from Servius.

Others reflect particular preoccupations of the medieval schoolroom, such as

the identification of rhetorical figures or the proper social use of language.

Some show interest in allegorical reactions, especially to the pagan gods.

More fully allegorical readings bracket the Aeneid in folios added at the

beginning and end of the epic. A leaf inserted before the Aeneid contains two

traditional accessus (introductions), comparable to that of ‘‘Master Anselm,’’

but assembled from late-classical and Carolingian sources. Between these are

the largely allegorical notes translated below. Furthermore, at the end of the

manuscript, three more leaves were inserted with an early, abbreviated version

of the commentary ascribed to Bernardus Silvestris. In sum, Peterhouse 158

gives us a snapshot of schoolroom reading of the Aeneid, when literal and

integumental readings were still intermingled. Further, the copying of allegorical notes on the first inserted leaf reflects a crucial shift from disconnected

marginal annotations (which were called glossae, often spelled glose in manuscripts) to the kind of freestanding commentum (commentary) such as that of

(pseudo-)Bernardus Silvestris. (Discussion: VME 101–20, 130–35) (CB)



1. Opening Notes

(Text: C. Baswell, ‘‘The Medieval Allegorization of the ‘Aeneid’: MS Cambridge, Peterhouse 158,’’ Traditio 41 [1985], 221–22)

Eneam dicit per descriptionem, quem per excellentiam ‘‘virum’’ [1.1]

vocat. Ad ‘‘Italiam’’ [1.2] auctor Eneam venisse ostendit. Sed ne malivola

intentione illuc venisse videatur, necessitate illum coactum, id est, ‘‘profugum’’ [1.2] esse ostendit. Verum, ne in eodem quo laudat eum vituperet,

‘‘fato’’ [1.2] venisse eum testatur.

Opponunt quidam Antenorem ante Eneam in Italiam venisse et ideo

Eneam non esse primum, non attendentes eam partem Gallie ad quam Antenor venit nondum appelari Italiam. ‘‘Iactatus’’ [1.3] quidem fuit et in terra

et in mari, quod non fuit proprio merito, sed ‘‘vi’’ [1.4], id est, violentia

deorum, quos Iuno ad eius persecutionem instigaverat.

Mos fuit antiquis ut victor victam patriam ex suo nomine appellaret. Sed

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Eneas Italos devictos Latinos ut prius vocari passus est, Iove sic volente

propter Iunonem. Fa[c]ta prelibatione invocaturus; occasionem invocandi

sumit ex ipsa prelibatione. Nam cum de viro Enea dicturus est, et pio, et de

Iunonis in eum persecutione, divino induit auxilio.

‘‘Dives o[pum]’’ [1.14]: ostendit Iunonem dilexisse Cartaginem, nam ea

ibi abundabant quibus Iuno prefuit: divicie et bella. Diversorum numinum

potestati diversa elementa subdita esse fi[n]xerunt philosophi. Igni enim

Iovem, aeri Iunonem preesse dixerunt, unde Iuno uxor et soror esse perhibetur: uxor quia aer igni est subiectus, soror quia ceteris elementis et loco

et subtilitate igni aer est affinior. Cum enim essent duo unumquodque agit

alterum, quod patitur. Ignis molis et terra nec ulla convenirent [sic] qualitate. Duo interposita sunt elementa, aer et aqua, quibus copularentur, quibus quoque diversa numina preesse dicuntur: terre Pluto, aquis Neptunus.

Constat tamen apud philosophos rerum universitati deum unum preesse,

sed per subiectas potestates diversa operari, quas ideo deos fabulose finxerunt ut et diversa per eos fieri ostenderent et rerum archana sub figmenti

velamine obtegerent. Per Minervam enim sapientiam, per Venerem libidinem, per Iunonem fertilitatem et divitias dicunt amministrari. Greci ergo

quando diviciis habundabant, Iuno eis favere perhibetur. Notandumque est

quod quociens dii diversi inter se dicuntur non ad deum referendum. Nam

numquam propriis discordat operibus, sed propter diversa hominum opera

sic videtur. Quod autem ipse potestates nil per se possunt, sed omnia ex

divino nutu disponantur. Ex hac littera conicitur: ‘‘siqua fata sinunt’’ [1.18].

‘‘Troas’’ [1.30]: rethorice est, quod Iunonem ostendit potentem. Et Troianos

‘‘reliquias Danaum’’ [1.30] vocat, nam Eneas efferendo istos autem deprimende Iunoni concitavit invidiam.



Through a description he speaks of Aeneas, whom he calls ‘‘man’’ on account of his excellence. The author shows that Aeneas came to ‘‘Italy.’’ But lest

he should seem to have come there with an evil intention, Virgil shows him to

have been forced by necessity, that is, ‘‘banished.’’ Indeed, lest he should censure Aeneas in that very thing for which he praises him, the author shows him

to have come ‘‘through fate.’’

Some allege that Antenor had come to Italy before Aeneas and that Aeneas

therefore was not the first, not taking into account that the part of Gaul to

which Antenor came was not yet called Italy. In fact, he was ‘‘cast about’’ both

on land and at sea, which was not of his own deserving, but ‘‘by the power,’’

that is, the violence, of the gods, whom Juno had incited to persecute him.

It was the custom among the ancients that a victor should call a conquered

nation by his own name. But Aeneas allowed the defeated Italians to be called

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Latins as they had been before; Jove wished this on account of Juno. With the

introduction done, he begins the invocation; he chooses the moment for the

invocation from that introduction. For since he is going to speak about

Aeneas, a man and a pious one, and about Juno’s persecution of him, he

summons divine aid.

‘‘Rich in means’’: he shows that Juno loved Carthage, for there was an

abundance there of those things over which Juno presided: riches and wars.

Philosophers used to think that the various elements were set under the power

of di√erent divine authorities. They said that Jove presided over fire, Juno over

air, and thus Juno is said to be his wife and sister: his wife because air is

subordinate to fire, and his sister because air is closer to fire, in position and

fineness, than are the other elements. For whenever there are two things, there

is one that acts, and the other that is acted upon. And the mass of fire and the

earth do not meet in any property. Two elements are placed between, air and

water, by which they [fire and earth] are bound together, and over which

di√erent divine authorities are said to preside: Pluto over the earth, Neptune

over the waters.

It is agreed, however, among the philosophers that one god presides over

the universe of things, but that he carries out various things through subordinate powers, which they represented fictively as gods, so that they might show

various things to come to pass through them, and so that they might hide the

secrets of things under the veil of fiction. For they say that wisdom is administered through Minerva, lust through Venus, fertility and riches through

Juno. Thus when the Greeks are abounding in riches, Juno is said to favor

them. And it should be noted that, whenever the gods are said to di√er among

themselves, this should not be referred to God. For he is never discordant in

his own works, but he seems so on account of the diverse works of men,

because, moreover, these powers can do nothing by themselves, but all things

are disposed through the divine will. This is inferred from this phrase: ‘‘if the

Fates allow.’’ ‘‘Trojans’’: this is put rhetorically, since it shows Juno’s power.

And he calls the Trojans ‘‘remnants of the Greeks,’’ for Aeneas, by leading them

forth, stirred up ill-will for her part in unhappy Juno. (CB)



2. Glosses on the Aeneid

(Text: VME 353–54 nn. 65, 66, 68, 70, 78–79, 81–82)

[1.1] ‘‘Arma,’’ id est, bella: metonomia, efficiens pro effecto. Vel ‘‘arma’’ et

‘‘virum,’’ id est, armatum virum: et est endiadys. Vel isteron proteron, id est,

preposterus ordo. Vel etiam arma preponuntur quia deus Vulcanus fecerat

illa. Vel continuate ad supradicta, arma Martis, id est, digna ipso Marte, quia

omnia bona arma dicata sunt Marti.

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[1.3] Hic Virgilius materiam suam in duo partitur: in errorem, et in laborem, quos passus est Eneas terra et mari. . . .

[1.8] ‘‘Memora’’ deprecative, a minore ad maiorem; vocative, quando socius ad socium; imperative, quando maior ad minorem.

[1.15] Dii vero dicebantur preesse unicuique elementorum: Iupiter igni,

Iuno aeri, Neptunus aque, Pluto terre.

[1.65] Nominat eum ut maior debet loqui a[d] minorem.

[1.81] Iste poeta proprietates multum observat, nam primum Eneam

utpote iuvenem et nondum adversitatibus exercitatum timidum, et quasi

extasi oppressum. Virtutem tamen quodammodo intuentem, inducit. Deinde tantam animi perfectionem ei exhibet ut ad infernum eum descendisse

ostendat. Quod autem eum primum timidum, deinde aliquantulum confortatum dicit. Naturale est virtuoso, nam inopinas adversitates primum pavet,

deinde virtute roboratus resistit.

[1.145] Neptuno assignatur tridens, quia mare a quibusdam dicitur tercia

pars mundi, vel quia tria genera aquarum sunt—maris, fluminum, fluviorum

—quibus preesse Neptunus dicitur.

[1.587] Quod autor poetice scribens dicit Eneam circumdatum a nube.

Significat curas quas habebat in corde, que recedunt receptis sociis et adepta

amicitia Didonis.

[6.406] Ramus iste significat virtutes quibus homines liberantur de inferno huius vite, et feruntur ad celum. Vel per ramum intelliguntur divicie

que multos precipitaverunt in infernum. In silvis dicitur latere, quia re vera

in huius vite confusione et maiore parte viciorum, virtus et integritas latet.



[1.1] ‘‘Arms,’’ that is, war. Metonymy, the e≈cient cause instead of the

e√ect. Or, ‘‘arms’’ and the ‘‘man,’’ that is the armed man, and that is hendiadys.

Or hysteron proteron, that is, inverted order. Or the arms may even be placed

first because the god Vulcan made them. Or, extending the above point, the

arms of Mars, that is, worthy of Mars himself, because all good arms are

consecrated to Mars [see above, I.C.2, line 4, ‘‘Ille ego qui’’].

[1.3] Here Virgil divides his material in two: in wandering and in hardship,

which Aeneas underwent on land and sea.

[1.8] ‘‘Recall’’ prayerfully, from a lesser person to a greater. In the vocative

when it is comrade to comrade; in the imperative, when a greater to a lesser.

[1.15] The gods were said to preside over each of the elements: Jupiter over

fire, Juno over air, Neptune over water, Pluto over earth.

[1.65] She calls to him as a greater person should to a lesser.

[1.81] This poet carefully observes the particular qualities of things.

For first he represents Aeneas as a youth, and timid, not yet troubled by

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adversities, and as if oppressed by an ecstasy, but nevertheless contemplating

virtue in some way. He thereafter displays such perfection of soul that Virgil

shows him having descended to hell. For he says Aeneas was at first timid, then

somewhat comforted. This is natural for the virtuous man, for at first he

is terrified of unexpected adversities; then, strengthened by virtue, he withstands them.

[1.145] The trident is assigned to Neptune, because the sea is said by some

to be the third part of the world, or because there are three kinds of water—the

sea, the streams, the rivers—over which Neptune presides.

[1.587] Because the author, writing poetically, says that Aeneas was encompassed by a cloud. This signifies the cares that he had in his soul, which

cares vanished when his companions were received and Dido’s friendship was

obtained.

[6.406] This bough signifies the virtues by which men are liberated from

the hell of this life, and are borne to heaven. Alternatively, by the bough are

understood the riches that cast many men down to hell. It is said to lie hidden

in forests, because truly in the confusion of this life and the very great extent of

sin, virtue and integrity lie hidden. (CB)

Q. (PSEUDO-)BERNARDUS SILVESTRIS

(twelfth century)

The shadowy figure of (pseudo-)Bernardus Silvestris (Bernard Silvester) is

often confused with Bernard of Chartres, a teacher who served as chancellor of

the famous cathedral school of Chartres from 1119 until 1126. Although nothing is known directly of the former’s life and career, it is probably significant

that his Cosmographia is dedicated to Thierry of Chartres, brother of Bernard

of Chartres and himself chancellor of Chartres from 1141. But Bernardus

Silvestris himself has been linked not to Chartres, but rather to Tours.

The only works that have been attributed to Bernardus without debate are a

prosimetrum (a text that alternates between prose and verse) entitled Cosmographia (also known as De mundi universitate [On the Oneness of the

Cosmos]), an account of creation that leads into an examination of the relationship between man as microcosm and universe as macrocosm; and a poem

entitled Mathematicus (The Astrologer), also known as Parricida (Patricide).

He has also been credited with authorship of the Experimentarius, a work on

geomancy and astrology, and possibly of an ars dictaminis (art of letterwriting, a manual on the theory and practice of letter-writing). Still less secure

is (pseudo-)Bernardus’s authorship of two other poems, the one based on a

declamatio (practice speech) by pseudo-Quintilian and entitled De gemellis

(On the Twins), the other on a controversia (in rhetorical education, a speech

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in an imaginary legal case, presented in the character of an imaginary person)

and entitled De paupere ingrato (On the Ungrateful Poor Man), by Seneca the

Elder (see above, I.C.4).

There has been considerable argument over Bernardus’s putative authorship

of allegorizing commentaries on Martianus Capella’s De nuptiis Philologiae et

Mercurii (The Marriage of Philology and Mercury) and, of most importance

for Virgilians, the Commentum super sex libros Eneidos Virgilii (Commentary on

Six Books of Virgil’s Aeneid). The commentaries on Martianus Capella and

Aeneid, books 1–6 (extant in four manuscripts), are clearly by the same author,

but whether that author was Bernardus Silvestris, Bernard of Chartres, or

another person remains disputed. Whoever its author may have been, the

Commentum follows closely in the allegorical tradition of Fulgentius (see

above, IV.F), with the epic’s initial six books now delineating equivalent stages

of life: shipwreck in book 1 again stands for birth; book 2, through Aeneas’s

narration, alludes to the infant’s beginning to speak; book 4 once again is said to

deal with the passions of youth and their purgation; while book 6 completes the

individual’s education in the life of the mind.

For a detailed examination of the meaning of integumentum in (pseudo-)Bernardus and other commentators, see P. Dronke, ‘‘Integumenta Virgilii,’’ in

Lectures médiévales de Virgile (Rome, 1985), 313–29. For information on other

‘‘integumental’’ interpretations of Virgil, see Verfasserlexikon 10:259. (Discussion: G. Padoan, ‘‘Tradizione e fortuna del commento all’Eneide di Bernardo

Silvestre,’’ Italia medioevale e umanistica 3 [1960], 227–40; rept., with expanded bibliography, in idem, Il pio Enea, l’empio Ulisse: Tradizione classica e

intendimento medievale in Dante, L’interprete 5 [Ravenna, 1977], 207–22. On

the six ages of man in (pseudo-)Bernardus, see E. Sears, The Ages of Man:

Medieval Interpretations of the Life Cycle [Princeton, 1986], 64–65.) (Text:

Commentum quod dicitur Bernardi Silvestris super sex libros Eneidos Virgilii, ed.

J. W. Jones and E. F. Jones [Lincoln, Nebr., 1977; translations: Commentary on

the First Six Books of Virgil’s Aeneid by Bernardus Silvestris, trans. E. G. Schreiber

and T. E. Maresca [Lincoln, Nebr., 1979]) (MP and JZ)



1. Preface to Commentary on Aeneid

(Text: Jones and Jones, 3)

Scribit ergo in quantum est philosophus humane vite naturam. Modus

agendi talis est: in integumento describit quid agat vel quid paciatur humanus spiritus in humano corpore temporaliter positus. Atque in hoc describendo naturali utitur ordine atque ita utrumque ordinem narrationis

observat, artificialem poeta, naturalem philosophus.



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To the extent that he writes about the nature of human life, Virgil is a philosopher. His procedure is as follows: he describes by the covering [of allegory]

what the human spirit accomplishes and su√ers while temporarily placed in

the human body. In describing this Virgil uses natural order, and thus he

respects each of the orders of narration: as poet, the artificial order; as philosopher, the natural order. (Schreiber and Maresca, 5, modified by MP)



2. Comment on Aeneid 1.52

On the role of Aeolus (described in 1.52–54). (Text: Jones and Jones, 4–5)

Eolum vero legimus deum ventorum vel regem esse qui ventis mare commovet. Per hunc intelligimus nativitatem pueri qui dicitur Eolus quasi

eonolus, id est, seculi interitus, quia nascente homine seculum, id est, vita

anime, interit, dum gravedine carnis oppressa a divinitate sua descendit et

libidini carnis consentit. Iste Eolus ventos immitit, quia nativitas hominis

commotiones vitiorum secundum constellationes patitur. Tradit namque

philosophia nativitatem pueri secundum constellationes, id est, stellarum

effectus, vicia movere.



We read in fact that Aeolus is the god or king of winds who stirs up the sea

with winds. By this we understand childbirth, which is called Aeolus, as if

eonolus, that is, the destruction of the real world, since when a man is born, the

world, that is, the life of the spirit, dies, as long as it is oppressed by the

heaviness of the flesh, descends from its divinity, and assents to the passions of

the flesh. This Aeolus stirs up winds, since a person’s birth su√ers disturbances

of vices according to the constellations. Thus philosophy teaches that the birth

of a child stirs up vices according to the constellations, that is, the powers of

the stars. (Schreiber and Maresca, 5)



3. Comment on Aeneid 1.412, 446

(Text: Jones and Jones, 12)

Tectus nube Carthaginem venit. Quemadmodum nubes coruscationem abscondit, ita ignorantia sapientiam. Sub ignorantia Carthaginem venit, id est,

ad novam civitatem mundi scilicet qui quidem civitas est omnes habens in

se habitatores. In hac civitate regnum habet Dido, id est, libido. Hec civitas

nova est Enee quia nuper in eam illatus est.



Hidden under a cloud, [Aeneas] comes to Carthage. Just as a cloud obscures

light, so too does ignorance obscure wisdom. In ignorance he comes to Carthage, that is, to the new city of the world, which indeed is a city that has all

inhabitants in itself. Dido, that is, passion, rules this city. This city is new to

Aeneas because he has just been brought to it. (Schreiber and Maresca, 13)

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4. Comment on Aeneid 2.1: Conticuere omnes intentique

ora tenebant (All were hushed, and kept their rapt gaze

upon him)

(Text: Jones and Jones, 1415)

In hoc secundo volumine secunde etatis, id est, pueritie, describitur natura.

Infantia est illa pars prima vite, que est a nativitate usque dum homo naturaliter loquatur. Pueritia est illa secunda pars vite humane, que incipit ex

quo homo incipit esse sub disciplina custodie et protenditur usque dum a

custodia exeat. Unde infantia dicitur ab in et for, faris; pueritia vero a pure, id

est, a custodia. In hoc maxima est differentia infantie et pueritie, quod pueri

loquuntur, infantes vero loqui non naturaliter. Ideoque nichil aliud mistice

in hoc volumine secundo significatur nisi initium et possibilitas loquendi.

Per hoc enim quod ad narrandas historias suasu Didonis provocatur, nichil

aliud demonstratur nisi quod ad proferenda verba sua eum manifestari

volens voluntas hortatur, cui satisfaciens in verba prorumpit. Quoniam quidam sermo verus, quidam falsus, ideo in hac narrationis per hoc quod veritati historie falsitas fabule admiscetur hoc idem figuratur. Est enim historia

quod Greci Troiam devicerunt; quod vero Enee probitas enarratur fabula est.

Narrat enim Frigius Dares [De excidio Troiae 40–41, ed. Ferdinand Meister

(Leipzig, 1873), 48–50] Eneam civitatem prodidisse.



In this second book Virgil describes the nature of the second age—childhood.

Infancy is that first part of human life, which extends from birth to the time

when a man naturally speaks. Childhood—the second part of human life—

begins when a person comes under the discipline of instruction and continues

until he leaves that custody. Therefore infantia [infancy] is so called from the

combination of in [not] and for, faris [to speak]; pueritia [childhood] is from

pure, that is, custodia [wardship]. This is the greatest di√erence between infancy and childhood, because children speak, but infants are not able to speak

naturally. Therefore, nothing else is allegorically represented in this second

book except the beginning of speech and the ability to speak. Dido’s persuading Aeneas to tell of his history shows nothing else except that desire wishing

to be manifested urges him to bring forth words; and, in satisfying that desire,

he breaks forth in speech. Since speech is sometimes true and sometimes false,

therefore the mixture of the truth of history and the falsity of fables in the

narration follows this same pattern. The Greek destruction of Troy is history,

but Aeneas’s honesty is fiction, for Dares of Phrygia [in De excidio Troiae

historia, fifth–sixth century] narrates that Aeneas betrayed his city. (Schreiber

and Maresca, 16)



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5. Comment on Aeneid 3

For discussion, see P. A. Olson, The Journey to Wisdom: Self-Education in Patristic and Medieval Literature (Lincoln, Nebr., 1995), 100: ‘‘Antandros stands for

the adolescent period’s inconstancy, Thrace for its greed, the Strophades for its

storms of sensual temptation, the Cyclops for its aimlessness, Circe for its

irrational delight in the temporal, Aetna for its Polypheman pride, and Drepanum for its childish bitterness.’’ (Text: Jones and Jones, 15)

In hoc tertio natura adholescentie exprimitur.



The nature of adolescence is expressed in this third book. (Schreiber and

Maresca, 17)



6. Comment on Aeneid 4

(Text: Jones and Jones, 23–25)

‘‘At regina,’’ etc.: in hoc quarto volumine natura iuventutis exponitur

mistice, sed prius summatim narrationem, deinde expositionem ponamus.

Sepulto patre venatum vadit. Tempestatibus actus in speluncam cum Didone divertit ibique adulterium committit. Quam turpem consuetudinem

consilio Mercurii deserit. Dido vero deserta in cineres excocta defficit et

demigrat.

Manifeste ac mistica narratione iuvenilis natura describitur. Per hoc quod

sepulto patre venatum itur, quid aliud designatur quam quod obliviscens

creatoris sui venatu et ceteris occupationibus vanis implicatur quod in iuventute contingit. Ut ait Horatius:

Imberbis iuvenis tandem custode remoto,

gaudet equis canibus et aperti gramine campi [Ars poetica 161–62].



Tempestatibus et pluviis ad cavernam compellitur, id est, commotionibus

carnis et affluentia humoris ex ciborum et potuum superfluitate provenientis ad immundiciam carnis ducitur et libidinis. Que immundicia carnis

cavea dicitur quia serenitatem mentis et discretionis obnubilat. Affluentia

humoris ciborum et potuum taliter ad libidinis immundiciam ducit. In decoctione humoris quattuor sunt: liquor, fumus, spuma, fex. Decoctis ergo

humoribus ciborum et potuum in cacabo stomachi fumus inde progrediens

et, ut natura levitatis exigit, ascendens ascendendo et per arterias colando

rarior factus ad cerebrum venit et animales virtutes facit. Liquore vero membra coalescunt. Fex vero per inferiores meatus in secessum emittitur; spuma

vero partim per sudores partim per foramina sensuum fluit. Cum autem

spume nimia est superfluitas, quod contingit in crapulosis comestionibus

et ebrietatibus, per virilem virgam quia ventri proxima est et subdita in

sperma, id est, semen virile, conversa emittitur. Purgatur enim venter per

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membrum proximum et subditum. Unde legitur Venerem de spuma maris

natam et ideo proprie vocatam esse ‘‘afroden.’’

Itaque ducunt pluvie Eneam ad caveam iungiturque Didoni et diu cum ea

moratur. Non revocant eum turpia preconia fame, quia iuventus libidine

irretita nescit

. . . quid pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile, quid non [Horace, Epistles 1.2.3].



Tandem post longam monetur hiemem a Mercurio ut discedat.

Per Mercurium aliquando accipis stellam, aliquando eloquentiam: stellam ut in ea fabula in qua legis Venerem adulteratam cum Mercurio, per hoc

quod intelligis stellas illas in accessu suo effectus suos iungere; eloquentia

ubi Mercurius Philologie connubium querit. Eloquentia enim nisi iungatur

sapientie parum prodest, immo etiam obest. Atque ideo depingitur avis vel

canis, quia sermo cito currit. Dicitur virgam gerere qua serpentes dividit,

quia habet interpretationem qua rixantes et venenum verborum effundentes

secernit. Furto dicitur preesse, quia animos audientium fallit. Mercatoribus

preest, quia eloquentia a se merces extrudunt vendentes. Unde dicitur Mercurius, quasi mercatorum kirios, id est, deus, vel Mercurius, id est, medius

discurrens, vel Mercurius, mercatorum cura, vel Mercurius, mentium currus, quia excogitata profert. Unde etiam Hermes dicitur, id est, interpres.

Hermenia enim est interpretatio.

Hic monet et increpat Eneam quia invenit eum ad utile propositum non

respicientem, quia ‘‘Utilium tardus provisor’’ est et ‘‘prodigus eris’’ [Horace,

Ars poetica 164]. Increpat Mercurius Eneam oratione alicuius censoris. Discedit a Didone et desuescit a libidine. Dido deserta emoritur et in cineres

excocta demigrat. Desueta enim libido defficit et fervore virilitatis consumpta in favillam, id est, in solas cogitationes, transit.



At regina, and so forth: in this fourth book the nature of young manhood is

set forth allegorically; but let us first give a summary of the narrative and then

an interpretation.

Once his father has been buried, he goes to hunt. Driven by storms, he takes

a detour into a cave with Dido and there commits adultery. At the advice of

Mercury he leaves o√ this vile habit. Abandoned, Dido is in fact extinguished

—burned to ashes—and passes away.

Evidently, as in an allegorical narrative, the nature of a young man is described. Through the fact that he goes to hunt once his father has been buried,

what else is indicated than that, forgetful of his creator, he is caught up in

hunting and other idle occupations, as happens in youth? In the words of

Horace, ‘‘The beardless youth, now that his tutor has at last been removed,

takes joy in horses, hunting dogs, and the grass of the open field.’’

Q . ( P S E U D O - ) B E R N A R D U S S I LV E S T R I S



731



He is forced by storms and rains into a cavern, which is to say, he is induced

to impurity of the flesh and lust through the restlessness of his flesh and through

the overflow of moisture arising from an excess of food and drink. This impurity of the flesh is called a cave because it clouds the clarity of mind and

discernment. The overflow of humor from food and drink leads to the impurity

of lust in the following fashion. In the digestion of the humor are four things:

liquid, steam, foam, and dregs. Accordingly, when the humors of the food and

drink have been digested in the cauldron of the stomach, the steam proceeds

from there and, ascending as the nature of lightness requires, it is rarefied by

ascending and by percolating through the arteries; then it comes to the brain

and produces the vital forces. The members grow strong from the liquid. The

dregs are emitted outward through lower movements, the foam partly through

perspiration and partly through the sensory openings. But when there is an

excess of foam, as happens in uncontrolled eating and drinking, it is emitted

after being turned into sperm, which is a man’s semen, through the male rod,

which is nearest to the stomach and subject to it. For the stomach is purged

through the member that is nearest and subject to it. For this reason it is read

that Venus was born from sea foam and hence properly called ‘‘Aphrodite.’’

And so the rains lead Aeneas to the cave; and he is joined to Dido and stays

there with her for a long time. The shameful public revelation of this report

does not call him back, because youth, when ensnared by lust, does not know

‘‘what is fair, what is foul, what is helpful, what is not.’’ At length, after a long

winter he is warned by Mercury to leave.

You understand Mercury sometimes as a star, sometimes as eloquence: a

star as in that story in which you read of Venus having committed adultery

with Mercury, on the principle that you understand that those stars when

ascendant join their e√ects; eloquence when Mercury seeks marriage with

Philology [a reference to Martianus Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii

(On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury): see below, IV.Q.12]. For unless

eloquence is joined to wisdom, it accomplishes little—on the contrary, it even

causes damage. For that reason he is depicted as a bird or dog, since speech

runs swiftly. He is said to carry a rod with which he divides serpents, because

he has an explanation by which he separates people quarreling and pouring

forth venomous words. He is said to be preeminent in theft, because he deceives the minds of listeners. He has charge of merchants, because those who

sell rid themselves of merchandise through eloquence. For this reason he is

called Mercury, as if mercatorum kirios [lord of merchants], or Mercury, mentium currus [chariot of minds], because he brings forth things that have been

carefully thought out. For this reason he is also called Hermes, which is to say,

‘‘interpreter.’’ For hermeneia is interpretation.

732



I V. C O M M E N T A R Y T R A D I T I O N



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