The Old English Catalogue Poems 8742304660, 9788742304662

A brief word about the plan of this book may prove helpful at the start. The Introduction raises a series of questions a

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The Old English Catalogue Poems
 8742304660, 9788742304662

Table of contents :
Introduction 9
1. The Latin Encyclopedias and Their Catalogues 29
2. The Catalogues of Time and Space: 'The Menologium' and 'The Fates of the Apostles' 73
3. The Catalogues of Order and Diversity: 'The Gifts of Men' and 'The Fortunes of Men' 104
4. The Catalogue as Collection: 'Precepts' and' Maxims I & II' 133
5. The Catalogues of Individual Talent: 'Widsith' and 'Deor' 166
6. Conclusion 202

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© R O SEN K ILD E A N D BA G G E R 1985 Printed in Denmark ISBN 87 423 0466 0

Special-lYykkerict Viborg a-s


A brief word about the plan of this book may prove helpful at the start. The Introduction raises a series of questions about the catalogue as a poetic structure and the encyclopedia as a literary genre. Designed to challenge certain modern critical assumptions, these questions will pre­ pare for a reinterpretation of the encyclopedia and the catalogue. The opening chapter is devoted to the Latin encyclopedia tradition as repre­ sented by Pliny the Elder, Cassiodorus Senator and Isidore of Seville. I have considered the works of these writers in considerable detail out of the conviction that they should not be reduced to a single, uniform type. In their diversity and richness, both encyclopedia and catalogue resist any form of schematic interpretation. If we assume from the start that they are merely formulaic, they will remain closed to us. If, however, we consider the historical and literary reasons for their existence, then both forms will reveal their utility and even at times their beauty. When read carefully, the Latin encyclopedias and their catalogues offer a set of principles by which to appreciate the internal order and utility of catalogues in Old English poetry. To argue for some specific and unvarying relation between the encyclopedic and the poetic catalogue, however, would be to misinterpret both types. I have sought instead to read each example of catalogue form according to the particular subject and purpose of the work in which it appears. I have found that the catalogue will elude the critic who approaches it in a single-minded or inflexible fashion. Instead, each catalogue must be explored and valued as a response to a unique literary need. For this reason, I have grouped the Old English poems either by their content (The Menologium and The Fates o f the Apostles in Chapter 2; Widsith and Deor in Chapter 5) or by their fundamental unit of expression ( The Gifts o f Men and The Fortunes o f Men in Chapter 3; Precepts and Maxims I & II in Chapter 4). I have assumed that most readers will be chiefly interested in the Old English poems and will have enough knowledge of the language to read them in the original. Those readers desiring translations will find most of the poems in R. K. Gordon’s Anglo-Saxon Poetry or S. A. J. Bradley’s Anglo-Saxon Poetry. Where appropriate, I have cited translations for

those poems which are not included in either of these collections. For those readers who might be unfamiliar with the style and often highly technical vocabulary of the Latin encyclopedias, I have offered literal translations of my own. Finally, there is the pleasure of giving thanks. For more years than I care to admit, Fred C. Robinson has been unfailingly kind in his assist­ ance. He has read draft after draft with a keen critical eye and a warmly generous spirit. Above all, I am indebted to him for his constant encouragement. From the start of this project, I have had the benefit of John Hollander’s conversation and learning; he has taught me much about poetic form. Over the last several years, I have enjoyed the priv­ ilege of discussing this study with Andrew Welsh on an almost daily basis. As a reader, he has paid me the loveliest of compliments, that of asking the hard questions 1 might otherwise have avoided. To Stephen M. Foley, I am grateful for many long discussions about language and literature. More specifically, he has saved me from numerous errors in reading and translating Latin. Those which remain are my own responsibility. I would also like to acknowledge with gratitude the careful reading this study has received from Alvin A. Lee, Maureen Halsall, Laurel Braswell, Robert Hanning and Marijane Osborn. For several timely grants in aid of research, I thank the Research Council of Rutgers University and its director, Fred Main. My mother and father have been wonderfully sustaining in their sup­ port, both practical and intellectual. They have discussed my ideas with me, read my prose, and inspired me by their devotion to literary study. Georgina Kleege has taught me by her own practice that writing should be an act of generosity. I have tried throughout to write in that spirit. My final debt can now be paid only in memory, and so I dedicate this book to the late Marvin J. Feldman. Nicholas Howe University of Oklahoma




1. The Latin Encyclopedias and Their Catalogues..............................


2. The Catalogues of Time and Space: The Menologium and The Fates o f the Apostles ..............................


3. The Catalogues of Order and Diversity: The Gifts o f Men and The Fortunes of M en ...................................... 104 4. The Catalogue as Collection: Precepts and Maxims I & II ............................................................. 133 5. The Catalogues of Individual Talent: Widsith and D e o r............................................................................... 166 6. Conclusion ......................................................................................... 202

Abbreviations ASPR:

The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, eds. G. P. Krapp and E. V. K. Dobbie (New York, 1931-53), 6 volumes. Vol. II: The Vercelli Book. Vol. Ill: The Exeter Book. Vol. VI: The Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems. Etym.: Isidori Hispalensis Episcopi Etymologiarum Sive Originum, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford, 1911), 2 volumes. Inst.: Cassiodori Senatoris Institutiones, ed. R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1937). N.H.: Pliny: Natural History, ed. H. Rackham et. al. (Cambridge, Mass, and London, 1938-1962), Locb Classical Library, K) volumes. OE Mart.: An Old English Martyrology, ed. George Herzfeld (London, 1900), E.E.T.S., O.S. 116. OE Oros.: The Old English Orosius, ed. Janet Bately (London, 1980), E.E.T.S., S.S. 6.


This study takes as its subject two neglected, if not maligned, literary forms: the catalogue and the encyclopedia. Today these terms summon up no more than clichés of literary history. The catalogue of ships in Homer, the encyclopédisme of Diderot, the Orphic catalogues of Whit­ man. Such responses are understandable, because both forms have declined in modern literature to, at best, a marginal position. Since the value of encyclopedias and catalogues seems largely historical, it is not surprising that modern criticism has left these forms largely untouched. There are no doubt good reasons for this neglect. But it must be under­ stood as a modern response to earlier forms, for otherwise it might per­ suade one that the catalogue and the encyclopedia have always been distant from the central concerns of literature. Of the two, the encyclopedia has suffered the sharper fall from grace. Once worthy of Augustine or Diderot, it is now relegated to the refer­ ence shelf and the children’s bedroom. The word itself has come to mean little more than an alphabetized work on some carefully limited subject. Thus we find encyclopedias of jazz, wines and spirits, baseball. In these, alphabetical organization may perhaps be warranted for the sake of easy reference. But in accepting alphabetization - certainly the most arbitrary principle of order available - encyclopedists have forfeited an intellectual seriousness which once justified their form. For while few subjects resist alphabetization, still fewer benefit from it. If one may judge from his embarrassment at using alphabetization, Pliny the Elder recognized its inadequate, because purely arbitrary, nature.1 Isidore of Seville in his monumental encyclopedia turned to alphabetical arrangement for an extended section only when discussing etymology and word-formation in Book X. In this case, alphabetization is neither arbitrary nor expedient; rather, it is inherent in the lexical mate-1

1 As Lloyd W. Daly notes, Pliny is often “apologetic for what he apparently felt to be a rather unimaginative procedure.” See his Contributions to the History of Alphabetization in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Brussels, 1967), Collection Latomus XC, p. 36. For Pliny’s use of alphabetization in general, see pp. 36-39, 55-56.

10 rial which must be organized. For the most part, Pliny and Isidore relied on principles of organization deriving from and thus better suited to their material. These principles depend on, for example, hierarchies of value, arrangements of geography, or sequences of chronology. Our expectation that an encyclopedia will be alphabetically organized is so firmly established, however, that only a great literary trickster can shock us out of it. In “The Analytical Language of John Wilkins/’ Jorge Luis Borges presents a Chinese encyclopedia with the magnificent title of Celestial Emporium o f Benevolent Knowledge: On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush, (1) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, (n) those that resemble flies from a dis­ tance.2 The sheer strangeness of this taxonomy is humorously absurd, but it is also deeply disconcerting, for it challenges our fundamental ways of ordering experience. Michel Foucault explains that it was this passage in Borges which led him to explore the various organizing ideas for the human sciences in his The Order o f Things: This book first arose out of a passage in Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought - our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography - breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other. ... In the wonderment of this taxonomy, the thing we apprehend in one great leap, the thing that, by means of the fable, is demonstrated as the exotic charm

2 Jorge Luis Borges, Other Inquisitions. 1937-1952, trans. Ruth L. C. Simms (Austin, 1975), p. 103.

11 of another system of thought, is the limitation of our own, the stark impossibility of thinking that? Such wonderment is perhaps the only truthful response for the reader accustomed to the Larousse or the Britannica. But Borges, aficionado of arcane Latin encyclopedias by Pliny the Elder and Isidore of Seville, knew better than to restrict this type of thinking to the Orient. If Foucault finds this Chinese encyclopedia foreign to his place, it is because he has not read as deeply in the Natural History or the Etymolo­ gies as has Borges. He has not, as has Borges, returned to an earlier encyclopedia tradition for both knowledge and ideas of order. It was Borges who, in an act of historical sympathy, ransacked Pliny’s compen­ dium for his own miniature encyclopedia, The Book of imaginary Beings.34 Among contemporary writers, Borges alone has understood the fascination and the profundity of the earlier encyclopedia. The Celestial Emporium is his homage to the cultural and intellectual centrality of the encyclopedia. And by this homage he has freed the form from its more recent and trivial representations. The encyclopedia, it would seem, retained its vitality for as long as its compilers resisted alphabetization. A similar belief led S. T. Coleridge to formulate his heroic vision of the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana. His plan for this work offers the last intellectual defense of the encyclopedic ideal: that it should be a synthesizing, even “organic,” form. As he argues with a fine impatience in a letter to Robert Southey, his position rests on the belief that the etymology of the Greek word expresses the form of the encyclopedia: By the bye, what a strange abuse has been made of the word encyclopaedia! It signifies properly, grammar, logic, rhetoric, and ethics, and metaphysics, which last, explaining the ultimate principle of grammar - log. rhet., and eth. - formed a circle of knowledge. ... To call a huge uncollected miscellany of the omne scibile, in an arrangement determined by the accident of initial letters, an encyclopaedia is the impudent ignorance of your Presbyterian book-makers. Good night!5 3 Michel Foucault, The Order o f Things: An Archaeology o f the Human Sciences (New York, 1970), p. xv. 4 In his story, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” Borges suggests that an imaginary region or even planet may be made real if its encyclopedia is written. This story may be found in his Ficciones, ed. Anthony Kerrigan (New York, 1962), pp. 17-35. 5 Letters o f Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Ernest Hartley Coleridge, 2 vols. (London, 1895), p. 427. On Coleridge as encyclopedist, see Robert Collison, “Samuel Taylor Coleridge


In retrospect, one may see that the reliance on alphabetization signalled a loss of nerve among encyclopedists. It announced their inability to con­ tain in a more satisfactory form the increasingly diverse “circle of know­ ledge” necessary for their culture. In a more obviously fundamental way, Coleridge also bears on the other subject of this study, the catalogue as a poetic form. For in his profoundly influential doctrine of organic form lies, I suspect, the chief cause of our resistance to the poetic catalogue.6 Like it or not, organic form has threatened to become synonymous with the idea of poetic form itself. At the very least, it has become the standard against which all other versions of poetic form must be compared and implicitly defended. But the catalogue, as an accumulative, open-ended structure, violates many of our most cherished assumptions about poetic form. We like our poems to move towards an inexorable moment of closure with craft, precision and a certain inevitability. Organicism represents our belief in the poem as an articulated whole. It is telling that a leading theoretician of the New Criticism, W. K. Wimsatt, should have found it necessary to speak of “the modern organistic era,” while at the same time cautioning against the more excessively biological versions of the doctrine.7 There has recently been a growing sense among medievalists that they must detach themselves from critical assumptions based on organic form if they are to understand the poetry of their period.8 Yet organicism still maintains its hold even on those aware of its limitations. Critics of Old English poetry, to choose one example, have until very recently all but ignored such poems as Precepts, The Gifts o f Men, The Fortunes of Men, and the Menologium. These are, to be sure, minor poems but other equally minor poems in the corpus have received far more attention. The cause of this neglect may be attributed largely, I believe, to their poetic form. In each case, their poetic form is clearly not organic. But then what is it? How are we to understand it? What after all can we say about a poet who numbers nine of the ten sections of his poem, as does the poet of Precepts? These and other medieval poems sometimes seem embarras­

and the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana," Cahiers D'Histoire Mondiale 9 (1965-66), 751-68; and Alice D. Snyder, ed., S. T. Coleridge's Treatise on Method as Published in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana (London, 1934). 6 On Coleridge s organicism, see M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (New York, 1976), pp. 167-77 and 218-25. 7 W. K. Wimsatt, “Organic Form: Some Questions About a Metaphor” in his Day o f the Leopards: Essays in Defense o f Poems (New Haven, 1976), pp. 205-23. at p. 209. 8 On this subject, see Donald Howard, The Idea o f the Canterbury Tales (Berkeley, 1976), pp. 219ff. for some highly pertinent remarks.

13 singly crude and simplistic in their structure. They seem not to be gov­ erned by any principle of form. And this opinion can be held by those who reject organicism, for one may still desire poems to be crafted rather than chaotic, ordered rather than arbitrary. In this way, organicism may linger as an unconscious aesthetic value even after it has been rejected as an avowed critical position. While medievalists have been right to question the relevance of mod­ em critical assumptions, they have been less successful in exploring alter­ nate ideas of form in medieval poetry. The “alterity” of medieval poetry has been frequently proclaimed but rarely studied.9 All too often, the structure of an individual poem will be considered in isolation, and then judged adequate simply because it appears in that one work. To the contrary, the explication of individual poems must be controlled by a larger understanding of the varieties of form in medieval literature. To arrive at this kind of literary understanding often requires an act of historical reconstruction in which the poems themselves serve as the primary source of evidence. Such an act seems especially necessary for Old English poetry because we have no accompanying Ars Poetica or Biographia Literaria from the period. An explicit discussion of poetic theory would tell us much about Angle-Saxon ideas of form and struc­ ture. Even if such a treatise were silent on such matters as form, that too would be valuable in demarcating the distance between their poetic con­ cerns and ours. In the best of all possible worlds, such a work would confirm one’s suspicion that Old English poems have their own laws of form and structure which bear little relation to those of later poems. The present study had its origin in my suspicion that the Old English poems The Fortunes o f Men and The Gifts o f Men were best understood as catalogue poems. While these two are sufficiently alike to be com­ pared and thus used as the basis for some alternate sense of poetic form, they are also clearly related to such other Old English poems as the Menologium, The Fates o f the Apostles, Precepts, Maxims I & II and, more problematically, to Deor and Widsith. No doubt other Old English poems might be included in this group of catalogue poems; Instructions for Christians, Exhortation to Christian Livingy Seasons for Fasting and The Rune Poem are only a few of the more obvious possibilities.10 In any

9 See further, J. A. Burrow, “The Alterity of Medieval Literature,” New Literary History 10 (1979), 385-90, especially p. 388. 10 Fred C. Robinson, “Old English Literature in its Most Immediate Context” in Old English Literature in Context, ed. John D. Niles (Cambridge, 1980), pp. 11-29; especially pp. 26-27.

14 case, my intention was not to discuss every poem that might conceivably be read as a “catalogue poem,” but rather to apply a certain approach where it seemed most relevant and most rewarding. My essential criterion for including a poem is that the catalogue be used not as an occasional stylistic feature but rather as the controlling principle of structure. This proviso limits this study to comparatively short poems since none of the longer Old English poetic narratives, such as Beowulf or Christ, employs the catalogue throughout. This study is also a defense of the catalogue poems. I have often felt it necessary to counter the view that they are slipshod compilations of trivial material held together only by alliteration. Without claiming that they are the equals of Beowulf or the great Old English lyrics, I would maintain that the catalogue poems have their own inner logic of form and in some cases reveal a mastery of form. In studying the catalogues of these Old English poems, I have sought to develop, if not an elaborated theory of poetic form, then at least an alternate way of reading their poetic form. Yet reading a group of poems which cannot be dated reliably or ascribed to known poets may lead one to justify the form of the poems only in relation to themselves. The interpretation can all too easily become self-confirming. So that these readings of individual poems would have a larger validity, it became necessary to consider other uses of the catalogue in classical and medieval sources. I did not wish to impose some external order on these poems but rather to compare them with other works which also use the catalogue. For this reason, I have turned to the Latin encyclopedias of such writers as Pliny the Elder, Cassiodorus Senator and Isidore of Seville in order to develop models for the study of the Old English catalogue poems. To read poetry in terms of prose forms may seem to violate fundamental distinctions of genre. But since the catalogue itself has shown little respect for such critical niceties, I have felt free to venture the experi­ ment. The available historical evidence presents a strong warrant for pur­ suing this critical experiment. That the Latin encyclopedias circulated widely in Anglo-Saxon England is thoroughly evident from a variety of sources. We know from the library holdings as well as the educational curriculum of the period that Pliny and Isidore were central figures in the Latin intellectual tradition as it flourished in England. We know too that a wide variety of writers made direct use of these encyclopedias. I shall consider this matter further at the end of Chapter I, so here it is sufficient to note that they included, among others, Ælfric, Alcuin, Alfred, Aldhelm, Bede, Byrhtferth and Tatwine. So too material drawn from the

15 Natural History and the Etymologies found its way into a wide variety of anonymous works, including the numerous Old English-Latin glossaries, the Herbarium, the Old English Orosius and the Exeter Riddles. 11 This historical evidence is so extensive that it leads inevitably to the question of whether or not there was a direct connection between the Latin encyclopedias and the Old English catalogue poems. If one consid­ ers this question only in terms of undeniable borrowings, then it must be answered in the negative, for there is no convincing evidence of this type in the poems. If one considers influence in a more vital sense, however, as a matter of intellectual tradition and engagement, then there is good reason to suppose that the authors of these catalogue poems had a direct familiarity with the encyclopedias, most probably during their education and quite possibly later in life as well. This familiarity should not be compared with that of a prose writer, such as Bede, who worked at times with the encyclopedias at his elbow for continual reference. If it had, there would most probably have been direct borrowings by the poets, for they chose subjects of a sort which could easily have assimilated encyclo­ pedic material. Rather the familiarity of the poets is at once more deci­ sive and more difficult to document, for it shaped the ways in which they ordered their perceptions and knowledge of the world around them. A young reader who learned his grammar from Isidore and his natural science from Pliny would be likely to retain not simply the facts and terms of these disciplines, but also the patterns by which they were ordered. And if later he came to write a poem about the calendar of feast days or the diversity of human life, as in the Menologium or The Fortunes o f Men, then the catalogue would have presented itself as a logical and coherent form by which he might contain his material. The choice of catalogue form, it should be stressed, was not inevitable. Other Old English poets chose other forms. But enough did choose the catalogue to suggest that they were schooled in a common Latin tradition and wrote a distinct type of Old English poem. Should this argument seem too inconclusive to the skeptical reader, he or she might well consider that at the very least the Latin encyclopedias are valuable when read as analogues for the catalogue poems. As Albert B. Lord has shown with Homeric and Slavic poetry, and Jeff Opland with1

11 In the absence of a thorough study of the Latin encyclopedias in Anglo-Saxon England, the most useful sources on this subject are J. D. A. Ogilvy, Books Known to the English, 597-1066 (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), pp. 106-08, 166-70, 222-23, also Addenda on p. 300; and Helmut Gneuss, “A Preliminary List of Manuscripts Written or Owned in England up to 1100,” Anglo-Saxon England 9 (1980), 1-60.


Bantu poetry,12 illuminating analogues for the study of Old English poetry may be drawn from far distant traditions. There can then be no a priori reason for rejecting the more historically immediate Latin encyclo­ pedias as models for understanding catalogue form. But first the catalogues in the Latin encyclopedias must be understood on their own terms. Since there is no previous scholarship on this aspect of the Latin encyclopedia tradition, I have examined the catalogues of Pliny, Cassiodorus and Isidore in Chapter I to an extent which might seem disproportionate in a study devoted to Old English poetry. I have done so because the catalogue is not a fixed form as it appears in these various encyclopedias and thus cannot be understood through one or two seemingly representative examples. To view the encyclopedic catalogue in a schematic fashion is to pass over the most compelling reason for its frequent use: that it could be shaped to accommodate a wide variety of subjects. In the major encyclopedias, the catalogue becomes a diverse and complex form because it must contain, to choose only a few exam­ ples, such topics as the ecclesiastical hierarchy, the fundamental terms of geometry and the map of the known world. A comparable diversity of subjects appears in the Old English catalogue poems: the religious calen­ dar, the divinely created order of the world, and the sayings of moral wisdom. Thus no single encyclopedic catalogue can function as a para­ digm for reading the Old English poetic catalogues. Since there are, by even the most liberal count, relatively few cata­ logue poems in Old English, I have found the encyclopedic catalogues essential for articulating a fuller understanding of the form. The encyclo­ pedias serve most usefully to enlarge the rather limited understanding of catalogue form which may be derived from the Old English poems. This added understanding must, however, be applied to the poems with con­ siderable caution. Just as catalogues vary from encyclopedia to encyclo­ pedia, so too they vary from encyclopedia to poem. In a few cases, there are quite direct and illuminating correspondences between encyclopedic and poetic catalogues. The use of the annual cycle in the Menologium becomes more comprehensible and illuminating if one is familiar with Pliny’s depiction of the agricultural year in the Natural History. Similarly his exposition of geography as a fixed sequence of locations prepares the reader for the geographically-ordered catalogue of The Fates of the Apos­ tles.

12 Albert B. Lord, The Singer o f Tales (Cambridge, Mass., 1960); Jeff Opland, AngloSaxon Oral Poetry (New Haven, 1980).

17 These few correspondences would not alone justify my extended dis­ cussion of the encyclopedic catalogues. Such justification is to be found chiefly in the encyclopedist’s conviction that the world’s knowledge may be presented in catalogue form. As Pliny, Cassiodorus and Isidore demonstrate repeatedly, the catalogue possessed both utility and dignity. It was not, as we might tend to suspect, the easy solution of an inferior or lazy writer. The “otherness’' of the catalogue then lies not simply in its own internal form but also in the elevated reputation which it enjoyed at least through the High Middle Ages. The catalogue could be used for a variety of encyclopedic and poetic purposes because it corresponds to a certain vision of experience, or pattern of thought, which values plenitude and diversity. This way of looking at the world is limited neither to prose nor poetry. The use of the catalogue in classical epic and Latin encyclopedia may be ascribed to a similar intention on the part of writers. As Northrop Frye observes, the epic ... differs from the narrative in the encyclopaedic range of its theme, from heaven to the underworld and over an enormous mass of traditional material.13 The epic is thus encyclopedic in a very precise way; as the etymology of the adjective suggests, the form contains a “circle of paideia or educa­ tion” and hence constitutes the central text of a preliterate culture. For its importance to be fully registered, the encyclopedic epic must be viewed as a cultural phenomenon rather than as a literary classification. The Homeric poems are thus, according to Eric A. Havelock’s persuasive interpretation, didactic poems; they present both the ethos and the nomos of early Greek society.14 On this utilitarian ground, the poet and the encyclopedist may be brought together without distorting the charac­ ter of either. To the contrary, doing so allows us to see that they shared the catalogue as a necessary form because they shared the same cultural function of teaching. Although critics have recently grown more sensitive to the presence of catalogues in Old English poetry, few seem wifling to believe that they were the poet’s principal means of shaping his material.15 That a poem

13 Northrop Frye, Anatomy o f Criticism (Princeton, 1957), p. 318. 14 Eric A. Havelock, Preface to Plato (New York, 1967), p. 67. 15 One may find a few statements in defense of catalogue form in the criticism; so, for example, Robinson, “Old English Literature in its Most Immediate Context," pp. 26-27;


should use a catalogue suggests to most modern readers a radical failure or, at the very least, a fundamental misunderstanding of structure. Yet the misunderstanding is ours and may be attributed to our unease when faced with a didactic poem. In our poetry, the imagination has gained such great prestige that it is difficult to think of a single, first-rate didactic poem by a contemporary author.16 We are the heirs of Shelley: “Didactic poetry is my abhorrence; nothing can be equally well expressed in prose that is not tedious in verse.”17 For a reader accustomed to medieval poetry, this statement approaches nonsense; but as Frederick Pottle has noted, it inaugurates “one of the most confidently held of our modern poetic principles.”18 At other moments, however, when the poet must serve as historian and teacher, preserving the collective memory of his culture, the func­ tional element will become dominant. This burden of memory is the source of early poetic encyclopedism and thus of the catalogue: In Homer, in the perhaps more primitive Hesiod, in the poets of the heroic age of the North, we can see the kind of thing the poet had to remember. Lists of kings and foreign tribes, myths and genealogies of gods, historical traditions, the proverbs of popular wisdom, taboos, lucky and unlucky days, charms, the deeds of the tribal heroes, were some of the things that came out when the poet unlocked his wordhoard. ... The ency­ clopaedic knowledge in such poems is regarded sacra­ mentally, as a human analogy of divine knowledge.19

By demarcating the boundaries of human conduct as determined by his­ tory and religion, these poets gained a prestige radically different from that granted to poets since the Romantic period. The early poet is not by reason of his imaginative power a uniquely privileged voice. Only rarely T. A. Shippey, Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English (Cambridge and Totowa, N. J., 1976), “Preface”; Opland, Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry, p. 260; and Alvin A. Lee, The Guest Hall o f Eden (New Haven, 1972), pp. 74-75, who puts it best: “To scant any Old English poem because it is ‘memorial verse’ or a catalogue’ of saints is mentally to cripple oneself for understanding and interpreting a poetic corpus whose main cultural purpose is perhaps best indicated in the formulas We gefrugnon (We have heard) or Ic gefrœgn (I have heard).” 16 For an honorable exception, see the example-poems by John Hollander in his Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse (New Haven, 1981). 17 “Preface to Prometheus Bound,” in Shelley: Selected Poetry, ed. Neville Rogers (Oxford, 1969) p. 63, c. 2. 18 Frederick A. Pottle, The Idiom o f Poetry (Ithaca, 1941), p. 97. 19 Frye, Anatomy o f Criticism, p. 57.

19 is he a visionary or prophet.20 Rather he is charged with evoking the beliefs and practices of his culture. To the extent that his matter was familiar to his audience, the poet would seem formulaic or conventional, for he did not seek to assert an individual view of life. To argue the case for didactic or utilitarian poetry is not, however, to ignore the possibilities for poetic individuality. The use of traditional material does not preclude poetic invention; to the contrary, it may often drive a fine poet to invention. As Peter Dronke has argued of early medieval poetry, the same tradition which presents to one poet his total poetic resource can offer to another, more gifted, poet only a point of departure.21 Of the poems studied in this book, this principle holds most obviously for Deor and Widsith. Yet poetic invention also appears in a seemingly mechanical poem such as The Fortunes o f Men. For the present, however, it is important to stress the traditional con­ tent of most Old English catalogue poems. They were written for their usefulness by men who, as Morton Bloomfield has noted, we would describe “today as priests, historians, archivists or scientists."22 By virtue of its defined “social role," much Old English poetry belongs to the central, if at times amorphous, genre of wisdom literature: Whenever we turn to the literature of the past, we always find a certain part of it devoted, in one way or another, to rules of conduct or control of the environ­ ment or to information about nature and man. The purpose of wisdom and its literature is to suggest a scheme of life in the broadest sense of the word, to ensure its continuance, to predict its variations and to associate humanity with the fundamental rhythms of nature. It is an attempt to control life by some kind of order, to reduce the area of the unexpected and the sudden. It is the step beyond shamanism and prophecy. One can control life by wisdom rather than by dependency on special revelations.23

Or to use the terms applied by Havelock to the “Homeric Encyclopedia," wisdom literature is born from and also embodies the ethos and nomos of 20 See further Morton W. Bloomfield, “Understanding Old English Poetry,” Annuale Mediaevale 9 (1968), 5-25. 21 Peter Dronke, Poetic Individuality in the Middle Ages: New Directions in Poetry, 10001150 (Oxford, 1970), p. 11. 22 Bloomfield, “Understanding Old English Poetry,” p. 6* 23 Bloomfield, “Understanding Old English Poetry,” p. 17.


its culture. Wisdom literature is a deeply conservative and self-perpetuat­ ing genre, especially as it concerns knowledge of the natural world. For in the absence of experimental science, such knowledge can be derived only from the accumulated and inherited matter of tradition. In Old English, wisdom literature appears as gnomes, charms, riddles, reflective poems, and also as “list science (inventories, e.g., ‘there are three types of men ... etc.’ sort of thing).”24 “List science” seems to be Bloomfield’s term for the catalogue, one which usefully suggests that a device of structure is also implicitly a way of knowing, or a science. Although the list and the catalogue are not precisely identical, both are didactic strategies for ordering large quantities of material, whether it be moral wisdom or a calendar of feast days. The use of the poetic catalogue would have worked well with such characteristic features of Old English poetic style as periphrasis and variation. This seems especially true of variation where a series of alter­ nately phrased, and syntactically parallel, expressions often assumes the appearance in miniature of a catalogue. As Arthur Brodeur has noted, variation allows the poet “to exhibit the object of his thought in all its aspects.”25 This desire for comprehensive knowledge* stimulated by a vision of the world’s diversity, requires an inclusive rather than selective mode. An extended passage of variation is not, however, identical with the structural catalogue. Each element of variation is generally quite brief, rarely extending beyond a line and a half, while the elements of a catalogue are typically more variable in length. More important, varia­ tion is essentially a momentary technique evoked by a particular figure or episode within a longer work. By contrast, the catalogue as a structure extends throughout and governs the entire poem. Yet since both varia­ tion and catalogue proceed from a discursive rather than organic mode, they may easily coexist in the same poetic corpus. Thus far I have considered the cultural and psychological reasons for using a catalogue rather than the form itself. I have done so because the internal form of a catalogue can be appreciated only after the reasons for its use have been considered. The catalogues are filled with wisdom and information precisely because they were written by didactic poets. In a largely nonliterate society, the poet must respect the demands of inclusiveness and abundance. Rather than shaping the material into his

24 Bloomfield, “Understanding Old English Poetry,” p. 18. 25 Arthur G. Brodeur, The Art o f Beowulf (Berkeley, 1959), p. 39. See further Fred C. Robinson, “Two Aspects of Variation in Old English Poetry" in Old English Poetry: Essays on Style, ed. Daniel G. Calder (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1979), pp. 127-45.

21 own highly articulated design, he must present it in a clear and consistent pattern so that it may be assimilated by his audience. This is not to apologize for the form of much Old English poetry, which firmly resists such patronizing, but rather to propose that the value of structure may sometimes be found in clarity rather than complexity. The catalogue is not simply a glorified form of list. Although both list and catalogue present a series of discrete elements or entries, those in a list range from a single word to, at most, a brief sentence. A list may contain but not elaborate upon the major aspects of a given topic. So too a list functions well as an aid to memory but poorly as a didactic device. At times, the thinness of content may make it difficult to calculate the internal order of elements in a list. A list is essentially a series of nota­ tions for reconstructing the larger subject. By characteristically offering longer entries, the catalogue provides a more comprehensive exposition of its subject. The order of elements in a catalogue is apparent and often instructive, for it suggests the interrelations among the various aspects of the subject. The catalogue is, in short, a more ambitious form. Rather than offering further categorical distinctions between list and catalogue, it seems more useful to consider examples of both forms. The ideal examples are those which present, each in its appropriate fashion, the same subject. The following two passages, which are taken from the same Old English poem, The Gifts o f Men, provide a valuable point of departure for this discussion. In the poem, the various conditions, occupations and talents of mankind are described in a sequence of entries. Fortunately for our purposes, the poet sometimes repeats himself by presenting the same occupation in both a brief list and in a more copious catalogue. On two occasions in this poem, the trio of warrior, counselor and carpenter are grouped together, first in catalogue form: Sum bið wiges heard, beadocræftig beom, þær bord stunað. Sum in mæðle mæg modsnottera folcrædenne ford gehycgan, þær witena biþ worn ætsomne. Sum mæg wrætlice weorc ahycgan heahtimbra gehwæs; hond bid gelæred, wis ond gewealden, swa bid wyrhtan ryht, sele asettan, con he sidne ræced fæste gefegan wiþ færdryrum. (11. 39b-48)

22 and later in a sequence of list entries: Sum bið bylda til ham to hebbanne. Sum bið heretoga, fyrdwisa from. Sum biþ folcwita. (11. 75b-77)26

In the first passage, each occupation receives a full description; rather than simply mentioning the folcwita, for example, the poet explains that the counsellor in the company of other wise men puts forth decrees for the community. This practice of describing rather than merely naming is characteristic of the catalogue as a didactic form. When presenting the warrior and the carpenter in the second passage, the poet hovers between list and catalogue form by adding an element of variation to the title (e.g., heretoga and fyrdwisa from). Since the variant phrase essentially renames rather than amplifies the first element (the title itself), these passages seem closer to list than to catalogue. This fine distinction is not absolute, but rather may indicate the fundamental relationship between list and catalogue. Nonetheless, to see the list as a naming form and the catalogue as a describing form may prevent a needless confusion of the two. Moreover, this distinction indicates that each form had its own purposes which were not likely to be confused by writers and hence should be respected by critics. If a writer were concerned with pairing verbal elements (e.g., sum and heretoga), the list would be the more efficient form. But if he wished to move beyond a single name or term in an incremental fashion, then the catalogue would be required. To understand better these authorial inten­ tions, we may consider two presentations of the principal winds of the world: as a list in a Latin-Old English glossary once attributed to Ælfric and as a catalogue in Isidore’s encyclopedia. For our purposes it is fortun­ ate, though not essential, that the Etymologies is the presumed source for the glossary. This circumstance, however, does allow one to relate the author’s intention to the form in which he presented this shared informa­ tion. Given its use in a glossary, the list of Latin and Old English words contains only terminological information. Each entry functions as a kind of linguistic equation which balances the appropriate term from each language; 26 ASPR, Vol. Ill, pp. 138-139. For a more extended discussion of the lists and catalogues in this poem, see below Chapter 3.

23 Subsolanus, easten wind. Auster; we/ nothus, suðen wind. Fauonius, uel zephirus, westen wind. Septentriot noröan wind. Vulturnus y eastan suðan wind. Eurus y euroaustery norðan eastan wind. Euroafricus, Sudan easten wind. Africus y sudan westan wind. Corus, nordan westan wind. Circius, nordan easten wind. Aquilo, uel boreas, nordan westan wind.27

Although the heading in the glossary announces twelve winds (Nomina XII. Ventorum), the list contains only these eleven. The scribe mistakenly treated Eurus and Euroauster as synonyms for the northeast wind. In writing Euroafricus, he also erred by blending the first element of Euroauster with the second element of Austroafricus (the proper form).28 As a result of these errors, the internal order of the list is significantly impaired. Although it begins properly with the four principal types, arranged according to the points of the compass, the following secondary types are not presented in their proper order. But even if the scribe had been more meticulous, the reader of this gloss-list would not be able to determine (as he could from Isidore’s catalogue) that the secondary winds are divided into four pairs, again according to the points of the compass. This is not to criticize the list for something which by its nature it cannot do, but rather to suggest that this list contains only linguistic information. But we must also remember that this type of word-list was the primary vehicle by which the Anglo-Saxons learned Latin vocabulary. The large number of such glossaries testifies to their widespread use in the schools and, more generally, to the efficacy of list form for this purpose. An Anglo-Saxon reader who had worked his way through various glossaries would have come to regard the list as an entirely respectable and efficient didactic form. He would, for this reason, bring to a poem such as The Gifts o f Men an immediate understanding of and appreciation for the list as a form. The value of this particular list of winds is limited to its presentation of

27 Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies, ed. T. Wright, rev. R. Wiilcker (London, 1884), Vol. I, pp. 143.35-144.10. 28 See further Robert T. Meyer, “Isidorian ‘Glossae Collectae* in Ælfric’s Vocabulary Traditio 12 (1956), 398-405. It should be noted that Meyer's attribution of this glossary to Ælfric is unwarranted.

24 terminology. Properly speaking, it does not offer a scientific definition or explanation for each type of wind. For a fuller exposition of the names, relations and origins of the winds, one must turn to the catalogue in Isidore's encyclopedia. Although he also begins with the names, he is able to expand his entries beyond the merely linguistic through his use of etymology. And it is this expansion into more substantive material which distinguishes the encyclopedist's use of the catalogue from the glossator’s use of the list. In discussing the twelve winds, Isidore begins with a brief explanation of wind as “agitated air.” He then offers a two-stage taxonomy for the various winds which first presents the four primary types and then the eight secondary types: Ventorum quattuor principales spiritus sunt. Quorum primus ab oriente Subsolanus, a meridie Auster, ab occidente Favonius, a septentrione eiusdem nominis ventus adspirat; habentes geminos hinc inde ventorum spiritus. Subsolanus a latere dextro Vulturnum habet, a laevo Eurum: Auster a dextris Euroaustrum, a sinistris Austroafricum: Favonius a parte dextra Africum, a laeva Corum: porro Septentrio a dextris Circium, a sinistris Aquilonem. Hi duodecim venti mundi globum flatibus circumagunt. (There are four principal currents of winds. The first of these is Subsolanus from the east, then Auster from the south, Favonius from the west, and from the north a wind of that same name [i.e., Sep­ tentrio] blows. These winds are flanked on either side by a pair of wind currents. Subsolanus has Vulturnus to the right side and Eurus to the left; Auster has Euroauster to the right and Austroafricus to the left; Favonius has Africus to the right side and Corus to the left; finally Septentrio has Circius to the right and Aquilo to the left. These twelve winds circulate around the globe of the world with their gusts. Etym. XIII. xi, 2-3) To understand Isidore’s sequence here, it is best to envision the face of a compass with north at the top. One may then see that the order of catalogue entries is perfectly consistent with the points of the compass. First with the four primary winds, and then with the eight secondary winds, Isidore follows a consistent clockwise direction: east, south, west, north. In describing the secondary winds, Isidore again follows a regular principle: each of the four primary winds is said to have two related

25 secondary types. Of these two, one is to the “right” and the other to the “left” of the primary wind. Moreover, Isidore always names the “right” first and then the “left”; thus Subsolanus has first Vulturnus and then Eurus; Auster has first Euroauster and then Austroafricus. The internal order of this catalogue reveals great care on Isidore’s part. The following diagram presents the order of the catalogue in abstract terms. The parenthetical numbers indicate the order by which Isidore introduces the name for each wind. Four Primary Winds EAST-Subsolanus (1)

Eight Secondary Winds East-North (Right)-Vulturnus (5) East-South (Left)-Eurus (6)

SOUTH-Auster (2)

South-East (Right)-Euroauster (7) South-West (Left)-Austroafricus (8)

WEST-Favonius (3)

West-South (Right)-Africus (9) West-North (Left)-Corus (10)

NORTH-Septentrio (4)

North-West (Right)-Circius (11) North-East (Left)-Aquilo (12)

In the remainder of this section, Isidore offers an etymological discussion for the name of each wind which follows, for the most part, this same order (Quorum nomina propriis causis signata sunt; “the names of each are given according to their characteristic properties”; Etym. XIII. xi, 4). This two-stage presentation of the winds - first of their order and then of their individual properties - has the great didactic virtue of clarity. It also illustrates well the resources of the catalogue in containing a highlyordered subject. In ordering the winds according to this geographical orientation, Isi­ dore does more than simply offer a literary classification. Rather the order he uses here is determined and fixed by the state of this particular discipline at the time. Isidore may well have thought that this principle of order was inherent in the subject. With more perspective, we may see that it was for him so obvious or inevitable as to preclude the possibility of viewing the subject in any other way. The notion that a subject can


have a fixed and thus proper order for exposition is central to the study of catalogue form. For it is this notion which suggests that catalogues are not random compilations. It is the writer’s task to identify and then employ the proper order for his subject. A well-constructed catalogue, such as Isidore’s on the winds, thus teaches a double lesson: the chief facts and terms of a subject as well as the structural order necessary to contain them. Two further examples, drawn from Old English poetry, confirm that the catalogue provides both information and an appropriate structure. If the Menologium and The Fates of the Apostles are placed beside their list­ like counterparts, one may see that both poets have consciously striven to employ a meaningful order for their catalogue entries. The Menologium, like any list of feast days, arranges its contents according to the calendar of the year. But the poem, unlike comparable lists, provides various senses of the year itself. It counts the days between the feasts and also describes the turn of the year according to its seasonal and monthly divisions. The result is that the year itself may be seen as a significant religious event which commemorates the whole of Christian history. In The Fates o f the Apostles, Cynewulf derived from his material a geographical principle of order which complemented perfectly his vision of the apostles as voyagers into heathen lands. In this way, as the poem moves from Rome to the shadowy boundaries of the world, the audience may recognize the historical role of the first missionaries. Since there was no absolutely fixed order for the apostles, as there was for the calendar of the holy days, Cynewulf enjoyed more freedom than did the Menologium poet. Yet he too abstracted from his subject a principle of order for his catalogue. In this way, his poem teaches far more about the historical significance of the apostles than does the analogous list in, for example, Matthew 10: 2-4. To frame this distinction between list and catalogue in a more historical way, we may briefly trace the evolution of the annal as a historiographic genre from religious calendars designed to calculate the date of Easter. As Charles W. Jones has noted, an Easter-table is in its form "a list, generally long and narrow.”29 While this table functions as a prognosis before the actual holiday, it becomes a historical record after it has pass­ ed. For this reason,

29 Bedae: Opera de Temporibus, ed. Charles W. Jones (Cambridge. Mass., 1943), Medieval Academy of America Publication No. 41, p. 114. All of his Chapter VII is relevant to this discussion.

27 If a second event of import occurred in the same year, there was room to note the event in the wide margin; for the list, despite its now traditional eight columns, still left ample margin. It will be noted that the earliest entries imitate the historical record of Easter-day in brevity, not because there was no more room, for second entries were few, but because the writer con­ ceived of the second entry in terms of the first. Augusti­ nus obit is like pascha xi kal. mai.30

From the briefest of historical notations - the death of a pope or the selection of a bishop - grew the mature form of the annal. In this development into catalogue form, the annal becomes an important histo­ riographic genre, for it is the events of the year rather than the lists of years or Easter-dates which are valuable to the reader. Admittedly, even a full annal may well seem no more than a list to those whose standards of historiography derive from Gibbon or Burckhardt. Yet the use of an annal in catalogue form does not necessarily indicate the compiler’s ignorance of more sophisticated methods. Rather, as the annal found at the end of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History indicates, the historical catalogue had its own value. In this particular case, it recapitulates in a year-by-year order the major events narrated at length by Bede in his History. The sequence of Easter-table, annal, history may be rephrased in structural terms as a sequence of list, catalogue, treatise. As an intermediate structure, the catalogue provides more information and order than the list but lacks the continuity and interweaving characteristic of the treatise. In that sense, the catalogue is not a modern prose form because it cannot, as it were, move beyond the paragraph. In each of these examples, the catalogue, whether in prose or poetry, is a practical means for presenting a great deal of information in discrete sections. In it, each item is noted and described individually rather than related by strict logic to the surrounding items. To use a term suggested by Fred C. Robinson, the catalogue is in structure “catenulate”; it offers a series of joined rather than unified elements.31 The relation between them follows instead from the subject of the catalogue, whether it be apostles, winds, rhetorical tropes, plants or nations. In structure, then, the catalogue is at once accretive and discontinuous.

30 Jones, ed., Bedae: Opera de Temporibus, p. 117. 31 Robinson, “Old English Literature in its Most Immediate Context,” p. 26.


The catalogue is for these reasons most congenial to writers who value plenitude over other considerations. Its flexibility allows the poet or encyclopedist to digress at will and thus include material not strictly necessary to his subject. The catalogue has what one might call an “open middle." If Isidore, for instance, had a fixed principle for his catalogue of the twelve winds, it governed only the order by which each was intro­ duced. Within that order he was free to include all the information including tag lines from Virgil and Lucretius - which he considered to be appropriate. The bounds of this particular catalogue are determined by the subject (the number of winds). We may thus see that the catalogue as a form has in itself no inherent force of closure. It does not have to conclude, as does a sonnet, after a set number of lines. Rather, to invert a phrase of Italo Calvino's, the form of catalogues is endless.32 In practice, however, catalogues conclude when the subject is exhausted (e.g., with the twelfth wind or apostle) or else when a sufficient number of illustra­ tive entries has been given (e g., with the sum-phrases in The Gifts of Men). The heart of these Old English poems then is the catalogue, for there the poets fulfill their responsibilities as teachers of traditional knowledge. The various introductions and conclusions which appear in these poems may frame and enhance the catalogue in a variety of ways: by establishing a narrative context, by stating a relevant abstract truth, or by providing a speaker. They are essential to these poems when considered aesthetically, for they distinguish the poetic from all other uses of the catalogue. Yet these passages rarely provide substantive material which is not present implicitly or explicitly in the catalogue. When handled competently, the catalogue could prove remarkably liberating; it allowed the poet and the encyclopedist to contain all that they knew and all that they must teach. No wonder the catalogue became an honored part of their repertoire.33

Italo ('alvino. Invisible Cities, trans. William Weaver (New York. 1974), p. 139, where the phrase reads: “The catalogue of forms is endless: until every shape has found its city, new cities will continue to be born.” E. R. Curtius makes a similar observation with regard to the compilation in his European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. W. Trask (New York, 1963), p. 455.

1: The Latin Encyclopedias and Their Catalogues

The Latin encyclopedias have had the bad fortune to be judged by one of the most unattainable, if alluring, intellectual ideals ever formulated that of the Greek r\ éyxùxXia Jiatôeia or “encyclical culture.” Beside this beautifully articulated theory which remains fresh and daring, the Latin works may seem stale and timid in their reliance on earlier authorities.1 To some scholars the divergence between the ideal and the actual has seemed so complete, they would deny the term encyclopedia to such works as Pliny’s Natural History, Cassiodorus’ Institutions or Isidore’s Etymologies.12 As one grows increasingly aware of the bookishness of these works, especially in treating the natural sciences, this critical posi­ tion comes to seem quite compelling. It has the same purity which enno­ bles the ideal itself. If this position is accepted, however, it follows with only a little distortion that the encyclopedia as a form arose and came to fruition with the corpus of Aristotle.3 For only there was the full circle traced and recorded, albeit in a series of separate works. Aristotle seems to be honored as the first and truest encyclopedist because his corpus is the first to correspond to our vision of the encyclo­ pedia as systematic, carefully divided and, above all, written in prose. We ask of the Greek encyclopedia, if it is to be translated from ideal to actuality, that it maintain our standards of exposition and coherence. Yet

1 For a consideration of the Greek theory, see H. I. Marrou, Saint Augustin et la fin de la culture antique (Paris, 1958), pp. 228 ff.; Maurice de Gandillac, “Encyclopédies pré­ médiévales et médiévales,” Cahiers D'Histoire Mondiale 9 (1965-66), 483-518, especially pp. 488 ff.; and Michel de Bouard, “Encyclopédies médiévales: sur la ‘connaissance de la nature et du monde’ au moyen age,” Revue des Questions Historiques 112 (1930), 258304, especially pp. 260-61. 2 See Marrou, St. Augustin, pp. 212, 228 n. 1, 413; and Jacques Fontaine, “Isidore de Séville et la mutation de l’encyclopedisme antique,” Cahiers D'Histoire Mondiale 9 (1965-66), 519-38, at p. 519 for Pliny. For a more tolerant view of Pliny, see Bouard, “Encyclopédies médiévales,” p. 260; and William Stahl, et. al.. Martianus Capella and the Seven Liberal Arts (New York, 1971), Vol. I, p. 129. 3 Marrou, St. Augustin, p. 232; and, in a more moderate statement, Pierre Grimai, “Ency­ clopédies antiques,” Cahiers D'Histoire Mondiale 9 (1965-66), 459-82, at p. 460.

30 this demand entails a certain amount of historical distortion. For it would be deeply puzzling if an ideal as potent in Greek culture as the encyclope­ dia made its first significant appearance so late as to be recorded in prose. To the contrary, as Eric Havelock has demonstrated, the earliest expression of Greek encyclopedism appears in the poetry of Homer and Hesiod. Their works contain, he argues, ... a massive repository of useful knowledge, a sort of encyclopedia of ethics, politics, history and technology, which the effective citizen was required to learn as the core of his educational equipment. Poetry represented not something we call by that name, but an indoctrina­ tion which today would be comprised in a shelf of text books and works of reference.4

From the start there existed no fixed embodiment for the encyclopedic ideal. For that matter, the ideal itself underwent significant revisions as it passed from writer to writer. At any moment in its long history, the encyclopedia may be best understood as a tension between an idealized conception and an achieved work. In the Preface to his Natural History, Pliny does not describe his work as an encyclopedia, but does state that its contents belong within this circle: ante omnia attingenda quae Graeci xfjç èpxvxXiou Jiaiôeiaç vocant (“Deserving mention before all else are those subjects which the Greeks call ‘the circle of knowledge'.” N. H. Pref 14-15). Pliny comes very close here to appropriating the Greek ideal for his own purposes as a naturalist and moralist by placing the sciences firmly at the center of encyclic culture. In turning the circle to suit his own needs, Pliny expresses a different, and certainly more limited, version of the ideal than did Aristotle before him or Augustine after him. But he can be rejected as a major encyclopedist only if one insists on the most programmatic definition of the term. As the encyclopedia underwent redefinition, the tension between ideal and achievement gradually slackened so that by the time of Isidore, encyclopedists devoted their best energies to compiling rather than theorizing. Yet to see this process as a decline rather than as an adjust­ ment to changing conditions and needs is to foreclose all serious discus­ sion of the Latin encyclopedia. We need instead to extend a certain historical sympathy to these encyclopedists as men who did valuable

4 Eric A. Havelock, Preface to Plato (New York, 1967), p. 27.

31 work under conditions of disruption or urgency.5 As his Preface clearly reveals, Pliny perceived a threat to learning and intellectual life in his time; that it was more subtle than that perceived later by Cassiodorus or Isidore made it no less ominous. His demons were not Goths but Greeks, whose increasingly pervasive influence on Roman culture seemed to him a clear sign of decadence.6 No longer did his intellectual hero - that figure at once scholar and vir bonus - command respect or invite emulation. The earlier ethic which held literature to be best when most useful was giving way to an aesthetic which prized beauty above all. In response, Pliny set out to perform a work of cultural salvage; he turned the encyclo­ pedia into a collection drawing from all that he judged best in this earlier ethic. Like the later encyclopedists, Pliny understood that no work, not even a compilation of facts, could or should be free of ideological intent during a period of fundamental cultural change.7 That encyclopedists saw themselves as performing this role adds a certain urgency to their labors and justifies them. As Fritz Saxl has argued so acutely, encyclopedias are significant precisely because they are compilations: As a rule encyclopaedias do not contain original research; they are intended for the use of a wide public. They are indicative of the fact that a period of learning is approaching its end, and that the desire is felt to see the achievements of the past recorded, in order that such records may be made accessible as a basis for new and different investigations. It is not so much the information which encyclopaedias contain which makes their history an interesting topic; rather their signifi­ cance lies in the fact that at a certain time there arises the need for a new encyclopaedia, in the author’s selec­

5 For a defense of the encyclopedist as cultural hero, see Arnaldo Momigliano, “Cas­ siodorus and the Italian Culture of his Time," Proceedings o f the British Academy 41 (1955), 207-45, at p. 209. For a rather less celebratory view of Cassiodorus, see James O ’Donnell, Cassiodorus (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1979), Chapter VI. 6 See further, my in Defense of the Encyclopedic Mode: Pliny’s Preface to the Natural H i s t o r y Latomus 44 (1985). The Natural History is filled with anti-Greek asides, the most explicit of which is his characterization of the Greeks as the fathers of all vices (XV. V, 19). 7 R. T. Bruere has noted in his study of Pliny and Virgil that the encyclopedist saw himself very much as a rival of the epic poet. Like Virgil, he wrote a representative national work, but he chose to do so in prose so that his encyclopedia would have an obvious and immediate utility. See his “Pliny the Elder and Virgil," Classical Philology 51 (1956), 228-46.

32 tion of material from the contributions of earlier schol­ ars and in the system by which he welds them into unity.8 In drawing from a wide variety of sources, encyclopedists had to accept the dangers inherent in being generalists: insufficient knowledge and an incomplete mastery of the methods and limits of a discipline. As such they were vulnerable to attack by those more learned in any one specific discipline.9 Against such a charge the encyclopedist can say only, in Pliny’s classic formulation: itaque nobis etiam non assecutis voluisse abunde pulchrum atque magnificum est (“Therefore even if we have not succeeded, to have aspired to do so is admirable and splendid in the highest degree.” N. H . Pref 15).101 Since an adequate reserve of specialized studies must exist if the ency­ clopedia is to flourish, it is not surprising that the genre achieved its fullest form in Latin. For it was the Roman genius to compile systema­ tized handbooks packed with technical knowledge. Pliny, for example, lived in a learned age which could draw on earlier writers such as Cato, Varro, Cicero and many others. D. J. Campbell observes, however, that “Pliny’s compilation far surpassed all the others extant in its range."11 At several points in the Preface, Pliny expresses his conviction that the com­ prehensiveness of his work represents an original achievement for a Roman writer: it is a “new task for the native muses" (Pref 1 and 14). His work also surpassed all others extant in its length and bulk. Although there can be no precise measure for the “critical mass" by which to distinguish between the encyclopedia and the handbook, one has only to weigh Varro’s De Re Rustica against Pliny’s Natural History to appreciate the difference.12 Jacques Fontaine’s description of the Natural History as 8 Fritz Saxl, “Illustrated Medieval Encyclopaedias" in his Lectures (London, 1957), Vol. I, pp. 228-54, at p. 228. See further S. Viarre, “Le commentaire ordonné du monde dans quelques sommes scientifiques des X lle et XlIIe siècles" in R. Bolgar, ed.. Classical Influences on European Culture, A. D. 500-1500 (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 203-15; and Max Manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters (Munich, 1959; rprt. of 1911 ed.), B. I, pp. 22-87. 9 Such in part was Plato's charge against Homer: that the poet was not an expert. See Havelock, Preface to Plato, p. 83. 10 See further Tore Janson, Latin Prose Prefaces: Studies in Literary Conventions (Stock­ holm, 1964), Studia Lat. Stockholmiensia XIII, p. 99. 11 D. J. Campbell, Naturalis Historiae Liber Secundis: A Commentary (Aberdeen, 1936), p. 2. For Cato, see William Stahl, Roman Science: Origins, Development and Influence to the Later Middle Ages (Madison, 1962), pp. 73-74; for the encyclopedia in Rome after Varro, see Grimai, “Encyclopédies antiques,” p. 474. 12 See further William Stahl, “The Systematic Handbook in Antiquity and the Early Middle A ges,” Latomus 23 (1964), 311-21.

33 “une énorme collection cT ‘extraits’ divers” offers the necessary adjective for encyclopedic scale.13 His characterization of it as a collection of extracts offers as well a valuable clue to understanding its contents and its purpose. In the Preface to the Natural History, Pliny does not speak of extracts; rather he explains that he has gathered some twenty thousand “facts” (rerum) from one hundred authors and two thousand volumes. That Pliny chose the rather general word res here may perhaps be explained by the diversity of his gathering, but it also signals his belief that knowledge is made up of individual, discrete, even countable pieces of information. In boasting of his achievement, Pliny does not claim to synthesize the various disciplines of natural history into a tightly organized treatise. For him the sum of learning depends more upon mastering its various parts than upon unifying them. As with other Latin encyclopedists, who share the miser’s delight in sheer accumulation, he does seem at times to con­ fuse abundance of facts with quality of knowledge. Yet as Pliny suggests, these facts do add up to something more than a number. When placed together as a compendium, they fulfill a necessary and distinct function. Quoting Domitius Piso, he states that thesauros oportet essef non libros (“Treasuries, not books, are necessary.” N. H. Pref 17). This use of thesaurus refers not to the listing of synonyms but rather to treasuries or, more appropriately, treasure troves. In this way, Pliny identifies a generic term for the Natural History. That the encyclopedia must be a thesaurus or compilation follows from Pliny’s conception of knowledge as consisting of the best nuggets mined from previous scholarship. For this reason, his practice of deriving know­ ledge from earlier authorities corresponded perfectly to his conception of knowledge. We know rather less about the means by which Cassiodorus and Isidore gathered their material,14 but if we may judge from the works which they did use, we may surmise that their means differed little from Pliny’s. Both made such extensive use of previous compilations that they may be described fairly as compilers standing on the shoulders of compil­ ers.15 The accumulative nature of these Latin encyclopedias then is not the result of hackwork but rather of a clearly realized and, by its own terms, thoroughly respectable intellectual mode. Of the major Latin encyclopedists, Pliny offers the most explicit state-

13 Fontaine, “Isidore de Séville et la mutation de l’encyclopédisme antique,” p. 519. 14 For Isidore’s methods of compilation, see Jacques Fontaine, Isidore de Séville et la culture classique dans l'Espagne Wisigothique (Paris, 1959), pp. 763-784. 15 M. L. W. Laistner, Thought and Letters in Western Europe, Á.D. 500-900 (Ithaca, 1966, rev. ed.), p. 124.

34 ment that the immutable foundation and measure of learning is the indi­ vidual statement or fact. As their encyclopedias reveal, both Cassiodorus and Isidore share this conviction. What differs from author to author is the sense of what constitutes a fact. For Pliny, the natural historian, a fact is the property of a metal or the location of a river. For Cassiodorus, the educator of the Institutions, a fact is the title of a biblical commentary or a term from the liberal arts. For Isidore, the philologist of the Etymologies, a fact is the name or word because from it may be derived knowledge of the thing itself. The didactic impulse felt throughout the encyclopedias is towards par­ ticularizing rather than harmonizing knowledge. While this mode has its obvious limitations, there is a certain advantage gained. For the reader learns the unique quality or meaning of a given thing, title, word or the like. He recognizes its own irreducible status and thus that it has its own place in the order of things. In dialectic, as Cassiodorus explains, this intellectual mode is known as definitio; but its significance and applica­ tion are not limited to any one of the liberal arts: definitio vero definitionum est oratio brevis uniuscuius­ que rei naturam a communione divisam propria signifi­ catione concludens. (Definitio is truly defined as a brief statement propounding the nature of each individual thing distinguished from the commonality according to its own proper significance. Inst. II. iii, 14)16

As a means of ordering experience and knowledge, definitio values uniqueness rather than resemblance, the instance rather than the synthe­ sis. In turning their voluminous learning, both genuine and spurious, to didactic purposes, the encyclopedists did not prune or shape it to match some preconceived plan of organization. Beginning with Pliny, there seems to be a strong impetus on the part of encyclopedists to contain rather than arrange. As the form develops in the works of Cassiodorus and Isidore, one may also detect an increasingly greater historical justifi­ cation for this impetus to collect and record. Regardless of their moment, however, it is this delight in abundance which leads encyclopedists to slight the formal structure of their works. There are sections in Pliny’s thesaurus, for instance, which would seem to resemble nothing so much as the dragon’s hoard in Beowulf: treasures littered about any which way, 16 Isidore offers virtually the same statement in Etym. II. xxviii, 26.

35 some still shining but most obscured by rust. Yet this can be no more than the first impression of a reader who, accustomed to clear and logical exposition, takes its absence for chaos. Instead one must attribute a more intermediate structure to the encyclopedias, namely, the catalogue. When adopted to the exigencies of a prose work, the catalogue remains inclusive, accretive, and frequently discontinuous. The catalogue allows the encyclopedists to render coherent a series of discrete statements with­ out obligating them to provide transitions or explain interrelations. It allows them to present these statements in an appropriate sequence for the subject at hand. Perhaps the only significant difference between the prose and poetic catalogue concerns the relevant measures of their length. Individual entries in the Old English catalogue poems range from two to six or eight lines in length. Although this measure is not absolute, it does remain consistently shorter than that for entries in prose cata­ logues. Similarly, catalogues as a whole in Latin prose are far longer than those in Old English poetry. The longest such poetic catalogue, the Menologium, runs to 231 lines; by contrast, Pliny’s catalogue of drugs and medicines in the Natural History extends through eight of that work’s thirty-seven books. The immense size of this particular prose catalogue may be attributed to its subject, and it is further subdivided into various categories. Yet even if each book is taken as a distinct catalogue, we may see that each concludes when Pliny’s enormous knowledge of the subject gives out. Had he known more, that too would have been accommo­ dated. There is a sense in which the entirety of the Natural History may be read as a catalogue. Such a reading would correspond with Pliny’s vision of the natural world as an unbroken continuum. By beginning with the universe (Book II) and ending with minerals (Books XXXVI-XXXVII) Pliny follows a relatively traditional order. The intervening books treat first the world’s geography (Books III-VI), then the human race (Book VII), animals (Book VIII), fish (Book IX), birds (Book X), insects (Book XI), trees (Books XII-XVII), agriculture (Books XVIII-XIX), drugs derived from plants (Books XX-XXVII), drugs derived from ani­ mals (Books XXVIII-XXX), drugs derived from aquatic animals (Books XXXI-XXXII), metals (Books XXXIII-XXXIV), painting, sculpture and the natural materials used therein (Book XXXV). From the cosmos to the inert stones of the earth there is for Pliny a chain of being which, if it lacks the theological complexity of the later Christian version, does have its own philosophical basis.17 As a Stoic, Pliny grants nature a 17 Grimai, “Encyclopédies antiques,” pp. 479-82.

36 position of privilege: it is above all else the proper object of study and the source of moral truth. Since we rarely expect our naturalists to be moral­ ists as well, the many passages in which Pliny rails against Roman deca­ dence may seem obtrusive and irrelevant. But for him, such passages were as integral to his purposes as an explanation of olive trees or ame­ thysts. His discussion of man may be attributed as well to his view of nature and his Stoicism. He devotes only one book explicitly to man but refers to him continually throughout the remaining ones. If he focuses on the natural world, he never forgets that it is above all the field of human action. He is not, like Linnaeus, a taxonomist whose classifications derive from the natural phenomena themselves. Rather, he classifies such phe­ nomena in terms of how mankind sees or uses them. His point of refer­ ence is always that of a pragmatist: what can it be used for, how can it be grown, how does one get there? Thus he studies plants as they are used in agriculture and pharmacology rather than as they constitute the science of botany.18 In most instances, Pliny orders his catalogues in a clear and sensible fashion. Throughout the Natural History he skillfully adapts the form to accommodate both his patterns of thought and his copious learning. He will often begin his catalogue for a given subject with some large and necessary distinction. Having established the relevant sub-divisions, he will then pursue each one separately. His discussion of the various grains is typical. First he lays down the two general types: Sunt autem duo prima earum genera: frumenta, ut triticum, hordeum, et legumina, ut fabay cicer. differentia notior quam ut indicari deceat (“Moreover, there are two principal types of these: the cereals, such as wheat or barley, and the legumes, such as the bean or the chick pea. The difference between them is so well-known that it needs only to be mentioned.” N. H. XVIII. ix, 48).19 He further divides the cereals into those types planted in the winter and those planted in the summer, giving examples of each type. The legumes are divided on the basis of their root system. Pliny then turns to the properties, varieties, yields and uses of the more important cereals and legumes. Although he maintains a reasonably consistent pattern of exposition, there is room even here for at brief digression on baking as a profession in Rome (N . H. XVIII. xxviii, 107-08). 18 Similarly Pliny treats the fine arts not as a separate discipline but as they relate to metals; see further J. Isager, “The Composition of Pliny’s Chapters on the History of Art," Analecta Romana Instituti Danici 6 (1971), 49-62. 19 Pliny offers this same kind of two fold division in his classification of birds (N. H. X. xiii, 29). This division of grains and legumes is used as well by Isidore (Etym. XVII. 3-4).

37 Later in this same book, Pliny offers a beautifully organized and truly functional catalogue devoted to the tasks of farmers. A principle of order for this catalogue lay readily at hand in the turn of the agricultural year. Beginning with the fall, he leads the farmer through a typical annual cycle. In charting his tasks, Pliny instructs his reader not simply on the more obvious ones such as sowing and harvesting but also on the more specific ones proper to each season. Thus after treating the fall planting of grains and legumes, he adds this list of seasonal duties: Verum ut pariter omnis culturae quoddam breviarium peragatur, eodem tempore conveniet arbores stercor­ are, adcumulare item vineas - sufficit in iugerum una opera - et ubi patietur loci ratio arbusta ac vineas putare, solum seminariis bipalio praeparare, incilia aperire, aquam de agro pellere, torcular lavare et recondere, a kal. Novemb. gallinis ova supponere nolito donec bruma conficiatur; in eum diem ternadena subicito aestate tota, hieme pauciora, non tamen infra novena. (But to give a summary equally of all the agricultural duties, one should manure the trees, and likewise bank up the vines at the same time - one worker is sufficient for each measure of land - and where the nature of the place will permit, prune the orchards and vines, prepare the soil for the nurserygardens with a double mattock, open up the drainage ditches, drain the fields of water, wash and put away the press. After the first of November, do not put eggs under hens until the winter solstice has passed; until then [i.e., November 1] place thirteen under each hen for the entire summer, but fewer during the winter, yet at least nine. N. H. XVIII. lxii, 230-31)

On a small scale, this passage is representative of Pliny’s use of the catalogue; it groups together a relevant body of facts and instructions but does not provide a specific or inviolable order for them. One is meant to understand instead that they belong together for a general reason; in this case, because they refer to tasks to be performed in the fall. No more specific order or explanation is necessary, for the farmer will perform these various tasks as his personal circumstances permit. As Pliny recognized, however, a sequence of duties alone does not constitute a calendar. There must also be some means for measuring time. Thus Pliny includes a brief discussion of astronomy so that the course of the seasons might be measured from changes in the constella-

38 tions and other heavenly bodies. His interweaving of agriculture and astronomy is illustrated well in this discussion of the midwinter period: A bruma in favonium Caesari nobilia sidera significant, III kal. Ian. mututino canis occidens, quo die Atticae et finitimis regionibus aquila vesperi occidere traditur; pridie nonas Ian. Caesari delphinus matutino exoritur et postero die fidicula, quo Aegypto sagitta vesperi occidit; item ad VI idus Ian. eiusdem delphini vesper­ tino occasu continui dies hiemant Italiae, et cum sol in aquarium sentiatur transire, quod fere XVI kal. Feb. evenit. VIII kal. stella regia appellata Tuberoni in pec­ tore leonis occidit matutino et pridie nonas Feb. fidi­ cula vespere occidit, huius temporis novissimis diebus, ubicumque patietur caeli ratio, terram ad rosarum et vineae satum vertere bipalio oportet - iugere operae LXX sufficiunt - fossas purgare aut novas facere, ante­ lucanis ferramenta acuere, manubria aptare, dolia quassa sarcire, ovium tegimenta concinnare ipsarumque lanas scabendo purgare. (From the winter solstice until the west wind comes, well-known stars show their signs, according to Caesar: the Dog Star setting in the morning three days before the kalends of January [i.e., December 30], on the same day that the Eagle is said to set during the evening in Attica and the neighboring regions; on the day before the nones of January [i.e., January 4] according to Caesar, the Dolphin appears at dawn and the Lyre on the following day, when in Egypt the Archer sets in the evening; also six days before the ides of January [i.e., January 8], when the same Dol­ phin sets in the evening, the days begin to grow succes­ sively wintry in Italy, and also when the sun is per­ ceived to enter Aquarius, which happens about sixteen days before the kalends of February [i.e., about Janu­ ary 17], eight days before the kalends [i.e., January 25], the star called Regulus sets at dawn in the breast of the constellation Leo, according to Tubero, and on the day before the nones of February [i.e., February 4] the Lyre sets in the evening. During the last days of this period, whenever the course of the heavens allows, one should turn over the earth for planting roses and vines with a double mattock - seventy workers should be sufficient for each measure of land - clear ditches or dig new ones, sharpen iron tools before daybreak, fit hand-

39 les, mend broken jars, set up the folds for sheep and clean their fleeces by scraping. N. H. XVIII. lxiv, 23436) By a stricter standard than Pliny's, this passage represents an unfortunate confusion of disciplines. Thus Isidore maintains a more defined taxon­ omy in the Etymologies by treating astronomy as part of the quadrivium (Book III) and agriculture as a separate subject (Book XVII). In prac­ tice, however, neither of these methods of exposition is inherently super­ ior to the other. Each is appropriate to its intended audience: the farmer in the fields or the student in the library. Within the passage, there is a coherent and orderly progression for the individual celestial changes. That the progression is fixed, and thus reli­ able, is itself the lesson. It is as well the obvious principle by which this particular catalogue may be ordered. Yet one notices also that Pliny treats each of these changes as a distinct and separate event. Unlike the poet of the Menologium, Pliny does not number the intervening days between important dates or events. Such a count would have been of considerable assistance to those without written calendars. Since the catalogue as a whole assumes this type of audience, his failure to provide this count may be attributed to his conception of time as a sequence of noteworthy events rather than as a seamless flow. These two examples are self-contained sections drawn from much lar­ ger catalogues. Yet even in these passages, which are devoted to relatively defined topics, Pliny presents his information as a series of discrete entries or individual facts. The same mode may be found in his catalogue exposition of an entire subject. As with the catalogue of the agricultural year, the catalogue of metals in Books XXXIII and XXXIV follows the established order for its subject: the commonly accepted scale by which metals are valued. Arranged in descending order of value, Pliny treats gold, malachite, silver (and its alloys), copper, bronze (and its alloys), iron, lead and arsenic. This catalogue of metals would also be for him the appropriate place to include certain moral diatribes, as when he interrupts his explanation of gold coinage to rail against the squandering of money in Rome (N. H. XXXIII. xiv, 48-50). For the most part, however, Pliny does follow the hierarchical order of metals. Its advantage for him as a writer is apparent; what may be less so is its advantage for the reader of the Natural History. Because this order is predictable, the reader in search of a particular fact will know to locate the section on, say, iron, between those on bronze and lead. If, however, the reader treats these books as a basic text on metallurgy, the catalogue has an

40 additional advantage, for it also teaches the appropriate order by which metals should be grouped and valued. The principle of order for a catalogue of metals or of the agricultural year was relatively fixed. For Pliny, metals were valuable substances and were ordered accordingly. He chose to arrange them in descending order, but the same essential lesson concerning their value would have been taught if he had done so in ascending order. Similarly, his imagination could conceive of agriculture only as an annual round of duties commenc­ ing in the fall. Given his predilection for viewing natural phenomena in terms of human use, it would be difficult to propose a more satisfying order for either catalogue. Each order is effective because it embodies a commonly-accepted understanding of the subject. For this reason, the internal order of a catalogue can reveal a great deal about the state of a discipline at a given moment in history. If one reads through the four books devoted to geography in the Natural Histo­ ry, one is left with little doubt that Pliny has amassed an enormous amount of relevant information. Like earlier writers on the subject, Pliny conceived of geography as a broadly humanistic rather than narrowly technical discipline.20 He thus included material which by other standards would belong to history, ethnography or sociology. If the vast size of the subject posed a serous problem of organization, Pliny met it in a predict­ able fashion; he adopted the latitudinal axis favored by previous authori­ ties. This axis, running from the Pillars of Hercules in the west to India in the east, offered a coherent order for his geographical catalogue.21 Since he is chiefly concerned with the Mediterranean Sea, this axis is especially useful; it bisects that area into a northern or European region and a southern or African region. In turn, Pliny divided the northern region in half, using Dalmatia as the dividing line between east and west. The remainder of the known world - Asia from Cappadocia to Ethiopia and the Fortunate Islands - forms the fourth region. Pliny devotes a separate book to each of these four regions of the known world:

20 F. W. Walbank, “The Geography of Polybius/' Classica et Mediaevalia 9 (1947), 155-82, at pp. 156-57. 21 Stahl, et a i, Martianus Capella and the Seven Liberal Arts, Vol. I, p. 130: “Greek treatises on geography tended from earliest times to assume the form of a periegesis, a survey of cities, peoples, and countries arranged in the order that a navigator would come upon them as he sailed the coast of the Mediterranean and outer seas. The com­ monest starting point for such surveys was the Strait of Gibraltar. A periegesis naturally gave disproportionate attention to coastal regions, to the neglect of the interior.”

41 Book III: Spain, Narbonne, Italy and its Islands, the Alpine Region, Dalmatia, the Ionian and Adriatic Islands Book IV: Greece and its Islands, Macedonia, the Dar­ danelles, the Black Sea Region, Germany, Britain, Belgium, the French Provinces, Western Spain and Portugal, the Atlantic Islands Book V: the Mauritanias, Numidia, Egypt, the Middle East, Mesopotamia, the Asiatic Islands (e.g., Cyprus and Rhodes), Bithynia Book VI: Cappadocia, Armenia, Albania, the Black Sea Islands, Scythia, India, Persia, Ethiopia, the Fortunate Islands.

His path through Europe is circular, beginning and ending on the north­ ern side of the Pillars of Hercules. He then crosses the Straight of Cadiz to the southern side and begins his path eastward through North Africa and on into the Middle East. Through the more exotic regions of Asia, he also follows a roughly circular course from Cappadocia to Ethiopia. In particular, his sequence of India, Persia and Ethiopia reflects two wide­ spread beliefs among ancient geographers: that the border between Africa and Asia was to be found in Ethiopia, perhaps at the Nile; and that the Indian Ocean was an inland sea whose far shore formed a landbridge between India and Ethiopia.22 In the absence of precise maps, Pliny’s plan for this geographical cata­ logue has a clear and consistent logic. A reader who begins by consulting the list of topics in Book I for the geographical catalogue will have relatively little difficulty in locating the information he desires. Yet it is worth inquiring further into Pliny’s use of this particular axis for ordering his geographical knowledge. Simply put, all classical geographers faced an insurmountable problem in fixing the location of a given place. Although crude measures of latitude had been developed, and were used by most geographers including Pliny, there were no corresponding meas­ ures of longitude. As a result, a geographer could explain the location of a place only in relation to other places. That is, he could say little more than that Place A is twelve miles from Place B and six miles from Place C. This inability to fix a place with absolute precision reduced geography to a science of relative positions. This is true even when a place, such as Corinth, occupies an easily describable and noteworthy geographical

22 Walbank, “The Geography of Polybius,” p. 176.

42 position (N. H. IV. iv, 11). Thus Pliny’s geographical catalogue must take the form of a series of names arranged in proper sequence. For this sequence to be coherent, however, there must be one absolutely fixed place from which it may begin. In resorting to the east-west axis of earlier geographers, Pliny satisfied this requirement, for the Pillars of Hercules stood as the most westernly point in the Eurasian landmass. Since only the Atlantic lay beyond the Pillars, Pliny could begin and end his tour of Europe there. Along the way, each place is understood to be the next step in the sequence. The same holds for his route across the north of Africa, although there he maintains a straight easterly rather than circu­ lar direction. Given this kind of exposition, it is not surprising that Pliny’s geography is most precise when the sequence follows a natural landmark, notably the Mediterranean coast, and least precise when he must traverse the interior of a large continent. In explaining the course he will take through Italy, Pliny offers a similar assessment of his geographical presentation: Nunc ambitum eius urbesque enumerabimus, qua in re praefari necessarium est auctorem nos divum August­ um secuturos, discriptionemque ab eo factam Italiae totius in regiones XI, sed ordine eo qui litorum tractu fiet; urbium quidem vicinitates oratione utique prae­ propera servari non posse, itaque interiore exin parte digestionem in litteras eiusdem nos secuturos, colo­ niarum mentione signata quas ille in eo prodidit numero. (We will now give a reckoning of its [i.e., Italy’s] borders and cities. We must state from the start that we will follow the authority of the divine Augustus in this matter, as well as the arrangement made by him of all Italy into eleven regions, but in the order estab­ lished by their position on the coast. And since we cannot maintain the sequence of the neighboring cities, at least in this brief account, we shall follow an arrange­ ment of alphabetical order for the interior region, mak­ ing due mention of the colonies which he treated in that section. N. H. III. v, 46)

By following the coastline of Italy, he is able to present its eleven regions in a relatively lucid fashion. Since it is bounded on three of its four sides by the Mediterranean, Italy lends itself very well to this method of sequential description. But this method cannot fix locations in the interior of the country. For that region, Pliny must instead resort to the

43 less satisfactory technique of listing names in alphabetical order. The obvious deficiency of this arrangement may well explain his reference to Augustus. By attributing it to the emperor, Pliny endows alphabetization with an authority it does not usually possess in his encyclopedia.23 In most of his catalogues, Pliny can dispense with obvious prose transi­ tions between entries because each contains a separate piece of informa­ tion. It is therefore noteworthy that he should make extensive use of transitions in his four books on geography. In Book III he uses, to choose only a few examples, such words or phrases as dehinc (“from here,” v, 38), adnectitur septima (“the adjoining region is the seventh,” v, 50); and in Book IV proxumi Aetolis Locri (“the people nearest to the Aetolians are the Locrians,” iii, 7), inde Eliorum ager (“after that is the territory of the Elians,” v, 14), Thessaliae adnexa Magnesia est (“Magnesia is con­ nected to Thessaly," ix, 32), nec deinde servari potest ordo (“from there it is not possible to keep to any order,” xii, 69), and exeundum deinde est ut extera Europae dicantur (“then leaving [the Black Sea] so that the outer­ most regions of Europe may be described,” xiii, 94). At other times, Pliny will provide similar transitions by numbering his entries, as in his discussion of the eleven regions of Italy (N. H. III. v, 46-xix, 131). In each case, these transitions are not rhetorical but rather the only means available to Pliny by which to maintain his sequential exposition of geography. When he says that one place comes after another or that a place is joined to another, he means it to be understood in the literal, physical sense. We are, as it were, being taken on a tour by a guide who announces each new place with reference to the one which we have just left.24 It is all too easy to dismiss Pliny’s treatment of geography as a mere catalogue of names which bears little relation to physical reality. It is true that no prose geography can rival even the most rudimentary of maps. And when that work relies on the sequence of places rather than latitude and longitude, the possibilities for confusion and obscurity are many. Yet if we understand the considerable difficulties facing a geographer armed only with the most basic of expository devices, the geographical cata­ logue in the Natural History attains a certain stature. It is marked by Pliny’s efforts to introduce lucidity and order into his subject. That Pliny used the catalogue throughout the Natural History may be

23 See further Lloyd W. Daly, Contributions to the History o f Alphabetization in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Brussels, 1967), Collection Latomus XC, pp. 55-56. 24 For a characteristic example of this technique, see Pliny's guided tour through Sicily (/V. H. III. viii, 88-90).

44 attributed largely to its diversity and adaptability. Amenable to various principles of internal order, the catalogue could contain a wide variety of subjects.25 Most fundamentally, it accommodated in physical form Pliny’s belief that knowledge was an aggregate of individual facts drawn from earlier writers. As Gibbon noted felicitously, the Natural History is “That immense register where Pliny has deposited the discoveries, the arts and the errors of mankind.”26 There is another, though less demonstrable, reason for Pliny’s reliance on the catalogue. Unlike the structure of a treatise, the catalogue does not indicate to the reader that a subject has been brought to a final, immutable state. Rather it suggests that the work remains in progress. As Pliny notes in his Preface, the Natural History could be supplemented and thus should be regarded as tentative and incomplete: me non paenitet nullum festiviorem excogitasse titu­ lum. et ne in totum videar Graecos insectari, ex illis nos velim intellegi pingendi fingendique conditoribus quos in libellis his invenies absoluta opera, et illa quoque quae mirando non satiamur, pendenti titulo inscrip­ sisse, ut Apelles faciebat aut Polyclitus, tamquam inchoata semper arte et inperfecta, ut contra iudiciorum varietates superesset artifici regressus ad veniam, velut emendaturo quicquid desideraretur si non esset interceptus. (I am not sorry not to have con­ trived a wittier title. And so I do not totally appear to persecute the Greeks, I should like to be judged as are those makers of painting and sculpture who, as you will discover in these little books, used to inscribe their completed works - indeed those works that we do not tire of admiring - with a tentative title, such as Apelles was making this or Polyclitus, as though in art works were always unfinished and unperfected, so that against the fickleness of judges there might be left to the artist some recourse to forgiveness, as if he might have corrected whatever was desired if he had not been hindered. N. H. Pref 26)

25 As Harry E. Wedeck's inventory of catalogues in Latin poetry suggests, the poets also used the catalogue for an extraordinary range of subjects: physical features, emotions, gems, spices, rivers, nations, names, animals, etc. See his “The Catalogue in Late and Medieval Latin Poetry,” Medievalia et Humanistica 13 (1960), 3-16. 26 Edward Gibbon, The History o f the Decline and Fall o f the Roman Empire, ed. J. B. Bury (London, 1930, tenth ed.), Vol. I, p. 365.

45 These sentiments may seem perfectly conventional for a Latin prose preface.27 Yet the description of a work as inchoata and inperfecta is entirely accurate for the Natural History; its catalogues stand open to addition and correction. If he is disarming potential critics here, he is also predicting the future of his own encyclopedia. For it too will become an authority to be quarried by later compilers. Although it now seems one of the great monuments of the Latin ency­ clopedia tradition, the Natural History met a curious fate: all but ignored for many generations, it was only rediscovered by Christian writers, most notably Jerome.28 In the centuries that followed it became a favored work on the natural sciences. To choose but one example, Bede drew on the History throughout his long career because he believed it to be more sober and accurate than Isidore’s Etymologies. Yet in a larger sense, Pliny’s thesaurus did not become an exemplar for the encyclopedia. For in the years between its composition and the next flourishing of the genre, signalled by the appearance of Cassiodorus’ Institutions, there occurred a significant redirection of the encyclopedia. This redirection may be attributed largely to Augustine of Hippo. In assessing his place among the encyclopedists, we must consider again the encyclopedia as intellectual ideal and as achieved work. In his career, Augustine did not draw an absolute distinction between the two but rather envisioned them as forming a productive tension. If he offered a new version of the ideal paideia in On Christian Doctrine, he also set out to write the corresponding work. He completed two sections of this pro­ ject, On Grammar and On Music, but only the latter, a treatise on meter, still survives.29 Although parts of this work are impressive, much of its content is derivative.30 In this regard, Augustine did little to free the encyclopedia from its heritage as a compilation. His influence lay rather in articulating a precise cultural role for the encyclopedia: it was to teach the liberal arts as a methodology for exegesis and it was also to provide the requisite factual information.31 27 See further Janson, Latin Prose Prefaces, pp. 75 ff., 95, 102 ff., 125 and 127 for Pliny’s use of conventions in the Preface. 28 André Labhardt, “Quelques témoignages d’auteurs latins sur la personnalité et l’oeuvre de Pline l’Ancien” in Mélanges Offerts à M. Max Niedermann (Neuchâtel, 1944), pp. 105-14, esp. pp. 113-14. 29 Pierre Courcelle, Late Latin Writers and Their Greek Sources, trans. Harry E. Wedeck (Cambridge, Mass., 1969), p. 340. 30 For a discussion of the On Music, see Marrou, St. Augustin, pp. 580-83. 31 Marrou, St. Augustin, p. 413. Harald Hagendahl has argued that the On Christian Doc­ trine was intended solely for the education of the clergy; see his Augustine and the Latin Classics (Stockholm, 1967), Studia Graeca et Latina Gothobergensia XX, pp. 565-69.

46 In his fascination with interpretation, Augustine reveals himself to be a man of his age. He was, in Peter Brown’s apt phrase, a “Late Roman man of letters to the core."32 He lived in a world where it was not always possible to distinguish the profound from the merely arcane. From this milieu, Augustine acquired both his taste and facility for interpretation. But he escaped its characteristic sterility by defining the Bible rather than the classics as the sole and proper object of study. This break meant more than simply offering a new and continually fresh text for interpretation. It meant, more profoundly, reducing interpretation to a method of under­ standing rather than valuing it as an end in itself. In theory and practice, the encyclopedia was subordinated in Augustine’s mind to “la problém­ atique de la vita beata.”33 As the first principle of interpretation, Augustine states that Omnis doctrina uel rerum est uel signorum, sed res per signa discuntur (“All doctrine is about either things or signs, but things are learned through signs").34 To read then means to interpret the signs of Divine Scripture which pose difficult but also rewarding problems of interpretation. As Augustine explains, a biblical passage may require exegesis because it contains literal or figurative signs which are unknown to the reader {de doct. christ. II. x, 15). The most important means for understanding literal signs are languages (II. xi, 16). The literary disciplines such as grammar and rhetoric provided the necessary training for reading literal signs.35 It was not difficult for the later encyclopedists to translate this aspect of Augustine's program into expository form. The substance of the liberal arts, especially of the trivium, formed a relatively standard and accepted body of knowledge which could be presented in a brief compass. In interpreting the other type of signs, those containing figurative meaning, Augustine warns that the reader may be impeded by an incom­ plete mastery of languages or by a lack of specialized knowledge. As he explains, to understand Psalm 50. 9 (or, 51. 7: “Purge me now with hyssop ..."), for instance, one must know that hyssop was prescribed by doctors to clear the lungs {de doct. christ. II. xvi, 24). Pliny offers it as a remedy against pleurisy and pneumonia {N. H. XXVI. xxv, 41). Of the 32 Peter Brown, Augustine o f Hippo: A Biography (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1969), pp. 259-60. 33 Marrou, St. Augustin, p. 223; see also p. 218. 34 Sancti Aurelii Augustini Opera, Pars IV. I: De Doctrina Christiana, ed. J. Martin (Turnholt, 1962), CCSL XXXII, I. ii, 2. 33 See further the penetrating discussion in Charles Norris Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture (New York, 1977), pp. 475 ff.

47 six biblical passages which Augustine discusses in order to illustrate the need for this type of specialized knowledge, all may be clarified by a fact drawn from the natural sciences. Since an understanding of the natural world is useful for exegesis, the Christian encyclopedist must offer more than a basic course in the liberal arts. Jacques Fontaine has argued per­ suasively that the encyclopedists found their raison d'etre in Augustine’s discussion of figurative signs.36 More specifically, Augustine expresses his hope that some worthy man might be prevailed upon to collect and explain the references to animal and plant life, to stones and metals, found in the Bible (de doct. christ. II. xxxix, 59). As the acknowledged masters of the useful sciences, the encyclopedists could best explain the res upon which a given signum drew. If he opened the encyclopedia to this type of lore because of its relevance to exegesis, Augustine did not strictly define disciplines which should be included. Thus Cassiodorus concentrates on listing the most useful biblical commentaries and hand­ books, while Isidore covers such topics as biology, geography, mineralogy and material culture. Both writers, however, drew their warrant for enlarging the encyclopedia beyond the liberal arts from Augustine.37 By a strict standard, neither the Institutions nor the Etymologies satis­ fied Augustine’s precise conception of the Christian encyclopedia. As Marrou has said, ‘Tun pêche par défaut, l’autre par excès.”38 The first ignores the natural sciences and the other offers much that would have been useless to the exegete. This argument is salutary insofar as it reminds one that neither work follows Augustine’s prescription with absolute fidelity. Writing in different eras for different audiences, Cas­ siodorus and Isidore shaped the encyclopedia as they believed neces­ sary.39 Above all, both recognized that in times of cultural crisis the form must also be used for the preservation of learning. Yet in drawing their impetus from Augustine, both men remained faithful to the governing idea of his work: that the understanding of God and His word can be achieved only through a mastery of signs. On Christian Doctrine also legitimized the use of classical learning and methodology for biblical exegesis. Unlike more severe Christians, Augustine did not relegate the past to the dustheap. More audaciously, 36 Fontaine, “Isidore de Séville et la mutation de l’encyclopédisme antique,” p. 528. 37 See also U. Pizzani, “Il Filone enciclopedico nella patristica da S. Agostino a S. Isidoro di Sivoglia,” Augustinianum 14 (1974), 667-96. 38 Marrou, St. Augustin, p. 413 n. 39 For a fine defense of Isidore in this regard, see Pierre Riché, Education and Culture in the Barbarian West From the Sixth through the Eighth Century, trans. John J. Contreni (Columbia, S.C., 1976), pp. 299-301.

48 he stripped it of its religious content or character and thereby placed it at the service of Christian scholars. This does not mean that he desired a synthesis of the two cultures; as Harald Hagendahl demonstrates, the borrowed learning remains clearly subordinate to religious matters.40 Although Augustine does not explicitly consider the sources from which this matter is to be drawn, one may deduce from his comments on the far more controversial matter of the pagan philosophers his willingness to consult an author such as Cicero or Pliny. As he says of the Platonists, their teaching may be taken from them as from “unjust possessors” and turned to more proper uses (de doct. christ. II. xl, 60). The survival and acceptance of many Roman handbooks and treatises proved to be of immeasurable importance to the Christian encyclopedists. They did not need to write their own works on the trivium; they could ransack Varro or Quintilian or some intermediate source for the necessary information. Similarly they could draw their geography and science from Pliny. The Latin encyclopedia tradition lies most obviously in this continuity of subject matter. With this continuity came as well the old habits by which encyclopedias were compiled. They remain derivative and accumulative works regardless of their authors’ religious beliefs. Conver­ sion to Christianity did not lessen the encyclopedist’s faith in authorities. In assessing the significance of On Christian Doctrine, it is tempting to forget that Augustine, as Brown observes wrily, “believed in dragons because he had read of them in books.” He concludes of Augustine that “‘Christian scholarship,’ for him, tended to become little more than the acquisition of manuals by acknowledged ‘experts.’”41 Remove the first adjective, and the description holds as well for Pliny. In that sense, Augustine did not alter the fundamental character of the encyclopedia; it remained a catalogue of facts drawn from earlier authori­ ties. Perhaps no writer could have effected such a change without actually writing a counter-version of the encyclopedia. If one considers his theory of interpretation, however, there is no reason to believe that Augustine would have written such an encyclopedia. For his theory of signs is predi­ cated on the existence of things. To repeat his great formulation: Omnis doctrina uel rerum est uel signorum, sed res per signa discuntur. He means by res anything which has its own independent being and is not used to signify something else. He reveals in this statement his concern with the unique and distinct nature of a thing. No doubt the thing itself gains in meaning when it serves as the basis for a sign. Yet in stressing the import40 Hagendahl, Augustine and the Latin Classics, p. 729. 41 Brown, Augustine o f Hippo, p. 264.

49 ance of the thing itself, Augustine suggests his own atomistic view of knowledge, his own sense that it is made up of discrete pieces of informa­ tion. By birthright a Roman and by faith a Christian, Cassiodorus represents the new encyclopedism as enunciated by Augustine. His familiar refer­ ences to On Christian Doctrine demonstrate that he wrote the Institutions with a full awareness of his great predecessor.42 He too conceived of biblical exegesis as the heart of the new paideia; he too subordinated classical culture to the Christian faith. But he went on to assert that Christian culture, which is to say the Bible, had not simply a moral and theological but also a historical primacy.43 Perhaps the most immediate evidence of Cassiodorus’ revisionism may be found in the order of his Institutions: he devoted the first book to the divine arts, the new ideal of Christian scholarship, and the second to the liberal arts, the methodology for that scholarship (Inst. II. vii, 4). This order establishes the central tenet of his paideia - that the seeds which flowered in the pagan writers were first planted in the Bible: quicquid autem in Scripturis divinis de talibus rebus inventum fuerit, praecedenti notitia melius probatur intellegi, constat enim quasi in origine spiritalis sapien­ tiae rerum istarum indicia fuisse seminata, quae postea doctores saecularium litterarum ad suas regulas prudentissime transtulerunt; quod apto loco in exposi­ tione Psalterii fortasse probavimus. (But whatever might have been found in Divine Scripture concerning such matters is shown to be better understood when there is previous knowledge of it. For it is agreed that in the source of spiritual wisdom, evidence was implanted of those things which afterwards doctors of secular letters most wisely transferred to their own examples; which we have perhaps shown in an appropriate place in the exposition of the Psalms. Inst.

I. Pref. 6) For Cassiodorus, these teachers of secular learning represented, as they could not have for a medieval writer, a powerful if increasingly decadent

42 Cassiodorus acknowledges his debt to the On Christian Doctrine by recommending it as an essentia] introduction for biblical study; see Institutions I. Pref., 7; 1.x, 1; I. xvi, 4; I. xxviii, 4. 43 E. R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. W. Trask (New York, 1963), p. 448; see also pp. 41 and 450.

50 rival. But having set the proper relation between liberal and divine arts, he could treat them at approximately the same length and with the same care. For all of its obvious indebtedness to On Christian Doctrine, it would be unjust to conceive of the Institutions solely as an Augustinian perform­ ance. No work written by this complex man - praetorian prefect as well as founder of Vivarium - can be considered as belonging purely within a literary tradition. Cassiodorus will elude us if we think of him only as a scholar. Throughout his long career, he held to the belief that the writer must directly benefit the public good. Appropriately, he justifies his book on the liberal arts with a reference to his intellectual hero, Varro: scire autem debemus, sicut Varro dicit, utilitatis alicuius causa omnium artium extitisse principia ("Moreover we ought to know, as Varro says, that the principles of all the arts have their existence because of some utility/' Inst. II. Pref. 4). So too, like Pliny before him, Cassiodorus disclaims any pretension of eloquence.44 Both encyclopedists view fine writing as evi­ dence that the writer has strayed from sober utility. For Cassiodorus, of course, utility had the quite precise end of achieving salvation (salus animae; Inst. I. Pref. 1). In this respect, the spirit of his teaching is thor­ oughly Augustinian. What cannot be understood without some refer­ ence to the political conditions of his time, however, is the form in which he embodied this teaching. Read in a certain way, the Institutions record one of the great lost opportunities in the history of education and intellectual life. In his Pre­ face, Cassiodorus explains that the contemporary interest in the secular arts led him in turn to observe and lament the absence of teaching in the divine arts. With his characteristic directness, he therefore proposed to Pope Agapetus that a Christian academy be established at Rome: sed cum per bella ferventia et turbulenta nimis in Ital­ ico regno certamina desiderium meum nullatenus valuisset impleri, quoniam non habet locum res pacis temporibus inquietis, ad hoc divina caritate probor esse compulsus, ut ad vicem magistri introductorios vobis libros istos Domino praestante conficerem; per quos, sicut aestimo, et Scripturarum divinarum series et saecularium litterarum compendiosa notitia Domini munere panderetur - ... (but since violent wars and turbulent struggles made impossible that my wish could

44 See N. H. Pref. 16; and Inst. I. Pref. 1.

51 be fulfilled by any means in the Italian kingdom (in as much as an affair of peace can have no place in troub­ led times), I appear to have been compelled to this course by divine charity: that I should compose for you - God willing - introductory books to stand in place of a teacher; through which, as I judge, both the canon of Divine Scripture and the compendious knowledge of secular letters might be disclosed as the gift of the Lord - Inst. I. Pref. 1) To argue that the Institutions could stand alone in place of such an academy would certainly be erroneous. It would be to ignore the work’s intended readership, the monks at Vivarium, as well as its many limita­ tions of content. But this claim would not be untrue to the genesis of this encyclopedia in a moment of historical urgency. As a man who “tried to save what could be saved,” in Arnaldo Momigliano’s characterization, Cassiodorus writes with one eye over his shoulder.45 His calm, scholarly listing of authorities should not lull one into believing that he knew only the library. For even there he records what has been lost in his own lifetime. If he recommends Albinus on music, he must also add poign­ antly: qui si forte gentili incursione sublatus estt habetis Gaudentium (“And if by chance this is destroyed by the attack of the barbarians, you still have Gaudentius” Inst. II. v, 10). A later generation might well have paraphrased him by stating: if Cicero’s work on rhetoric is unavailable, you still have Cassiodorus’ digest in the Institutions.46 Although Cassiodorus adopts a different mode of teaching for each book of the Institutions, he relies on the catalogue throughout. The majority of Book I offers bibliographical information on the divine arts arranged by subject or author.47 Quite evidently, Cassiodorus compiled this bibliography for use in conjunction with the great library at Vivari­ um. That he could supplement his discussion in this way freed Cas­ siodorus from the need to treat his various subjects in detail. For its original readership, this method of citation rather than quotation was adequate, even admirable. It allowed Cassiodorus to maintain the econ­

45 Momigliano, “Cassiodorus and the Italian Culture of his Time,” p. 209. 46 On this subject, see further two articles by Leslie W. Jones, “The Influence of Cas­ siodorus on Mediaeval Culture," Speculum 20 (1945), 433-42; and “Further Notes Con­ cerning Cassiodorus’ Influence on Mediaeval Culture," Speculum 22 (1947), 254-56. 47 Philip Levine notes that the Institutions thus served as “an e&ellent bibliographical guide for the development of monastic libraries." See his “The Continuity and Preservation of the Latin Tradition" in The Transformation o f the Roman World: Gibbon's Problem After Two Centuries, ed. Lynn White, Jr. (Berkeley, 1966), pp. 206-31, at p. 230.

52 omy of his form and it forced his readers to consult the original works. For later readers without the resources of Vivarium, which is to say the majority of medieval readers, Book I must have seemed a catalogue of lost or unavailable works. When book production was costly and great libraries were rare, it offered little material of independent value. For this reason, one concludes, it was often omitted when the Institutions were copied.48 By offering a lucid and compact introduction to the liberal arts, Book II lent itself to frequent copying and wide circulation. This book is, in Pierre Riché’s judgment, “truly a masterpiece of condensation.'’ His further statement that “the monk who had never attended an antique school must have found it repellent” is deeply suggestive of this book's special character.49 For its treatment of the liberal arts is not simply derivative; it is also a sustained and sometimes arid exercise in terminolo­ gy. For the student without some larger literary culture, for example, Cassiodorus’ presentation of the trivium must have been deeply puzzling. To list Aristotle’s ten categories for dialectic (Inst. II. iif, 9-10) without offering illustrations for each type is, however, thoroughly characteristic of Cassiodorus’ didacticism. A typical instance of Cassiodorus' list technique may be found in his instructions to scribes that they should not rewrite specific words and phrases which do not correspond to the accepted standards of grammar if their authenticity is attested by various codices: Obliti non sumus te, et illud Viri sanguinum et dolosi Fabricatus est templum, et Radetur caput suum, et Inflabitur ventrem pro inflabitur ventre Viri viri si praevaricata fuerit uxor eius, et Imponent super altare omnia vasa eius in quibus ministrant in ipsis Terra in qua habitant in ea, et Protulerunt exploratores pavorem terrae quam explora­ verant eam De manu canis unicam meam, et Flumina plaudebunt manibus in se Tunc exultabunt omnia ligna silvarum. __________ (Inst. I. XV, 5)50 48 For a further discussion of this matter, see R. A. B. Mynor's Introduction to his edition of the Institutions. 49 Riché, Education and Culture in the Barbarian West, p. 166. 50 Since this passage is concerned with grammatical errors in Latin, I have offered no

53 Since each of these entries speaks to the same general point, there need be no precise internal order for this list. Nonetheless, Cassiodorus did not construct it, as one might expect, by noting examples as they occurred to him. Every example in this list of figurative expressions derives from the Psalms. Moreover, they are arranged for the most part according to their order in the Bible. Given the centrality of the Psalter within monastic culture, Casiodorus may well have expected his readers to recognize that these examples appear in a significant, because canonical, order. More certainly, one may argue that this list bears the marks of a meticulous teacher. When presenting bibliographical information in Book I, Cassiodorus found it necessary to adopt the more extended entries of catalogue form. Unlike the author of a modern bibliographical essay, he did not render a synthesis of his subject but rather treated the various works as separate and self-contained. The opening nine chapters of the Institutions may be seen as a single catalogue treating the important commentaries from Genesis through Apocalypse. This sequence is of course inevitable; one discusses commentaries in the same order in which one reads the Bible. Any other would be confusing. Arranged in this way, these chapters become readily available for purposes of specific reference (Inst. I. 1, 10). In recommending commentaries on Kings, for instance, Cassiodorus proceeds sequentially through its four books. This method was especially necessary here because, as he explains, he could find no commentary for the whole of Kings (Inst. I. ii, 1). His catalogue - made up of individual references - must therefore fill this lacuna. Within a catalogue entry devoted to a specific book, Cassiodorus will cite the necessary commentaries individually, as in the following passage on III Kings. Note that while he refers twice to Jerome and Augustine, he makes no effort to bring together each writer’s contributions to the subject. 8. In tertio igitur libro antefati codicis sanctus Ambros­ ius Mediolanensis episcopus sermonem fecit de iudicio Salomonis; de quo loco sanctus quoque Hieronymus dulcissima, sicuti solet, explanatione disseruit; unde etiam et sanctum Augustinum disertissimum comperimus edidisse sermonem, ut miraculum tale relatum dig­ nis constaret auctoribus. translation of it. For an explanation of these errors, see Cassiodorus Senator. An Introduction to Divine and Human Readings, trans. Leslie W. Jones (New York, 1969). pp. 105-6.

54 9. De quo libro etiam memoratus sanctus Hieronymus ad Vitalem scripsit episcopum quomodo Salomon et Achaz, cum essent in undecenis annorum curriculis constituti, filios genuisse dicantur, quod natura minime probatur habere communis. 10. Nam et sanctus Augustinus in libro civitatis Dei septimo decimo, titulo IIII, dum inter alia de Regum temporibus facundissimus disputator eloquitur, canti­ cum Annae dilucidavit ex ordine. (8. On the third book of the previously named codex St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, has composed a sermon about the judgment of Solomon; on the same passage St. Jerome has also written, as usual, a most delightful explanation; and here we have also discovered that St. Augustine pub­ lished a most eloquent sermon in order that so great a miracle would seem proven if treated by proper author­ ities. 9. On this book the previously mentioned St. Jerome also wrote to Bishop Vitalis concerning how Solomon and Ahaz, when they stood in the eleventh year of their lives, were said to have fathered sons, an occurrence most uncommon in nature. 10. And fur­ thermore, St. Augustine, in his book on The City o f God, Book 17, Chapter 4, while conducting a most eloquent debate upon the periods of the Kings, has - out of order - elucidated the song of Anna. Inst I. ii, 8-10)

The characteristic amplitude of catalogue form is signalled here most obviously by the digression on the canticum Annae of Luke 2: 36 ff. Moreover, this same amplitude allows Cassiodorus to move between Jerome and Augustine rather than treating one completely before turn­ ing to the other. In this way, one may learn the standard authorities as well as gain some sense of their contents. It is to satisfy this need for further characterization - that Ambrose discusses the judgment of Solo­ mon and Jerome the precociousness of Solomon and Ahaz - that Cas­ siodorus employs catalogue rather than list form in these chapters. The unity of this catalogue follows from its purpose of summarizing the whole of Christian scholarship on III Kings as it was known to Cas­ siodorus. Nor is this simply an intellectual construct; as he explains, the information alluded to in this catalogue is contained at length in a codex of his own gathering (Inst. I. ii, 12). That this particular codex contained blank leaves for additional material speaks eloquently for Cassiodorus’ belief in Christian scholarship as a continuous process. In withholding closure from the subject, these blank leaves may be compared with the

55 open-ended catalogues of the encyclopedia. The substance of the divine arts must be brought together, whether as codex or catalogue, not to achieve a final statement, but rather to prepare for and encourage future scholarship.51 It is thus deeply interesting that Cassiodorus should treat the quadri­ vium as existing in an achieved, final form (Inst. II. iii, 22). This belief that a discipline of the liberal arts was closed and immutable in its con­ tents and laws was not original to Cassiodorus.52 But he must have found additional confirmation for it as he compiled his own encyclopedia; that is, as he traced these disciplines through handbook after handbook he must have observed their striking uniformity of content. By contrast, a thoughtful student of biblical commentaries on Genesis, for instance, could not but have noticed that biblical exegesis in its continual accretion of learning possessed a striking intellectual vitality. This aspect of Cassiodorus' thought has certain immediate consequen­ ces for the catalogues of the liberal arts in Institutions, II. If a discipline is fixed, as he believed, then the encyclopedist faces a relatively easy task in presenting its various elements. Most obviously, he may rely upon the received order for his subject. As a result, however, there is a certain ossification in his teaching. This takes the obviously visible form of reduc­ ing a subject to its necessary terminology. For Cassiodorus, the termino­ logy of the quadrivium is its body of facts, its essential matter. The responsibility of the encyclopedist is then to introduce and define these terms in their appropriate order. He uses this mode of presentation in his chapters on arithmetic (Inst. II. iv, 5), on music (II. v, 8), on geometry (II. vi, 2; an especially fine example), and on astronomy (II. vii, 2). In each passage, the relevant terms are defined individually but never brought into a state of synthesis. To some extent, Cassiodorus’ reliance on the catalogue for teaching the quadrivium may be traced to his unfamiliarity, and perhaps discom­ fort, with these disciplines.53 He was by training and personal taste more accomplished in the arts of the trivium. And it is true that he offers a more extended and continuous discussion of these arts. Yet this greater mastery does not bring with it a correspondingly greater independence from the catalogue. To the contrary, this mastery takes the form of a 51 Interestingly, he makes no mention of similar blank leaves when referring to a compara­ ble codex of rhetorical works (Inst. II. iii, 18). 52 Courcelle, Late Latin Writers and their Greek Sources, p. 344. 53 Stahl, Roman Science, p. 211. In all fairness, one should add that Cassiodorus claims only to point out rather than explain the chief divisions of the quadrivium {Inst. II. iii, 19). See also Riché, Education and Culture in the Barbarian West, pp. 166-67.

56 virtuoso delight in catalogues of terminological definitions. What he declared of the sciences - that they are fixed - may be deduced about the arts from his presentation. The first catalogue in his exposition of gram­ mar sets the pattern for those which follow. After a few introductory remarks on the discipline and its authorities, Cassiodorus offers this pre­ sentation of its major topics: 2. Donatus igitur in secunda parte ita disceptat: de voce articulata - de littera - de syllaba - de pedibus - de accentibus - de posituris sive distinctionibus - et iterum de partibus orationis VIII - de schematibus - de etymo­ logiis - de orthographia, vox articulata est aer percus­ sus sensibilis auditu, quantum in ipso est. littera est pars minima vocis articulatae, syllaba est comprehensio litterarum, vel unius vocalis enuntiatio, temporum capax, pes est syllabarum et temporum certa dinumera­ tio. (2. Donatus then in the second part [of his Artes] discusses things in this order: the spoken word, the letter, the syllable, feet, accent, pointing and punctua­ tion, the eight parts of speech for a second time, the figures of speech, etymologies and orthography. The spoken word is vibrating air which is perceptible to the sense of hearing in proportion to the power of the vibration. The letter is the smallest part of a spoken word. The syllable is a unit of letters or a single enunci­ ated vowel, which can be measured in time. The foot is a fixed measure of syllables and quantity. Inst. II. i, 2)

By using both list and catalogue, Cassiodorus is able first to introduce and then define each topic. He thus teaches the subject as well as a proper order for its aspects. We may see here the characteristic distinc­ tion between these two forms: the list names and the catalogue defines or describes. For the sake of brevity I have quoted only the first four of the catalogue entries, but they continue throughout his exposition of grammatical topics. Since each entry is discrete and independent, the teaching of grammar is accomplished through accumulation rather than synthesis. Virtually all of Cassiodorus’ substantive teaching on the trivium is presented in catalogue form.54 Since his own understanding of these disci­ 54 As Edgar de Bruyne notes: “La Rhétorique de Cassiodore est un bref résumé des définitions et principes des rhéteurs anciens." See his Études d'esthétique médiévale (Bruges, 1946), Vol. I, p. 43. This mode of catalogue exposition, frequently introduced

57 plines is essentially based on terminology, one doubts that he could have used any other form of exposition. One may note as well that he fre­ quently numbers the elements in a catalogue. That he should rely so heavily on enumeration suggests how deeply ingrained was his belief in the fixed form of these disciplines. They have been reduced, in other words, to a precise number of elements arranged in an easily-remem­ bered order. That Cassiodorus chose to emphasize the terminology rather than the substance of the divine and liberal arts explains the fundamental limita­ tion of the Institutions. If it is to be considered a work of erudition on the grand scale, it must be by the grace of allusion rather than the fact of inclusion. In itself, however, this is no reason to deny the work its place in the encyclopedia tradition. For in its basic assumptions - that the ency­ clopedia must be useful, that it must rely on previous authorities, that it must offer catalogues of information over a wide variety of subjects - the Institutions provided a paradigm of the encyclopedia as a genre for Christian writers. In turning from the Institutions to the Etymologies, one first notices the sheer, at times overwhelming, bulk of the later compilation. No longer is the encyclopedia an introductory work dependent on a library; it has become, in Philippe Wolffs telling characterization, a more ambitious form: “Il y était question de tout: de Dieu, de l’Eglise, des langues et des peuples, de l’homme, des animaux, du monde et de ses parties, des aliments, du vêtement ...”55 In his range of subjects Isidore proves more comprehensive than Pliny and in his mode of exposition more exhaustive than Cassiodorus. His encyclopedia provides both a course of education based on the liberal arts and a compilation of specialized knowledge drawn from such diverse subjects as the natural sciences, theology and material culture. If we may judge from the Etymologies, Isidore perceived two limita­ tions in the earlier Christian encyclopedia of Cassiodorus: that it was for the most part introductory in approach; and that it placed the liberal arts in a secondary position. Thus Isidore opened his encyclopedia with the arts and packed the remainder of it with specialized knowledge. He included the substance of disciplines where Cassiodorus cited the stanby a list of topics, is evident throughout Book II. For several of the more obvious uses of the technique, see Inst. II. ii, 2-3 (the five parts of rhetoric), II. iii, 4-7 (the branches of philosophy), II. iii, 12 (the fifteen types of definition), and II. iii, 18 (the translators of works on the trivium). 55 Philippe Wolff, Histoire de la pensée Européenne: /. Véveil intellectual de l'Europe (Paris, 1971), p. 19.

58 dard authorities. His achievement was to free the encyclopedia of its time and place of composition and thereby make it fully available to any reader with a decent knowledge of Latin. In this regard, the Etymologies is very Augustinian in character. It offers the necessary education for biblical exegesis as, in Fontaine’s phrase, a “science totalitaire.”56 Moreover, Isidore understood that this totality of knowledge must be contained within the encyclopedia itself. That he reached this under­ standing may be attributed as much to his study of the Institutions as to his reflections on recent events in Europe. For he saw compilation was not simply a mode of composition; it had become necessary as well for the preservation of learning in a troubled world.57 For this reason, no doubt, Isidore treated the liberal arts at far greater length in the first three books of the Etymologies than did Cassiodorus in the second book of the Institutions. After the efforts of Augustine and Cassiodorus, among others, secular letters no longer existed as a rival tradition but rather had been absorbed into Christian culture. Freed of any taint of secularism, the liberal arts could, as Saxl notes, serve as the natural point of departure for the new Christian encyclopedia.58 Isidore expounds the trivium in noticeably greater detail than the quadrivium. While Book I is devoted to grammar and Book II to rhetoric and dialec­ tic, Book III must contain all of arithmetic, music, geometry and astro­ nomy. Like Cassiodorus before him, Isidore seems more concerned with establishing the trivium rather than the quadrivium as the basis of Chris­ tian education.59 The extended treatment which Isidore granted to the liberal arts was not however his chief contribution to Christian encyclopedism. He reshaped the genre in a fashion which seems, in retrospect, remarkably simple: by adding a wide range of subjects that had been omitted by

56 On this subject, see further Fontaine, “Isidore de Séville et la mutation de l'encyclo­ pédisme antique,” pp. 528-31. 57 Gandillac, “Encyclopédies pre-médiévales et médiévales," p. 498. Fontaine, Isidore de Séville, p. 805, writes: “Cette sympathie et ce respect pour des auteurs déjà ‘anciens' ne sont plus très courants après deux siècles de catastrophes et d'insécurité. Ce n'est pas l’aspect le moins curieux de la culture isidorienne que cette attention également accordée au auteurs païens et chrétiens.”

58 Saxl, “Illustrated Medieval Encyclopædias,” p. 230. 59 Curtius examines the importance of literature in the Etymologies and concludes that the work is a “compendium of universal literary history." He also argues convincingly that “Isidore’s ‘poetics’ integrates the doctrines of pagan late Antiquity into the systematized didiscalicum of the western church." See his European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, pp. 450-55. See also “Isidor" in Paulys-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Vol. IX, 2069-80.

59 Cassiodorus. Thus he includes medicine (Book IV), law (Book V), ethnography (Book IX), vocabulary (Book X), as well as natural science and geography (Books XI-XIV; XVI-XVII). Some of these subjects had, of course, been treated by Pliny and other Roman encyclopedists. But Isidore, to a degree unparalleled by other encyclopedists, has a serious interest in the material culture of daily life. In addition to the comments he scatters throughout the Etymologies, he discusses buildings and fields (Book XV), the tools and methods of building construction, the varieties of clothing and the necessary furnishings for domestic and rural life (Books XIX-XX). This diversity of subject matter must be attributed directly to the curiosity and learning of Isidore. That much of this learning was deriva­ tive and facile cannot be denied. But no single author, not even Aristotle, could have explored this circle of paideia in an original fashion. As the title of his work - Etymologiarum sive Originum - suggests, much of Isidore's teaching was purely linguistic and reflected no intimate or first­ hand knowledge of the subjects in question.60 All too often he taught by fabricating etymologies which were governed more by his immediate needs as a writer rather than by phonological and morphological laws. One is tempted to believe that Flaubert had Isidore in mind when he offered this sardonic definition in his Dictionnaire des Idées Reçus: “Étymologiae, Rien de plus facile à trouver avec la latin et un peu de refléxion.”61 If judged by Saussure’s dictum that the linguistic sign is arbitrary, the philosophical and linguistic underpinnings of the Etymologies seem capricious if not absurd. But if judged by the classical belief in the origi­ nal, inherent meanings of words, Isidore may be placed in a tradition reaching back at least as far as Plato's Cratylus. In this work the doctrine of the word as arbitrary sign is thoroughly refuted and its advocate, Cratylus, is portrayed as a straw-man. While Isidore probably did not know Plato’s work at first hand, he would have encountered its essential position in many of his most honored predecessors: Varro, Cicero, Boethius, Martianus Capella and Cassiodorus.62 In this regard, Isidore’s discussion of etymology as a grammatical topic is thoroughly derivative:

60 For a discussion of these two terms, see Joseph Engels, “La portée de l’étymologie isidorienne,” Studi Medie vali S. 3, V. 3 (1962), 99-128. 61 In Bouvard et Pécuchet, Oeuvres Completes de Gustave Flaubert (Paris, 1910), p. 427. 62 Guy de Poerck, “Étymologia et origo à travers la tradition latine” in ANAMNHCIC: Gedenkboek Prof. Dr. E. A. Leemans (Bruges, 1970), pp. 191-228.


DE ETYMOLOGIA. Etymologia est origo vocabu­ lorum, cum vis verbi vel nominis per interpretationem colligitur. Hanc Aristoteles cxu[AßoXov, Cicero adnotationem nominavit, quia nomina et verba rerum nota facit exemplo posito; utputa ‘flumen,’ quia fluendo cre­ vit, a fluendo dictum. Cuius cognitio saepe usum neces­ sarium habet in interpretatione sua. Nam dum videris unde ortum est nomen, citius vim eius intellegis. Omnis enim rei inspectio etymologia cognita planior est. (On Etymology. Etymology is the origin of names, by which the sense of a word or name may be determined through definition. Aristotle named this ovfißokov and Cicero adnotatio because it makes the names and words understandable by giving an example so that, for instance, flumen is named from fluendo because a river is created by flowing. Knowledge like this frequently has a useful application in the definition of a word, for once you have seen the origin of a name, then you will understand its sense sooner. Indeed any investigation of a thing is plainer once its etymology is recognized. Etym. I. xxix, 1-2) As Guy de Poerck notes, this definition offers Isidore’s theoretical state­ ment on the subject, while Book X provides a sustained application of his etymological practice.63 Isidore however extends the use of etymology to purposes other than the strictly grammatical. It becomes for him a her­ meneutical principle according to which knowledge of a given thing may be realized from an understanding of its name. As Michel de Bouard observes, “Isidore a une confiance aveugle en ces mots qu’il considère vraiment comme des entités transcendantes.”64 In raising etymology to a principle of interpretation, Isidore had before him Augustine’s doctrine of signs in On Christian Doctrine. By his literal reading of that text, every word became a sign to be deciphered through etymology. Had Isidore viewed etymology simply as an interpretative method, however, one doubts that he would have constructed his encyclopedia around it. As Fritz Saxl recognized in his brilliant reconstruction of Isi­ dore’s method:

63 Poerck, “Étymologia et origo,” p. 213. 64 Bouard, “Encyclopédies médiévales,” p. 286.


The Etymologiae are, so to speak, a collection of explanatory glosses of terms related to the work of doctors, lawyers, technicians, botanists, navigators, and theologians. What actually happened was that the works of the specialists perished very soon after Isidorus’ time - many of them had already vanished by then - and in most cases all that was left was the know­ ledge of names, the subjects represented by the names being forgotten. But even this knowledge was so pre­ cious that few works of the Middle Ages survived in as many manuscripts as the Etymologiae.65

As this observation suggests, Isidore often performed his work of cultural salvage at its most basic level. In this process, etymology became his essential tool, for it enabled him to reconstruct much that might other­ wise have been lost. To quote Saxl again: [Etymology] was a vehicle to carry one to heaven or to hell, or all over the face of the earth, a pagan method, but one which, because of its universal application, could justifiably be used by a bishop.66

If comprehensive and detailed treatises were rare or unavailable, Isidore had no method other than the etymological to increase his knowledge or to clarify his teaching.67 It allowed him to reconstruct a discipline which was not otherwise available for study. By moving beyond the simple linguistic fact of the word, the etymologist may apprehend the thing which is named. In Leo Spitzeres classic formulation, “etymology intro­ duces meaning into the meaningless”;68 it stands as a principle of order. That Isidore frequently abused this method reflects less his incompetence as a philologist than his predicament as a scholar and teacher. To rephrase my argument in the original terms of this chapter, the essential fact for Isidore as encyclopedist is the word. Through it he may move to a richer understanding by elucidating the essential aspects or

65 Saxl, “Illustrated Medieval Encyclopaedias,” p. 232. 66 Saxl, “Illustrated Medieval Encyclopaedias,” p. 231. 67 This is not to suggest that Isidore made no use of authorities, but rather that “For Isidore of Seville (570-636), classical culture stood like a row of blue hills on the horizon: there was no telling how far apart the distant peaks were - Cicero and Augustine, Vergil and Jerome, pagan and Christian alike were revered by the seventh-century bishop, as the ‘masters’ of a long-dead past.” Peter Brown, The World o f Late Antiquity: A.Ð. 150-750 (New York, 1974), p. 176. 68 Leo Spitzer, Linguistics and Literary Criticism (Princeton, 1967), p. 6


terms of the liberal arts, sciences and other disciplines. In discussing Cassiodorus, I suggested that a substantial portion of the teaching in his encyclopedia reads as a catalogue of terminology. Much the same may be said of the Etymologies, but with one all-important qualification. For Cassiodorus the terms as well as the disciplines existed in a fixed form; he had only to name them and then offer the apposite definitions. For Isi­ dore, however, at times only the terms existed; from them he had to extrapolate meaning through etymology. In this respect, his ability to move from a simple list of terms to a catalogue of definitions represents a considerable achievement. He practices a kind of intellectual alchemy by which words may be made to yield forth a fuller body of knowledge. But the final transformation from catalogue of definitions to treatise remains beyond Isidore’s ability. Throughout his encyclopedia, however, one may see his efforts at working this kind of transformation. Even when his ostensible subject is language, as in Book X (De Vocabulis), he offers far more than a list-like glossary in which two words are equated. One may witness instead his desire to go beyond the word itself to understand its origin and thereby apprehend its meaning. As may be seen from the following quotation, Isidore pursues this goal relentlessly: Perennis, ab eo quod sit perpetuus annis. Praesul voca­ tus quia praeest sollicitudine. Praepositus appellatus eo quod sit subiectorum ac famulantium ordinator vel rector. Patroni a patribus dicti sunt, quod huiusmodi affectum clientibus exhibeant ut quasi patres illos regant. Paedagogus est cui parvuli adsignantur. Graecum nomen est; et est conpositum ab eo quod pueros agat, id est ductet et lascivientem refrenet aetatem. Praesens dictus quod sit prae sensibus, id est coram oculis, qui sensus sunt corporis. (Perennial is sonamed because it is perpetual in years. The présider is so-called because he is foremost in responsibility. The over-seer is so-named because he is the leader or mas­ ter of subjects and servants. Patrons are so-named from fathers, because they support their followers by such generosity as fathers guide their children. The pedagogue is he to whom children are assigned. The word is Greek and is so-composed because he leads boys, that is, he guides and controls the wantonness of those of that age. Present is so-called because it means before the senses, that is, before the eyes, which are the senses of the body. Etym. X. 205-07)

63 The alphabetization which we see as a matter of convenience was for Isidore the proper order for his subject. Although morphology as a lin­ guistic term would have been meaningless to him, he too reveals a sense of words as made up of constituent parts, but of syllables and letters rather than morphemes. Thus, for instance, he sees perennis as made from the per of perpetuus and from annis; praesul as made from the prae of praeest and the sol of sollicitudine. A writer who conceives of words as being constituted in this fashion can order them only by alphabetization. This is not a sequence which may be attributed to the accident of initial letters; it embodies instead his view of word-formation. Just as the twelve winds of the world must be arranged by their points of origin, so it must be with words: each subject must be presented in its established order. But to have extended alphabetization to a catalogue of non-linguistic material would have meant ignoring the established order for that subject. It would have meant opening the way to a seemingly ordered, but in fact chaotic, mode of teaching. This passage of P-words displays two additional characteristics of cata­ logue form. Each entry is offered as a separate statement without the benefit of transitions. In this respect, Isidore’s atomistic view of know­ ledge is nowhere more evident than in Book X. The word marks for him an independent unit of knowledge which may be arrived at through etymology. The other and more obvious characteristic of this catalogue is its lack of closure. The full catalogue of P-words in Book X of the Etymo­ logies contains numerous entries, but it remains open to any necessary additions. As the body of the language or the need for linguistic teaching grows, the catalogue may be supplemented. As it stands, this catalogue is more a demonstration of an etymological method than a full lexicon. For the purposes of structural analysis, the most illuminating catalogue in the Etymologies is that of Book VII, De Deo, Angelis et Sanctis. In tracing the figures of the Christian faith, from God to the ordinary believ­ ers, Isidore employs a hierarchical order. Within the catalogue as a whole, this hierarchy follows the established order of importance: God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Trinity, angels, figures with prophetic names, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, other figures named in the Gos­ pels, martyrs, clerics, monks and the faithful. One may note however that this hierarchy is shaped to some extent as well by chronology, espe­ cially when treating biblical figures (e.g., patriarchs, prophets, apostles). Within certain of these entries, Isidore ranges the relevant figures in their historical order. Thus the catalogue of figures with prophetic names opens with Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel (Etym. VII. vi, 1-8) and con-

64 eludes with Zorobabel. The A-Z order here, from Adam to Zorobabel, is purely coincidental. For the most part Isidore introduces these figures as they appear in the Octateuch and Kings. In presenting non-historical figures in Book VII, Isidore will revert instead to a hierarchy of positions or offices, as in his catalogue of clerics ( Etym. VII, xii). This passage is particularly interesting because it first uses the list to name and then the catalogue to define each office. This technique is similar to that used by Cassiodorus throughout the Institu­ tions. In this specific case, Isidore employs the hierarchy in both its ascending and descending versions. The list introduces these figures in this way: Generaliter autem clerici nuncupantur omnes qui in ecclesia Christi deserviunt, quorum gradus et nomina haec sunt: ostiarius, psalmista, lector, exorcista, acoly­ thus, subdiaconus, diaconus, presbyter, episcopus. (Generally all who serve diligently in the Church of Christ are called clerics, whose ranks and titles are thus: sexton, psalmist, lector, exorcist, acolyte, sub­ deacon, deacon, priest and bishop. Etym. VII. xii, 23) In offering his more extended discussion of these figures, Isidore all but reverses the sequence: episcopus (Etym. VII. xii, 4-12), presbyter (2021), diaconus (22), subdiaconus (23), psalmista and lector (24), acolythus (29), exorcista (31), and ostiarius (32). The only one of these offices to be further divided is the episcopus (in patriarchis, archiepiscopis, metropolitanis atque episcopis). By ascending and then descending along these various grades, Isidore teaches the double structure inherent in this hierarchy. Isidore expands his exposition of these church offices from list to cata­ logue form through the resources of etymology. Since his immediate concern in the following passage is with the types of bishop, he begins by deducing the relative order of patriarch and archbishop from the titles themselves: Patriarcha Graeca lingua summus patrum interpreta­ tur, quia primum, id est apostolicum, retinet locum; et ideo, quia summo honore fungitur, tali nomine cense­ tur, sicut Romanus, Antiochenus et Alexandrinus. Archiepiscopus Graeco vocabulo quod sit summus episcoporum. Tenet enim vicem apostolicam et

65 praesidet tam métropolitains quam episcopis ceteris. (In the Greek language, patriarch means the highest of fathers because he holds the first, that is apostolic, place; and therefore because he holds the highest honor, he is distinguished by the name of the place, as the patriarch of Rome, of Antioch, and of Alexandria. Archbishop is so-called in the Greek language because he is the highest of bishops. For he holds an apostolic see and presides as much over metropolitans as over other bishops. Etym. VII. xii, 5-6) In writing of the episcopus, Isidore remains faithful to his etymological method: Episcopi autem Graece, Latine speculatores interpre­ tantur. Nam speculator est praepositus in Ecclesia; dic­ tus eo quod speculatur, atque praespiciat populorum infra se positorum mores et vitam. (Moreover, bishops in Greek may be defined as overseers in Latin. For the overseer has a foremost position in the Church, and he is called by this name in that he watches and oversees the customs and life of those people who are placed under him. Etym. VII. xii, 12) For a modern reader, there is something very startling about this passage. Since this is his only discussion of the episcopus in the Etymologies, one might have expected Isidore to speak here from personal knowledge. Instead he treats his own office as he would any other profession or trade: as a title to be explicated. The immensity of Isidore’s encyclopedia makes it impossible to demonstrate that its catalogues always follow the established order of their subjects. One may suggest, however, that Isidore relies on the same types of order for his catalogues as do Pliny and Cassiodorus. His use of hierarchy is not limited to the catalogue from Book VII just examined; it may be found as well in his section on metallurgy (Etym. XVI. xviii-xxv). Although he and Pliny do not discuss precisely the same group of metals, both rely on a shared hierarchy of value for ordering them. Thus Isidore presents a sequence of de auro, de argentoy de aere (both bronze and copper), de ferro, de plumbo, de stagno (an alloy of varying composition) and de electro (both the resin of the pine tree and an alloy of gold and silver). In arranging natural substances which have no obvious scale of value, such as precious stones, Isidore will resort instead to color as his

66 criterion for order. He begins with green gems, and then moves on to red, purple, white, black, multi-colored, crystalline, lustrous (ignitis), and gold-colored gems (Etym. XVI. vi-xv). Elsewhere Isidore will arrange a catalogue of places by established geographical divisions (Asia, Africa, Europe; Etym. XIV. iii-v) or by topographical features (islands, promontories, mountains, underground regions; XIV. vi-ix). In these catalogues, it is not always possible to detect a consistent pattern of internal order comparable to that in the Natural History. If these catalogues make Isidore’s reliance on previous authorities quite evident, they also suggest the inadequacies of these authorities. For Isidore simply does not know enough to avoid losing his way when tracing the regions of the earth. His use of chronology is by contrast usually quite assured and by its own terms consistent. Undoubtedly the most important chronological catalogue in the Etymo­ logies is devoted to the famous elucidation of the six ages of man (V. xxxix). Beginning with Adam, this catalogue proceeds sequentially to the recent past of Spain under King Sisebut. His concluding remark on time is itself evidence for the necessity of catalogue presentation: Residuum sextae aetatis tempus Deo soli est cognitum (“The remainder of time in the Sixth Age is known to God alone.” Etym. V xxxix). The computus as a subject is thus without any force of closure which may be comprehended by the human intelligence. To record the ages of man is, of necessity, to employ the open-ended catalogue.69 As did Pliny and Cassiodorus, Isidore turned to the catalogue as an appropriate form because his encyclopedia was a derivative compilation. Yet he is always a latecomer. The tradition from which he drew was increasingly fragmented and scattered. He lacked even, it is painful to note, a full text of the Natural History. No longer able to master disci­ plines in their entirety, Isidore instead offered the pieces which remained to him. The unavoidable consequence was an obvious diffuseness of form in his encyclopedia. Ironically, even his method for reconstructing the various disciplines, as Jacques Fontaine has observed, contributed to this diffuseness: Cette dispersion capricieuse des procédés était déjà notable, cinq siècles et demi plus tôt, dans YHistoire naturelle de Pline l’Ancien, à qui il arrivait d’utiliser un auteur tour à tour sous forme de réminiscences vagues,

69 For a comparable catalogue ordered by chronology, see his treatment of the Paschal Cycle, Etym. VI. xvii, 5-9.

67 d’extraits isolés, regroupés et concentrés, ou de ‘texte d’appui’ pour tout un passage. Mais elle est aggravée ici pour plusieurs raisons, en tête desquelles il faut placer le dessein étymologique de l’ouvrage. Les postu­ lats épistémologiques impliqués dans la technique grammaticale vouaient la recherche étymologique au particulier, c’est-à-dire au fragmentaire et au discon­ tinu. Chaque domaine du savoir, chaque doctrine dans ce domaine, chaque point particulier dans cette doc­ trine, chaque terme technique enfin, font l’objet d’une recherche séparée dans laquelle l’étymologiste met en jeu tous les moyens d’investigation dont il dispose.70 Read in this way, however, the Etymologies represents a monument to the value of scholarship and to the perseverance of Isidore. To gather his knowledge into cataloguues, to order these catalogues by the necessary principles of their subjects, to teach as best he could - all this justifies the esteem granted to Isidore throughout the middle ages. Only the least sympathetic of modern readers will begrudge him his place in Dante’s Paradise with the Venerable Bede and Richard of St. Victor (Paradiso, X, 130-32). From a surprisingly early date, the Latin encyclopedias were well known to the Anglo-Saxons. Within a generation or so after Isidore’s death in 636, Aldhelm (6407-709?) had mastered the Etymologies so thoroughly that he was able to borrow not only information but also patterns of thought and organization. His immersion in the Etymologies shaped his style and to some extent as well his choice of subjects.71 Many of his Enigmata, for example, are best understood as linguistic riddles which display a thoroughly Isidorean sense of etymology.72 For Aldhelm, and by extension, other Anglo-Saxon writers, the encyclopedias served from the start as examples of intellectual practice which demarcated and defined the essential subjects and methods of the culture. Rather than offer a full history of the Latin encyclopedias in England, I will point instead to a few of the more interesting and representative

70 Fontaine, Isidore de Séville, pp. 781-82. 71 See Michael Winterbottom, “Aldhclm’s Prose Style and its Origins," Anglo-Saxon Eng­ land 6 (1977), 39-76; and John Marenbon, “Les Sources du vocabulaire d’AIdhelm," Bulletin du Cange 41 (1979), 75-90. 72 This argument is developed further in my “Aldhelm’s Enigmata and Isidorian Etymol­ ogy,” Anglo-Saxon England 14 (1985), 37-59.

68 moments of connection between the encyclopedists and native writers. In choosing such moments, I have turned to a variety of sources as a means of suggesting that the influence of the encyclopedias touched not simply great figures, such as Bede and Aldhelm, but also authors of quite hum­ ble didactic works. The first such example is the epithet for Pliny used by the author of the Old English Leechbook: þa micla Icece.7374No translation of this phrase, least of all the literal “great physician,” quite captures the author’s praise for Pliny’s medical expertise. It might seem faintly ludicrous that the Anglo-Saxon author proposing a remedy for one of man’s humbler, if perennial, troubles - baldness - should refer to the most learned of Roman naturalists in this way, were it not that he thought of himself as dispensing, like Pliny, the secrets of a highly esoteric and thus useful art. This reference to Pliny guarantees the efficacy of the prescription and also sounds the proper note of deference to the greater authority. This same note appears quite explicitly in Byrhtferth’s Manual After a brief discussion of the symbols used by grammarians, taken largely from Isi­ dore, Byrhtferth adds that if the reader desires more information, þonne rœde he Isidorus boc þe ys Ethimolegiarum genemned.14 Since the Manual is limited to computation and grammar, it is revealing that Byrhtferth should cite Isidore as the greater authority, a practice which to our minds reverses the usual relation between the specialized work and the general encyclopedia. References to the encyclopedists by name are unusual among English writers, and can sometimes be misleading, as I shall suggest in the case of Bede.75 For the most part, the encyclopedists were used silently. Nowhere does this silence obscure a more extensive debt than in the numerous Old English-Latin glossaries. As Herbert Dean Meritt has established, albeit in an indirect fashion, many of the forms used in glossaries may be traced to the encyclopedias, particularly the Etymolo­

73 Oswald Cockayne, ed., Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England, 3 vols. (London, 1864; rprt. New York, 1965), Rerum Brittanicarum Medii Aevi, Vol. 35; see Vol. II, p. 154. 74 S. J. Crawford, ed., Byrhtferth's Manual (London, 1929), E.E.T.S., O S. 177, p. 188. 75 Alcuin at times cites the encyclopedists by name in his letters. See, for Pliny, Letters 103 and 110; for Isidore, Letters 115, 122, 123, 143, 241, 252 in Monumenta Alcuiniana, eds. W. Wattenbach and E. Dümmler (Berlin, 1873), Bibliotheca Rerum Germanicarum, Tomus VI. He also cites Pliny and Cassiodorus by name in his poem on the library collection at York. Isidore is omitted, most probably because his name could not be fitted into the dactylic meter of the poem. See Poetae Latini Aevi Caroling Tomus I, ed. E. Dümmler (Berlin, 1881), Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Poetarum Latinorum Medii Aevif Tomus I, p. 204.

69 gies.76 By establishing the necessary equivalences between these two lan­ guages, the glossaries preserve the most intimate and fundamental meet­ ing of the Latin and English cultures. And in this meeting the encyclo­ pedias proved invaluable because they contained in an accessible and coherent form much of the Latin terminology which required translation into Old English. Certainly the task of the gloss writers was eased by the extensive catalogues of terms found in the encyclopedias, such as the section on the twelve winds from the Etymologies discussed in the Introduction. In the non-linguistic or "encyclopedic” glosses, as they have been termed recently by Gernot R. Wieland, we may also trace the presence of the Latin encyclopedists. These glosses, which aid the reader by explaining “anything which is unusual and foreign to him” in Arator or Prudentius, to cite his examples, frequently derive from works by Isidore and his revisor, Rabanus Maurus.77 The glossator who turned to the Etymologies to explicate a detail of geography or medicine was using the encyclopedia quite as Augustine envisioned it might be used as a refer­ ence work by biblical commentators. In this respect, it is necessary to consider the manner in which Bede, the greatest biblical commentator among the Anglo-Saxons, used the encyclopedias. The most immediately accessible evidence would seem to suggest that he was for his time and place unusually critical of Isidore. As M. L. W. Laistner has pointed out, Bede names Isidore “only three times at all, in each case only to controvert him.”78 Moreover, the Epistola Cuthberti de Obitu Bedae reports the memorable story that Bede, as he lay dying, occupied himself by correcting a passage from Isidore’s De Natura Rerum. Scholars of an idealizing nature, who seek to remake Bede into a more modern figure, have considered this evidence to be decisive proof of his skepticism towards the earlier authority. For them, Bede was no follower of Isidore but rather an outspoken corrector of his fantastic errors.79

76 Herbert Dean Meritt, Fact and Lore About Old English Words (Stanford, 1954) and Some o f the Hardest Glosses in Old English (Stanford, 1968). 77 Gernot Rudolf Wieland, The Latin Glosses on Arator and Prudentius in Cambridge University MS GG. 5. 35 (Toronto, 1983), pp. 180-81. 78 M. L. W. Laistner, “The Library of the Venerable Bede” in his The Intellectual Heritage o f the Middle Ages, ed. Chester G. Starr (Ithaca, 1957), p. 138. 79 See T. J. Brown, “An Historical Introduction to the Use of Classical Latin Authors in the British Isles from the Fifth to the Eleventh Century,” Settimane di Studio de Centro Italiano di Studi Sull'alto Medioevo 22 (1975), Vol. I, pp. 237-93, esp. p. 276; and Paul Mayvaert, “Bede the Scholar” in Famulus Christi: Essays in Commemoration o f the Thirteenth Centenary o f the Birth o f the Venerable Bede, ed. Gerald Bonner (London, 1976), pp. 40-69, esp. pp. 59-60.

70 While there is no doubt truth in this characterization of Bede, it would be far more convincing if its advocates had not slighted the numerous occasions on which he used Isidore without reference and without correc­ tion. As is apparent to anyone who has studied and checked the annota­ tions in modern editions, Bede drew silently on Isidore dozens of times for each time he controverted him by name.80 In this regard, the truth seems quite simple, though perhaps not especially flattering to Bede. At times, as in sections of his De Schematibus et Tropis or his De Natura Rerum, he follows the sequence of Isidore’s exposition quite faithfully.81 For the most part, however, Bede will draw material from throughout the Etymologies as necessary. His De Orthographia, for example, contains information which is also found scattered throughout seventeen of the encyclopedia’s twenty books, and his commentary on Genesis uses mate­ rial from ten.82 His practice in this respect can only be taken as evidence for his intimate familiarity with the Etymologies and for his need to employ it in his own scholarship. Gerald Bonner has remarked quite aptly that Bede embodjed “the sort of Christian scholar envisaged three centuries before his day by August­ ine of Hippo.”83 On reason for accepting this assessement is that the rigor with which Bede corrected Isidore on occasion seems especially reminis­ cent of the polemical and combative Augustine. In fact, however, they are most alike in that both, as Christian scholars, could not but rely heavily on previous authorities. For this reason, Bede's use of the Ety­ mologies is not essentially different from his use of the Natural History. True, Pliny was to be preferred because he was less given to including unbelievable stories and thus required less correction.84 But for all his errors and exaggerations, Isidore could not be cast aside or ignored totally. He was quite simply too useful. Bede drew on Isidore's discussion of grammar for his De Arte Metrica and his discussion of natural science for his De Natura Rerum, De Temporibus Ratione, De Temporibus Liber and his numerous biblical commentaries. 80 A more specific listing of Bede’s borrowings from the Etymologies appears in Appendix I of my dissertation, “The Latin Encyclopedia Tradition and the Old English Catalogue Poems,” Yale University, 1978; DAI 40 (1979), 241 A. 81 Compare Etym. I. xxxvi, 1-xxxvii, 27 with De Schematibus et Tropis II. i, 6-ii, 199 in Bedae Venerabilis Opera, Pars 1: Opera Didascalica, ed. C. W. Jones (Turnholt, 1975), CCSL CXXIIIA. Compare Etym. III. lxxi, 23-32 with De Natura Rerum XVII. 2-20, on the names of the signs of the zodiac, in this same volume. 82 For the De Orthographia, see Jones, ed., Bedae Venerabilis Opera; for the commentary on Genesis, see Bedae Venerabilis Opera, Pars II: Opera Exegetica; Libri Quattuor In Principium Genesis ..., ed. C. W. Jones (Turnholt, 1967), CCSL CXVIIIA. 83 Gerald Bonner, “Introduction” to Famulus Christi, p. 2. 84 Riché, Education and Culture in the Barbarian West, p. 385.

71 It is the mass and richness of material in the Etymologies, and also in the Natural History, which explain their wide currency in Anglo-Saxon England. One suspects that they were often the most immediately accessible, and sometimes the only, authorities available to many English writers. Isidore’s exposition of grammar in Book I of the Etymologies was absorbed in various ways by Aldhelm for his De Pedum Regulis, Tatwine for his De Arte Metrica and Byrhtferth for his Manual, as well as by Bede. Geographical lore from Pliny or Isidore appears in the Old English Oro­ sius and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History. The encyclopedic material bor­ rowed most frequently is that covered under the rubric of natural history: botany, zoology, astronomy, pharmacology and ethnography. Such mate­ rial, derived from either Pliny or Isidore, appears throughout the two great riddle collections of the period, that in Latin by Aldhelm and that in the vernacular found in the Exeter Book.85 Much the same can be said, quite predictably, of the Old English Leechbook and Herbarium. This catalogue of indebtedness could be extended to include as well more tentative examples.86 But additional examples would only reinforce what should be sufficiently evident - that the Natural History and the Etymologies were central to the educational and intellectual life of Anglo-Saxon England. A more detailed study of this subject would serve only to demonstrate that the English writers did not borrow slavishly from the encyclopedias but rather adopted them to meet the require­ ments of their own work. Before leaving the encyclopedias in Anglo-Saxon England, it is sugges­ tive to consider them not simply as voluminous and thus indispensible sources but also as patterns of formal structure. An appreciation of their catalogue form allows one to understand better the form of such AngloSaxon works as Aldhelm’s prose De Virginitate, Alcuin’s Versus de Sanct­ is Euboricensis Ecclesiae, especially its catalogue enumerating the authors found in the library at York (11. 1530-61), the Lapidary, the Martyrology and the Chronicle. Although none of these works is an ency­ RS On Pliny and the OE “Storm Riddles," see Charles W. Kennedy, trans., An Anthology of Old English Poetry (New York, 1960), p. 39. 86 Some OE poems contain material which may perhaps derive, cither directly or indirectly, from the encyclopedias. For Exodus, see the notes to 11. 56 and 70 in the edition by Edward B. Irving, Jr. (New Haven, 1953); his references to Pliny are admittedly tenta­ tive and are not repeated in the later edition by Peter J. Lucas (London, 1977). For The Phoenix, see the notes to 11. 62b-70, 114b-45a, 151, 174, 232, 235, 259, 260 and 291ff. in the edition by A. S. Cook (New Haven, 1919); and the discussion on pp. 9-10 in the edition by N. F. Blake (Manchester, 1964). For Solomon and Saturn, see the notes to 11. 20b and 203ff. and the discussion on pp. 43-44 in the edition by R. J. Menner (New York, 1941). For Beowulf see R. E. Kaske, ‘ Sapientia et Fortitudo as the Controlling Theme of B eow u lf” Studies in Philology 55 (1958), 423-47.

72 clopedia, each employs the catalogue to organize a wide variety of homiletic, didactic or historical material. In each work, the catalogue allows the author to compile a series of discrete items without the necessity of explicit transitions. The result is a form of exposition parallel to that in the encyclopedias. The only significant difference is that these English works are more specialized than the encyclopedias and thus con­ vey a greater impression of coherence. There is no reason to insist that Aldhelm, for instance, directly derived the catalogue form of his De Virginitate from the Etymologies. Rather, for both Isidore and Aldhelm, the catalogue presented itself as the logical and satisfying form to contain a great deal of information. No doubt Aldhelm’s acute sense of the possibilities of catalogue form was related to his knowledge of the Etymologies. For Aldhelm, Isidore's work served as the most obvious locus for this type of formal structure, but it was a structure which had a wider currency in his intellectual world. It was the protean ability of the catalogue to hold the diversity and order of this world - by valuing amplitude and abundance, even at the cost of loose­ ness - which endeared it to these Anglo-Saxon prose writers and, as I shall argue in the following chapters, to the Old English poets.

2: The Catalogues of Time and Space: T h e M e n o lo g iu m and T h e F a tes o f th e A p o s tle s

The richness of Christian history, traced through time or across space, provides the substance for several of the finest catalogue poems in Old English. By their very nature, such poems were concerned neither with subtle historical details nor with those varieties of explanation or synthe­ sis which mark a more sophisticated historiography. On reading such poems as the Menologium and The Fates o f the Apostles, one is struck forcefully by their lack of detail.1 The brief description given of most saints in the Menologium, for instance, does not seem adequate even for a largely nonliterate populace.12 Perhaps then such poems were written primarily to serve as reminders for the previously instructed. Yet the Menologium and the Apostles present a far richer sense of the Christian cosmos than do other OE poems many times their length. Their purpose was not to offer lives of the saints as detailed as that in, say, the OE Guthlac. Rather these two poems present the order which lies behind and thus renders significant the lives of all saints. There is at work, one might feel, the reduction of a vivid, often complex life to the seeming aridity of a type. For those accustomed to the patterned nature of Chris­ tian history, this method is itself confirmation that the divine order exists. In each poem, the figures are ordered along one of the two obvious

1 In placing these two poems together, I follow Margaret Schlauch, without subscribing to her aesthetic judgment that The Fates o f the Apostles “may be compared with catalogues designed to help memory, like the Menology ... The purpose of such works is chiefly practical, and the artistic element is not conspicuous.” See her English Medieval Litera­ ture and Its Social Foundations (Warsaw, 1956), p. 58. 2 As Daniel G. Calder observes of Apostles: ”... while (Cynewulf) retains details of the deaths and persecutors, his descriptions of the twelve apostles can be characterized only tenuously as developing their histories.” See his “77ie Fates o f the Apostles, the Latin Martyrologies, and the Litany of the Saints,” Medium Ævum 44 (1975), 219-24, at p. 220.

74 dimensions by which history is rendered coherent in the human imagina­ tion - time or space. The catalogue form of these poems is not a way of containing the evidence necessary to prove the presence of divine order. That would be to urge a case no believer would deny. Rather the cata­ logue recreates in a coherent verbal form part of this divine order, whether it be that by which the religious year was celebrated (Menologium) or that by which the faith was spread throughout the world (Apos­ tles). In these two poems, subject matter and purpose dictate the se­ quence of individual figures within the catalogue and provide a discerni­ ble pattern of order. That each of these patterns has its source in a nonpoetic vision of experience reinforces the didactic nature of these poems. There is no sense that these poets have themselves determined the order of their material; rather they have adopted that order known to those instructed in Christian history. Thus the form of the poem, the order by which it contains its sacred history, becomes essential to its didactic purpose. The principle of internal order for the Menologium was fixed by its subject far more than was the order of Apostles. The poet was bound to record the turn of the year, and he did so with a catalogue organized by holy days, seasons, and months. In its ostensible design, the Menologium is a calendar of the venerable figures of the faith as well as of its more important feast days. For this reason, its two important analogues are the OE prose Marty rology and the Irish poetic féliri* The Menologium poet refrained from fusing his religious material with any native poetic con­ vention and thus did not radically alter the accepted framework of the religious calendar. He did, however, exercise some judgment in selecting holy days. This personal element is inherent in the compilation of any martyrology, for no single work could include all of the saints, and none went untouched by local considerations. If the Menologium poet was bound by the conventions of his genre, he also developed a mode for presenting the turn of the year somewhat different from those found in analogous works. Strictly speaking, a mar­ tyrology need contain only the liturgical calendar in as complete a form as is necessary; all other material is superfluous to the compiler’s purpose of providing information for holy observance.34 As the OE prose version

3 For a discussion of the poem’s sources and analogues, see John Hennig, “The Irish Counterparts of the Anglo-Saxon M enologium M edieval Studies 14 (1952), 98-106; D. G. Calder and M. J. B. Allen, trans., Sources and Analogues o f Old English Poetry (Cambridge and Totowa, N. J., 1976), p. 229; and ASPR, Vol. VI, pp. lx-lxvi. 4 As J. E. Cross has shown, the OE prose Martyrology contains considerable material on

75 makes apparent, the martyrology was a daybook "intended to refresh the memory of the preacher, and to supply him with the groundwork of his sermon.” (OE Mart., p. xi.) Since this work was not intended for con­ tinuous reading but rather for specific reference, the preacher who con­ sulted it would not be concerned with those saints who were not cele­ brated on the day of his sermon. The annual cycle then provides the most practical means for organizing a relatively large quantity of information, such as the more than 225 holy days listed in the OE Martyrology. The OE Martyrology might then seem to provide a clear model of form for the Menologium. Within certain obvious limits, this is true. Yet in a subtle but all-important way, the two works differ fundamentally. In the prose work, the turn of the year was a matter of convenience for both compiler and user. In this way, the martyrology as a form reveals its origin in earlier religious calendars, especially the Paschal Tables.5 Like the annal and chronicle, which also derive from this source, the martyro­ logy treats each entry as discrete. In the OE Martyrology, for instance, this method extends even to those days on which more than one saint might be celebrated, for in such cases each saint receives a separate entry. Only those saints who were martyred together, such as Peter and Paul, are placed together. Whether in annal or martyrology, there is no evi­ dence of synthesis. Should one wish to articulate the pattern underlying the individual years or lives, one must do so oneself. Here we see the difference between the Martyrology and the Menologium most sharply: in the former, the calendar provides a frame for the liturgical material, while in the latter, a pattern of devotion is traced throughout the year. And this pattern is itself the lesson taught in the poem. This difference becomes clearer if we remember that the compiler of the Martyrology did not consider it necessary to number the intervals between saints’ days. In a devotional poem, by contrast, the intervals must be counted scrupulously. Doing so would render the poem accessi­ ble to those who kept the sequence of days by reference to past holy days because they did not have or could not use written calendars. As Charles W. Jones has written: "Through its feast-days the Church educated; but those days also governed the economic, social, commercial, and military

the Days of Creation which, from a strict point of view, would be superfluous: see his “De Ordine Creaturarum Liber in Old English Prose,” Anglia 90 (1972), 132-40; and his “Portents and Events at Christ's Birth: Comments on Vercelli V and VI and on the Old English M artyrologyA nglo-Saxon England 2 (1973), 209-20, especially pp. 215-20. 5 On the relation between calendars and martyrologies, sec C. W. Jones, ed., Bedae: Opera de Temporibus (Cambridge, Mass., 1943), pp. 114-22.

76 life of the people.”6 Although the Martyrology does contain a brief note for each of the months, except for February where the manuscript is incomplete, and for two of the seasons, summer and winter, the work does not record the turn of the year in vivid descriptive passages as does the Menologium. For the reader of the Menologium, then, the OE Martyrology seems strikingly deficient in descriptions of the seasons, of the weather, of the year’s progress. For these, we must turn to the other important analogue, the Irish féliri. John Hennig has noted that “except for the Irish féliri, [the Menologium] is the only ‘metrical calendar’ in a vernacular of the early Middle Ages.”7 As in the Menologium, the Irish poets’ measure of the year extended beyond the liturgical calendar to embrace the course of the seasons and the passing of the months. Just as the OE poet repeatedly refers to his own people as the British, and to those holy figures espe­ cially important to them,8 so too the Irish poets allude to their own land and saints. Writing of these metrical calendars in general, Hennig explains that they were intended “to give a bird’s-eye view of the Chris­ tian year (in itself a matter supposed to be well-known) interwoven with the natural order of time in months and seasons.”9 Such guides were necessary and popular in Ireland because of “the absence of a Sanctorale in the Irish liturgy.” Hennig explains this absence in turn by the refusal of the Irish clergy “to introduce the Western conception of linear historical time into the liturgy.” Instead the saints were placed in an order which reflects “cyclical natural time.”10 Thus the passages devoted to seasons and months in the féliri are not adornment, but rather provide the fun­ damental measure by which time must be measured and the saints hon­ ored, that of the year’s turn. Since there was no similar refusal among the Anglo-Saxons to accept

6 Jones, ed., Bedae: Opera de Temporibus, p. 3. See also Kenneth Harrison, “The Primitive Anglo-Saxon Calendar,” Antiquity 47 (1973), 284-87, at p. 284. 7 Hennig, “The Irish Counterparts of the Anglo-Saxon M e n o lo g iu m p. 100. 8 The most important of these references to Britain occur in II. 14-15. I53b-56a, 181-86a, 228b-31. The two most important figures are Gregory the Great, 11. 37b-40a, and St. Augustine of Canterbury, 11. 95b-106a. The latter passage, one of the longest in the poem devoted to a single figure, is highly laudatory of the great missionary. He also appears in the Old English Martyrology, p. 86. Had Alan Smith closely examined these two hagiographical works, he might have hesitated to pronounce his judgment that Augus­ tine “whatever his historical significance, is not lovingly remembered” by Anglo-Saxon writers. See his “St. Augustine of Canterbury in History and Tradition,” Folklore 89 (1978), 23-28, at p. 27. 9 Hennig, “The Irish Counterparts of the Anglo-Saxon Menologium," p. 100. 10 Hennig, “The Irish Counterparts of the Anglo-Saxon Menologium,” p. 102.

77 the idea of linear time, the félin cannot be read as precise analogues for the Menologium. In the catalogue of years that constitutes their Chroni­ cle, the Anglo-Saxons created a masterpiece of linear time. By accepting the notion of time as a linear sequence (the Chronicle) and as a sequence of constantly returning events (the OE Martyrology and the Menolo­ gium), the Anglo-Saxons admitted the necessity and beauty of both types of chronology. In this sense, the Menologium poet made a significant and conscious decision when he placed the figures of the faith in an eternal landscape rather than in a temporal past. He thus need not.explain that certain of the saints, such as Peter and Augustine of Canterbury, were separated by over half a millennium. Within his concept of time, any distinction of historical chronology would be more than irrelevant; it would destroy his portrayal of the saints as figures in a recurring calendar. This intellectual willingness on the part of the Anglo-Saxons to accept varieties of history is testified to by the appearance of the Menologium in MS. Cotton Tiberius B. i, which also contains the C Version of the Chronicle.11 Stanley Greenfield, among others, has suggested that although the Menologium was independent in origin, it was placed in conjunction with the Chronicle as a sort of prologue.1112 This compelling suggestion is further strengthened by the fact that both works are cata­ logues based on the idea of the year, one recurring and the other linear. When one remembers the accounts of disorder and suffering which fill so many of the Chronicle entries, it is not surprising that a paradigm of God’s ordered year should have been included in the same manuscript. As some astute compiler seems to have recognized, men might all too easily succumb to despair at this evidence of worldly chaos were they to forget the presence and efficacy of divine order. The appearance of the Menologium in this manuscript recapitulates, through contrast with the Chronicle, its purpose of teaching the order and harmony of time. It asserts the continuity of Christian belief in the face of temporal change. The Menologium then was essentially didactic; it taught the meaning, unity and order of the year as well as of its important elements such as the days and seasons. That the poem functions as this sort of paradigm is made clear at its end:

11 See ASPR, Vol. VI, pp. xxxiv and lx. 12 Stanley B. Greenfield, A Critical History o f Old English Literature (New York, 1972), p. 178. See further, Fred C. Robinson, “Old English Literature in its Most Immediate Context” in Old English Literature in Context, ed. John D. Niles (Cambridge and Totowa, N. J., 1980), pp. 25-29.

78 Nu ge findan magon haligra tiida þe man healdan sceal, swa bebugeô gebod geond Brytenricu Sexna kyninges on þas sylfan tiid. (11. 228b-31)13 These lines establish the Menologium as a calendar for the devout, by which they may honor the days of the blessed. Although tiid has a wide range of meanings in Old English, denoting both the idea of time itself as well as certain of its divisions both sacred and secular, the poet’s repeti­ tion of it here seems quite precise. The phrase haligra tiida (1. 229a) clearly means “feast days.” In 1. 231b, however, tiid is a more general reference to the present moment in Britain. The repetition of tiid within these lines brings together the two senses of time within the poem: the explicitly stated annual cycle (haligra tiida) and the implicitly present moment within chronological time when the poem is to be read (on þas sylfan tiid). Since its catalogue contains a series of distinct and individual entries, each of which is devoted to a single event in the annual cycle, the Meno­ logium resembles most other OE catalogue poems. Yet this poem has about it an unusual sense of continuity. Each entry is linked to those immediately surrounding it through the numbering of intervening days. That this type of connective passage was required by the poem’s purpose does not detract from its usefulness as a structural device. Such passages allowed the poet to maintain the turn of the year and simultaneously to establish the separate nature of each moment within it. The appearance of each new entry in the catalogue is announced and its distinctiveness proclaimed by the unique name for the event: Bartho­ lomew, Aprelis monad, sumor, and so on. Had the entry for each event been limited to its name, the work would not have been a poem at all but rather a list-calendar closely resembling those prefixed to later medieval books of hours. As the poem stands, however, it may accurately be described as a catalogue, for each entry extends beyond the simple lin­ guistic act of naming to include a further explanation or description of the event as it exists within an overarching order. If the list and the catalogue both record the important events of the year, only the latter offers the

13 All quotations from the poem are taken from ASPR, Vol. VI, pp. 49-55. For a transla­ tion, see Kemp Malone, “The Old English Calendar Poem” in Studies in Language, Literature and Culture o f the Middle Ages and Later, eds. E. Bagby Atwood and Archi­ bald Hill (Austin, 1969), pp. 193-99.

79 theological justification for including each event within the calendar. And it is by this larger explanation that the Menologium achieves its didactic purpose. The poem itself opens with a reference to the birth of Christ on midne winter (1. 2a). Within the Christian calendar, whether viewed as cyclical or linear, Christ’s birth is the day of origin from which all later history and hence all holy days follow. In this regard, the OE poet would seem to accept the traditional calendar, such as that found in the OE Martyrology. The initial entry in this collection is an account of Christ’s birth and more especially of the various portents which accompanied it {OE Mart., pp. 2 & 4). The liturgical year in this work clearly begins with December 25th, but the same cannot be said with equal certainty for the Menologium. There is in fact an indeterminancy about the opening lines of the Menologium which suggests that the poet was torn between opening this annual cycle on December 25th and on January 1st: Crist wæs acennyd, cyninga wuldor, on midne winter, mære þeoden, ece ælmihtig, on þy eahteoðan dæg Hælend gehaten, heofonrices weard. Swa þa sylfan tiid side herigeas, folc unmæte, habbað foreweard gear, for þy se kalend us cymeð geþincged on þam ylcan dæge us to tune, forma monad; hine folc mycel Ianuarius gerum heton. ( 11.

1- 10)

As Kenneth Harrison has shown, the dating of Christ’s birthday on midne winter refers specifically to Christmas or December 25th.14 Yet if the poet opens his work with December 25th, he also states quite emphatically that the New Year comes to men throughout the world on January 1st. This distinction in the Menologium between the start of the poetic calen­ dar itself and the start of the New Year would seem simple enough, were it not that Midwinter could also serve by another system of reckoning as the first day of the New Year. According to Bede, the primitive Anglo-

14 Kenneth Harrison, “The Beginning of the Year in England, c. 500-900,” Anglo-Saxon England 2 (1973), 51-70, especially p. 54. See also his The Framework o f Anglo-Saxon History (Cambridge, 1976), pp. 37-38 and 137.

80 Saxon calendar began on December 25th, although he himself preferred January 1st for the start of the year.15 The indeterminate opening of the Menologium may be traced to the fact that there was no single, fixed calculation for the beginning of the year in Anglo-Saxon England. Although the Menologium poet disclaims any expertise in the finer points of the computus or rimcrceft, it is not excessive to suspect that he was familiar with the various reckonings for the start of the year. He must also have known that both December 25th and January 1st had considerable authority; the former date was tradi­ tional in martyrologies, including the OE Marty rology, while the latter had the weighty sanction of Bede. In choosing to begin the year, if not his poem, on January 1st, the Menologium poet may not have been governed solely by liturgical considerations. As F. J. Tupper noted, January 1st also had considerable secular significance during this period as the “proper beginning of the Anglo-Saxon Civil Year.”16 Since the poet did not limit himself to recording events within the liturgical calendar, he was not bound to the perhaps more orthodox date for the beginning of the year, December 25th. Tupper states further that the Menologium poet begins the New Year on January 1st. Since he is speaking strictly of the calendar within the poem, this is correct because each of the subsequent dates in the poem is predicated on January 1st. This interpretation does, however, reduce 11. l-2a to an ornamental prologue. This is not entirely satisfactory, however, because these lines allude to another accepted date for the beginning of the year. That the opening of the poem and the opening of the calendar proper are not quite synchronized suggests that the poet chose quite deliberately to exploit the inexactitudes of calendar science in Anglo-Saxon England. Of the many events in Christian history, the poet grants priority to the birth of Christ. But he begins his calendar with January 1st so that he might exploit the historical and poetic significance inherent in that date. That Christ was given the title of Hcelend on January 1st was traditional 15 For the reckoning based on December 25th, see Harrison, “The Primitive Anglo-Saxon Calendar,” p. 284; and also Jones ed., Bedae: Opera de Temporibus, pp. 211-13. For the reckoning based on January 1st, see Harrison, “The Beginning of the Year in England,” p. 53; and Heinrich Henel, Studien zum altenglischen Computus, Beiträge zur englischen Philologie 26 (Leipzig, 1934; rprt. New York, 1967), especially pp. 71-84. For Ælfric’s interesting discussion of this problem, see his “Homily on the Octaves and Circumcision of Our Lord (January 1st)” in Benjamin Thorpe, ed., The Homilies o f the Anglo-Saxon Church; The First Part Containing the Sermones Catholici, or Homilies of Ælfric (Lon­ don, 1844), Vol. L, p. 98. 16 Frederick J. Tupper, “Anglo-Saxon Dœg-Mœl," PMLA 10 (1895), 111-241, especially pp. 209-10.


knowledge, as one may see from the OE Marty rology: se nama wees on Iudisc lesus ond on grecisc soter ond on lœden saluator ond on ure geþeode hælend {OE Mart., p. 12). In 11. 1-10 of the Menologium, the poet emphasizes that the New Year and the naming of Christ as Savior occur on the same day. These lines offer the first example of the poet’s practice of interweaving whenever possible the liturgical and seasonal cycles, so that he might better establish the unity of the year. The New Year comes, he tells us, to people throughout the world far and wide on the day that Christ’s destiny as Hælend was proclaimed. The New Year alluded to by the poet then is not simply that announced on January 1st but also the new era in time signalled by the arrival of the Savior. In this way, the events of the seasonal calendar are imbued with religious signifi­ cance. Because the poet wished to emphasize the importance of both senses of the year, he alludes quite significantly to both December 25th and January 1st in the opening lines of the poem.17 The poet’s vision that the religious, seasonal and monthly calendars are interwoven is expressed most notably in that section of the poem devoted to April and May (11. 54b-95a). As one would expect, April is especially noteworthy because it contains, more frequently than any other month, the celebration of Easter: Swylce emb feower and þreo nihtgerimes, þætte nergend sent Aprelis monað, on þam oftust cymð seo mære tiid mannum to frofre, drihtnes ærist; þænne dream gerist wel wide gehwær, swa se witega sang: “Þis is se dæg þæne drihten us wisfæst worhte, wera cneorissum, eallum eoröwarum eadigum to blisse.” (11. 54b-62) April is here portrayed as a time of bliss, of joy to men, because of the Resurrection of Christ. If this seems the most joyful passage in the Meno­ logium, it is not simply because of the holy day it commemorates. For this is also the first time that the reader has not felt himself in the grip of

17 This reading of 11. 1-10 would be clearer if placing a period after œlmihtig (1. 3a) and establish the conjunctive force of swa (1. 5a) the cause and effect relation between the coming of the New Year.

the punctuation of 11. 3-4 were altered by a comma after weard (1. 4b). This would more clearly and would thus better express proclamation of Christ as Savior and the

82 winter: we are done with Martius rede (1. 36b) and the like. The lines immediately following this passage (11. 63-68a) are in effect a gloss on the use of o f tust in 1. 56b; the poet explains that the date of Easter “wanders” and hence can be calculated only by the learned.18 He resists entangling himself in rimcrœft, however, because he must continue his catalogue of holy days: wrecan wordum ford, wisse gesingan (1. 70). This description of April as a time of celebration is extended in the passage devoted to the sole other holy day in the month, that of Rogation or Litania Maior. Of this day, which occurs on the 25th of the month, the poet says: þæt embe nihgontyne niht and fifum, þæs þe Eastermonað to us cymeð, þæt man reliquias ræran onginneð, halige gehyrste; þæt is healic dæg, bentiid bremu. (11. 71-75a) The purpose of these prayers is not explicitly stated, perhaps because the poet assumed that his listeners would not need to be reminded that they were intended at least in part to insure the fruitfulness of the spring planting. This information is provided in the entry for Litania Maior in the OE Martyrology: On þæm dæge eall godes folc mid eadmodlice relicgonge sceal god biddan þæt he him forgefe þone gear siblice tid ond smyltelico gewidra ond genihtsume wæstmas ond heora lichoman trymnysse. (OE Mart., p. 62) In essence, the prayers at Rogation are intended to solicit that time of bliss and joy ascribed to the month of April by the Menologium poet (11. 54b-62). The day itself also marks the beginning of the spring planting, the rebirth of the land after the long, cold English winter. This entry from the OE Martyrology provides a useful gloss for 11. 71-

18 At several moments in the poem, the poet explains that a given date is not fixed in the calendar; these dates include the reckoning of leap years (11. 32-34), the spring equinox (11. 44b-47), Easter (II. 63-68a) and the fall equinox (11. 173b-75). At such dates, the poet defers to those more learned in rimcrœft. These statements indicate that he conceived of his poem as a guide to the turn of the year for laymen.

83 75a because it explains the ends to which these prayers at Rogation were made. But the entry is also relevant to the subsequent passage in the poem which describes the entrance of the month of May. If the poet does not ascribe any immediate benefits to the prayers at Rogation, he does follow his entry for this day with a description of the fertile earth: Swylce in burh raþe embe siex niht þæs, smicere on gearwum, wudum and wyrtum cymeð wlitig scriðan Prymilce on tun, þearfe bringeð Maius micle geond menigeo gehwær. (11. 75b-79)

In the sequence of these two passages (11. 71-79) the key word is swylce, for it unites an event from the religious year with one from the natural year. Whether swylce is taken to mean, in 1. 75, “in such manner,” “like­ wise,” or more definitely as “thus,” the poet has interwoven here two of his turns of the year. What has been prayed for on Rogation, begins to appear in the month of May. Here the use of the Anglo-Saxon name for the month contributes directly to the poet’s statement. Literally trans­ lated, Prymilce means “three milkings,” a reference to the abundance of milk produced by cows during this month (OE Mart., p. 68). It is quite perfectly a name for that fruitfulness which marks the coming of May. The poet continues, in his further description of May, to interweave the various measures of the year. After listing very briefly the feast days for Saints Philip and James (11. 80-82) and the discovery of the Cross by St. Helen (11. 83-87a), the poet announces the coming of Summer on May 9th: Swylce ymb fyrst wucan butan anre niht þætte yldum bringð sigelbeorhte dagas sumor to tune, wearme gewyderu. Þænne wangas hraðe blostmum blowað, swylce blis astihð geond middangeard manigra hada cwicera cynna, cyninge lof secgað mænifealdlice, mæme bremað, ælmihtigne. (11. 87b-95a)

After the rather formulaic references to Philip and James, this passage strikes with a vivid beauty. The poet does seem, at least for the moment, to be taken more with the coming of summer than with the veneration of

84 the saints. Yet he is not here indulging a taste for nature poetry at the expense of the religious calendar. Rather he is completing his interweav­ ing of religious and natural cycles which began with the coming of April at 1. 54b. After April which brings the bliss of Easter, after the prayers at Roga­ tion and the consequent arrival of May, comes summer when bliss spreads throughout the world and all men raise their voices in prayer to God. The poet here is interweaving the life of Christ with the turn of the natural season. Both the arrival of May (11. 78b-79) and the death of Christ (11. 85-87a) are described as beneficial to mankind. In 11. 90b-95a, the congruence between the Resurrection of Christ and the revival of the season is established through the common element of abundance: the many races of men (manigra hada) which enjoy the bliss of the season sound the praise of the Almighty in a “manifold” way (mœnifealdlice). There is throughout the clear implication that if the religious calendar is observed with prayers, the natural season will unfold in its proper course. If this should happen, then in return, men should offer prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God. Through this revival of life and joy, the catalogues of saints and of the natural seasons are united in thèse sections of the Menologium. The poet’s interweaving of religious and natural calendars in the remainder of the poem is altogether less subtle and more formulaic. That this strategy of interweaving should find its most elegantly satisfying expression in the passages devoted to the New Year and to the months of April and May is easily understood, for these two times lend themselves to certain quite obvious correspondences. If one considers the other feast days in the calendar, it is difficult to envision further correspondences with the natural cycle. Such a method would verge on absurdity if applied when the significance of the season and the religious event were at odds. For the most part, the poet resorted instead to the less satisfactory, because purely rhetorical, method of describing each month as “bringing in” its holy days. The introduction of September, Haligmond, is a charac­ teristic example: Ond þæs ymbe þreo niht geond þeoda feala þætte Haligmonð, heleþum geþinged, fereð to folce, swa hit foregleawe ealde uþwitan, æror fundan, Septembres fær, and þy seofoþan dæg þæt acenned wearð cwena selost, drihtnes modor. (11. 163-69a)

85 Similarly, June is said to bring (bringd, 1. 106b) Ærra Lida and the holy days of John the Baptist. July comes (cymd, 1. 130b) with James; August brings (bringed, 1. 138b) to people hlafmœssan dœg and the days of Lawrence and Bartholomew. The tenth month bears (fereð, 1. 182a) October to the Anglo-Saxons and with it Simon and Jude; November brings (bringd, 1. 193b) All Hallow’s Day, Martin, Clement and Andrew. And the final day of November brings (bringd, 1. 218b), in turn, the month of December with Thomas and Christ. The naming of the months provides more than a simple frame by which to date the holy days. Through his use of these verbs of action, the poet portrays the months as the agents of temporal order, for each brings according to the appointed cycle the occasions for devotion. From the description of winter’s onset, when the earth is fettered with snow and frost at the Lord’s command (be frean hcese, 1. 205b), we can see that the Menologium poet quite properly ascribed the turn of the seasons to the workings of God. Like the catalogues of holy days and the months, that of the seasons is integral to the annual cycle articulated by the poet. We should not be misled by the poem’s ostensible purpose into dismissing or slighting the catalogues of the seasons and months. They are integral measures of God’s order as revealed through the course of the year. I am therefore reluctant to accept Alvin Lee’s description of the Menologium as ... the most obvious example of an almost ubiquitous Old English poetic motif whereby the cycles of nature, night and day, summer and winter, are represented as symbolizing spiritual truths which completely, trans­ cend the natural order.19 In the Menologium, at least, spiritual truths do not transcend the natural order; rather such truths are expressed or revealed through this natural order. The truth embodied by the year is as much seasonal and monthly as it is spiritual. That the saints are not more, but rather as important as the months and seasons is made clear by the poet’s efforts at interweaving these cycles. It is only after we have recognized that the year includes all three cycles, that we may be said to have achieved the truth about the year as a measure or pattern of time. For the Menologium poet, the year is a seamless, cyclical flow which 19 Alvin A. Lee, The Guest’Hall o f Eden: Four Essays on the Design o f Old English Poetry (New Haven, 1972), p. 130.

86 must be measured by holy days, seasons and months. Each of these three provides not simply a record of time, but also expresses one of the meas­ ures of that temporal order by which men must live and worship. That this order was customarily envisioned as a year required of the poet that he unite into one cycle or catalogue these three measures of time. The critical act of unweaving the three catalogues within the Menologium is the precise antithesis of the poet’s creative vision. The final effect of the catalogue in the Menologium is to create a formal sense of motion much like the progress of the year itself. Although the poem locates individual days within the year, its value lies in its wholeness, in its recording of the drama of Christian order and time. Just as the poem places figures of Christian faith along the dimen­ sion of time, so too it embraces into the faith other, non-sacred measures of the year’s turn. In this respect, it may be seen as a sustained attempt to order the mystery of time by identifying its various measures and then weaving them into a harmonious whole. Without losing its devotional value, the Menologium stands also as the record of an imagination which sought to move beyond the generic limits of the calendar. This poem also provides a useful measure by which to determine the originality displayed by Cynewulf in The Fates o f the Apostles. Like the poet of the Menologium and the compiler of the OE Martyrology, Cyne­ wulf uses traditional hagiographie lore in his work. But unlike these other writers, he set this lore along a different axis - that of space rather than time. It has not been sufficiently appreciated, I believe, that this poem offers a rather unusual presentation of the lives and the deaths of the twelve apostles. By ignoring the element of time altogether, the poem does not inspire its audience to commemoration. The apostles are not seen within the temporal frame of the religious calendar. Instead, Cyne­ wulf views them in terms of their historical role as missionaries. In converting heathen souls to Christianity, the apostles also extended the boundaries of the Christian world beyond the narrow confines of the Holy Land.20 For a poet living among a people who honored its conver­ sion as a central event in its history, who structured its greatest historical works around it, and who revered the memory of its apostoi St. Augus­ tine of Canterbury - this vision of the apostles as the first figures to 20 In his discussion of Cynewulfs poetry, Lee, The Guest-Hall o f Eden. p. 113, says, “Each of the five [poems] is, in a sense, an extension of the heroic actions described briefly in The Fates o f the Apostles, an elaboration of what is present there only in a germinal way. Andrew, Helena, Juliana, and Guthlac are all engaged in extending the dryht of Christ into territories where it has not previously been known.” One might add only that this theme is present in Apostles to a degree rather more advanced than “germinal.”

87 spread the faith through unknown lands would have been compelling. It is in these terms that Ælfric relates the activities of Augustine and his monks after their arrival in Britain: Ongann ða Augustinus mid his munecum to geefenlæcenne þæra apostola lif mid singalum gebedum. and wæccan. and fæstenum gode ðeowigende. and lifes word þam ðe hi mihton bodigende. ealle middaneardlice ðing swa swa ælfremede forhogigende. ða þing ana þe hi to bigleofan behofedon underfonde. be ðam ðe hi tæhton sylfe lybbende. and for ðære soðfæstnysse ðe hi bodedon. gearowe wæron ehtnysse to doligenne. and deade sweltan gif hi dorfton.21 As the Anglo-Saxons knew, their salvation as a people followed from the decision by Gregory the Great to push the frontier of the Christian world northward into Britain.22 This view of apostlehood demands some appreciation on our part that geography can be a wondrous if not mysterious discipline - a view that comes hard in a culture accustomed to seeing satellite maps on the nightly news. For a people whose few works on geography consisted chiefly of passages in Orosius and Pliny, however, the shape of the world was a mystery at once alluring and frightening. To record the lives of the apost­ les by tracing the region of the world which each brought out of heathen­ dom and also to note quite precisely where each met his end in this pursuit is thus a revealing act of homage on the part of Cynewulf. To suggest that in this matter he was merely following his presumed sources, which remain unidentified, is to foreclose serious discussion of the poem. Latin sources he used undoubtedly, but as the scholar espe­ cially competent to judge the matter, J. E. Cross, has determined 21 From Ælfric’s “Homily on St. Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome.” See Malcolm Godden, ed., Ælfric s Catholic Homilies; The Second Series (London, 1979), E.E.T.S., S.S. 5, p. 78. 22 Bede registers his awareness of this historic decision throughout the Ecclesiastical His­ tory. As Bertram Colgrave remarks, the greatest of Bede’s themes is “St. Augustine’s mission and the conversion of the English.” See R. A. B. Mynors and B. Colgrave, eds., Bede's Ecclesiastical History (Oxford, 1969), p. xviii. On the Ecclesiastical History as a work of conversion history, see Robert Hanning, The Vision o f History in Early Britain: From Gildas to Geoffrey o f Monmouth (New York, 1966), pp. 63-90. As Hanning observes, p. 89, conversion is not regarded by Bede simply as historical fact but also as the sacred duty of the English. See further, Calvin B. Kendall, “Imitation and Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica” in Saints, Scholars and Heroes: Studies in Medieval Culture in Honor o f Charles W. Jones, ed. Margot H. King and Wesley M. Stevens (Collegeville, Minn., 1979), Vol. I, pp. 161-90, especially p. 173.

88 recently, he used them in an inventive rather than servile fashion.23 And far more to the point, the poet’s use of sources was limited to the middle section of the poem, the catalogue devoted to the fates of the apostles. Using this material, he constructed a coherent, unified poem telling of the scop’s imitation of the apostles as a journeyer into foreign lands.24 The implicit assumption of most source studies of Apostles, that a Latin work served as its model, is quite puzzling. To advocate this position is to gloss over the threefold division of the poem into prologue (11. 1-1 la),25 catalogue of apostles (II. 1lb-87) and conclusion (11. 88-122). The first and third of these sections employ quite skillfully a conventional fiction of OE poetry, that of the wandering scop. The benefits of source study for this poem must thus be confined to elucidating the portrayal of the apostles in its middle section. If we wish to understand its poetic structure as a whole, we can expect at most limited assistance from Latin sources. To demonstrate the unity of Apostles requires that one trace a common principle of order throughout the poem. This requires, in turn, that one treat seriously the fiction of the wandering scop. To slight this fiction as a convenient frame for the supposed heart of the poem, the catalogue of apostles, is to ignore the ability of a gifted poet to borrow material from Latin sources and also to transform the inherited poetics of his own tradition. Moreover, this particular fiction of the wandering scop was neither randomly selected nor inappropriate. Cynewulf not only imagines the apostles as figures of spatial history, as men spreading truth across the earth; more profoundly, he orders the apostles according to the site of

23 J. E. Cross, “Cynewulfs Traditions About the Apostles in Fates of the A p o stle sA n g lo Saxon England 8 (1979), 163-75, especially pp. 174-75; and Calder, “The Fates of the Apostles, the Latin Martyrologies, and the Litany of the Saints,” p. 219. 24 In making this claim that the unity of the poem depends upon its use of geography, I recognize that other possible sources for the poem’s unity have been advanced. Several of the more interesting, if finally unconvincing, of these interpretations include: Warren Ginsberg, “Cynewulf and his Sources: The Fates o f the Apostles," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 78 (1977), 108-14; D. R. Howlett, “Se Giddes Begang of The Fates of the A p o stlesE n g lish Studies 56 (1975), 385-89; and James L. Boren, “Form and Meaning in Cynewulfs Fates o f the Apostles,” Papers on Language and Literature 5 (1969), 115-

22. 25 As Constance B. Hieatt, “The Fates of the Apostles: Imagery, Structure and Meaning,” Papers on Language and Literature 10 (1974), 115-25, at pp. 122-23, observes, there is some uncertainty about the end of the prologue. She argues for I. 15 and suggests that Peter and Paul are “prototypes” for the other apostles. As such, they deserve to be treated in a more general prologue rather than in the catalogue proper. To do so, however, does remove the most illustrious of the apostles from the catalogue. Since the prologue through I. 1la is concerned with the apostles in general terms, and since 11. 11b14a, speak of Peter and Paul quite specifically, the natural division would be the middle of I. 11.