In search of happiness: felicitas and beatitudo in Early English Boethius translations.
In this paper I will discuss the expressions of the concept of happiness from Old to Modern English Modern English
English since about 1500. Also called New English.
the English language since about 1450
Noun 1. and hope that this choice of topic will be interpreted as wishing "many happy returns" to Roger Lass, whose comparative approach to linguistic problems and alert sensitivity to the movements of the human mind has been a source of inspiration to both his own contemporaries and a generation of younger scholars. The main purpose of my paper is to show how a study of translations throughout the centuries will help us to understand the developments of the lexis of English, from the time when the introduction of the classical/Christian literary culture was making completely new demands on language, to the period when borrowed and native elements were amalgamated a·mal·ga·mate
v. a·mal·ga·mat·ed, a·mal·ga·mat·ing, a·mal·ga·mates
1. To combine into a unified or integrated whole; unite. See Synonyms at mix.
2. into an efficient tool for argument even at a highly abstract level of expression. (1)
Boethius' De Consolatione Philosophiae offers us an excellent source for comparing English translations of one and the same text over a long time span. Because of its philosophical content, this text is a challenge even to a present-day professional, not to speak of translators who had to cope with a much less sophisticated vehicle for expressing abstract ideas. The earliest English Boethius translations dates from King Alfred's time, possibly compiled by the king himself; (2) there are two Middle English Middle English
Vernacular spoken and written in England c. 1100–1500, the descendant of Old English and the ancestor of Modern English. It can be divided into three periods: Early, Central, and Late. translations, Chaucer's in prose and Walton's in verse, and a number of Modern English ones dating from various centuries.
My observations on the words indicating 'happiness' are mainly based on the Helsinki Corpus samples of Alfred's, Chaucer's, Colville's (1556) and Preston's (1695) translations of De Consolatione Philosophiae. (3) Reference is also made to the occurrences of these words in other parts of the translations and in the Boethius versions of John Walton People named John Walton include:
Prose 9 of the Third Book of De Conrolatione Philosophiae begins as follows:
(1) a. "Hactenus mendacis formam felicitatis ostendisse suffecerit quam si per-spicaciter intueris, ordo est deinceps quae sit uera monstrare." "Atqui uideo," inquam, "nec opibus sufficientiam nec regnis potentiam nec reuerentiam dignitatibus nec celebritatem gloria nec laetitiam uoluptatibus posse contingere." (Boethius 256) (4)
(For a translation, see (1b), below.)
The second sentence of this passage contains a number of coupled abstract nouns abstract noun
A noun that denotes an abstract or intangible concept, such as envy or joy. , with rather subtle differences in meaning. In his translation dating from the end of the 17th century, Richard, Lord Viscount Preston Viscount Preston is a title that has been created, once in the Peerage of Scotland and once in the Peerage of Ireland.
In the Peerage of Scotland, it was created together with the title of Lord Graham of Esk on 21 May 1681 for Richard Graham. , the latest of the translators in my survey, makes use of loan words borrowed from French or directly from Latin, often using two synonymous nouns to indicate a concept. The only native word he uses is kingdom.
b. Let it suffice that I have hitherto described the Form of counterfeit To falsify, deceive, or defraud. A copy or imitation of something that is intended to be taken as authentic and genuine in order to deceive another.
A counterfeit coin is one that may pass for a genuine coin and may include a lower denomination coin altered so that it may Happiness: So that if thou considerest well, my Method will lead me to give to thee a perfect Draught of the true. Boet. I now see plainly that Men cannot arrive at a full Satisfaction by Riches, nor at Power by enjoying Principalities or Kingdoms, nor at Esteem and Reverence by the Accession of Dignities, nor at Nobility by Glory, nor at true Joy by carnal carnal adjective Referring to the flesh, to baser instincts, often referring to sexual “knowledge” Pleasures. (Preston 124)
It is interesting to see how translators from Old to Early Modern English Early Modern English refers to the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period (the latter half of the 15th century) to 1650. Thus, the first edition of the King James Bible and the works of William Shakespeare both belong to the late phase have solved the problems of the related but contrasting concepts in the Boethius passage quoted above.
c. Genog ic pe hoebbe nu gereaht ymb oa anlicnessa & emb oa sceaduwa poere sooan gecsloe. Ac gif pu nu sweotole gecnawan meaht pa anlicnesse poere sooan gesceloe ponne is siooan oearf poet ic pe hi selfe getcece.
pa andwyrde ic & cwoeo: Nu ic ongite genog openlice poette oelces goodes genog nis on oissum woruldwelum, ne oeltoewe anwald nis on nanum weoruldrice, ne se sooa weoroscipe nis on pisse weorulde, ne pa moestan moeroa ne sint on oysse woruldgylpe, ne sio hehste blis nis on pam floesclicum lustum. (Alfred 74)
"'I have now told you enough about the images and shadows of true happiness. But if you would now like to understand clearly the image of true happiness, then it is necessary that I show it to you myself". Then I answered and said: "Now I understand clearly enough that a sufficient amount of everything good cannot be found in worldly wealth, nor can perfect power exist in any earthly kingdom, or true respect in this world, or the greatest renown in pride or the highest bliss in the pleasures of the flesh".'
d. "It suffiseth that I have schewyd (= 'shown') hiderto the forme forme (form) pl. formes [Fr.] form.
forme fruste (froost) pl. formes frustes an atypical, especially a mild or incomplete, form, as of a disease. of fals welefulnesse (='wealfulness'), so that yif (='if') thou loke now cleerly, the ordre of myn entencioun (='intention') requireth from hennes forth to schewe the verray welefulnesse."
"For sothe," quod quod
Brit slang a jail [origin unknown] I, "I se wet now that suffisaunce may not comen by rychesse, ne power by remes (='realms'), ne reverence by dignites, ne gentilesse gen·ti·lesse
Refinement and courtesy resulting from good breeding.
[Middle English, from Old French, from gentil, noble; see gentle.] by glorie, ne joie be delices."
e. As vnto pis I suppose it suffise To have schewed pe forme of fats feticite, Whiche 3if pou wilt behalde and wetl avise, I trowe pou myght pe verray sothe see. Fro hennes forp now most my processe be To schewe pe forme of verray blisfutnesse." "In soth," quod I, "full clere it is to me pat 3e haue schewed of worldly wrecchidnesse. I see pat nchesse yefeth (='gives') no suffisaunce, Ne hyhe estate ne worldly reuerence, And pogh pat worldly fame a man avaunce, Of gentilesse it 3euep (='gives') none evidence. Ne riall powere wip his excellence Ne may not gyue ne causen verrey myght. Ne fleschely lust with all oure diligence Verray gtadnesse causeth not be right." (Walton 161-162)
f. Hetherto it suffyseth that I haue shewed the maner and forme, of false felicite or blessednes, which if thou beholdeste perfetlye, it restythe to declare from henceforthe, whyche is the very true felicitie.
BOE BOE Based on Experience
BOE Board of Education
BOE Boletín Oficial del Estado (Spanish)
BOE Bank of England
BOE Board of Equalization
BOE Board of Elections
BOE Barrel of Oil Equivalent
BOE Bind on Equip : Truelye I do se, that ryches cannot be satisfied with suffysaunce, nor power wyth kyngedomes, nor reuerence with dygnities, not glory with nobilitie or gentles, nor myrth with pleasures. (Colville 68)
g. Let it suffice that wee have hetherto discovered the forme of false felicitie, which if thou hast plainly seene, order now requireth, that we shew shew
Variant of show.
Verb 1. shew - establish the validity of something, as by an example, explanation or experiment; "The experiment demonstrated the instability of the compound"; "The mathematician thee, in what true happinesse consisteth. I see, (quoth quoth
Uttered; said. Used only in the first and third persons, with the subject following: "Quoth the Raven, 'Nevermore!'" Edgar Allan Poe. I) that neither sufficiencie by riches, nor power by kingdomes, nor respect by dignities, nor renowne by glory, nor ioy can be gotten by plesures." (I.T. 66v)
As can be expected, Alfred uses only native words in his version. He renders the subtle contrasts of the Latin words by skilfully Adv. 1. skilfully - with skill; "fragments of a nearly complete jug, skillfully restored at the institute of archaeology"
skilfully (US), skillfully adv → habilement using positively evaluative adjectives (oeltoewe, soo, moest, hehst) and the concepts of woruld 'world(ly)', and lust. The difference between his translation and Chaucer's is predictably that Chaucer uses borrowed words for these concepts; four of these are cognates of the words in the Latin original. (5) Walton, perhaps surprisingly, is more fond of native equivalents than Chaucer, using myght, gladnesse, and lust in his metrical met·ri·cal
1. Of, relating to, or composed in poetic meter: metrical verse; five metrical units in a line.
2. Of or relating to measurement. but nevertheless remarkably accurate rendering. Like Alfred, he improves the accuracy of his translation with the descriptive adjectives Noun 1. descriptive adjective - an adjective that ascribes to its noun the value of an attribute of that noun (e.g., `a nervous person' or `a musical speaking voice')
adjective - a word that expresses an attribute of something hyhe 'high', worldly, verrey 'true', and fleschely.
Colville's translation follows Chaucer's fairly closely; it is worth noting, however, that he substitutes the native kingdom for re(au)me 'realm' and myrth for joie. The still unidentified I.T. follows Colville but uses the Chaucerian joy instead of mirth. Finally, Preston, like Walton, returns to the Alfredian method of translation. Although he uses only borrowed vocabulary to render the Latin words under consideration (with the, sole exception of kingdom), he specifies the concepts indicated by borrowed nouns by the adjectives full, true and carnal, and the noun accession (of). His aim of exactitude can also be seen in his use of word pairs (principalities or kingdoms, esteem and reverence).
Thus even a survey of a single sentence gives us a general picture of how both native and borrowed elements were effectively used to indicate fairly subtle nuances in the translation of abstract ideas. Let us next see how the translators cope with the concept of happiness.
In De Consolatione Philosophiae, Boethius defines two types of happiness, which he refers to with the nouns felicitas and beatitudo. The former is the more general term and indicates worldly happiness, particularly if it is used in opposition to beatitudo, which indicates mainly 'the happiness of heaven'. The following passages illustrate the polarity (1) The direction of charged particles, which may determine the binary status of a bit.
(2) In micrographics, the change in the light to dark relationship of an image when copies are made. of the two Latin words:
(2) a. Aliis mixta quaedam pro animorum qualitate distribuit; quosdam remordet ne longa felicitate fe·lic·i·tate
tr.v. fe·lic·i·tat·ed, fe·lic·i·tat·ing, fe·lic·i·tates
1. To offer congratulations to: "I felicitate you on your memory, sir" John Fowles. luxurient (Boethius 348)
b. Upon some he lays grievous heavy Crosses, lest they should grow luxurious by too long a Course of felicity. (Preston 198)
(3) a. Nam quoniam beatitudinis adeptione fiunt homines beati, beatitudo uero est ipsa diuinitas, diuinitatis adeptione beatos fieri man manifestum est (Boethius 270-272)
b. Because by the attaining of Beatitude Men are happy, and Beatitude is Divinity it self by the attaining of Divinity it is manifest that men are made happy (Preston 137)
When the contrast between these two stages of happiness is not emphasized, the more general felicitas is normally used, but if the context contains some kind of reference to the 'not-worldly' state, beatitudo is also possible. (6) This optionality can also be seen in the translations.
In the first sentence of (la), felicitas is the appropriate Latin word for 'happiness'. The translations show, once again, interesting variability: gesoelo (Alfred); welefulnesse (Chaucer); felicite and blisfulnesse (Walton); felicite or blessednes (Colville), felicity and happiness (I.T.) and finally happiness (Preston). The translations of beatitudo in (3a) are gesoelo (Alfred), blisfulnesse (Chaucer and Walton), blessednes (Colville and I.T.) and beatitude by Preston. Only Alfred uses the same word to translate both felicitas and beatitudo in (1) and (3).
Table 1 shows that the translators referred to above do, indeed, make an effort to distinguish between the two types of 'happiness'. Although none of them follows the Latin original quite consistently, (7) it is obvious that some words prevail as the translation of felicitas (woruldgesoelo, welefulness, felicity, prosperity), while others are mainly used to translate beatitudo blisfulnes, blessedness, beatitude). I will next discuss the choice of the words for 'happiness' in each Boethius translation in some more detail.
As is well known, Alfred's version of Boethius is rather a paraphrase par·a·phrase
1. A restatement of a text or passage in another form or other words, often to clarify meaning.
2. The restatement of texts in other words as a studying or teaching device.
v. than a translation in many places. It is, however, entirely possible to observe his renderings of the key concepts of the original, as can be seen in (1c) above.0
Alfred's typical translation of both felicitas and beatitudo is gescelo, which occurs 56 times in the Helsinki Corpus sample and more than 150 times in the entire text. This is not surprising, since scel 'happiness' occurs in Old English Old English: see type; English language; Anglo-Saxon literature.
Language spoken and written in England before AD 1100. It belongs to the Anglo-Frisian group of Germanic languages. poetry although, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the information given by the Toronto Old English corpus, the word is more common in the sense of 'occasion', 'a fit time' (cf. Bosworth-Toller s.v. scel f.). Scelo, too, can be found in poetical po·et·i·cal
2. Fancifully depicted or embellished; idealized.
po·eti·cal·ly adv. texts. It seems, however, that gescelo in the sense of 'happiness' may have been Alfred's coinage coinage
Certification of a piece of metal or other material (such as leather or porcelain) by a mark or marks upon it as being of a specific intrinsic or exchange value. Croesus (r. c. to render the philosophical concept, the earliest texts in which it occurs in this meaning being Cura CURA Community-University Research Alliance
CURA Centre Universitaire de Recherche en Astrologie
CURA Cambridge University Rifle Association Pastoralis and Boethius. (8)
Although Alfred does not attempt a systematic lexical lex·i·cal
1. Of or relating to the vocabulary, words, or morphemes of a language.
2. Of or relating to lexicography or a lexicon.
[lexic(on) + -al1. distinction between felicitas and beatitudo, he is capable of expressing the contrast when need be, by using such adjectives as soP, ece, hehst, selest, mcest, or leas, mennisc, and weard, eorolic, to specify gascelo, as in (4), or (1c) above:
(4) sio lease gascelo hio tiho on last neadinga pa pe hiere to geoeodao from poem sodum gasceloum mid hiere oliccunge. (Alfred 48) 'the false happiness withdraws at last by force those who attach themselves to her from true happiness by her flattering flat·ter 1
v. flat·tered, flat·ter·ing, flat·ters
1. To compliment excessively and often insincerely, especially in order to win favor.
The most important innovation in Alfred's rendering of the concept of 'happiness' is, however, his use of the compound woruld(ge)sceloa. This plural compound, which translates felicitas twice in the Helsinki Corpus sample, occurs with one exception (9) only in Boethius, the total number of instances being c. 30. If this word was, indeed, Alfred's coinage to emphasize the contrast between felicitas and beatitudo, he may have modelled it on the pattern occurring in a large number of Old English compounds, such as woruldbliss, worulddream, woruldhyht, woruldfeoh 'worldly wealth', woruldgestreon 'worldly gain', etc.
In the Helsinki Corpus sample, woruldgescelo translates felicitas in the following passages:
(5) a laeta uero magnum bonis argumentum ar·gu·men·tum
n. pl. ar·gu·men·ta Logic
An argument, demonstration, or appeal to reason.
[Latin arg loquuntur, quid de huiusmodi felicitate debeant iudicare quam famulari saepe improbis cernant. (Boethius 348)
b. poem is swide sweotol tacn poem wisan poet he ne sceal lufian to ungemetlice oas woruldgesceloa, forocem hie oft cumao to ocem wyrrestum monnum. (Alfred 134)
'that is a very clear sign for the wise man that he must not too excessively love (worldly) happiness, because it often comes to the worst people'.
(6) a. Alios in cladem meritam praecipitauit indigne acta felicitas; quibusdam permissum puniendi ius, ut exercitii bonis et malis esset causa supplicil. (Boethius 350)
b. Manegum men bioo eac forgifene forocem pas weoruldgesceloa poet he scile poem goodum leanian hiora good, & poem yflum hiora yfel. (Alfred 134)
'(Worldly) happiness is also given to many a man therefore that he should reward the good for their goodness and (punish) the evil for their evil'.
The later translations, too, emphasize the contrast between the kinds of happiness in these passages (see below).
3. Middle English translators
As is well known, Chaucer was an innovator in language and his texts abound in Latin loanwords, mainly borrowed through French. (10) This can be seen even in the passage quoted in (1d) above. Against this background, it is interesting to note that Chaucer uses native words to express both felicitas and beatitudo: welefulnesse 'wealfulness' and blisfulnesse. Both words occur frequently in his Boethius version, 31 and 86 occurrences in the whole text (welefulnesse is used as a translation of felicitas, e.g. in the passages quoted in 5a and 6a). The fact that they do not occur at all in his other writings indicates a conscious choice for rendering Boethius' subtle distinction between the different kinds of happiness. This is also suggested by the following marginal gloss:
(7) the heritage is to seyn the doctryne of the whiche Socrates in his opynyoun of felicite, that I clepe clepe
tr.v. cleped , cleped or clept or y·clept or y·cleped , clep·ing, clepes Archaic
To call; name. [= 'call'] welefulnesse (Chaucer Bk I pr. 3 32)
Welefulnesse was probably never established in the language; there are no instances outside Chaucer's Boethius in the Helsinki Corpus, and the OED OED
Oxford English Dictionary
Noun 1. OED - an unabridged dictionary constructed on historical principles
O.E.D., Oxford English Dictionary only records one (Lydgate, Chronicle of Troy, OED s.v. wealful). Blissfulness, too, seems to remain infrequent, since there are no other instances in the Middle or Early Modem sections of the Helsinki Corpus, with the exception of one from Queen Elizabeth's Boethius version (p. 64). The OED records a few instances, including one Middle English (in Wyclif's 1382 Bible translation). The fact that no instances are recorded between 1633 and 1858 indicates the rarity of the word. (11)
Why, then did Chaucer take the trouble of using two native derivatives for 'happiness' although there would have been ample opportunity to resort to borrowings? He uses felicity only once in Boethius (besides the passage quoted in example 7): (12)
(8) Philosophic. "Tak now thus the discrecioun of this questioun," quod sche; yif alle thise thinges," quod sche, "weren membris to felicite, thanne weren thei dyverse that on fro that othir. (Chaucer 433)
It seems that Chaucer regards felicite as too general a word to indicate the contrast with blisfulnesse, as is also suggested by his comment in (7) above. That the word as such was not alien or unpleasant to him is indicated by the fact that he uses felicite sixteen times in his other writings. The choice of blisfulnesse is significant, too; the loan word beatitude, which first occurs in Caxton's text (1491, OED s.v. beatitude 1) and Chester Plays Chester Plays: see miracle play. (OED s.v. beautitude), would have been entirely possible. Even blessedness, which is Colville's solution in rendering beatitudo (see below), would have been possible: the word occurs as early as Cursor Mundi Cursor Mundi (kûr`sôr mŭn`dī), a long religious epic in Middle English relating the history of the world as recorded in the Old and New Testaments. This anonymous poem (written c. (c. 1300; see OED, s.v. blessedness). All in all, Chaucer's choice of native words, and his possible coinage of welefulnesse, shows that Middle English, a period of explosive expansion of the borrowed element in lexis, had not lost its capacity for native derivation derivation, in grammar: see inflection. to indicate abstract concepts. Further proof of Chaucer's independence of the vocabulary of his o riginals is given by the fact that his only use of felicite in Boethius (8) translates beatitudo and not felicitas.
Walton's verse translation may be lacking in poetical elegance, but it is a surprisingly skilful skil·ful
adj. Chiefly British
Variant of skillful.
skilful or US skillful
having or showing skill
skilfully or US
and accurate rendering of a difficult original. While his text clearly suggests familiarity with Chaucer, his choice of words Noun 1. choice of words - the manner in which something is expressed in words; "use concise military verbiage"- G.S.Patton
phraseology, wording, diction, phrasing, verbiage stands as evidence not only of independence of the great master but also of his ability and willingness to use native resources to indicate the concepts of the original text; cf. (le) above. Walton was obviously not happy with Chaucer's welefulnesse and usually renders felicitas by felicite. It is significant, however, that he renders beatitudo by blisfulnesse and uses the translation wealths to render felicitas in the passages corresponding to (5) and (6), where Alfred has woruldgesoeloa and Chaucer welefulnesse.
4. Early Modem English translators
While it is only to be expected that the Early Modem period meant an increase in the borrowed vocabulary in English and a greater variety in the lexis indicating abstract concepts, sixteenth and seventeenth century Boethius translations show that loan-words never superseded native vocabulary in expressing 'happiness', and that, in this particular case, the end result of the development was the victory of a native word and the restriction of the loan to marked meanings or contexts.
Even a superficial comparison between Chaucer's translation with George Colville's (1556) clearly indicates Colville's dependence on his predecessor. Nevertheless, Colville rejects both welefulnesse and blisfulnesse, and uses felicite and blessedness instead, often linking the two, as in (if). The replacement of blissfulness by blessedness is understandable because the first element of this compound effectively provides the word with religious overtones. Colville does not use blessedness to render felicitas. In general, as is shown by the use of the terms as a word-pair, Colville is not too particular about keeping the two aspects of 'happiness' apart. A more detailed study of the translation would no doubt reveal what the basic motivation for Colville's frequent coupling of the two words is and how systematic his using either a single word or a word-pair might be. That Colville was not indifferent to the distinction between felicitas and beatitudo is indicated by his translation of felicitas in (5a) and (6a) by prosperitie instead of felicity.
It is notable that although the Old Norse Old Norse
1. The North Germanic languages until the middle of the 14th century.
a. Old Icelandic.
b. Old Norwegian.
Noun 1. loan hap, the derived verb hap (pen) and the adjective happy can be found in Middle English texts from early Middle English on, the noun happiness only occurs in Early Modem English. The OED gives its earliest instances from Palsgrave pals·grave
[Obsolete Dutch paltsgrave, from Middle Dutch palsgr (1530) and Spenser (1590); the Helsinki Corpus has two from Ascham's Scholemaster (c. 1570). The rapidly increasing popularity and extension of the semantic domain Semantics is a term that refers to how meaning is assigned in language (Oxford, 1989). A domain is essentially a specific place or territory (Oxford, 1989). A semantic domain of this new word is shown by its frequent occurrence in I.T.'s Boethius translation of 1609, as seen in Table 1, above. I.T. uses happiness as a general term for the concept to render both felicitas and beatitudo; felicity is also used, but only to render felicitas. The passages quoted in (5a) and (6a) are translated by prosperity by I.T., a usage implying the same sensitivity to nuances as the earlier translators' choice of words for these passages.
The final establishment of happiness is witnessed by Preston's late seventeenth century translation. Perhaps surprisingly, Preston seems much less concerned about the distinction between the types of 'happiness' than the earlier translators; he uses both happiness and felicity to render felicitas, and happiness to indicate beatitudo, with only two exceptions in the Helsinki Corpus passages, quoted in (3b) above. In these passages, the divine character of beatitudo is particularly emphatic.
With Preston, the lexical development of the words for 'happiness' seems to have reached its conclusion. The native word has conquered, to the extent that Preston finds other, more technical terms useful only when the distinction to be made between the types of 'happiness' seems particularly important. Just like Alfred, he also uses attributive at·trib·u·tive
A word or word group, such as an adjective, that is placed adjacent to the noun it modifies without a linking verb; for example, pale in the pale girl.
1. adjuncts for specifying the character of 'happiness', including counterfeit, genuine, true (and consummate), very, highest, absolute. Preston's usage indicates that, by the end of the eighteenth century, blissfulness and blessedness were more or less obsolete and felicity had become a semantically restricted and stylistically marked term.
5. Concluding remarks
It is worth asking why it took so long for happiness to find its way to the core vocabulary of English, although the noun hap, the verb hap(pen) and the adjective happy all occur in Early Middle English. The original meaning of hap seems to offer an answer to this question. The adjective happy probably first indicated 'timely', 'felicitous', with reference to actions and events, and 'fortunate', 'lucky', with reference to people. Instances of these uses are recorded from Middle English on (cf. OED s.v. happy 2, 3, 5). The meanings 'blessed', 'beatified', or 'having a feeling of great pleasure or content of mind, arising from satisfaction with one's circumstances or conditions' (OED s.v. happy 2b, 4) developed in Early Modem English. The noun happiness was derived from the adjective only after this change had taken place. The pattern of sense development and derivation is remarkably similar to that of soel and (ge)soelo in Old English, referred to above.
Finally, what caused the need of another word to supplement and gradually replace felicity, blissfulness and blessedness, a fairly well-established loan and two transparent native derivatives? It would be tempting to suggest that one reason for this might be a change in the world view in sixteenth-century England. In addition to the state of blessedness only to be reached in heaven, and the state of well-being given by worldly wealth and prosperity, the concept of a heightened feeling of contentment Contentment
poor peasant said by the Delphic oracle to be happier than the king because he was contented. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 15] , harmony and balance, not necessarily caused either by purely material or other-worldly factors, needed expression -- and this was the beginning of happiness.
Table 1 The translations of felicitas and beatitudo in the early English translations of Boethius De Consolatione Philosophiae (Bk III, Pr. 9-11; Bk IV, Pr 4, 6) Boethius felicitas 8 beatitudo 25 Other Alfred gesaelp 6 gesaelp 21 gesaelp 29 woruldgesaelp 2 Chaucer welefulnes 5 welefulness 1 blissfulnes 3 blissfulness 18 blissfulness 16 felicite 1 Walton felicite 4 felicite 2 felicite 2 blissfulness 19 blissfulness 5 wilfuln. 1 welthis 3 Colville felicity 3 felicity 3 felicity 6 blessedness 12 fel./bldness 2 fel./bldness 7 fel./bldness 6 prosperity 2 prosperity 1 Prosp./richn. 1 L.T. happiness 2 happiness 5 blessedness 20 felicity 3 prosperity 2 Preston happiness 4 happiness 21 happiness 2 felicity 3 felicity 2 beatitude 2
(1.) For the importance of translation in shaping the English language English language, member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Spoken by about 470 million people throughout the world, English is the official language of about 45 nations. in its early periods, see Blake (1992).
(2.) For the sake of brevity Brevity
of short life. [Br. Lit.: I Henry IV]
symbolic of transitoriness of life. [Art: Hall, 54]
cherry orchards where fruit was briefly sold; symbolic of transience. , the Old English translation is referred to as 'Alfred's in the present paper, despite the uncertainty about the actual translator.
(3.) The same Boethius passages of each translation are included in the Helsinki Corpus. These are: Bk III, Prose 9-11; Bk IV, Prose 4, 6. In the Helsinki Corpus, there are also passages from Queen Elizabeth's Boethius version, but as this rather slavish slav·ish
1. Of or characteristic of a slave or slavery; servile: Her slavish devotion to her job ruled her life.
2. and clumsy translation does not add much to the picture of the development of lexis, I have not included it in my survey.
For a description of the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts, see, e.g., Rissanen - Kyto - Palander-Collin (1993); Kyto (1996).
(4.) For the editions of the Latin and English Boethius versions, see the list of references.
(5.) In the discussion of Chaucer's translation, it has to be kept in mind that his rendering also echoes the French translation attributed to Jean de Meun Jean de Meun (zhäN də möN), d. 1305, French poet, also known as Jean Chopinel (or Clopinel) of Meung-sur-Loire. He wrote the second part of the Roman de la Rose and made translations from Latin, including the letters of Abelard to Heloise. .
(6.) Cf. Payne's (1968: 67) definition:
'[In Boethius' book III] the first nine proses concern the shadows of happiness, represented by the fortune's goods; the last three concern the true happiness which is God.
See also Gruber's (1978) comment on Bk III, Prose 5.3.
(7.) It must be kept in mind, of course, that we do not know what the Latin text of De Consolatione Philosophiae undrlying each of these translations was. They seem to show, however, so much consistency of content that this uncertainty does not significantly diminish the value of the comparisons attempted in this paper. The special character of Alfred's version, which was in many places more a paraphrase than a translation, will be commented on below.
(8.) In Andreas 3633, the meaning of the word is 'a hap, future, event' (Toller s.v. gescelp I). Cf. the development of the meaning of happiness.
(9.) It is perhaps worth noting that the compound woruldgesceling occurs once in the Battle of Maldon Noun 1. Battle of Maldon - a battle in which the Danes defeated the Saxons in 991; celebrated in an old English poem
England - a division of the United Kingdom .
(10.) See, e.g. Elliott (1974). The influence of the French Boethius translation on Chaucer's version is discussed, for instance, by Aertsen (1992).
(11.) There are no instances of blissfulness in the Brown, Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen, or London-Lund Corpus, or in the Authorized Version of the Bible.
(12.) Jean de Meun's French version which certainly influenced Chaucer's choice of words uses beneurte to translate both felicitas and beatitudo, without making a distinction between the two types of happiness. Thus the French version has not influenced Chaucer's choice of felicite in this passage.
For Chaucer's coinages from native resources see Elliott (1974: 160-162).
TRANSLATIONS OF BOETHIUS
Bax, E. B. (ed.)
1897 Boethius' Consolation of philosophy Consolation of Philosophy (Latin: Consolatio Philosophiae) is a philosophical work by Boethius written in about the year AD 524. It has been described as the single most important and influential work in the West in Medieval and early Renaissance Christianity, , translated from the Latin by George Colville, 1556. (Tudor Library 5.) London: David Nutt.
Benson, Larry D. (ed.)
1987 The Riverside Chaucer. (3rd edition.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Houghton Mifflin Company is a leading educational publisher in the United States. The company's headquarters is located in Boston's Back Bay. It publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers .
Dedeck-Hery - Louis Venceslas (eds.)
1952 "Boethius' De consolatione by Jean de Meun", Medieval Studies 14: 165-275.
1609 Five bookes of philosophicall comfort, full of Christian consolation, written a 1000. yeeres since. By Anitius. Manlius, Torquatus, Severinus, Boetivs; a Christian Consul consul, title of the two chief magistrates of ancient Rome. The institution is supposed to have arisen with the expulsion of the kings, traditionally in 510 B.C., and it was well established by the early 4th cent. B.C. of Rome, newly translated out of Latine, together with marginall notes, explaining the obscurest places. London: Matthew Lowned.
Preston, Richard Lord Viscount viscount
European title of nobility, ranking immediately below a count, or earl. The wife of a viscount is a viscountess. In the Carolingian period, the vicecomes were deputies or lieutenants of the counts (comes), whose official powers they exercised by delegation.
1695 Anicius Manlius Severinus Boetius, Of the consolation of philosophy. in five books, made English and illustrated with notes. London: Awnsham and John Churchill.
Science, Mark (ed.)
1927 Boethius: De consolatione philosophiae, translated by John Walton, Canon of Oseney. (Early English Text Society The Early English Text Society is an organization to reprint early English texts, especially those only available in manuscript. Most of its volumes are in Middle English and Old English. O.S. 170.) London: OUP OUP (in Northern Ireland) Official Unionist Party .
Sedgefield, Walter John Walter John (January 1879 – December 1940), was a German chess master.
John was born at Thorn (Toruń). He took 2nd, behind Curt von Bardeleben in Café Kerkau, and took 4th (Ossip Bernstein won) at Berlin 1902. (ed.)
1899 King Alfred's Old English version of Boethius De consolatione philosophiae. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Stewart, H. F. - E. K. Rand (eds.)
1918 Boethius, The consolation of philosophy, with the English translation of "I.T." (1609).
 [Reprinted London: Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. .]
1992 "Chaucer's Boece: A syntactical syn·tac·tic or syn·tac·ti·cal
Of, relating to, or conforming to the rules of syntax.
[Greek suntaktikos, putting together, from suntaktos, constructed, from and lexical analysis (programming) lexical analysis - (Or "linear analysis", "scanning") The first stage of processing a language. The stream of characters making up the source program or other input is read one at a time and grouped into lexemes (or "tokens") - word-like pieces such as keywords, ", in: Matti Rissanen et al. 671-687.
1992 "Translation and the history of English", in: Matti Rissanen et al. 3-24.
Elliott, Ralph W. V.
1974 Chaucer's English. London: Andre Deutsch.
1978 Kommentar zu Boethius De consolatione philosophiae. Berlin, New York Berlin is a town in Rensselaer County, New York, United States. The population was 1,901 at the 2000 census. The town is named after Berlin in Germany, although natives pronounce the name differently, with the accent on the first syllable. : Walter de Gruyter.
1996 Manual to the diachronic di·a·chron·ic
Of or concerned with phenomena as they change through time. part of the Helsinki corpus of English texts: Coding conventions Coding conventions are rules that computer programmers follow to ensure that their source code is easy to read and maintain. Software source code is plain ASCII text. Coding conventions are important only to the human maintainers and peer reviewers of a software project. and lists of source texts. (3rd edition.) Helsinki: University of Helsinki The University of Helsinki is not to be confused with the Helsinki University of Technology.
The University of Helsinki (Finnish: Helsingin yliopisto, Swedish: Helsingfors universitet , Department of English Noun 1. department of English - the academic department responsible for teaching English and American literature
academic department - a division of a school that is responsible for a given subject .
Payne, F. Anne
1968 King Alfred's Boethius: An analysis of the Old English version of the Consolation of philosophy. Madison, Wi.: University of Wisconsin Press The University of Wisconsin Press (or UW Press), founded in 1936, is a university press that is part of the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States. It published under its own name and the imprint The Popular Press. .
Rissanen, Matti et al. (eds.)
1992 History of Englishes: New methods and interpretations in historical linguistics historical linguistics
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The study of linguistic change over time in language or in a particular language or language family, sometimes including the reconstruction of unattested forms of earlier stages of a language. . Berlin, New York: Mouton mouton
lamb pelt made to resemble seal or beaver. de Gruyter.
Rissanen, Matti -- Merja Kyto -- Minna Palander-Collin
1993 Early English Early English
a style of architecture used in England in the 12th and 13th centuries, characterized by narrow pointed arches and ornamental intersecting stonework in windows in the computer age: Explorations through the Helsinki corpus. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.