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"Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit" (Chevrefoil, line 61) again.

There are certain lines of Old French poetry so memorable that they have come to function as emblems for the whole work in which they appear. In the Roland, "Halt sunt li pui e li val tenebrus"(1) is a vertiginous and gloomy evocation of the battlefield that looks forward with trepidation to the encounter and its aftermath. "Cil dormi et cele vella"(2) is a simple and unadorned statement that encapsulates both Erec's recreantise and Enide's awareness of its causes and implications. "Et Perchevax redist tout el"(3) underscores Perceval's otherness with respect to the likes of Gauvain and his determination to succeed in the Grail quest. If our modern scholarly methods and concerns are at least partly responsible for their celebrity, these lines, and others like them, were also recognized as somehow quintessential in the Middle Ages.

"Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit" (Chevrefoil, 61)(4) is probably the most notorious line in the entire oeuvre of Marie de France, with the possible exception of lines 77-78 of the same poem and--for obvious reasons--of "Marie ai num, si sui de France" (Fables, Epilogue, 4).(5) The line has been the object of numerous commentaries, none of which are entirely satisfactory.(6) Certainly, the line and its context are ambiguous both semantically and syntactically, and although it is not my aim here to offer a definitive interpretation of the passage, it may be as well to remind ourselves of some of the issues involved. Returned from exile, Tristan hides in the woods near Tintagel where he knows the Queen will pass. In order to attract the Queen's attention, he cuts a hazel branch in half (splits it?), squares it and "writes" his name on it with his knife. The stick is then placed strategically so that Iseut will see it as she passes; this procedure had earlier proven successful as a means of communicating, so she would be looking out for it. Marie continues:

Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit

Qu'il li aveit mande e dit:

Que lunges ot ilec este

E atendu e surjurne

Pur espier e pur saver

Coment il la peust veer,

Kar ne pot nent vivre sanz li:

D'euls deus fu il [tut] autresi

Cume del chevrefoil esteit

Ki a la codre se perneit:

Quant il s'i est laciez e pris

E tut entur le fust s'est mis,

Ensemble poent bien durer;

Mes ki puis les volt desevrer,

Li codres muert hastivement

E li chevrefoil ensement.

`Bele amie, si est de nus:

Ne vus sanz mei, ne mei sanz vus!'


Just what did Tristan write on the stick? His name, the entire contents of lines 63-78, or just lines 77-78?(7) Could Iseut really have read it from her horse? Did Tristan write in Ogam? Had he earlier communicated with the Queen during his stay in the forest? While such questions, and others like them, are legitimate, they are perhaps excessively literal and spring from a critical assumption that all texts have to "make sense." Glyn Burgess's characteristically sensitive reading of the passage provides the best syntactic and semantic commentary to date, but illustrates once more the impossibility of reducing its richness and ambiguity to a single "meaning".(8)

At 118 lines, Chevrefoil is the shortest of Marie's Lais, although its brevity belies its evocative power. Chevrefoil derives its poetic intensity precisely from the fact that its content and its language are largely connotative and not denotative. It does not especially matter whether the poem "makes sense" as that phrase is traditionally understood. Both Burgess and Albert Gier have suggested as much, although both seem to be reluctant to pursue the idea.(9) What is important is to sensitize ourselves to the "web of words" within the poem and of the poem Chevrefoil within the whole Tristanian tradition of the "cunte . . . divers."(10) I offer here some thoughts on two matters in particular that may consolidate and enrich the significance of this short narrative.

Although Chevrefoil is a narrative, and belongs to a genre defined by, and in relation to other types of, narrative, its fabula is meagre. It therefore seems to me counterproductive to force the story to be fuller, more consistent, or more "meaningful" than it actually is, although this is not to say that it is not written in phrases that are linguistically coherent. In his recent book The Art of Medieval French Romance, Douglas Kelly has suggested that the summe de l'escrit is "a summe of all the encounters between Tristan and Iseut since the potion" and that the episode which in turn becomes the subject of Tristan's lai is a synecdoche for the whole of the Tristan legend.(11) In this perspective, it may be the very nature of the poem as a summe that is responsible for its power and for the embarrassment it has caused scholars.

To maintain that Chevrefoil is a poem about writing runs the risk both of stating the obvious and of succumbing to a facile critical expedient that leads to the inevitable conclusion that if all else fails, then the poem must be concerned with its own production. There is, however, a very serious sense in which medieval poetry is a commentary on its own nature; in other words, poetry, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly, invites us to witness and admire the act of creation as well as the poem as a work of fiction. Indeed, this complicity between author and audience forms to my mind one of the distinctive features of late twelfth-century narrative and deserves extended critical treatment. The creative act occurs twice within the text of Chevrefoil, first when Tristan writes (whatever he writes) on the hazel branch and second when he composes his lai in order to commemorate his encounter with Iseut (which includes his writing on the branch):

Pur la joie qu'il ot eue

De s'amie qu'il ot veue

E pur ceo k'il aveit escrit,

Si cum la reine l'ot dit,

Pur les paroles remembrer,

Tristram, ki bien saveit harper,

En aveit fet un nuvel lai.


The commemorative function of the lai is an essential part of Marie's aesthetic program as it can be distilled from the poems in the Harley manuscript: the Bretons (or Tristan) composed lads to commemorate aventures that happened in days past (Prologue, 33-38; Equitan, 1-8; Eliduc, 1181-84); Marie's own contribution lies in committing to writing in rhyme the lads she has heard, thereby making doubly sure of their posterity (Prologue, 39-41; Yonec, 1-4; Milun, 533-36). Chevrefoil is the only lai that Marie claims to have found in writing as well as orally:

Plusurs le me unt cunte e dit

E jeo l'ai trove en escrit . . .


Scholars have not failed to point out that the dit I escrit rhyme of this couplet looks forward to those of lines 61-62 and 109-10, and although it cannot be argued that the escrit found by Marie is that of Tristan, the fact that a written version of the tale is said to exist gives its transmission an additional dimension. This would support Kelly's view that the references to the escrit and the summe de l'escrit in particular place Chevrefoil at the heart of the whole Tristan tradition (as problematized by Thomas and Beroul). The dual nature of the source for Chevrefoil is thus to be attributed to its belonging to a matiere already established both orally and in writing by Marie's time; Lanval is the only other lai that could be said to belong to this category. The reflection of the poetic act is therefore quintuple in Chevrefoil: Tristan's writing on the hazel branch (52, 61); his composition of the lai by setting the words to music (112-13); the oral lai that Marie has been told (2, 5); her written source (6); and the poem as she composed it (118).

Both references to Marie's own poetic activity as author of Chevrefoil (1-10, 117-18) are at pains to stress the truth of the lai ("Del lai ... / la verite" [2-3]; " ... la verite / Del lai ..." [117-18]). The commemoration of aventure in the lai (by the Bretons, by Tristan, and by Marie) serves to preserve its truth. This is not necessarily the literal truth concerning Tristan's encounter with Iseut, but rather the poetic truth of the marvellous adventure.(12) This brings me back to "Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit," which is followed in its immediate context by conjunctions and adverbs expressing communication and affirmation of the truth: "mande et dit / Que (63-64); "autresi / Cume (68-69); "ensement," 76); "`sib est de nus'" (77).

At around the same time that Marie was "assembling" her Lais,(13) an anonymous nun of Barking composed a Vie d'Edouard le Confesseur, based on Aelred's Vita Sancti Edwardi regis et Confessoris, in 6685 octosyllables (between 1163 and 1170, according to its editor).(14) When Edward recalls his vow to visit Rome, the people express their fear of an imminent Danish invasion, whereupon the king sends ambassadors to seek advice from Pope Leo IX. The ambassadors (including the Archbishops of York and Winchester) return with a judgement from the Curia Romana and a letter from the Pope, dispensing Edward from his vow and authorizing him to remain in England on condition that he build a church in honour of St. Peter (1641 ff.).(15) After greeting Edward on their return, the envoys read the judgement of the Curia:

E puis li unt dit e mustre

De l'esguart del sene de Rume

Le cummencement e la sume.


Then they have the Pope's letter ("briefs," 2011, 2014, 2015; "escrit," 2017) read to the king (2019-102). "Co fud la summe de l'escrit," adds the narrator (2103). All those present rejoice at the Pope's decision where they had hitherto been in despair. It is quite remarkable to find Chevrefoil, line 61 verbatim in a life of Edward the Confessor; given the dating, it is unlikely that the nun of Barking borrowed from Marie, and the reverse is more likely to be the case if indeed borrowing were involved. I suspect this not to be so. It is difficult to know how to translate line 2103 exactly. Certainly, summe as "gist" is less appropriate here than in Chevrefoil as the whole of the letter has just been read word for word.(16) The implication of totality or inclusiveness is probably the semantic dominant here, and something like "this was everything written in the letter" or "this was all that was written in the letter" may approach the mark. The Pope's missive also represents a written validation of an oral expression:

Quant l'apostoille co out dit

E aferme par sun escrit.


It also, of course, bears the ultimate authority ("`E par icest' auctorite / Recevum de Deu poeste'" [2053-54] and as a result reflects the ultimate truth. If nothing else, "Co fud la summe de l'escrit" appears, as it does in Chevrefoil, in the immediate context of a written message being received and understood.

An anonymous Anglo-Norman life of St. John the Almsgiver (early thirteenth century), based on the Latin Vita Sancti Joannis Eleemosynarii of Anastasius the Librarian,(17) contains an episode (1301-494) in which Nicetas, Augustal Praefect of Egypt, attempts to persuade John, the Patriarch, to donate the contents of his treasury to him. John allows Nicetas to take the money without resistance, but also without his consent. As Nicetas is leaving Alexandria, he sees strangers arriving from Africa with jars intended for John, marked "`Miel mult bon, eslit'" (1372) and "`Miel senz fumee'" (1373); the jars in fact contain money: "Ki veist l'escrit quider ne peust / Fors que tut miel e nient el feust" (1375-76). Taking the writing at its face value, Nicetas leaves ("Partir i vout quant vit l'escrit" [1378]), but not before sending a messenger to beg for some honey. John sends a jar to Nicetas without telling him its true contents, and instructs the messengers to have it opened in front of Nicetas and to observe his reaction; they are also to hand over a letter. Nicetas is at first offended by the fact John has sent him only one jar, but when he sees its true contents, realizes he could have intercepted and appropriated the entire shipment of money. The combined effect of his blunder and the Patriarch's letter cause Nicetas to have a change of heart and return, repentant, alone to Alexandria with the money he had taken from John, the contents of the jar, and three hundred livres taken from his own treasury. He begs and is given forgiveness.

This episode, too, is about the power of the written word, first (on the jars) to deceive and second (John's letter) to reveal a higher truth. As in the life of Edward, John's letter to Nicetas derives its authority from God and is the instrument of His will, truth, and power:

"Nostre Sire, ki dit nus ad

Que nul de ces ne guerpirat

Ki bien de lui se fierunt--

En busuing press tuz tens l'avrunt--

Cil est veirs Deus; mencunge het,

Kar sa verte mentir ne set.

Cil Deu, par tant qu'il dune a tuz

Viande et vie, e sustenuz

Sunt tuz par lui, nel poet restreindre

Hume mortel, n'a lui ateindre."


The letter has an immediate effect:

Al brief uvrir, quant il laenz vit

Ceo que briefment parut escrit,

Dunt tele esteit tute la summe

Qu'estresce n'iert ja Deu par hume,

En la parole pris se tint,

E tut autre quteinz n'iert devint.


Here, the summe de l'escrit may be taken as meaning the "gist" of the letter (i.e., that God cannot be diminished by man), although Nicetas presumably read it in full. As in the life of Edward, the letter is an authoritative, written version of an oral pronouncement ("la parole," 1451); when Nicetas reads the letter, it is as if he is hearing John's words.

The Evangelium Nicodemi (Vindicta or Gesta Salvatoris or Gesta Pilati) has a complex textual tradition that is not yet fully understood. (18) There are three different verse versions of this apocryphal gospel in Old French, classified by Gaston Paris and Alphonse Bos as A (by "Cristien," beginning of the thirteenth century, probably Francien, but preserved in an Anglo-Norman copy), B (by Andre de Coutances, beginning of the thirteenth century, Norman), and C (anonymous, second half of the thirteenth century, Anglo-Norman); it is version A in particular that I wish to bring into the discussion here.(19) The rhyme dit I escrit occurs no less than eight times in the 2194 lines of this text, and while it clearly belongs to the inventory of standard Old French rhymes of the period, its frequency here might give us pause.(20) Its first occurrence, as an introductory phrase to the narrative, certainly arrests the attention:

Co est la sume de l'escrit,

Si cum li livres le nos dit,

K'Annas, Kayphas e Somnas...

A Pilate vindrent un jor.

(33-35, 40)

The sense of sume here may be either "gist" or "sum total" or both, but in any case, the truth of the marvels about to be related is authenticated by the written source on which the present version is based. The most remarkable use of the rhyme here with respect to Marie's line is at lines 1154-55, which precedes the text of a letter sent from the Jews to Joseph of Arimathea, asking him to return to Jerusalem:

Co fu la sume de l'escrit

Ke il li unt mande e dist.

Here, the meaning is unambiguous, as the letter is given verbatim (1156-68); it should therefore be translated as something like "This is the full text of the letter." However, more striking is the fact that the Evangile, lines 1154-55 reproduce almost exactly the couplet of Chevrefoil, lines 61-62, with the exception of the tense and person of the verb avoir in the second line required by the immediate context.(21) It is difficult to know how much significance to attribute to the reappearance of Chevrefoil, line 62 in the Evangile, line 1155. Mander or comander and dire frequently occur in this kind of phrase in Old French, whose rich vocabulary leads to a marked tendency to the use of binomial expressions or synonymic pairs.(22) From the examples used in the present article alone, one could quote Chevrefoil, line 5, Milun, line 234, and Evangile, line 785 ("... comande et dit" [rhymes with escrit]).

The first sume de l'escrit, which occurs towards the beginning of the Evangile, refers to the Gospel itself, which had been put in writing at the behest of Pilate. Pilate's concern with recording the events related by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea is evident from the opening lines of the text:

En l'onur de la trinite

Ai en curage e en pense

De translater la sainte lettre

E del latin en romanz mettre,

C'est l'estoire de Jesu Crist,

Si cum Theodosius dist,

Ki en Jerusalem trove

Les livres aunt il le mostra,

Ke Punce Pilates fist feire

Pur les feiz Jesu Crist retraire.


Joseph and Nicodemus corroborate the definitive written form of the accounts of the feiz of Jesus (10 and 2092, here meaning the Descensus ad inferos) passed down by the two sons of Symeon, Carinus and Leucius, through Annas, Caiaphas, and others (2065 ff.);(23) Pilate effectively functions as a link in the chain of scribal command that eventually leads to the mise en roman of the Evangile (5, 2181-86). In this transmission, the brothers are the first scribes, the divine truth of their words verified by the identity of the texts, produced independently of one another:

... e mut s'acordat bien

A sun frere sur tute rien;

Une sillabe n'une lettre

N'out plus en l'un k'en l'autre a metre.

(2071 74)(24)

Pilate's aim after hearing the tale of Jesus' deeds ("A Pilate l'unt [i.e., Joseph and Nicodemus] mustre / E tut en ordre recunte," 2089-90) is to preserve them for posterity:

Quant Pilates out entendu

De Judeus les faiz de Jesu,

Cum il vent vers lui ovre

E a tort juge e pene,

En ses commune livres escrist,

Pur remembrance les i mist.

(209 1-96)(25)

Worthy of comment here is the concern over the accuracy of the texts, both with respect to the words, down to the letter (207374), and to the ordering of the narrative ("tut en ordre," 2090). It is interesting to note, however, that faithful representation of God's words and Jesus' deeds is not language-specific: Carinus and Leucius hear and write down the "`devin sacrament'" (2015) in Hebrew, which is translated into Latin by Joseph and Nicodemus (recorded by Pilate), and finally into romanz by Chretien. Here, then, is a case of literal translatio studii or, rather, translatio evangelii, as clerkly as those produced by our author's more celebrated namesake.(26) Chretien in fact uses the word "translater" in both the prologue and epilogue to his text (3, 2185). As Pilate had the events recorded "pur remenbrance" (2096), so Chretien's aim is to establish them for posterity in the vernacular:

Issi est finie l'estorie

E en rumanz mise en memorie

Des ovraignes nostre seignur

Jesu Crist nostre salveur.

Jo, Cristien, I'ai translatee,

De latin en romanz turnee.


Here, then, are matters that may endow Ceofu la summe de l'escrit with significant resonances in the context of Marie's Chevrefoil: it is employed not only in connection with messages, but frequently to refer to the written record of an oral act; the writing bestows authority (often divine authority) on the word; the act of writing also functions as a commemoration--a mise en memoire or a mise en remembrance--of certain deeds and events. Line 61 of Chevrefoil reaches out not only to a letter Tristan may have sent Iseut, but also to the authority of the lai composed by Tristan the author/ auctor/actor in the events, to the oral and written versions of the tale that Marie heard and read, to the whole of the Tristan tradition, and, of course, to the lai of Chevrefoil itself. Marie de France thus provides a permanent written record for posterity of the aventures commemorated by the Bretons in their lads.

Syntactically, the phase ceo fu la summe de l'escrit is used in a number of ways: it can stand alone, as a simple statement (as in La Vie d'Edouard le Confesseur, 2103); it can be used to introduce a text (usually a letter) quoted or read (Evangile, 1154-55);(27) when a paraphrase is given instead of the verbatim text, it is often followed by the conjunction, que, as in the Almsgiver text, lines 1447-52, quoted above, in the Evangile, lines 33-40, and, one could argue, in Chevrefoil, lines 61-78. Here, I might disagree with Burgess (and want to question our earlier translation),(28) see the Que of line 62 as a relative pronoun (referring to a letter sent earlier), and the Que of line 63 as something like "namely that...."(29)

My first thought on finding these occurrences of Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit was that it was the translation of a Latin formula that could be found in the sources for the vernacular lives in question. However, none of the Latin texts I have consulted contains anything that would qualify. One thing that links all of the occurrences of the line is that the texts in question are all either Anglo-Norman or preserved in Anglo-Norman manuscripts. It is perfectly possible that Anglo-Norman authors or scribes could have used or added an insular formula in an appropriate context where it would not have occurred to a continental writer. The only continental witness to the line (among the texts considered here) is manuscript S (BN, nouv. acq. fr. 1104) of Chevrefoil that may be descended indirectly from H (London, BL, Harley 978); there is certainly no reason for the continental scribe to have expunged the line, even though it may not have been an standard expression for him. Whatever the origin of the line may be, it is clear that its context is that of late twelfth- and early thirteenth-century Anglo-Norman hagiographical and apocryphal writing. Whether Marie de France was the Marie who became Abbess of Shaftesbury in 1181 or not, it is likely that she lived and worked in the kind of milieu that produced the other texts in which the line is found; she herself, of course, produced a saint's life of sorts in the Espurgatoire Saint Patrice. Transference of the line from a hagiographical context to that of a lai breton would have brought with it a multitude of intertextual implications.

I would like to turn, finally, to the question of the hazel branch itself. Wood was not a usual material for writing on in the late twelfth century, but there was one form of written record current in the period that did make use of it, namely tally-sticks.(30) These were flat sticks measuring the distance from the tip of the index finger to that of the outstretched thumb ("Legittime uero talee longitudo a summitate indicts ad summitatem extent) pollicis est" [Dialogue de Scaccario, p. 22]), used as receipts for money or goods. An average size would be about 8 or 9 inches x 1 1/2 inches x 1/2 inch. The correct amounts were recorded by carving notches of different width, depth, and intervals; a diagonal cut was then made across half of the width about 1 1/2 inches from the end of the stick, which was then split down the remainder of the length. The two parts, which were known as the tally, or stock, and counter-tally, or foil (talea, stipes, contratalea, folium), could then be fitted together to verify the accounts.(31) Words were incised on the width, occasionally on the depth, before being inked over; the text, on both stock and foil, could vary from a simple name, date, and figure, to a more elaborate description of the transaction; parchment indentures were sometimes attached; and the tally constituted a legally binding contract. The wood used was normally hazel.

Of course, Tristan did not leave a tally-stick of accounts received by the roadside for Iseut to find, but like a tally-stick, his was a hazel branch,(32) cut and squared, and incised with his name. If these are the only literal resemblances between the two objects, the evocation of the tally-stick surely generates a wider poetic meaning within the context of Chevrefoil. Like the couple Tristan and Iseut, the tally-stick consists of two parts that belong together, but which exist by and large in separation; they achieve meaning only when reunited. As the two pieces of the tally-stick are legally bound to one another, so Tristan and Iseut are bound in an amorous contract (Thomas actually refers to their love as a "covenant" [ea. Wind, Douce fragment, 1453]). If Tristan is the codre or hazel branch, and Iseut the chevrefoil (caprifolium) that embraces it (cf. Chevrefoil, 68-78), then she is the foil or folium to his stock; together they form the tally or summa of the transaction, perhaps even the summe de l'escrit, a couple who achieve meaningfulness only in the totality of the written fictions about them.


(1) L. 814 in the edition of lan Short (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1990).

(2) L. 2479 in Erec und Enide, ed. W. Foerster (Halle: Niemeyer, 1890).

(3) L. 4727 in Le Roman de Perceval ou le Conte du Graal, ed. Keith Busby (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1993).

(4) References to Marie's Lais are to the edition of Alfred Ewert (Oxford: Blackwell, 1944).

(5) Die Fabeln der Marie de France, ed. K. Warnke (Halle: Niemeyer, 1898).

(6) See the items listed on pp. 121-22 of Glyn S. Burgess's Marie de France: An Analytical Bibliography (London: Grant and Cutler, 1977), and on p. 68 of Supplement No. 1 (London: Grant and Cutler, 1986).

(7) At first sight, and on a literal level, the text is quite unambiguous: "De sun cuter escrit sun nun" (54). It is 1. 61 that engenders the ambiguity. Scholars have also pointed out the similarities between this passage and Milun, 11. 229-36, where the lady receives Milun's letter: "A) primer chief trovat `Milun.' / De sun ami cunut le nun, / Cent feiz le baise en Dlurant, / Ainz que ele puist fire avant. / Al chief de piece veit l'escrit, / Ceo ktil ot cumande e dit, / Les granz peines e la dolur / Que Milun seofre nun' e jur." Apart from the similarities in phrasing between Chevrefoil, 11. 61-62 and Milun, 11. 233-34, the real significance seems to be that in both texts the provenance of the message is confirmed by the recognition of a name. See especially Rita Lejeune, "Le message d'amour de Tristant a Yseut (Encore un retour au Lai de Chevrefoil de Marie de France)," in Melanges de langue et litterature francaises du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance offerts d Charles Foulon (Rennes: Institut de Francais, Universite de Haute Bretagne, 1980), pp. 187-94, esp. pp. 191-92.

(8) Glyn S. Burgess The Lais of Marie de France: Text and Context (U. of Georgia Press, 1987), pp. 65-70. Concerning; the ambiguity inherent in Old French in general, see R. Howard Bloch "New Philology and Old French," Speculum 65 (1990): 38-58, pp. 46-47; I remain sceptical, however about the specific instances of phonological ambiguity ( lad, traire) used as illustrations by Bloch.

(9) Burgess, Text and Context, p. 67, and Albert Gier, "Noch einmal: Chievrefoil, V. 51-78," Zeitschriftfur romanische Philologie 98 (1982): 540-46, pp. 541-42.

(10) Cf. Les fragments du Tristan de Thomas, ed. Bartina H. Wind (Leiden: Brill, 1950),l. 835 of the Douce fragment: "Seignurs, cest cunte est mult divers."

(11) Douglas Kelly, The Art of Medieval French Romance (U. of Wisconsin Press, 1992), p. 177.

(12) On aventure merveilleuse and verite, see Kelly, The Art of Medieval French Romance, chapters 5 and 6.

(13) "M'entremis des lais assembler," Prologue, 47.

(14) La Vie d'Edouard le Confesseur, poeme anglo-normand du XIIe siecle, ed. Osten Sodergard (Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1948), p. 26; Latin text in Migne, PL, 195, cols. 739-90.

(15) The Pope's letter to Edward actually exists and is included in his first charter, dated 5th January, 1066, it is printed by Dugdale in his Monasticon Anglicanum, I: 293. It is on colt 752 of the Latin Vita.

(16) For sume or some, see Godefroy, Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue francaise 7:468, and Tobler-Lommatzsch, Altfranzosisches Worterbuch, 9:817-19.

(17) The Anglo-Norman text is edited by Kenneth Urwin, The Life of St. John the Almsgiver, 2 vols. (London: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 1980-81). For the Latin text, see Migne, PL, 75:337-91; the seventh-century Greek life by Leontius is translated by Elizabeth Dawes and Norman H. Baynes, in Three Byzantine Saints (Oxford: Blackwell, 1948), pp. 195-270.

(18) See, in the last instance, Z. Izydorczyk, "The Unfamiliar Evangelium Nicodemi," Manuscripta 33 (1989): 169-91, standard earlier works are C. Tischendorf, Evangelia Apocrypha (Leipzig: Mendelssohn, 1876), and R. Lipsius Die "Pilatus-Akten" kritisch untersucht (Kiel: Schwers'sche Buchhandlung, 1871).

(19) All three versions were edited by Gaston Paris and Alphonse Bos in Trois versions rimees de l'Evangile de Nicodeme (Paris: SATF, 1885). There are also versions in Old French prose, for which see Alvin E. Ford, L'Evangile de Nicodeme: les versions courses en ancien francais et en prose (Geneva: Droz, 1973); editions of the other texts mentioned by Ford on p. 9 have not appeared. In addition to that in Tischendorf, a convenient Latin text is that edited by H. C. Kim, The Gospel of Nicodemus (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1973).

(20) The rhyme occurs at 11. 33-34, 785-786, 1154-55, 1168-69, 1315-16, 2069-70, 2075-76, and 2177-78.

(21) In l. 1155 dist is probably an orthographical error for dit, the -s-having become effaced at the beginning of the 13th century, dist and dit therefore being homophones, cf. also 11. 1168-69, "A set homes baillent l'escrit / De ses amis, si lur unt dist," where dist is clearly a past participle and not a preterite.

(22) See Tony Hunt, Chretien de Troyes: Yvain (London: Grant and Cutler, 1986) pp. 87-88, who refers to C. Diekamp, Formelhafte Synonymen Haufungen in der altpoitevinischen Urkundensprache, 13 Jahrhundert: Beitrage zu Problemen der Synonymen Haufungen in Altfranzosischen (Munich: Fink, 1972).

(23) There is a good deal of variance in the chain of transmission as given in the different versions of the Evangile: the Latin texts published by Tischendorf and Kim and version C of the French Evangile have Carinus give his version to Annas Caiaphas, and Gamaliel, while Leucius gives his to Joseph and Nicodemus directly (Evangelium, Tischendorf, p. 408; Kim, XXVII, 3, p. 48; Evangile, C, ll. 2026-32); in version A the French Evangile, Carinus gives his to Annas and Caiaphas, Leucius to Nicodemus (A, 2065-72); version B has Carinus give to Joseph and Leucius to Caiaphas (ll. 1881-86).

(24) "Scriptae autem eorum inuentae sunt aequales, nihil maius aut minus uel in littera una" (Evangelium, XXVII, 3, p. 48).

(25) The Latin text is as follows: "Haec omnia quae dicta et facta sunt a Iudaeis in sinagoga eorum statim Ioseph et Nichodemus adnuntiaverunt praesidi, et ipse Pilatus scripsit omnia quae gesta et dicta sunt de lesu a Iudaeis et posuit omnia uerba in codicibus publicis pretorii sui" (Tischendorf, pp. 408-09; Kim, XXVII, 5, p. 49).

(26) It should also be pointed out, of course, that this concern for textual accuracy is part of the fiction of the Evangelium and not of its own actual transmission, which diverges considerably.

(27) Interestingly, the next text in the manuscript that contains Chretien's version of the Evangile (Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Conventi Suppressi 99) is a Vie de Saint Gilles by the Anglo-Norman Guillaume de Berneville which begins (for. 111v [degrees] a): "D'un dulz escrit orrez la sume." This refers to the entire life of Gilles that follows, and sume must therefore mean something like "all there is." The text is edited by Alphonse Bos, La vie de Saint Gilles par Guillaume de Berneville (Paris: SATF, 1881), and dates from shortly after 1170.

(28) The Lais of Marie de France, tr. Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1986) p.110: "That was all he wrote, because he had sent her word that he had been there a long time...." Attempting to provide an "accurate" translation of these lines is not to deny their plurivalence which is independent of their literal, grammatical, coherence as an utterance.

(29) On this use of que introducing "une proposition explicative au sens de <<a savoir que>>," see Philippe Menard, Syntaxe de l'ancien francais (Bordeaux: Editions Biere, 1988), [subsections]223 a.

(30) On the tally-stick, see the following: H. Jenkinson, "Exchequer Tallies," Archaeologia 62 (1911): 367-80; idem, "Medieval Tallies, Public and Private," Archaeologia, 2nd series, 24 (1925), 289-351, rpt. in Selected Writings of Sir Hilary Jenkinson (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1980), pp. 45-114; F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, The History of English Law, 2 vols. (Cambridge U. Press 1898), 2:188, 215; Dorothea Oschinsky, Walter of in Henley and Other Treatises on Estate Management and Accounting (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp. 222-24 and index, s.v. "Accounting: Tallies, Tally System"; M. M. Postan, Medieval Trade and Finance (Cambridge U. Press, 1973), pp. 29-32; and most recently, M. T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England, 1066-1307 (London: Edward Arnold, 1979), pp. 95-96. The system of notches is described in the Dialogus de Scaccario of 1176-77, ed. Charles Johnson (London: Nelson, 1950), pp. 22-24.

(31) On the terminology, see Jenkinson, "Exchequer Tallies," p. 374, and "Medieval Tallies," rpt. pp. 47-48. According to Jenkinson, "Exchequer Tallies," p. 367, the "proper form" of the word is talea, although tallia was also common; talea is a grafting-slip or simply a long slip of wood, and the etymology is related to Old French taillier only insofar as taliare (taillier) is probably derived from the substantive talea. See J. F. Niermeyer, Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus (Leiden: Brill, 1976), s.vv. talea (p. 1011) and tallia (p. 1013); R. E. Latham, Revised Medieval Latin Word List from British and Irish Sources (Oxford U. Press, 1965), s.vv. contratallia (p. 112), tallia (p. 475), end folium (p. 195); R. E. Latham and D. R. Howlett, Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (Oxford U. Press, 1975-), s.vv. contratalea (p. 474) end folium 5c (p. 972). The words taille and contretaille are attested in these senses in Old French and Anglo-Norman, for Old French taille, see Godefroy, 10: 739, and Tobler-Lommatzsch, 10: 40-41, Tobler-Lommatazsch simply refer to Godefroy, 2: 280, for contretaille; for Anglo-Norman, see the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, ed. Louise W. Stone, William Rothwell, T. B. W. Reid, et al. (London: MHRA, 1977-92), s.vv. contretaille (p. 114), taille 1 (p. 763), end fuille 1 (p. 321); and J. H. Baker, Manual of Law French (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1990), s.vv. countretaille (p. 80), taile, taille (p. 201), and foile 3, p. 117. All instances of the English foil in the sense of "counterfoil" in the OED are in connection with talkies.

(32) Surely not a "hazel tree" as in Joan Ferrante and Robert Hanning, tr., The Lais of Marie de France (New York: Dutton, 1978), p. 191. Cf. Latham, Revised Medieval Latin Word List, p. 475, for an instance of tallia corulina, a hazel tally.
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Author:Busby, Keith
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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