Arthur's embarkation for Gaul in a fresh translation of Wace's Roman de Brut.
In an embarkation scene whose richness of detail is quite unrepresented in Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace shows Arthur's fleet being readied and setting sail for the invasion of Gaul and a confrontation with Roman forces (Arnold ed., vv. 11,190-238). No fewer than 30 nominal terms associated with ships and sailing are employed in discrete fashion and another 14 verbs are deployed in meanings specific to nautical activity. We should imagine these vessels to have been on the model of those depicted in the Bayeux embroidery from the last decade of the eleventh century and these in turn have antecedents in the Viking-era ships of Scandinavia. The recovery and restoration of a considerable number of eleventh- and twelfth-century Scandinavian wrecks, and replica-building and experimental sailing, not least by the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, have greatly enhanced our understanding of medieval ship-building and sea-faring, as have, generally speaking, methodical advances in underwater archaeology and maritime studies.
It will then be of considerable interest to determine to what extent these advances in knowledge have informed the present translation. Arnold's edited text and Glowka's translation are here given in parallel with the verses renumbered for ease of reference.
Puis vint passer a Suthamtune; 1 To Southampton he came for La furent les nefs amenees passage; E les maisnees assemblees. The ships were brought into Mult veissiez nes aturner, that place And there the companies were joined. You would have seen ships being fixed; Nes atachier, nes aancrer, 5 Ships being tied; ships being Nes assechier e nes floter, anchored; Nes cheviller e nes cloer, Ships being dried; ships being Funains estendre, maz drecier, floated; Punz mettre fors e nes chargier, Ships being pegged; ships being nailed; Cords being stretched; masts being fitted; Gangplanks set out; ships being loaded; Helmes, escuz, halbercs porter, 10 Helmets, shields, and hauberks Lances drecier, chevals tirer, carried; Chevaliers e servanz entrer, Lances prepared and horses E l'un ami l'altre apeler. pulled; Mult se vunt entresaluant Knights and servants going in; And one friend calling to the other. Many went about saluting Li remanant e li errant. 15 Those who stayed and those who Quant as nes furent tuit entre left. Et tide orent et bon ore, After the ships had all been Dunc veissiez ancres lever, filled Estrens traire, hobens fermer, And they had suitable tide and wind, Then you'd have [the] seen the anchors lifted, The chains drawn up; the shrouds rolled up; Mariniers saillir par cez nes, 20 Mariners leaving on their Deshenechier veilles e tres; ships; Li un s'esforcent al windas, Sails and masts being deployed. Li altre al lof et al betas; Some were working on the Detries sunt li guverneur, winches; Others on the luffs and lees. The steersmen were way in the back; Li maistre esturman li meillur. 25 The master steersmen were the Chescuns de guverner se peinne best. Al guvernal, ki la nef meine: Each one applied himself to Avant le hel si curt senestre, steer E sus le hel pur cure a destre. The rudder, which guided the ship. Above the helm it ran to port; Below the helm it ran to starboard. Pur le vent es tres acuillir 30 To catch the wind inside the Funt les lispruez avant tenir sails, Et bien fermer es raelinges. They made the bowsprit face Tels i ad traient les guidinges, ahead Et alquant abaissent le tref And pulled the rigging in real tight. Some there tightened up the brails And lowered the sails a little bit Pur la nef curre plus suef. 35 To make the ship more smoothly Estuins ferment et escotes run. Et funt tendre les cordes tutes, Some pulled in stays and pulled Uitages laschent, tres avalent, in sheets Boelines sachent et halent, And made the ropes all taut and stretched. They loosened cleats and let down sails; They pulled and hauled the bowlines in; Al vent guardent et as 40 They watched the wind and esteilles, watched the stars; Sulunc l'ure portent lur They carried sails to suit the veilles; tide. Les braiols funt lacier al mast They had the sails reefed to Que li venz par desuz ne past; the mast A dous ris curent u a treis. So wind would not be caught in them. They sailed with double and triple reefings. Mult fu hardiz, molt fu curteis 45 He was quite brave, he was Cil qui fist nes premierement quite nice, Et en mer se mist aval vent, The man who made the first of Terre querant qu'il ne veeit, ships Et rivage qu'il ne saveit. And went to sea before the wind Seeking land he did not see And shores he did not even know.
Several caveats should be voiced before we scrutinize Glowka's glossing of the sailing lexicon of Anglo-Norman French. Although Wace was a native of the island of Jersey and may well have had first-hand experience of sailing in the Channel, we cannot say how sure was his grasp of the detail of actual sailing techniques, even though he might have heard and retained the related terminology. Furthermore, the mass embarkation scene would have involved a whole fleet and was quite possibly intended to represent various ship types and sizes. Finally, several different sailing moments and kinds of weather may have been telescoped in the account, thus creating, for the experienced sailor, the rather disconcerting effect of moving quickly between fair and foul weather procedures.
Passer (1) is not used in the narrow modern sense of "passage by sea" (Glowka, henceforth G) but refers to Arthur's advance over land to the port, which is imprecisely suggested in G's "place." (3) Aturner (4) designates outfitting, equipping, not the repair indicated by G's "fix." Atachier (5), paired with ancrer, is best understood as some ships being moored to a point on land (not G's "tied"), while others have dropped their anchors in the waters of the port. A second pair of alternative activities informs verse 6. While ships might be periodically careened on shore for repair, cleaning, and so that planks and timbers might dry out ("G: "ships being dried"), here the reference is to some ships being beached, that is, brought onto dry land, while others are being launched or relaunched (G. "float"). Cheviller and cloer (7) are correctly identified as the two principal means of fastening together the planks of the hull, the ship's timbers to the hull, etc: 1) by means of wooden plugs, usually called trenails (tree-nails), which were inserted from the outside of the overlapping hull planks and then split on the inside end and fitted with a wooden wedge, often of willow, which would expand on exposure to water, all for the tightest fit; and 2) by iron nails, also driven in from the outside, then through a square iron rove over which the point of the nail was tipped. Funains (8) is indeed "cords" although we might prefer the nautical collective "cordage." Estendre (8) does not mean "stretch," and two possibilities here come to mind: that previously used cordage is being spread out on land to dry (a common practice), or that the ship is being outfitted with its standing and running rigging (see below). But, since the second half of the verse (in another relational pairing) refers to masts being raised (not simply "fitted" as G. would have it, although the lower end of the mast would surely have been carefully fitted into the mast step which lay over the keel amidships), the rigging could not be installed before the masts were erect. The description then passes to the loading of the ships. In verse 11, the lances are not being "prepared" but turned upright (dresser) for safety's sake during the lading operation. Quite likely horses would have had to be "pulled" (G) to get them up the gangplanks but "led" may be preferred (11). For entrer (12) the more nautical "board" is better than "go in." "Many went about saluting / Those who stayed and those who left" (14-15), with its lack of punctuation, suggests three groups. Entresaluer rather refers to reciprocal greeting between those who are staying behind and those who are setting sail, the true subjects (or in apposition to the unstated subject) of "se vunt entresaluant."
Construction, repair, outfitting, loading and boarding now completed, the fleet is ready to set sail. Verse 16, Quant as nes furent tuit entre, does not refer to the "filling" of the ships (G), as if entrer were a transitive verb here used in the passive, but rather to the fact that all crew and troops have now boarded the vessels. Old French tide (17, < Old English ty-d 'division of time' with perhaps some influence of Old Norse tid 'time, hour') certainly meant a "suitable tide" but suitability in these circumstances assumes an ebb tide that would carry the ships from the port, just as the "suitable ... wind" (ore) would have been a fair off-shore breeze. "Lifting anchors" (18) is less idiomatic than raising or hauling anchors. In estrens (19) G understands chains and we might imagine this as referring back to those used in the raising of the anchors. But link chain was still relatively rare and expensive in the twelfth century, and would have been very heavy if used to deploy anchors, which most likely carried a length of chain only at the top of the anchor where the wooden stock was fitted. Estrens is derived from Old Norse strengr 'cable, anchor cable' and is the first of numerous terms that Anglo-Norman French inherited from the "Northmen" who settled the future Normandy. It would not have been of metal, but rather hemp or hide, conceivably walrus hide, which was the strongest known source of ropes in the early Middle Ages. Hobens fermer is translated as "shrouds rolled up." Hoben (19) is traced to ON hofu-benda 'head' or 'main rope.' These are not the fabric shrouds that might envelop a body and conceivably be rolled up but the sturdy ropes that ran from the mast top down to the sheerstrake or upper plank of the hull (the gunwale in the age of cannon) in order to stabilize the mast against lateral movement. Fermer references the action of tying down the shrouds, not rolling them up. Saillir (20) is unlikely to mean that the mariners were "leaving on their ships," since that action has already been accounted for, and the catalogue device, of which Wace's description is a virtuoso example, generally relies on the single use of a sequence of discrete terms. The preposition par does not refer to the means of departure; saillir par can be understood as movement about the deck, conceivably even up in the rigging. The immediately following terminology supports this reading.
What the sailors are busy doing on board is unfurling the sails, one large square sail per ship (i.e, spread at right angles to the axis of the hull, rather than rigged fore-and-aft). Veilles (21) is the standard Gallo-Romance derivative of Latin velum 'sail,' but tres is a more complicated term. Two words have become conflated. One is heir to Latin trabs, trabis 'beam' and points to the yard or yard arm that crossed the mast and bore up the sail. The other seems derived from a Frankish term for fabric and would reference the sail itself. In Old French and its Anglo-Norman dialect each instance must be determined on its own merits. But, first, let us consider the verb deshenechier, which G renders as "deployed" although just how a mast (his inaccurate gloss on tres) might be deployed is unclear. Des- can be recognized as a Romance private prefix, like the un- of English undo. Henechier seems to have been affected by words related to harness, gear, e.g., OFr. harnois, but I suggest that the hybrid also contains a reflex of ON hnekkja 'hold in check,' in the specific sense of bundling or furling a sail. This moment in setting sail, I believe, refers to the unfurling of the sails, which were bundled, perhaps by means of footropes, below the raised yard. The gathered sail is then released toward the deck, where it will be being secured with other ropes (see below). As both sail and yard are involved in this procedure, veilles e tres could mean "sails and yards," "sails from yards," or sails of different sizes (on different ships) or different materials (wool, linen, etc.). Some of the mariners are busy with the windlass (windas, 22), which is similar in principle to a "winch" (G), although the nautical term is to be preferred. Windlasses and capstans had two chief functions: to raise and lower anchors and yards. As the moment of weighing anchor is past, it would appear that the height of the yard and sail is being adjusted. That sail trimming is in process is supported by the following verse (23), in which lof and betas receive the sailors' attention. G's "luffs and lees" is opaque. Luff is certainly the English reflex of lof, but no ship's part is called lee(s), and on board the lee is the opposite of the windward side. Betas is the more readily understood term and derives from ON beiti-ass, literally 'biting beam.' Biting is a figurative reference to the bow of the ship facing obliquely into a headwind in the procedure now called tacking. By sailing close to the wind, and changing tacks, the ship could follow a zig-zag course, roughly along its intended route. Such close sailing involved setting the yard and sail at an angle to the axis of the hull, so that the forward edge of the sail was angled into the wind. The sail edge so positioned would alternate between port and starboard with each new tack. It has been proposed that an aerodynamic effect is produced when the wind moves more quickly across the forward face of the sail than the aft face, so that the vessel is actually "pulled" forward. This angle to the sail was enhanced by booming its weather edge out over the hull. The betas, which we shall call a tacking spar or boom, ran from a cleat on the lee side of the hull at an angle forward to the opposite, weather side of the ship, where it and the sheet of the sail (the tack or lower corner on the weather side) were lashed to the sheerstrake. Lof is a more debated term as concerns etymology and also experienced considerable semantic expansion. I contend that in Old Norse it originally referenced a sail pin (or bumpkin = little boom) used much like the tacking spar. Although much smaller and not crossing the deck, it could have boomed out the sail and secured the tack to the hull in weaker wind conditions, when the dynamic forces of the wind did not need to be partly diverted from the sail and mast to the hull structure. (4) Still within the Old French period, lof came to mean the weather edge of the sail, then the weather side of the ship itself. Eventually luffing would become synonymous with tacking.
Destries sunt li guverneur (24): "The steersmen were way in the back." This verse, as well as any, illustrates the translator's tin ear and lack of interest in the vocabulary of the sea. One term for the side rudder in OFr. was governal, so that the guverneur are indeed the steersmen or helmsmen. But "way in the back" on board is "aft." Failure to decipher OFr. syntax muddles the handling of verse 25, where we find esturman as a synonym for guverneur; this is reflex of ON styri(s)ma_r 'steersman.' But the post-positioned adjective combines with the noun (and no verb) to give "the best of the master steersmen." I would upgrade the verb guverner (26) from "steer" to "navigate," so that not just the manipulation of the rudder and tiller is meant but control over the very course of the ship. The side rudder was manipulated by a tiller (hel < ON hjolm) that ran from its top end on the starboard (steering side) part way across the rear deck. The helmsman stood behind it and moved it fore and aft. Avant le hel si curt senestre,/E sus le hel pur cure a destre (28-29). G's "above the helm" and "below the helm" are meaningless. When the tiller was pushed forward (avant), it brought the blade of the perpendicular rudder in closer to the hull so that the ship veered to the left, to port. When it was pulled back (sus 'down' here to be understood as 'back'), the blade of the rudder moved away from the ship, causing it to turn to the right, to starboard. The correct rendering of the verses is then "Tiller forward and (the ship) runs to port, and tiller back to run to starboard." The attention to the steersmen and navigational skills is an indirect reference to Arthur's leadership abilities and, by further extension, those of Wace's patron, Henry II, at the helm of the ship of state.
Now for some precise sail trimming. The lispruez (31) are not the bowsprit but are judged to have been rods fitted into cringles, rings or eyes of rope worked into the boltropes running along the leeches (edges) of the sail, and used to push the sail forward and give it an optimal shape. An etymology in a putative ON lik-sproti 'leech-rod' is most plausible. G misreads the contraction es (= en les) and misses the site where the leech rods are fixed, which is in the raelinges (32) or bolt ropes of the leeches (< ON *ra-lik, literally 'yard leeches').
Recalling that activities on several different ships or at different times may be collapsed in Wace's account, we meet the verse Tel i ad traient les guidinges (33). G may well be right to call these ropes "brails," that is, ropes employed to keep the sail at an optimal distance from the mast, for example, without too great a belly. Buntlines, attached to the footrope of the sail and having a rather similar function, may instead be meant. The term guidinges seems to be a reflex of ON gyr[??]ingr 'girth' recast under the influence of OFr guier 'guide.' The variant form gurdingues is also found in contemporary texts. Other ropes are also adjusted. The estuins of verse 36, mentioned with the escotes, are unlikely to be stays (G), which ran from the mast top to the stem and stern, and served to stabilize the mast along the axis of the vessel, since such stays could not be easily adjusted under sail. (5) A derivation from ON stoe[??]ingr with a basic meaning of 'support' would point to braces, and I suggest that here forebraces, running to the stem of the ship, may be meant, perhaps as an extra precaution in the rough seas of the Channel. (6) Escotes (< ON skaut) are more clearly understood as sheets, ropes from the lower corners of the sail to point on the sheer-strake. But these ropes are not being "pulled in" (G) but rather secured, made taut-as, indeed, are all the running rigging (funt tendre les cordes tutes, 37). Uitages is a problematic word, best approached in the context of the second half of the line, which refers to bringing down the sail and/or yard. G's "cleats" is opaque. The term uitages, with a variety of spellings, is always found in the plural in Anglo-Norman French. The word seems to have "morphed" into upties in Middle English. I believe that the halyards are meant, that is, strong ropes that "hauled the yard" up the mast. The common ON term is drag-reip, literally 'pulling rope,' but since ON reip was used only of rope made from animal hide, I judge that an unattested Norse compound *ak-taug, also 'hauling rope,' is reflected here, since taug was used of hempen and other non-hide ropes. We might imagine that the preferred walrus hide was in short supply in British waters, and that a pair of halyards are used instead of a single strong hide rope. King Alfred certainly expressed an interest in walrushide ropes when visited by the north Norwegian merchant Ohthere. (7) With the halyards released, the yard and sail come down. The sail trimming exercise (or exercises) concludes with a reference to the bowlines (boelines, 39, < ON bog-lina). The bog is the forward curved face of the sail and lines ran from it to the stem or bow of the ship, another means of assuring the optimal shape and degree of fullness of the single sail. The bowlines are being tightened at the stem of the ship, not-pace G-"pulled and hauled in." Note Anglo-Norman haler (39) 'haul' < ON hala.
The sailing scene concludes with more general remarks, although additional technical terms are met. I understand the verb guarder (40), whose objects are the wind and stars, as checking, monitoring, not G's simpler "watching." A sailor may watch the wind, but not in quite the same way as he watches the stars. All needed adjustments are made: Sulunc l'ure portent lur veilles (41). G offers "They carried sails to suit the tide," which, for reasons stated above, I would amend as "they trim their sails according to the breeze." The next verse, Les braiols funt lacier al mast (42), is inexplicably translated as "They had the sails reefed to the mast," which has consequences for the handling of the immediately following verse. Rightly understood, it suggests--in light of the catalogue device's general avoidance of repetition--that true brails may not have been referenced in the guidinges of verse 33, but some other form of girth. What is meant here is tightening the brails to the mast "so that the wind does not escape past it (the mast)" (43). In a kind of concluding flourish to the sail trimming scene, Wace has us lift our eyes to the sail as a whole. Its overall area has been lessened by gathering lengths of sail and binding them fast with reef points, short lengths of rope, rows of which crossed the lower levels of the sail. OFr. ris (the plural form) is a direct reflex of ON rif, and the verse A dous ris curent u a tres means that the ships advanced with two or three reefs taken in--calmly and in formation, we might imagine. G's concluding verses capture well enough Wace's reflections on the first mariner, although English nice is a vapid translation of French curteis. But "went to sea before the wind" for en mer se mist aval le vent is ambiguous. The sailors have not set sail into a head wind, as "before the wind" might suggest, but are sailing downwind, that is, the wind at their backs, the adverb aval otherwise being used of "downhill" and "downstream." (8)
Great challenges continue to face us in the study of medieval technology, perhaps better seen as medieval technological cultures. The pace of change in western Europe differed from trade to trade and craft to craft, but when military and economic advantage were at stake, it must have been rapid. This is especially true of ship-building and sea-faring, in which technological innovation was carried to distant shores by the very vessels that incorporated it, vessels manned by experts with everyday familiarity with the new kinds of gear, new sailing techniques. The presence of some 20 Norse-derived terms in the Anglo-Norman French of the passage studied above is ample proof of such transfers in the centuries following the Norsemen's occupation and settlement of Neustria. Many of these same Norse termini technici may have had an impact, less well documented, on the Old English of the Danelaw, an impact strengthened by the later import of Norman French to Britain, and then made newly evident in the emergence of Middle English from this complex linguistic mix. Bertil Sandahl's monumental Middle English Sea Terms makes fascinating reading for both the historian of technology and the armchair sailor. (9) But, while progress is being painstakingly made in the history of technologies, not least the technology of the sea, the study of this specialist vocabulary does not enjoy the status it once had in an earlier philology, so neatly summed up in the German phrase Worter und Sachen. Sadly, modern editions and translations of medieval vernacular literature reflect not so much the voids in our knowledge of medieval seafaring as the failure of this newly acquired knowledge to be spread to sister disciplines and there enhanced by the methodologies perfected in the past decades of historical linguistics.
Arthur Wayne Glowka captures the bustle in Wace's description of the port of Southampton and of the embarkation of Arthur's fleet for Gaul. But his English rendering of the scene makes this bustle much less comprehensible when we cannot follow the detail of Wace's catalogue, cannot relate it to better known sailing practices, which, in the area of standing and running rigging, have remained to this day very comparable to medieval practices. (10) This is to be regretted, especially since this same standing and running rigging, because of the nature of its constituents, is so poorly documented in the archaeological record. It is somewhat of an irony that the Bayeux embroidery, and descriptions by Wace and other Anglo-Norman authors give us a much more graphic impression of medieval Norse-derived ship-building and sea-faring practices than do the sagas of the Icelanders or the histories of the Norwegian kings, in which sailing is so commonplace an activity and virtuoso description so much of a rarity that we must regret their laconic style, at least on this point. (11) Wace's excursus from Geoffrey of Monmouth's text is then all the more valuable. I conclude by offering my best understanding of the passage here reviewed. (12)
Then [Arthur] advanced to Southampton; There the ships were gathered And the troops assembled. You would have seen many ships being outfitted, Ships moored, ships anchored, Ships beached and ships launched, Ships being pegged and nailed together, Cordage run out, masts raised, Gangplanks put over the side and ships loaded, Helmets, shields, hauberks carried, Lances raised, horses led, Knights and servants boarding, And one friend calling out to another. They exchange many greetings, Those who are staying behind and those who are sailing. When all had gone aboard the ships And they had the tide and a fair wind, Then you would have seen anchors raised, Cables hauled, shrouds tied down, Sailors clambering around on board, Unfurling sails from yards; Some strain at the windlass, Others with the sail pin and tacking spar; Aft are the helmsmen, The best of the master steersmen. Each one is attentive to his navigation At the rudder that steers the ship; Tiller forward and (the ship) runs to port, and tiller back to run to starboard. In order to gather the wind into the sails They brace the leech-spars to the fore And fix them solidly into the leeches. There are some who pull on the buntlines, And lower the sail slightly, So that the ship may run more smoothly. They secure the fore-braces and the sheets, And make all the ropes fast, They release the halyards, bring down the yards, Tighten the bowlines and haul, They check the wind and the stars, And trim their sails according to the breeze; They bend the brails to the mast So that the wind does escape past it; They run under two reefs or three. Very bold, very gallant was he Who first built a ship And set sail down wind, Seeking a country he didn't see And a shore he didn't know.
Gillingham, John B. "Richard I, Galley-warfare and Portsmouth: The Beginnings of a Royal Navy." In Thirteenth Century England, VI: Proceedings of the Durham Conference, 1995. Eds. Michael Prestwich, R.H. Britnell, and Robin Frame. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 1997. 1-15.
Light, David A. The Arthurian Portion of the Roman de Brut of Wace: A Modern English Prose Translation with Introduction and Notes. Dissertation Abstracts International 31 (1971): 4170A-71A.
Lim, Ilkyung Chung. "'Truth' and the Normans: Wace's Roman de Rou." Romance Languages Annual 8 (1996): 46-50.
Pickens, Rupert T. "Arthur's Channel Crossing: Courtesy and the Demonic in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace's Brut." Arthuriana 7 (1997): 3-19.
Sandahl, Bertil. Middle English Sea Terms. 3 vols. Uppsala: Lundequistska bokhandeln, and Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951-82.
Sargent-Baur, Barbara N. "Historiae Veraces aut Fallaces Fabulae?" In Text and Intertext in Medieval Arthurian Literature. Ed. Norris J. Lacey. New York: Garland, 1996. 25-39.
Sayers, William. "Norse Nautical Terminology in Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Verse." Romanische Forschungen 109 (1997): 383-426.
--. "A Norse Etymology for luff 'weather edge of the sail'." The American Neptune 61 (2002): 25-38.
--. "Twelfth-Century Norman and Irish Textual Evidence for Ship-Building and Sea-Faring Techniques of Scandinavian Origin." In Traders, Saints, and Pirates: The Sea in Early Medieval Northwestern Europe. Eds. Elizabeth Ragan and L. J. Swain. The Heroic Age 8 (2005). At <http://www.heroicage.org/issues/8/sayers.html>.
Two Voyagers at the Court of King Alfred: The Ventures of Ohthere and Wulfstan, together with the Description of Northern Europe from the Old English Orosius. Ed. Niels Lund. Trans. Christine E. Fell. With contributory essays by Ole Crumlin-Pedersen, P.H. Sawyer, and Christine E. Fell. York: Sessions, 1984.
Wace. Le Roman de Brut de Wace. Ed. Ivor Arnold. 2 vols. Paris: Societe des Anciens Textes Francais, 1938-40.
--. La partie arthurienne du Roman de Brut. Eds. Ivor Arnold and Margaret Pelan. Paris: C. Klincksieck, 1962.
--. Wace's Roman de Brut: A History of the British. Text and translation Judith Weiss. Exeter: University of Exeter, Press, 1999.
--. Le Roman de Brut: The French Book of Brutus. Trans. Arthur Wayne Glowka. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 279. Tempe, Ariz.: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005.
Zatta, Jane. "Translating the Historia: The Ideological Transformation of the Historia regum Britanniae in Twelfth-Century Vernacular Chronicles." Arthuriana 8 (1998): 148-61.
(1) The standard edition of Le Roman de Brut had earlier been Arnold's edition of 1938-42 and it will not be wholly superseded by the Weiss edition. Arnold and Margaret Pelan published La partie arthurienne du Roman de Brut in 1962, which formed the basis for David A. Light's dissertation, The Arthurian Portion of the Roman de Brut of Wace: A Modern English Prose Translation, in 1971.
(2) On the larger implications of Wace's undertaking, see most recently Sargent-Baur, "Veraces Historiae aut Fallaces Fabulae?" and Zatta, "Translating the Historia: The Ideological Transformation of the Historia regum Britanniae in Twelfth-Century Vernacular Chronicles." For similar issues in the Roman de Rou, see Lim, "'Truth' and the Normans: Wace's Roman de Rou."
(3) The historical role of Portsmouth is reviewed in Gillingham, "Richard I, Galley-warfare and Portsmouth: The Beginnings of a Royal Navy."
(4) See the fuller treatment in Sayers, "A Norse Etymology for luff 'weather edge of the sail'."
(5) Anglo-Norman estai 'stay' (< ON stag) is found in other contemporary texts.
(6) The absence of any reflection of ON aktaumr 'brace' in Anglo-Norman French may be fortuitous but may also point to modifications in this part of the rigging in Normandy and England, modifications otherwise thought represented in the use of fore-braces, as suggested here, and in the double halyards and their problematic name (see below).
(7) See Two Voyagers at the Court of King Alfred: The Ventures of Ohthere and Wulfstan.
(8) The concluding verses of Wace's passage are discussed in Pickens, "Arthur's Channel Crossing: Courtesy and the Demonic in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace's Brut," but the technical vocabulary and its internal organization are not treated.
(9) Regrettably, the concluding fourth volume has not appeared. Rather curiously, Layamon, in his adaptation of Wace's Brut into Middle English from about 1200, drops the embarkation scene in all its detail, while elsewhere expanding on the Arthurian matter of his source(s). Can this reflect an unfamiliarity with maritime vocabulary?
(10) Glowka refers in his note on verse 11205 to "Arnold's discussion of these technical naval terms" but Arnold's edition of Le Roman de Brut came out in the years 1938-40, when only the remains of the Norwegian Gokstad and Oseberg ships were known to the scholarly community. He also refers to additional information in Light, Arthurian Portion, with no specifics in either case. No reference is made at this point to the Weiss edition, which, it should be noted, is also serious deficient in its treatment of the embarkation scene.
(11) Fuller discussion of Wace and a handful of other Anglo-Norman authors, with greater concern for technical matters, is found in Sayers, "Norse Nautical Terminology in Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Verse," updated on certain points of technical detail and with inclusion of Old Irish evidence in "Twelfth-Century Norman and Irish Textual Evidence for Ship-Building and Sea-Faring Techniques of Scandinavian Origin."
(12) Errors in the Glowka translation are not limited to the technical vocabulary of the sea. The frequent misconstruing of OFr. syntax and semantics also noted in this review may be thought to be symptomatic of the work as a whole. While I find sympathetic the image of the translator and his daughter sitting together at the kitchen table, he with an Old French dictionary and she learning to write (viii), I must fault the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies for failing to vet this translation more rigorously at the manuscript stage. Since the volume retails for $48 and will reach many university libraries on approval plans without serious review on site, such blanket distribution involves a considerable sum of money. This volume and the series in which it appears reflect on each other: the translation wins an undeserved measure of credibility but, after a hard look, the prestige of the series, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, is diminished by this representative.
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|Date:||Jan 1, 2006|
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