Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Field Trip to the UL Manuscripts

Once in a while we Latin Therapists come out from our corner of Free School Lane and set off to explore the wider Latin world.  For this term's field trip we took a trip to the Manuscripts Room of Cambridge University Library, in the company of their medieval manuscripts specialist Suzanne Paul.

Suzanne showing us a medical text
Suzanne kindly brought out 8 fascinating and beautiful manuscripts for us to browse.  They were:
  • a 14th-century astronomical treatise, Peterhouse 75.I (which I've blogged about here)
  • an 11th-century song book, Gg.5.35
  • two medical texts from the 12th and 13th centuries, Peterhouse 231 and 251
  • Gerald of Wales' description of Ireland, Mm.5.30, which we read in the group last term
  • a mysterious 16th-century book of magic, Add.3544
  • and two absolutely gorgeous 13th-century bestiaries, Ii.4.26 and Kk.4.25.
Marvelling at a bestiary
We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours browsing through the manuscripts and deciphering the script, as well as enjoying beautiful illustrations in the bestiaries (like the one below).  In most cases one of the members of the group had worked on that manuscript, so was able to introduce everyone to its most interesting features.

We're very grateful to Suzanne for giving so generously of her time and expertise.  We all went away inspired to work more closely with manuscripts - and in some cases, to carry out further investigations into some intriguing aspects of the manuscripts we'd just seen!

We'll continue blogging with more Latin translations next term.  For now, we hope you enjoy this beautiful image!

Kk.4.25 f.58r

Monday, 10 March 2014

Bede's Bones

Bede, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)
Last week we looked at a medical text that had the large title Bedae Presbyteri.  It wasn't by Bede.  It wasn't even by Pseudo-Bede.  We weren't sure about the date either (probably 12th-century).

Anyway, we hope you enjoy it, as well as this lovely picture of Bede.  Come back soon for pictures of our exciting excursion with the priceless manuscripts of Cambridge!

As always, we present the Latin first, followed by our translation.



     Qui in septem nascitur mensibus, si sit masculus, triginta diebus formatur, in quadraginta movetur. Femina, in triginta quinque formatur, in septuaginta movetur, ducentis decem diebus completur.
     Decern mensium masculus, quadraginta quinque formatur diebus, et nonaginta movetur. Femina, in quinquaginta formatur, in centum movetur., in trecentis nascitur.
     Novem mensium masculus in quadraginta formatur, in octoginta movetur. Femina, in quadraginta quinque formam suscipit, in nonaginta motum, ducentis septuaginta diebus nascitura. Masculus ideo citius completur, quia sperma unde nascitur, fortius atque calidius est.

De ossibus 
     Omnia corporis ossa sunt quadraginta unum et ducenta: septem capitis, quatuor paria, quatuordecim maxillaria, dentium sedecim, unum pali, duo menti, dentiurn suorum sedecim, spondiles viginti quatuor, coxarum tres, ani tres, costae viginti tres, teneritudines octo, spatulae duae, capitum spatularum duo, fercularum duo, armorum duo, cubitorum superiorum duo, inferiorom duo, raschae manuorum sedecim, pectinis in manibus octo, digitorum triginta, ancharum duo, calcaneorum duo, navicularum duo, raschae pedum decem, pectinis in pedibus octo, digitorum triginta.

De nervis et dentibus  
     Omnes nervi pares atque impares sunt triginta.    Dentes sunt quasi quaedam plantaria, ossibus et mento insita, qui sunt triginta duo, sedecirn enim in maxillaribus sunt positi, quorum quatuor in parte anteriori, pares vocantur et quadrupli, lati et acuti, incisores dicti a medicis, sunt enim necessarii ad incisionem cujuslibet cibi. Duo vocantur canini collaterales quadruplis, in summitate acuti, in radice vero lati, duris cibis commolendis apti. Sunt et decem alii utrinque quini collaterales quadruplis, lati atque grossi: hi molares sunt vocati, ad molendum enim et frangendum cibum fuerunt necessarii. Iste idem dentium numerus in mento est intelligendus : hi omnes sunt furcati, sed in eis sunt quidam diversi, alii enim quatuor, alii tres, alii duos, alii enim habent furculam, quadrupli atque pares idem molares tres, ulteriores quatuor, primi molares infra positi, duas habent, ultimi tres.
     Tres dies et noctes sunt in quibus si vir natus fuerit, corpus ejus sine dubio integrum manet usque in diem judicii : hoc est in vi Kalend. Februarij, et. iii Kalend. et Idus Febr., et suum mysterium mirabile est valde.
     Die Dominica hora diurna, sive nocturna, qui natus fuerit, magnus erit et splendidus.
Feria secunda, fortis erit.
Feria tertia, cupidus erit, et de ferro moritur.
Feria quarta, tractator regni erit.
Feria quinta, affabilis erit et honorificus.
Feria sexta, rivalis erit et multum luxuriosus.
Sabbato, raro utilis erit.

Little Book concerning the birth of infants by Bede the Priest

The one born in seven months, if he is male, is formed in thirty days, and after forty days moves.  A female is formed in 35, moves in 70, and is completed in 210 days. The male of 10 months, is formed in 45 days, and moves in 90. The female is formed in 50, moves in 100, in 300 is born. The male of 9 months is formed in 40 and moves in 80.  The female takes her form in 45 days and her motion in 90, to be born in 270 days. The male, therefore, is completed more quickly because the sperm whence he is born, is stronger and hotter.

Concerning the bones
All the bones of the body are 241: seven of the head, four paired ones [i.e. the temples?], fourteen of the jaw, sixteen of the teeth, one of the palus [possibly membrum virile? though it’s in the wrong place in the sequence], two of the chin, sixteen of its teeth, 24 vertebrae, three of the hips, three of the tail, 23 ribs, 8 of the soft parts, two of the shoulder blade, two of the heads of the shoulder[blade]s, two of the collar bone [lit. litters or biers], two of the upper arm, two of the upper forearm [ulna], two of the lower [radius], 16 of the base of the hand [carpals], eight of the comb in the hand [metacarpals], 30 of the fingers, two of the ankles, two of the heels, two of the instep [navicula], ten of the base of the foot [tarsals], 8 of the comb in the foot [metatarsals], thirty of the toes.

Of the nerves and the teeth
All of the sinews, the paired ones as well as the non-paired ones are thirty. The teeth are like little saplings, planted into the bones and the chin, which are 32. Sixteen are placed in the jaws, of which four in the front part are called paired, and they are fourfold, broad and sharp, they are called incisors by the medics, for they are necessary for cutting food of all kinds. Two are called canines, alongside the fourfold ones, they are sharp at the point but broad at the root, and are suitable for breaking up hard food. There are also 10 others, five on each side beside the quadruple ones, broad and fat: these were called grinders, for they were necessary for grinding and breaking up food. The same number of teeth should be noted in the chin: these are all forked, but there are different ones among them, for some have four, some have three, some have two, and some have one prong, the fourfold ones and the same paired molars have three, the back ones four, the first molars placed below, have two, and the last ones three.

There are three days and nights in which if a man is born his body will beyond doubt remain intact until the day of judgement, these are on 6th Kalends of February (27th January), and the third Kalends (30th January) and the Ides of February (13th), and its mystery is quite remarkable.

He who is born either in the daytime or nighttime of Sunday, will be great and splendid.
On the second day (Monday), he will be brave.
On the third day (Tuesday), he will be avaricious, and will die by the sword.
On the fourth day (Wednesday), he will be a servant of [or a traitor to?] the kingdom.
On the fifth day (Thursday), he will be affable and honourable.
On the sixth day (Friday), he will be quarrelsome and very lecherous.