Saturday, April 10, 2010

Medieval Latin

I have been studying Classical Latin for 3 years, getting straight A's and I feel ready to tackle Medieval Latin. So I looked at two texts and straight away noticed words that are not in my Oxford Latin Dictionary. The dictionary is exclusively Classical Latin but I thought the whole point of using Latin as the language of scholarship meant that clerics and scholars could always speak a common language no matter where they came from. And, by using a dead language as the language of choice, one would always be able to read latin texts no matter which century they were written in. Silly me.
Oxford does not have a dictionary of Medieval Latin. They do have a dictionary of Medieval Latin from English sources. There are dictionaries with German and French sources. Time and place do matter in translating Medieval Latin. It is a bit of a shock to me. I thought it might be fun for a summer project to read Walter Map's De Nugis Curialium in the original latin or Gesta Francorum.
The Bodleian Library, which owns the only manuscript of De Nugis Curialium, jealously guards it. I could shell out $170 American for their book. This is better than the version I saw on Amazon last year that was going for close to $300. At the same time, Gesta Francorum is on Latin Library for free. Gesta Francorum features one of my favorite characters - Bohemond of Taranto, the studmuffin, who , if a movie is ever made of the First Crusade featuring him, should be played by Brad Pitt. That movie should be made soon before Brad gets too old.
Gestae Francorum it is. Chapter One, Book One will be posted tomorrow. It is already done as best as I can.
And I think a link to Latin Library is in order.


Tracy said...

Interesting - but if a dead language was still being used by scholars, then was it technically dead? Can imagine local variations creeping into any language that's widely used within a geographical area/by a similar group of people.

And I look forward to reading more about Bohemond :P I wondered who you'd like to play the part - not Gerard Butler, then? :)

The Red Witch said...

All the local variations defeat the purpose of using Latin in the first place.
Anna Comnena said that Bohemond was narrow in the waist and hips. Butler has stated in interviews that he does not like to work out and it shows. His body clearly wants to be fat. Brad Pitt made a fierce Achilles. And Bohemond was not a Frank. Although he fought with the Franks, he was a Norman, ie Viking. Pitt seems like a better choice.

Tracy said...

All the local variations defeat the purpose of using Latin in the first place.
True, but that's what happens with any language that's in use - they all evolve over time, especially with non-standard spelling, copying and translating errors, variable standards of literacy...

Tlachtga said...

The Internet Archive has an old edition of De Nugis Curialium:

I know it's not the same as having an actual book in your hand, but if you've been looking for any copy, it's better than nothing.

The Red Witch said...

Thanks, Tlachtga. Google Books also has De Nugis Curialium in Latin but you can't print it up from there and I like to scribble definitions for the unfamiliar words on the page. In the introduction for the book at Google Books, the author complains about not having been able to look at the manuscript when preparing this edition.
Looking at the introduction to the book, that you provided a link for, it shows that you really cannot go wrong in reading a few essential Roman authors like Ovid, Sallust or Pliny.