Boniface Riddle 11: Cupiditas ait


Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:
Cernebam tetrum lustrans per saecula monstrum
Visibus horrendum, nec dictu effabile quodam,
Pignora purpureo maculat quod sanguine terrae.
In varia caedes mortalia pectora cogens,
5  Dira fremens saevo passim cum murmure Martis
Ignea inferni animabus Tartara complet.
Terrigenasque tamen demulcet mente dolosa,
Auri materiem et fulvo splendore metalla
Sumant ut pretium, trucidato fratre gemello,
10  Aut gnatus auro bibat, genitore perempto.
Insane sapiunt homines, quia belua maligna est,
Tot tantosque viros multis cum matribus una
Tetrica crudelis trudens ad limina Ditis.
Haud secus alloquitur mortales ore superbo
15  Bestia pinnipotens: “dominans sum finibus orbis,
Horrendam dicunt me omnes, sed famine ficto,
Carior at multis conprobor lumine vitae.
Ast ego infesta crudelior hostibus omnes
Invisos habeo, et cum strofa sternere nitor.
20  Non quisquam in terris numerus aut calculus aequat,
Milia quot passim strofosa morte peremi.
Reges et proceres docui temerare premendo
Foedera atque pares pariter propriosque propinquos.
Haud secus ut populi perdant sua iura minores.
25  Pontifices multos temptans per devia duxi,
Candida ut meritis non scandant atria caeli,
Presbiterosque simul vastans per lucra peremi,
Ordinibus sacris degentes sterno phalanges,
cum semel adgrediens comitabor fraude monachos.
30  Cetera feminei sexus seu turma virorum
Si mihi consentit mortalia grana serenti,
Perpetuae perdet mercedis lucra perennis,
Horrida pestiferis cumulat tormenta maniplis.
Divitis et cuius propria dominabor in aula,
35  Sollicitus pauper fit rebus semper egenus,
Nequicquam dapibus saecli saturatur opimis,
Et mentis longa merendo pace carebit,
Omnes magnanime spernit virtutis amicos.
Iustitiaeque fidem et pacem depello serenam,
40  Et Christi humilitas longe disperditur a me.
Sanctorum mansit numquam patientia mecum,
Misericordia non umquam mea tecta videbat,
Semper me horrescens fugiet dilectio sancta.
Natas priscorum clamant has carmina vatum
45  Regis caelorum summa qui regnat in arce,
Quas ego invisas damnando semper habebam.
Qui me bachantem sua subter tecta recondit,
Concito caede furens, irarum maxima mater,
Alter ut alterius fratres sua viscera rumpant.
50  Conditor excelsus, dudum qui saecla creavit,
Non me formavit pariter sub lege creandi,
Sed priscus dudum in paradiso viscere natrix
Edidit invisam superis sub fraude maligna.
Inlicio plures stolidos me amare ferocem,
55  Dulcius ut mulsum quaerant quam nectaris haustum.
Quique tenet strictim strofosis actibus unam,
Amplius in sceptris mundi invitatur habere.
Non quod cernit habet caecatis mentibus errans,
Nec suus est proprius, sed sic mihi servus habetur.
60  Athletis Orci dicor “dulcissima virgo,”
Caelicolae econtra vocitant me “pessima belua,”
Quod plures populos mordens sub Tartara trusi.
Audivi quendam procerum dixisse priorum,
Inlustrem factis, famoso nomine Paulum,
65  Cunctorum stirpem et causam me esse malorum.
Prendere hunc mihi si traderet arbiter orbis,
Mordendo trepidi tremerent sub dentibus artus.
I saw a foul monster roaming throughout the world
terrible to the eye and completely unspeakable,
and who stains the children of the earth with deep red blood
forcing mortal hearts into various murders,
5  and, roaring fearfully with the cruel growl of Mars,
it fills fiery, Tartarian hell with souls.
Yet it seduces the earth-dwellers with its cunning intelligence
to accept things of gold and metals with a golden glow
as payment after they have killed their twin brother,
10  or so that a child drinks from gold, having murdered their father.
Humans fall into madness, because the monster is evil,
shoving so many and such great men, together with many mothers,
across the fierce boundary of cruel Dis.
In the same way, the strong-winged beast addresses mortals
15  with haughty speech: “I rule to the limits of the earth,
and everyone calls me terrible, but with their lies,
yet I prove dearer to many than the light of life.
But, troublesome and crueller than other enemies,
I hate everyone, and I strive to destroy them with trickery.
20  No number or calculation on earth is equal
to the thousand or more I have destroyed everywhere with deceitful death.
I have led kings and princes violently to dishonour
contracts, and their own kin and counterparts too.
In the same way, lower peoples may destroy their own laws.
25  I have tempted many bishops and led them into error,
so that they do not ascend to the bright halls of heaven.
Likewise, I have extinguished and annihilated priests through greed,
and I strike down legions of those who live in holy orders
whenever I meet monks and serve them deceitfully.
30  If the remaining group, both of women and men,
join with me, who sows deadly seeds,
they will squander the everlasting profit of an eternal reward,
and store up awful tortures in baleful bundles.
And the rich, in whose hall I will rule,
35  become a troubled pauper, always needy for things,
never satisfied by the rich feasts of the world,
and they will lack any long peace of mind, which they do not deserve,
and despise all their most virtuous friends.
I strike down faith in justice and serene peace,
40  and Christ’s humility is widely wasted by me.
The patience of the saints has never stayed with me,
mercy has never looked under my roof,
and holy charity always flees from me in fear.
The songs of ancient poets call out to these children
45  of the king of heaven, who rules in the highest castle;
I always hated and rejected them.
He who hides me, wild and furious, beneath their roof,
I encourage to commit murder, the greatest mother of wrath,
so that one brother tears open the stomach of the other.
50  The high creator, who once created the world,
did not make me under the same law of creation,
but rather, some time ago, the ancient serpent in paradise produced
me from its belly with evil deception, detested by those on earth.
I entice more idiots to love me, the wild one,
55  so that they seek a sweeter mead than the drink of nectar.
Anyone who briefly possesses this one, with twisted deeds,
is invited to live more richly in the worldly kingdom.
In error, he does not have that which he sees in his blinded mind,
nor does he belong to himself, but rather he is regarded as a slave to me.
60  I am called “sweetest virgin” by the champions of Orcus,
and, on the other hand, the angels call me “the evilest monster,”
because I have hurt many nations, pushing them down into Tartarus.
I have heard that a certain great ancient,
famous for his deeds, with the renowned name of Paul,
65  said that I was the root and cause of all evils.
If the judge of the world betrayed him to me,
his terrified limbs would tremble beneath biting teeth.
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This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.

Note that this riddle appears as No. 3 (De vitiis) in Glorie’s edition and 13 in Orchard’s edition.

Line 57, vitatur > invitatur, following Andy Orchard (ed. & trans.). The Old English and Anglo-Latin Riddle Tradition. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2021. Page 208.