Fraus vobis! – Tibi leccatori!

From poem 215 in the Carmina BuranaIncipit Officium Lusorum (The Gamblers’ Mass) – in the David Traill Dumbarton Oaks edition. The piece is a step by step debasing parody of an actual mass. I’m only including portions but the full Latin text can be found here (though in a text that preserves more medievalisms – e for ae, etc. – than the Dumbarton edition).

2. Fraus vobis! – Tibi leccatori!

2. Chicanery be with you! – And with you, you scrounger!

4. Epistola: Lectio actuum apopholorum. In diebbus illis multitudini ludentium erat cor unum et tunica nulla, et hiems erat, et iactabant vestimenta secud pedes accomodantis, qui vocabatur Landrus. Landrus autem erat plenus pecunia et fenore et faciebat damna magna in loculis accommodans singulis, prout cuiusque vestimenta valebant.

4. Epistle: The reading is from the Acts of the Apofools. In those days a multitude of players were of one mind but had no tunic and it was winter. And they tossed their clothes at the feet of the moneylender, who was called Landrus. Landrus had plenty of money and charged high interest and caused great losses in individuals’ purses, as he lent them money according to the value of each person’s clothing.

8. Evangelium: Sequentia falsi evangelii secundum marcam argenti. Fraus tibi Decie! Cum sero esset una gens lusorum, venit Decius in medio eorum et dixit: «Fraus vobis! Nolite cessare ludere. Pro dolore enim vestro missus sum ad vos.» Primas autem, qui dicitur Vilissimus, non erat cum eis, quando venit Decius. Dixerunt autem alii discipuli: «Vidimus Decium.» Qui dixit eis: «Nisi mittam os meum in locum peccarii, ut bibam, non credam.» Primas autem, qui dicitur Vilissimus, iactabat decem, alius duodecim, tertius vero quinque. Et qui quinque proiecerat, exhausit bursam et nudus ab aliis se abscondit.

8. The Gospel: the text of the false gospel according the Mark of Silver: Chicanery be with you, Decius! When a group of players had gathered on evening, Decius came among them and said: “Chicanery be with you! Don’t stop playing! I have been sent to you because of your pain.” Primas, who is called “the ugliest,” was not with them when Decius came. The other disciples said to him: “We have seen Decius.” He said to them: “Unless I put my mouth to the goblet to drink, I will not believe it.” Primas, who is called “the ugliest,” threw a ten, another threw a twelve, and a third a five. The man who had thrown a five emptied his purse and, naked, hid himself from the others.

Some notes:

2. Fraus vobis parodies Pax vobis (peace be with you, Luke 24:36), the standard greeting at the beginning of mass.

4. The whole section parodies Acts 4:32-35. The word translated as Apofools – apopholorum – puns on apostolorum by substituting a different root.

8. This section parodies Jesus’ coming to his disciples after his resurrection and Primas’ response parodies that of the doubting Thomas.

One thought on “Fraus vobis! – Tibi leccatori!

  1. I was 41 years old, living on the Mesabi Iron Range of Northern Minnesota, and very sick with the flu. I had just gotten a CD player and was listening to the Officium Lusorum and started to cry as I realized there was no one I could talk to about this brilliant work of medieval satire. I had been a seminarian and had had five years of Latin and was familiar with the Latin Mass, having grown up with it. There would have been priests around who would have understood the Latin but would not have been appreciative of the scandalous nature of the text. Other friends would have gotten the satire but wouldn’t know the Latin to get all the puns and religious and cultural references. While my wife was in graduate school, I had bought a copy of the Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag print of the entire Carmina Burana in original and German (my first language) translation and I could follow along. What a stunning collection that so few people have gotten acquainted with, and I, a North Dakota farmer, had no one around to discuss it with.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s