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.

Then choirs of angels will joyfully sing: “May God be merciful to this tippler.”

Since this is a lengthy and – as these things go – better known poem of the Archpoet‘s from the Carmina Burana (191) I’m only giving a selection (stanzas 12-19). My text and translation are David Traill’s from v.2 of the Dumbarton Oaks Carmina Burana. The full text with a different translation can be found here. The imagined setting is the Archpoet’s ‘confession’ to the new Archbishop of Cologne:

Under the third count I will speak of the tavern;
I have never spurned it, nor shall I ever do so,
until I see the holy angels coming,
singing Eternal Requiem for the dead.

It is my resolve to die in a tavern
so that there may be wine near my dying mouth.
Then choirs of angels will joyfully sing:
“May God be merciful to this tippler.”*

Cups of wine set the mind’s lamp alight; when my heart
is imbued with its nectar, it soars up to heaven.
The wine of the tavern tastes sweeter to me than the
wine watered down by the archbishop’s butler.

Some poets avoid public areas and choose to sit in
secluded hideaways. They study, press on, stay up late,
and work really hard and in the end can scarcely
produce an intelligible work.

Some poets fast and abstain from drinking, avoiding
public squabbles and the tumult of the forum,
and to make a work that cannot die,
they study themselves to death, devoted to their task.

To each of us Natures gives his own special gift;
I have never been able to write when fasting.
A boy could beat me when I fast.
Thirst and fasting I hate like death.

To each of us Nature gives his own special gift;
when I write verses, I drink good wine
– the best the inkeeper’s casks contain –
that’s the wine that produces a rich flow of words.

The verses I write reflect the quality of the wine I
drink. I can’t do anything if I haven’t eaten;
the lines I write when fasting are absolutely worthless;
but after goblets of wine I outdo Ovid with my verse.

Poetic inspiration is never given to me
unless my belly is well and truly full.
When Bacchus holds sway in the citadel of my brain,
Phoebus rushes into me and says wondrous things.

12.
Meum est propositum in taberna mori,
ut sint vina proxima morientis ori;
tunc cantabunt laetius angelorum chori:
«Sit Deus propitius huic potatori.»*

13.
Poculis accenditur animi lucerna,
cor imbutum nectare volat ad superna.
mihi sapit dulcius vinum de taberna,
quam quod aqua miscuit praesulis pincerna.

14.
Loca vitant publica quidam poetarum
et secretas eligunt sedes latebrarum,
student, instant, vigilant nec laborant parum,
et vix tandem reddere possunt opus clarum.

15.
Ieiunant et abstinent poetarum chori,
vitant rixas publicas et tumultus fori,
et ut opus faciant, quod non possit mori,
moriuntur studio subditi labori.

16.
Unicuique proprium dat Natura munus:
ego numquam potui scribere ieiunus,
me ieiunum vincere posset puer unus.
sitim et ieiunium odi tamquam funus.

17.
Unicuique proprium dat Natura donum:
ego versus faciens bibo vinum bonum,
et quod habent purius dolia cauponum;
vinum tale generat copiam sermonum.

18.
Tales versus facio, quale vinum bibo,
nihil possum facere nisi sumpto cibo;
nihil valent penitus, que ieiunus scribo,
Nasonem post calices carmine praeibo.

19.
Mihi numquam spiritus poetriae datur,
nisi prius fuerit venter bene satur;
dum in arce cerebri Bacchus dominatur,
in me Phebus irruit et miranda fatur.

* The Latin parodies Luke 18:13 – “Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori” (God, be merciful to me, a sinner).