Translations from Rupert, Hildegard, and Guibert of Gembloux

Copyright (C) 1999 by Abigail Ann Young


These are translations that I've done as 'background' to other work. My own thesis, and books and articles I've read by other scholars as well, taught me that just reading complex Latin passages by writers like Rupert and Hildegard was not enough. I made mistakes in interpretation because I was skimming along the surface and not doing the kind of close reading that you have to do in translation. So I resolved in future to make actual translations of key passages I was using in the paper I've posted here, and I've carried on with that resolve in later work as well.

Just lately, however, it's occurred to me that, with the teaching of mediaeval history and thought from primary sources on the rise at a time when, as far as I can tell, the teaching of mediaeval Latin is far from widespread, it might be useful to some students to have a readily available translation of some of these texts. So I am posting them here, and will add to this site as I expand the repertoire of translations that I've done.

A few technical notes: I have tried to identify quotes and allusions to the Vulgate Bible in square brackets. When the Bible is quoted, I have adapted the Douay-Reims translation (since it is largely based upon the Vulgate). The translation is fairly literal in most cases, although sometimes when there was just no way to get the idiom into English in a literal way, I have paraphrased the construction. Of the three writers featured below, Rupert was by far the most graceful stylist, as might be expected from one who was not only a traditionally-educated Benedictine but a teacher who took part in public debate as well. Guibert's Latin on the other hand is convoluted and ornamented in the extreme: sometimes the sense of his words is almost lost in the foliage of his style. Hildegard, while not always an exact grammarian, is usually clear although the demands of expressing her visionary experiences in words sometimes exceed her clarity of presentation. I hope that some sense of their quite different styles shows through in the translations.

  1. Rupert of Deutz
    • An Apologetic Preface by Rupert to his Commentary on John, written about 1116. The Latin source is printed on pp 5-7 of Commentaria in euangelium sancti Iohannis, ed. Rh. Haacke, CCM 9 (Turnhout, 1969).
    • Book I (excerpted) of On the Benedictine Rule, written about 1125, this could be described as Rupert's version of the Historia Calamitatum, in which he explains why he has been so frequently attacked. This work has no modern edition; the complete text is In quaedam capitula Regulae S. Benedicti, PL 170.477-538; book 1 ends in col 498B.
    • A Letter to Abbot Cuno of Siegburg, written about 1126, on why his Commentary on John has been so attacked. The Latin original is found on pp 1-4 of Commentaria in euangelium sancti Iohannis, ed. Rh. Haacke, CCM 9 (Turnhout, 1969)
  2. Hildegard of Bingen
    • Opening Declaration (Protestificatio) to Scivias, written ca. 1150-1, describing events of 1141. Latin original is on pp 3-6 of Scivias, A. Führkötter and A. Carlevaris eds, CCM 43-43A (2 vols with continuous pagination) (Turnhout, 1978).
    • Reply from Hildegard to the first two letters of Guibert of Gembloux, AD 1175. Latin original is letter no. 103R in Hildegardis Bingensis Epistolarium, Pt 2, L. van Acker ed, CCM 91A (Turnhout, 1993), pp 258-65.

    (NB: these texts from Hildegard were first read together with a colleague, Dr Jacqueline Murray of the History Department, University of Windsor, without whose interest I would probably never have looked at any of Hildegard's writings. However any and all errors I may have made in the translations or interpretation of Hildegard are mine alone!)

  3. Guibert of Gembloux
    • First letter to Hildegard of Bingen, written in 1175; the Latin original is no. 16 in Guiberti Gemblacensis epistolae quae in codice B. R. Brux. 5527-5534 inueniuntur, Pt 1, Albert Derolez ed., CCM 66 (Turnhout, 1988), pp 216-20
    • Second letter from Guibert to Hildegard, 14 August 1175; the Latin original is no. 17 on pp 222-4 of the same edition.

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