mjj (flemmings) wrote,


Am reading Helen Waddell's The Wandering Scholars, as much for its personal as well as historical evocation of a time when all the world was young. Is as charmingly confusing to me now as it was forty-five years ago. Waddell not only throws in untranslated Latin sentences at whim (and Italian and Provençal and who knows what all- because any fule with a classical education knows all that already and if not, they can teach themselves), she assumes you know the historical background as well. Thank god for broadband and Wikipedia.

So off she goes about Paulinus of Nola (who? google him; contemporary of Magnus Maximus, known to me from Kipling; and jeez, who calls himself Great the Greatest?) and Ausonius, his older friend and mentor, and here she mentions Sulpicius Severus- "barrister and biographer before Anatole France of the Desert Fathers, the father of French prose although he wrote in Latin' see footnote 3, which gives us hurrah! a biographical summary *and* a translation of the pertinent bit:
Sulpicius Severus, c. 363-425; born at Toulouse; lost his young wife and renounced the world, but not its humours. Vide Dialogus I, on the five men in the desert, and one of them a Gaul, confronted by half a loaf. "Facis inhumane qui nos Gallos homines cogis examplo angelorum vivere:" (which I think means 'It's barbarous to think we men of Gaul can live like the angels') "-and anyhow I am convinced that for the sheer pleasure of eating the angels eat themselves."
So *that's* where I got that quotation. I always wondered.

("Ausonius and Sulpicius Severus... are the first representatives in literature of the French haute bourgeoisie, perhaps the most intellectual in Europe." You think? Well... maybe.)
Tags: history, language, reading_17

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