Middle English Word of the Moment

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Poor Piers.

I just translated a sentence from a small Latin chronicle. The translation came out as "And in regarding him, the son of the king was suddenly struck with such love that he formed a potent and intimate bond with him, choosing above all other mortals to entangle with him in indissoluble chains of pleasure."

And the word I translated as 'bond', 'foedus', can mean alliance or treaty, or marriage contract, or union, or sexual relationship - and when it's an adjective, it gets into moral hysteria about FILTHY and BASE and REPUGNANT and OBSCENE and UNNATURAL.

Poor Piers Gavaston. Everyone gets so steamy-headed as soon as they start talking about him. Hugh never had this problem.

4 comments:

Lady D. said...

"Indissoluable chains of pleasure" - oh my! I so love that line! As for poor Hugh - he always was overshadowed by Piers I think!

Alianore said...

Poor Piers indeed! I love the "In indissoluble chains of pleasure" bit too, much nicer than the usual translation!

Ceirseach said...

The chronicle I'm translating is a few pages about the civil wars (well, ostensibly - actually, it's mostly about lancaster, piers and despenser) from Cotton Cleopatra D. IX. If you know of a translation of that, or any reference to it, I'd love to know about it, because I've never seen it referred to anywhere after Haskins published a transcription of it in Speculum in 1939. And it deserves to be noticed, because it is fun. If frequently inaccurate.

Alianore said...

Yes, I know which chronicle you mean - it's often cited in secondary sources (well, 'often' is an exaggeration, but it's certainly been used by a few historians since 1939!) I don't know of any full translation of it, though parts of it have been translated/quoted in various books, such as that famous bit about Ed meeting Piers and falling in love. I use it mainly as a source for Ed's executions and imprisonments of 1322, but don't find the chronicle particularly useful or reliable otherwise.

The translation that most often appears of the bit you translated is "When the King's son saw him he fell so much in love that he entered upon a compact with him, and chose and determined to knit an indissoluble bond of affection with him, before all other mortals."