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ABSTRACT: Evidence is presented here for the orthographic, grammatical, and syntactical correctness and the computistic and architectonic competence of composition of Vita I sanctae Brigitae, its priority to and influence on the Vita II by Cogitosus of Kildare, and its authorship by Aileranus Sapiens, lector of Clonard, who died in 665.
KEYWORDS: Brigit, Ultán, Ailerán of Clonard, Cogitosus of Kildare, Donatus Scottus of Fiesole, Vita primitiua sanctae Brigitae, Vita I, Vita II, Rheims verses, Vita metrica sanctae Brigidae, Bethu Phátraic, Tírechán Collectanea, rhyming rhythmic prose, cursus, chiastic and computistic and calendrical composition
Chronicon 1 (1997) 5: 1-31
1. The Vita I sanctae Brigitae has received harsh words from some critics. James Kenney described it as `a loose and prolix document'.1 Mario Esposito described it once as `a primitive and crudely compiled collection of miracles in rustic Latin' and lamented again its `crude Latin'.2 Kim McCone described it as `far from impressive: it is clumsy, inelegant and monotonous in construction and limited in vocabulary, rarely transcending a childish dependence on coordinating conjunctions such as et and - que in its narrative'; its `stylistic inadequacies are often painfully apparent'; its author `obviously lacked both the ability and the desire to write Latin of any quality'. `The writer of Vita I was no master of Latin', in alleged contrast to the `accomplished and learned classical style' of Ailerán.3 With shrewder insight Richard Sharpe contrasted its `simpler text' with the more polished rhetorical prose of Cogitosus.4 Let us consider the Latinity of the Vita I sanctae Brigitae.
2. In the paragraphs that follow, the text derives from London, British Library, MS Additional 34124, of the ninth century, perhaps from Benediktbeuern, checked against the edition of J. Colgan, Trias thaumaturga (Louvain 1647) 527-42. Columns to the left of the text mark line numbers, rhyme scheme, and numbers of words, syllables, and letters. Within the text, which I have arranged in lines, capital letters and punctuation marks in boldface represent features of the manuscript. I have marked rhythms of the cursus with acute and grave accents, alliteration within a line with solid underlining, and rhymes with italics. Alliteration between adjacent lines is shown between square brackets. The translations are mine.
3. §1 PROLOGUS (f 1v-2r)
1 a 8 21 51 Fuit quidam uir nobilis Laginensis genere nómine Dúbthacus b 15 33 78 Ille emit ancillam nomine Broicsech1 et erat formosa forma et moribus bonis et bóna seruitúte a 6 16 40 Concupiuit autem illam dominus súus Dúbthacus c 10 18 37 et dormiuit cum ea :· que concepit áb eo in útero 5 bc 13 27 66 Hoc autem sciens propria uxor Dubthaci contristáta est uálde et díxit uiro súo de 11 28 61 Eice et uénde ancìllam ístam ne progenies ipsius meam progéniem súperet2 :· de 14 31 73 [S]ed uir [n]olebat uendere ancillam uálde amans éam : in omnibus enim moribus perfecta fuit :· 77 174 406 MS READINGS: 1a broicseh 2superat.
There was a certain noble man, a Leinsterman by ancestry, by name Dubthac.
He bought a handmaid, by name Broicsech, and she was exemplary in appearance and in good habits and in good service.
He desired her passionately, however, her own lord Dubthac,
and he slept with her, who conceived by him in the womb.
The proper wife of Dubthac knowing this, however, was saddened greatly and said to her own man,
`Eject and sell this handmaid, lest her progeny be superior to my progeny'.
But the man did not wish to sell the handmaid, greatly loving her, for in all habits she was perfect.
4. §132 EPILOGUS (f 124r-v)
1 9 21 53 Cum autem Sancte1 Brigite exitus de hoc seculo ádpropinquássett 9 22 49 uoluit alumna sua Darlugthacha secum egrédere dè hac uíta :· 10 22 49 Respondit ei Brigita dicens : Successor mea éris in ùno ánno : 11 23 47 et in die obitus mei ut una nobis solemnitas sít moriéris : 5 4 5 14 Ét sic fáctum est :· 9 19 47 [S]ancta uero Brigita migrauit de hac luce póst uictóriam 13 36 91 inter choros patriarcharum et prophetarum atque apostolorum et martyrum . omniumque sanctórum ac uírginum : 18 44 103 et inter angelorum et archangelorum agmina ad coronas eternas moriéris : regni celestis ad Hierusalem celestem ad régnum sine fíne 11 29 71 ubi premia eterna prestantur per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium únigénitum2 10 16 33 77 3qui cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu uiuit et dominatur et regnat Deus per omnia sécula sèculórum 1 2 4 Amen3 111 256 605 MS READINGS: 1sancta. 2tuum. 3MS om. Colgan qui cum Patre & Sancto Spiritu vivit, dominatur, & regnat Deus. per omnia sæcula sæculorum Amen.
When, however, the departure of Saint Brigit from this age approached,
her own pupil Darlugthacha wished to pass out from this life with her.
Brigit responds to her, saying, `You will be my successor during one year,
and on the day of my death, so that there may be for us one solemn festival, you will die'.
And it was made so.
For Saint Brigit migrated from this light after a victory,
among choirs of patriarchs and prophets, also apostles and martyrs, moreover all saints, even virgins,
and among throngs of angels and archangels, to eternal crowns of the celestial realm, to celestial Jerusalem, to the realm without end,
where eternal rewards are furnished through Our Lord Jesus Christ, the only- begotten Son,
Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and acts as lord and rules, God, through all ages of ages.
5. In this arrangement in lines, determined by syntax, by rhythm (every line but the last in each paragraph exhibiting a good cursus rhythm), and by rhyme, and confirmed by disposition of capital letters and punctuation marks in the manuscript, the Prologue contains 7 lines and 77 words,5 the Epilogue 11 lines and 111 words.
In the Prologue let us consider first Brigit's father Dubthach, whose name divides the words of the text by the ratio 1:1. There are 39 words from | nomine Dubthacus 1 to uxor Dubthaci | 5 inclusive. Those 39 words divide in turn by the ratio 1:1 at | dominus suus Dubthacus 3. Dubthac is the uir 7, the 13th word from the end of the Prologue. Between uir 7 and uiro 5 there are 13 words. Between uiro 5 and eo 4 there are 13 words. Between ille 2 and ab eo 4 there are 26 (13×2) words.
Reckoning syllables one observes that from | nomine Dubthacus 1 to uxor Dubthaci | 5 inclusive there are 86 syllables;6 from the beginning to genere | 1 and from | contristata 5 to the end there are 88 syllables.7
Reckoning letters one observes that from | nomine Dubthacus 1 to uxor Dubthaci | 5 inclusive there are 203 letters; from the beginning to genere | 1 and from | contristata 5 to the end there are 203 letters.8
Let us consider second Brigit's mother Broicsech, the ancilla 2, the 11th word from the beginning of the Prologue, after which the 22nd (11×2) word is ea (i.e. ancilla) 4, between which and ancilla 6 there are 22 words, between which and ancillam 7 there are 11 words. After ipsius (i.e. ancillae) 6 the 11th word is eam (i.e. ancillam) 7. Between ancillam 2 and ancillam 6 there are 44 (11×4) words. Between illam (i.e. ancillam) 3 and eam (i.e. ancillam) 7 there are 44 words.
Let us consider third Dubthac's wife, the uxor 5, after which the 17th word is meam (i.e. uxoris) 6, meam being the 17th word from the end of the Prologue.
Let us consider fourth the actions of these people. Between uende 6 and uendere 7 there are 11 words. Between moribus 2 and moribus 7 there are 55 (11×5) words. Between genere 1 and progeniem 6 there are 55 words. From ualde 5 (modifying the sadness of Dubthac's wife) to ualde 7 (modifying the love of Dubthac for Broicsech) inclusive there are 22 (11×2) words.
Even apparently insignificant postpositive particles recur at fixed intervals. Before autem 3 there are 24 words (4×6). After autem 3 autem 5 is the 16th word (4×4), between which and enim 9 there are 32 (4×8) words. Enim is the fourth word from the end of the Prologue.
The word fuit occurring first and last makes a dúnad. Between fuit and fuit the central word of the Prologue, 39th of 77, is the place of Brigit's conception, in utero at the end of the central fourth line. The first syllable of utero is 86th from the beginning. After utero there are 86 syllables to the end.9 The 200th letter from the beginning is the first of in utero; after utero there are 200 letters to the end.
In the Epilogue from the beginning of exitus de hoc seculo 1 the 11th word inclusive is the first of egredere de hac uita 2, from the beginning of which phrase the 33rd word (11×3) is the first of migrauit de hac luce 6. Between eternas 8 and eterna 9 there are 11 words.
6. Let us note also the chiasmus in lines 2-6:
secum egredere de hac uita Brigita eris uno in die obitus mei una est Brigita migrauit de hac luce inter choros patriarcharum.
The 111 words of the Epilogue divide by extreme and mean ratio at 69 and 42. There are 42 words from secum to patriarcharum, which divide in turn by extreme and mean ratio at 26 and 16 at the crux of the chiasmus, | in die obitus mei. As the day of Brigit's obitus is 1 February, the 32nd day of the year, obitus is appropriately the 32nd word of the Epilogue.10 In the same chiastic passage there are 88 syllables,11 which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 54 and 34, at | die obitus mei. In the same chiastic passage there are 203 letters,12 which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 125 and 78, at | obitus mei.
The first two words Cum autem 1 and the words from migrauit 6 to the end total 77.13 From Sancte Brigite 1 to Sancta uero Brigita 6 inclusive there are 44 words, 40% of the total. Of those 44 words 40% are 18, from Brigite 1 to Brigita 3 inclusive. Of those 18 words 40% are 7, and half are 9, the divisions falling at | alumna sua | Darlugthacha 2.
Postpositive particles recur at a multiple of the same number as in the Prologue. From autem 1 to uero 6 inclusive there are 44 words (4×11).
7. Here follows the text of §47, f 41r-42v, relating a story about attempted theft of cattle.
Ante diem cuiusdam solemnitatis uenit ad Sanctam Brigitam in Cella Roboris una discipula1 eius quam Brigita nutriuit : portans illi elemosinam :· Cumque adsignasset donum : dixit Reuertar ad domum meam : ut ueniant parentes orare tecum per noctem istam : ego autem remanebo ad custodiendam domum et pecora :· Brigita dixit : Non sic sed tu mane hic et parentes ueniant huc : substantiam autem uestram et domum Dominus seruabit :· Ueneruntque parentes sicut illa dixit : et simul omnes celebrauerunt festum apud Sanctam Brigitam :· Media uero nocte fures uenerunt ad domum eorum scientes habitatores exisse ad sanctam et furati sunt boues :· Cum2 uenissent ad amnem Liffi inuenerunt flumen repletum abundantie aque : et non potuerunt boues minare trans flumen :· Cumque laborarent maxima parte noctis : consilio facto : alligauerunt omnia uestimenta sua super capita boum similiter et arma sua : et dimidio flumine retrouersi sunt . portantes3 spolia et arma inimicorum suorum super capita sua : currentesque per campum Liffi et uiri nudi post eos : non ad propriam domum boues reuersi sunt : sed recto cursu ad ciuitatem Brigite :· Primo diluculo uenerunt et cognouerunt multi illos boues et fures : tunc fures dederunt laudem Deo : et fuerunt in penitentia apud Sanctam Brigitam in sua ciuitate : Plebeus uero exultans cum bobus4 suis ad domum suam exiit et Deo gratias egit:-
MS READINGS: 1discipularum 2cumque 3portans bubus
8. Let us arrange the text to illustrate the chiastic statement and restatement of words and ideas. Italics suggest rhymes. Solid underlining suggests alliteration within sections and italic underlining alliteration between matching phrases.
4 12 28 A1 Ante diem cuiúsdam solèmnitátis 10 22 52 uenit ad Sanctam Brigitam in Cella Roboris una discípula eíus 6 16 40 quam Brigita nutriuit : portans illi élemósinam :· 3 8 22 Cumque ádsignasset dónum : 1 2 5 A2 dixit 4 8 19 A3 Reuertar ád domum méam : 8 17 41 ut ueniant parentes orare técum per nòctem ístam : 5 14 30 A4 ego autem remanebo ad custodiendam 1 2 5 A5 dómum 1 1 2 A6 et 1 3 6 A7 pécora :· 4 7 18 A8 Brígita dìxit Nón sic 4 5 12 sed tu mane hic 4 8 20 et parentes ueniant huc : 3 8 23 A7` substantiam autem uestram 1 1 2 A6` et 1 2 5 A5` domum 2 6 15 A4` Dóminus seruábit :· 2 7 19 A3` [U]enerúntque paréntes 3 6 14 A2` sícut illa díxit : 5 12 31 A1` et simul omnes célebrauèrunt féstum 3 7 19 apud Sánctam Brígitam:· 8 18 39 B1 Media uero nocte fures uenerunt ád domum eórum 5 14 34 scientes habitatores exísse ad sánctam 4 7 17 et furáti sunt bóues :· 5 9 24 B2 [Cu]m uenissent ád amnem Líffi 5 16 38 B3 inuenerunt flumen repletum abundántie áque : 7 14 36 et non potuerunt boues mináre trans flúmen :· 5 13 33 B4 [C]umque laborarent máxima pàrte nóctis : 2 61 3 B5 consílio fácto : 11 30 63 B4` alligauerunt omnia uestimenta sua super capita boum similiter et arma sua : 7 19 45 B3` et dimidio flumine rétrouérsi sunt . portántes spólia 7 18 36 et arma inimicorum suorum super cápita súa : 4 9 26 B2` currentésque per càmpum Líffi 5 8 17 et uiri núdi post éos 4 7 18 B1`C1 non [ad] própriam [dómum] 1 2 5 C2 bóues 8 17 42 C3 reuérsi sunt : sed recto cursu ad ciuitátem Brígite :· 3 9 21 C4 Primo dilúculo uenérunt 5 11 28 C5 et cógnouerunt múlti illos bóues 2 3 7 C6 et fúres : 1 1 4 C7 tunc 1 2 5 C6` fures 3 7 17 C5` dedérunt laudem Déo : 4 10 21 C4` et fuerunt in péniténtia 6 14 32 C3` apud Sanctam Brigitam in súa ciuitát[e] 6 13 31 C2` Plebeus uero exúltans cum bòbus súis 4 8 16 C1` ad domum súam éxiit 4 8 16 D et Deo grátias égit :-
Before the day of a certain solemn festival
there came to Saint Brigit at the Cell of the Oak [i.e. Kildare] one disciple of hers
whom Brigit nurtured, bearing to her alms,
and when she had assigned the gift
`I shall turn back to my house
so that [my] parents may come to pray with you through this night.
I, however, shall remain for guarding
Brigit said, `Not so.
But you remain here,
and [your] parents may come hither.
Your property, however,
the Lord will save'.
And the parents came,
just as she said,
and together all celebrated the feast
with Saint Brigit.
In the middle of the night, though, thieves came to their house
knowing the inhabitants to have gone out to the saint
and they thieved the cattle.
When they came to the stream of the Liffey
they found the river refilled with an abundance of water,
and they could not impel the cattle across the river.
And when they laboured during the greatest part of the night,
with counsel made,
they bound all their own clothes above the heads of the cattle and similarly their own arms
and in the middle of the river they [sc. the cattle] turned backwards bearing the spoils
and arms of their own enemies above their own heads,
and running through the field of the Liffey
and the men naked after them,
not to their proper house
turned back, but in a straight course to the city of Brigit [i.e. Kildare]
at first dawn they came,
and many recognised those cattle
and the thieves;
gave praise to God,
and they were in penitence
with Saint Brigit in her own city,
though the man of the people exulting with his own cattle
to his own house went out
and to God gave thanks.
9. In part A compare diem solemnitatis and ad sanctam Brigitam in 1 with festum and apud sanctam Brigitam in 1`, dixit in 2 with dixit in 2`, ut ueniant parentes in 3 with ueneruntque parentes in 3`, ego and ad custodiendam in 4 with Dominus seruabit in 4`, domum in 5 with domum in 5`, et in 6 with et in 6`, pecora in 7 with substantiam in 7` around the direct discourse of Brigit at the centre in 8.
In part B compare ad domum eorum in 1 with ad propriam domum in 1`, ad amnem Liffi in 2 with per campum Liffi in 2`, flumen repletum in 3 with dimidio flumine in 3`, laborarent in 4 with alligauerunt in 4`, around the ablative absolute construction consilio facto at the centre in 5.
The last line of part B serves also as the first line of part C. Compare ad propriam domum in 1 with ad domum suam in 1`, boues in 2 with bobus in 2`, ad ciuitatem Brigite in 3 with apud sanctam Brigitam in sua ciuitate in 3`, uenerunt in 4 with fuerunt in 4`, cognouerunt in 5 with dederunt in 5`, fures in 6 with fures in 6`, around tunc at the centre in 7.
In part A the 76 words divide by extreme and mean ratio at 47 and 29, in the crux of the chiasmus A8, at the first word of Brigit's direct discourse, Brigita dixit | Non. The 175 syllables divide by extreme and mean ratio at 108 and 67, in Brigita. The 431 letters divide by extreme and mean ratio at 266 and 165, at Non | .
In part B there are 79 words, the central word occurring at the crux of the chiasmus, 39 words before and 39 words after consilio | . There are 91 syllables in B1-4, 6 in the crux, and 91 in B4`-1`.
In part C there are 48 words, the central words occurring at the crux of the chiasmus, fures tunc | fures, 24 words from C1-7 and 24 from C6`-1`. There are 121 letters in C1-6, 4 in C7, and 122 in C6`-1`.
Within the discrete parts words recur at fixed intervals. In part A there are 23 words before dixit 2, 23 words from dixit 2 to dixit 5 inclusive, and 23 words from dixit 5 to dixit 2` inclusive.
Having examined parts A, B, and C as discrete paragraphs let us consider aspects of the structure that link them into a coherent whole. Between uenit A1 and ueniant A3 there are 24 words. Between ueniant A3 and ueniant A8 there are 24 words. Between ueniant A8 and uenerunt B1 (excluding ueneruntque A3`) there are 24 words. Between uenerunt B1 and uenissent B2 there are 12 words.
There are 7 words before Brigitam A1, and there are 7 words from Brigitam to eius [i.e. Brigite] inclusive. There are 7 words between Brigitam and Brigita A1. Between Brigita A1 and dixit [sc. Brigita] A2 there are 7 words, after which the 21st word (7×3) is Brigita A8. Between Brigita A8 and illa dixit [sc. Brigita] A2` there are 21 words. Between dixit and Brigitam A1` there are 7 words. From Brigitam A1± to sanctam [sc. Brigitam] B1 inclusive there are 14 words (7×2). Between Brigite C3 and Brigitam C3` there are 21 words. After sua ciuitate [i.e. Brigite] C3` there are 14 words to the end of the passage.
Note what our author says three times, each in part 3 or 3` of the respective paragraphs. In A3 the discipula says to Brigit reuertar. In B3` the cattle retrouersi sunt, and in C3 they reuersi sunt. The 203 words of the passage divide by sesquioctave ratio (9:8) at 107 and 96 and by one-ninth and eight-ninths at 23 and 180. From | reuertar to | retrouersi sunt there are 107 words. Between retrouersi sunt and reuersi sunt there are 23 words.14
As there are 76 words in A and 79 in B the central words of parts A and B are media uero nocte `in the "middle" of the night' B1. As the 203 words of the entire composition divide by extreme and mean ratio at 125.5 and 77.5, the 77th word media is also the `mean' word of parts A, B, C, and D.15
10. In §67, f 68r-69v, our hagiographer relates the dealings of Brigit with Conallus filius Neil.
1 Nam in capite anni exiit Conallus cum exercitu multo in regiones ínimicórum : et ibi cédem magnam fécit : et cum magno triumpho reuersus est in súam pátriam :· 5 Cumque fatigatus fuit in alium castéllum intráuit : tunc socii sui dixérunt ad Cónallum : Si in hoc loco manserimus uenient inimici nostri et interficient nos :· Dixitque Conallus : Lassus sum hinc exíre non póssum :· Sancta Brigita promisit1 quod me defendat in ómni perículo : credo quod illa promísit uerum érit :· 10 In manus illius me commendo cum meis comítibus ìn hac nócte : Statimque in illa nocte inimici post éos uenérunt :· Et cum aduenissent prope ad illum castellum ubi érat Cónallus : tres uiros ad considerandum castellum miserunt et illi intrauérunt in>: castéllum : et ibi uiderunt magnum populum clericorum sedentes in habitu clericali eteute;runt in>: ignem in médio eórum: 15 et libros apértos coram éis :· Sic enim posuerat exercitus cápita òccisórum: et unusquisque caput positum ánte habéret :· Ideoque uisi sunt uiri quasi libros apértos scrutántes : et reuersi sunt exploratores illi talia rénuntiántes : 20 Et iterum alios tres uiros sagacióres misérunt : et ipsi uiderunt similiter clericos cum libris apertis sicut prióres: uidérunt :· Tunc exercitus inimicorum reuersus est in súam regiónem : et legatos ad reportanda capita rétromisérunt :· Qui hec Conallo núntiauérunt : 25 tunc Conallus gratias Deo et Brígite égit : MS READING: 1promisit mihi.
11. The author relates this story as having occurred in capite anni, and he refers three times to capita 16, caput 17, capita 23, and to groups of three men, tres uiros 13, alios tres uiros 20, who mistook for decapitated heads open books mentioned three times, libros apertos 15, 18, libris apertis 21. The author relates the story in chiastic passages, of which one extends from line 4 to line 13 inclusive.
4 A1 in alium castellum 4 A2 intrauit 5 A3 Conallum 6 A4 in hoc loco 6 A5 manserimus 6 A6 uenient 6 A7 inimici 8 A8 Sancta Brigita promisit quod me defendat in omni periculo : 9 A9 credo quod illa promisit uerum erit :· 10 A8` In manus illius me commendo cum meis comitibus in hac nocte : 11 A7` inimici 11 A6` uenerunt 12 A5` aduenissent prope 12 A4` ad illum castellum 12 A3` Conallus 13 A2` intrauerunt 13 A1` in castellum :
From Cumque fatigatus fuit 4 to in castellum 13 inclusive there are 87 words, of which the central 44th is illa [sc. Brigita] at the centre of the crux of the chiasmus. There are 190 syllables, of which the central 95th from beginning and end are at quod | illa. There are 232 letters from Cumque to quod inclusive and 232 letters from illa to castellum inclusive. The disposition of capital letters and punctuation marks in this passage as in the others helps to illuminate the structure.
12. Another chiastic passage inwoven with the preceding passage extends from line 13 to line 24 inclusive.
13 B1a tres uiros illi uiderunt populum clericorum libros apertos 15 B1b coram eis 15 B1c posuerat 16 B1d capita 16 B1e occisorum 16 B1f et 17 B1e` unusquisque 17 B1d` caput 17 B1c` positum 17 B1b` ante 18 B1a` uiri libros apertos 19 B2 renuntiantes :· 20 B1` a alios tres uiros ipsi uiderunt clericos libris apertis 24 B2` nuntiauerunt :
From Et cum 12 to Brigite egit 25 inclusive there are 111 words, which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 68.6 and 42.4, after renuntiantes, the 68th word. The centre of those 68 words falls after the 34th, in|medio eorum 14. The same passage contains 165 syllables, of which the central is the last of in medio eorum.
13. A third chiastic arrangement binds the entire paragraph.
1 C1 Conallus 1 C2 exercitu inimicorum reuersus est in suam patriam 12 C3 Conallus 22 C2` exercitus inimicorum reuersus est in suam regionem 25 C1` Conallus
The first Conallus is the sixth word from the beginning of the paragraph, and the last Conallus is the sixth word from the end of the paragraph. The former reuersus is the 22nd (11×2) word from the beginning, and the latter reuersus is the 22nd word from the end. The 203 words of the entire paragraph divide by symmetry at the 102nd word, Conallus, at the crux of the chiasmus.
14. The 203 words of this paragraph16 divide by extreme and mean ratio at 127 and 78, at in | medio. From tres uiros to alios tres uiros inclusive there are 63 words, which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 39 and 24, at in | medio. After reuersus est in patriam suam | 3 there are 161 words to reuersus est in suam regionem | 22 inclusive, which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 100 and 61, at | in medio.17
In addition to these structures the author has fixed his text in varied ways. There are, for example, from miserunt 13 to retromiserunt 23 inclusive 85 words, which divide by sesquioctave ratio (9:8) at 45 and 40 and by one-ninth and eight-ninths at 9 and 76. Between miserunt and reuersi sunt 19 there are 45 words. After reuersus est 22 the ninth word is retromiserunt.18
15. In §92, folios 100v-101v, our hagiographer relates the famous story of Brigit drying her clothes on a sunbeam.
Quadam autem die pluuiali uenit Brigita ad domum suam : et cum cessaret pluuia radius solis uenit in domum per parietem : et posuit Brigita uestimentum suum super illum radium putans quod funis esset :· Tunc alius predicauit uerbum Dei in domo illa : et Brigita intendebat uerbum Dei . et usque ad uesperum et magnam partem noctis inebriata est mens eius uerbo Dei . et oblita est presentia1 : radius uero ille super quem posuit Brigita uestimentum suum in radium : post occasum solis usque dimidium noctis permansit :· Tunc unus eorum qui erant in domo illa dixit ad Brigitam :· Tolle uestimentum de radio solis : quia radius iste usque ad mane non deficiet : donec tollas uestimentum tuum de eo :· Tunc Brigita cito surrexit : et deposuit uestem de radio dicens : Putabam quod funis esset non radius :· Alii quoque eadem nocte uenerunt ad campum Liffi : et dixerunt se uidisse radium istum inlustrantem campum donec peruenerunt ad Sanctam Brigitam media nocte : tunc omnes Deo gratias egerunt et laudauerunt Sanctam Brigitam2 :· MS READINGS: 1sentia 2Brigidam
The 160 words of the paragraph divide into halves at dimidium | noctis.19 The 160 words divide by extreme and mean ratio at 99 and 61. The passage from et usque ad uesperum et ad magnam partem noctis to usque ad mane non deficiet contains 61 words. From radium putans quod funis esset to putabam quod funis esset non radius inclusive there are 100 words, of which the central are post occasum solis | usque dimidium noctis. The passage from uerbum Dei to uerbo Dei inclusive contains 24 words, which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 15 and 9, at uerbum | Dei and | magnam partem.
In the last sentence the number of words, 32, appropriate to Saint Brigit's Day, the thirty-second day of the year, divides by extreme and mean ratio at 20 and 12.20 There are 20 words from | eodem nocte to media | nocte,21 which divide by symmetry at the 12th word from the beginning, uidisse | radium. There are 12 words from Brigitam to Brigitam inclusive, which divide by symmetry at Deo | gratias.
16. In §105, f 111v, our hagiographer relates Brigit's termination of a pregnancy.
Alio autem die Sancta Brigita per potentissimam fortitudinem fidei aliquam feminam post uotum integritatis lapsam . et habentem pregnantem ac tumescentem uuluam benedixit : et decrescens in uulua conceptus sine partu et dolore eam sanam ad penitentiam restituit : illa sanata est et gratias Deo egit :·
Of 43 words the central 22nd is benedixit, before which the second word is tumescentem and after which the second word is decrescens. The passage divides by extreme and mean ratio at 27 and 16, at | habentem pregnantem ac tumescentem uuluam benedixit et decrescens in uulua conceptus | . It divides by sesquioctave ratio (9:8) at 23 and 20 and by one-ninth and eight-ninths at 5 and 38, so that reckoned from the end the larger part begins after tumescentem | and reckoned from the beginning the smaller part begins at | decrescens. Again, reckoned from the beginning of the passage the division occurs at | uuluam, after which the fifth word is uulua. The fifth word from the beginning names the heroine, Brigita | .22
17. In §107, f 112v-113r, our hagiographer relates a story of Brigit and a dog and a portion of lard.
Alio die Sancta Brigita suam mentem de terrestribus1 ad célum éleuans : partem grandem larde cum cáne dimísit :
et cum pars ille esset inquisita2 non alicubi sed in loco ubi3 cánis solèbat ésse :· ménse transácto : intacta et íntegra repérta est :·
Non enim canis ausus est comedere : depositum Beate Brígite uírginis :·
sed custos patiens et idoneus larde contra suum solitum morem diuina4 uirtute refrenatus indómitus éxtitit :·
MS READINGS: 1d& | res tribus 2incessita 3om. 4diuine
The 64 words of the passage divide by extreme and mean ratio at 39.55 and 24.45. There are 39 words in the first sentence and 25 in the second. From the beginning to larde there are 14 words and from larde to the end there are 10 words, together 24, which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 14.8 and 9.2. The 64 words divide by duple ratio at 43 and 21. There are 43 words between Brigita and Brigite. The 64 words divide by sesquialter ratio at 38 and 26. After cane the 26th word is canis. Between cane and canis there are 13 words.
The story presents Brigit as suam mentem ad celum eleuans, as if noting calendrical features of celestial phenomena.23 The passage is arranged in seven lines, one for each day of the week. From die to esse inclusive there are 31 words, representing perhaps the number of days in a solar month. These words precede mense transacto, after which there are 30 words to the end of the passage.
18. In §118, f 117r,
Die quoque alio Sancta Brigita unam tunicam duobus pauperibus diuisit utrumque dimidium tunice in illa hora plena1 tunica effecta est a Deo.
MS READING: 1plena ee [with overdots]
The central 11th and 12th of 22 words are utrumque dimidium.24 The 22 words divide by duple ratio (2:1) at 15 and 7, at | duobus pauperibus. The 22 words `divide' by sesquialter ratio (3:2) and by sesquitertian ratio (4:3) at 13 and 9, at diuisit. From unam tunicam to plena tunica inclusive there are 13 words. The 13th word from the beginning is tunice.
19. In §128, f 120v-122v, our hagiographer tells a story of a rustic sentenced to death for killing a king's pet fox.
Quadam die cum alius rusticus nulla suffultus scientia per regis palatium uideret uulpem putans quod non mansueta et familiaris esset : et quod uariis artibus docta regi et suis comitibus spectaculum prestaret : et ignoraret uidente multitudine occidit eam :· Tunc alligatus est et ad regem perductus 1et iussit1 illum occidi : nisi uulpis similis in omnibus calliditatibus restituta esset2: et uxorem et filios et omnia que habuit in seruitutem redigi :· Cum Sancta Brigita rem gestam didicisset : misericordia permota et pietate : currum sibi iungi precipiens et pro misero precibus ad Dominum profusis perrexit in uiam que ducit ad palatium regis nec mora Dominus eius misertus est : unamque de suis uulpibus feris ad eam transmisit et in currum ad eam intrauit et sub ueste Brigite se constituens sobrie in curru cum ea sedebat :· Cum ergo Brigita ad regem peruenisset: coepit precari3 ei ut miser inprouidus solueretur4 : sed rex noluit: obtestans5 quod non dimitturus esset illum nisi uulpem similem in omnibus calliditatibus restituisset :· Tunc ipsa uulpem suam protulit in medium : et omnes mores alterius agens uariis lusit artibus coram omnibus : tunc rex placatus dimisit reum liberum abire :· Cum uero Sancta Brigita remearet ad domum suam : soluto uero predicto ipsa6 uulpes dolosa 7inter turbas7 callide mouens ad loca deserta : et ad suum antrum fugit : et equitibus canibusque8 persequentibus incolomis euasit et omnes uidentes admirati sunt uirtutem Dei per Brigitam : MS READINGS: 1fuisset 2est 3predicari 4soluetur 5obsistans 6ipse 7inturbas 8canisque.
The entire story contains 222 (ccxxii, 111×2) words. From the point at which Brigit enters the narrative, Cum Sancta Brigita rem gestam didicisset, to the end, et omnes uidentes admirati sunt uirtutem Dei per Brigitam, there are 155 words, which divide by extreme and mean ratio at 96 and 59, at Tunc ipsa uulpem suam protulit in | medium.25
20. To form an idea of the comprehensive ordering of the entire text compare not only the first paragraph with the last, Prologue §1 with Epilogue §132, but the third paragraph with the antepenultimate paragraph, §3 with §130:
Illis autem diebus Deo instigante duo sancti episcopi ex Pretiannia uenientes intrauerunt domum Dubthaci quorum unus uocabatur Mel et alter Melchu. Alio die inuenit Brigita mel in pauimento domus sue quod antea ibi non fuit sed in illa hora Deus Sancte Brigite commendauit quia illa quadam necessitate cogente mel a Domino suo postulauit et sic inuenit.
21. The passages of Vita I Sanctae Brigitae analysed above are faultless in orthography, grammar and syntax. They exhibit structural features that recur throughout, in the smallest units, in discrete sentences, in complete paragraphs that link into coherent stories, in paired and balanced but widely separated narratives, and in the entire composition. They exhibit consistent but varied plays on the meanings of words and recurrence of words at arithmetically fixed intervals. There are good reasons to revise estimates of its language as `crude' or `clumsy' or `inelegant' or `childish'. Even description as `rhetorically minimalist' does not do our author justice. The analyses have touched on barely 7% of the text, and they are by no means complete surveys of the author's artifice even in these few examples. Yet they establish beyond question that he was working in a tradition, well documented among Hiberno-Latin authors of the seventh century, in which men tried to represent in literary compositions the ratios of cosmic and musical theory they believed God had used to create a coherent universe.26
22. Assured that our author was not an inchoate writer, let us reconsider what McCone presented in Peritia 1 as `the final piece of the jigsaw' that left him with `absolutely no doubt that such borrowing as there was between Vita II and Vita I was from the former into the latter'.27 The texts presented here from MS Additional 34124 and Sharpe's edition may be compared with those McCone copied from seventeenth-century editions he knew to be inadequate.28 First from Vita I §107 and Vita II, miracle xiii.
Vita I Vita II Et quibus hoc eiusdem opus nonnullis multorum auribus antea inauditum scrupulum non moueret? Alio die Sancta Brigita suam Cum enim haec animo mentem de terrestribus ad esset intenta caelestium celum meditatione ut semper solebat suam de terrestribus ad caelestia eleuans partem grandem larde eleuans conuersationem cum cane dimisit et cum pars quandam non paruam sed illa grandem lardi partem cum cane dimisit et cum esset inquisita non alicubi esset inquisita non sed in loco ubi canis alicubi sed in loco ubi solebat esse mense transacto canis solebat esse mense intacta et integra reperta transacto intacta et est. integra reperta est. Non enim canis ausus est Non enim canis ausus comedere depositum beate comedere depositum Brigite uirginis sed custos beatae uirginis sed patiens et idoneus larde custos patiens lardi et idoneus contra suum solitum morem contra suum solitum diuina uirtute refrenatus morem diuina refrenatus indomitus extitit. uirtute edomitus extitit.
23. Again from Vita I §109 and Vita II miracle xviii.
Vita I Vita II Alio itidem die cum aper Et hoc uirtutibus ipsius 1ferus et singularis1 et uidetur nobis esse siluestris deputandum. Cum aper ferus singularis et siluestris territus et fugitiuus esset territus et fugitiuus ad gregem porcorum Brigite esset ad gregem porcorum felicissime cursu precipiti Brigidae felicissime peruenit quem concitus cursu praecipiti peruenit quem ipsa inter suas 2sues ipsa uentum inter suas cernens2 benedixit. Deinde cernens sues benedixit. inpauidus ac familiaris Deinde inpauidus ac permansit in grege ipsius familiaris cum ipsius permansit grege porcorum quia et bruta porcorum. Ecce uidetis animalia et bestie fratres quod et bruta sermonibus et uoluntati eius animalia et bestiae resistere non sermonibus et uoluntati eius resistere non poterant sed3 domita et poterant sed domata et subiecta placida seruitute subiecta sibi sibi ut uolebat famulabantur. famulabantur.
MS READINGS: 1feris strangulans 2suscernens 3om.
24. The evidence on which McCone based his estimate of the incompetence of Vita I and its dependence upon Vita II will not bear examination. Little remains of McCone's argument but the certainty with which he states his conclusions.
25. Esposito drew attention to some verses from a manuscript from Rheims printed by Mabillon:29
Adfore digneris precibus, pia uirgo, benignis, Brigita, supplicibus prospera posce tuis. Si mihi uita comes fuerit, haec certa tenebis, Laudum te cumulis enituisse meis. Non minus Ultano nostrae praeconia laudis Praestabunt populis, o sacra uirgo, piis. Ille fuit praesul magnus, uirtutibus aptus. Hunc sequar et uincam, si mihi cedis opem. Sic Aileran, plura excerpsit qui gesta tuorum Atque operum flores scripsit opima tomis, Non praetermittam, si forte praeterit ille, Quamquam praesuleos scanderit ipse gradus. Nam Cogitosus item, si ius te iudice cedat, Et nostri studii funditus impar erit. Sed cur tam magnos praecellam munere patres? Quod solus pandam gesta beata trium, Et quod praecipui patres profamine prosae Ediderant, uersu nunc modulabor ego. Iam coeptam comitare uiam famulumque tueri Digneris, superis apta puella choris; Et qui principium facti concedere iussit, Perfectum faciat Christus habere finem, Non quod sim dignus peccator talia fari, Sed precor indignus dignus ut esse queam.
26. These verses, which must have been written after the time of Cogitosus (about the end of the seventh century) and before the date of the manuscript (about 825) issued from an aspiring poet who knew three collections of Brigitine miracles in prose written by Ultán, Ailerán, and Cogitosus, in that order. About 874-77 Donatus Scottus of Fiesole wrote of the same authors in the same order:30
Has ego Donatus uirtutes sanguine Scottus Bricte descripsi, presul et exiguus, Uirginis; indocto carptim sermone repertas Pangere presumpsi carmine dactilico.
Scripserunt multi uirtutes uirginis almae Ultanus doctor atque Elaranus ouans, Descripsit multos Animosus nomine libros De uita et studiis uirginis ac meritis. Ordiar a minimis, nec non maiora sequemur; Sed prato pleno floribus apta legam.
27. The passages cited above illustrate the computistic, literary, and architectonic competence of the author of Vita I and establish the correctness of the argument advanced by Esposito and Sharpe that Vita I preceded Vita II, which derived from it. We may add a further argument. The author who concludes Vita II Orate pro me Cogitoso nepote culpabili Aedo in the Epilogue begins and ends the Prologue thus.
Me cogitis, fratres, ut sanctae ac beatae memoriae Brigitae uirginis uirtutes et opera more doctorum memoriae litterisque tradere adgrediar. Exinde ego ut supra dixi a fratribus coactus beatae huius Brigitae uirtutes tam eas quas ante principatum quam alias quas in principatu gessit tanto studio breuitatis licet praepostero ordine uirtutum conpendiose explicare conabor.
In me cogitis and ego coactus Cogitosus plays with one derivation of his name, from cogere `to compel'+-osus, the other derivation, from cogitare `to consider'+-osus being a rendering of Irish Toimtenach from toimtiu, genitive toimten, the verbal noun of do-moinethar `thinks, holds opinion',31 reflected in the name by which Donatus Scottus of Fiesole refers to him, Animosus. Cogitosus, both `compelled' and `thoughtful', apologises for writing licet praepostero ordine uirtutum because he is departing from a narrative order already established, presumably by Vita primitiua and certainly by Vita I. Such an apology would not have been necessary unless the order of antecedent Lives had already been established as authoritative; nor would an apology have been necessary if the order of Vita I had been perceived as the `rag-bag' it appears to McCone.32 It is, on the other hand, unlikely that someone with the architectonic skill exhibited by the author of Vita I would reduce a composition already well ordered to the appearance of a `rag-bag'.
28. Vita I bears internal witness of derivation from an earlier source that it only partially relates, as in §119 f 117r:
In alio die sancta cum digitis suis petram durissimam perforauit : necessitatem enim maximam habuit quam nunc tacemus causa breuitatis :·
Vita I is therefore more likely to be second than first among three lives mentioned in the Rheims verses and the Incipit of the Vita Metrica, rather Ailerán's than Ultán's.
29. In the title
AILERANI SCOTTI INTERPRETATIO MYSTICA PROGENITORUM DOMINI NOSTRI IESU CHRISTI IN NATIVITATE SANCTAE GENITRICIS IPSIUS LEGENDA
there are 111 letters, as there are 111 words in the Prologue that it precedes. There are 1111 letters in the title and text of Ailerani sapientis Canon euangeliorum.33
Twice in the Bethu Phátraic Ailerán is credited with having written Patrician hagiography.34
Ité so ferta atchú[a]idetar srúithe hEirenn ocus dosratsat foglo[s]nathi naisnesen. Atchuaid, cetus, ferta Pátraic ocus roscummai Collum cille macc Fedlimthe: Ultan macc ói Choncobair, Adhamnan óa Tinni, hEleran ind ecnai, Cíaran Bealaigh Dúin, Epscop Ermedach ó Clochur, Colman Uamach, Crumthir Collait ó Druim Róilgech.
These are the miracles which the elders of Ireland declared, and connected with a thread of narration. Colomb Cille, son of Fedlimid, first declared Patrick's miracles and composed them. (Then) Ultan son of Conchobar's descendant, Adamnan, grandson of Tinne, Eleran of the wisdom, Ciaran of Belach Duin, bishop Ermedach of Clochar, Colman Uamach, presbyter Collait of Druim Roilgech.
30. At the beginning of his Collectanea Tírechán wrote35
Patricius sexto anno babtitzatus est, uigesimo captus est, quindecim seruiuit, quadraginta legit, sexaginta unum docuit. Tota uero aetas centum undecim.
Tírechán's figure for Patrick's age does not match the usual Mosaic number 120. Nor does it issue from the sum of the numbers he gives. Might the figure 111 derive from a passage Ailerán had written about Patrick?36
Regardless of that, might recurrence of 11 as a unit of restatement of diction and 11 lines and 111 words in the Epilogue and 111 words in the chiastic passage of §67 and perhaps originally 1111 letters in §§47 and 6737 provide an indication not previously considered that Vita I sanctae Brigitae was written by Ailerán?38 If so, one would fix the year of Ailerán's death, 665, as the terminus ante quem for composition of Vita I and the terminus post quem non of the source of Vita II. A future revision of BCLL might include cross references among texts currently numbered 299, 300, and 352.
31. The note quoted above from the Vita Tripartita suggests that Columba, Ultán, and Ailerán had composed hagiographic narratives about Patrick by the third quarter of the seventh century, before Tírechán and Muirchú moccu Macthéni began to write Patrician hagiography as propaganda for the metropolitan claims of the church at Armagh. Ultán and Ailerán had also composed hagiographic narratives about Brigit by the third quarter of the seventh century, before Cogitosus began to write Brigitine hagiography as propaganda for the metropolitan claims of the church at Kildare. None of the texts that survive to this day is a simple copy of any of the others. Often the hagiographers relate the same stories but with varying diction and different narrative order and distinct purpose. One reason for the astonishingly rapid proliferation of Lives may be that seventh-century Irish hagiographers were trying to supply for the national saints Patrick and Brigit multiple accounts, following the model of the four evangelists.39 One wonders then what Muirchú can have meant by writing40
in hoc periculosum et profundum narrationis sánctae pélagus turgentibus proterue gúrgitum aggéribus inter acutíssimos charúbdes per ignota aequora insitos a nullis ádhuc líntribus excepto tantum uno patris méi Cogitósi expertum atque occupatum méi ingènióli puerilem remi cymbam dedúxi.
If we consider only the hagiographic narratives about Patrick and Brigit, Muirchú must have been at least the seventh, not the second, to embark on this enterprise. As some of Muirchú's predecessors composed Latin more competent than modern critics have previously supposed, one may hope for more sensitive and informed study of the earliest monuments of Irish Latin hagiography.
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