Boncompagnus 1.13 
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Incipits -- Siglorum conspectus

|1.13 DE HONESTIS MORIBUS ET PRAVIS MORIBUS ADDISCENTIUM

|1.13.1 De honestis moribus comitis Mathei Brancaleonis.1

Oration to count Mathew Brancaleonis, Roman nobleman and Boncompagno’s student. Matthew’s teacher confesses that his imagination has labored long to give birth to this speech (§1) and explains that it employs the singular form of address because Matthew knows that plural address of a singular person is inane flattery. Excursus criticizing this custom (§2). Description of a conversation the teacher had about the honest character of Matthew with his uncle, the papal legate Leo Brancaleonis, cardinal priest of S. Croce (§3-§8). The distinction between nobility of blood and nobility of character (§4). Matthew’s nobility of lineage increased by his nobility of character, evidenced in his liberality towards petitioners (§5). Excursus on petitioners and petitions (§6). Praise of Matthew’s judgment and the constancy of his nobility (§7). Final word-play on Matthew’s leonine blood and character (§8). [Date of conversation: May-June 1207]

[1] "Mathee Brancaleonis, amabilis et dilecte mi scolaris, Mathee Brancaleonis, credere te volo et habere pro certo, quod duplicata positio vocativi aut sincerem exprimit de medulla cordis amorem, aut indignationem vel admirationem denotat sub specie yronie.2 Ad hec habeo tibi aliqua intimare, de quibus mea diu stetit ymaginatio gravidata. Sed nunc parere optat et pariendi tempus accedit, ut que concepta sunt et ymaginata ex diligenti fervore, ad honorem et gloriam tui nominis oriantur.3 Scio nempe, quod blanditias non diligis venativas neque inanes applausus, quare dilectioni tue loquor numero singulari, sciens te scire, quod pluralitas numeri aliquem non facit esse plura neque singularitas, nisi forsitan ex consuetudine, minorat gloriam alicuius. Nam qui uni 'vos' dicit, aperte mentitur, et qui de se 'nos' ponit, sufflat in sue singularitatis vesicam."4

 | [6rb] P          | [6va] P          Brancaleonis...Brancaleonis B2MS: Brancal~...Brancal~ A      mi om. R    vocativi positio tr. R    sincerum P3   admirationem: administrationem R amirationem B2MP3       yronie: ironie AB     stetit diu tr. RSP3        ymaginatio: imaginatio P3      optat: optavit B2     ymaginata: imaginata P3        diligenti A: diligentis B2MSP3       scire quod: sciendum A      aliquem tr. R post facit      uni tr. S post dicit
1On the Brancaleone family: NORBERT KAMP art. DBI 13.809. For another discussion of Matthew, his virtues, literary science and nobility: Boncompagnus 5.6.2 §4.      2 For an example of the latter, see Boncompagnus 5.9.2. On irony, see Boncompagnus 1.4.2. At Isagoge 2.30 vocatives are proscribed from letters.     3 For a similar comparison between the process of composing a letter and the natural generative cycle, see Boncompagnus 1.23.3.     4Cf. Boncompagnus 1.1.13, 1.14.3, 1.23.2, 5.6.9.

     O Matthew Brancaleonis, O my lovable and beloved student, Matthew Brancaleonis, I want you to believe and to hold certain that the double placement of a vocative expresses either a sincere love from deep within the heart, or it indicates indignation and astonishment under the guise of irony. I have to reveal to you something about that which my pregnant imagination has labored over for so long; now it chooses to give birth and the time for delivery has approached, so that those things which have been conceived and imagined from loving warmth may arise to the honor and glory of your name. Indeed I know that you do not like ‘hunting’ compliments, nor vain applause, for which reason I address Your Cherishment in the singular, knowing that you know a plural number does not make any one person many, nor does singular number belittle anyone’s glory, except perhaps by convention. For he who addresses a single person in the plural lies outright, and he who uses ‘We’ of himself, puffs up in the balloon of his singularity.

[2] "Verumtamen infiniti oleo adulationis ungunt et demulcent capita sublimium personarum1 et earumdem ulcera lambere satagunt lucri gratia vel timoris. Ceterum sicut tua prudentia non ignorat, tantum in diversis mundi partibus huiusmodi adulationis abusus excrevit, quod iam pervenit frivola pluralitatis dignitas usque ad tabernarios et tonsores. Immo, quod ridiculosum est, servis domini 'vos' dicere assuescunt."

Verumptamen R          personarum sublimium tr. B2          partibus mundi tr. A         huiusmodi: usus add. A et prem. M huius P3          excrevit: exercuit P3tr. A ante adulationis         vos om. P3         assuescunt: adssuescunt M
1 For the ‘oil of adulation’ cf. Alanus de Insulis De planctu nature (PL 210.469); Alexander Neckam In Ecclesiasten 1.16 (Cambridge, Trinity College, R.16.4, fol. 160rb): Homo qui se alicuius momenti putat esse, cum sit pulvis et cinis, appetens caput suum impinguari oleo adulationis misere, ridendus esse videtur, nonne et lugendus and 2.5 [fol. 191rb]: Oleum fert [sc. Effraim] in Egypto, qui vitio servit adulationis. De hoc oleo dicit propheta David: ‘Oleum autem peccatoris non impinguet caput meum.’ Quid est autem Egyptus nisi mens tenebris viciorum obvoluta. Hoc oleum dum impinguat caput mentis, turpiter ipsum fedat and 2.12 [197vb]: Adulationis vitium ab aula nomen contraxit. Set proh dolor transivit a palatiis principum ad collegium claustralem. Set o res monstruosa ipsi senes iam cineriti/emeriti student impinguare capita prelatorum oleo adulationis. --- See also Liber de obsidione Ancone prol. (ZIMOLO ed. 5.3); De amicitia 30 (NATHAN ed. 67); Quinque tabule salutationum 4.10; Oliva 1.5; Boncompagnus 1.1.13; Rhetorica novissima 9.4, 9.5.7 (GAUDENZI ed. 286-287), on which, see TERENCE TUNBERG "What is Boncompagno’s ‘Newest Rhetoric’?" Traditio 4? (1986) 299-334 at 319-320.

     Nevertheless, countless people caress and anoint with the oil of adulation the heads of lofty personages, whose wounds they busy to lick for gain or from fear. But just as Your Prudence is not unaware, abuse of such adulation has so much increased throughout this world that the frivolous etiquette of plural address has now spread even to bartenders and barbers. It is truly ridiculous; lords routinely address serfs in the plural.

[3] "Hiis autem postpositis ad ea regredior, que tibi duxi specialis proponenda. Omitto siquidem altissimam genealogiam principum, de qua originem contraxisti, divitias, formam corporis et ingenii claritatem, quibus non modicum illustraris, et referam, que patruo tuo domino Leoni tituli sancte Crucis presbitero cardinali apostolice sedis legato de tuis moribus et conversatione retuli, cum in Alamanniam pro facto ecclesie ac imperii properaret."2

autem om. A           principum tr. post contraxisti A
1 Leo Brancaleonis, canon regular, cardinal deacon of Santa Lucia in Septasolio (1200), cardinal priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (1202-1224). Short biography by JANOS BAK in DBI 13.814-817; see also DHGE 10.392 ff and WERNER MALECZEK Papst und Kardinalskolleg von 1191-1216 (Vienna 1984) 137-139, especially 138, on his stay with king Emmerich of Hungary on the way to his legation in Bulgaria in 1204. On the legation: JAMES ROSS SWEENEY Papal-Hungarian relations during the pontificate of Innocent III, 1198-1216 (1971 Cornell PhD diss.) and Boncompagnus 3.14.1.     2 The legation to Germany took place in 1207-1208. For a model letter concerning such a legation, see Boncompagnus 5.15.2. Leo Brancaleonis accompanied Hugolinus, cardinal bishop of Ostia and Velletri (1206-1227) and relative of pope Innocent III. On their legation: E. WINKELMANN Philipp von Schwaben und Otto IV. von Braunschweig (Leipzig 1873) 1.414 ff., 452ff; ERNST BREM Papst Gregor IX bis zum Beginn seines Pontifikats (Heidelberg 1911) . Innocent III announces the legation to the German princes in RNI 141; see also RNI 147-149, 179, 180. Hugolinus and Leo subscribe on 10 May 1207, by 22 June they have left for Germany, returning to subscribe 11 April 1208. These two men carried on another legation to Germany in January of 1209 (RNI 178-184). On Hugolinus, who was previously cardinal deacon of of S. Eustachio (1198-1206), later pope Gregory IX (1227-1241), see Boncompagnus 5.1.23 and the Epistola mandativa ad comites palatinos §2.

     Having dealt with such matters, I return to that which I must set forth to you specially. Therefore, I omit the sublime genealogy of princes from which you draw an origin, the riches, physical beauty and clarity of genius by which you are no little illumined, and I will tell that which I said to your uncle, lord Leo, cardinal presbyter of the title church of S. Croce and papal legate, about your character and habits, when he traveled to Germany for the business of the church and empire.

[4] "Interroganti quidem sine meditatione respondi, quod in te confluxerunt universe nature dotes, prosapie tue nobilitas per morum tuorum nobilitatem nobilitatur et famosum recipit incrementum. Profecto nobilitas1 prolis est quedam laus ex altitudine ac magnificentia parentum procedens. Unde non transit absque paribus effectibus in heredes. Immo est potius ludibrio quam honori, qui sine virtutibus meritorum usque ad rusticitatis lares pudorosis gressibus retrocedit.2 Porro ille, qui se denobilitat per malam conversationem et morum inhonestatem, simia nobilitatis efficitur. Unde singulorum irrisionibus deputatur et in fabulam convertitur populorum.3 Est autem tamquam lolium, quod reicitur a frumento et sicut abies tortuosa, que cum suo generi non respondet, non ponitur in hedificio, sed igni traditur comburenda."

qui S: que P3quia codd.         retrocedit: introcedit S       simia nobilitatis: summe ignobilitatis S summe nobilitatis P3  abies: trabs A        cum om. A        hedificio: edificio M
1 Nobility is treated throughout Boncompagnus, Bk VI; see also 1.3.5, 1.20.17, 1.25.7, 5.9.6, 5.20.1, Palma 28 and throughout the Liber de obsidione Ancone. For an extended treatment of nobilitas (gentilezza), see Dante’s Convivio, Bk IV.      2 The verb ‘retrocedit’, carries the primary meaning of a processional, ritual approach of the paterfamilias towards the family altar to offer sacrifice to the Lars familiaris, with implication that the nobility’s careful preservation of anachronistic family traditions represents a retreat away from public responsibility into the private realm. Most amazing is Boncompagno’s suggestion that medieval Italian nobility might practice pagan religious rituals deriving from republican Rome. In Rethorica novissima 1.1, Boncompagno suggests a continuity between the paganism of antiquity and the religious practices of the Cumani. On the Lares, see Pauly-Wissova RE XX.805-833. They are touched on briefly in Augustine, De civitate Dei 9.11.      3 Horace Ep. 1.13.9. See Breviloquium 5, Boncompagnus 1.3.1, 1.9.2, 6.2.28, De malo senectutis et senii 6; Enrico da Settimello Elegia 1.5: sum crebraque fabula vulgi (CREMASCHI ed. 26). Fabula popularum is to be contrasted with fabula poetarum (Boncompagnus 1.22.2)

     When questioned, I responded without thinking, that in you flow together all the gifts of nature, that the nobility of your lineage has been ennobled and has received a famous advancement through the nobility of your character. For nobility of descendants is a certain praise proceeding from the loftiness and magnificence of their parents. Whence nobility does not pass without equal results to heirs. Rather, he is more for derision than to honor, who without the virtues of merits recedes in shameful steps to the Lares of rusticity. Moreover, who ignobles himself through bad conversation and dishonesty of character becomes an ape of nobility. Whence he is consigned to the laughter of all and is converted into a popular fable. He is like a rye grass seed which is cast out from the wheat, and, like a warped timber which does not correspond to its kind is not placed in a building, but is consigned to the fire for burning.

[5] "Asservi, quod cum viris prudentibus et discretis assidue conversaris, mores a convictu formando. Affirmavi, quod eras in consilio providus, modestus in habitu, in dilectione fidelis, in exhibendo ilaris, in cotidianis usibus liberalis, in quibus discretius liberalitatem excercens, vota scis petentium celerius prevenire, quia cum hos indigentis ad rogandum paratur et rubore suffunditur vel pallore, penam et tormentum petendi remittis. In quo munus tuum| nosceris duplicare, quoniam si vir probus petit sibi aliquod beneficiium exhiberi, in ipso petitionis primordio erubescit, et si non valet impetrare, quod petit, inenarrabili pudore tabescit."1

assidue om. R        convictu SP3: coniunctu codd.       consilio: conscilio P3    in exhibendo--(infra §6) privilegium abstulerunt om. R forsitan propter illegibilem petiam exemplarii        exhibendo: exibendo P3       ilaris: ylaris B2illaris P3        liberalitatem: libertatem P3       excercens: exercens M        vota: votis B2       scis: sis MS         petentium MSB2: potentis A       hos: os B2SP3        suffunditur: suffoditur A         pallore: palore P3        remittis: remittit P3       tuum | [6vb] P        probus om. P3      beneficium aliquod tr. A        exhiberi: exiberi P3     inennarrabili S inenarrabili P3: inerrabili codd.
1 On petitions and petitioners, see Boncompagnus 3.20.1-3, 3.20.44-45, 4.6.13; Notule auree 11. Here Boncompagno seems to drift away from the letter into a notula.

     I asserted that you have conversed with prudent and discreet men, forming character by intimate association. I affirmed that you have been farseeing in counsel, modest in habits, faithful in love, cheerful in providing, liberal in daily manners, in which discreetly exercising liberality you know how to quickly anticipate the desires of petitioners, because when the mouth of the indigent is prepared to make appeal and is suffused in blush or pallor, you remit the pain and torment of the petitioner, in which you will be known to double your duty, since if an upright man asks that something beneficial be provided to himself, at the beginning of that petition he blushes, and if he does not obtain that which he seeks, he would waste away with indescribable shame.

[6] "Si autem, quod postulat, impetravit, satis emisse videtur, quia nil carius emitur quam, quod precibus et pretio verecundie comparatur. Omnis enim, qui rogat pretium, offert et perdit illud, si non meruerit exaudiri. Verumtamen dignum est, ut petita frequenter negentur indignis ob hoc, quod dignis possit dignius provideri. Nam, quod ad supplicia rogamina exhibetur, dignitatem et auctoritatem significationis naturalis amittit. Unde non debet dici 'donum', sed 'datum' quasi elemosinarum. Quare ille, qui sic exhibet, 'dator' non 'donator' dicetur, quoniam protractio temporis et precum instantia voluntatem liberam ancillarunt et donandi privilegium abstulerunt.1 Sane illud proprie dicitur esse donum, quod de arbitrii libertate procedit."

satis om. A      emisse: errasse P3     nil: nichil M      exhibetur: exibetur SP3    elemosinarum: helemosinarum A   exhibet: exibet S     instantia: instantiam M       libertate: liberalitate P3
1 See the notula on gifts: Boncompagnus 1.23.15.

     If however he gains that which he had sought, it seems that he had paid enough, because nothing is purchased more dearly than that which is bought by payments and by the payment of shame. For anyone who makes a request offers a payment (bribe) and he loses it if he does not deserve to be heard. Nevertheless it is fitting that something frequently petitioned should be denied to the unworthy, for the reason that it could more worthily be provided to worthy people. For that which is provided for satisfying requests loses the dignity and authority of the natural meaning <of a donation>. Whence it should not be called a ‘donation’, but a ‘gift’ quasi of alms. For that reason a person who thus provides should be called a ‘giver’, not a ‘donor’, since a protraction of time and the presence of payments enslave a free will and take away the privilege of donating. In truth, <only> that which proceeds from freedom of the will can properly called a donation.

[7] "Preterea te dixi tanta discretione pollere, quod sine defectu scis eligere, quid sit in humanis actibus eligendum et quid odii nota dignum. Constantiam denique tue nobilitatis dignis laudibus commendavi, ex eo quod patulas aures non habes nec facile credis persuasionibus aliquorum, sed in statera conscientie tue ponderas et libras audita, sicque in laudabili propositi robore perseverans, quos diligere incipis per adulationes frivolas non dimittis, in quo multi errare cernuntur, qui omni vento suasionum sicut arundines commoventur."

pollere discretione tr. R       scis: sis MS         humanis: humanibus A          quid: qui M        odii: hodii A       persuasionibus: suasionibus R       tue: te S       audita: inaudita M        cernuntur: videntur R
     Moreover I said that you so excel in discretion, that you know how to choose what should be chosen without fail in human acts and what deserves a brand of odium. Then I commended with worthy praises the constancy of your nobility, because you do not have wide-open ears nor do you easily believe the persuasions of others, but that you weigh and measure things heard on the scales of your conscience. And persevering thus in the strength of praiseworthy resolve that you not dismiss through frivolous adulations those whom you have begun to love; in this regard many are perceived to err, who are moved about like motes of dust by every wind of persuasions.

[8] "Post istas namque relationes claruit cardinalis aspectus et gaudium, quod in animo conceperat, cepit in facie demonstrare.1 Ad hanc equidem virtutum perseverantiam te amplius non exhortor, quoniam es de genere leonum et leones animalia dominabilia sunt, quare sicut leo in tuo laudabili proposito dominabiliter permanebis."

conceperat: acceperat SP3        exhortor: exortor M exortor et A         laudabili: dominabili SP3 (lacunae in R)
1 This wording suggests a face to face meeting with cardinal Leo.

     After these discussions the cardinal’s countenance brightened and he began to demonstrate on his face the joy which he had conceived in his soul. I do not exhort you further to the perseverance of virtues, since you are from a race of lions and lions are domineering animals, for which reason you will remain as indomitable as a lion in your praiseworthy resolve.

1.13.2 Commendatio alicuius de honestis moribus.

[1] "Annuntio vobis preconium gloriosum, exordium exultationis propono, et narrationem immense iocunditatis affirmo. Filius quidem vester, quem ad litterarum studia direxistis, propter morum honestatem ab omnibus commendatur, crescit laudis opinio cum incrementum virtutum."

1.13.3 De pravis moribus Grisoliti monachi.

[1] "Grisolitus monachus vester agitat furioso pugno taxillos, zaram1 vocibus altis implorat dicens 'invito et reinvito', quod deberet penitus evitare. Proicit quandoque nummum in altum super tabulam infra signum; deminiosa quidem et clamosa voce invocat sinum, quinum, quaternum, ternum, binum et assum, et, cum ei puncta non respondent ad votum clamosius, blasfemat Deum, iniuriatur Virgini matri et sanctis omnibus maledicit. Veneratur namque Bacchum et scaccum, exponit denarium fortune muscarum vel ipsum proicit ad signum infixum. Nam quandoque clavos ferreos, amigdala, nuces et ova ponit in ludo, ludit etiam ad ossula et sophisma corrigiole non omittit. Pro certo, cum sepius esset in conspectu omnium rebus omnibus denudatus, lusoribus capillos et testiculos obligavit; in nundinis quidem retulit libros alienos et vestes exposuit ad ludendum. Nunc vero nudus per tabernas et meretricum| prostibula pervagatur, in quibus nummulos, quos de furtis consequitur et rapinis, bibendo, ludendo et fornicando consumit. Preterea sepe iuravit et votum emisit, quod animum suum ab huiusmodi scleribus removeret, sed iuramentum et votum penitus vilipendens totiens peieravit quotiens iuravit, unde velut canis ad vomitum est reversus."
meretricum | [7ra] P
1See above 1.11.3 and below, 4.6.6, 5.6.25, 6.9.4.

1.13.4 Notula doctrinalis de huiusmodi materiis inveniendis.

[1] De pravis moribus addiscentium sunt lingue detractorum magistre, que non solum nefaria vulgant, sed etiam bonos actus depravant; unde sepe in admiratione stupesco, quod detractores et invidi sic sciunt inopinabiles detrahendi materias invenire.

[2] Sed licet propter omnia crimina ordo valeat scolasticus infamari, ista tamen principaliter agmina studentium dehonestant, videlicet: immoderata gulositas, manifesta fornicatio, ebrietas, ludus, intemperantia expensarum, avaritia, inconstantia, fermentum sodomiticum, commixtio gomorrea et furtum.

[3] Oriuntur etiam de huiusmodi excedentibus materie infinite, quia dici potest, qualiter dimisso studio aliquis evagetur, dimiserit habitum et tonsuram, incedat cum iuratoribus, qui ad supplantandum alios consueverunt peccuniam sepellire, arma deferat interdicta, moveat scandala, excitet contentiones, lites et guerras, vulneret, occidat, sit consul meretricum, de nocte transcurrat, citharizet, saltet et cantet cum ioculatoribus et meretricibus in choreis.

[4] Item de aliquo dici potest, quod cum nullo valeat perseverare magistro, conturbet socios, omnes derideat et sicut scimia artes temptare nitatur.

[5] Item quod audiverit grammaticam et postmodum transtulerit se ad leges et iterum de legibus ad grammaticam sit reversus et sicut musardus nominativo hec musa declinat.


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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998
Scrineum © Università di Pavia 1999