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"Chronica Polonorum" by Vincentius, Bishop of Cracow. Forthcomming first English critical edition

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Abstract

The first English critical edition of the "Chronica Polonorum" with the translation presented in parallel with the Latin original text. The Chronica Polonorum written by Bishop Vincentius of Cracow (c.1150–1223). It was written in last decades of the twelfth century, a period when the throne of Poland was contested by rival members of the ruling Piast dynasty in a series of bloody civil wars. Vincentius was born in Poland c.1150 and probably studied in Italy and France, where he acquired his education and perfected his literary skill. After his return to Poland between 1183 and 1189, he became a canon of the cathedral of Cracow and a courtier close to Kazimierz II. Kazimierz had ruled as the princeps since 1177. After 1194 Vincentius became a provost in Sandomierz and chaplain to Kazimierz’s widow, Helena of Znojmo. Vincentius started work on the Chronicle in the late 1180s or the early 1190s at the behest of Kazimierz II. He had completed his text before 1208 when he was elected bishop of Cracow, one of the leading ecclesiastical offices in Piast Poland. During his pontificate he took part in the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and was active in the implementation of the Gregorian Reform in his diocese. In 1218 Vincentius resigned his episcopacy to enter the Cistercian convent in Jędrzejów where he may have edited the final manuscript of the Chronicle. He died in 1223. The Chronicle provides an outline of the history of the Poles with particular emphasis on the events of the twelfth century which justified Kazimierz’s claim to the throne of Cracow and with it suzerainty of all Poland. Created against the background of the twelfth-century renaissance, it was written by a native Pole and demonstrates the erudition of the Polish elite and the recognition and appreciation of literary skill by the ruling dynasty. Vincentius offers a commentary on patterns of human behaviour, and his own view of morality through an elaborate use of philosophical and poetic digression and didactic admonition, sourced primarily from the works of philosophers, the poets of Antiquity and the Bible. Classical authors, including Ovid, Virgil and Horace, are quoted on some 150 occasions; biblical texts appear in approximately 140 instances, with the most numerous quotations taken from the Old Testament, particularly the Books of Kings and the Book of Psalms. This broad base of reference suggests that Vincentius directed his work towards a sophisticated, classically-educated readership that could understand and appreciate the complex plot, refined poetic form and many literary references.
7/18/2016 ChronicaPolonorum|DariusvonGuettner
https://magistervincentius.wordpress.com/chronicapolonorum/ 1/3
DariusvonGuener
JustanotherWordPress.comsite
ChronicaPolonorum
ChronicaPolonorum–BishopVincentiusofCracowalsoknownasKadłubek
TranslatedbyDariusvonGuener
Prologue
[1]
Therewerethreeofthemwhoforthreereasonshatedtheatricalperformances.ThefirstoneCodrus,
thesecondAlcibiades,andthethirdDiogenes.Codruswaspoorandcoveredwithrags[1],Alcibiades
wasunusuallyhandsome[2],andDiogeneswasbothwell‑manneredandwise.[3]Thefirstofthem,
didnotwanttoexposehispovertytowakelaughterandgeneralridicule;theseconddidnotwantto
exposehimselftothedangerofcurses;thethirddidnotwanttowastetheirreproachablemajestyof
wisdomonscurrilousdisregard.Codruspreferredtoavoidwatchingothersratherthanmakea
contemptuousspectacleofhimself;becausethereisnocordialalliancebetweenthepurpleandthe
rag.AlsoAlcibiadesratherpreferredtohideathomewithoutreceivingpraisethantoboastabouthis
beautyandriskitsloss;becausenothingisbynaturesoglamorousthatthelookofblindedjealousy
cannotbewitchit.PrudenceorderedDiogenestodespisethecompanyofplebs;becauseitisbeerto
enjoyreverenceinsolitudethantoexperiencecontemptbroughtbyfamiliarity.
[2]
Thesterndrynessofthissmallbookanditsbarrenausterityisaprotectionfromthecuriosityof
Alcibiades.Equally,thefearofcursesisasuperstitionthatdoesnottouchusasanuglymanhas
nothingtolosefromanassessmentofhislooks.Diogenes’opinion,albeitinspired,doesn’ttrouble
us,aswisdomhasnotfavoureduswithadropletofitsgrace.ItisCodrusonlywhofrightensus,
becauseourpoverty,exposedtotheopenmockingofstrangers,possessesnotevenaragwithwhich
itcouldcoveritsindignity.
However,wearenotsupposedtofriskwithmaidensamongstmusesinDiana’s[4]livelydancesbut
facethejudgementofthevenerablesenate.[5]Wearenottoblowintoidyllicpipesmadefromthe
marshreed,butweareaskedtopraisethegoldenfoundationofourhomeland.Wearetorecover
fromthedepthsoftheoblivion,notclayfigurines,butrealimagesofourforebearsandtocarvethem
inancientivory.What’smore,wearesummoned,inordertohangcressetsofdivinelightintheroyal
castleandatthesametimetobearthelaboursofwar.
[3]
Thereisadifferencebetweenundertakingsomethingundertheinfluenceofunreservedrecklessness,
fromdesireforshowingoff,fromdesireforprofit,andthefulfilmentofcommandingdemandsof
necessity.Formehoweveritisnotapassionofwritingthatpromptsme,notdesireforcelebritythat
incitesme,norasuddeneagernesstoprofitthatemblazesme;thatafterexperiencingthismany
delightsatsea,afterrepeatedlybreakingoneselfontheshoresandlaboriouslygeingouttothe
shore,Ifeltagainlikebreakingonthesameshores.Itisonlyforadonkeythatthethistletastesbeer
thanleuceandonlysomebodycompletelynaiveisgoingtobeluredbyatastelesssweetness.
[4]
7/18/2016 ChronicaPolonorum|DariusvonGuettner
https://magistervincentius.wordpress.com/chronicapolonorum/ 2/3
[4]
Itisunfair,however,torefusetheexecutionofajustorder.Thebravestofprincesunderstood
certainlythatallevidenceofbravery,allindicationsofgoodnessarereflectedinexamplesof
ancestorsasifinmirrors.[6]Itissafertotravelwithaguidewholeadstheway,whenthelightis
movingonbeforeus,andtheamiablecustomsofthepastarefullofexamplestofollow.Desiringso,
inhisgenerositytoallowposteritytoparticipateinvirtuesofgreat‑grandfathers,onmethescribe,on
thefeatherasbrileasthereed,ontheshouldersofadwarf,theprinceplacedthisburdenofAtlas.
[7]Bynootherreasonhe[theprince]wasprobablyguidedbythanbytheunderstanding,thatthe
glierofgold,thelustreofjewelsisn’tlosingvaluethroughtheineptitudeoftheartist[rendering
them];likewisethestars,pointedatwithfingersofthehideousEthiopians,arenotdimed,because
thethoroughnessofamasterisnotrequiredinordertocleanuptheironofrust,toseparategold
fromclinker.
Itwouldbeanonsensetostrugglewiththeburden,fromwhichonecanfreeoneself.[8]Iwillbe
carryingitasfarasIamable,providedthatIamaccompaniedbythosewhofromthebeginningof
thisjourneywithanaffectionateheartwillfavourmeandwhowon’tbesurprisedifIstumbleona
slopeorslip.Thankstotheirfriendlyinducementlettheburdenceasetobeaburdenandthetoil
ceasetobeatoil.Forthereasonthat,goodcompanyisontheroadasthetravellingcart.[9]
IntheendIamaskingthatnoteveryonebeallowedtojudgeusbeforetheythoroughlyunderstand
us,butonlythosewhoarerecommendedbytheelegantmindoroutstandingrefinement.Indeedthe
gingertastesonlywhenchewedandnothingwillcaptivateusifwewillglanceatitbutcasually
becauseitwouldbeunciviltojudgethemaerwithoutstudyingitaccurately.Thusonewhois
frugalwithpraiselethimberestrainedincriticizing.[10]
[1]Codrus.Mostlikelyreferencetothepoverty‑strickenpoetinthefirstSatireofJuvenalwrienin
thelate1standearly2ndcenturiesAD.ThecontextsuggestsagainstCodrusthelastofthesemi‑
mythicalKingsofAthens(r.ca1089‑1068BC),althoughVincentiuswillrefertohiminII.27Cf.
Justinius,EpitomeinTrogiPompeiiHistorias,II.6.
[2]AlcibiadesCleiniouScambonides(c.450–404BC).AnAthenianstatesman,orator,andgeneral.
Thucydidesreprehendedhimforhispoliticalconductandmotivesandforbeing“exceedingly
ambitious”.Plutarchregardshimas“theleastscrupulousandmostentirelycarelessofhuman
beings”.AristotledoesnotincludeAlcibiadesinthelistofthebestAthenianpoliticians,butin
PosteriorAnalyticshearguesthattraitsofaproudmanlikeAlcibiadesare“equanimityamidthe
vicissitudesoflifeandimpatienceofdishonour”.CorneliusNeposconcludedthatAlcibiades
“surpassedalltheAtheniansingrandeurandmagnificenceofliving”.Cf.Justinius,EpitomeinTrogi
PompeiiHistorias,V.2.
[3]DiogenestheCynic(c.412–323BC).AGreekphilosopherandoneofthefoundersofCynic
philosophy.
[4]Dione,inGreekmythologythemotherofAphrodite.
[5]sacersenatus.Cf.Juvenal,Satires,XI.29.
[6]CasimirII=KazimierzSprawiedliwy.
[7]Atlas=oneofthetitans.Hesupportedtheheavenswithhisshoulders.Thephrasecouldbea
referencetoBernardofChartres(d.aft1124),philosopherandscholar.“Wearelikedwarfsstanding
upontheshouldersofgiants,andsoabletoseemoreandseefartherthantheancients.”
[8]Seneca,Demoribus39:Stultumtimerequodvitarenonpossis.
[9]PubliliusSyrus,Sententiae104:Comesfacundusinviaprovehiculoest=Aneloquentcomrade
7/18/2016 ChronicaPolonorum|DariusvonGuettner
https://magistervincentius.wordpress.com/chronicapolonorum/ 3/3
[9]PubliliusSyrus,Sententiae104:Comesfacundusinviaprovehiculoest=Aneloquentcomrade
shortensthetrip.
[10]Seneca,Deformulahonestaevitae,8:Laudaparce,vituperaparcius
;
CreateafreewebsiteorblogatWordPress.com.ThePaperpunchTheme.
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De formula honestae vitae, 8: Lauda parce
  • Seneca
Seneca, De formula honestae vitae, 8: Lauda parce, vitupera parcius ;
Most likely reference to the poverty‑ stricken poet in the first Satire of Juvenal wri琀漀en in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD. The context suggests against Codrus the last of the semi‑ mythical Kings of Athens (r. ca 1089‑1068 BC), although Vincentius will refer to him in II
  • Codrus
Codrus. Most likely reference to the poverty‑ stricken poet in the first Satire of Juvenal wri琀漀en in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD. The context suggests against Codrus the last of the semi‑ mythical Kings of Athens (r. ca 1089‑1068 BC), although Vincentius will refer to him in II.27 Cf. Justinius, Epitome in Trogi Pompeii Historias, II.6.
Comes facundus in via pro vehiculo est = An eloquent comrade
  • Publilius Syrus
Publilius Syrus, Sententiae 104: Comes facundus in via pro vehiculo est = An eloquent comrade https://magistervincentius.wordpress.com/chronicapolonorum/ 3/3
Sententiae 104: Comes facundus in via pro vehiculo est = An eloquent comrade shortens the trip
  • Publilius Syrus
Publilius Syrus, Sententiae 104: Comes facundus in via pro vehiculo est = An eloquent comrade shortens the trip.