Among the various Latin biographies and accounts of the Prophet Muhammad from medieval Europe, Embrico of Mainz's Life of Muhammad (Vita Mahumeti) is among those towards the end of the spectrum that is furthest removed from the historical Prophet Muhammad as understood from the traditional Islamic sources. The work is also notable for its construction as a lengthy poem (1148 lines, to be exact according to Guy Cambier's edition), composed in a poetic metre called elegiac couplets. The lines contain internal rhyming. Here is a sample couplet from the poem to illustrate the metre and rhyming, with scansion provided and the rhyme highlighted in bold:
|- ˘ ˘| - - | - -| - ˘ ˘| - ˘ ˘|- ˘|
sic dolus antiquus, sic pestis et hostis iniquus
|- ˘ ˘| - ˘ ˘| - | - ˘ ˘| - ˘ ˘| -/ ˘|
fallere non potuit, fallere quos voluit
On account of this Vita Mahumeti's detachment from the traditional accounts of the Prophet Muhammad's life, the encyclopaedia work Historie Litéraire de la France (Volume 11: 1841) cast a very negative judgement on the poem, which is listed under works attributed to Hildebert of Lavardin (c. 1056-1133/1134), who served as archbishop of Tours and was renowned for his poetic compositions. As the entry states:
'He [Beaugendre, who published a critical edition of the poem] regards this poem as a piece made for some college exercise, rather than a veritable history of Mahomet. The work is a mere tissue of ridiculous fables and of gross anachronisms, which do not permit us to report on them. If Hildebert is truly the author of it, it must be that he composed it when he was very young, and in a time where he had very little knowledge of history.'
In contrast, current scholarship recognises one Embrico of Mainz as the author (about whom little is actually known), with John Tolan giving a composition date of around 1100.
Whereas other Latin accounts of the Prophet Muhammad placed him in the correct time period and location, Embrico of Mainz's work actually takes us back to the time of the late fourth century CE, when Theodosius I was Roman emperor and Ambrose was bishop of Milan, both figures renowned for upholding Christian orthodoxy. The first character of significance in the narrative is not Muhammad but an evil Mage (whose name is not given), depicted as a heretic skilled in magic, deception and false modesty. This Mage sought to become the bishop of Jerusalem after the previous one died. He charmed the common people, who desired for him to become bishop and petitioned Theodosius that he should appoint him. While Theodosius initially accepted the offer, he then had a change of heart (having been previously warned by Christ that he should not trust the crowd's instincts, as the enemy lay hidden in the city as a snake). Theodosius then expelled the Mage from the city, and the Mage vowed revenge against the Church.
The Mage then wandered into Libya, where the Church was flourishing. In Libya, the Mage was warmly welcomed by the consul (unnamed), who was deceived by the Mage's ostensible piety. The consul, as it turns out, had a slave called Mammutius (i.e. Mahumet/Muhammad), who was assigned to take care of the Mage, who for his part struck up a friendship with Mammutius to manipulate and control him. While Mammutius proclaimed his desire to be a free man, the Mage promised him much more in return for obeying his commands, to which Mammutius readily agrees. The Mage then proceeded to make the consul very ill, but when the consul did not die readily from the illness, the Mage murdered the consul by suffocating him to death. The Mage then persuaded the consul's widow to marry Mammutius, who became a free man and then consul of Libya.
The Mage then ordered Mammutius to work with him to raise a calf that should be nourished in total seclusion from the world. The reason for this initiative is not immediately made clear, but the nurturing process in a horrid cave turned the calf into a monstrous bull. Soon enough the unnamed king of Libya- another figure of Christian piety- died. A dispute arose among Libya's leading men as to who should be made successor, but Mammutius, on the Mage's instructions, brought over the Mage to give his opinion, and in the meantime the Mage had set loose the monstrous bull on land, causing much havoc. The Mage, addressing the council of the leaders, said that the one who could tame the bull causing havoc. All thought they could tame the bull, but the bull's monstrosity proved too terrifying, especially as it felled a young man who resolved to try to tame him or die doing so. However, the bull then recognised Mammutius and the Mage, and was readily tamed by Mammutius, who was then proclaimed king of Libya as a result.
The Mage then instructed Mammutius to teach his subjects a new doctrine, doing away with the restrictions of Christian law and effectively instituting a new principle of hedonism: whatever is pleasing should be licit. As a result, the masses of Libya fell into gross immorality, portrayed primarily as immorality of carnal lust, including incestual relations. The few true Christian believers were then persecuted by the Mammutius regime. The Lord, however, did not allow Mammutius' crimes to go unavenged, and punished him with a grave illness, from which he initially recovered and which the Mage instructed him to explain as seizure into heaven for the purpose of revelation and writing new laws. However, it would then seem that God afflicted Mammutius with another illness, this time fatal. As Mammutius collapsed, a flock of pigs then ate away at his remains, but then left after the Mage approached. The Mage then explained to the people that Mammutius had died, and that his demise only showed the weakness and mortality of the human body in general, but nonetheless the believers should not contaminate themselves by eating pork. The Mage finally arranged Mammutius' burial in a magnificent tomb monument, with the tomb of bronze itself apparently levitating (as if miraculously, but in reality the result of a combination of bronze and magnetic lodestone).
Now, clearly, this poem tells us nothing about the historical Prophet Muhammad. The poem can instead be appreciated in two ways: from a purely literary standpoint, and from a standpoint about what the poem tells us about Embrico of Mainz's views and understandings of Islam, which are in turn tied to the question of the author's sources.
What is apparent from the work is that Embrico of Mainz had knowledge of some Islamic beliefs, traditions and practices, but this knowledge is generally in a very distorted form:
. In the preface before the narrative commences, the author notes that the Muslims have rejected all the pagan deities, such as Juno, Diana, Mars and Pluto. Here, at least, there is recognition that Islam purports to be a monotheistic religion worshipping the one true God. In Embrico's view, in reality they do not worship the Lord, but instead their religion amounts to worship of Muhammad.
. The Mage as portrayed in the poem likely reflects a distorted image of Bahira (also called Serge/Sergius in some sources), a Syriac monk who is mentioned in Ibn Hisham's biography of the Prophet Muhammad and supposedly foretold Muhammad's status as a prophet when Muhammad was a young boy. This was also noted by Guy Cambier.
. The marriage of Mammutius to the widow of the consul of Libya is likely a distorted reflection of the traditional account of the Prophet's marriage to the wealthy widow Khadija.
. When the Mage instructed Mammutius to alter the precepts of Christian law and introduce hedonism, he told Mammutius to teach that the scriptures had been corrupted. This reflects an Islamic belief that the Torah and Gospels have been corrupted by the Jews and Christians respectively, whereas the Qur'an is the most perfect revelation.
. The general teaching of hedonism, and the resulting sexual immorality, is a distorted reflection of the permissibility of polygamy in Islam.
. The depiction of Muhammad as having epileptic-like seizures is common in medieval Christian literature about the Prophet, though it is not entirely divorced from Islamic traditions in relation to some occasions of revelation.
. For purging of sins and purification, Mammutius instructed his followers to use water and call for his intercession to wash away their sins. This instruction likely reflects a distorted understanding of the role of ritual purity and ablution with water in Islam, as well as some beliefs about the Prophet Muhammad's role as an intercessor.
. The prohibition on pork as mentioned earlier. The tying of this to the fact that pigs ate away at the bodily remains has parallels with the story in an earlier Latin biography of the Prophet Muhammad that claims his body was torn apart by dogs.
For a more thorough discussion of possible sources of the Vita Mahumeti, I recommend consulting the introduction in Guy Cambier's edition of the Latin text, which I rely on as the basis of my translation.
I would like to dedicate this translation and commentary to two friends: Thomas Hegghammer and Brian Fishman. Thomas is a Norwegian academic and scholar on jihadism, and has always been very supportive of my research and translations. Brian, who works at Facebook, has been kind enough to help me on the multiple occasions in which I ran into problems with use of WhatsApp for research, as well as promoting some of my Latin translation work. It was also Brian's birthday recently, so I hope this translation and commentary can be a gift of appreciation for his birthday and prior assistance to me.
For this translation, I have used a free verse form. I have also inserted occasional notes for context. Any suggestions for amendments are welcome.
The Life of Mahumetus by Embrico Moguntinus
Alas! How numerous are the fools, buried through deplorable trickery,
With the knowledge of the affair of God despised,
As they reject Christ whose miracles they see,
At whom already every soil trembles in awe as he is the only Lord!
Hence the foolish peoples damn themselves more
Because they mock Christ while they see his realms,
For those who have seen that this person suffered and could not believe,
Thus redeem their vices through foolishness.
But lest I should commit wrong as I speak in such a manner,
And lest I should be a defendant among those defendants,
I contend that to have rejected Christ has been a crime:
But he who has been foolish, has thus been something venial.
But it is a sad crime not to believe in you now, Christ.
And so that I should speak safely, and I do not think venial.
For such a crime, so wicked, so capital,
Who should believe it to be worthy of pious mercy?
But these wicked people worthy of eternal death,
In my judgement, the lowest and voracious hell will seize and snatch them,
And not the Avernus[i] that is satiated.
And it can hardly be written what they endure there:
The fire scorches them- at which my skin already shudders.
Indeed it is a matter to report, and a grave one for admonition.
These people are harangued and molested
From there by the fiery vigour, and from here by the rigour of the cold.
For thus they are damned that they now endure the cold,
And by alternating turn the sulphur mixed with tar.
The worm gnaws at those whom the Omnipotent God hates,
And the grave penalty becomes multiplied for the depraved.
There the thick fire which the wretched Abyss repeats;
Never is there a welcome day there, nor any rest!
Why should I withhold the last things? The matter accedes to this bitter one,
With all things said in preface it is rather more to be pitied:
Always grieving, lacking an end of torture:
This is indeed rather grave and wretched!
Since no one can narrate or count these things,
Why should I enumerate when they lack a number?
But a people badly secure, to perish in a lamentable manner,
Wasting away in perfidy, having nothing of account,
If they could know that they should thus perish,
I think they would abandon these things and heed their own interests,
And following you who are better, oh Christ, they would abandon the error
And heed their own interests by bringing votive offerings to you.
But they are pagans who are deceived by inane hope,
Who, whatever they desire, worship as deity.
And this people is not seduced by a lesser error,
About which I have proposed to write or I could.
They deny that there is the profound world of the brother of Jupiter,[ii]
They take away the Stigian[iii] power from Pluto,
And they deem Diana a false matter with Juno,[iv]
And they do not make the ingenuity of Pallas[v] exempted:
They say that Mars[vi] lacks deity with Venus
And they deny that there is the deity Nereus[vii] with Protheus;[viii]
They think of the divinities of the plains, mountains and fields
As wretched gods along with us.
Whatever was once of trickery everywhere in antiquity,
Under the titles of these names, they have become worthless to these peoples.
These things are detested and those, who venerate these things,
They also reject them and deem them wretched,
Saying that they live as though they eat hay,
And equally the Jews and Christians are condemned by them.
They say that they know but we lack reason,
And just as we say that they are condemned.
Thus they say that we lack sense and they are blessed,
And that they truly worship the Lord,
Who rules all things with just zeal as God in heaven;
But this wretched people do not actually worship Him.
Here if anyone should ask who is the one whom they venerate:
That figure has the name Mahumet; believing in him as leader they puff up.
To him has yielded the worship of all gods
As he holds the throne of perfidy as his own.
But you, oh Godeboldus,[ix] the mirror of the greatest men,
You ask what was the beginning of the crime,
And what was the first cause of such great evils;
You order that I should explain: you order and I will do so,
Because I think it is suitable, or rather necessary,
That, whatever I know how to do, which you order, I should do.
So if God deems it worthy that the attempt should be accomplished,
While I follow your orders, thus by our law, I beseech,
That they should not be transcribed or seen by many!
Our vices fear public judgements.
But let us pass over these things and return to the thing begun
Which, I ask, you should read with propitious judgement!
Causing more harm, as you know, in all regards is the domestic enemy
And the matter itself teaches how he causes harm.
For a certain man consecrated in wickedness, washed in baptism,
Lived full of perfidy in the Church.
Seeking the praises of men for himself through magic tricks
So that the Church should collapse through his devotions.
While he was hiding this and was cautiously dissimulating,
Behold the wolf sat in the traps for the churches.
With sweet discourse, also with feigned religion
He deceived the people under the title of faith.
The false witness had acceded to this, the clothing horrid,
Flesh, as I may say, remarkably emaciated, cherished with foods.
He, fleeing far from the game, went with barefoot,
Speaking all things by rite with head bowed down,
When he was going in the midst, he moved his lips,
So that whoever should see him might deem him holy.
But if, while drawing a deep breath, he sometimes raised
His cast down eyes, in order to rouse the peoples,
Then he raised his palms and raised his voice
Not grieving for himself but pitying the people.
For he regarded nothing about himself and spoke a few words
Asking so much for the people with trembling heart.
Hence the people, admiring that man's faith, long ago sacred,
Were almost captured in Jerusalem by his tricks.
For when the father of that city had crossed over and gone
Into heaven, with the body suddenly laid aside,
Then this Mage, aspiring avidly to be exalted and made a bishop,
Nonetheless said he would do these things in a timorous manner
Unless he knew that it would do no harm
If he should become praesul[x] when God desires these things:
'Indeed nothing is heavier than the burden of this name;
To this weight,' he said, 'God Himself drags me.'
But God the inspector of the heart, also the just guide,
As pious and as knowing, had better consideration.
For that which the aforementioned wicked man desired,
Was displeasing to Christ, and could not be so.
Then the unconquered and blessed king Theodosius,
The enemy of perfidy, the son of the Church,
Was the greatest of the kings under whom the sacred sanction of the laws flourished,
With the preaching of the pious Ambrosius.
When this man had known that such a great praesul had died,
He hurried away and went where this father died.
And at last after the father was buried with much grief,
He consulted Christ with supplicating entreaties
That he might show him whom he would worthily make bishop.
Thus the voice sounded to him and warned him:
'Do not trust the crowd, the enemy lies hidden as a snake in the city!'
When the voice fell silent, the quiet king was baffled.
What is it, he wondered, nonetheless not knowing, he venerated
And he reflected on the warnings, astonished by such things.
But quickly the people released those things which the king reflected on in doubt:
For in their simplicity they seized the silly man,
And as though he was unwilling, they dragged the unjust man with themselves
Before the doors of the king. Therefore as the tumult of the simple flock,
Raged without law as it was ill-advised,
The king asked, what the unaccustomed roaring wanted.
A certain man said to him: 'The people entreat you to come forth.'
As the king was asked, he immediately came out.
The Mage saw him come out and was amazed and immediately
Turned his step, for indeed he then wanted to flee.
And I do not know what he had seen on account of which he had become afraid;
This is openly clear: unwillingly he gazed on this man.
For the mark of paleness gave in him the signs of fear:
Hence he would willingly flee if the people allowed.
Thus he said to the grieving one whom he held back:
'Although you grieve, you will be the father of the city!'
So they drew him back, and sought this bishop,
Indeed praising the words and faith of the man.
So while the court resounded with favour by custom,
Sudden and unaccustomed favour bellowed:
For not with human howling, but rather profane,
As the people were silent, the home roared,
As hither came whatever demons were
In the whole world, the partner crowd of the Mage.
When the people heard such a great murmur of those making noises,
They were thrown on the ground and lay silent while they lay dumbfounded.
The king marked them out and recalled with the sign of the cross
And asked the Lord to restore mind to these people.
He cleansed the court and restored the people to God
And from there in rebuke he addressed presaging Mage with such voices:
'What is your trickery now contriving,
Insidious plague? You will pay for these deeds of yours!
For he who knows that you are pernicious and insidious to him,
When he shakes you off, then he will strike you badly!
And so that the true God should from there be more severe towards you,
Now I spare you but you will suffer there,
When deservedly you are tormented in the perpetual fire,
Where you will desire mercy and nonetheless you will not find it.
Go far, savage one, most worthy victim of Dis![xi]
May you flee from here far off! If you do not do this now,
What is the pronouncement of our judgements,
Then I want you to discover; therefore may you flee quickly!'
Then he spoke to his people: 'I order, that this man should be seized and taken far away!'
Soon therefore he was seized and dragged outside.
Thus the old trickster, thus the pest and the unjust enemy
Could not deceive those whom he wanted to deceive.
Nonetheless after being dragged aware and forced to go rather far off
He pronounced this ignominy against the Church:
'I will bring it back, and not thus but I will multiply it by a hundredfold!
Although your Church is now outstanding,
It will feel our threats and suffer ruin,
When its posterity, vanquished, will pay the deserved
Penalties to me and, as I desire, in full!'
In this, alas, that Mage was presaging!
If you seek a witness, look back on the pagan pestilence
Of whose wickedness the signs remain today.
For the people odious to Christ, a pernicious people,
The people obeying Mahumet and lacking reason
Still strive unremittingly to defend the stupid cult.
Why they will perish in perpetual punishment, I know.
The cause of such evil was that special Mage
Whom the Church expelled for perfidy.
Having been driven, he swelled burning with wicked anger
And wandered, dripping with rabid perdition.
He turned course into Libya as an impious bear
And at that time in Libya the Church flourished.
Africa flourished and brought vows to Christ;
But the one it worshipped well, alas, it quickly abandoned!
For soon enough, after the aforementioned city was left, the Mage came
And also raged against this pious Church.
So here he feigned as before that he lived in piety,
And while he feigned this well through skill, he accumulated evil.
For pondering the cutting-down of souls, the enemy entered the consul's home
As a guest; the consul received him.
He rejoiced in his guest as he considered so reverently
All the Christians as dwellers of heaven.
Hence he cherished the Mage whose fasting he knew
And whose rites and sacred habits he saw.
For thus did the wicked man live with a simple life,
Appearing simple and as though lacking poison,
That he was called the flower of those churches.
For no one could know, that he was the Mage.
Indeed the aforementioned rich man venerated this man more,
Loved him, feared him, held him as pious.
This rich man had a slave whom he trusted well
Called Mammutius, whose duty it was
To manage the affairs of the master; to be watchful over these things;
This was the law of duty and the care of Mammutius.
He made arrangements and was cautious over the rest of things
That he should thus serve the aforementioned Mage,
That he should give him all the things he wanted and refuse none,
And soon do all the things that he should order.
The Mage embraced this man and tied him to himself with friendship
Through many allurements and poisonous charms,
He bound him as a captive as he saw Mammutius as suitable
To become material for his intended crime.
Therefore he tossed about these words with proud voice:
'Now, if you please, seek that which is pleasing to choose.
Choose! I will give the chosen things and I will multiply the things sought,
And whatever you will seek, you will bear, as I grant it!'
As the Mage had settled these things, he stood stupefied by that,
Wondering what he desired, and what suited him.
At last he said: 'Father, by your words has lived
My mind. This I seek, if I can be:
Nothing else certainly, I ask, should befall me by you
Than to be a free man with swift protection.'
To these words responded the aforementioned wicked man:
'You will attain this gift, just as you wish.
But you know me badly, as you demand such gifts,
Or is that which is easy for the most insignificant, difficult to me?
For anyone would be inclined to give you this gift;
But it pleases me truly to do more things for you.
For it is right that the gifts should be in keeping with the person,
Small things befit the lowly, great things people like me.
You will be a consul through me- I have told you almost the rest of the things
Which I have proposed to give, but I was silent for the better.
And nonetheless this will come, but that which I have said, now it will be!'
In reply Mammutius brought these words rather quickly:
'If I will be a slave to you, I seek no other gifts,
For I will be well free if I serve you.'
But when the Magus knew this, soon he moved his tricks
And thus struck the innocent master of Mammutius with
Illness and burned him with such great pains
That death became lighter to him, and life heavier.
And as he delayed and he did not die so suddenly,
As the death was not prompt, the Mage was distressed
And spoke with himself: 'If this man does not die immediately,
Then I have no ability, but I know what I am doing.'
With this said quietly, soon he repeated, like Ericto,[xii]
The murmurs of wickedness under the guise of a just man.
And rising in the night he skilfully took away the lights
So that the dense darkness should carry out such wickedness,
And he bound all in order through sleep as though they were dead;
And with this done, he went nearer as a companion of the crime.
And thus with his arms extended all the way to the shoulders,
He wore down the weak man with his hands and knees;
And without delay he obstructed this man's nostrils and mouth
Which then hardly a breath moved; nonetheless he
Broke the man's throat and forced him to undergo death
Rendering such gifts in return for the good gifts.
Therefore he returned rejoicing and said applauding himself for these things:
'Now with the crime done, I think that I can accomplish.'
But after Phoebus shone and brought back the duty of light to the world,
The demise of the consul was uncovered by the slaves. But when revealed to the many
Colour fled from the mouth and the unaccustomed pain
Confounded all: this man weeping beat his breast,
This man tore his hair, and the one whom pain tormented,
This man wailed, this man groaned, all were vexed by one pain.
Then also the lamentable death of the good patron
Is not only said to have moved the weeping clients
But also the widows wept assiduously for this man,
As did the poor crowd filled with grief over all things
And all the pious churches wept
All the flock of the holy monks with the clergy,
The emperor, then the humble public was in tears.
Also the aforementioned wicked man acceded to these things
Who wet with weeping and falling in grieving
Became an example of weeping and grieving:
Indeed no one believed that he was guilty.
But after the honoured man had been buried
And the pain subsided, and to each one returned his mind,
Then the Mage pressed on more with his inept initiatives,
And thus afflicting and deceiving with art
The consul's wide that she would hardly endure her love
Unless she hurried to have her own slave called Mammutius
As a husband, even as he was unwilling:
So she consulted the presaging Mage.
As if prudently, the Mage brought her these words in reverence:
'If you should do this, you would be looking out for your own interest.
But you have though well if you do as you have wished,
These things by God's instigation and my counsel.'
She returned rejoicing and now daring some crime,
Provided she could have Mammutius as her own.
And impatient in custom, soon she granted Mammutius
The honour of freedom, and removed from him the duty
Of servility, rendering to him instead that of the master.
And she made the servant her master,
Indeed through the marital bed, and through the matrimonial rite
She subjected herself to this man. Alas! How shameful it was.
Although I say this, nonetheless I myself profess that this woman
Was chaste and a good matron by rite.
But the old trick, the unjust Mage deceived this woman,
That man to whom it was not wicked to have murdered a man.
But when the pre-eminent consul Mammutius now glowed
Blessed with honour, rich and outstanding,
He called his wicked damned man to himself,
And thus addressed him: 'Behold your Mammutius
Openly gains through you the promised things:
I am called consul, nonetheless I deny myself to be.
For in the manner of the master you perform our honour,
Our honour is yours, indeed yours is mine.
You will preach, father, and you will note the things to be done
And I immediately obey your command.'
'Through me greater,' the Mage said, 'honour you will have
Si you do the things I order you to do, when I order.
But now this calf, not weaned, and created from the mother
Take up for yourself! May the matter be concealed to the people!
We will shut it in after taking it up and make it be nurtured
So that it should not be revealed to anyone where the calf is hidden.
Nonetheless so that the matter can truly lie hidden without a witness,
There is a need for my skill. For there will be an enclosure
Unknown to all thus and removed from light
So that, neither the Sun nor the Moon will know what is happening there!
Let the calf be placed there but not be seen!
Let him lie hidden there alone! Let him see nothing except us!
And let not the sudden voice of the calf betray itself,
Let it not be able to be betrayed, it should be buried in the innermost depth:
And let the first care be that it should thus be buried in the innermost depth.
And let not the voice of the calf strike the ears of the people!
We two will feed him and only we will know;
And the matter will be of no use if the wandering crowd comes to know.
But if the fifth eye were to see the calf within,
You would think that the people would know after the fifth eye.
Therefore make sure to hide and reveal the words to no one!
You yourself ought to enjoy your own cunning.'
Mammutius stood and prepared to respond,
But the Mage kept him in check and prohibited him to speak.
'There is nothing to be said now,' he said, 'but rather something to be done!'
So from here Mammutius took himself away rather quickly
And now said nothing, he only did and contemplated,
So that he should fulfil each of the things duly and diligently
Which the Mage had ordered to be chosen and prepared.
He sought the calf; the matter was concealed to the people.
He dug a cave- such, I think, as there never was!-
Blind, terrible, suitable for demons,
Which was next to the depths of hell, far removed from the heavens above,
And repulsive by Stigian rite, to be feared by site.
The calf, just born, was damned in such a prison
And was shut in and fed in intense darkness.
Such did the Mage and Mammutius feed him;
The matter lay open to these people alone, it was hidden to others.
They alone fed the calf and they alone knew
When he who had been a calf was already a bull.
If you looked at him, you would hardly think him to be a bull.
You would rather have said: 'He is the companion of the demon!'
For he did not have the figure of a bull but the foreign one
Of a new monster, not to be likened to a cow.
Horrid in horns, to be feared more than the rhinoceros;
The fiery light of the eye was the terror of the people.
The form of its knees bristled as though with thorns.
No beast had nostrils similar to this one.
Terrible breath, the breath of the mouth was wide-open
And the aperture of the mouth was the form of a black abyss.
The head was crested and hairy like a horse.
The form of the neck was wondrous and terrifying
And the chest stood out with fine protrusions,
And there he was hardly in harmony with himself.
Nor will I describe the back and the rest of the limbs otherwise:
In the back, knees, legs and feet
He was, as I think, equal to the elephant standing in the words;
And if anyone should ask: he was such a beast!
Meanwhile a matter to be lamented and grieved occurred:
The Son of the Church, the king of Libya died.
While he lived, his world was strong with peace;
For there was no wickedness but pious justice.
What impiety was, the age of no one had known,
But rather what was simplicity, what was piety, what was goodness.
No one cruel, all of the faith were on guard
Against the vice of perfidy in anyone, as though it were death.
The rigour of the law and the strenuous mind of the king had done this.
As he reigned, the pious Church flourished.
He defended everywhere the just as though he were a guardian,
He was, wherever he could be, the enemy of impiety.
He was the hope of the desolate widows,
Embracing the wretched boys as though they were his own.
He was the comfort to them, the help to them,
As he thought all of the humble to be similar to himself.
Thus the good to the good and the lover of religion
Became the pious source of grief in dying.
Oh how in truth, piety scarcely gives measures of grief for itself!
The strength of the young and the weakness of the old wept,
The piety of the mothers wept, the reverence of the fathers grieved
And at the same time the gentle boys wept with the fathers.
Africa grieved as each grieved for himself:
Every Christian dweller, soldier and father.
Also equal was the grief of the slaves and masters,
The destitute grieved, as did he who had wealth.
The clergy grieved as did the strict flock of the monks
And whosoever worshipped God by rite, grieved.
For the life of this good patron was a tutelage;
As he died, the pious Church collapsed.
Thus with tears are the sad mishaps of both-
the King and the Church- wept for everywhere in piety.
Therefore after the king was buried with very much grief,
The writings indicated on the tomb monument under this title:
'Three causes of grief have been shut under this marble:
The king, the right of the Church, the greatest honour of the country.'
But when that torrent of such great pains went away,
Libya, vacillating in mind, held a council
So it could be determined, who of the leading men should be put in charge,
Who should be the king of Libya, the worthy salvation of the country.
Thus while an heir for the kingdom was sought among the leading men,
That ally said these words to Mammutius:
'Go, I beseech, and go hurry more quickly than usual
And seek the council that is vacillating in its counsels!
When it is allowed for you to speak, make me, I beseech, be called.
For I know that I can truly accomplish thus for you.
But I would say more things if they would not by chance be harmful;
While I advise these things also, I keep you back badly.'
Soon Mammutius did all things per the word of this man.
From there he seized himself away, hurrying more quickly than usual.
He waited for nothing, he flew like one fleeing
Until he had come into the middle of the council
Where the murmur of the wicked man now began to rise
As each of the leaders desired the pinnacle of affairs.
Son they would have entered into the quarrels of harsh strife,
If Mammutius had not come quickly in their midst,
For while, after harsh words, the preludes of strife,
The men were taking up weapons and making noise through the camps,
Amid the peoples who were mad and raging in arms,
Suddenly Mammutius sprang forth in their midst
And thus calmed and conciliated the leaders.
When he composed them and the people were silent,
He hesitated a little and is thus said to have said:
'I rejoice that the past quarrels have been resolved;
Nonetheless from this deed I in no way boast about myself,
But I wish to have come because so that I can speak far removed from trickery.
I rejoice to have come but more to have composed you
Through whom justice flourishes in this country,
Through whom the pinnacle of our honours stands and grows,
Through whom Libya is strong in outstanding peace.
Indeed it is fitting for all those such as yourselves to hold the sceptres
And it is fitting for any outstanding empire.
But the duty of the kingdom and custom demand that one should bear it:
One home does not allow for twin masters.
For a king is to a knowing king what crimes are to the law
The empire does not have a partner in concordance.
But nonetheless so that there should rightly be one king without quarrel
If you desire it to occur through quick counsel
And you trust me alone through common consensus
I will show this and I will give counsel.
I know a certain man, not a person to be revered
But contemptible, but similar to a wretched one,
And nonetheless this poor man is full of religion,
Simple and wise, and knowing the things to come,
And, I think, he is wiser in discourse than Solomon;
For his counsels are prophetic.
Let this man be sought in order to judge and speak
What should rightly occur, what is ill suited.'
He made the oration and prepared to say more things;
He would be desiring to say more things if the people were allowing.
But both parties were thus equally vociferous:
'Let Mammutius be quiet and the aforementioned matter be pleasing!'
Then the senate of poor sense, praising these words,
Hesitated now very little as to who should be the one he should send,
And immediately they begged Mammutius to go forthwith
For the man of wondrous virtue. But this man asked for his companion;
The one to whom the choice of one thousand leaders was given, that man chose
A certain person who might be fatuous and ingenious.
Therefore they receded and equally they sought the Mage
Whom they asked for repeatedly and troubled with entreaty
So that he should come with them where he might judge fairly for all
And rule the council. But the Mage himself denied
That he would do this, saying he did not want to teach,
But rather that he would be quiet if anyone should teach him.
He also said this and many times repeated
That he as a wretch knew nothing in the crowd of the leaders.
However at last after being entreated and requested a lot,
He was swayed as he was unwilling and from there as though grieving.
And that his mind was joyful, badly accustomed as it was through fraud,
Through the sad habits he dissimulated within.
And when he had seen the horse decorated with breast ornament laid low for him:
'Why is this for me with breast ornaments?' said the man of crime,
'Who has laid low the horse for me? Entrust nothing with me!
Let every horse be far away, no such right for me!
Either I will be carried by these two feet of mine or if by someone else's feet,
Let me be carried on the four feet of a donkey in the manner of the Lord.'
Therefore the ambassadors, per the wicked man's word,
Tried to do as he ordered and quickly
Sought a donkey for this man and placed him on it.
With this done, they returned and quickly departed.
But, per wickedness' dictation to him, the Mage beforehand
Had in the meantime released the bull from the enclosure,
When, having been ordered, that aforementioned ally of his Mammutius
Sought the council by hurrying.
And he had bound beforehand the front of the bull with a title of gold.
Thus leading him with himself to the unaccustomed light.
As though it were rousing wars, the wild-beast, terrified by the new light
Bellowed leaping and fled like the wind.
Hence in a small interval he quickly flew over the nearest plains,
Pitying no one, tearing down all the individual things.
He spared no one, and pressed down on men and the countryside areas,
He equally laid low the sheep and very strong cows
And laid low the planted meadows, trampling with the wet foot,
And not that he was a bull, could he be mindful.
Therefore damned to many and prodigious
He dragged innumerable people to the looking-glass
When now the aforementioned Mage, born in wicked omen,
Entered into the council where he went away hurrying.
And he stood in the middle of the leaders, the confusion of affairs,
The enemy of justice, the form of wickedness.
Standing humble in face, to be looked at with the appearance of a poor man
He was quiet as a sheep- this was pleasing to the people!
Hence he was asked by them both that he should speak
And he alone- that trickster- should choose the king.
And when he seemed to be about to speak, everywhere there was silence
So that the wicked voice of the man could be heard.
He, lamenting at first, drew breaths from the bottom
Of his chest, weeping suddenly in his accustomed manner.
And raising his hands, he- the profane one!- intended in his mouth
His murmurs in a troubled manner, speaking a few things in a quiet manner.
From there he bent at the knee, his perfidious mind laid the traps
So that he should be believed under the appearance of faith
Because the common people wondered- simpletons!- and wept as well
And thus, not knowing him to be guilty, they praised him.
They commended the man unworthy of praise, unknowing of the trickery
That the wicked man was there preparing for his interest
After he was drenched with abundant tears intended to speak
He followed up in sadness the rest of the things and spoke these words:
'For your matters I care and in these days
For I have you today and care everyday,
For you I pray, I work to be of benefit to you,
Always yours will I be as far as I can be.
But as now for these matters you have consulted
A cheap person, me, similar to the wretched person,
I confound myself if I alone give counsel;
If I alone give, I will necessarily be a Proteus.[xiii]
Indeed from heaven I reveal to you things noted to me,
And my sense will not give these things, but rather God:
He will reign worthily, whoever will yoke the bull,
Who has not borne the yoke and has not known how to bear!
The one whom God chooses, let man love and venerate this person!
For whoever loves him pleases God.
Why nonetheless this election should have the worthy symbol,
I will explain lightly- if it pleases- and briefly:
This people is to be equated and likened to the bull:
For this kind of people hardly bears a master.
But the king will prudently and powerfully rule Libya,
Who better and more lightly subdues the bull.
This man will confirm and solidify justice,
He will change the harmful things and give new laws.
And where he will reign, from there he will put to flight all bad things
And Libya will flourish under this man with pious peace.'
He had spoken and much tumult followed his words:
The young applauded, and the old were not silent.
This juvenile strength though it would be easy for themselves
But the long old age, to whom He gave ingenuity
Said with itself: 'Mature knowledge is with me
And the power of the youth is overcome by the skill of the old.
Why therefore should I despair? Why should I not seek the kingdom for myself?
If old age forbids this, nonetheless ingenuity urges it.
The skill will compensate for that which the little strength will deny to me,
So long as cautious reason reigns, whatever I do.'
Thus you would see that all the leaders hoped for the kingdom:
The young by their own force, the old by their cleverness.
Now all the region was moved by the fear of the bull,
Some fled in fear, a great part lay hidden in fear.
But those who fled, thus entered the gathering
So that the council should bring help to them.
They said that the reason they fled in fear was
A terrible monster, hardly like a cow,
Which (they said), sparing no one, hardly yielded to any crowd
And where it rushed in fury, it destroyed all things.
At this the whole gathering became afraid and the youth itself
Feared the monster and trembled in fear.
Then the Mage urged that one should come to this monster:
And as the Mage willed, the crowd rushed to meet it
And seeing the huge bull coming from afar
They shuddered; nonetheless with the hope of the outstanding empire,
In order to capture it, each person adjusted himself wholly,
When the now wondrous and horrific bull
Stood in the middle surrounded on all sides by a wondrous circle.
But when the crowd stood, the Magus repeated these words:
'Come now, you who wish to be king, capture the kingdom now!
Do you seek the portions of the empire? You can have them!
He who yokes this bull, let him take, with me as judge, the laurel,
And, by God's command, let this land be under him.'
Applause was given to these voices and nonetheless no one dared
To approach: each fear for himself.
But the bull stood and raging in itself hesitated
As to what he should do, whom he should charge at first.
For he believed that whomever he saw were enemies;
Looking around at them, he raged in eagerness at these people,
He was furious in himself and frequently turned in circles.
For he stood in doubt as to where he should rush first.
Here- which I think should be said and hardly kept quiet-
A strenuous young man jumped forth unrestrained.
He said these things to the bull: 'If you not give me the laurel after being overcome,
I will die nobly and thus I will gain praise.
As you strike, it will become for me a great honour to die;
Wildness is this praise for you, but strenuousness for me!'
From there moving at an angle in order to cheat the unjust one,
He tried quickly to seize him by the horn
And, I think, he would have captured him if the beast had not been cautious;
As the beast was cautious, it rushed all the way to meet
And, as though it were rejoicing in the certain enemy now found,
The bloody form of trickery gazed eagerly at this man alone.
Seeing him, the young man, as though by the blow of a gentle breeze
Struck, grew red and nonetheless did not fear.
Although he knew that he could not escape
Unless he fled rather quickly and looked out for his own interest,
He stood not trembling. Virtue meant so much to him
That he preferred to die rather than flee in timidity.
Therefore lacking arms, but distinguished with the strength of the mind,
He joyfully returned to the arms that nature gave,
And thus took up the wars to which he adjusted his limbs.
His right hand was the sword, the left hand the shield.
Behold another Scaeva[xiv] with his left hand bare without covering.
What things he endured, what things he did not fear!
Lacking a sword he stood and he did not tremble though he was defenceless.
Oh what a wondrous man with wondrous strenuousness!
Hardly with equal praise do I think he can ever be noted,
To whom death has been welcome, while he could live.
Therefore he preferred to die rather than to have succumbed to fear,
Rejoicing that he would thus become an example to the people.
Then the wild beast- as though it were aiding its course with wings-
Drove into the young man who was poorly crushed.
And he collapsed by the lethal blow more quickly than one could describe it.
When the bull saw that the young man had fallen,
He thus raged against him as though he were saying to the defeated: 'Go now
And make it be written that I have succumbed to you;
Thus you will gain my trophy through the long ages!'
But the young man, stripped of life, thus gasped out:
'Alas!' The most terrible beast whirled him around,
Thus playing with him as a lion plays with its enemy.
But the various peoples thus seeing these things said:
'This beast to be revered has come by divine intervention,
And whoever will tame it will rule by law.'
But the poor young man, now torn inside,
As the bull looked on him, turned his horns through a circle
And by chance saw his twin masters
And where he saw those known to him far removed,
Thus he hurriedly went away but the people began to flee
From this part, badly deceived by the magic art.
When soon Mammutius, that ally of the Mage,
Suffering no fear proceeded in delight from the column-
He came out alone, the trickery, the crime, the trick itself,
The zeal of perfidy!- already the gasping bull was present
And licked with his mouth the hands often brought to it
But given previously, and rather frequently he circled the master:
Mammutius held him, just as he wanted.
Therefore the clever man sought for the dubious yoke to be brought to him;
And it was brought forth, and on the neck of the cow
Did the victor impose it: the bull patiently
Bore the touch of the friend, whom he feared as his master.
While Mammutius thus mitigated the wildness of the beast,
Soon the trembling leaders approached dumbfounded
And read the writings, on account of which they became more dumbfounded.
For the front of the cow titled with new signs
Glowed with gold and retained a new poem,
Which those who sae say it was such:
'God has chosen this man, who compelled me to be subservient
Thus I have been sent to him by the piety of God.'
After the leaders saw those things that were written,
They seized Mammutius and made him master.
Then a crash thundered forth from the camp, as though of war, to the stars,
Civil war did not make any similar noise.
You would have said that the drawbridges of heaven had been broken;
If all things were collapsing, they would not roar otherwise:
So great was the indiscrete voice of the raging people
As they made Mammutius master for themselves.
He resisted and proclaimed while struggling:
'You do not act fairly! Why do you thus seize me?
I have never sought nor desired to hold the realms.
You do not act fairly and, I think, you know thing.
But if you insist that you make force for me,
I will not enjoy the empire out of desire!'
So seized all the more, apt for the regal sceptres
Was he alone proclaimed and thus was the crown given.
Mammutius became the king through whom the sacred law perished:
For the origin of evil came by such order.
Therefore his cunning had given him this haughtiness,
By his perfidy wounded Libya wept.
When the unjust man already reigned and got what he wanted,
Then the Mage thus approached him and said:
'It is fitting for you to be mindful of my good deeds-
What you are, what you have been, if you will be mindful of this-
And you will give me gifts and love me, unless I am deceived,
And, as I hope, I will not be cheap to you.
Now therefore if you wish that any man should support you,
Do that which I order, and from there you will be equal to God.
Thus I will give you the greatest things, thus I will raise you over the stars:
It is too little for me to have given the kingdoms of the lands;
Through me you will be greatest, through me you will be made a God
If, you do what I counsel to you, as I order.
Heavy is the law of the Gospels to be changed,
Which thinks us devoid of sense and fatuous
While it prohibits us to commit adultery or engage in extravagance
And destroys the marriage-bed of relatives
And many things it either forbids by precepts or affirms through inept things,
Which you will damn while you give more suitable things;
For you will allow for adultery and freeness to devote oneself to carnal lust.
Let the provisions be luxurious and let the carnal lust be unleashed!
But you ought to seal your decrees with this measure
That indeed whatever was forbidden should now be licit.
Thus for yourself the greater favour of the people without end
You can acquire, if you note my words.
There is no greater burden than to be bound by strict law.
Therefore make all things that are pleasing become licit!
In what way this can become taught by reason
That is argued, you will be capable of achieving, if you obey me.
Argue that the words of the prior scriptures have become corrupted
And the writings were badly written previously: now, correct them for the better!
These things that lack a blemish, hand over to be read without reproach,
Deride the rest of the things not well worthy of faith!
We ought to believe that scripture by law
And by law I undertake that which favours decision.
On the contrary, the scripture that gives the law,
I despise as harmful, for it harms the decision.
The wide decision created under liberty-
If you were to fix a law- you immediately make void,
If not everything is allowed which liberty will tell me
As it does not have its decision under the law.
Therefore it is right for such a great king to give such a law
That whatever is pleasing, this should also be licit.
Thus, thus you will be great, thus you will enjoy peace forever,
Pleasing the people in law by this title of deed.'
To him the king, rendering thanks for such great pieces of advice,
Said: 'Your counsels are outstanding
And your doctrine, indeed foreign to us,
Known to you alone, has come from the axis of the sky.
Through you the divine medicine shines to the world:
For you speak- I see- all things with God's teaching.
Therefore in prostration I pray that I should now be pleasing to you
Just as before I was when I was less strong.
You made me master, you gave the realms
But now you amplify and magnify the things given.
Thus you will stand with me and still as father you will insinuate
Through which I may seem to do nothing rashly.
Therefore advise me and hand over each of the things to be done
And for you will make yourself a mirror, yourself an eye.
Always, as you have known, I have done whatever you wanted;
Now if I were to overlook what you order, I should perish!
Africa will be open to these things which your tongue will teach,
And the whole people will be a disciple to you.'
At the magic nods the king followed all the wicked things,
As he promised, so with diligent engagement
He complied with all things: he abolished the sacred laws
And he decreed that whatever is pleasing is licit.
And he added this to the crime, that those who did not respect this
Would be deprived of property and punished;
In these decrees the people of the Africans, evilly delighted
Rejoiced and raged in madness while they sang things more to be lamented.
Multiplying the delightful voices, the more lascivious age
Rejoiced that it was written that all things were licit to them.
And now the girl chorus and the popular applause
Proclaimed Mammutius alone as outstanding;
And the favourable breeze, always a friend to the evil things
Had elevated the man as though he were consecrated, as though he were wondrous.
Oh confused people, deceived badly by the magic dogma,
Oh people to be associated with the beasts, oh pitiful ones, you perish!
'I am free,' you say: this liberty
May it turn out for our enemies and put us, I pray, to flight!
Such liberty will be fatal to us,
Which will damn you and give you to punishments.
While you believe you have looked out for your interest, oh wickedly evil race,
Whither are you seized in rejoicing? Singing joyful things, you die!
While you now exult, you accumulate many penalties for yourself
And deservedly you head to your demise.
Therefore the itching of Venus[xv] was the origin of the crimes,
While Africa was rashly polluted with Venus.
Seeking married girls, unrestrained pleasure rushed
And there was no virgin who could marry.
The wandering woman, having rejected the marriage bed of legitimate people,
Believed that any adultery was pious.
All were burning, man and wife were doing the same thing,
Blind was the libido of youth, blind was that of the old.
Indeed both sexes in general were confounded
And the race was made uncertain by unjust Venus.
Thus man lost the confused use of reason
Not doing otherwise than all the crude cattle.
There was nothing human except he decided it to be profane;
He who feared this less, was more holy.
As crime crept in, honour and reverence ceased
As they could not be mixed with crime.
Indeed there began to be praised and celebrated
Every act of lying carnally forbidden by the sacred law.
While from you, Nature, they took away your laws by force,
Each woman subduing her equal, man subduing man,
Soon against custom the brother pressed on his own sister,
The sister married to the brother became a victim of the abyss.
A mother's own offspring committed incest with her, and the daughter with her father.
Thus whatever was pleasing, became licit by the new law.
Alas! How many prudent became unwise
And supported wickedness while they feared their own losses!
For the terror of the king dragged some, but public error
More after vices into perdition.
A few constant and serving God alone,
While they taught better things in order to call back the people,
Affirmed by example that which they taught.
For whether by punishment, entreaty or price
They could be frequently tempted, but not overcome.
Soon as they were exposed to various punishments
They rejected the many penalties that they sustained.
Some by beatings, a considerable part by the prisons
Overcame the world, some perished by the whippings.
One suffered hunger, another died from thirst,
Some were butchered, others were tested by the fire,
This one was pierced with bars or cooked in oil,
That one was crowned while he was scourged alive,
This one having been cut up perished and thus ascended to the stars.
That one triumphed as he fed the ravens on the cross,
This one sustained the rapid shower of stones,
Some were offered or sent headlong to the tigers,
Others overcame by the punishment of the sword.
Some abandoning all things and following the Lord,
While they feared cruel men for themselves,
Wandered through the in-roads of the forests, and the madness of wild beasts
Endured the unhurt whom man pursued.
Thus they were found, they now lived for the Omnipotent
As they obtained perpetual joys by their death.
But the Lord, mindful that vengeance was left for Him,
Suddenly struck Mammutius, and deservedly so:
For, in exchange for his deeds, an epileptic pest seized this man
In order to vex the wretched man for the number of crimes.
And as God was tormenting him by which to recall him.
He could not know on account of his excessive crime.
But as an unrestrained horse is not retained by reins,
Thus on account of the punishments, he went more away into vices.
Thus the angered Lord is accustomed to punish the charges
So that, although He strikes, man should be more foolish.
When the Mage saw this wicked man damned by this pestilence,
He groaned within and grieved not lightly.
Nonetheless so that he should not appear sad in these matters,
He cautiously dissimulated this which stimulated him.
While he was concealing this, he gasped for a greater crime.
For this wickedness he thus prepared the way,
So that, whenever the king should fall and lie half-dead,
As the king was failing, the crime should accept the force.
Certainly this will be thought to be excessively wondrous,
If ever it is read. In order therefore let us entrust ourselves to a letter,
Concerning the skill by which the Mage had done these things,
Whose joy was nothing except wickedness.
For as if he was applauding, whenever the king was grieving,
He multiplied the praises by rite to God thus,
That He had supposedly had regard for the people over whom He had put in charge
The magnificent king, angelic by customs,
And who was thought to have died when he was being seized
As often into heaven as God was dealing with the greatest things
Of the kingdom or when he was creating new laws.
For he said that God was accomplishing all things through him.
Indeed he advised the deceived and inept peoples
That they should hold back their tears and grieve minimally,
But rather they should rejoice and venerate the king more
Since they saw that God had been well pleased with him.
But the polluted people, having soon followed the magic dogma,
Inclined to their own demise.
Certainly as the king in his own manner, with grief driving on,
Was falling by sudden force and was half-dead,
The seduced crowd, turning grief into joys,
Whereas they previously grieved, now they sang in harmony
As they said that the man captured in mind was being seized to the heavens above
So that he should give laws and preside over the sky alone.
Thus the common people rejoiced and, so I should say, sang in joy.
But meanwhile the Mage made considerations for crimes:
As he knew beforehand the time when the illness would go away-
So that the accustomed life would then return to the king-
Then he excluded all and remained alone,
Feigning that he was celebrating the pious mystery:
And when the pain had receded and the king had recovered,
Soon the Mage taught this man, as he had been accustomed before,
And the wicked man instilled in him his poison
So that the wretched common people should perish by death-bearing pestilence.
But the king came forward- having professed the illness in his paleness-
And thus arose and spoke to the peoples:
'With festive praise, oh most elect people, applaud
For your merits have been pleasing to those above!
You did this, you indeed merited
That I am thus pleading to all the dwellers of heaven
And that so often I direct my course on high,
It has been fitting to be ascribed, oh blessed people, to you.
But as you have wept, when you thought I was in pain,
Learn how welcome that state of mine is.
Whenever you see me as though mad and in pain,
I am seized into heaven and I suffer no evil.
For then I enjoy the address of the saints above,
And I have the delights equally worthy of God.
Indeed there paradise delights my sights,
I glory in the angelic praises of hymns.
Now I am carried into the Great Bear, now from there I slip to the south,
Which, cold as it is, the fiery zone makes hot.
From there I observe the stars flashing or following the world,
And by these I note equally what is the way, what is the path.
From here my mind wonders- when it is seized to heaven-
From where can those above be so stable
Such that they are not rolled at the same time, indeed rather are not moved.
As I see such things, you believed that I am in pain.
Here then I grow languid but there I rest in joy,
Where there is rest without quarrel, where there is day without night.
Nonetheless when I must return to this world,
Then certainly I am in pain, as soon as I return.
For when I abandon the goods of such great delights,
I hardly endure the return of the flesh on entry
Hence I would refuse the returns and not come back
And seek the world, if I did not love you.
You! You are the cause of sweat for me, the cause of labour!
Indeed perceive, my people, with diligence
What I had then seen when I had been seized to the heights above,
And, what which I bring forth, learn, oh faithful man!
We damn the world if we first make an exception of you;
If we make an exception of you, we despise all things.
What it worships, the human race does not know, as it is badly sane,
It does not know what it does, although it does many things.
You! Oh elect people, you! You know nothing except what is right,
You! You know the truth, you capture the limbs of the sacred!
They bind themselves by the laws and feign for themselves
And create new laws in which they may also perish.
You! Pleasing to those above, you! Blessed in liberty,
God reckons that you are his innocent ones.
They would have now been removed and condemned,
If my counsels had not come in the middle:
For when the damned peoples were to be pitied,
Thus my tongue, as was fitting, spoke:
'Heavenly gathering- even as you can know nothing-
How magnificent is the Libyan religion,
You yourselves know; but I beseech that you should wish to note
That this people has recently come to know the path of salvation
And that you show discern that the honour of sacred newness,
As it has hardly touched the extremity of Libya,
Cannot be diffused so quickly to the ends of the world.
Who can learn that which no one has taught?
Hence I pray, that to the people lacking a sound teacher
Still the space should be given by which they can redeem their vice.
But if they will mock, after they see our sacred rites,
Unless they quickly repent, with me as judge, let then perish
And thus be damned so that they be tormented forever!'
When I fell silent here, thus I pleased those above
As the place of rest for me was decreed without end,
And whenever I should return, I should hold the sceptres of the sky.
I am equal to the All-Powerful Who lives forever
With Whom I alone rule over all things to be ruled.
Therefore rejoice and hold our precepts
With much zeal, indeed far removed from doubt
I will exalt you, I will make you similar to me;
Here to me, if you deserve, you will be similar.
But the one who is about to die can hardly be fully pure
While he cannot be good on account of the burden of flesh.
No one is able under this burden, I say, to lack a fault
Hence I know that you are subject to some vice.
Hence let this be the first way of salvation for the polluted
That after a person's sins let each such person be washed with water.
Certainly the sacrament of mercy will be granted by this element;
But so that such an ablution should be truly sacred
Whosoever wishes to be well and truly purged and purified,
Let him thus sanctify himself and repeat these words four times:
'Whatever crimes I have committed, Mahumet, purger of the unjust,
Wash away, I beseech, through this sacred water!'
To those abluted in such a way I will give the gifts of greatest salvation:
To enjoy forever the honour of the perpetual kingdom.
I would instruct you in more things if only I had the time;
For while the sermon is being dragged forth, the day is being seized away.
But with intent heart, my people, remember to retain,
Just as I have arranged the individual things which I have taught!
And thus may you be on guard against the loss of liberty,
Just as each person should be free in his own judgement!
For if you thus wish to practise our cults,
After the death of flesh then I will give what has been promised.'
After he said these things, the simple people with harmonious praise
Thundered, with applause added without delay.
And in the manner of thundering did such great clamour strike the air
As the love of Juno under Jupiter did not know/
What do you do with these admonitions, head of crimes, victim of Dis,
While you are eager to entrap the brutes and crude ones?
But you fear, I believe- cruel and impious criminal-
That you will perish alone, which I ask you not to fear.
For you will not go deprived and unaccompanied,
But rather your crowd will not be small.
And not for many years will this tyranny of yours rage,
Nor will your life be forever as it wishes.
The divine vengeance, while you rejoice, unexpectedly
Will now overcome you and will not strike lightly.
And thus suddenly you will fall, a general and unique demise,
Already the palace of Dis lies open for your merits.
You, oh limb of Satan, will the inane chaos absorb
And, as though it is thirsty for you, all Tartarus gapes open.
Come, rejoice and do not cease to accumulate
What it bears for you after the twin death!
And for you, oh stupid people, remains much confusion
And never will joy be a companion for you:
For in a brief course is the space of life run;
After this has been finished, you wade to the demise
And with your Mahumet you will become the victim of Pluto
And you will take the rewards of your error.
When the fraud had already grown and the trick had grown strong
And impiety did not place limits to the crime,
Then the clamours of the destroyed churches,
And the Lord beheld the crime of Mahumet
And raged against the author of the crime
And followed such great fury with worthy punishments. Therefore
The king at the dawn of the Sun, at the first hour of the light
Came out silently, by chance lacking a companion.
And he went contemplating what he should so, what dogmas he should write,
And what he should teach tomorrow in order to please his people.
But death pressed on as it denied having lived tomorrow
Preventing today on the dogmas of perfidy.
For while the king was agitating as to what words he should give to the people,
The accustomed pest suddenly seized him.
And he fell lifeless, numb like a cold snake,
And not, as he wanted, could he be harmful.
Binding his entrails, a huge pain raged within;
It raged internally and no less externally.
All things were numb, the hand, bone, foot, and tongue were rigid;
He became wholly stiff, he lay wholly inert.
The shut off throat of the tongue denied the use of the voice,
But the pupils, empty of their own light, stood.
Why I am delaying? Immense pain had taken away his senses
And now the almost overcome life prepared to flee:
The scum, with which his mouth was wet, portended this,
And his badly continuing and scarce breath.
Thus, with the Mage absent, while the image of death held this man,
The swine rushed forth, a suddenly worthy pestilence!
Thus this rapid flock, as though rejecting that this man was king,
All rushed onto this man and tore the wretch apart.
But the remainder of life which still sustained the unjust man,
That man lightly drained out, as he groaned heavily.
Oh, at last he died! The Styx was opened for the dying man
And the Stygian thug was drowned in the abyss.
And as he damned souls and laid low bodies,
Sparing the soul not at all, and the bodies minimally,
Now the pig feeds on him, and Orcus his soul
And justly was he tolled about in the filth of the dirt.
And damned by law, bearing torments in both,
He bore the various kinds of punishments for his crimes.
When the Mage had heard that the king had gone away alone
And was dragging forth the return beyond the usual,
He followed him alone. While he was going there rather quickly,
The king was seen to have fallen on the middle of the road.
The avenging flock still stood and was lacerating the king
As if he was given by the law of food to them.
But, as the Mage came, the porcine devouring ceased
And abandoned the lacerated head of the crimes.
Then, the source of sin, the Mage to the corpse of the lacerated
Came nearer, doubtful as to what he should do.
But what was he to do for these things except weep and grieve in weeping?
Therefore weeping he groaned and he was in considerable grief.
But when he realised, that this inane pain was going away
And that his weeping was yielding into emptiness,
He said with himself: 'When the father wept for Hector,
Surely tears had been of no use to him? Of course not!
Therefore since grief made no benefits for him,
Indeed he grieved in his heart, nonetheless he placed an end to weeping.
You also put aside weeping by similar reason.
For by years you do not from this time forward redeem this man!'
The Mage, armed with such admonitions and recreated
Composed his face and held back the tears
And carried back the body and placed it on a couch,
Although with late art he cherished the torn limbs.
Thus whatever seemed to work was mixed:
The juice of the little garland and the gentle flower of the violet.
Thyme, balsam, nard, amomum filled the home.
From these this man made an unknown antidote;
And, with all the king's limbs thus anointed,
He adorned the man with clothes. For he intended a trap
By which he should capture the minds of the deceived peoples,
Rejoicing in his fraud, only when continuous.
With the king ordained, soon with his wicked voice
He called the king's servants and the peoples,
Whom he thus addressed: 'Let this solemn light be made
By which today the king of Libya has sought the heavens!
Indeed in the same place has that king become heavenly
And as he calls his boys- us- to those above.
For although his dominion has extended,
Not nonetheless will he be any less our master.
Indeed preserving his Libyans not as servants but as friends
He will protect them, and he will rule over them while cherishing them.
But why is your heart disturbed while it contemplates
And asks for the reason why this father has given
His limbs, very much revered as they should be, to be devoured by pigs?
How cheap the flesh is, this humble death teaches.
So that he might openly show this and openly signify it,
He wanted to suffer and admonished us through this
How fragile we are. But although we perish in the flesh,
After death there is nonetheless some remaining hope,
As death becomes the salvation of our souls,
And when we die, then we follow Mahumet.
He will elevate and join all to him
Who wish to comply with his orders in deed.
We add to these orders that you should be on guard
Against rashly defiling yourselves through eating pork.
And I do not think it needs to be said why this should be done
Since what sufficiently explains this is patently clear in itself.'
Hence that people, despising the swine's flesh,
Believes whosever eats from the pig is polluted;
And as the flock of pigs ate away at their king
The said superstition has come from this hatred.
Then the Mage, rejoicing that his precepts were received
Believed it was too little of his deeds
Unless he consummated his crime and as though he sanctified it;
Thus full of crime he prepared to accomplish this:
He constructed a shrine, a shrine no, but rather something profane,
In front of its marble doors
There was placed a marble sculpting, which is reckoned to have been as such:
'Here, that which is sought well, will be given through Mahumet.'
On this structure nothing stood out with care,
The whole home glowed with preciousness and ingenuity.
It was white with Parian[xvi] marble wherever it was open,
But the Parian marble was overcome by varied work.
For if the work had been living and could have been able to speak
'I have conquered material!' it would have said to the craftsman;
Such was the shrine decorated and prepared.
But if anyone asks how great was the home:
When one stands far away from here, it was thought to be a golden mountain
So much in space and preciousness did it contain.
You would be more amazed if you by chance entered;
For the flow of stones would make you dumbfounded.
Thus they adorned the work of gold which they varied
As the night sky is adorned with lucid star.
Here the work was raised from the ground, prepared with lodestone,
It had stood in the middle and was as an arch;
Under it Mahumet was carried and placed in a tomb monument,
Which- if anyone should ask- had been prepared with bronze.
And as the revered lodestone drew bronze to itself,
The tomb in which the king lay had been raised
And thus hung, as the force of the stones made.
Therefore the ignorant peoples, after they saw
The portent of the tomb, they held the matter to be a sign
Believing- the poor wretches!- that it occurred through Mahumet,
As the thing full of weight was hanging without a chain
Not was there a cord to hold the tomb.
The stupid people worshipped Mahumet when they saw this,
Which magic art had done among the Libyan people.
But as we have spoken of the causes of these errors,
Let the Muse hold the hand and let Mahumet perish!
[i] A volcanic crater associated with the Underworld.
[ii] Appears to be a reference to Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.
[iii] i.e. Relating to the River Styx.
[iv] Wife of Jupiter.
[v] i.e. Athena, the Graeco-Roman goddess of wisdom.
[vi] The Roman god of war.
[vii] A Greco-Roman sea-god.
[viii] A prophetic sea-god in Greco-Roman mythology.
[ix] Probably Godebold/Gotebold II of Henneberg, who was a contemporary of Embrico of Mainz.
[x] i.e. Bishop.
[xi] Dis is equated with Pluto, the Roman god of the Underworld.
[xii] An evil witch depicted in Roman literature.
[xiii] The same Protheus mentioned earlier.
[xiv] Literally, 'left-handed/lefty.' I think the reference here is to Scaeva, a centurion who served in Caesar's army and was renowned for heroism.
[xv] Since Venus was the Roman goddess of love and sexuality, she is used here as a metaphor for carnal lust.
[xvi] i.e. From the Greek island of Paros, which was renowned for marble production.