warm-hearted medieval woman saved man dying from lovesickness

Joy of my life, give yourself to me, for I give myself to you!
Let me be a goddess, you a god — let me be yours, you mine.

{ Vite dulcedo, mihi te da, nam tibi me do!
Sim dea tuque deus: sim tua tuque meus. } [1]

Bathsheba with David's letter

In twelfth-century France, a young man was dying from lovesickness. He moaned:

Alas, extreme sadness now grasps my heart.
What is hidden deep inside bites and binds me.

{ Heu dolor immodicus, mea qui nunc pectora tangit!
Quod latet interius penitus me mordet et angit. } [2]

The gender passion protrusion disadvantages men. Men’s sufferings typically generate much less concern than women’s sufferings. Although today men compared to women live on average six years less and suffer about four times as many deaths from violence, few persons care. Men are accused of being silent and emotionless. At the same time, few persons are willing to listen to what men say and appreciate how men feel.

Medieval men had faith in love for them. This young man once had a girlfriend among the sisters back at the Remiremont Abbey. He believed that she would be willing to help him in dire need. With well-nourished faith he thus declared:

But I think if I reveal the cause of my madness,
by that revelation I will be given medicine for my sadness.
Come then, Light, with Poetry attend to my verses of lament,
come also warm-hearted Love, who will help a friend.

{ Sed, puto, si nostri causam manifesto furoris,
in manifestando dabitur medicina doloris.
Versibus ergo meis cum Musis, Phebe, venito,
adsit et alma Venus, quae subsidietur amico. }

On this summer day, with his mind burning in the heat of love, the young man sought relief in his bedroom, which was adorned with roses. He lay down in his bed, but his love-heat didn’t lessen, nor did his mind, anguished with his hotness, find any rest.

While he was suffering so in bed, behold! Love transformed into the appearance of his girlfriend came to him. She hurried to his bed, cuddled up beside him, and said:

Alas for me, my brother, why now is your life leaving you?
Woe is me, what am I to do? I will die if you die.
I think that will not happen, if only you enjoy a woman.
This you are now suffering is none other than love-fever.
Hence to be healthy, you must burst the bars of modesty.
Believe me, no medicine will make you healthy
if this fire of yours for a woman isn’t first cooled.
Therefore quickly hasten to extinguish the excessive fire,
which is causing you to endure now mortal sadness.
Seek out a noble young woman with an excellent appearance.
Truly loving her tender beauty will make you healthy.

{ Heu mihi, mi frater, cur nunc te vita relinquit?
Me miseram, quid agam? Moriar si tu morieis.
Quod, puto, non fierit, modo si muliere frueris.
Hoc quod nunc pateris, nihil est nisi fervor amoris.
Ut valeas, igitur, rumpantur claustra pudoris.
Crede mihi, quod nulla tibi medicina valebit,
ni calor iste tuus prius in muliere tepebit.
Ergo citus propera, nimios extingue calores,
qui modo mortiferos faciunt te ferre dolores.
Egregia specie generosam quaere puellam,
cuius tu formam valeas adamare tenellam. }

This young man’s dream-girlfriend had a keen sense of what a woman could do for a man.[3] She was a warm-hearted, generous woman who sought to help her distant, dying boyfriend. Not all women are like that, but some are.

The young man hesitated to follow his dream-girlfriend’s lead. Perhaps he knew of a man who brought disaster upon himself and his beloved woman by following her advice. Perhaps he recognized that men’s lives are carelessly destroyed in war and in the criminal justice system. He himself explained:

She had spoken. Yet like a young soldier terrified before battle,
so I myself, not accustomed to the pleasure of Love, was tormented.
Thus desire and illness advised me to seek my girlfriend,
but modesty and fear, as usual, were impeding.

{ Dixerat; utque novus miles data bella perhorret,
sic me non solitum luxu Venus ipsa remordet.
Hinc amor et morbus quaeratur amica monebant,
sed pudor atque timor, velut est mos, impediebant. }

His dream-girlfriend, however, was sensitive to his feelings:

She perceived what it was that made me afraid of desire,
and why, if I would be healthy, I wanted to avoid love.

{ Illico persensit, quid erat quod amore timebam,
et cur, si valeam, Venerem vitare volebam. }

Smiling, she said to him:

I fear that you will die,
you who for absolutely nothing so endure what you are suffering.
You, undoubtedly because you shun and fear shame,
spurn desire that would bestow upon you life instantly.
But surely that is childish, my sweet boyfriend,
you living so chastely so as to lose what is to be lived.
I beg you, therefore, my brother, to defer this modesty,
which makes you flee from life as you spurn desire.
Perhaps you would say, “I cannot find any young woman
who would suit me here in our region.”
That I confess to be so, but what you long for here you would be able
to find, if you intend to return by Remiremont.”

{ Vereor ne tu moriaris,
qui pro tam nihilo suffers quod sic patiaris.
Tu quia, ni fallor, vitas metuisque pudorem
qui tibi donaret vitam modo, spernis amorem.
Sed puerile quidem nimis est, mi dulcis amice,
vivere si perdes nimium vivendo pudice.
Quare mi frater, precor, hunc postpone pudorem,
qui facit ut fugias vitam, dum spernis amorem.
Forsan tu dices: “Nequeo reperire puellam
quae mihi conveniat nostris in partibus ullam.”
Hoc quoque confiteor, sed quod cupis hic reperire
posses, si velles Romarici Monte redire. }

What a compassionate and intelligent woman! What a warm-hearted and caring woman! Early Christian women and men suffered martyrdom for the sake of their chaste devotion to God. But this young man didn’t want to be a love-martyr. His problem was not having a beautiful, warmly receptive, and discrete young woman nearby. His distant girlfriend thus compassionately appeared to him in a dream and urged him to return to Remiremont Abbey.

The young man didn’t delay in traveling back to Remiremont Abbey. By the twelfth century, Remiremont Abbey in eastern France had a reputation as the home of highly privileged women with strong, independent sexuality.[4] Among the many young women there the young man found the medicine he needed:

Then at that distant place you find for me what well suits,
and her too-beautiful appearance pleases me.
I love her, who equally surrenders to love;
thus is suddenly given to me the medicine itself for my sadness.

{ Illic tunc reperi mihi quae bene conveniebat,
et cuius species nimium mihi pulchra placebat.
Hanc ego dilexi, pariter quae cessit amori;
sic datur ipsa meo subito medicina dolori. }

The woman who restored the young man to good health may have been his earlier girlfriend. Or perhaps, with a doctor’s devotion to her patient, she found another woman who would be better medicine for him. He himself may have begun to enjoy more suppliers of love medicine than he had been prescribed. In any case, after some time the situation took a turn for the worse: “envy at present has ruptured our love {livor nostros ad praesens rupit amores}.” From the viewpoint of eternity, any earthly medicine for a man can at best only postpone his death. So it was for this man.

Dour literary critics might claim that this whole story of a man’s lovesickness merely displays a typical masculine fantasy. That’s unreasonable. Many men cannot even imagine a women being so warm-hearted, compassionate, and generous. Moreover, some flesh-and-blood women actually are warm-hearted, compassionate, and generous. Today’s anti-meninists fantasize that women don’t enjoy sex with men. Readers seeking enlightenment should stretch their minds to perceive a woman’s voice in medieval Latin poetry.

Come, dearest love,
with ah! and oh!
to visit me — I will please you,
with ah! and oh! and ah! and oh!
I am dying with desire
with ah! and oh!
How I long for love!
with ah! and oh! and ah! and oh!

If you come with the key,
with ah! and oh!
you will soon be able to enter,
with ah! and oh! and ah! and oh! [5]

{ Veni, dilectissime,
et a et o,
gratam me inuisere,
et a et o et a et o!
in languore pero,
et a et o —
uenerem desidero,
et a et o et a et o!

Si cum claue ueneris,
et a et o
mox intrar poteris,
et a et o et a et o! }

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[1] Anonymous Latin lyric from MS. Munchen, Clm 6911, fol. 128r, Latin text and English translation (modified slightly) from Dronke (1965) vol. 2, p. 490. This poem is from the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Id.

[2] Carmina Rivipullensia 9, titled “Lamentatio pro separatione amicae {Lament for being separated from his girlfriend},” first line “Heu dolor immodicus, mea qui nunc pectora tangit! {Alas, extreme sadness now grasps my heart},” ll. 1-2, Latin text from Wolff (2001), my English translation benefiting from Wolff’s French translation. Subsequent quotes, unless otherwise noted, are similarly sourced from this poem. Quoted lines: ll. 3-6 (But I think if I reveal…), 16-26 (Alas for me…), 27-30 (She had spoken…), 31-32 (She perceived…), 33 (part)-44 (I fear that you will die…), 51 (envy at present…).

[3] In a tenso with Macabru, Uc Catola testified to the curative power of a woman’s love for a man:

Marcabru, when I’m tired and sad
and my good girlfriend greets me
with a kiss while I whisk off my clothes,
I go away well and safe and cured.

{ Marcabrun, qant sui las e·m duoill,
e ma bon’ amia m’acuoill
ab un baissar qant me despuoill,
m’en vau sans e saus e gariz. }

“My friend Macabru, let’s compose {Amics Marchabrun, car digam},” ll. 45-8 (st. 13), Occitan text from Gaunt, Harvey and Paterson via Rialto, English translation (modified) from trobar. Here’s another Occitan textual version, with Italian translation.

[4] The Remiremont Abbey in the early twelfth century had extensive land holdings and a secular orientation. Judith, Abbess of Remiremont from about 1114 to 1162, belonged to high nobility. She was the daughter of a count and the sister of another count. Lee (1981) pp. 35-6. As Abbess, Judith vigorously acted to retain Remiremont’s wealth and independence from local officials. In a bull issued on March 17, 1151, Pope Eugenius III denounced the Remiremont nuns for their “carnal behavior {conversatio carnalis}” and ordered that their “lasciviousness of sin should be converted into spiritual fervor {pecati lasciviam in ardorem spirtalibus convertendam}.” As cited by Daichman (1986) p. 59.

[5] Carmina cantabrigiensia {Cambridge Songs} 49, “Veni, dilectissime {Come, dearest love},” st. 1, 3, Latin text (simplified presentation of reconstruction) and English translation from Ziolkowski (1994) pp. 126-7. This poem is attested only in the Carmina cantabrigiensia (Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.5.35). While persons in medieval Europe enjoyed relatively liberal freedom of speech, someone during the Middle Ages rubbed out most of the words of this poem. Peter Dronke, with great learning and keen insight, was able to reconstruct at least part of it. Dronke (1965) vol. 1, p. 274. The reference to “key” and “entering” indicates that a woman addresses a man with this poem.  The “e” that ends the first line also indicates that the addressee is a man.

[image] Bathsheba with David’s letter. Painting by Willem Drost, made about 1654. Preserved as accession RF 1349 in the Louvre Museum (Paris). Via Wikimedia Commons.


Daichman, Graciela S. 1986. Wayward Nuns in Medieval Literature. Syracuse: N.Y.

Dronke, Peter. 1965. Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love-Lyric. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Lee, Reuben Richard. 1981. A New Edition of “The Council of Remiremont.” The University of Connecticut. Ph.D. Thesis.

Wolff, Etienne. 2001. Le Chansonnier amoureux: Carmina rivipullensia. Monaco: Rocher.

Ziolkowski, Jan M., ed. and trans. 1994. The Cambridge Songs (Carmina cantabrigiensia). New York: Garland Pub.

Peire Cardenal: thirteenth-century troubadour MGTOW

troubadour Peire Cardenal

War historically has been structured as violence against men. Even today, sex discrimination remains entrenched in Selective Service registration for being drafted into war. Violence within the home (domestic violence) is more gender-symmetric. But since intimates are intimately vulnerable to each other, domestic violence can be more horrifying than war. The thirteenth-century troubadour Peire Cardenal perceptively wrote:

War’s too close if you’ve got it on your land,
but it’s even closer if you’ve got it in your bed.
When a husband displeases his wife,
that’s worse than war between neighbors.

{ Prop a guerra qui l’a en mieg son sòl,
Mas plus prop l’a qui l’a a son coissi.
Can lo maritz a la moiller fai dòl,
So es guerra peior que de vezi } [1]

Some husbands attempt to avoid domestic violence through fawning subservience to their wives. That tends only to increase their wives’ contempt for them. Authorities administer domestic violence law with acute anti-men gender bias. What then can a man do to avoid the horror of domestic violence in his life?

The thirteenth-century troubadour Peire Cardenal presented an answer. He became what’s now known as a Man Going His Own Way (MGTOW):

I dare to claim love now cannot
rob me of appetite or sleep,
can’t turn me cold, can’t turn me hot,
can’t make me yawn or sigh or weep
or stay out nights to wander;
love can’t torment or vanquish me —
now I go grief- and anguish-free,
I pay no page or pander;
love can’t hoodwink me, can’t betray;
I palmed my dice and walked away.

I’ve found my joy in life’s to be
neither betrayer nor betrayed;
traitor and traitoress can’t scare me
nor jealous husband’s bright sword blade;
I cut no more mad capers;
I don’t get wounded or cast down,
plundered like some poor captive town;
don’t stew in brainless vapors;
I don’t say I’ve been love-oppressed;
don’t claim my heart’s ripped from my breast;

don’t say for her sweet self I yearn;
don’t claim that she’s so fair I’ll die;
don’t say I beg for her and burn;
don’t praise her name and sanctify;
don’t kneel in her observance;
don’t say my life to her I gave;
don’t claim to be her serf or slave;
don’t sign on with her servants;
don’t wear love’s chains; far better, I’m
making my getaway in time.

{ Ar me puesc ieu lauzar d’Amór,
Que no-m tol manjar ni dormir;
Ni-n sent freidura ni calór
Ni no-n badalh ni no-n sospir
Ni-n vauc de nueg arratge
Ni-n soi conquistz ni-n soi cochatz,
Ni-n soi dolenz ni-n soi iratz
Ni no-n logui messatge;
Ni-n soi trazitz ni enganatz,
Que partitz m’en soi ab mos datz.

Autre plazer n’ai ieu maior,
Que no-n traïsc ni fauc traïr,
Ni-n tem tracheiris ni trachor
Ni brau gilos que m’en azir;
Ni-n fauc fol vassalatge,
Ni-n soi feritz ni derocatz
Ni no-n soi pres ni deraubatz;
Ni no-n fauc lonc badatge,
Ni dic qu’ieu soi d’amor forsatz
Ni dic que mos cors m’es emblatz.

Ni dic qu’ieu mor per la gensor
Ni dic que-l bella-m fai languir,
Ni non la prec ni non l’azor
Ni la deman ni la dezir.
Ni no-l fas homenatge
Ni no-l m’autrei ni-l me soi datz;
Ni non soi sieus endomenjatz
Ni a mon cor en gatge,
Ni soi sos pres ni sos líatz
Anz dic qu’ieu li soi escapatz. } [2]

Peire Cardenal completely and resolutely rejected the men-abasing cult of courtly love. So too should all men.

Courtly love celebrates the man who continues to love a woman who has turned him away unmercifully and continues to treat him like her servant. In other words, courtly love honors men who are losers. Peire Cardenal had the audacity to speak the truth:

Speaking the truth, men ought to praise
winners, not losers — victory’s head
and brow goes crowned with wreaths of bays;
losers lie down in graveyards, dead.
Who’s conquered his heart’s treachery
and the insane desire that brings
men to do such outrageous things
— all foolishness and lechery —
he should find honor in that crown
more than in conquering many a town.

{ Mais deu hom lauzar vensedor
Non fai vencut, qui-l ver vol dir,
Car lo vencens porta la flor
E-l vencut vai hom sebelir;
E qui venc son coratge
De las desleials voluntatz
Don ieis lo faitz desmezuratz
E li autre outratge,
D’aquel venser es plus onratz
Que si vensía cent ciutatz. }

To free themselves from gender slavery, men must free themselves from mental slavery. They must recognize their propensity to gyno-idolatry and act to control reasonably their inclination. Men must reject unfair wages of love. They must act rightly, which isn’t the same as desperately seeking women’s approval and praise. With powerful alliteration, Peire Cardenal poignantly declared:

Praiseworthiness, not praise, I prize.
Some clods can’t quit cramped cages —
like lovers laid low by love’s lance.
Whatever good gay gifts grace grants,

I wouldn’t want love’s wages.
Nor would I want a wayward will
whose feigned free flight fails to fulfill.

{ Plus pres lauzables que lauzatz :
Trop ten estreg ostatge
Dreitz drutz del dart d’amor nafratz.
Pus pauc pres, pus pres es compratz.

Non voilh voler volatge
Que-m volv e-m vir mas voluntatz
Mas lai on mos vols es volatz. }

Mothers raising sons without fathers should sing to their sons Peire Cardenal’s song. We need a new generation of strong, independent men who love themselves as much as they love women.

Violence against men will not cease being normal until all join MGTOW to fight for a new V Day. This V Day will not be a vagina-centric day. This V Day will celebrate the victory of truth over widely spread lies about violence. Some may think that the time is early. But the time for a new dawn of peace and love is now. All persons of good will toward men, arise!

With pale sun rising, in the clear east, not yet bright,
the morning sheds, on earth, ethereal light:
while the watchman, to the idle, cries: “Arise!”

Dawn now breaks; sunlight rakes the swollen seas;
ah, alas! It is he! See there, the shadows pass!

Behold, the heedless, torpid, yearn to try
and block the insidious entry, there they lie,
whom the herald summons urging them to rise.

Dawn now breaks; sunlight rakes the swollen seas;
ah, alas! It is he! See there, the shadows pass!

{ Phebi claro nondum orto iubare
Fert aurora lumen terris tenue:
Spigulator pigris clamat: “Surgite!”

L’alb’apar, tumet mar at ra’sol;
po y pas, a! bigil, mira clar tenebras!

En encautos ostium insidie
Torpentesque gliscunt intercipere,
Qus suadet preco clamat surgere.

L’alb’apar, tumet mar at ra’sol;
po y pas, a! bigil, mira clar tenebras! } [3]

*  *  *  *  *

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[1] Peire Cardenal, “These amorous ladies, if someone reproves them {Las amairitz, qui encolpar las vol},” st. 2.1-4, Old Occitan text from the Peire Cardenal website (which dates it before 1209 and also provides a French translation), English translation from Paden & Paden (2007) p. 176. For all of Peire’s surviving songs, Lavaud (1957).

[2] Peire Cardenal, “I dare to claim love now cannot {Ar me puesc ieu lauzar d’Amor},” st. 1-3, Old Occitan text from the Peire Cardenal website (which dates it to 1204-1208 and also provides a French translation), English translation (by W.D. Snodgrass, modified slightly) from Kehew (2005) p. 279. Id. p. 278 provides a substantially identifical Old Occitan text. Alan M. Rosiene has provided an alternate English translation freely available online.

My most significant change to Snodgrass’s translation is the first line of the poem. Snodgrass has “I dare to claim, now, Love cannot.” I switched the order of the third iamb because I think, in context, “now” merits stress more than “love.” With that change, the commas are superfluous. I’ve also eliminated the capitalization of “love” to make the word easier for the general reader to understand.

The image of dice alludes to men’s risk in soliciting amorous relations. Dice are also a figure for men’s genitals in troubadour poetry. See, e.g. “Sir, your dice are too small {Don, vostre dat son menudier}” (l. 51) in Guilhem IX of Aquitaine’s “I’d like for everyone to know {Ben vuelh que sapchon li pluzor}.” Here’s James H. Donalson’s English translation of that song, and here’s Leonard Cottrell’s.

The subsequent two quotes above are similarly from “Ar me puesc ieu lauzar d’Amor.” The lines quoted are: st. 4 (Speaking the truth…) and st. 5.7-10 and st. 6 (Praiseworthiness, not praise…). The song spans six stanzas.

“Ar me puesc ieu lauzar d’Amor” has survived with a melody. The Peire Cardenal website provides the melody and a musical interpretation by Jean-Marie Carlotti. Manu Théron, Youssef Hbeisch, and Grégory Dargent’s album Sirventes, appropriately substitled “Occitan protest songs,” also offers a musical interpretation of this song.

Peire Cardenal’s “Ar me puesc ieu lauzar d’Amor” is a parodic imitation of Guiraut de Bornelh’s “Non puesc sofrir.” Both songs share the same melody.

[3] “With pale sun rising, in the clear east, not yet bright {Phebi claro nondum orto iubare},” st. 1-2 (with refrain), Latin/Old Occitan text from The Centos Project, English translation (modified slightly) by A.S. Kline. The Centos Project also has Ezra Pound’s English translation (1905). For another English translation, Paden & Paden (2007) p. 17.

Kline’s translation retains the references to Phoebus (the late Hellenistic sun god) and Aurora (the Roman goddess of dawn). To make the poem more accessible to the general reader, I’ve used instead more natural terms.

This poem is now dated to the eleventh century. Paden & Paden (2007) p. 17. An example of a dawn song (a forerunner of the alba), it has three stanzas in total. It’s thought to have come from the monastery at Fleury-sur-Loire in France. It survives only in MS Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reginense Latino 1462. Here’s a more detailed textual representation and an Italian translation.

“Phebi claro nondum orto iubare” survives with a melody. For a transcription of that melody, Dronke (1968) p. 237.

[image] Peire Cardenal. Illumination in chansonnier provençal (Chansonnier K). Made in the second half of the 13th century. Folio 149r in manuscript preserved as Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) MS. Français 12473.


Dronke, Peter. 1968. The Medieval Lyric. London: Hutchinson.

Kehew, Robert, ed. 2005. Lark in the Morning: the verses of the troubadours, a bilingual edition. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.

Lavaud, René, ed. and trans. (French). 1957. Poésies Complètes du Trobadour Peire Cardenal (1180-1278). Toulouse: Privat.

Paden, William D., and Frances Freeman Paden, trans. 2007. Troubadour Poems from the South of France. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

the gift of farting: affirming natural bodily functioning

sperm whale blowing

The last words of the distinguished Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus included an indirect reference to farting:

His last voicing heard among humans was when he emitted a louder sound from that part of him that speaks more easily and said: “Woe is me, I think I’ve shit myself.”

{ ultima vox eius haec inter homines audita est, cum maiorem sonitum emisisset illa parte, qua facilius loquebatur: “vae me, puto, concacavi me.” }[1]

That’s known as a wet one. That can happen even to a Roman Emperor. Despite being associated with explosive sounds and noxious smells, farting is a natural bodily function and normally not lethal. A fart is no more likely to produce death than to exorcise a demon from its issuer.[2]

Emperor Claudius himself recognized the merits of farting. He considered the matter with sensible concern for his subjects:

When he learned of person endangered by holding in through modesty, he is said to have even pondered an edict giving permission to rumble farts and blow the loin’s wind at banquets.

{ Dicitur etiam meditatus edictum, quo veniam daret flatum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi, cum periclitatum quendam prae pudore ex continentia repperisset. }[3]

The very wealthy and thus wise Roman Trimalchio recognized that women, including his wife Fortunata, fart. Trimalchio humanely explained:

None of us was born rock-solid. I can’t think of any torture worse than having to hold one in. This is one thing that even almighty Jove can’t forbid. You’re smiling, Fortunata, for that’s how you usually keep me awake at night? Even in the dining room I let all do as they please, and doctors forbid retention. But if something more is coming, everything’s ready outside: water, pots, and all the other trifles. Believe me, the vapors go to the brain and disturb the whole body. I know many have died this way, while refusing tell themselves the truth.

{ Nemo nostrum solide natus est. Ego nullum puto tam magnum tormentum esse quam continere. Hoc solum vetare ne Iovis potest. Rides, Fortunata, quae soles me nocte desomnem facere? Nec tamen in triclinio ullum vetuo facere quod se iuvet, et medici vetant continere. Vel si quid plus venit, omnia foras parata sunt: aqua, lasani et cetera minutalia. Credite mihi, anathymiasis in cerebrum it, et in toto corpore fluctum facit. Multos scio periisse, dum nolunt sibi verum dicere. }[4]

The truth is this: repressing farts hurts one’s health. Emperor Claudius’s farting death was exceptional. The great, golden-tongued Cicero himself quoted Stoic wisdom:

They say that we should fart and belch with equal liberty. So let us therefore honor the festival for married women!

{ illi etiam crepitus aiunt aeque liberos ac ructus esse oportere. honorem igitur Kalendis Martiis. }[5]

Husbands, by farting and belching for their own health, preserve their lives and extend their service to their wives. Stoic wisdom on farting is an eternal truth of classics.

Men can more directly help women with farting. An anonymous trobairitz eager for sex aggressively accosted the man trobairitz Montan. He didn’t harshly denounce her for sexually harassing him. He instead generously offered to serve her in the traditional manner of chivalry. Drawing upon oppressive, brutalizing representations of men’s sexuality, the trobairitz responded ungratefully and skeptically:

Since you have so threatened me with fucking,
I would like to know, sir, your tool,
because I have armored my entrance nobly
in order to bear the weight of large balls,
after which I’ll start kicking in such a way
that you won’t be able to hold the front hair
and you’ll have work again from behind.

{ Pois tan m’aves de fotre menazada,
saber volria, Seingner, vostre van,
car eu ai gen la mia port’armada
per ben soffrir los colps del coillon gran;
apres comensarai tal repenada
que no·us poiretz tener als crins denan,
anz de darier vos er ops far tornada. }[6]

A woman eagerly seeking to outfight a man in love is ridiculous. Such challenges shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Montan graciously responded with a promise of healthful music:

Know, lady, that I agree to all this.
As long as we are together until morning,
my penis shall ram into your armored entrance;
then you’ll know whether my wood is worth nothing,
since I’ll make you cast from your ass
such farts as will sound like they come from a horn
— and with that you’ll compose a dance song.

{ Sapchatz, Midons, que tot aizo m’agrada
— sol que siam ensems a l’endeman,
mon viet darai en vostra port’armada;
adoncs conoisseretz s’eu sui truan
qu’eu vos farai lanzar per la culada
tals peitz que son de corn vos senblaran
— et ab tal son fairetz aital balada. }

With their sexuality, men offer women a precious gift. When having sex, if a man can lead a woman to fart and dance, she should be even more grateful for the gift of his tonic masculinity.[7] Nonetheless, men should not regard such action as an obligation and an additional burden of performance.

sperm whale spouting

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[1] Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger), Ἀποκολοκύντωσις {Apocolocyntosis} divi Claudii {The pumpkinification of the divine Claudius} 4.39-41, Latin text from Eden (1984), my English translation benefiting from that of id. and Heseltine & Rouse (1913). The Apocolocyntosis was probably written in 54 GC. It states that Claudius died while listening to comic actors. Suetonius, in the Life of Claudius, similarly refers to comic actors in the context of Claudius’s death. Rolfe (1914) v. 2, 5.45.

Claudius, who killed many political rivals, wasn’t deified. However, according to Tertullian, Claudius himself sought to have Jesus of Nazareth deified in the traditional Roman way:

There was an old decree that no god should be consecrated by a general without the approval of the Senate. M. Aemilius learned this in the case of his god Alburnus. This, too, goes in our favor, because among you divinity is weighed out by human caprice. Unless a god is acceptable to man, he will not be a god: man must now be propitious to a god. Accordingly Tiberius {Emperor Claudius}, in whose time the Christian name first made its appearance in the world, laid before the Senate news from Syria Palestine. That news revealed to him the truth of the divinity there manifested. Tiberius supported a motion to deify Jesus with his own vote. The Senate rejected the motion because it had not itself given its approval. Caesar {Emperor Claudius} held to his own opinion and threatened danger to the accusers of the Christians.

{ vetus erat decretum, ne qui deus ab imperatore consecraretur nisi a senatu probatus. Scit M. Aemilius de deo suo Alburno. Facit et hoc ad causam nostram, quod apud vos de humano arbitratu divinitas pensitatur. Nisi homini deus placuerit, deus non erit; homo iam deo propitius esse debebit. [2] Tiberius ergo, cuius tempore nomen Christianum in saeculum introivit, adnuntiatum sibi ex Syria Palaestina, quod illic veritatem ipsius divinitatis revelaverat, detulit ad senatum cum praerogativa suffragii sui. Senatus, quia non ipse probaverat, respuit; Caesar in sententia mansit, comminatus periculum accusatoribus Christianorum. }

Tertullian, Apology {Apologeticum} 5.1-2, Latin text from Becker (1961), English translation (with my modifications) from Souter (1917). For thorough documentation concerning Tertullian’s Apologeticum, see its page on tertullian.org. Claudius’s action with respect to Jesus is as ridiculous as the debate on deifying Claudius in the Apocolocyntosis.

[2] Diarrhea can be lethal. According to Suetonius, the Roman Emperor Vespasian died after an attack of diarrhea. Life of Vespasian, available in Rolfe (1914) v.2, 10.24. While scholars have long believed that Claudius was poisoned by this wife Agrippina, who had strong, independent sexuality, careful medical review of the limited available evidence suggest that Claudius died suddenly from cerebrovascular disease. Marmion & Wiedemann (2002). Claudius was 64 years old when he died.

Farting has been used to turn a blessing into a curse. From a prayer to God to give another joy, health, pleasure, patience, and righteousness came this Occitan song:

May god, sovereign over farts, protect you
and grant you during the week to make two such
that are heard by all who come to see you;
And when the next evening comes,
may one such descend from you to your bottom
that it makes you clench and tear your ass.

{ Dieus vos sal, dels petz sobeirana,
E vos don far dui tals sobre setmana
Qu’audan tuit cil que vos vendràn vezer;
E quan vendrà lo sendeman al ser,
Ve’n posca un tal pel còrs aval descendre
Que’us faça’l cul e sarrar e ‘scoissendre. }

Occitan text from Bec (1984) p. 166, my English translation benefiting from the French translation of id. Like most human capabilities, farts can be wrongly used for evil purposes.

[3] Suetonius, Life of Claudius, Latin text from Rolfe (1914) v. 2, 5.32, my English translation, benefiting from that of id.

[4] Petronius, Satyricon  47, Latin text from Heseltine & Rouse (1913), my English translation benefiting from that of id. and Walsh (1996).

Dante’s Inferno depicts the conventional negative view of farting. There in Hell the demon Malacoda (“Eviltail”) farted: “he had made a trumpet of his asshole {elli avea del cul fatto trombetta}.” Inferno 21.139, Italian text and English translation from Robert Hollander in the Princeton Dante Project.

[5] Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares {Letters to familiar persons} 9.22 (letter 189, To L. Papirius Paetus (at Naples)), Latin text from Purser (1901), my English translation benefiting from that of Shackleton Bailey (2001) and Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (1908-9).

Kalendis Martiis translates literally as the “Kalendes of March,” meaning the first of March. That was the date of the Matronalia, the Roman festival of married women. Husbands traditionally gave their wives gifts on that day.

As should be apparent, Cicero took a raucously humorous approach to farting. Just before the above remark, he declared:

Why even an action is sometimes respectable, sometimes indecent, is it not? It’s shocking to break wind. Put the culprit naked in the bath, and you won’t blame him.

{ quid quod ipsa res modo honesta, modo turpis? suppedit, flagitium est; iam erit nudus in balneo, non reprehendes. }

Epistulae ad Familiares 9.22, Latin text and English translation from Shackleton Bailey (2001). Farting in the bath amounts to making bubbles. McConnell (2014) Ch. 4 provides detailed analysis of Cicero’s letter 9.22, but studiously ignores its humor.

[6] An anonymous trobairitz and Montan, “I come to you, Sir, with my skirt lifted {Eu veing vas vos, Seingner, fauda levada},” st. 3, Occitan text from Nappholz (1994) p. 98, my translation benefiting from that of id. p. 99 and that of trobar.org. That latter makes freely available online Occitan text and an English translation for the full poem. The subsequent quote above is similarly from “Eu veing vas vos, Seingner, fauda levada” st. 4 (the last stanza). Montan literal means “the mounter,” an appropriate name for this hard-working troubadour.

[7] In the context of intimate relations, medieval men occasionally complained about women farting. In a thirteenth-century Galician-Portugese lyric, King Alfonso X the Wise sings:

I don’t like an ugly damsel
who flatulates at my gate.

I don’t like an ungly damsel
who is hairy as a bitch,
who flatulates at my gate
and smells like a stinky plant.
I don’t like an ugly damsel
who flatulates at my gate.

{ Nom quer’eu donzela fea
que ant’a mia porta pea.

Nom quer’eu donzela fea
e velosa come cam
que ant’a mia porta pea
nem faça come alarmã.
Nom quer’eu donzela fea
que ant’a mia porta pea. }

Songs of mockery and insult {Cantigas d’escarnho e de mal dize} No. 7, Galician-Portugese text available online and from Lapa (1970), English translation (adapted slightly) from Lazar (1989) p. 268. Here’s a recording of this song.

[images] (1) Sperm whale blowing. Taken in Kaikoura, New Zealand, 15 Dec. 2012. Image thanks to Marion & Christoph Aistleitner, via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Another sperm whale blowing. Taken in Kaikoura, New Zealand, 28 March 2015. Image thanks to Oren Rozen, via Wikimedia Commons.


Bec, Pierre. 1984. Burlesque et Obscénité chez les Troubadours: pour une approche du contre-texte médiéval. Paris: Stock.

Eden, P.T., ed. and trans. 1984. Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Apocolocyntosis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heseltine, Michael and W. H. D. Rouse, trans., revised by E. H. Warmington. 1913. Petronius Arbiter, Seneca. Satyricon. Apocolocyntosis. Loeb Classical Library 15. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lapa, Manuel Rodrigues. 1970. Cantigas d’escarnho e de mal dizer: dos cancioneiros medievais galego-portugueses. 2nd edition. Vigo: Editorial Galaxia.

Lazar, Moshe. 1989. “Carmina Erotica, Carmina Iocosa: The Body and the Bawdy in Medieval Love Songs.” Pp. 249-276 in Lazar, Moshe, and Norris J. Lacy, eds. Poetics of Love in the Middle Ages: texts and contexts. Fairfax, Va: George Mason University Press.

Marmion, V. J., and T. E. J. Wiedemann. 2002. “The Death of Claudius.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 95 (5): 260-261.

McConnell, Sean. 2014. Philosophical Life in Cicero’s Letters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nappholz, Carol Jane, trans. 1994. Unsung Women: the anonymous female voice in troubadour poetry. New York: Lang.

Purser, Louis Claude, ed. 1901. Cicero. M. Tulli Ciceronis Epistulae (Epistulae ad Familiares {Letters to familiar persons}). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Rolfe, John Carew, ed. and trans. 1914. Suetonius. Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Loeb Classical Library 31, 38. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Shackleton Bailey, D. R., ed. and trans. 2001. Cicero. Letters to Friends. Loeb Classical Library 205, 216, 230. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Walsh, Patrick G, trans. 1996. Petronius Arbiter. The Satyricon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

how to argue nicely about sex with your boyfriend: a medieval lesson

Couples commonly argue about sex. Continually imbibing the poisons of rape-culture culture, women today readily feel hatred toward men. That makes girlfriend-boyfriend arguments about sex particularly nasty. Medieval Latin literature, which isn’t just for men, shows a more excellent way. It supports imagining what’s scarcely imaginable today. A woman can treat a man’s sexual feelings with compassion and respect, yet insist on what she understands to be proper conduct.

sacred and profane love

In twelfth-century France, a boyfriend and a girlfriend argued nicely about sex. They argued in Latin, the language regarded as appropriate for serious arguments. In accordance with the medieval church’s insistence on mutuality in marriage, this couple took turns saying to each other four-line stanzas of Latin poetry. They argued humanely, learnedly, and eloquently. The man started first, because his feelings were compelling him to rise.

I’m conquered and tormented by you, my sweet girlfriend:
your beauty prohibits that you demand excessively to be chaste.
Do what pleases Venus, or stop looking like Venus.
With me as teacher you can quickly learn Venus’s ways.

This pleases me and I desire that you in this way always be my boyfriend,
and this displeases me and I mourn that you sometimes be not chaste.
Flee from lust, I beg you, and embrace love.
One advises even a beautiful young man to maintain chastity.

{ Amicus:
Conqueror et doleo de te, mea dulcis amica:
quod prohibet facies, nimis exigis esse pudica.
Fac placeas Veneri, Veneris vel desine formam;
Me doctore potes Veneris cito discere normam.

Hoc placet et cupio, meus ut sis semper amicus;
displicet et doleo, nisi sis quandoque pudicus.
Luxuriam fugias, precor, amplectaris amorem.
Convenit et pulcro iuveni servare pudorem. } [1]

The boyfriend starts strongly be asserting incongruities. His sweet girlfriend is bitterly defeating him and tormenting him. Being chaste is associated with sexual modesty. That’s a form of moderation.[2] Yet this sweet girlfriend is demanding moderation “excessively.” To make matters worse, she looks like Venus, the goddess of love, but doesn’t act with the sexual vigor of Venus. These incongruities don’t make sense. The boyfriend charitably offers to teach his girlfriend how to conduct herself with logical consistency.

The girlfriend responds by affirming the goodness of her boyfriend’s sexual feelings. His vigorous, manly sexuality pleases her. She desires that he be her boyfriend. She recognizes that he is a beautiful young man. Moreover, she doesn’t seek to dominate her boyfriend as a woman in gynocentric society. She begs him rather than commands him. Nonetheless, she frankly states her own feelings. She values chastity and understands that love doesn’t mean only sex. She recognizes that her boyfriend doesn’t always think about sex. She’s unhappy because “sometimes” he is unchaste.

The author of the book of love doesn’t support you.
By that author, no lover can always remember chastity.
But perhaps you aren’t a lover, although you confess so.
Your tongue sounds, yet your inner being seeks another way.

My sweet boyfriend, don’t offend my heart’s secret:
I love you more than too much, although you don’t believe me.
My love is thus no pretense, if that’s what you meant to say.
If they knew how to speak, what could my outsides say?

{ Amicus:
Non te testatur libri dictator amoris,
non valet ullus amans semper memor esse pudoris.
Sed fortassis amans non es, licet esse fateris:
lingua sonat, tamen interius producere quaeris.

Dulcis amice mei, cordis non intima laedas:
diligo plus nimio te, quamvis non mihi credas.
Non sic fictus amor meus est, si dicere velles.
Scire loqui possint, poterant quid dicere pelles? } [3]

The boyfriend then invokes on his side Ovid, the great medieval teacher of love. Ovid authored The Art of Love {Ars Amatoria} and Loves {Amores}. Recognizing women’s power and authority, Ovid quoted the strongly drinking, independently thinking woman Dipsa on the merits of modesty:

Modesty indeed suits a pale face, and
if faked, it’s profitable, but the real thing often obstructs.

{ decet alba quidem pudor ora, sed iste,
Si simules, prodest; verus obesse solet. } [4]

When the time is right, the teacher of love advised boldness:

Now’s time to speak to her: flee rustic modesty, far
from here: Fortune and Venus favor the bold.

{ Conloquii iam tempus adest; fuge rustice longe
Hinc pudor; audentem Forsque Venusque iuvat. } [5]

The boyfriend questioned on good authority whether his girlfriend was truly a lover. Moreover, in that questioning’s references to tongue, sounding, and love, the boyfriend implicitly invoked one of the highest Christian authorities, Saint Paul in his biblical letter to the Corinthians:

If I speak with the tongues of humans and angels, but I have not love, I am as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

{ si linguis hominum loquar et angelorum caritatem autem non habeam factus sum velut aes sonans aut cymbalum tinniens

ἐὰν ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀνθρώπων λαλῶ καὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων ἀγάπην δὲ μὴ ἔχω γέγονα χαλκὸς ἠχῶν ἢ κύμβαλον ἀλαλάζον } [6]

Women rely on the power of gynocentric society. Wise men recognize authority from God the Father. This boyfriend was no sniveling woman-server.

In response to her boyfriend’s blunt criticism of her, the girlfriend responds sweetly. She re-affirms that he is “my sweet boyfriend.” She declares that she loves him very much with her heart. The boyfriend may have been disappointed not to perceive her face flushing, her body tingling, and her voice trembling. But if the love she felt inside herself had been able to express itself on her exterior, that’s what would have happened. In short, she affirms that she does want him sexually.

I don’t deny that I have caressed your breasts under your clothes,
for indeed anyone similarly permitted would have similarly caressed them.
Your thighs’ whiteness, even if you are unwilling, I would like thus to know,
if only through excessive manliness I could defeat you.

Your disposition is too simple, but not boring;
you don’t know the thinking of a virgin’s mind.
In prohibiting touching, she wants not to seem like a prostitute.
Yet she grieves inside that what she denies doesn’t happen.

{ Amicus:
Non nego me sub veste tua tractasse papillam,
namque modo simili tractasset quislibet illam.
Crura tui, non sponte tua, sic candida nossem,
te nisi per nimias vires devincere possem.

Simplicis ingenii nimis es, non insipientis;
virgineae nescis quae sit meditatio mentis.
Cum prohibit tactum, vult ne meretrix videatur;
condolet interius nisi, quod negat, illud agatur. }

With rhetorical sophistication, the boyfriend notes that they have already consensually engaged in some sexual intimacies. He affirms that in acting sexually with her permission, he did only what men normally do. Like adult male primates generally, men rarely force women to have sex, and they do so no more frequently than women force men to have sex. The boyfriend once again states his natural and valid sexual interest further down his girlfriend’s body.[7] Men frankly stating their sexual interest requires manly boldness. The boyfriend laments that his manly boldness isn’t enough to inspire his girlfriend to have the full measure of sex with him.

The girlfriend compassionately understands that men are romantically simple. She’s pleased that her boyfriend isn’t an insipid automaton who never says anything daring or offensive. She herself is a virgin and probably also debt-free and without tattoos. She doesn’t aspire to walk proudly in public as a self-identified slut. She doesn’t even want to seem to be behaving like a prostitute. At the same time, she’s a healthy woman with natural, healthy sexual desire for men. With self-conscious human sophistication, she doesn’t act on her every desire.

From love’s beginning this typically happens,
when an unexpected love burns in its first hours.
The other’s conduct is other when she finally knows.
If they like it, this is done otherwise because she then asks.

Blame yourself, don’t blame me, for confusing loves,
since I cannot become familiar with your various conduct.
Your youth rushes you here, there, and everywhere,
and so my love deservedly shows itself to you slowly.

{ Amicus:
Tunc solet hoc fieri cum principium fit amoris,
improvisus amor cum primis fervet in horis;
alterius mores alter cum denique noscit,
si placeant, facit haec alter quod postea poscit.

Culpa tui, non culpa mei, perturbat amores,
namque tui varios nequeo cognoscere mores.
Evolat hac illac multa tua parte iuventus,
unde meus merito monstratur amor tibi lentus. }

The boyfriend knowingly explains that virgin women typically act shyly. In part because of such behavior, men historically have been structurally oppressed with a disproportionate gender burden of soliciting amorous relations. The boyfriend discretely and decorously explains, using biblical terminology for sex (“know”), that once a virgin woman has sex with a man, she enthusiastically seeks to do it again. That supports gender equality because she then asks the man for sex.

Having never heard of promoting gender equality in love, the girlfriend doesn’t understand and becomes flustered. She is less experienced than her boyfriend is, but knowingly parries the sexually loaded term “know” with a different word, “become familiar with.” She understands more about love than her boyfriend does. She understands that love for God is different from love for a human being. She understand that loving one’s neighbor, including loving the husband next door, isn’t the same as loving one’s own husband. She interprets her boyfriend’s interest in no longer carrying men’s disproportionate gender burdens as inconsistent conduct. She thus takes up the complaint with which her boyfriend began the argument. She insists that love with her progress slowly. As long as she pays for an equal share of their dates, her boyfriend might rightly continue to see her. As a woman in a gynocentric culture, she wields the privilege of having the last word. Resist!

My dearest, do not hold back,
let us dedicate ourselves now to loving!
Without you I cannot go on living:
now we must consummate our love.

Why, chosen one, does it please you to defer
what must be done eventually?
Do quickly what you will do:
in me there is no delay!

{ Karissima, noli tardare,
studeamus nos nunc amare!
Sine te non potero uiuere:
iam decet amorem persicerere.

Quid iuuat differe, electa,
que sunt tamen post facienda?
Fac cita quod eris factura:
in me non est aliqua mora! } [8]

Mary Magdalene clinging to Jesus's flesh

The medieval girlfriend and boyfriend argued nicely about sex. The girlfriend didn’t dehumanize her boyfriend by calling him a dog. She didn’t falsely accuse him of attempting to rape her. She didn’t verbally and physically attack him, and then get the police to arrest him for domestic violence against her. This medieval couple might even be able to discuss meaningfully abortion. In our age of ignorance, bigotry, and superstition, all couples should study medieval meninist literary criticism and learn from this couple.[9]

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[1] Ripoll Songs {Carmina Rivipullensia} 9, titled “Ad amicam {To his girlfriend},” first line “Conqueror et doleo de te, mea dulcis amica {I’m conquered and tormented by you, my sweet girlfriend},” st. 1-2, Latin text from Wolff (2001), my English translation benefiting from Wolff’s French translation. Subsequent quotes, unless otherwise noted, are seriatum from the rest of this poem (covering all of it) and are similarly sourced. For an important new bilingual edition of the Ripoll Songs, with commentary, Traill & Haynes (2021).

The boyfriend here alludes to Paris’s letter to Helen of Troy:

Did you think this beauty of yours could lack fault?
Either you change your beauty, or be not obstinate – that’s necessary.
Great beauty is quarreling with modesty.

{ hanc faciem culpa posse carere putas?
aut faciem mutes aut sis non dura, necesse est;
lis est cum forma magna pudicitiae. }

Ovid, Heroides 16.288-90, Latin text from Wikisource, my English translation.

[2] The Latin root for both “modesty” and “moderation” is modus, meaning measure, bound, or limit.

[3] The question mark at the end of line 16 isn’t editorial. It’s from the manuscript. Dronke (1979) p. 24. That’s consistent with using punctuation to clarify the sense of the text. On that practice, Parkes (1978) pp. 138-9. For relevant discussion, see my post on punctuation poems, especially note [5].

[4] Ovid, Amores 1.8.35-6, Latin text from Perseus Digital Library, my English translation. Here’s A.S. Kline’s translation of the whole elegy.

[5] Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1.607-8, Latin text from Perseus Digital Library, my English translation. Here’s A.S. Kline’s translation of Ars Amatoria, Book I, Part XV (“At Dinner Be Bold”).

[6] 1 Corinthians 13:1, Greek text and Vulgate translation (by which the Bible was known in medieval Europe) from Blue Letter Bible, my English translation adapted from standard biblical translations.

[7] Not all men seek to complete a sexual act of reproductive type. A medieval man declared to his girlfriend:

My sweet girlfriend, if you seek what I want, I would like
touching, not the deed, my sweet girlfriend.
My sweet girlfriend, it is enough to caress your breasts,
joining with you in kisses, my sweet girlfriend.

{ Dulcis amica mei, si quaeris quid volo, vellem
tactum, non factum, dulcis amica mei.
Dulcis amica mei, satis est tractare papillam,
oscula iungendo, dulcis amica mei. }

Carmina Rivipullensia 6, titled “Ad amicam {To his girlfriend},” first line “Dulcis amica mei, valeas per saecula multa {My sweet girlfriend, may you be healthy through many ages},” ll. 14-6 (last four lines), Latin text from Wolff (2001), my English translation benefiting from Wolff’s French translation.

[8] Carmina cantabrigiensia {Cambridge Songs} 27, “Iam, dulcis amica, uenito {Now, sweet friend, come},” st. 9-10, Latin text from Vienna, Österreiche Nationalbibliothek, Codex vindobonensis 116, folio 157v, edited in Ziolkowski (1994) pp. 334-5, my English translation, benefiting from the English translations of Dronke (1984) p. 221, Ziolkowski (1994) p. 95, Hase (n.d.), and Gray (2018) p. 62. Codex vindobonensis 116 is from the tenth century, while the Cambridge Songs (from Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.5.35) is a poetic collection put together late in the eleventh century. Ziolkowski (1994) pp. 251, xviii.

These last two stanzas in the Vienna version seem to allude to both John 20:17, “don’t touch me {Noli me tangere},” and John 13:27, “Do quickly what you are going to do {Quod facis fac citius}.” The whole poem draws significantly on the biblical Songs of Songs. This medieval poem, however, highlights men’s gender burden of providing luxurious goods to women in pursuing amorous relations. For detailed scholarly commentary on the Cambridge version, Ziolkowski (1994) pp. 251-60. For more general poetic commentary, Gray (2018) pp. 59-62.

The Vienna version ends with the two stanzas quoted above, while the Cambridge version ends with (st. 10):

Now come already, chosen sister
and … loved one,
bright light of my eye
and better part of my soul.

{ Iam nunc ueni, soror electa
ac om …. dilecta,
lux mee clara pupille
parsque maior anime mee. }

Latin text (reconstructed, with one lacuna) and English translation (modified slightly) from Ziolkowski (1994) pp. 94-5.

[9] Meninism isn’t concerned with only men. Meninist literary criticism includes both men and women and helps both men and women. It thus furthers the meninist project of promoting gender equality within humane, sophisticated civilization.

[images] (1) Sacred and profane love. Painting by Titian. Dated 1514. Preserved as accession # 147 in Galleria Borghese (Italy). Via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Resurrected Jesus telling Mary Magdalene not to cling to him. It’s commonly called Noli me tangere (“don’t touch me”) after an imprecise Latin translation of John 20:17. Painting by Antonio da Correggio. Made about 1525. Preserved as accession # P000111 in Museo del Prado (Spain). Via Wikimedia Commons. In Christian understanding, Jesus in his earthly life was fully an adult human male. After his bodily resurrection, he retained fully his adult male body.


Dronke, Peter. 1979. “The Interpretation of the Ripoll Love-Songs.” Romance Philology. 33 (1): 14-42.

Dronke, Peter. 1984. The Medieval Poet and His World. Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura.

Gray, Erik Irving. 2018. The Art of Love Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hase, Patrick, trans. n.d. “Carminia Mediaevalia.” Online on liguae.

Parkes, M. B. 1978. “Punctuation, or pause and effect.” Pp. 127-142 in James J. Murphy, ed. Medieval Eloquence: studies in the theory and practice of medieval rhetoric. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Traill, David A and Justin Haynes. 2021. Education of Nuns, Feast of Fools, Letters of Love: Medieval Religious Life in Twelfth-Century Lyric Anthologies from Regensburg, Ripoll and Chartres. Leuven: Peeters. Latin text and English translation, with commentary.

Wolff, Etienne. 2001. Le Chansonnier amoureux: Carmina Rivipullensia. Monaco: Rocher.

Ziolkowski, Jan M., ed. and trans. 1994. The Cambridge Songs (Carmina cantabrigiensia). New York: Garland Pub.