c. 1148-1150, by Geoffrey of Monmouth
Hexametric poem (1530 lines)
It all begins with a war… Merlin, now king of Dyfed, in South Wales, fights against the Scottish ruler Gwenddoleu, alongside Peredur, prince of Gwynedd, and his brother in law Rodarcus, king of the Cumbrians. Hard is the fight, dreadful the slaughter, some dear companions fall: the pain is unbearable for Merlin, it drives him mad, it makes him abandon his kingdom to flee to the Caledonian forest. There, Merlin will be reborn as a wild man of the woods, aspiring to a peaceful life in harmony with Nature, a life of fasting and prayer.
Years after his popular De gestis Britonum, Geoffrey of Monmouth is back to narrate in an unprecedented imaginative poem some unexpected developments of the legend of Merlin.
It is about Merlin, prophetic bard, that I am preparing to sing: about his madness and his playful songs. You, Robert
Robert de Chesney, bishop of Lincoln from 1148 until his death in 1166.
most glorious of bishops, correct my poem, curb my pen. For we know that Philosophy
Fatidici uatis rabiem musamque iocosam
Merlini cantare paro. Tu corrige carmen,
gloria pontificum, calamos moderando, Roberte.
Scimus enim quia te perfudit nectare sacro
drenched you with her sacred nectar, and made you learned in all matters, so that, as leader and instructor to the world, you can hand out your learning. So, favour what I have started and look more kindly upon this poet than your predecessor did, the one whom you now succeed, rightly promoted to this honour.
Philosophia suo, fecitque per omnia doctum,5
vt documenta dares, dux et preceptor in orbe.
Ergo meis ceptis faueas, uatemque tueri
auspicio meliore uelis quam fecerit alter,
cui modo succedis merito promotus honori.
For your manners, your virtuous life and lineage, the needs of this place, the clergy and people demanded it, and therefore happy Lincoln is now lifted to the stars. Accordingly I long for you to be celebrated with a suitable poem, but I am not good enough, not even if Orpheus and Camerinus
Sic etenim mores, sic uita probata, genusque10
vtilitasque loci, clerus, populusque petebant,
vnde modo felix Lincolnia fertur ad astra.
Ergo te cuperem complecti carmine digno:
sed non sufficio, licet Orpheus et Camerinus
and Macer and Marius and Rabirius
Orpheus is the poet and bard par excellence in classical mythology.Camerinus, Macer, Marius and Rabirius are authors of epic poetry mentioned by the Latin poet Ovid in one of his works.
with his loud voice were all to accompany my voice and all the Muses were joining in. But you Muses, who are used to singing with me, let’s all carry out the work I have planned, and you can play the harp.And when years had passed, under the rule of many kings,
et Macer et Marius magnique Rabirius oris15
ore meo canerent Musis comitantibus omnes.
At uos, consuete mecum cantare Camene,
propositum tractemus opus cytharamque sonate.Ergo, peragratis sub multis regibus annis,
Merlin, the Briton, was seen as noble in the world. He was king and prophet and gave laws to the proud people of Dyfed, and sang prophecies of future things to their leaders. In the meantime, it came about that many of the kingdom’s noblemen were fighting among themselves,
clarus habebatur Merlinus in orbe britannus.20
Rex erat et uates, Demetarumque superbis:
iura dabat populis, ducibusque futura canebat.
Contigit interea plures certamen habere
inter se regni proceres, belloque feroci
and had devastated innocent people with fierce war throughout every city. Peredur,
Welsh tradition preserves the memory of prince Peredur who took part to the battle of Arfderydd against King Gwenddolau.
prince of Gwynedd, was waging war on Gwenddolau, who ruled over the kingdoms of Scotland. And already the day fixed for the battle
The central battle of this war reflects the battle of Arfderydd, allegedly fought in 573.
had come and the leaders stood head-to-head on the plain, and their troops fought it out,
insontes populos deuastauisse per urbes.25
Dux Venedotorum Peredurus bella gerebat
contra Guennoloum, Scocie qui regna regebat.
Iamque dies aderat bello prefixa, ducesque
astabant campo, decertabantque caterue
falling in equal numbers on both sides in a wretched massacre.
Merlin had come to battle alongside Peredur, and so did Rodarcus,
Character based on Rhydderch Hael (‘the Generous’), who ruled in Northern England between the sixth and the seventh century. He is also the husband of Merlin’s sister, Ganieda.
king of the Cumbrians, both of them fierce men. They cut down any enemies who cross their path with hated swords, and three of the prince’s brothers, who followed him to war,
amborum pariter miseranda cede ruentes.30
Venerat ad bellum Merlinus cum Pereduro,
rex quoque Cumbrorum Rodarcus, seuus uterque.
Cedunt obstantes inuisis ensibus hostes,
tresque ducis fratres, fratrem per bella secuti,
remorselessly cut down those who resist them and wipe out the battle lines. Giving out just such a gift,
An ironic comment, since the gift they are giving out to their enemies is death.
they had rushed keenly through the hoards of foes – then suddenly they were cut down and fell.
You are filled with grief at that sight, Merlin, and you devise sad laments as you pass through the army, and as a response you bellow out these words:
vsque rebellantes cedunt perimuntque phalanges.35
Inde per infestas cum tali munere turmas
acriter irruerant, subito cecidere perempti.
Hoc uiso, Merline, doles, tristesque per agmen
commisces planctus, tali quoque uoce remugis:
‘Surely, cruel fate couldn’t harm me so much that it could snatch from me such great and valiant companions, whom until now so many kings, so many remote kingdoms feared? O, how uncertain men’s destinies are, and their death ever near, which is always close to them and strikes them with its hidden goad,
‘Ergone sic potuit sors importuna nocere40
vt michi surriperet tantos talesque sodales,
quos modo tot reges, tot regna remota timebant?
O dubios hominum casus mortemque propinquam,
que penes est illos semper, stimuloque latenti
and drives the wretched life from their body! O glory of youth, who will stand with me now in arms, who will now be by my side, and who will drive back the chieftains coming to my harm and the hoards that fall upon me?
Brave young men, your bravery
percutit et miseram pellit de corpore uitam!45
O iuuenile decus, quis nunc astabit in armis
nunc michi pone latus, mecumque repellet euntes
in mea dampna duces incumbentesque cateruas?
Audaces iuuenes, uobis audacia uestra
has taken from you sweet years and sweet youth. Just now you were running armed throughout the battle-lines, and on every side you were laying low those who came against you, but now you clatter to the ground and redden it with red blood.’
So he made lament among the troops, as tears welled up,
eripuit dulces annos dulcemque iuuentam.50
Qui modo per cuneos discurrebatis in armis
obstantesque uiros prosternebatis ubique,
nunc pulsatis humum rubeoque cruore rubetis.’
Sic inter turmas lacrimis plangebat obortis,
and he wept over his companions; but the terrible fighting does not stop: the armies rush against each other, foes are laid low by foes, blood flows everywhere, people die all around.
But at last, once the troops have been recalled on all sides, the Britons gather together, and together rushing through the shield-wall
deflebatque uiros; nec cessant prelia dira:55
concurrunt acies, sternuntur ab hostibus hostes,
sanguis ubique fluit, populi moriuntur utrimque.
At tandem Britones, reuocatis undique turmis,
conueniunt pariter, pariterque per arma ruentes
attack the Scots, wound them and lay them low, nor do they rest until the enemy hoards turned their backs, fleeing into hiding.
Merlin calls his friends away from the battle and tells them to bury the brothers in a speckled chapel.
inuadunt Scotos, prosternunt uulnera dantes,60
nec requieuerunt donec sua terga dederunt
hostiles turme per deuia diffugientes.
Euocat ex bello socios Merlinus, et illis
precipit in uaria fratres sepelire capella.
And he makes lamentation for these men and does not stop pouring out tears. He scatters ash on his hair and tears his clothing, and lying on the ground he rolls this way and that. Peredur and the nobles and the leaders try to console him, but he does not want to be consoled, nor can he bear their pleas.
Deplangitque uiros, nec cessat fundere fletus.65
Pulueribus crines spargit, uestesque recidit,
et prostratus humi nunc hac illacque uolutat.
Solatur Peredurus eum proceresque ducesque,
nec uult solari, nec uerba precancia ferre.
Already for three days he had wept, and refused food, such was the affliction that had overwhelmed him. And then, when he had filled the air with so many cries of such massive grief, he took on a strange new madness and went away secretly. He flees into the woods and does not want to be seen fleeing,
Iam tribus emensis defleuerat ipse diebus,70
respueratque cibos, tantus dolor urserat illum.
Inde nouas furias, cum tot tantisque querelis
aera complesset, cepit, furtimque recedit.
Et fugit ad siluas, nec uult fugiendo uideri,
and he enters a grove, and takes pleasure in hiding under the ash-trees, and he watches in wonder as the wild beasts graze on the grass there in the forest. Sometimes he chases them, sometimes he outstrips them as they run; he eats the roots of plants, he eats the plants themselves, he eats the fruits on the trees and the mulberries on the bush:
ingrediturque nemus, gaudetque latere sub ornis,75
miraturque feras pascentes gramina saltus.
Nunc has insequitur, nunc cursu preterit illas;
vtitur herbarum radicibus, utitur herbis,
vtitur arboreo fructu morisque rubeti:
he becomes a man of the forest, as if he had been born in the forest. Thus, for the whole summer nobody found him, he forgot himself and forgot his family, hid in the woods, lurking like a wild animal.
But when winter came and snatched away the plants,
fit siluester homo, quasi siluis editus esset.80
Inde per estatem totam nullique repertus
oblitusque sui cognatorumque suorum
delituit siluis obductus more ferino.
At cum uenit hiemps herbasque tulisset, et omnes
and all the fruit on the trees, and he had nothing to eat, he poured out these lamentations with a pitiful voice:‘O Christ, God of heaven, what I am to do? Where can I live now that I see nothing to live off: no plants in the soil, nor nuts on the trees?
arboreos fructus, nec quo frueretur haberet,85
diffudit tales miseranda uoce querelas:‘Celi Christe Deus, quid agam? Qua parte morari
terrarum potero, cum nil quo uescar adesse
inspicio, nec gramen humi, nec in arbore glandes?
Four times three and seven apple trees constantly bearing fruit stood here, but now they don’t. So, who is it, who has stolen them from me? Why did they all fall at once? Now I see them, now I don’t. This way the fates are in conflict, that way they are in harmony, letting me see and stopping me seeing.
Tres quater et iuges septene poma ferentes90
hic steterant mali, nunc non stant. Ergo, quis illas,
quis michi surripuit? Quo deuenere repente?
Nunc illas uideo, nunc non. Sic fata repugnant,
sic quoque concordant: cum dant, prohibentque uidere.
Now there are no apples for me, now there’s nothing else.
The forest stands there with no leaves and no fruit: I am doubly punished because I can’t cover myself with the greenery nor eat the fruit. Winter and the south wind with pouring rain take everything away. If by chance I find turnips deep in the ground,
Deficiunt nunc poma michi, nunc cetera queque.95
Stat sine fronde nemus, sine fructu: plector utroque,
cum neque fronde tegi ualeo, neque fructibus uti.
Singula bruma tulit pluuiisque cadentibus auster.
Inuenio si forte napes tellure sub ima
the greedy pigs and the ravenous boars run up and snatch them from me even as I’m pulling them out of the earth.And you, wolf, dear friend, who are used to wandering the trackless places and the forest groves with me, you barely go further than the fields, and severe hunger is forcing you and me to become weak.
concurrunt, auideque sues aprique uoraces,100
eripiuntque napes michi quas de cespite uello.Tu, lupe, care comes, nemorum qui deuia mecum
et saltus peragrare soles, uix preteris arua,
et te dura fames, et me languere coegit.
You lived in these woods long before me, and age turned your hair white first, and you neither have nor know what to toss into your mouth. I am surprised at that, because the forest overflows with goats and other animals you could catch: perhaps your accursed old age
Tu prior has siluas coluisti, te prior etas105
protulit in canos, nec habes, nec scis quid in ore
proicias. Quod miror ego, cum saltus habundet
tot capreis aliisque feris, quas prendere posses:
forsitan ipsa tibi tua detestanda senectus
has stolen your vigour, and stopped you running. Just one thing is left: you fill the air with howling and you throw your weakened limbs on the ground and lie there.’
He was singing these words among the bushes and the dense hazel thicket, when the sound reached someone who was passing
eripuit neruos, cursumque negauit habendum.110
Quod solum superest, comples ululatibus auras,
at resupinus humi consumptos deicis artus.’
Hec inter fructices coriletaque densa canebat,
cum sonus ad quendam peruenit pretereuntem,
and he headed towards the place where the singer’s words had risen up into the air. And he found the spot and the speaker. When Merlin saw him, he ran away and the traveller followed, but could not stop him fleeing. So the traveller resumes the journey he’d begun,
qui direxit iter quo sermo loquentis in auras115
exierat. Reperitque locum, reperitque loquentem.
Quo uiso, Merlinus abit, sequiturque uiator,
nec retinere uirum potuit sic diffugientem.
Inde uiator iter repetit quo ceperat ire,
keeps to his intended route, though troubled by the fate of the man he saw running away. And lo! Someone else from the palace of Rodarcus, king of the Cumbrians – who had married Ganieda,
The character of Gwenddydd, Myrddin’s sister, appears also in the Welsh Cyfoesi Myrddin a Gwenddydd ei Chwaer (‘Conversation of Myrddin and his sister Gwenddydd’) and Yr Afallennau (‘The Apple Trees’).
and was happy with his beautiful wife – crosses the traveller’s path. Ganieda was Merlin’s sister and full of grief at
propositumque tenet casu commotus euntis.120
Ecce uiatori uenit obuius alter ab aula
Rodarchi regis Cumbrorum, qui Ganiedam
duxerat uxorem, formosa coniuge felix.
Merlini soror ista fuit, casumque dolebat
her brother’s fate and had sent attendants to the woods and to far-flung fields to summon her brother back. One of them was going in the opposite direction to the traveller and their paths crossed directly. So they met and exchanged words, and the one sent to look for Merlin asked
fratris, et ad siluas et ad arua remota clientes125
miserat, ut fratrem reuocarent. Ex quibus unus
obuius huic ibat, sed et hic sibi protinus. Ergo
conuenere simul, commiscent mutua uerba,
at qui missus erat Merlinum querere, querit
if the other man had seen him in the woods or in the forest glades. The latter admits he has seen such a man among the wooded valleys of the forest of Calidon
This is the ‘Caledonian forest’, Coed Celyddon in Welsh.
and when he tried to talk to him or sit down with him, that man ran quickly away in among the oak-trees.
si uidisset eum siluis aut saltibus alter.130
Ille uirum talem se conspexisse fatetur
inter dumosos saltus nemoris Calidonis, dumque loqui uellet secum, secumque sedere
diffugisse uirum celeri per robora cursu.
He says this, off goes the other one, into the forest and searches the deep valleys, as well as crossing the high mountains. He looks for the man everywhere, pacing through some dark places.There was a spring at the summit of a mountain, ringed around with hazels and thick thorn bushes.
Hec ait, alter abit, siluasque subintrat et imas135
scrutatur ualles, montes quoque preterit altos.
Querit ubique uirum, gradiens per opaca locorum.Fons erat in summo cuiusdam uertice montis,
vndique precinctus corulis densisque frutectis.
Merlin had climbed up to that place: from there he could look across the whole forest and see the antics of the wild beasts as they ran about. The messenger climbs up to that place and with silent steps walks across the steep slopes, searching for the man; then at long last he sees the spring and Merlin sitting on the grass behind it,
Illic Merlinus conscenderat, inde per omnes140
spectabat siluas cursusque iocosque ferarum.
Nuncius hunc scandit, tacitoque per ardua gressu
incedit querendo uirum; tum denique fontem
Merlinumque uidet super herbas pone sedentem
uttering his laments with these words:‘O you, who rule everything, how can it be that the seasons, four in number, are not the same? Because spring lays on flowers and foliage, by its law, summer gives crops and autumn the ripe fruit.
dicentemque suas tali sermone querelas:145‘O qui cuncta regis, quid id est quod contigit, ut non
tempora sint eadem numeris distincta quaternis?
Nam uer iure suo flores frondesque ministrat,
dat fruges estas, autumpnus mitia poma.
Then icy winter follows, devours and lays waste to everything, and brings back rain and snow, it drives everything away and harms it all with its storms and doesn’t let the earth produce all the different kinds of flowers, or let the oaks make acorns or the pomegranate trees their fruit.
Consequitur glacialis hiemps, et cetera queque150
deuorat et uastat, pluuiasque niuesque reportat,
singula queque suis arcet leditque procellis,
nec permittit humum uarios producere flores,
aut quercus glandes, aut malos punica mala.
O, if only there were no winter or hoary frost! It would be spring or summer, so the cuckoo could come back singing and also the nightingale, who soothes sorrowful hearts with her kindly song, and the turtle dove, keeping her chaste vows, and the other birds would sing in harmony among the fresh new leaves,
O utinam non esset hiemps, aut cana pruina!155
Ver foret, aut estas, cuculusque canendo rediret
et Philomena, pio que tristia pectora cantu
mitigat, et turtur conseruans federa casta,
frondibus inque nouis concordi uoce uolucres
cheering me with their song, while earth, all new, would breath out sweet scent from new blossom sprung from the green grass, and streams would flow by with gentle rippling, and close by under the leaves the dove would give out sleepy cooing to induce slumber.’
cantarent alie, que me modulando fouerent,160
dum noua flore nouo tellus spiraret odorem
gramine sub uiridi, leni quoque murmure fontes
diffluerent, iuxtaque daret sub fronde columba
sompniferos gemitus irritaretque soporem.
When the messenger had listened to the prophet, he interrupted these laments with the notes from a harp that he had brought with him of his own accord, so he could thereby captivate and calm the madman. So, plucking the plaintive strings with his fingers one by one, hidden nearby he softly sang these words:
Nuncius audierat uatem, rupitque querelas165
cum modulis cithare, quam secum gesserat ultro,
vt sic deciperet, demulceretque furentem.
Ergo, mouens querulas digitis et in ordine cordas,
talia pone latens dimissa uoce canebat:
‘O, the dreadful sighing of woeful Guendolena!
Merlin’s wife, not known otherwise.
O the wretched tears of weeping Guendolena! I pity the pitifully pining Guendolena! Never was there among the Welsh a comelier woman. She surpassed in radiance the goddesses and the privet leaf,
‘O diros gemitus lugubris Guendoloene!170
O miseras lacrimas lacrimantis Guendoloene!
Me miseret misere morientis Guendoloene!
Non erat in Waliis mulier formosior illa.
Vincebat candore deas foliumque ligustri,
the roses in full bloom and the fragrant lilies in the meadow. Springtime glory shone in her alone and she had in her two eyes the stars’ splendour and glorious hair shining with golden briliance. This has all gone, gone is all her beauty
vernantesque rosas et olencia lilia prati.175
Gloria uernalis sola radiabat in illa,
sidereumque decus geminis gestabat ocellis,
insignesque comas auri fulgore micantes.
Hoc totum periit, periit decus omnis in illa,
and colour and look and the glory of her snow-white flesh. She is not what she was, troubled by much mourning. For she does not know where the prince went and and whether he lives or has died: the sorrowful woman is wasting away because of this, and perishing utterly, consumed by a long-lived grief.
et color et facies, niuee quoque gloria carnis.180
Non est quod fuerat, multis meroribus acta.
Nescit enim quo dux abiit, uitane fruatur
an sit defunctus: languet miserabilis inde,
totaque deperiit, longo liquefacta dolore.
Shedding tears alongside her with similar laments is Ganieda, who grieves over her missing brother without consolation. The latter weeps over her brother and the former over her husband, both together given over completely to weeping and passing sorrowful hours. No food, nor sleep sustains them, as they wander by night
Collacrimatur ei paribus Ganieda querelis,185
amissumque dolet sine consolamine fratrem.
Hec fratrem flet et illa uirum, communiter ambe
fletibus incumbunt et tristia tempora ducunt.
Non cibus ullus eas, non sompnus nocte uagantes
through the thickets: such a great sadness grips them both. Dido
The Phoenician Dido, founder and first queen of Carthago, whose love-affair with Aeneas is told in the fourth book of the Aeneid.
from Sidon grieved no differently after Aeneas’ fleets set sail, when he left in haste. When Demophoon
Demophoon was Theseus’ son, Phyllis the daughter of a Thracian king. He left her to return to Athens, but he did not come back at the agreed time.
did not return after the appointed time, most wretched Phyllis groaned and wept this way.
sub uirgulta fouet, tantus dolor arcet utramque.190
Non secus indoluit Sidonia Dido, solutis
classibus Enee tunc cum properaret abire.
Cum non Demophoon per tempora pacta rediret,
taliter ingemuit fleuitque miserrima Phillis.
The daughter of Briseus, a priest of Apollo, Briseis was captured by the Greeks and became the slave of Achilles. She was the cause of the dispute between Achilles and Agamennon.
shed tears for the absent Achilles. Thus sister and wife make lamentation together and totally, utterly burn with inner torment in their grieving.’The messenger said these things, singing to the tune of his sad strings, and with his song he soothed the prophet’s ears
Briseis absentem sic deplorauit Achillem.195
Sic soror et coniunx collamentantur, et ardent
funditus internis cruciatibus usque dolendo’.
In fidibus querulis dicebat talia cantans
nuncius, et modulo uatis demulserat aures
so that he became calmer and took pleasure in the singer. Quickly the prophet gets up and addresses the young man with playful words and begs him to pluck the strings again with his fingers and to ring out the elegies from before. The messenger puts his fingers on the harp and performs
micior ut fieret congauderetque canenti.200
Ocius assurgit uates, iuuenemque iocosis
affatur uerbis, iterumque mouere precatur
cum digitis cordas elegosque sonare priores.
Admouet ille lire digitos, iussumque reformat
the same song, as requested, and with his singing he forces the man, rapt by the harp’s sweet tone, gradually to put aside his madness. And so he comes to his senses and recalls that he used to be Merlin, is surprised at his madness and hates it. His former mental state is restored, restored also are his feelings,
carmen item, cogitque uirum modulando furorem205
ponere paulatim cithare dulcedine captum.
Fit memor ergo sui, recolitque quod esse solebat
Merlinus, furiasque suas miratur et odit.
Pristina mens rediit, rediit quoque sensus in illo,
and, moved by affection, he groans to hear the names of his sister and his wife; having regained his sanity he requests to be taken to King Rodarcus’s palace. The other man complied with this request and forthwith they leave the forest behind and joyfully come together into the king’s stronghold.
et gemit ad nomen motus pietate sororis210
vxorisque simul; mentis racione recepta,
conducique petit Rodarchi regis ad aulam.
Paruit alter ei, siluasque subinde relinquunt,
et ueniunt pariter letantes regis in urbem.
So the queen rejoices to regain her brother and the wife is glad at her husband’s return. They take turns to shower him with kiss after kiss and wind their arms round his neck, overcome by such great love. The King also received his return with the honour that was fitting,
Ergo fratre suo gaudet regina recepto,215
proque sui reditu fit coniunx leta mariti.
Oscula certatim geminant et brachia circum
colla uiri flectunt, tanta pietate mouentur.
Rex quoque quo decuit reducem suscepit honore,
and the nobles rejoice in the city with all the retinue of the household.But after Merlin saw that there were such crowds of men present and could not bear it, he started up with the same madness and again filled with rage he longs to go into the forest and tries to slip away secretly.
totaque turba domus proceres letantur in urbe.220
At postquam tantas hominum Merlinus adesse
inspexit turmas, nec eas perferre ualeret,
cepit item furias, iterumque furore repletus
ad nemus ire cupit, furtimque recedere querit.
Then Rodarcus ordered that he be detained with a guard set over him and that his raving should be soothed by a harp. And he stood next to him full of grief, and begged him with beseeching words to be reasonable, and stay there with him, and not to pine for the forest or to choose the life of a wild animal
Tunc precepit eum posito custode teneri225
Rodarcus, citharaque suos mulcere furores.
Astabatque dolens, uerbisque precantibus illum
orabat racione frui, secumque manere,
nec captare nemus, nec uiuere more ferino
among the trees, when he could wield the regal sceptres and administer the law to savage peoples. Then he promises to give him many gifts, and orders clothes, hunting birds, dogs and swift horses to be brought, gold and shining gems,
velle sub arboribus, dum regia sceptra tenere230
posset et in populos ius exercere feroces.
Hinc promittit ei se plurima dona daturum,
afferrique iubet uestes, uolucresque, canesque,
quadrupedesque citos, aurum, gemmasque micantes,
the goblets that Wayland
Gueylandus in the Latin text, that is Wayland, the smith of Germanic mythology.
fashioned in the city of Segontium. Rodarcus holds out to the prophet each thing, and offers them and urges him to stay with him and leave the woods behind.
The prophet rejected these gifts, giving this as his answer: ‘The leaders who are troubled by their poverty can have these gifts,
pocula que sculpsit Gueylandus in urbe Sigeni.235
Singula pretendit uati Rodarcus, et offert,
et monet ut maneat secum siluasque relinquat.
Talia respondens spernebat munera uates:
‘Ista duces habeant, sua quos confundit egestas,
and those who aren’t content with little but long to have the most. I prefer the forest to these things, and the spreading oaks of Calidon and high mountains, and the verdant meadows below. Those things please me and these do not. You can take them all with you, King Rodarcus; my Caledonian forest, rich in nuts,
nec sunt contenti modico, sed maxima captant.240
His nemus et patulas Calidonis prefero quercus
et montes celsos, subtusque uirencia prata.
Ista michi, non illa placent. Tu talia tecum,
rex Rodarche, feras, mea me Calidonis habebit
will have me: I prefer it to everything.’
In the end, since he could not hold the sorrowful man back with any gift, the king ordered them to bind him with a strong chain so that he could not get free and make for the deserted places in the forest. And so, when the prophet felt the chains around him,
silua ferax nucibus, quam cunctis prefero rebus.’245
Denique cum nullo potuisset munere tristem
rex retinere uirum, forti uincire cathena
iussit, ne peteret nemorum deserta solutus.
Ergo, cum sensit circum se uincula uates,
and realised he could not freely make for the woods of Calidon, immediately he fell into grief, remained sad and silent, and removed any sign of joy from his face, so that he did not utter a word or give a smile.In the meantime the queen was on the way to the palace to see her ruler
nec liber poterat siluas Calidonis adire,250
protinus indoluit, tristisque tacensque remansit,
leticiamque suis subtraxit uultibus omnem,
vt non proferret uerbum risumque moueret.Interea uisura ducem regina per aulam
and, as was fitting, the king greeted her arrival warmly, took her by the hand and bade her to sit and embraced her and pressed kisses upon her lips. While doing these things he turned his gaze upon her, and saw a leaf caught in her hair.
ibat, et ut decuit rex applaudebat eunti,255
perque manum suscepit eam, iussitque sedere
et dabat amplexus, et ad oscula labra premebat.
Conuertensque suos in eam per talia uultus,
vidit in illius folium pendere capillis.
So he reached out with his fingers to remove it and throw it on the ground, and happily teased his lover. The prophet turned his eyes upon this and burst into laughter, causing the men who were standing nearby to turn their faces, marvelling at him because he had refused to smile.
Ergo suos digitos admouit et abstulit illud,260
et proiecit humi, letusque iocatur amanti.
Flexit ad hoc oculos uates, risumque resoluit,
astantesque uiros fecit conuertere uultus,
in se mirantes quoniam ridere negarat.
The king is also taken aback and urges the madman to give the reason for the sudden laughter, and followed up his words with many gifts. Merlin stays silent and puts off explaining his laughter, but Rodarcus sought to press him more and more
Rex quoque miratur, percunctaturque furentem265
tam subito facti causas edicere risus,
adiecitque suis donaria plurima uerbis.
Ille tacet differtque suos exponere risus,
at magis atque magis precio precibusque mouere
with presents and prayers so that in the end, the prophet, despising his gifts, spoke these words:‘The miser loves a gift and in his greed strives for possession. Such people bend their minds easily in whichever direction they are told to. Those who are corrupted by gifts are never satisfied with what they have,
instabat Rodarcus eum, tum denique uates270
indignatus ei pro munere, talia fatur:‘Munus auarus amat, cupidusque laborat habere.
Hii faciles animos flectunt quocumque iubentur.
Munere corrupti quod habent non sufficit illis,
but the acorns of fair Calidon are enough for me, and the bright streams flowing through fragrant meadows. I am not won over by a gift, let the miser take his gifts, and unless freedom is on offer and I can return to the forest’s verdants groves, I will not explain my laughter.’
at michi sufficiunt glandes Calidonis amene275
et nitidi fontes per olencia prata fluentes.
Munere non capior, sua munera tollat auarus,
et nisi libertas detur, repetamque uirentes
siluarum ualles, risus aperire negabo.’
Since he could, therefore, persuade the prophet with no gift nor find out why he had laughed, Rodarcus orders his chains to be undone straightaway and grants him the power to make for the forest’s deserted places, just so that he would be prepared to disclose what he wanted, the explanation for his laughter.
Ergo cum nullo potuisset munere uatem280
flectere Rodarcus, nec cur risisset haberet,
confestim sua uincla uiro dissoluere iussit,
datque potestatem nemorum deserta petendi
vt uelit optatam risus expromere causam.
Then Merlin, overjoyed that he could leave, said:
‘This is why I laughed, because you, Rodarcus, are both blameworthy and praiseworthy for the same gesture. Just now when you removed the leaf that the queen unknowingly had in her hair you showed yourself to be more faithful to her
Tunc Merlinus ait gaudens quia possit abire:285
‘Iccirco risi quoniam, Rodarche, fuisti
facto culpandus simul et laudandus eodem.
Dum traheres folium modo quod regina capillis
nescia gestabat, fieresque fidelior illi
than she has been to you, because she went into the thicket where her lover quickly came and made love to her. And while she was on her back, the leaf you plucked away, all unknowing, happened to be lying there and caught in her outspread hair.’
Rodarcus was instantly made sad by this accusation,
quam fuit illa tibi, quando uirgulta subiuit290
quo suus occurrit secumque coiuit adulter.
Dumque supina foret, sparsis in crinibus hesit
forte iacens folium, quod nescius eripuisti.’Ergo super tali Rodarcus crimine tristis
turned his face away from her and cursed the day he had married her. But she, not in the least bit troubled, conceals her shame behind a smiling face and addresses her husband with these words:‘Why are you sad, my love? Why are you so angered by this thing
fit subito, uultumque suum diuertit ab illa,295
dampnabatque diem qua se coniunxerat illi.
Mota sed illa nichil uultu ridente pudorem
celat, et alloquitur tali sermone maritum:
‘Cur tristaris, amans? Cur sic irasceris ab re,
and condemn me unfairly and believe a madman who is out of his mind and mingles lies with truths? Anyone who trusts him so many times, becomes more of a fool than he is. So put aside the notion that I have been led astray: I will prove that he is deluded and that he is not telling the truth.’
meque nec ex merito dampnas, credisque furenti,300
qui racione carens miscet mendacia ueris?
Multociens qui credit ei fit stulcior illo.
Excipe nunc igitur, ne sim decepta, probabo
quod sit delirus, quod non sit uera locutus.’
Along with many others, there was a lad in the hall, and when she spied him, the cunning woman instantly conceived a novel plan by which she could outwit her brother. So she orders the boy to come close and asks her brother to predict how the boy is going to die.
Vt plures alii, fuerat puer unus in aula,305
hunc cum prospiceret conuoluit protinus artem
ingeniosa nouam, qua uult conuincere fratrem.
Inde uenire iubet puerum fratremque precatur,
qua moriturus erat, pueri predicere mortem.
In response, her brother said to her: ‘O dearest sister: he will die as an adult by falling from a high rock.’ She, smiling at these words, told the boy to go away and take off the clothes he was wearing and put on different ones and cut his long hair,
Ergo frater ei: ‘Soror o carissima – dixit – ,310
hic morietur homo celsa de rupe ruendo.’
Illa sub hec ridens puero precepit abire
et quibus indutus fuerat deponere uestes
et uestire nouas, longosque recidere crines,
and thus instructed him to come back in such as way as to look like another person. The boy did as he was told, because he changed his clothes and came back to them just as he had been instructed. Immediately the queen calls her brother over and says: ‘Beloved, tell your sister what death this one will have’.
sicque redire iubet, ut eis appareat alter.315
Paruit ergo puer, rediit nam talis ad illos
qualis erat iussus mutata ueste redire.
Mox iterum fratrem regina precatur et infit:
‘Que mors huius erit narra, dilecte, sorori.’
Then Merlin says: ‘When he grows up, this boy will get distracted and succumb to a violent death in a tree.’ That is what he said. She then addressed her husband with these words: ‘There we are: how did this false prophet lead you so astray that you thought I could have committed such a great sin;
Tunc Merlinus ait: ‘Puer hic cum uenerit etas320
mente uagans forti succumbet in arbore morti.’
Dixerat. Illa suum sic est affata maritum:‘Siccine te potuit falsus peruertere uates
vt crimen tantum me commisisse putares;
and if you want to know how much sense he was making, now you can judge from this boy that the things he said about me, just so that he could get away to the forest, were falsehoods. Far be it that I would do such a thing! I will keep my bed chaste and will be forever chaste so long as there is breath in me.
at si scire uelis qua sit racione locutus,325
hoc nunc de puero censebis ficta fuisse,
que de me dixit dum siluas possit adire.
Absit ut hoc faciam! Castum seruabo cubile,
castaque semper ero dum flabit spiritus in me.
I showed that man up, when I asked him to reveal the boy’s death, I will show him up now too: you need to be an attentive judge.’
She said these things and silently instructed the boy to go away and put on woman’s clothing and come back like that. The boy quickly went off and promptly did as he was told
Illum conuici pueri de morte rogatum,330
nunc quoque conuincam: tu sedulus arbiter esto.’
Hec ait, et tacite puerum secedere iussit,
vesteque feminea uestiri sicque redire.
Mox puer abcessit, iussumque subinde peregit,
and returned wearing woman’s clothing, just like a woman, and stood before the man, to whom the queen jokingly said: ‘Hey, brother, predict this woman’s death.’ ‘This one, woman or not, will die in a river’. That’s what the brother said, and made King Rodarcus cackle at his reasoning,
et sub feminea rediit quasi femina ueste335
et stetit ante uirum, cui sic regina iocando:
‘Eya, frater, – ait – dic mortem uirginis huius.’
‘Hec uirgo nec ne – dixit – morietur in amne.’
Frater ei, mouitque sua racione cachinnum
because he had been asked about the death of just one boy and had foretold three deaths. Consequently the king thought that he had told lies about his wife, and did not believe him, but was saddened and hated the fact that he had believed him, and had condemned his beloved.
regi Rodarco, quoniam de morte rogatus340
vnius pueri, tres dixerat esse futuras.
Ergo putabat eum de coniuge falsa locutum,
nec credebat ei, sed contristatur, et odit
quod sibi crediderat, quod condempnarat amantem.
When the queen sees this, she forgives him and kisses him, caresses him, and makes him happy again.Meanwhile, Merlin is thinking about going back to the forest, and going out of the house, he asked for the gates to be opened. But his sister block his path and begged him with floods of tears
Id regina uidens ueniam dat et oscula iungit,345
et blanditur ei letum quoque reddidit illum.Cogitat interea siluas Merlinus adire,
egressusque domum portas aperire iubebat.
Sed soror obstabat, lacrimisque rogabat obortis
to stay with her still and to leave off from his madness. That stubborn man refuses to leave off from his plans, but persists in opening the doors and tries to go. And he fumes and struggles and in his rage he fights with the servants. Finally, when nobody could hold him back from
vt secum remaneret adhuc, sineretque furorem.350
Improbus ille suis non uult desistere ceptis,
sed perstat reserare fores, et abire laborat.
Et fremit et pugnat, famulosque fremendo coartat.
Denique, cum nullus posset retinere uolentem
wanting to go, the queen quickly had Guendolena come, weeping at his departure. She comes and imploringly begs her husband to stay. But he scorns her entreaties and won’t either stay or look at her with a joyful face as he used to do.
ire uirum, iussit cicius regina uenire355
eius ad abcessum deflentem Guendoloenam.
Illa uenit, suplexque uirum remanere precatur.
Spernit at ille preces, nec uult remanere, nec illam
sicut erat solitus gaudenti cernere uultu.
She is grief-stricken and streams with tears and tears her hair, and cuts her cheeks with her nails and rolls on the ground, as though dying. Seeing this, the queen spoke to him in this way: ‘This Guendolena of yours, who is dying for you like this, what will she do? Should she be given in marriage to another man? Or
Illa dolet, fletuque fluit, laniatque capillos360
et secat ungue genas et humi moriendo uolutat.
Id regina uidens affatur taliter illum:
‘Hec tua, que moritur sic pro te, Guendoloena
quid faciet? Dabiturne uiro? Viduamue manere
are you obliging her to remain a widow, or to go with you wherever you are going off to hide? Because she will come with you and happily live in the forest and the verdant groves of the wood, as long as she has you as her lover.’So then the prophet replies to these words in this way:
‘Sister, I do not want a domestic animal
precipis aut tecum quocumque recesseris ire?365
Ibit enim tecumque nemus, nemorisque uirentes
leta colet saltus, dum te pociatur amante.’Vocibus his igitur respondit talia uates:
‘Nolo, soror, pecudem patulo que fontis hiatu
that pours out floods from a gaping well like the virgin’s spilling jar, when it’s hot. Nor will I change what I care about like Orpheus once did, when he made over his bedchamber to be occupied by boys after Eurydice crossed the sands of the Styx:
Orpheus refused to love any other woman after the death of his lover Eurydice.
pure and free from both kinds of love I will remain without taint.
diffundit latices ut uirginis urna sub estus.370
Nec curam mutabo meam uelud Orpheus olim
quando suos thalamos pueris commisit habendos,
Euridice postquam Stigias transnauit harenas:
mundus ab alterutro ueneris sine labe manebo.
Therefore, let her have a fair chance at marriage as she wishes and let her marry the one that she desires to marry, by her own free choice; but, let the man who marries her take care never to cross my path or come near me, but let him turn aside so as not to feel
Huic igitur detur nubendi iusta facultas,375
arbitrioque suo quem gestit ducere ducat,
precaueat tamen ipse sibi qui duxerit illam
obuius ut numquam michi sit, nec cominus astet,
sed se diuertat, ne si michi congrediendi
my brandished sword if I get the chance to meet him. And when the solemn day of the wedding comes and a variety of fare is given out to the guests, I shall attend in person equipped with suitable gifts, and I shall give Guendoloena abundant riches once she is married.’
copia prestetur, uibratum senciat ensem.380
Cumque dies aderit sollempnis lege iugali
diuerseque dapes conuiuis distribuentur,
ipsemet interero donis munitus honestis,
ditaboque datam profuse Guendoloenam.’
When he had done speaking, saying farewell to them both as he walked away, he made for the forest he longed for with nobody stopping him. Guendoloena remains sadly watching on the threshold and likewise the queen and they are touched by their dear one’s fate. They wondered at the fact that a madman could know secret circumstances,
Dixerat, atque ‘uale’ gradiens subiungit utrique,385
et peciit siluas nullo prohibente cupitas.
Guendoloena manet spectans in limine tristis
et regina simul, casuque mouentur amici.
Miranturque nimis rerum secreta furentem
and that he had been aware of his sister’s love-affair. But they thought he was lying about the boy’s death, which he described in three different ways instead of only one. It meant that his prophecy was considered a meaningless one for many years, until the boy reached manhood.
nosse uirum, ueneremque sue sciuisse sororis.390
Mentitumque tamen pueri de morte putabant,
quam dixit ternam, cum dicere debuit unam.
Inde diu sua uisa fuit uox uana per annos
donec ad etatem uenit puer ille uirilem.
Then at last it was disclosed and proved correct by many people.For while out hunting with his dogs, he roused a stag that was hiding under the forest canopy and unleashed the dogs: once they have seen the stag, the dogs run where there are no paths and fill the air with their barking.
Tum demum patefacta fuit multisque probata.395Nam dum uenatum canibus comitantibus iret,
exciuit ceruum nemoris sub fronde latentem,
dissoluitque canes, qui ceruo deuia uiso
transcendunt, complentque suis latratibus auras.
He himself urges his horse onwards with the spurs and makes chase, gives instructions to the huntsmen now with a horn now with his voice, and orders them to come on more quickly. There was a high mountain there surrounded all around by rocks, and a river flowed below, through the flat valley bottom.
Ipsemet urget equum calcaribus insequiturque,400
nunc cornu nunc ore monens operisque ministros
increpat, atque iubet cursu ciciore uenire.
Mons ibi celsus erat circumdatus undique saxis,
iuxta quem fluuius subtus per plana fluebat.
The wild animal crossed up over the mountain as it fled, until it came to the river and was looking for its usual hiding places. The young man spurs on his horse and crosses the mountain on a direct path, and is searching for the stag among the rocks that lie all around. During this, it so happened that,
Hunc fera transcendit fugiens dum uenit ad amnem,405
exegitque suas solito de more latebras.
Instigat iuuenis, montem quoque tramite recto
preterit, et ceruum per saxa iacencia querit.
Contigit interea dum duceret impetus ipsum
as his haste drove him on, the horse slipped off a high cliff and the man fell down the mountain’s steep incline into the river, but in such a way that his foot got caught in a tree while the rest of his body plunged into the river. So it was that he fell, was drowned, and hung from a tree:
labi quadrupedem celsa de rupe, uirumque410
forte per abruptum montis cecidisse sub amnem,
vt tamen hereret pes eius in arbore quadam
et submersa forent sub flumine cetera membra.
Sicque ruit, mersusque fuit, lignoque pependit:
and the triple nature of his death proved how right the prophet had been, he who had entered the forest and lived like a wild animal, enduring thick ice, in snow, rain and the wind’s unkind blast. And this gave him more pleasure than administering
et fecit uatem per terna pericula uerum,415
qui nemus ingressus fuerat rituque ferino
viuebat, paciens concrete frigoris †alge†
sub niue, sub pluuia sub iniquo flamine uenti.
Idque placebat ei pocius quam iura per urbes
the laws in his cities or subduing fierce peoples. In the meantime, as the years slipped by, while Merlin was permanently living this life with the forest herd, Guendoloena was given to a husband in marriage.It was night-time and the horns of the moon shone brightly
exercere suas gentesque domare feroces.420
Interea ducente uiro labentibus annis
cum grege siluestri talem per tempora uitam
Guendoloena datur nubendi lege marito.Nox erat et nitide radiabant cornua lune,
and all the constellations were glittering in the vault of heaven. The air was crisper than usual, because the harsh cold north wind had driven away the clouds and left the sky clear, drying up the cloudy weather with its parching breath. From a high mountain, the prophet was watching the stars’ movement,
cunctaque conuexi splendebant lumina celi.425
Purior aer erat solito, nam frigidus atrox
expulerat nubes Boreas, celumque serenum
reddiderat, sicco detergens nubila flatu.
Sidereum cursum uates spectabat ab alto
saying silently to himself in the open air the following words: ‘What does Mars’ shining mean? Can it be foretelling the death of a king and another king to come, because it has an unusual reddish glow? Certainly this is what I can see. Because Constantine has died and his ill-fated nephew, Conan,
According to Geoffrey, Constantine was the son of Cador of Cornwall and succeeded Arthur in 542. The historical figure behind the legendary character is probably that of Custennin Gornau ap Cynfor, fifth-century ruler of Dumnonia.
Aurelius Conanus, Constantine’s nephew, usurped the throne, that should have been inherited instead by another of his uncles.
monte, loquens tacite sub diuo talia secum:430
‘Quid sibi uult radius Martis? Regemne peremptum
portendit nouiter rutilans aliumque futurum?
Sic equidem uideo. Nam Constantinus obiuit,
ipsiusque nepos scelerata sorte Conanus
has used the slaying of his uncle to seize the crown, and is king. And you, loftiest Venus, gliding on your fixed course and travelling with the sun as it passes below the zodiac, why do you cast a double ray that cleaves the sky? Does the division foretell my love’s parting?
per patrui iugulum sumpto diademate rex est.435
At tu, summa Venus, que certo limite labens
infra zodiacum solem comitaris euntem,
quid tibi cum radio qui duplex ethera findit?
Discidiumne mei sectus portendit amoris?
For such a twin light does indeed symbolise divided affections. Perhaps Guendolena has abandoned me while I am away and happily cling to another lover’s embraces. Thus am I outshone, thus another one enjoys her. Thus my rights are stolen from me while I dally.
Talis enim radius diuisos signat amores.440
Forsitan absentem me Guendoloena reliquit,
alteriusque uiri gaudens complexibus heret.
Sic igitur uincor, sic alter fungitur illa.
Sic mea iura michi dum demoror eripiuntur.
Thus it is indeed, for a tardy lover is outstripped by the one who is not tardy and is not absent, but stays close by. But I do not feel jealous. She should be wed now with a lucky omen and take pleasure in a new husband with my permission. When tomorrow dawns, I will go and take
Sic equidem nam segnis amans superatur ab illo445
qui non est segnis nec abest, sed cominus instat.
At non inuideo. Nubat nunc omine dextro,
vtaturque nouo me permittente marito.
Crastina cumque dies illuxerit ibo, feramque
with me the gift I promised when I left.’He finished speaking, and made the rounds of all the forest groves and gathered into one line the herds of stags, and the does and also the she-goats, and then he mounted a stag and as day dawned,
mecum munus ei promissum quando recessi.’450Dixerat, et siluas et saltus circuit omnes,
ceruorumque greges agmen collegit in unum
et damas capreasque simul, ceruoque resedit.
Et ueniente die compellens agmina pre se
he went in haste to where Guendolena was getting married, driving the lines of beasts ahead of him. Once he got there, he had the stags stand patiently in front of the gates and called out: ‘Guendolena! Guendolena, come out! Such wonderful gifts are waiting for you!’ So Guendolena, smiling, comes out quickly
festinans uadit quo nubit Guendoloena.455
Postquam uenit eo, pacienter stare coegit
ceruos ante fores, proclamans: ‘Guendoloena!
Guendoloena, ueni! Te talia munera spectant!’
Ocius ergo uenit subridens Guendoloena,
and is amazed to see him borne by a stag and that the beast is so obedient to him, and that he could muster such a great number of beasts, driving them before him like a shepherd drives sheep that he is used to taking to pasture. Her groom was watching from a high window,
gestarique uirum ceruo miratur et illum460
sic parere uiro, tantum quoque posse ferarum
vniri numerum, quas pre se solus agebat
sicut pastor oues quas ducere sueuit ad herbas.Stabat ab excelsa sponsus spectando fenestra
marvelling at the rider on his seat, and began to laugh. But when the prophet saw him, he realised who it was and suddenly tore off the antlers of the stag that was carrying him, and brandishing them, he threw them at the groom. And he completely crushed that man’s head,
in solio, mirans equitem risumque mouebat.465
Ast ubi uidit eum uates, animoque quis esset
calluit, extemplo diuulsit cornua ceruo
quo gestabatur, uibrataque iecit in illum.
Et capud illius penitus contriuit, eumque
knocked him unconscious, and sent his life onto the breeze. He immediately spurred on the stag with his heels and fled, making to return to the forest. At this retainers come rushing out from every direction to follow the prophet through the fields, running fast.
reddidit exanimem, uitamque fugauit in auras.470
Ocius inde suum talorum uerbere ceruum
diffugiens egit siluasque redire parauit.
Egrediuntur ad hec ex omni parte clientes
et celeri cursu uatem per rura sequuntur.
But he got ahead of them so quickly that he would have reached the forest unharmed, if a river had stood in his way. And in fact, as the beast was springing up to cross the torrent, Merlin slipped off its back and fell into the fast-flowing current. The servants line the banks and capture Merlin as he tries to swim away
Ille quidem uelox sic precurrebat, ut isset475
ad nemus intactus, nisi preuius amnis obesset.
Nam dum torrentem fera prosiliendo mearet,
elapsus rapida cecidit Merlinus in unda.
Circueunt ripas famuli capiuntque natantem
and they bind him and take him to the palace to hand him over to his sister.Once captured, the prophet becomes sad and longs to leave for the forest, and struggles to shake off his shackles, refuses to smile and turns away food and drink, and his sadness makes his sister sad.
adducuntque domum uinctumque dedere sorori.480Captus item uates fit tristis et optat abire
ad siluas, pugnatque suos dissoluere nexus
et ridere negat, potumque cibumque refutat,
tristiciaque sua tristem facit esse sororem.
Then, when Rodarcus saw that he was pushing away all cause for joy and refusing to take any food that had been made for him, he took pity and ordered him to be taken him into the city, through the market squares, among the people, so that he could be cheered up by going to see the novelties that were on sale there.
Ergo uidens illum Rodarcus pellere cunctam485
leticiam, nec uelle dapes libare paratas.
Educi precepit eum miseratus in urbem
Per fora, per populos ut letior esset eundo
resque uidendo nouas que uendebantur ibidem.
Then when Merlin was taken out and made his way out of the palace, he spies before the gates a servant in pauper’s clothing who was the gate-keeper and in a tremulous voice was asking passers-by for donations to buy clothes. The prophet stopped immediately and laughed, marvelling at the beggar.
Ergo uir eductus dum progrederetur ab aula490
inspicit ante fores famulum sub paupere cultu,
qui seruabat eas, poscentem pretereuntes
ore tremente uiros ad uestes munus emendas.
Mox stetit et risit uates miratus egentem.
Moving on from there, he saw a young man who was holding new shoes and buying some patches. Then he laughed again, and refused to go any further through the market to be stared at by the people he was seeing. But he longed for the forest, towards which he often looked back,
Illinc progressus noua calciamenta tenentem495
spectauit iuuenem commercantemque tacones.
Tunc iterum risit renuitque diucius ire
per fora spectandus populis quos inspiciebat.
At nemus optabat quod crebro respiciebat,
in the forbidden direction towards which he kept trying to turn his steps.The servants came home from that, and reported that Merlin laughed twice and also that he clearly wanted to return to the forest. So Rodarcus, who straightaway wanted to know what he was foretelling with his laugh, had his shackles undone at once,
Quo nitebatur uetitos diuertere gressus.500Inde domum famuli redeunt, ipsumque cachinnum
bis mouisse ferunt, siluas quoque uelle redire.
Ocius ergo uolens Rodarcus scire quid esset
quod portendisset risu, dissoluere nexus
granting him the ability to return to the lonely forests if only he would explain his laugh. The prophet stood there more cheerfully and answered: ‘The porter at the gates was sitting there in threadbare clothes and begging passers-by
ilico iussit, ei concedens posse reuerti505
ad solitas siluas si risus exposuisset.
Letior adsistens respondit talia uates:‘Ianitor ante fores tenui sub ueste sedebat,
et uelud esset inops rogitabat pretereuntes
for money to buy clothes, as if he were poor. But in the meantime, secretly rich, he has got heaps of money hidden underneath him. So I laughed about it. Dig in the ground below him: you’ll find coins that have been hidden for a long time.
vt largirentur sibi quo uestes emerentur.510
Ipsemet interea subter se denariorum
occultos cumulos occultus diues habebat.
Illud ergo risi. Tu terram uerte sub ipso:
nummos inuenies seruatos tempore longo.
After that I was taken further on and saw a man who was buying shoes and also patches, so that once the shoes get torn and worn into holes, he can repair them and restore them to their former state. So I laughed again about that, because later on that poor man will not be able to use the shoes
Illinc ulterius uersus fora ductus ementem515
calciamenta uirum uidi pariterque tacones,
vt postquam dissuta forent usuque forata
illa resarciret primosque pararet ad usus.
Illud item risi, quoniam nec calciamentis
or the patches to apply to them, because he has already drowned in the water and is bobbing about by the river-bank. Go and look: you’ll see.’
Rodarcus wanted to test Merlin’s words and ordered his servants to go quickly all along the river,
nec superaddendis miser ille taconibus uti520
postmodo compos erit, quia iam submersus in undis
fluctuat ad ripas. Tu uade uidere: uidebis.’
Dicta probare uiri cupiens Rodarcus ad amnem
circumquaque suos iubet ocius ire clientes
to report back quickly if they chanced to find a drowned man along the nearby river-banks. They carried out the ruler’s orders, and in fact going from river to river they come upon the drowned youth on the filthy sand and go back home to tell the king.
vt si forte uirum per proxima littora talem525
demersum uideant festina uoce renarrent.
Iussa ducis peragunt, nam flumina circumeuntes
submersum iuuenem squalentes inter harenas
inueniunt, redeuntque domum, regique renarrant.
Meanwhile the king has the gatekeeper moved, and digs and turns over the soil and finds beneath it hidden treasure, and cheerfully praises the prophet.
And so when these things were fulfilled, the prophet made haste to get away to his familiar woods, hating the people in the city.
At rex interea forium custode remoto530
suffodit, et uertit terram reperitque sub ipsa
thesaurum positum, uatemque iocosus adorat.His igitur gestis, uates properabat abire
ad solitas siluas, populos exosus in urbe
The queen said that he should stay with her and put off going to his longed-for forest until the cold days of hoary winter, pressing in by then, were over and summer came again with its soft fruits, that he could enjoy the sun and warm weather.
precipiebat ei secum regina manere,535
optatumque nemus postponere donec abirent
que tunc instabant candentis frigora brume
atque rediret item teneris cum fructibus estas,
vnde frui posset dum tempora sole calerent.
He resisted and spoke these words to her too, desperate to escape regardless of the cold:‘O my beloved sister, why are you so determined to stop me? Winter with its storms cannot deter me, nor the icy north wind when it rages with an unfriendly blast
Ille repugnabat, uerbis quoque talibus illam540
alloquitur, cupiens secedere frigore spreto:‘O dilecta soror, quid me retinere laboras?
Non me bruma suis poterit terrere procellis.
Non gelidus boreas cum flatu seuit iniquo
and batters the flocks of bleating sheep with sudden hail. Nor does the south wind whip up the seas with continual rain-storms in any way that will stop me from seeking out the solitary places of the forest and the green glades. There, even if the white frost freezes everything up, I will be able to endure the frost, content with little.
balantumque greges subita cum grandine ledit.545
Non conturbat aquas diffusis imbribus Auster
quin nemorum deserta petam saltusque uirentes.
Illic, cuncta licet substringat cana pruina,
contentus modico potero perferre pruinam.
There, it will be a pleasure in the summer to lie under the leaves, among the fragrant flowers and grasses. But so that I am not short of food during the winter-time, build houses in the woods and fill them with servants who will attend to my needs and prepare meals,
Illic arboreis sub frondibus inter olentes550
herbarum flores estate iacere iuuabit.
Ne tamen esca michi brumali tempore desit,
in siluis compone domos adhibeque clientes,
obsequiumque michi facient escasque parabunt,
while the ground won’t produce grass nor the tree its fruit. Before the other houses, build a remote one to which you will give sixty doors and as many windows, through which when I will come I can see fairy haired Phoebus, and so that by night I can see the stars sliding through the sky,
cum tellus gramen fructumque negauerit arbor.555
Ante domos alias unam compone remotam
cui sex dena decem dabis hostia totque fenestras,
per quas ignicomum uideam cum uenero Phebum,
inspiciamque polo labencia sidera noctu,
which will show me the future of the people of this realm, and let there be many scribes ordered to write down what I dictate, eager to record my song on writing-tablets. And you too, o my dearest sister, come often, and then you will be able to ease my hunger with food and drink.’
que me de populo regni uentura docebunt,560
totque notatores que dicam scribere docti
assint et studeant carmen mandare tabellis.
Tu quoque sepe ueni, soror o dilecta, meamque
tunc poteris releuare famem potuque ciboque.’
He finished speaking and headed towards the woods with hasty steps. And so his sister complied, because she built the hall as he had instructed and the other houses and everything he had asked for. While there is still fruit to be had and Phoebus the sun climbs higher up among the stars, Merlin enjoys staying under the leaves and wandering in the forest,
Dixit, et ad siluas festinis gressibus iuit.565
Paruit ergo soror, nam iussam condidit aulam
atque domos alias, et quicquid iusserat illi.
Ille quidem dum poma manent Phebusque per astra
alcius ascendit, gaudet sub fronde manere
while the west wind caresses the rowan. When winter came, bristling with ice-rigid storms, stripping the forest and the ground of all the fruit, so that he would find no food so long as the rain went on falling, sad and hungry he came to this hall.
ac peragrare nemus zephiris mulcentibus ornos.570
Cumque ueniret hiemps rigidis hirsuta procellis,
que nemus et terras fructu spoliabat ab omni
deficeretque sibi pluuiis instantibus esca,
tristis et esuriens dictam ueniebat ad aulam.
The queen went there very often and joyfully brought meals to her brother and drinks too; after he had gained refreshment from a variety of food, he got up quickly and thanked his sister.
Then, on his way back home, he looked up at the stars
Illic multociens aderat regina, dapesque575
et potum pariter fratri gauisa ferebat,
qui, postquam uariis sese recreauerat escis,
mox assurgebat complaudebatque sorori.
Deinde domum peragrans ad sidera respiciebat,
while singing about the things which he knew were at that point yet to come:‘O madness of the Britons, whom an abundance to overflowing of wealth puffs up more than it should. They are not interested in enjoying peace, they are driven on by the Fury’s goads. They join in in civil wars and domestic disputes.
talia dum caneret que tunc uentura sciebat:580‘O rabiem Britonum, quos copia diuiciarum
vsque superueniens ultra quam debeat effert!
Nolunt pace frui, stimulis agitantur Herinis.
Ciuiles acies cognataque prelia miscent.
They let the Lord’s churches go to rack and ruin and expel holy bishops to far kingdoms. The descendants of the boar of Cornwall throw everything into disarray; they slaughter each other, setting ambushes with their wicked swords, and do not want to
Ecclesias Domini paciuntur habere ruinam,585
pontificesque sacros ad regna remota repellunt.
Cornubiensis apri conturbant queque nepotes;
insidias sibimet ponentes ense nefando
interimunt sese, nec regno iure potiri
wait to take control of the kingdom by right but would rather seize the crown.
The fourth one will be crueller and harsher than the rest.After this, the sea-wolf will take up battle and win through to drive his defeated enemy beyond the Severn into uncharted realms. He will besiege Cirencester
expectare uolunt; regni diademate rapto.590
Illis quartus erit crudelior asperiorque.Hinc lupus equoreus debellans uincet et ultra
Sabrinam uictum per barbara regna fugabit.
Inde Kaerkeri circumdabit obsidione,
and with the help of sparrows he will raze to the ground houses and walls. He will make for Gaul with a fleet but will die at the point of a king’s spear. Rodarcus is going to die, and after his death lengthy discord will overtake the Scots and the Cumbrians for a long time, until Cumbria is made over to a growing tooth.
passeribusque domos et menia trudet ad imum.595
Classe petet Gallos, sed telo regis obibit.
Rodarcus moritur, post quem discordia longa
Scotos et Cumbros per longum tempus habebit,
donec crescenti tribuatur Cumbria denti.
The Welsh will wage war against the people of Gwent, the people of Gwent against the Cornish, and there will be no law to tame them. Wales will always enjoy spilling blood. O race hostile to God, why do you take pleasure in blood-shed? Wales will force brothers to wage war
Kambri Geuuissos, Geuuissi Cornubienses600
afficient bello, nec eos lex ulla domabit.
Kambria gaudebit diffuso sanguine semper.
Gens inimica Deo, quid gaudes sanguine fuso?
Kambria compellet fratres committere pugnas
and to condemn their descendants to a shameful death.Hoards of Scots will regularly cross the Humber and kill those who resist them, without mercy. Not with impunity, though, because their leader will be cut down and killed. He who shows savagery while riding a horse will take its name.
et dampnare suos scelerata morte nepotes.605Scottorum cunei trans Humbrum sepius ibunt
obstantesque uiros periment pietate remota.
Non impune tamen, nam cesus ductor obibit.
Nomen habebit equi qui fiet seuus in illo.
His heir will be driven out of our lands and go elsewhere.
You Scot, put away your sword that you are too quick to unsheathe: your strength will prove unequal to our fierce race.The city of Dumbarton will fall, and no king will ever rebuild it until the Scot submits to the little boar.
Finibus ex nostris heres expulsus abibit.610
Scotte, reconde tuos quos nudas ocius enses,
vis tibi dispar erit nostra cum gente ferociCorruet urbs Alclud, nec eam reparabit in euum
rex aliquis, donec subdatur Scottus apello.
The city of Carlisle, robbed of its shepherd, will stay empty until the lion’s sceptre gives it back the crozier.The city, the towers and the great halls of Segontium will lament aloud and in ruins until the Welsh go back to their old haunts. Porchester will see its walls lie smashed in the harbour
Vrbs Loel spoliata suo pastore uacabit,615
donec reddat ei cambucam uirga Leonis.Vrbs Sigeni et turres et magna palacia plangent
diruta, donec eant ad pristina predia Kambri.Kaerperis in portu sua menia rupta uidebit,
until a wealthy man with a fox’s tooth will rebuild them.The city of Richborough will lie strewn on its shoreline: a man from Flanders will come in a galley and rebuild it.The fifth after him will rebuild the walls of St Davids, and by him also the pallium taken away years ago will be returned.
donec eam locuplex cum uulpis dente reformet.620Vrbs Rutupi portus in litore strata iacebit,
restaurabit eam galeata naue Ruthenus.Menia Meneuie reparabit quintus ab illo,
per quem palla sibi reddetur dempta per annos.
In your bosom, Severn, the City of the Legions will fall and will lose its citizens for many years. When the Bear in the lamb’s clothing comes, he will restore them.
Saxon kings will for a long time occupy cities, fields and homes too after they have driven out the citizens.
Inque tuo, Sabrina, sinu cadet Vrbs Legionum,625
amittetque suos ciues per tempora longa.
Hos sibi reddet item cum uenerit ursus in agno.
Saxonici reges expulsis ciuibus urbes,
rura domosque simul per tempora longa tenebunt.
Among them thrice three dragons will wear the crown.
Two hundred monks will be killed in the city of Leicester, and the Saxon will empty the walls once the leader has been expelled.
He who, first among Angles, wears the crown of Brutus, will restore the city emptied by these massacres.
Ex his gestabunt ter tres diadema dracones.630Ducenti monachi perimentur in urbe Leyri
et duce depulso uacuabit menia Saxo.
Qui prior ex Anglis erit in diademate Bruti,
restaurabit item uacuatam cedibus urbem.
This fierce people will forbid consecration with chrism throughout the land and will set up the gods’ idols in the houses of God.Afterwards, Rome will restore God with the help of one in a cowl and the priest will sprinkle his houses with holy water, and will renew them, with shepherds again placed within them.
Gens fera per patriam prohibebit crisma sacrare,635
inque Dei domibus ponet simulachra deorum.Postmodo Roma Deum reddet mediante cuculla,
rorabitque domos sacro sacer ymbre sacerdos,
quas renouabit item pastoribus intro locatis.
From then on, they will keep the commandments of God’s law and many of them will rightly attain heaven. But a wicked people, full of venom, will again defile this and at the same time will violently mix up what is right and what is wrong. It will sell its sons and relatives into remote lands overseas,
Legis diuine seruabunt iussa subinde,640
plures ex illis et celo iure fruentur.
Id uiolabit item gens impia plena ueneno,
miscebitque simul uiolenter fasque nefasque,
vendet in extremos fines trans equora natos,
and will face God’s wrath. O unspeakable sin, that people whom the Maker of the world deemed worthy of the honour of heaven and created free should be sold and led along, tethered, like an ox! You, pitiful dragon, will desist, you who once were
cognatosque suos iramque Tonantis inibit.645
O scelus infandum, quem Conditor orbis honore
celi dignatus cum libertate creauit,
illum more bouis uendi ducique ligatum!
Cessabis miserande draco, qui proditor olim
a traitor to the Lord, when you first came to the kingdom.The Danes will come with a fleet, and once the people have been brought into subjection, they will rule for a short time before they are driven out and retreat. Two men will give laws to the ones whom the Snake, forgetting the pact, will smite with the sting of its tail for the sake of the crown of the realm.
in Dominum fueras, cum primum regna subisti.650Classe superuenient Daci, populoque subacto
regnabunt breuiter, propulsatique redibunt.
His duo iura dabunt, quos ledet acumine caude
federis oblitus pro sceptri stegmate serpens.
Then the Normans, borne across the sea in ships with faces at the front and faces at the back, will attack the Angles fiercely with iron mailshirts and sharp swords, will cut them down and gain the battlefield. They will bring many kingdoms into subjection and they will tame
Indeque Neustrenses ligno trans equora uecti,655
vultus ante suos et uultus retro ferentes,
ferratis tunicis et acutis ensibus Anglos
acriter inuadent, periment campoque fruentur.
Plurima regna sibi submittent, atque domabunt
foreign peoples for generations, until Erinys,
In Greek mythology the Erinyes were female deities of vengeance, the Furies of Roman mythology, represented as winged.
flying hither and yon, pours out her poison upon them. Then peace and trust and every virtue will be gone: everywhere citizens will wage war all through their homelands, and man will betray man: a friend will be hard to come by.
externas gentes per tempora, donec Erinus660
circumquaque uolans uirus diffundet in ipsos.
Tunc pax atque fides et uirtus omnis abibit,
vndique per patrias committent prelia ciues,
virque uirum prodet: non inuenietur amicus.
Husband will spurn wife and visit whores instead, and wife, her husband spurned, will lie with anyone she lusts after. There will be no respect for churches, good order will perish. Then bishops will bear arms, then they will follow the camps, will raise up towers and walls on holy ground,
Coniuge despecta meretrices sponsus adibit,665
sponsaque cui cupiet despecto coniuge nubet.
Non honor ecclesiis seruabitur, ordo peribit.
Pontifices tunc arma ferent, tunc castra sequentur,
in tellure sacra turres et menia ponent,
and give to soldiers what is due to the poor. Carried away by wealth, they will tread a worldly path and steal from God what the mitre forbids them to have. Three will wear the crown, and after them will come that approval for new men. A fourth will wield the sceptre but inept piety will do him no good
militibusque dabunt quod deberetur egenis.670
Diuiciis rapti mundano tramite current,
eripientque Deo quod sacra tyara uetabit.
Tres diadema ferent, post quos fauor ille nouorum.
Quartus erit sceptris, pietas cui leua nocebit
until he wears his father’s clothing so that, girt with the boar’s teeth, he passes over the shadow of the helmeted man. Four will be anointed one by one, seeking the highest rank, and two will succeed who will alternate in wearing the crown such that they stir the Gauls into ferocious wars against them.
donec sit genitore suo uestitus, ut apri675
dentibus accinctus galeati transeat umbram.
Quatuor ungentur uice uersa summa petentes
et duo succedent, qui sic diadema rotabunt
vt moueant Gallos in se fera bella mouere.
The sixth will overthrow the Irish and their walls, and will be pious and prudent and will restore peoples and cities. These things I once sang at greater length to Vortigern,
The king of the Britons to whom the young Merlin made his prophecies, as told in Prophetiae Merlini and in De gestis Britonum (= Historia regum Britanniae).
explaining the mystic battles of the two dragons to him, as we sat together on the shore of the drained lake.
Sextus Hibernenses et eorum menia uertet,680
qui pius et prudens populos renouabit et urbes.
Hec Vortigerno cecini prolixius olim,
exponendo duum sibi mistica bella draconum,
in ripa stagni quando consedimus hausti.
But now, my beloved sister, go home and see the dying king and tell Telgesinus
This character, a companion of Merlin, is partially inspired by the sixth-century bard Taliesin.
to come, because I want to talk to him about many things. For he recently came back from the Breton lands, where he learned the sweet teachings of Gildas the Wise.’
Gildas the Wise, the sixth-century author of the De excidio et conquestu Britanniae. According to Breton sources he spent part of his life in Brittany, where he first lived as a hermit and then founded a monastery in Rhuys, Brittany.
At tu uade domum morientem uisere regem,685
o dilecta soror, Telgesinoque uenire
precipe, namque loqui desidero plurima secum.
Venit enim nouiter de partibus armoricanis,
dulcia quo didicit sapientis dogmata Gilde.’
Ganieda goes home and finds that Telgesinus has indeed returned and that the king has died and his retainers are grieving. So, in floods of tears she falls down among her friends and tears her hair and utters these words:‘Women, mourn with me the death of Rodarcus
It Ganieda domum, Telgesinumque reuersum690
defunctumque ducem reperit tristesque clientes.
Ergo fluens lacrimis collabitur inter amicos
et laniat crines, et profert talia dicens:‘Funera Rodarchi, mulieres, plangite mecum,
and weep over a man the like of whom the earth has not produced in our age, as far as we can tell. He was a lover of peace, for he gave laws to fierce people, so that no violence was done by anyone to any other. He behaved towards the holy clergy with a righteous rule,
ac deflete uirum qualem non protulit orbis,695
hactenus in nostro quantum discernimus euo.
Pacis amator erat, populo nam iura feroci
sic dabat, ut nulli uis inferretur ab ullo.
Tractabat sanctum iusto moderamine clerum,
and allowed both the most exalted and the humble ones to be ruled by their own law. He was generous, for he gave much, barely kept anything. He was all things to all men, doing to each as was right for them. He was the flower of knights, the adornment of kings and the pillar of the kingdom. Alas! What you were before is now given
iure regi proprio summos humilesque sinebat.700
Largus erat, nam multa dabat, uix quid retinebat.
Omnibus omnis erat, faciens quod quemque decebat.
Flos equitum, regumque decor, regnique columpna.
Heu modo qui fueras inopinis uermibus esca
to the worms to eat, and your body rots in the grave. After the silken sheets, is this the bed that awaits you, and will that lily-white flesh, royal limbs, be buried under the cold stone, and will you be nothing but dust and bones? It is indeed so. For the pitiable lot of humankind unfolds through the ages
nunc datus es, corpusque tuum putrescit in urna.705
Hoc ne cubile tibi post serica fulcra paratur,
siccine sub gelido caro candida regia membra
condentur saxo, nec eris nisi puluis et ossa?
Sic equidem. Nam sors hominum miseranda per euum
in such a way that they cannot be restored to their former powers. So the fleeting world’s glory is good for nothing: it comes and goes, deceives and afflicts the mighty. The bee entices with its honey and then stings afterwards. So the mutable glory of the world deceives those
ducitur, ut nequeant ad pristina iura reduci.710
Ergo nichil prodest pereuntis gloria mundi,
que fugit atque redit, fallit leditque potentes.
Melle suo delinit apes, quod postmodo pungit.
Sic quos demulsit diuertens gloria mundi
it has charmed and caressed, then smites them with a flick of its nasty tail. That which seems good lasts but a short time, what it has does not endure and everything it confers passes away like flowing water. What does it matter if the rose blossoms red, if the white lilies bloom, if a man or a horse or many other things are fair?
fallit, et ingrate collidit uerbere caude.715
Fit breue quod prestat, quod habet durabile non est:
more fluentis aque transit quodcumque ministrat.
Quid rosa si rutilet, si candida lilia uernent,
si sit pulcher homo uel equus uel cetera plura?
These things come from the Creator not the world. Therefore, happy are those who stand firm with a pious heart and give due service to God and leave the world behind. Christ, who reigns without end, who created everything, will grant them an existence in everlasting glory.
Ista Creatori, non mundo sunt referenda.720
Felices igitur qui perstant corde piato,
obsequiumque Deo faciunt, mundumque relinquunt.
Illis perpetuo fungi concedet honore,
qui sine fine regit Christus, qui cuncta creauit.
And so I leave you, nobles, and you high walls and houses, and you, my sweet children, and all worldly things, and I shall dwell in the woods with my brother and I will worship God with a joyful mind, under cover of my black cloak.’ She said these things and paid due tribute to her husband
Vos igitur, proceres, uos menia celsa, laresque,725
vos, nati dulces, mundanaque cuncta relinquo,
et cum fratre meo siluas habitabo, Deumque
leta mente colam, nigri cum tegmine pepli.’
Hec ait atque suo persoluit iusta marito,
and inscribed his grave with this poem:‘Rodarcus the Generous, than whom no one on earth was more generous, a great man, rests in this modest urn.’Meanwhile, Telgesinus had come to see Merlin the prophet, sent by him to find out
signauitque suam cum tali carmine tumbam:730‘Rodarcus Largus, quo largior alter in orbe
non erat, hic modica magnus requiescit in urna.’Venerat interea Merlinum uisere uatem
tunc Telgesinus, qui discere missus ab illo
what wind or storms there were, for a mixture of these two were both then approaching and were forming clouds. With the help of his companion Minerva,
The Roman goddess of wisdom, here just an allegory for wisdom.
he delivered this teaching:‘The Creator of the world wrought four elements out of nothing, so that they would be the prior cause from which everything would be created, and at the same time
quid uentus nimbusue foret, nam mixtus uterque735
tunc simul instabant et nubila conficiebant.
Hec documenta dabat socia dictante Minerua:‘Quatuor ex nichilo produxit Conditor orbis,
vt fierent rebus precedens causa creandis
the substance, yoked together in harmonious peace. The sky, which he painted with stars, at the same time stands high above and also encloses everything, like the shell around a nut.Next, He created the air, suited for shaping sounds: it is the setting in which the heavenly bodies bestow day and night.
materiesque simul concordi pace iugata.740
Celum, quod stellis depinxit, et alcius extat
et quasi testa nucem circumdans omnia claudit.Aera deinde dedit formandis uocibus aptum,
quo mediante dies et noctes sidera prestant.
And He made the sea, which girds the earth and, winding round in four directions, flows back to strike the air so as to beget the winds, of which there are said to be four.And He placed the earth which stands still by its own strength and does not easily move and is divided into five parts,
Et mare, quod terras cingit refluoque recursu745
quatuor anfractus faciens, sic aera pulsat
vt generet uentos, qui quatuor esse feruntur.Vique sua stantem nec se leuitate mouentem
supposuit terram partes in quinque resectam.
of which the middle one is not habitable because of the heat, and the two outermost are shunned because of the cold. He allowed the two remaining parts to have a mild climate: humans, birds and herds of wild beasts inhabit these.He added the clouds to the sky, so that with their gentle sprinkling
Quarum que media est non est habitanda calore,750
extremeque due pre frigore diffugiuntur.
Temperiem reliquis permisit habere duabus:
has homines habitant uolucresque gregesque ferarum.Vtque daret subitas pluuias quo crescere fructus
they might give sudden rains by which they make the fruits of the trees and of the earth grow; with the help of the sun, like leather bags the clouds are filled up from the rivers, by an unseen force. Then, ascending high up through ether, impelled by the strength of the winds, they pour out the water they have taken up.
arboris et terre facerent aspergine miti,755
adiecit celo nubes, que sole ministro
sicut utres fluuiis occulta lege replentur.
Inde per excelsum scandentes ethera, sumptos
diffundunt latices uentorum uiribus acte.
From this comes the rain, from this the snow, from this the round hailstone when the cold or wet wind stirs its gusts and, penetrating the clouds, draws out the torrents it has formed. Each of the winds takes its nature from the zone it is closest to when born.
Hinc fiunt imbres, hinc nix, hinc grando rotunda760
cum gelidus madidusue mouet sua flamina uentus,
qui nubes penetrans quales facit egerit amnes.
Naturamque suam zonarum proximitate
ventorum sibi quisque trahit dum nascitur illuc.
Below the firmament, where He fixed the bright planets, He placed the ether and gave it to the angelic hosts to dwell in: a worthy gazing upon God and His marvellous sweetness is their refreshment forever. This firmament He also painted with stars and with the brilliant sun,
Post firmamentum quo lucida sidera fixit765
ethereum celum posuit, tribuitque colendum
cetibus angelicis, quos contemplatio digna
ac dulcedo Dei reficit miranda per euum.
Hoc quoque depinxit stellis et sole chorusco
imposing the rule by which a star can traverse the part of sky entrusted to it, with a fixed boundary. Afterwards he placed beneath the ether the air, lit by the moon’s body; this overflows, throughout all its upper regions, with crowds of spirits, who suffer with us
indicens legem que certo limite stella770
per sibi commissum posset discurrere celum.Postmodo supposuit lunari corpore fulgens
aereum celum, quod per loca celsa redundat
spirituum cuneis qui nobis compaciuntur
and rejoice with us, when we are touched by one feeling or another. They are accustomed to carrying mortals’ prayers through the air and begging God to be favourable to them, and reporting back God’s will through a dream or a voice or other signs, so that humans know it thereby.
et colletantur dum sic aliterue mouemur.775
Suntque preces hominum soliti deferre per auras,
atque rogare Deum quod sit placabilis illis.
Affectumque Dei sompno uel uoce referre
vel signis aliis, ut fiant inde scientes.
But below, under the moon, the sky teems with evil spirits, who have learned how to deceive us and try to tempt us, and very often, plucking a body out of thin air, they appear to us and many things often result from that. They even rape women
At cacodemonibus post lunam suptus habundat780
qui nos decipiunt et temptant fallere docti,
et sibi multociens ex aere corpore sumpto
nobis apparent et plurima sepe secuntur.
Quin etiam coitu mulieres aggrediuntur
and make them pregnant, begetting in an unholy way. So, then, He made the skies to be inhabited by three orders of spirits, so that they can dance attendance upon every single thing and renew the world by renewing the seed of things.And He divided the sea into a variety of kinds, so that from itself
et faciunt grauidas, generantes more prophano.785
Sic igitur celos habitatos ordine terno
spirituum fecit, foueant ut singula queque
ac renouet mundum renouato germine rerum.Et mare per species uarias distinxit, ut ex se
it can produce the shapes of things, begetting them throughout the ages. For one part boils, one freezes, and one takes its mild temperature from the other two and provides us with food.The boiling one lies around a pit full of angry races of people, and ebbing and flowing with its various streams it separates off the world of darkness,
proferret rerum formas generando per euum.790
Pars etenim feruet, pars friget, et una duabus
temperiem sumens nobis alimenta ministrat.Ast ea que feruet baratrum cum gentibus acris
circuit, et tetrum diuersis fluctibus orbem
heaping fire on fire. To that place descend those who transgress laws and, once they have put God aside, they go where their perverse will wishes, keen to spoil anything that is forbidden them. A harsh judge stands there, weighing with well-balanced scales
secernit refluens, ignes ex ignibus augens.795
Illic descendunt qui leges transgrediuntur,
postpositoque Deo quo uult peruersa uoluntas
incedunt auidi corrumpere quod prohibentur.
Trux ibi stat iudex equali lance rependens,
the merit of each, and pays what is worthily due.The other sea, which is cold, rolls over the precious sands which it is the first to produce from the nearby vapour which arises when Venus’ star applies its rays. The Arabs maintain that this star begets glittering gems
cuique suum meritum condignaque debita soluit.800Altera que friget preciosas uoluit harenas,
quas secum gignit uicino prima uapore
quando suos radios immiscet stella Diones.
Hanc perhibent Arabes gemmas generare micantes,
when it passes through Pisces, when glances upon the ocean with its flames. With their power, these gems benefit those who wear them and restore many to health and keep them safe. These the Maker divided into species, like everything else, so that we can clearly tell their
dum peragrat Pisces, dum respicit equora flammis.805
Hec uirtute sua populis gestantibus ipsas
prosunt, et multos reddunt seruantque salubres.
Has quoque per species distinxit ut omnia Factor,
vt discernamus per formas, perque colores
kind and value from their shapes and colours.The third kind of sea which surrounds our world provides us with many good things, by being close to us. For it feeds the fish, and produces salt from its water, carries off and carries back again the ships which carry our wares,
cuius sint generis, cuius uirtutis aperte.810Tercia forma maris, que nostram circuit orbem,
proximitate sua nobis bona multa ministrat.
Nutrit enim pisces, et sal producit ab unda,
fertque refertque rates commercia nostra ferentes,
from which a poor man may suddenly become rich thanks to his profits. This sea makes the adjacent soil fertile and nourishes the birds, which they say are born from it, as well as the fish, even though they move about by a different law of nature. For the sea can overwhelm birds more than fish
vnde suo lucro subito fit diues egenus.815
Vicinam fecundat humum pascitque uolucres,
quas perhibent ortas illinc cum piscibus esse,
dissimilique tamen nature iure mouentur.
Plus etenim dominatur eis quam piscibus equor,
so they fly away through the sky, lightly borne aloft to make for the heights. But its water presses down upon fish and keeps them under the waves, and does not let them continue living on dry land. Their Maker also divided them up according to their species and provided a different nature for each, so that
vnde leues excelsa petunt per inane uolantes.820
At pisces suus humor agit reprimitque sub undis,
nec sinit ut uiuant dum sicca luce fruuntur.
Hos quoque per species distinxit Factor eorum
naturamque dedit distinctis, unde per euum
they might be marvelled at and provide healing for the sick.So, for example, they say that the mullet damps down the heat of lust, but it blinds the eyes of anyone who eats it all the time.And the timallus (grayling), which is named after the plant called thyme, because it has an odour, gives away anyone that eats it very often,
mirandi fierent egrotantique salubres.825Nempe ferunt mullum cohibere libidinis estum,
sed reddit cecos iugiter uescentis ocellos.At qui nomen habet timeos de flore timallus
sic quoniam redolet, uescentem sepius illo
and these fishes give off a scent while in the river.They say that morays, contrary to the laws of nature, are all female, but they nonetheless copulate and reproduce and multiply their offspring with the seed of another species. For serpents often gather on the shores
protrahit, ut tales oleant per flumina pisces.830Feminei sexus subtracto iure murenas
esse ferunt cunctas, coeunt tamen ac renouantur,
multiplicantque suos alieno germine fetus.
Conueniunt etenim per litora sepius angues
where they live and make sounds and hiss appealingly and in this way, by attracting the morays, they mate in the normal way.It is an amazing fact that the remora, half a foot long, can stick to a ship and hold it in the sea as if it were anchored to the shore, and it does not let it go
quo degunt faciuntque sonos ac sibila grata,835
et sic eductis coeunt ex more murenis.Est quoque mirandum quod semipedalis echinus
herens, cui fuerit fixam quasi littore nauem
detinet in ponto, nec eam permittet abire
until it chooses to swim away: this power means it is to be feared.The one which they call fish-sword, because it does damage with its sharp snout, is very often dreaded by sailors if it comes near their ship; because if it gets underneath a ship, it can straightaway bore through it and sink the holed ship in a sudden swirl of water.
donec discedat, tali uirtute timendus.840Quemque uocant gladium, quia rostro ledit acuto,
sepius hunc naute metuunt accedere naui;
nam si subtus erit confestim perforat illam
et mergit sectam subito cum gurgite nauem.
The sawfish is to be dreaded by boats because of its fins, with which it punctures them when it swims underneath, and after damaging them, it tosses them into the waves: a fish to be feared for a fin like a sword.The sea-dragon, which is said to have venom underneath its fins, is to be dreaded by those who catch it,
Fitque suis cristis metuendus serra carinis,845
quas infigit eis dum subnatat, atque secatas
deicit in fluctus, crista uelud ense timendus.Equoreusque draco, qui fertur habere uenenum
sub pennis, metuendus erit capientibus illum,
and whenever it stings, it does harm by pouring out its venom.By contrast the crampfish is said to cause other injuries: for the arms and the feet of anyone who touches it while it is still alive suddenly become stiff, and other limbs are deprived of their functions as if dead,
et quociens pungit ledit fundendo uenenum.850Ast alias clades torpedo fertur habere,
nam qui tangit eam uiuentem protinus illi
brachia cum pedibus torpent, et cetera membra
officioque suo quasi mortua destituuntur.
so poisonous is its bodily secretion. God provided the sea with these and other fishes, and He placed many islands in its waves, which humans inhabit because of the fertility they found there, which the earth produces with its fruitful soil.
Sic solet esse nocens illius corporis aura.855
His Deus ac aliis ditauit piscibus equor
adiecitque suis plures in fluctibus orbes,
quos habitant homines pro fertilitate reperta, quam producit ibi fecundo cespite tellus.
Of these islands, Britain is said to be the foremost and the best, because by its abundance it produces all things. For it bears crops that yield the valuable gift of grain, rendering it up for human use year by year; woods and forests dripping with honey,
Quarum prima quidem meliorque Britannia fertur,860
vbertate sua producens singula rerum.
Fert etenim segetes que nobile munus adoris
vsibus humanis tribuunt reddendo per annum;
siluas et saltus et ab his stillancia mella,
high mountains and widely-blossoming meadows, springs and rivers, fish and flocks and wild beasts, fruit from the trees, gems, precious metals and everything that Mother Nature is accustomed to offer. It also has healing springs, with hot water
aerios montes lateque uirencia prata,865
fontes et fluuios, pisces pecudesque ferasque,
arboreos fructus, gemmas, preciosa metalla
et quicquid prestare solet natura creatrix.
Preterea fontes unda feruente salubres,
which nurses the sick and provides welcome baths, and soon restores them to health, taking away their sickness.So Bladud, while he was ruling the realm, established them and gave them the name of Alaron, his wife.
Bladud is the legendary founder of Bath. There is no other mention of Bladud’s wife, Alaron.
Their water is useful for many diseases because of its healing power,
que fouet egrotos et balnea grata ministrat,870
at subito sanos pellit languore repulso.Sic Bladudus eos regni dum sceptra teneret
constituit, nomenque sue consortis Alaron.
Vtilis ad plures laticis medicamine morbos,
but especially for women’s diseases, as it has proved many times.Next to this island is Thanet, which abounds in many things: it has no deadly snakes, and if its earth is mixed with wine and drunk, it removes venom.Our sea separates us from the Orkneys.
sed mage femineos, ut sepius unda probauit.875Adiacet huic Thanatos, que multis rebus habundat:
mortifero serpente caret, tollitque uenenum
si sua cum uino tellus commixta bibatur.Orchades a nobis nostrum quoque diuidit equor.
They are thirty-three altogether, divided by channels flowing between: twenty of them lack any inhabitant, the others are inhabited.The furthest point is called Ultima Thule, named after the sun, because when the summer sun makes its solstice there, it turns aside its rays so that it does not shine beyond that place
Hee tres ter dene seiuncto flumine fiunt,880
bis dene cultore carent, alieque coluntur.Vltima que Tyle nomen de sole recepit
propter solsticium quod sol estiuus ibidem
dum facit, auertit radium ne luceat ultra
and takes daylight away, so that with perpetual night the atmosphere produces darkness and also makes the sea frozen with cold, sluggish and inaccessible to ships.The island said to be the most distinguished of all after ours is Ireland, because of her blessed fertility.
abducitque dies ut semper nocte perhenni885
aer agat tenebras, faciat quoque frigore pontum
concretum pigrumque simul ratibusque negatum.Insula post nostram prestancior omnibus esse
fertur hibernensis felici fertilitate.
For it is the next largest, and it does not produce either bees or birds except a few, and it does not permit snakes to reproduce at all. Hence it happens that if some earth or stone taken from there is scattered, it drives snakes and bees away. Next to the Herculean Gades
is the island of Gades:
Est etenim maior, nec apes, nec aues nisi raras890
educit, penitusque negat generare colubres.
Vnde fit ut tellus illinc auecta lapisue,
si superaddatur, serpentes tollat apesque.Gadibus herculeis adiungitur insula Gades:
here a tree grows, from whose bark a gum drips which turns glass into gems when it is smeared over it.The Hesperides are claimed to have a watchful dragon, which, so they say, guards the golden apples under the leafy boughs.Women with goat-bodies inhabit the Gorgades,
nascitur hic arbor cuius de cortice gummi895
stillat, quo gemme fiunt superillita uitra.
Hesperides uigilem perhibentur habere draconem,
quem seruare ferunt sub frondibus aurea poma.
Gorgades habitant mulieres corporis hirci,
and they are said to outstrip hares with their swift running.As it is said, Argyre and Chryse render gold and silver as readily as Corinth produces common rocks.Taprobana (Sri Lanka), comely with its fruitful soil, is verdant: for in a single year it produces two crops,
que celeri cursu lepores superare feruntur.900Argire Crisseque gerunt ut dicitur aurum
argentumque simul ceu uilia saxa Corinthus.Taprobana uiret fecundo cespite grata:
bis etenim segetes anno producit in uno
it has two summers and two springs, twice renders grapes and other fruit; it is much loved for its shining gems.The island of Atilis [Tiles] produces verdant flowers and vegetation in an everlasting spring, green all year round. The island of the apples which is called Fortunate,
Geoffrey calls this island Insula pomorum (‘Island of the apples’) or Fortunata, while his main source for these lists, Isidore of Seville, writes of a group of islands that he calls fortunatarum insulae, a name that according to Isidore suggests that they provide all goods. In De gestis Britonum Geoffrey identified the island where the wounded Arthur was brought with Avalon.
bis gerit estatem, bis uer, bis colligit uuas,905
et fructus alios nitidis gratissima gemmis.Atilis eterno producit uere uirentes
flores et frondes per tempora cuncta uirendo.
Insula pomorum, que Fortunata uocatur,
takes its name from the fact that it produces everything by itself. It does not need any farmers to plough the fields, there is no cultivation at all, apart from what nature affords. It spontaneously produces plentiful crops and grapes and fruits born in its woods from the precious stock.
ex re nomen habet quia per se singula profert.910
Non opus est illi sulcantibus arua colonis,
omnis abest cultus nisi quem natura ministrat.
Vltro fecundas segetes producit et uuas
nataque poma suis precioso germine siluis.
The soil produces everything instead of the plants in spontaneous abundance; life there lasts a hundred years or more. There nine sisters give out laws with a kindly rule over those who come to visit them from our regions. Among them the eldest is the most learned in the art of healing
Omnia gignit humus uice graminis ultro redundans;915
annis centenis aut ultra uiuitur illic.
Illic iura nouem geniali lege sorores
dant his qui ueniunt nostris ex partibus ad se.
Quarum que prior est fit doctior arte medendi
and outshines her sisters in her remarkable beauty. Morgen is her name
This is the first literary appearance of the Arthurian character that will become better known as Morgan le Fay.
and she learned the healing properties of all plants so that she can cure ailing bodies. She also knows the art of changing her own shape and how to cut through the air on new-made wings, like Daedalus.
In Greek mythology Daedalus was the builder of the labyrinth in Crete, who, once imprisoned by King Minos, flew away using some wings he made with feathers and wax.
exceditque suas forma prestante sorores.920
Morgen ei nomen didicitque quid utilitatis
gramina cuncta ferant ut languida corpora curet.
Ars quoque nota sibi qua scit mutare figuram
et resecare nouis quasi Dedalus aera pennis.
When she chooses, she is in Brest, Chartres or Pavia; when she wants, she glides down out of the sky to our shores. Her sisters – Moronoe, Moroe, Glitorn, Glitonea, Gliten, Tythonoe, Tythen, as well as Tithen,
Morgan/Morgen’s sisters are not otherwise known.
highly renowned for her harp – say she learned astrology.
Cum uult est Bristi, Carnoti siue Papie,925
cum uult in nostris ex aere labitur horis.
Hancque mathematicam dicunt didicisse sorores
Moronoe, Moroe, Glitorn, Glitonea, Gliten,
Tythonoe, Tythen, cithara notissima Tithen.
There after the battle of Camlan
The final battle between Arthur and his nephew Mordred. According to Welsh traditions, it was fought in 537.
we brought the wounded Arthur, with Barinthus
This helmsman is probably connected to St Brendan’s nephew, the monk Barinthus, who makes his appearance at the very beginning of the Navigatio sancti Brendani.
guiding us, to whom the seas and stars of the sky were known. With him at the ship’s helm, we came there with the prince and Morgen welcomed us with the honour that was fitting,
Illuc post bellum Camblani uulnere lesum930
duximus Arturum nos conducente Barintho,
equora cui fuerant, et celi sidera nota.
Hoc rectore ratis cum principe uenimus illuc,
et nos quo decuit Morgen suscepit honore
and laid the king down in her bower, on a golden bed, and with her noble hand she uncovered the wound and looked at it long and hard; eventually, she said that his health could be restored to him, if he stayed with her a long while and was willing to receive her treatment.
inque suis thalamis posuit super aurea regem935
strata, manuque sibi detexit uulnus honesta
inspexitque diu, tandemque redire salutem
posse sibi dixit, si secum tempore longo
esset et ipsius uellet medicamine fungi.
And so we entrusted King Arthur to her, full of joy, and spread out the sails to favourable winds on our way back.’Then Merlin said in reply to this: ‘Oh my dear friend, afterward the kingdom endured so much, once the pact was broken, so that it is not now what it used to be. Because the nobles
Gaudentes igitur regem commisimus illi,940
et dedimus uentis redeundo uela secundis.’Tunc Merlinus ad hec ait: ‘O dilecte sodalis,
postmodo quanta tulit uiolato federe regnum
vt modo quod fuerat non sit. Nam sorte sinistra
were led astray by malign fate and turned on one another, threw everything into chaos, so that the wealth of riches has abandoned the land and all goodness is gone, and despairing citizens will leave the city walls empty. On top of that, the Saxon people oppresses us with its wicked violence:
subducti proceres ac in sua uiscera uersi,945
omnia turbarunt ut copia diuiciarum
fugerit ex patria bonitasque recesserit omnis
et desolati uacuent sua menia ciues.
Insuper incumbit gens saxona marte nefando,
they are cruelly undermining us and our cities yet again and will violate God’s laws and His temples. For sure God is allowing these slaughters to happen because of our sins, so that He can correct us, fools that we are.’He had still not finished speaking, when the other one said this:
que nos et nostras iterum crudeliter urbes950
subuertit legemque Dei uiolabit et edes.
Nempe Deus nobis ut corrigat insipientes,
has patitur clades ob crimina nostra uenire.’Nondum desierat, cum talia protulit alter:
‘Well then, what is needed is for our people to send someone to ask our leader to come back in a fast ship, if he has recovered by now, so that he can rout the enemies with his usual vigour and restore citizens to their former peaceful state.’‘No’, said Merlin, ‘that race will not retreat as easily as that,
‘Ergo necesse foret populo transmittere quendam955
et mandare duci festina naue redire,
si iam conualuit, solitis ut uiribus hostes
arceat, et ciues antiqua pace reformet.’‘Non – Merlinus ait – non sic gens illa recedet,
once it has dug its claws into your land. Because first it will bring into subjection the kingdom, the peoples and the cities, and it will hold them under its power for many years. Nevertheless, three from among ours will resist with great vigour, and will kill many and in the end they will tame them.
vt semel in nostris ungues infixerit ortis.960
Regnum namque prius populosque iugabit et urbes
viribus atque suis multis dominabitur annis.
Tres tamen ex nostris magna uirtute resistent
et multos periment et eos in fine domabunt.
But they will not go forward, because such is the will of the High Judge: that the British must lose their noble kingdom for a long time because of their weakness, until Conan
Conan Meriadoc, the founder of Brittany, who according to the Welsh prophetic tradition would return to lead his people.
dismounts from his Armorican chariot along with Cadwaladr,
A character based on the seventh-century king of Dyfed. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, he lead the surviving Britons to Brittany when they were afflicted by a famine and then by a plague.
venerable leader of the Cambri:
Sed non proficient, quia sic sentencia Summi965
Iudicis existit, Britones ut nobile regnum
temporibus multis amittant debilitate,
donec ab armorico ueniet temone Conanus
et Cadualadrus, Kambrorum dux uenerandus,
they will bring together in a firm pact the Scots, the Welsh and the Cornish as well as the men of Brittany, and will restore the crown that was lost to their people, and once the enemies have been driven out and the Age of Brutus
A descendent of Aeneas, the eponymous founder and first king of Britain, whose deeds were celebrated by Geoffrey in books I and II of his De gestis Britonum.
has been renewed, they will govern their towns according to sacred law.
qui pariter Scottos, Cumbros et Cornubienses,970
Armoricosque uiros sociabunt federe firmo
amissumque suis reddent diadema colonis,
hostibus expulsis renouato tempore Bruti,
tractabuntque suas sacratis legibus urbes.
They will again begin to vanquish foreign kings and and to subdue their realms in mighty battle.’‘Of those now alive, none will survive’, says Telgesinus, ‘and I think that no one has such fierce wars between our fellow-countrymen as you have.’
Incipient reges iterum superare remotos975
et sua regna sibi certamine subdere forti.’‘Nemo superstes erit tunc ex his qui modo uiuunt –
Telgensinus ait – nec tot fera prelia quemquam
inter conciues quot te uidisse putamus.’
‘It is indeed so ’, Merlin says, ‘for I have lived for a long time, seeing many wars not only between our own people but also against barbarian folk, throwing everything into confusion. A crime I remember was when Constans
According to Geoffrey, the son of King Constantinus, the brother of Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther. He became a monk, but when Constantinus died, he was made king by Vortigern, who deceived him to take control of the realm. He was betrayed and killed.
had been betrayed and his little brothers, Uther and Ambrosius,
The sons of Constantinus, Uther (Arthur’s father) and his brother Aurelius Ambrosius were brought to Brittany when they were still children, after Vortigern had seized the crown.
‘Sic equidem – Merlinus ait – nam tempore multo980
vixi multa uidens et de nostratibus in se
et de barbarica turbanti singula gente.Crimen quod memini cum Constans proditus esset
et diffugissent parui trans equora fratres
over the sea, and at once wars broke out throughout the kingdom, leaderless at that time. For Vortigern, ruler of Gwent, led his armies into battle against every nation so that he would end up leading them all, afflicting innocent inhabitants with wretched devastation.
Vter et Ambrosius, ceperunt ilico bella985
per regnum fieri, quod tunc rectore carebat.
Vortigernus enim consul Gewissus in omnes
agmina ducebat patrias ut duceret illas,
ledens innocuos miseranda clade colonos.
In the end, after killing off many of the nobles in a sudden onslaught, he seized the crown and brought the whole realm into subjection under him. But those who with blood-ties to the brothers, did not take that lightly and started burning down all that wretched prince’s strongholds
Denique ui subita rapuit diadema peremptis990
nobilibus multis et regni cuncta subegit.
Ast hii qui fuerant cognato sanguine iuncti
fratribus, id grauiter tolerantes igne cremare
ceperunt cunctas infausti principis urbes
and threw his realm into turmoil with savage fighting, not allowing him to possess it in peace. And so he, troubled that he would not be able to withstand a people in rebellion against him, set about calling in warriors from abroad to fight his enemies for him.
et turbare suum crudeli milite regnum,995
nec permiserunt illum cum pace potiri.
Anxius ergo manens, cum non obstare rebelli
quiuisset populo, parat inuitare remotos
ad sua bella uiros, quibus obuius iret in hostes.
Soon warlike hoards came from various parts of the world, and he received them with honour. Among then came the Saxon people, borne in curved keels, to serve him with helmeted warriors. At their head were two stout-hearted brothers,
Mox ex diuersis uenerunt partibus orbis1000
pugnaces turme, quas excipiebat honore.
Saxona gens etiam curuis aduecta carinis,
eius ad obsequium galeato milite uenit.
Huic duo prefuerant audaci pectore fratres
Horsus and Hengist,
The two brothers who led the first Saxons who landed in Britain.
who would later afflict peoples, and afflict towns too, with their evil treachery. For after they had gained the leader’s trust by giving zealous service and also saw that the towns’ inhabitants were caught up in nearby conflicts so that it would be easy to gain control of the kingdom,
Horsus et Hengistus, qui prodicione nefanda1005
postmodo leserunt populos, lesere quoque urbes.
Postquam namque ducem famulatus sedulitate
attraxere sibi, ciues quoque lite propinqua
viderunt motos, leuiter quo subdere regnum
they turned their weapons fiercely upon the people, broke their oath and also with premeditated trickery killed nearly six hundred nobles who had been called together to make a peace treaty with them, and they drove the leader into exile across the slopes of Snowdon.
possent, in populos uerterunt arma feroces1010
ruperuntque fidem, proceres quoque premeditata
fraude necauerunt sexcentos ferme uocatos
insimul ut secum pacem fedusque iugarent,
truseruntque ducem niuei trans ardua montis,
There I started singing to him about his kingdom’s future fate. Roving further after that, they burned homes all across the land and strove to bring everything into subjection under their power.But when Vortimer
The eldest son of Vortigern, who was chosen as a king when the Saxons occupied Kent. He successfully opposed the Saxons, forcing them to retreat to Thanet, but was poisoned by his stepmother, the Saxon Ronwein, mentioned below as Renua.
saw that the kingdom was in such great danger and that his father had been driven out of Brutus’s hall,
quo sibi de regno cepi cantare futura.1015
Inde domos patrie peragrantes igne cremabant
et nitebantur sibimet submittere cuncta.At Vortimerus, cum tanta pericula regni
expulsumque patrem Bruti uidisset ab aula,
he took on the crown with the people’s support and rounded upon the ruthless race that was tearing his fellow citizens to pieces, and after many battles compelled them to go back to Thanet, where lay the fleet that had brought them. But as they were fleeing, warlike Horsus fell,
assensu populi sumpsit diadema, feramque1020
inuasit gentem conciues dilaniantem,
atque coegit eam per plurima bella redire
in Thanathum, qua classis erat que uexerat illam.
Sed dum diffugerent, bellator corruit Horsus
alongside many others, slaughtered by our fellow-countrymen. Then, the king pursued them, and surrounded Thanet, laying siege to it by land and sea. But he did not succeed, because, having gained control of a fleet of ships, they broke through with great violence and, borne across the water,
et plures alii, nostris perimentibus illos.1025
Inde secutus eos circumdedit obsidione
ilico rex Thanathum terraque marique resistens.
Sed non preualuit: subito nam classe potiti
vi magna fecere uiam, ductique per equor
they made for their own land on swift oars.So it was that since he had defeated the enemy in victorious battle, Vortimer became a ruler who gained the world’s respect, governing his realm with a just rule. But Hengist’s sister, Renua,
She is called Ronwein in De gestis Britonum, where she is presented as Hengist’s daughter and becomes Vortigern’s wife.
exegere suam festino remige terram.1030Ergo triumphato bellis uictricibus hoste
fit Vortimerus rector uenerandus in orbe
attrectando suum iusto moderamine regnum.
Sed soror Hengisti successus Renua tales
indignant at such defeats, secretly mixed poison, turning into a wicked step-mother for her brother’s sake, and she gave this to Vortimer to drink and caused the drinker’s death. She immediately sent word across the sea to her brother telling him to come back with as many and as mighty a host of warriors
indignando ferens, protecta fraude uenenum1035
miscuit, existens pro fratre maligna nouerca,
et dedit ut biberet, fecitque perire bibentem.
Confestimque suo mandauit trans freta fratri,
vt remearet item cum tot tantisque cateruis
as would enable him to force the warlike locals into submission. He did as she suggested, indeed he came with such force against our armies that, as he fought, he seized booty from everyone and completely burnt down dwellings throughout the land. Meanwhile,
quot sibi pugnaces posset submittere ciues.1040
Sic igitur fecit, nam tantus in agmina nostra
venit ut eriperet cunctis sua predia pugnans,
et loca per patriam penitus combureret igne.
Hec ita dum fierent in finibus armoricanis,
Uther and Ambrosius were in Armorican territory with King Budicius.
The king of Brittany who receives Uther and Ambrosius when they leave Britain after the killing of Constans. He marries Arthur’s sister.
They were already of sword-bearing age and tested in battle, and had associated themselves with various allies from thereabouts, so as to seek out their native soil and rout the nations who were at that time intent upon laying waste to the land of their fathers.
Vter et Ambrosius fuerant cum rege Budico.1045
Iam gladio cincti fiunt belloque probati
et sibi diuersas sociabant undique turmas
vt peterent natale solum gentesque fugarent,
que tunc instabant patriam uastare paternam.
They therefore entrusted their keels to the wind and the waves and soon came to land, ready to come to the aid of their fellow citizens. After putting Vortigern to flight across the kingdom of Wales, they burnt him together with the tower he had shut himself up in.After that they straightway turned their swords against the Angles
Ergo dedere suas uentoque marique carinas,1050
presidioque suis conciuibus applicuerunt.
Nam Vortigernum per Kambrica regna fugatum
inclusumque sua pariter cum turre cremarunt.Enses inde suos uertere recenter in Anglos
and when they met with them they very often defeated them, but were in turn often defeated by them. Eventually, fighting mightily in close combat our men gain ground and do the enemy serious damage, they kill Hengist and triumph, by Christ’s will.
congressique simul uincebant sepius illos1055
et uice transuersa deuincebantur ab illis.
Denique consertis magno conamine dextris
instant nostrates, et ledunt acriter hostes,
Hengistumque necant Christoque uolente triumphant.
When these deeds were at an end, with the support of clergy and people the kingdom and the crown of the kingdom were given to Ambrosius, and thereafter he wore it, governing all things with justice. But after four times five years have passed, he is betrayed by an apothecary and dies from drinking poison.
His igitur gestis, cleri populique fauore1060
Ambrosio regnumque datur regnique corona,
postmodo quam gessit tractando singula iuste.
Emensis autem per lustra quaterna diebus,
proditur a medico moriturque bibendo uenenum.
His younger brother Uther soon succeeded him, though at first he was not able to defend the realm in peace. For at long last that treacherous race, accustomed as they were to making return visits, came back and laid waste to everything with their accustomed horde. Uther fought back in some savage battles
Mox germanus ei successit iunior Vter,1065
nec primum potuit regnum cum pace tueri.
Perfida gens etenim demum consueta redire
venerat et solita uastabat cuncta phalange.
Oppugnauit eam seuis congressibus Vter,
and drove the defeated force back across the sea on swiftly-turning oars.
As soon as the battle was at an end, he restored peace and begot a son who later showed himself to be of such calibre that he was second to none in valour. Arthur was his name and
et pepulit uictam trans equora remige uerso.1070
Moxque reformauit posito certamine pacem
progenuitque sibi natum qui postmodo talis
extitit, ut nulli fieret probitate secundus.
Arturus sibi nomen erat regnumque per annos
he ruled the kingdom for many years after his father Uther died, and that was done with great pain and toil and through the death of many in countless battles. While Uther lay ill, a faithless people came from Anglia and subjected the regions
optinuit multos postquam pater Vter obiuit,1075
idque dolore graui gestum fuit atque labore
et nece multorum per plurima bella uirorum.
Nam dum predictus princeps langueret, ab Angla
venerat infidus populus, cunctasque per enses
across the Humber to sword and to fire, but Arthur was still just a boy, and could not at that young age quell such a great forces. Accordingly, on the advice of the clergy and people, he sent word to the king of Armorica, Hoel,
The son of Budicius, Arthur’s ally.
trans Humbrum patrias submiserat acque per ignes.1080
Et puer Arturus fuerat, nec debilitate
etatis poterat tantas compescere turmas.
Ergo consilio cleri populique recepto,
armorico regi mittens mandauit Hoeli
asking him to come to his aid with a swift fleet. For shared blood and ties of affection bound them together, so that the one must needs lighten the burdens of the other. So Hoel soon assembled from all sides a host of fierce warriors and came to us with many thousands;
vt sibi presidio festina classe rediret.1085
Sanguis enim communis eos sociabat amorque,
alter ut alterius deberet dampna leuare.
Mox igitur collegit Hoel ad bella feroces
circumquaque uiros et multis milibus ad nos
in an alliance with Arthur he smote the enemy with repeated attacks, and brought about harsh slaughter. With this ally, Arthur’s position was secure and courageous amidst all these troops when he advanced against his enemies, so that at long last he defeated them and compelled them to return to their homeland, and
venit, et Arturo sociatus perculit hostes1090
sepius aggrediens, et stragem fecit acerbam.
Hoc socio securus erat, fortisque per omnes
Arturus turmas, dum progrederetur in hostes,
quos tandem uicit patriamque redire coegit,
restored order to his kingdom with the good goverance of laws.Soon after these wars Arthur brought the Scottish into subjection, and turning his weapons upon the ferocious Irish, he placed all these lands under the imposition of his power, and subdued the Norwegians faraway across the wide sea
composuitque suum legum moderamine regnum.1095
Mox quoque submisit post hec certamina Scottos
ac in Hibernenses conuertens bella feroces,
supposuit patrias illatis uiribus omnes,
et Norwegenses trans equora lata remotos
and also the Danes, attacking them with a hostile fleet. He made the people of Gaul his subjects, once he had murdered Frollo,
The tribune who ruled the Roman province of Gauls; he led the unsuccessful Gallic resistance to Arthur’s attack.
to whom the Roman emperor had entrusted care of that land. He also attacked and defeated the people of Rome, who came to his lands with hostile intent, and he killed the procurator,
subdidit et Dacos inuisa classe petitos.1100
Gallorum populos ceso Frollone subegit,
cui curam patrie dederat romana potestas.
Romanos etiam bello sua regna petentes
oppugnans uicit, procuratore perempto
The procurator of the republic – not otherwise known prior to Geoffrey, who sometimes confusingly calls him imperator – who opposed Arthur during his campaign against Rome and died in battle in Gaul.
who at that time was Emperor Leo’s
According to what Geoffrey wrote in De gestis Britonum, the only emperor of Rome at the time. Arthur will never be able to fight him directly, as he will be informed of Mordred’s treason while he is about to march against Rome. The name is possibly taken from Leo I, who was Eastern Roman Emperor between 457 and 474, well before the time in which Geoffrey set Arthur’s deeds.
right-hand man and by order of the senate had come to take from Arthur the territories of Gaul.In the meantime, Mordred,
Arthur’s nephew, the son of Loth, earl of Lothian and then king of Norway, and Arthur’s sister, Anna. He was entrusted by Arthur with the care of the reign and of the queen when the king was setting out to march against Rome.
untrustworthy steward, had begun to take control of our realm, and fool that he was,
Hiberio Lucio, qui tunc collega Leonis1105
induperatoris fuerat, iussuque senatus
venerat, ut fines Gallorum demeret illi.Ceperat interea nostrum sibi subdere regnum
infidus custos Modredus, desipiensque
had an illicit affair with the king’s wife. For it is said that when the king wanted to go out against his enemies, he entrusted Mordred with the care of the queen and his kingdom. But when rumours about Mordred’s great evildoing reached the King’s ears, he postponed his plan to wage war and returning to his country,
illicitam uenerem cum coniuge regis agebat.1110
Rex etenim transire uolens, ut fertur, in hostes
reginam regnumque suum commiserat illi.
Ast ut fama mali tanti sibi uenit ad aures
distulit hanc belli curam, patriamque reuertens
came to land with many thousands of men, and attacked his nephew, sending him into exile across the sea. There, this wholly treacherous individual assembled Saxon warriors from all around and began to wage war against the king, but he fell, betrayed by that heathen race
applicuit multis cum milibus, atque nepotem1115
oppugnans pepulit trans equora diffugientem.
Illic collectis uir plenus prodicione
vndique Saxonibus cepit committere pugnam
cum duce, sed cecidit deceptus gente prophana,
upon whom he relied in embarking upon such grave deeds. O! What great butchery of men and grief of mothers, whose sons fell in battle there! There too the king, smitten with a fatal wound, left the kingdom desolate and, borne across the sea with you,
in qua confisus tantos inceperat actus.1120
O quantas hominum strages matrumque dolores,
quarum conciderant illic per prelia nati!
Illic rex etiam letali uulnere lesus
deseruit regnum tecumque per equora uectus,
as you have already said, came to that hall of nymphs.Mordred’s two sons immediately wanted to take control of the realm and each began to wage war, killing their kinsmen with slaughter all round.Then the king’s nephew, Prince Constantine,
See note above, l. 433.
vt predixisti, nimpharum uenit ad aulam.1125Ilico Modredi duo nati regna uolentes
subdere quisque sibi ceperunt bella mouere,
alternaque suos prosternere cede propinquos.Deinde nepos regis dux Constantinus in illos
rising up against them in a bitter fight, attacked peoples and cities, and having consigned both of them to a cruel death he seized the crown of the realm and began to govern the people. But Constantine did not enjoy peace for long, because his kinsman, Conan,
See note above, l. 434.
stirring up savage wars against him, rampaged widely,
acriter insurgens populos laniauit et urbes,1130
prostratisque simul crudeli morte duobus
iura dedit populo regni diademate sumpto.Nec cum pace fuit, quoniam cognatus in illum
prelia dira mouens, uiolauit cuncta Conanus,
and after murdering the king, snatched for himself the regions that he now governs feebly and with no sense of what is right.’While Merlin was saying all this, the servants came running up and said that a new spring had burst out at the foot of those mountains and pure streams of water were pouring out,
proripuitque sibi regiones rege perempto,1135
quas nunc debiliter nec cum racione gubernat.’Hoc illo dicente, cito uenere clientes
et dixere sibi fontem sub montibus illis
erupisse nouum, laticesque refundere puros,
already spilling far and wide through the slopes of the valley, bubbling brooks winding this way and that through the woods. And so they both got up quickly to look at this new spring, and as soon as he saw it Merlin sat down on the grass and cried out in pleasure at the place and the flowing waters,
qui iam manantes longe per concaua uallis1140
girabant saltus refluo cum murmure lapsu.
Mox igitur spectare nouum consurgit uterque
festinus fontem uisoque resedit in herba
Merlinus, laudatque locum limphasque fluentes,
marvelling at how they gushed out from the ground. Immediately seized with thirst, he bent over the brook and drank happily and washed his face in the water, and as that fluid passed through his stomach and his bowels, and cooled the fire that raged
et miratur eas de cespite taliter ortas.1145
Moxque siti raptus se proclinauit in amnes,
potauitque libens et tempora proluit unda,
vtque per internos alui stomachique meatus
humor iit laticis subsedauitque uaporem
inside his body, suddenly he recovered his mind and knew who he was, and lost all his madness too, and he regained his faculties, numbed for so long, and he was the man he used to be, sane and whole, with reason restored.
corporis interni, confestim mente recepta1150
sese cognouit, rabiem quoque perdidit omnem,
et qui torpuerat per longum tempus in illo
sensus item rediit, mansitque quod ante manebat,
sanus et incolumis rursus racione recepta.
Then Merlin lifted his face to the stars, praising God, and uttered these words in a devout tone:‘O king, by whom the scaffold of the starry sky stands firm, by whom the sea and the earth with its lovely grasses, produce and nourish offspring and
Ergo Deum laudans uultus ad sidera tollit,1155
edidit et uoces deuoto famine tales:‘O rex, siderei quo constat machina celi,
quo mare, quo tellus leto cum gramine fetus
dantque fouentque suos crebroque iuuamine prosunt
benefit humans all the time by their abundant fertility, and through whom my reason has come back and my madness has vanished! I was out of my mind: like some kind of spirit I knew what the people of the past had done and I could also foretell future deeds. In that state I knew the hidden meaning of everything, the flight of things on the wing,
humano generi profusa fertilitate,1160
quo sensus rediit mentisque reuanuit error!
Raptus eram michimet, quasi spiritus acta sciebam
preteriti populi concinnabamque futura.
Tunc rerum secreta sciens, uolucrumque uolatus,
the stars’ wandering movements and the darting of swimming things: and it all tormented me and robbed me of the calm that is innate to a well-regulated human mind. Now I have come back to my senses and I seem stirred by the old vigour by which my mind controlled and animated my body.
stellarumque uagos motus, lapsusque natantum:1165
id me uexabat, naturalemque negabat
humane menti districta lege quietem.
Nunc in me redii uideorque uigore moueri,
quo uegetare meos animus consueuerat artus.
Therefore, highest Father, I am ought to express my dept to you by giving you worthwhile praise from a worthy heart, ever glad to make glad offerings to you. For twice over your generous hand has graced me by this single gift, in providing a new spring out of the green turf.
Ergo, summe Pater, tibi sic obnoxius esse1170
debeo, condignas ut digno pectore laudes
dicam, semper agens letus libamina leta.
Bis etenim tua larga manus michi profuit uni
munere dando nouum uiridi de cespite fontem.
Because now I have water that I did not have before and by drinking it, I have regained health of mind.But, o my dear friend, from where does the power come that enables this new spring to flows out and restore me, when I had been out of my mind, as if mad?’
Nam modo possideo latices quibus ante carebam1175
et reducem capitis sumpsi potando salutem.Ista sed unde uenit uis, o dilecte sodalis,
vt fons iste nouus sic effluat atque reformet
me michi qui fueram quasi uecors hactenus ex me?’
Telgesinus said: ‘The excellent Ruler of all things divided the rivers into different kinds and freely gave each of them their own power so that they may benefit the sick again and again.For there are indeed springs and rivers and lakes throughout the world that heal many and often with their power.
Telgesinus ait: ‘Rerum Moderator opimus1180
flumina per species diuisit et addidit ultro
cuique suas uires ut prosint sepius egris.Sunt etenim fontes, fluuiique lacusque per orbem,
qui uirtute sua multis et sepe medentur.
The swift Albula, for instance, flows through Rome with its healing stream, which, so they say, can heal a wound for sure.In Italy there flows another spring called ‘Cicero’s spring’: it heals eyes of any injury.The Ethiopians are also said to have a pool whose waters,
Albula namque rapax Rome fluit amne salubri,1185
quem sanare ferunt certo medicamine uulnus.Manat in Italia fons alter, qui Ciceronis
dicitur: hic oculos ex omni uulnere curat.Ethiopes etiam stagnum perhibentur habere,
when sprinkled on someone’s face, shine like oil.Africa has a spring commonly called Zema [Zama]: drinking from it makes voices melodious with sudden vigour.The Italian lake Dictonus [Clitorius] makes people hate wine, and those who drink from the spring at Chios supposedly become sluggish.
quo uelud ex oleo facies perfusa nitescit.1190Affrica fert fontem, qui uulgo Zema uocatur:
potus dat uoces subita uirtute canoras.Dat lacus Italie Dictonus tedia uini,
qui de fonte Chios potant perhibentur hebere.
The land of Boeotia is said to have two springs: the first makes those who drink from it stop remembering things, the second makes them remember things. That same land has a lake that is so infected with terrible disease that it causes madness and burning lust.The spring at Syticus [Cyzicus] drives out sexual urges and the desire for sex.
Fertur habere duos tellus boetica fontes:1195
hic facit immemores, memores facit ille bibentes.
Continet ipsa lacum tam dira peste nociuum,
vt generet furias nimieque libidinis estum.Fons Syticus uenerem uenerisque repellit amorem.
In the Campanian region there flow rivers, so they say, that make sterile women fertile if they drink from them. They are also said to bring to take away madness in men.The land of the Ethiopians has a spring that produces a red stream and anyone who drinks from it goes away insane.
Campana regione fluunt ut dicitur amnes,1200
qui faciunt steriles fecundas flumine poto.
Idem dicuntur furias abolere uirorum.Ethiopum tellus fert Rubro flumine fontem:
qui bibit ex illo limphaticus inde reuertit.
The Lenthus spring never allows miscarriage to happen.There are two springs in Sicily, one of which makes girls sterile, and the other, by good luck, makes them fertile.Two rivers in Thessaly have great power: any sheep that drinks from one becomes black, white when it drinks from the other;
Fons Lenthus fieri numquam permittit abhortum.1205Sunt duo Sycilie fontes: steriles facit alter,
alter fecundas geniali lege puellas.Flumina Thessalie duo sunt uirtutis opime:
hoc potans nigrescit ouis, candescit ab illo,
but if it drinks from both, it gets a variegated woolly fleece.The Clitumnus is a lake in the region of Umbria: it is said on occasions to produce large oxen; and in the swamps of Rieti horses’ hooves instantly become hard as they move through the sand.
ast ab utroque bibens uariato uellere degit.1210Clitumnus lacus est quem continet umbrica tellus:
hic aliquando boues fertur producere magnos,
inque reatina fit equorum dura palude
vngula confestim dum progrediuntur harenas.
Bodies can never sink into the lake of Affalci [Asphalt] while there is breath in them.On the other hand, the land of India has the marsh of Sygen [Siden] in which nothing floats, only sinks to the bottom immediately.And Alce is a lake in which nothing sinks,
Affalcique lacu Iudee corpora mergi1215
nequaquam possunt uegetat dum spiritus illa.At contra stagnum Sygen fert indica tellus,
quo res nulla natat, sed mergitur ilico fundo.Et lacus est Alce quo res non mergitur ulla
but everything floats, even lumps of lead.Also the spring of Marside makes rocks float.The river Styx flows out of rock and kills those who drink from it: the land of Achadia [Achaia] is the place that witnesses these deaths.A spring in Idumaea is said to change colour
omnia sed fluitant quamuis sint plumbea saxa.1220Fons quoque Marside compellit saxa natare.Stix fluuius de rupe fluit perimitque bidentes:
has clades eius testatur Achadia tellus.Fons Idumeus quater immutando diebus
in an amazing way, switching four times a year. For it becomes muddy brown, then shifts to green, also blood-red, and then a beautiful clear stream. Each one of these colours stays for three months, so it is claimed, as the year rolls by.
mira lege suos fertur uariare colores.1225Puluerulentus enim uiridisque fit ordine uerso.
Fit quoque sanguineus, fit limpidus amne decoro.
Ex his per ternos unum retinere colorem
asseritur menses semper uoluentibus annis.
The Rogotis [Troglodytic] is a lake whose water flows out and becomes bitter three times a day, and three times it becomes pleasing, with a sweet taste.When dipped in a spring in Epirus torches that have been extinguished are said to relight, and then to go out again.The spring of the Garamantes is claimed to be so cold during the day
Rogotis lacus est eius quoque profluit unda1230
ter fit amara die, ter dulci grata sapore.Epyri de fonte faces ardere feruntur
extincte, rursusque suum deponere lumen.
Sic algere die perhibetur fons Garamantum
and then on the contrary it boils so hot all night, that you cannot get near it either because of the cold or the heat. There are hot waters that are a danger to many with their heat, and they get their heat as they flow through alum or sulphur, which both have a fiery strength that is good for healing.
et uice transuersa tota feruescere nocte1235
vt neget accessum pre frigore preque calore.
Sunt et aque calide multos feruore minantes
feruoremque trahunt dum perlabuntur alumen
aut sulphur quibus est uis ignea grata medendi.
God endowed rivers with these and other properties so that they can be a remedy for the instant healing of the sick and can show clearly how much more power the Creator has than things themselves, when He works through them. I believe with utter certainty that these streams here also have healing property
His aliisque Deus ditauit uiribus amnes,1240
vt fierent egris subite medicina salutis
et manifestarent quanta uirtute Creator
premineat rebus dum sic operatur in illis.
Hos etiam latices summa racione salubres
and I believe that they have been able to provide an immediate cure, pouring out in this way with new-found water. Until just now they were flowing under the earth through dark caverns, like many others that are said to run underground. Perhaps an obstacle blocked their flow,
esse reor subitamque reor conferre medelam.1245
Nunc potuere nouo sic erumpendo liquore.
Hii modo sub terra per concaua ceca fluebant,
vt plures alii qui submanare feruntur.
Forsitan excursus illorum prepediente
either a rock or the weight of fallen earth. I think that they turned back and gradually seeped through the ground to produce a spring. You can see many rivers that seep out and go back underground again to the caves they flowed through before.’
obice uel saxi uel terre pondere lapse.1250
Retrogradum cursum facientes arbitror illos,
paulatim penetrasse solum fontemque dedisse.
Sic plures manare uides iterumque redire
sub terram, rursusque suas tenuisse cauernas.’
While these things were going on, a rumour ran round everywhere that in Calidon a new spring was gushing in the woods and that, after drinking from it, a man was cured who had been overtaken by great madness and had lived in those woods like a wild animal.
Hec ita dum gererent, rumor discurrit ubique1255
in Calidone nouum siluis erumpere fontem
sanatumque uirum postquam potauit ab illo
tempore qui multo rabie correptus et isdem
extiterat siluis ritu uiuendo ferarum.
Soon the chieftains and nobles came to see and to congratulate the prophet healed by the water. And when they had told him everything about the state the country was in and asked him to take up his sceptre again and govern the people with his usual wisdom,
Mox igitur uenere duces proceresque uidere1260
et colletari curato flumine uati.
Cumque statum patrie per singula notificassent
atque rogaretur sua sceptra resumere rursus
et tractare suam solito moderamine gentem,
he said this: ‘O young men, this is not what is needed at my time of life, slipping as it is towards old age and taking hold of my limbs to the point that I can barely walk through the fields because my strength is waning. I have already spent long enough enjoying happy days of glory, when I was richly blessed
sic ait: ‘O iuuenes, mea non hoc exigit etas1265
in senium uergens, que sic michi corripit artus
vt uix preteream laxatis uiribus arua.
Iam satis exegi longeuo tempore letos
glorificando dies, michi dum rideret habundans
with an abundance of great wealth.In this forest there stands an oak-tree with an ancient trunk, which old age, that gnaws away at everything, has so worn that its sap is gone and it is completely rotten. I was there when it first begun growing:
copia magnarum profuse diuiciarum.1270Roboris annosi silua stat quercus in ista,
quam sic exegit consumens cuncta uetustas
vt sibi deficiat succus penitusque putrescat.
Hanc ego, cum primum cepisset crescere, uidi
by chance I saw the fall of the acorn from which it came. As a woodpecker sat above and the branch grew green with leaves, I saw it growing as I sat nearby, observing everything, at the time when I was driven to live in these woods, and I committed the spot to memory.
et glandem de qua processit forte cadentem.1275
Dum super astaret picus ramusque uireret
hic illam creuisse †suo† iam pone sedebam,
singula prospiciens tunc et uerrebar in istis
saltibus atque locum memori cum mente notaui.
I have, in short, lived a long time. Old age has long burdened me with heaviness: I do not want to rule again. While I am under its green boughs the riches of Calidon give me more joy than the gems India brings, than the gold that the Tagus is said to have all along its banks,
Ergo diu uixi. Mea me grauitate senectus1280
detinuit dudum, rursus regnare recuso.
Me Calidonis opes uiridi sub fronde manentem
delectant potius quam quas fert India gemme,
quam quod habere Tagus per littora dicitur aurum,
than the ripe crops of Sicily, than the sweet grapes of Methis,
Not otherwise known. A possible confusion with Methymna, a city in the Greek island of Lesbos, renowned for its vineyards.
or high towers or the cities ringed by walls, or dresses blazing with Tyrian dye. Nothing gives me such pleasure that it can part me from my Calidon, in my humble opinion forever beautiful.
quam segetes sicule, quam dulces Methidis uue,1285
aut celse turres, aut cincte menibus urbes,
aut flagrascentes tirio medicamine uestes.
Res michi nulla placet que me diuellere possit
ex Calidone mea, me iudice semper amena.
As long as I live here, I will be content with fruit and herbs, and I will purify my body with holy fasts, so that I may enjoy life without end.’While he was saying all this, the nobles saw high in the sky a long row of cranes flying through the air in a curved line;
Hic ero dum uiuam pomis contentus et herbis1290
et mundabo meam pia per ieiunia carnem,
vt ualeam fungi uita sine fine perhenni.’Hec dum dicebat, proceres super ethera cernunt
agmina longa gruum flexo per inane uolatu
wheeling in an order, by which a certain letter could be seen in the arranged squadron in the clear air. Wondering at the sight, they ask Merlin to explain what was causing the cranes to fly that way.Merlin told them straightaway: ‘Birds, like many other beings,
ordine girantes quo littera certa uideri1295
possent in extructa liquido super aere turma.
Hec admirantes Merlinum dicere poscunt,
quid cause fuerat quod tali more uolarent.Mox Merlinus eis: ‘Volucres ut cetera plura
the Creator of the world endowed each with their own special nature, as I learned while living in the woods for so many days.So it is in the cranes’ nature, while they are wandering through the skies, that, if there are many of them, we can often see in their flight this or that formation.
natura propria ditauit Conditor orbis:1300
sic didici multis siluis habitando diebus.Est igitur natura gruum dum celsa pererrant,
si plures assint, ut earum sepe uolatu
aut hanc, aut aliam uideamus inesse figuram.
With its calls, one tells the rest to keep pace as they fly, so that the order does not get disrupted and differ from their usual formations, and when that one becomes hoarse, another one takes its place when it fades. They keep watch at night and the watch-bird holds a pebble in its claws to keep sleep away,
Vna modum clamando monet seruare uolando,1305
turbatus solitis ne discrepet ordo figuris,
at dum raucescit subit altera deficienti.
Excubias noctu faciunt custosque lapillum
sustinet in digitis, dum uult expellere sompnos,
and when they see other birds they are wakened by the sudden call. Their feathers turn black when they grow old.Eagles, on the other hand, which get their name from their eagled-eyed vision, are said to have a more powerful gaze than all other birds so that that they can tolerate looking at the sun without averting their gaze.
cumque uident aliquos subito clamore citantur.1310
Penne nigrescunt cunctarum quando senescunt.Ast aquile, que nomen habent ab acumine uisus,
obtutus tanti pre cunctis esse feruntur,
vt perferre queant non flexo lumine solem.
They hang their young towards the sun’s ray, seeking to discover whether any of them is a misfit if it avoids the sun. On unmoving wings they stay high up over the sea and spot their prey under the deep water. They instantly swoop down on swift flight through the air
Ad radium pullos suspendunt, scire uolentes1315
illo uitato ne degener extet in illis.
Immotis sublime manent super equora pennis
inspiciuntque suas imo sub gurgite predas.
Ilico descendunt rapido per inane uolatu
and snatch the fish, as is the fate of a swimming thing.
The vulture, amazing to say, conceives and gives birth without intercourse and often without the seed of a male. Flying through the heights like the eagles, with alert nostrils she can smell a corpse from far
et rapiunt pisces, ut poscit origo natantis.1320
Postposito cohitu sine semine sepe mariti
concipit et generat, dictu mirabile, uultur.
Hec per celsa uolans aquilarum more cadauer
naribus elatis longe trans equora sentit,
across the sea and does not shrink from approaching it even if it takes a long slow flight to sate herself on the desired prey. The vulture lives in vigorous health for a hundred years.The stork, announcing the arrival of spring with its noisy bill, is said to nurse its young so attentively
quod quamuis tardo non horret adire uolatu1325
vt sese preda ualeat saciare cupita.
Idem centenis robustus uiuit in annis.Nuncia ueris auis crepitante ciconia rostro
dicta fouere suos in tantum sedula natos
that it plucks off its own feathers and strip its breast. When winter comes, it is said to shun the bad weather and head towards the regions of Asia guided by the crow. Her chick feeds her when she gets old and her life is ending, because she fed that young one for the days she had to.
exuat ut proprias nudato pectore plumas.1330
Hec cum bruma uenit fertur uitare procellas
et fines Asie ductu cornicis adire.
Pascit eam pullus senio cum deficit etas,
quod depauit eum iam debuit ipsa diebus.
The swan, a bird very dear to sailors, surpasses all birds with its sweet song when it is dying. They say that in the Hyperborean region it will approach at the sound of a harp if one is playing near the shore.The ostrich abandons the eggs she puts under the sand
Excedit uolucres dulci modulamine cunctas,1335
cum moritur cignus, nautis gratissimus ales.
Hunc in hiperboreo perhibent accedere tractu
ad cantum cithare per litora forte sonantis.Strucio que ponit sub puluere deserit oua,
so that they are kept warm there when she herself neglects to warm them. Hence these birds come into being with a sunbeam brooding instead of the mother.Since it hates rain and storms, the heron flies up through the clouds, so as to avoid such dangers. Hence the sailors say that every time they see it high
vt foueantur ibi dum negligat ipsa fouere.1340
Inde creantur aues radio pro matre cubante.Ardea cum pluuias tempestatesque perhorret
euolat ad nubes, ut tanta pericula uitet.
Hinc illam subitos dicunt portendere nimbos
up in the sky, that portends sudden showers.In Arab lands, the phoenix is always the only bird which can rise again with a reborn body. And when it grows old, it heads for places made warmer by the sun’s heat and heaps up great piles of spices
sublimem quociens spectant super ethera naute.1345Vnica semper auis diuino munere phenix
in terris Arabum rediuiuo corpore surgit.
Cumque senescit adit loca feruidiora calore
solis, et ingentes ab aromate iungit aceruos
and builds a pyre that it sets ablaze by flapping its wings quickly, and then it is borne aloft over the fire and burns up completely. The ash from the body brings forth a bird and on this principle the phoenix is renewed for eternity.The cynomolgus fetches cinnamon when it wants to make a nest
componitque rogum quem crebris motibus ale1350
succendit, ferturque super penitusque crematur.
Producit uolucrem puluis de corpore facto
et fit item fenix hac lege nouata per euum.Nidificare uolens fert cinnoma cinnomolgus,
and builds its nest in a tall strong tree. Men come to take the heap away using feathered arrows, as their habit is to sell it.The halcyon is a bird that haunts the still waters of the ocean and builds its nests during winter-time.
edificatque suum procero robore nidum.1355
Illinc pennatis homines abducere telis
nouerunt cumulum soliti transmittere uenum.Alcion auis est, que stagna marina frequentat
edificatque suos hiemali tempore nidos.
When it broods, the sea stays calm for seven days, winds drop, and storms, repulsed, add to the placid stillness that helps the bird.The parrot is taken to be using a human voice with its own call when it cannot be seen.
Dum cubat, equora sunt septem tranquilla diebus1360
et uenti cessant tempestatesque remisse
inpendunt placidam uolucri famulando quietem.Psitacus humanam proprio modulamine uocem
dum non spectatur prorsus proferre putatur.
It throws in ‘hello! and ‘bonjour!’ among its funny sounds.The pelican is a bird that is wont to kill its chicks and in dismay it then grieves in sorrow for three days. Then it tears its own body with its down-turned bill and cutting its veins it produces waves of blood,
Intermiscet ‘aue’ uerbis et ‘chere’ iocosis.1365Est pelicanus auis pullos consueta necare
et confusa tribus lugere dolore diebus.
Denique supposito laniat sua corpora rostro
et scindens uenas educit sanguinis undas
and by wetting them with it, brings the chicks back to life.When the Diomedeae call with a tearful voice and make lamentation, they are said to foretell the sudden death of kings or a kingdom in great danger. When they see someone they can immediately tell
et uite reduces reddit rorando uolucres.1370Dum diomedee lacrimosa uoce resultant
et faciunt planctus subitam portendere mortem
dicuntur regum uel magna pericula regni.
Cumque uident aliquem discernunt ilico si sit
whether he is a foreigner or a Greek; in fact, they go towards the Greek flapping their wings with affection and call out happily. Others they surround and flap around on hostile wings, attacking them as enemies with a terrifying noise.The memnonids are said to return every fifth year to
barbarus an grecus, nam grecum plausibus ale1375
et blandimentis adeunt leteque resultant.
Circueunt alios pennisque feruntur iniquis,
horrentique sono uelud hostes aggrediuntur.Mennonides quinto dicuntur semper in anno
Memnon’s grave on a long flight, so as to mourn the prince killed in the Trojan war.The bright harrier has an amazing plumage that shines on a dark night like a blazing lamp and shows the way if it is carried in front of someone as they walk along.
Mennonis ad tumulum longo remeare uolatu1380
et deflere ducem troiano marte peremptum.Fert quoque mirandam splendens circinea pennam
nocte sub obscura que fulget ut ignea lampas,
atque ministrat iter si preportetur eunti.
When it makes a nest the woodpecker pushes out from the tree nails and chisels which nobody else could pull out, and all the neighbouring area rings with its hammering.’After he had said these things, a madman
Maeldinus, as explained below, an old acquaintance of Merlin, not otherwise known.
suddenly approached them, or else fate had brought him there.
Quando nidificat deuellit ab arbore picus1385
clauos et cuneos quos non diuelleret ullus,
cuius ab impulsu uicinia tota resultant.’His igitur dictis, quidam uesanus ad illos
accessit subito seu sors conduxerat illum.
So they quickly caught the man and forced him to sit with them so that as he raved he would provide them with something to laugh at and joke about. When the prophet looked at him more closely,
Terrifico clamore nemus complebat et auras,1390
et quasi seuus aper spumabat bella minando.
Ocius ergo uirum capiunt secumque sedere
cogunt ut moueat risusque iocosque loquendo.
Inspiciens igitur uates attentius illum
he realised who he was and gave out great sighs from deep in his heart, saying this: ‘This is not how he looked before, when we were in the flush of youth. For at that time he was a handsome and courageous soldier, whom nobility and royal origins marked out.
quis fuerit recolit gemitumque reducit ab imo1395
pectore, sic dicens: ‘Non hec fuit eius ymago
olim, dum nobis iuuenilis floruit etas.
Pulcher enim fortis fuerat tunc tempore miles
et quem nobilitas regumque ferebat origo.
Him I had with me when I was rich, and many others too, and with such a number of good friends I was deemed – and really was – a happy man. In those days, once when we were out hunting on the high mountains of Arwystli,
A territory in mid Wales.
it happened that we came to an oak that towered in the air with spreading branches.
Hunc mecum pluresque simul tunc diues habebam,1400
totque bonis sociis felix censebar eramque.
Accidit interea dum uenaremur in altis
montibus Argustli nos deuenisse sub una
que patulis ramis surgebat in aera quercu.
A spring flowed out there, surrounded by green grass, a spring whose waters were fit for human consumption. And so, all similarly overcome by thirst, we sat there and eagerly drank the spring’s pure waters. Then on the soft grass
Fons ibi manabat uiridi circumdatus herba,1405
cuius erant latices humanis haustibus apti.
Ergo siti pariter correpti sedimus illic
et fontis puros auide libauimus amnes.
Deinde super teneras solito conspeximus herbas
along the well-known bank of that spring we saw some sweet-smelling fruit lying there. The first person who reached them quickly collected them up and passed them to me, smiling at the unexpected gift. And I then handed round among my companions the fruits I had been given, but missed myself out, because the pile was not big enough.
in riuo fontis redolentia poma iacere.1410
Mox ea collegit qui primus adheserat iste
porrexitque michi subito pro munere ridens.
Ergo distribui data poma sodalibus et me
expertem feci quia non suffecit aceruus.
The others who got the fruit laughed and called me generous but they also scoffed them down, attacking them with greedy mouths, and complained that there were too few. Almost immediately a wretched frenzy seized the first man and all the others so that suddenly becoming irrational
Riserunt alii quibus impertita fuerunt,1415
meque uocant largum, cupidis quoque faucibus illa
aggrediendo uorant et pauca fuisse queruntur.
Nec mora, corripuit rabies miserabilis istum
et cunctos alios qui mox racione carentes
they gnawed themselves and bit each other like dogs. They hiss and foam at the mouth and roll on the ground, out of their minds. At long last, they went away, filling the air with wretched howling, just like wolves. I reckon those fruits were meant for me and not for them,
more canum sese lacerant mordendo uicissim.1420
Strident et spumant et humi sine mente uolutant.
Denique digressi sunt illinc more lupino
complentes uacuas miseris ululatibus auras.
Hec michi non illis uelud estimo poma dabantur,
or rather that is what I learned afterwards, because at that time in those parts there was a woman who had previously been in love with me and had sated her lust with me for many years. After I put her aside and refused to sleep with her, a sinister wish to harm me soon overtook her.
postmodo seu didici, nam tunc in partibus illis1425
vna fuit mulier que me dilexerat ante
et mecum multis uenerem saciauerat annis.
Hanc postquam spreui secumque coire negaui
vt me dampnaret rapuit mox leua uoluntas.
And when she could not find any other approach, she conceived an idea and put the gifts smeared with poison at the spring to which I was bound to return, thinking to hurt me with this scheming, if I should chance to eat the fruits found on the grass. But a better fate saved me from them,
Cumque mouens aditus alios reperire nequiret1430
apposuit fonti superillita dona ueneni
quo rediturus eram, meditans hac arte nocere
si fruerer pomis in gramine forte repertis.
At me sors melior sic conseruauit ab illis,
as I have just said. But now, I beg you, get this man to drink the healing water from the new spring, so that, with any luck he will regain his health, know himself again and come to work with me in the Lord, in these forests, for the rest of his life.’
vt modo predixi. Sed eum compellere queso1435
hoc de fonte nouo limphas potare salubres,
vt si forte suam possit rehabere salutem
se cognoscat item, mecumque laboret in istis
saltibus in Domino dum postera uita manebit.’
And that is what the chieftains did, and when he had taken a draught, the man who came there in a state of madness is restored to himself and, once cured, instantly recognises his friends.Then Merlin said: ‘Now it is for you to go forward with constancy, fighting for the God who restored you to yourself, as you
Sic igitur fecere duces, sumptoque liquore1440
redditur ille sibi qui uecors uenerat illuc
cognouitque suos subito curatus amicos.Tunc Merlinus ait: ‘Tibi nunc constanter eundum
est in agone dei qui te tibi reddidit ut nunc
can see now, after having lived for so many years in the wild like an animal, wandering shamefully without any rationality. And now that you recovered your reason, don’t abandon the thickets and the green glades where you were living while you were mad, but stay here with me so that in the Lord’s service you can work hard to make up for the days that
ipsemet inspectas, qui per deserta tot annis1445
vt fera uixisti sine sensu turpis eundo.
Ne modo diffugias fructices racione recepta
aut uirides saltus quos iam limphando colebas,
sed mecum maneas ut quos tibi surripiebat
this terrible violence snatched from you. Every single thing I have from this very moment will be shared between you and me as long as we both live.’
To this, then, Maeldinus (for that was his name) replied: ‘O venerable father, I am not going to refuse to do this.
vis †uerunca† dies iterum reparare labores1450
obsequio Domini. Quod erit per singula mecum
ex hoc nunc commune tibi dum uiuit uterque.’
Ergo sub hoc Maeldinus ait – nam nomine tali
dictus erat –: ‘Non hoc, pater o uenerande, recuso.
For I will gladly dwell in the woods with you and I will worship God with all my mind as long as this spirit, which I will purify, with you as my guide, controls my trembling limbs.’
‘And I will do the same, too, adding a third to your number’, said Telgesinus, ‘putting aside the world’s concerns.
Letus enim tecum siluas habitabo, Deumque1455
tota mente colam tremulos dum rexerit artus
spiritus iste meos quem te doctore piabo.’
‘Sic et ego faciam uobiscum tercius auctus –
Telgesinus ait – despecto themate mundi.
I have already spent enough time living in an empty way and now it is time to come to my senses, with you to direct me.But you, chieftains, go defend your cities. From now on it is not appropriate for you to be disturbing our peace with your chatter. You have had enough sport from our friend here.’
Iam satis exegi uiuendo tempora uane1460
et nunc tempus adest quo me michi te duce reddam.Vos sed abite, duces, urbes defendere uestras.
Non decet ut nostram uestro sermone quietem
a modo turbetis. Satis applausistis amico.’
The nobles went away, and those three were left, along with a fourth person, Ganieda, the prophet’s sister, also taking up that way of life at long last. After the king’s death she lived a chaste life, she who was then left to rule over so many peoples according to the appointed law. But now she finds nothing sweeter than being in the woods with her brother.
Discedunt proceres. Remanent tres et Ganieda1465
quarta soror uatis, sumpta quoque denique uita.
Ducebat uitam regis post fata pudicam
que modo tot populos indicto iure regebat.
Nunc cum fratre sibi, siluis nil dulcius exstat.
She too was sometimes snatched up aloft by the spirit so that she would often sing about the future of the realm.Thus, one day while she was standing in her brother’s hall and saw the windows of the house ablaze with sunshine, she gave out these hesitant utterances from a hesitant heart:
Hanc etiam quandoque suis rapiebat ad alta1470
spiritus, ut caneret de regno sepe futura.Ergo die quadam, cum fratris staret in aula
inspiceretque domus radiantes sole fenestras,
edidit has dubias dubio de pectore uoces:
‘I see the city of Oxford filled with people in helmets and the holy men and the holy mitres bound in chains, at the behest of an assembly of young men. The shepherd will marvel at the high crests of a tower and will be forced to break open the earthenware jar of his loss.
‘Cerno Ridichenam galeatis gentibus urbem1475
impletam sacrosque uiros sacrasque tyaras
nexibus addictos sic consiliante iuuenta.
Pastor in excelsa mirabitur edita turre
et reserare sui cogetur fictile dampni.
I see Lincoln barricaded by a fierce militia and two captives, of whom one is snatched away so that he can come back with a wild race and the leader of the barricade and vanquish the savage warband after removing their leader. Alas, how heinous a crime that the stars should capture the sun,
Cerno Kaerloyctoyc uallatam milite seuo1480
inclusosque duos quorum diuellitur alter
vt redeat cum gente fera cum principe uallis
et uincat rapto seuam rectore cateruam.
Heu, quantum scelus est capiant ut sidera solem,
under which they glide, driven neither by violence nor warfare. I can see two moons in the sky close to Winchester and two lions ranging around with such savagery and one man looks with amazement at two others and another looks upon the same number, and they prepare for battle and stand at close quarters.
cui sullabuntur nec ui nec marte coacta.1485
Inspicio binas prope Kaerwen in aere lunas
gestarique duos nimia feritate leones
inque duos homines unus miratur et alter
in totidem pugnamque parant et cominus astant.
Others rise up and fight bitterly against a fourth one with fierce weapons, and none of them gains the upper hand. Because he stands firm and brandishes a shield and repels arrows and soon, victorious, overthrows his three enemies and forces two of them across the frozen realms of the North,
Insurgunt alii quartumque ferocibus armis1490
acriter oppugnant nec preualet ullus eorum.
Perstat enim clipeumque mouet telisque repugnat
et uictor ternos confestim proterit hostes
impellitque duos trans frigida regna Boetes,
granting pardon to the other one who begs for it; and so the stars are scattered in flight across every part of the battlefield. The Boar of Brittany, shielded by an ancient oak, hides the moon with swords turned behind the back. I see two stars waging war with wild beasts
dans alii ueniam qui postulat; ergo per omnes1495
diffugiunt partes tocius sidera campi.
Armoricanus aper quercu protectus auita,
abducit lunam gladiis post terga rotatis.
Sidera bina feris uideo committere pugnam
under the hill of Urien,
A northern British ruler.
where the people of Deira and the Gewisse clash during the reign of the great Coel.
Legendary king of Britain, an ancestor of Urien, he was said to be the father of Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother, and was succeeded by Constantius.
O! the earth will drip with so much human sweat and blood, when wounds are inflicted upon foreign peoples! One star collides with another and tumbles into the shadows
colle sub Vrgenio quo conuenere Deyri1500
Gewissique simul magno regnante Cohelo.
O quanto sudore uiri tellusque cruore
manat in externas dum dantur uulnera gentes!
Concidit in latebras collisum sidere sidus
and hides its own light when the light is renewed.Alas, what a terrible famine descends, cramping the bellies of the people and emptying strength from limbs. It begins with the Welsh and passes through to the ends of the kingdom, and forces wretched people to cross the sea.
absconditque suum renouato lumine lumen.1505Heu quam dira fames incumbit ut arceat aluos
euacuatque suos populorum uiribus arctus.
Incipit a Kambris peragratque cacumina regni
et miseras gentes equor transire cohercet.
Calves used to living off the milk of the cows of Scotland, that are now dying from an evil plague, flee. Be gone, Normans! Stop toting your weapons across our native land with your blood-thirsty militia! There is nothing here for you to sate your gluttony with.
Diffugiunt uituli consueti uiuere lacte1510
vaccarum Scocie morientum clade nefanda.
Iteque, Neustrenses! Cessate diucius arma
ferre per ingenuum uiolento milite regnum.
Non est unde gulam ualeatis pascere uestram.
For you have eaten up everything that productive mother nature long brought forth there with excellent fertility. Christ, bring aid to your people, restrain the lions. Give the kingdom peace and quiet, with an end to war!’She did not even fall silent after this and her companions and her brother wondered at it,
Consumpsistis enim quicquid natura creatrix1515
fertilitate bona dudum produxit in illa.
Christe, tuo populo fer opem, compesce leones.
Da regno placidam bello cessante quietem.’Non super hoc tacuit, commiranturque sodales
and he quickly approached her and congratulating her with friendly words he said this: ‘Sister, was the spirit wanting you to predict future events and so has it closed my mouth and my little book too? Well then, this task is assigned to you. Be glad of it
germanusque suus, qui mox accessit ad illam1520
hocque modo uerbis applaudens fertur amicis:
‘Tene soror uoluit res precantare futuras
spiritus, osque meum compescuit atque libellum?
Ergo tibi labor iste datur. Leteris in illo,
and devoutly say all there is to say, upon my authority.’We have brought the poem to its end. And so you, British, give the laurels to Geoffrey of Monmouth. For he is one of you, in fact he once sang of your battles and those of your leaders, and wrote the little book
auspiciisque meis deuote singula dicas.1525Duximus ad metam carmen. Vos ergo, Britanni,
laurea serta date Gaufrido de Monemuta.
Est etenim uester, nam quondam prelia uestra
vestrorumque ducum cecinit scripsitque libellum
which they now call Gesta Britonum,
Geoffrey’s De gestis Britonum, also known as Historia regum Britanniae.
famous all over the world.[Here ends the Life of Merlin by Geoffrey of Monmouth]
quem nunc ‘Gesta’ uocant ‘Britonum’, celebrata per orbem.1530[Explicit Vita Merlini Calidonii per Galfridum Monemutensem]