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chapters, or GESTS, and one hundred and seventeen leaves i. It is in the Gothic letter, and in two columns. The first chapter is of king Pompey, and the last of prince, or king, Cleonicus. The initials are written in red and blue ink. This edition, slightly mutilated, is among bishop Tanner's printed books in the Bodleian library. The reverend and learned doctor Farmer, master of Emanuel college in Cambridge, has the second (?) edition, as it seems, printed at Louvain, in quarto, the same or the subsequent year, by John de Westfalia, under the title, Ex GESTIS ROMANORUM HISTORIE NOTABILES de viciis virtutibusque tractantes cum applicationibus moralisatis et mysticis. And with this colophon, Gesta ROMANORUM cum quibusdam aliis HISTORIIS eisdem annexis ad MORALITATES dilucide redacta hic finem habent. Quæ, diligenter correctis aliorum viciis, impressit Joannes de Westfalia in alma Vniversitate Louvaniensi. It has one hundred and eighty-one chapters k. That is, twenty-nine more than are contained in the former edition: the first of the additional chapters being the story of Antiochus, or the substance of the romance of APOLLONIUS of TYRE. The initials are inserted in red ink! Another followed soon afterwards, in quarto, Ex Gestis ROMANORUM Historie notabiles moralizata, per Girardum Lieu, GOUDÆ, 1480. The next edition, with the use of which I have been politely favoured by George Mason, esquire, of Aldenhamlodge, in Hertfordshire, was printed in folio, and in the year 1488*, with this title, GESTA RHOMANORUM cum Applicationibus moralisatis et misticis. The colophon is, Ex GESTIS ROMANORUM cum pluribus applicatis Historiis de virtutibus et viciis mystice ad intellectum transsumptis Recollectorii finis. Anno nre salutis MCCCCLXXX viij kalendas vero februarii xviij. A general, and alphabetical, table are subjoined. The book, which Romanorum et quibusdam aliis libris fore. The last is entitled De ADULTERIO. cum explicationibus eorundem.” Mont It has signatures to K k. fauc. Bibl. Manuscr. tom. i. pag. 17. * (Mr. Douce enumerates two ediNum. 172.
tions between this and Lieu's; namely, s Without initials, paging, signatures, one printed at Hasselt in 1481, and an is or catch-words.
other in 1482 without the name of the * The first is of king Pompey, as be- place.-EDIT.]
is printed in two columns, and in the Gothic character, abounding with abbreviations, contains ninety-three leaves. The initials are written or flourished in red and blue, and all the capitals in the body of the text are miniated with a pen. There were many other later editions m. I must add, that the Gesta ROMANORUM were translated into Dutch, so early as the year 1484. There is an old French version in the British Museum.
This work is compiled from the obsolete Latin chronicles of the later Roman or rather German story, heightened by romantic inventions, from Legends of the Saints, oriental apologues, and many of the shorter fictitious narratives which came into Europe with the Arabian literature, and were familiar in the ages of ignorance and imagination. The classics are sometimes cited for authorities; but these are of the lower order, such as Valerius Maximus, Macrobius, Aulus Gellius, Seneca, Pliny, and Boethius. To every tale a MORALISATION is subjoined, reducing it into a christian or moral lesson.
Most of the oriental apologues are taken from the CleriCALIS DISCIPLINA, or a Latin dialogue between an Arabian philosopher and Edric his son, never printedo, written by Peter Alphonsus, a baptised Jew, at the beginning of the twelfth century, and collected from Arabian fables, apothegms, and examples P. Some are also borrowed from an old Latin translation of the Calilah U DAMNAH, a celebrated set of eastern fables, to which Alphonsus was indebted.
On the whole, this is the collection in which a curious inquirer might expect to find the original of Chaucer's Cambuscan:
** For which see vol. ii. p. 319: and phonsus. Mr. Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, • MSS. HARL. 3861. And in many vol. ii. p. 358.
other libraries. It occurs in old French * EDRIC was the name of Enoch verse, MSS. DIGB. 86. membran. “ Le among the Arabians, to whom they at. Romaunz de Peres Aunfour coment il tribute many fabulous compositions. aprist et chastia son fils belement." (See Herbelot, in V. Lydgate's CHORLE and vol. ii. p. 430.) THE BIRD, mentioned above, is taken P See Tyrwhitt's Chaucer, vol. iv. from the CLERICALIS DISCIPLINA of Al- p. 325. seq.
Or,-if aught else great bards beside
Our author frequently cites Gesta ROMANORUM, the title of his own work. By which I understand no particular book of that naine, but the Roman history in general. Thus in the title of the SAINT ALBANS CHRONICLE, printed by Caxton, Titus Livyus de Gestis ROMANORUM is recited. In the
year 1544, Lucius Florus was printed at Paris under the same title'. In the British Museum we find « LES FAIS DE ROMAINS jusques a la fin de l'empire Domician, selon Orose, Justin, Lucan, &c.” A plain historical deduction. The ROMULEON, an old manuscript history of Rome from the foundation of the city to Constantine the Great, is also called de GESTIS ROMANORUM. This manuscript occurs both in Latin and French: and a French copy, among the royal manuscripts, has the title, “ROMULEON, ou des Fais de Romains.” Among the manuscript books written by Lapus de Castellione, a Florentine civilian, who flourished about the year 1350, there is one, De Origine URBIS ROMÆ et de Gestis ROMANORUMU. Gower, in the CONFESSIO AMANTIS, often introduces Roman stories with the Latin preamble, Hic secundum GESTA. Where he certainly means the Roman History, which by degrees had acquired simply the appellation of GESTA. Herman Korner, in his CHRONICA NOVELLA, written about the year 1438, refers for his vouchers to Bede, Orosius, Valerius Maximus, Josephus, Eusebius, and the Chronicon et Gesta ROMANORUM. Most probably, to say no more, by the CHRONICON he means the later writers of the Roman affairs, such as Isidore and the monkish compilers; and by GESTA the antient Roman history, as related by Livy and the more established Latin historians. 9 Milton's Il PensEROSO.
+ MS. 19 E. v. Apud Vascosan. 4to.
" See vol. ii. p. 322. * MSS. REG. 20. Ci.
Neither is it possible that this work could have been brought as a proof or authority, by any serious annalist, for the Roman story.
For though it bears the title of Gesta ROMANORUM, yet this title by no means properly corresponds with the contents of the collection : which, as has been already hinted, comprehends a multitude of narratives, either not historical ; or, in another respect, such as are either totally unconnected with the Roman people, or perhaps the most preposterous misrepresentations of their history. To cover this deviation from the promised plan, which, by introducing a more ample variety of matter, has contributed to encrease the reader's entertainment, our collector has taken care to preface almost every story with the name or reign of a Roman emperor; who, at the same time, is often a monarch that never existed, and who seldom, whether real or suppositious, has any concern with the circumstances of the narrative.
But I hasten to exhibit a compendious analysis of the chapters which form this very singular compilation : intermixing occasional illustrations arising from the subject, and shortening or lengthening my abridgement of the stories, in proportion as I judge they are likely to interest the reader. Where, for that reason, I have been very concise, I have yet said enough to direct the critical antiquarian to this collection, in case he should find a similar tale occurring in any of our old poets. I have omitted the mention of a very few chapters, which were beneath notice. Sometimes, where common authors are quoted, I have only mentioned the author's name, without specifying the substance of the quotation. For it was necessary that the reader should be made acquainted with our collector's track of reading, and the books which he used. In the mean time, this review will serve as a full notification of the edition of 1488, which is more comprehensive and complete than some others of later publication, and to which all the rest, as to a general criterion, may be now comparatively referred.
CHAP. i. Of a daughter of king Pompey, whose chamber
was guarded by five armed knights and a dog. Being permitted to be present at a public show, she is seduced by a duke, who is afterwards killed by the champion of her father's court. She is reconciled to her father, and betrothed to a nobleman: on which occasion, she receives from her father an embroidered robe and a crown of gold, from the champion a gold ring, another from the wise man who pacified the king's anger, another from the king's son, another from her cousin, and from her spouse a seal of gold. All these presents are inscribed with proverbial sentences, suitable to the circumstances of the princess.
The latter part of this story is evidently oriental. The feudal manners, in a book which professes to record the achievements of the Roman people, are remarkable in the introductory circumstances. But of this mixture we shall see many striking instances.
CHAP. ii. Of a youth taken captive by pirates. The king's daughter falls in love with him; and having procured his escape, accompanies him to his own country, where they are married. CHAP. vi. An emperor is married to a beautiful young prin
In case of death, they mutually agree not to survive one another. To try the truth of his wife, the emperor going into a distant country, orders a report of his death to be circulated. In remembrance of her vow, and in imitation of the wives of India, she prepares to throw herself headlong from a high precipice. She is prevented by her father; who interposes his paternal authority, as predominating over a rash and unlawful promise.
Chap. vii. Under the reign of Dioclesian, a noble knight had two sons, the youngest of which marries a harlot. .
This story, but with a difference of circumstances, ends like the beautiful apologue of the Prodigal Son.
CHAP. viii. The emperor Leo commands three female statues to be made. One has a gold ring on a finger pointing forward, another a beard of gold, and the third a golden cloak