LUPUS OF FERRIČRES : LETTER 5, TO EINHARD

Most faithful father Einhard,1 greetings from Lupus.

It is very difficult for me to express to you how pleased I am that you are mindful of me, especially since you a man of great preeminence have gone so far as to honor me by returning my greetings so willingly, al­though I had hoped to be cheered by a letter from you and to learn to what extent your flood of grief has now subsided and whether I your humble servant have been able to persuade you at all. As for myself, I am offering, just as I promised, a special prayer to the Lord each day for the everlasting repose of your beloved wife, and I do not cease to pray earnestly that he will grant what will, I think, be of advantage to you both, not only in this life but in the life to come. Whether I shall be of any help to you, you may perhaps realize. I could never, however, hesitate to entrust the fulfillment of these petitions to divine mercy and wait for the fulfillment, though from our point of view it be slow in coming, yet certainly to be expected in the ripeness of time on account of the magnitude of that justice. I request, moreover, that you read the twenty-seventh chapter of Book XXI of Saint Augustine’s City of God and see if that inspired man of God did not express the very same views as I have on this subject of sorrow. I had really never read it before, but when I later came across it I was astonished to discover that my own thoughts coincided so closely with his as to have seemed entirely colored by them.

Now I have been obliged to postpone slightly the date of my departure for home and a visit to you in the meantime. The reason for this is because the venerable Marcward,2 whose duty it is to arrange for my return, was being sent on a mission to Italy and had summoned me first to a friendly conference with him, and I decided, Holy Father, that I should leave here for your place on the day which I had indicated. But the illustrious abbot Hrabanus, returning a little later from the palace, could not be certain whether he would be here at that time on account of a mission to which he had been appointed. He therefore urged me to delay my return until the fifth day of June because the feast of Saint Boniface would not permit his absence at that time unless an imperial command of greatest importance should by chance call him away. Accordingly, when Marcward returned he sent someone to ask me when I preferred to leave, and I told him to have the horses brought here for that purpose on the fourth of June so that, Christ being willing, I might be able to set out on the sixth. This he will surely accomplish if he is alive. Consequently, I do not dare to give you a definite day for my arrival, but I do assure you that if God is willing I shall by all means arrive during the week beginning June the fifth. May it be my privilege then to find your mind so relieved of every burden of care that you will not only be free to converse with me in your usual gracious manner, as between friends, but will also give me the benefit of your sound judg­ment when my own understanding or that of others fails me. To escape the reproach of flattery, I do not wish to express further how much I respect your judgment, how much I defer to it, and finally how much I realize that I have been and will be helped by it. God whose grace has supplied it will understand.

In the meantime, will you please examine in that spirit of warm fatherly devotion which you always bear toward me those questions which I submitted to you so that, having considered them first, you may more easily give me the answers. In the first book of his Arithmetic, the fourth chapter, Boethius3 sets forth the following: Quod autem dictum est: secundum quorum generum contrarias passiones, huiusmodi est. Beginning at this place and continuing to the following words which appear farther on: spatio est maxima, parvissima quantitate, the meaning is less clear to me than I should like. In the same book, Chapter XXXI, besides the words partes multiplicis superpartientis, which he explains himself, he says that it is not “difficult for the studious” to find the rest according to the “method” which he has shown. This will surely not be difficult for me to understand, if I shall learn fully from you what he wrote a little farther on where he says: vocabunturque hi secundum proprias partes duplex superbipartiens, etc. This same distinguished author, in the second book of this same work, and likewise in the second chapter, says: et ut ait Nichomachus inmusitaton teorema pro­ficiens (or, as I have found elsewhere, enmusitaton). As for these Greek words, I am not sure that I entirely understand what they mean. In the same book, chapter XXV, beginning at the place where he writes: omnis quoque cibus qui ex tetragonorum superficie improfunditatem corporis crevit, and continuing to angulas vero octo, quorum singulus sub tribus ejusmodi continetur, qualiter priores fuere tetragoni, unde cibus ipse productus est, to use his own words, I do not understand the shape of this intricate thing, and I am in desperate need of your help to grasp the meaning of it. I am also desirous of beginning the calculus of Victorius,4 guided by the grace of God and instructed by you.

Again, in the case of words such as aratrum, salubris, etc., which seem to have a long penult both by position and by nature, there is great uncertainty, and I must confess that I still have difficulty with the problem, not being certain whether one should observe nature, whether the penult should be pronounced long, as it is, or whether on account of the rule which Donatus5 gives: “If the penult is long by position, it shall be accented (as in Catullus); but only if it is long by position, not from a combination of a mute and a liquid, for that will cause the accent to shift (as in faretra),” whether, when syllables are at the same time long by nature and by such position, the syllable common to both should be prejudicial to nature, and the accent shifted to the antepenult. I have really never yet been able to find any authoritative statement in the grammarians to support or to disprove either of these two opinions. It remains for you, therefore, a person of wisdom, to remove this uncertainty from my mind and to offer some conclusive proof in support of one or the other of these views. Besides the difficulty of not finding a defi­nite rule of anyone on this subject there is also the fact that I always find the penult long in the scansion of a word like aratrum, while, if a syllable can remain common in the case of those also long by nature, it is evident that aratra, in the nominative, accusative, and vocative plural, could have been employed in dactylic verse.

There are, many other questions to ask which I have in my notes and which, God willing and with your permission, it will be better for me to ask you in person. And, when I arrive, I beg of you, in view of the kindness which you have always so generously shown me, that you quickly draw from the recesses of your mind the memory of things which you know I need and which I shall not learn except from you. Freely disclose these things to me, if you will please, out of respect for our love and friendship, that in thus planting in me the seeds of your learning you may transmit to countless others its fruits.

Furthermore, the royal scribe Bertcaud is said to have drawn a full scale copy of the ancient letters, at least of those which are very large and are called “uncials” by some. If you can, therefore, please send this copy to me with the painter, whenever he returns, being very careful, however, that the sheet is protected by a seal.

I would have sent you the Aulus Gellius,6 if the abbot7 had not kept it, complaining that a copy had not yet been made for him. He will write to you, however, he says, and tell you that he forcibly took this book away from me. But if God so wills, I shall return this book myself, as well as all the rest which I enjoy because of your generosity.

For the present at least do not hesitate to explain to me the obscure problems of the law, and especially the Greek words, as well as some other Greek words in Servius8 which I sent to you earlier.

My best wishes to you, illustrious master and very dear father, for good health and continuous prosperity.

----------

Regenos' notes:

1. Written shortly after the preceding letter.

2. Abbot of Prüm, 829-853.

3. Boethius’ De institutione arithmetica is in Migne’s Patrologia Latina, vol. LXIII.

4. A fifth-century mathematician.

5. Keil, Gramm. Lat. IV. 371.

6. In letter 1 Lupus had requested a copy of the Noctes A tticae.

7. Hrabanus Maurus.

8 A fourth-century grammarian (Keil, Gramm. Lat., IV, 405-472).

--------

Some additions of my own:

This text is taken from: Graydon W. REGENOS, The Letters of Lupus of Ferričres. Translated with an Introduction and Notes, The Hague (1966).  This is based primary on Dümmler's edition, published in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica in 1902.  The arrangement of the letters follows Levillain's chronological ordering.  This note is from the prefatory material.

Einhard was the biographer of Charlemagne, now retired and living at Seligenstadt near Fulda.  He lived ca. 770-840.  His wife Emma had just died, early in 836.  This letter is supposedly in May, 836.  It is numbered 5 in all the editions.  It was written while Lupus was studying at Fulda under Hrabanus Maurus.

Lupus, surnamed Servatus, was born about 805, and was a monk (later abbot) of the abbey of Ferrieres.  In letter 1 he describes the contempt in which learning was held, and the role of Charlemagne in changing this.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse.

Placed online 27th September 2001.

This page has been accessed by  ****** people since 27th September 2001.

Return to Roger Pearse's Pages