Art. 1a, Thais

Art. 1a, Thais: EXPLANATORY NOTES


Abbreviations[Fols. 21vb–22ra. ANL 584. Scribe: A. Quire: 2. Initials: Scribe A left a space for a large initial V at line 1. Meter: Couplets in alexandrine lines. Layout: Two columns. Editions: Meyer 1895, pp. 167–68 (lines 132–73 only); Perman, p. 285 (lines 142–70 only). Other MS: Paris, BnF MS français 24862, fols. 97va–98vb (ed. Meyer 1895, pp. 147–51; Perman, pp. 280–86; O’Connor, pp. 223–24 [final 22 lines, which name Henri d’Arci as patron]). Latin Source: Vitae patrum, Book 1d.20 (PL 73.661–62; trans. Baker); Perman, pp. 286–88. Middle English Analogues: Northern Homily Cycle (ed. Whatley, pp. 155–68); Rosenthal, p. 143. French Analogues: Cazelles, pp. 289–309 (Thais B, Thais C). Latin Analogues: Hrothsvitha, Paphnutius, pp. 12–27; Marbod (see Kuehne, pp. 79–80); Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans. Ryan, 2:234–35. Translations: Cazelles, pp. 299–301.]




10 LI ABBEZ PANNUTIUS. If he was a real person, Saint Paphnutius of Thebes appears to have been a fourth-century bishop and disciple of Saint Anthony. It has been asserted that he accompanied Saint Athanasius to the First Synod of Tyre in 335 A.D. His only appearance in the legends related by Jacobus of Voragine comes in the tale of “Saint Thais, Courtesan” (The Golden Legend, trans. Ryan, 2:234–35). See also the explanatory note to The Lives of the Fathers (art. 1), line 2181.

88 Antonie l’abbé. Saint Anthony the Great, mentor to Paphnutius and frequent source of sayings in the Vitae patrum. See explanatory note to The Lives of the Fathers (art. 1), line 22.

135 Pol. Saint Paul the hermit. He appears in The Lives of the Fathers (art. 1), line 2831, and his legend is recorded in Jacobus of Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans. Ryan, 1:84–85. Older than Saint Anthony, he is said to have been the first hermit living in the desert.

Art. 1a, Thais: TEXTUAL NOTES

1 Une. MS: n (blank space left for initial).

10 Pannutius. MS: paunitius.

30 grantment. MS: granimement (ra abbreviated).

50 jurs. MS: omitted.

69 demander. MS: demande.

93 conquist. MS: conquis (con abbreviated).

128 quer. MS: quor.

138 pecché. So MS. M: pechié.

139 seinte. So MS. M: sainte.

140 noz. So MS. M: nos.

146 Kar. So MS, P. M: Ke.

150 çoe. So MS, P. M: ceo.

154 Kar. So MS, P. M: Ke.

155 u. So MS, P. M: et.

156 Kar. So MS, P. M: Ke.

160 ceste. So MS, M. P: cest.

164 el. So M. MS, P: el le.

167 d’enfern. So MS, P. M: d’infern.
serrunt. So MS, P. M: serunt.

170 cest. So MS. M, P: ceste.

 
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Art. 1a, Thais

by: Susanna Greer Fein (Editor), David Raybin (Translator)

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Une dame fut jadis ke out nun THAISIS,
Ke commune ert a tuz, e fut de cher pris,
E tant aveit hant de fous e de lechurs,
Ke, par li, en enfern esteient mis plusur.
Lur aveir pur lui doner sovent vindrent,
Pur enchaisun de lui sovent enpoverirent,
E mut sovent iceus que hanter la soleient
Devant l’us Thaysis grant estrif feseient
E mut sovent se entrecombateient.
Quant LI ABBEZ PANNUTIUS oi çoe conter,
Si se deguisat, e prist habite seculer;
E vers une cité de Egypte u sele dame mist
Alat, e un sold ensemble od li prist,
Kar, en Deu, esperout cele chaitive chatier.
Puis, li donat cel sold cum pur od li peccher.
Ele prist le sout, e dist: “Sa enz devum aler
Ke joe vers vus me puisse aquiter.”
Li abbez entrat od lui, e vint a cel bel lit
Ke ert aturné noblement de paile e de tapit,
Mes ne fut de ren tempté; mes, l’out en despit,
Kar treis bon moine fut e mut parfit.
Lores, le priat qu’il deut sur le lit seer,
E li abbez començat tut issi a parler:
“Un plus privé liu, s’il i ait, me fai venir,
U plus aise puisse fere mun desir,
Kar hunte me semble,” dist il, “ici gisir
U les autres nus purrunt tost survenir.”
“E plus avant,” dist ele, “vus puis joe mener
U nul nus purrat fors sul Deu veer;
Mes li oil de la Deité est grantment cler,
Kar de lui ne se purrat unkes nul mucier.”
Dunc esteit Pannutius haité en sun quer
Quant il oit Thaysis Dampnedeu numer.
“Sez tu, dunc, ke Dex est,” diseit il a lui,
“Ke rendrat a chescun solunc çoe qu’il fet ici?”
“Joe crei,” dist ele, “que Dex est omnipotent,
Ke regnerat senz fin e senz comencement,
E trestuz devum venir a sun jugement.
Les uns metterat en joie, e les autres en torment.”
“Quant tu ces çoe, purquei es tu deceue?
Kar tu as tantes almes par ta folie perdue.
Ore rendras reisun nient pur tei sulement,
Mes pur les autres ke tu as dampné sifaitement,
E pur lur dampnatiun averas duble turment,
Chaitive, mars fus nee, si Dex pité n’en prent!”
Tant dist li abbez e tant sermunat seintement
K’ele començat a plurer mut tendrement,
E chai a sez piez, e penitence requist.
E el consail le seint abbé eraument se mist.
“Mes treis jurs,” dist ele, “de respit requer,
E puis irai la u vus voderas comander.”
Lores, fist ele sa chose assembler,
E en mi la cité la fist trestut arder.
.Xl. livres fut la robe preisé
K’ele aveit par cele ordure purchacé.
Dunc diseit ele a cels ke orent od li folee:
“Venez ver cum joe guerpis mum pecché!
Trestuz estes de pecchez chargiez pur mei.
Deus vus amende, qui me ad apelé a sei.”
Puis s’en alat, a grant devociun, Thaysis
En cel liu ke Pannutius li aveit asis.
E la mist en un muster od dames aneire,
Si lessat la pur sa penitence faire.
Par sei en une petite celle la fermat
E l’us de la celle de plum encelat,
E un poi de pain e de euue, sicum il li mesurat,
Per une fenestre doner le comandat.
Quant li abbé Pannutius deveit aler,
Dunc li començat Thaysis a demander:
“Coment dei joe, bel pere, Dampnedeu prier?
E u me dei joe naturelement espurger?”
E li dit: “En ta celle t’espurgeras,
E la meseise cum tu es digne suffras.
Tes meins vers le ciel unkes ne leveras,
Ne Dampnedeu en ta buche ne nomeras,
Kar tes meins sunt pleines de grant ordure,
E ta buche est plaine de grant iniquité.
Pur ceo, suffrir t’estoverat cele aspreté
Si tu veus aver pardun de tun pecchié.
Encontre orient tant soulement girras
E ceste parole mut soveinerement dirras:
‘Bel Sire, ke me creas quant joe nient ne fui,
Aiez merci de mei, kar peccheresse sui.’”
Quant il out charitablement enseigné,
Departi s’en, si l’ad en sa maisun lessé.
Quant ele aveit esté tres anz enfermé
E cele penitence aveit demenee,
Si alat Pannutius a Antonie l’abbé
Pur saveir si Dex l’ust sun pecché pardoné.
Lores, fist Antoine ses moines assembler
Sis rovat cele nuit en ureisuns veiler,
Pur prier ke Dex demustreisun fecist
De cest chose dunt Pannutius li aveit conquist.
Puis, cum il orent tuz devotement,
Pol, le major disciple Antoine, vit erraument
Un lit el ciel od mut precius aurnement
E treis virges le gardirent mut cherement.
Quant vit cel lit si richement aurné,
Çoe dist chau pas: “Çoe est la grace a Antonie l’abbé.”
Lores, oit une voiz ki sifaitement li dit:
“Ne mie, mes a Thais, que Dex ad eslit.”
Al demain, quant Pannutius entendu l’aveit
Kar Dex si bele grace a Thais ad fait,
Departi s’en od joie, a cel abbeie alat
En laquele Thais enclose demorat,
E l’us qu’il encelé aveit depeçat.
E qu’ele eissit chau pas seintement comandat,
E dist: “Bele file, Dex t’at regardé,
Kar tun pecchié t’at ja, çoe sachiez, pardoné.”
Thais començat dunkes a parler
E rovat qu’il la lessat iloec plus demorer,
E dist: “Dex le seet, çoe est trestut mun desir,
Çoe peise me ke joe dei si tost eissir.
Mes, pere, joe frai sulunc vostre pleisir,
Kar joe espeir ben, par vos, a Dampnedeu venir.”
E li abbez dist: “Ven fors tut asseurement,
Kar tun pecché t’est pardoné, ne dotés nient.”
E ele respundi, e dist: “Puis ke joe cenz entrei,
Dex en trai a testimoine d’içoe ke vus dirrai:
Mes pecches unkes une hore ne obliai,
Mes devant mes oilz nuit e jur pendu les ai,
E nient plus ne departiverent puis de mun vis
Ke l’alme ne fist de mun piz, seo seiez tu tut de fis.
Mes totes hures, çoe sachez, pur els plorai,
E ore, bel pere, mut ennuiz de ci m’en istrai.”
Dunc dist Pannutius: “Nient sul pur ta penitence
T’at Dompnedeu faite iceste pardonance,
Mes pur çoe que en cest pour est tun quer.
Çoe t’at valu, bele file, e tun humble penser.
E la merci Deu e la sue pité,
Assouz seez tu de tut viel pecché.”
Dunc eissit Thais e mut plurat tendrement,
Mes ne vesquid puis fors .xv. jorz solement.
Puis, transi mut seintement de ceste vie.
Del lit que Pol vit est ele vestue e saisie.
Ensample pernum de ceste dame
Ke tant fut peccheresce e de male fame,
Mes ele guerpi sun pecché, e prist confessiun,
E vint puis a seinte salvatiun.
Lessum noz folies, e seculers e freres.
E nus ke pecchum en plusurs maneres,
E de tuz noz folies confessiun prengum,
Kar Dex nus apelet, disant, si vulum:
“Venez a mei, vus qui estes chargiez,
E joe vus allegerai de tuz vos pecchez.”
Kar greindre joie funt les angles el ciel de un peccheur
Ki, par penitence, revent a sun Seignur,
Ke de nonante noef, sachez, ke justes sunt,
Ke de nule penitence mester nen unt.
Pur çoe, quant Dex nus apele si amiablement
E de noz pecchez nus pramist alegement,
E li angle sunt haité de nostre penitence,
Corum dunc a confessiun senz demorence.
Kar chescun pecché, çoe sachez de fi,
En cest secle u en l’autre serrat espeni.
Kar ja ne seit si petit le mal ki li hom ait fait,
Ke il ne soffrat pur çoe tant cum çoe sait.
E pur chescun ben ke l’em fait, ensement,
Si averat guerdun de Deu, çoe ne dotez nient.
Les pecchez ki les homes en ceste secle funt
En treis maneres espeni serrunt:
U il memes se penerunt si par confessiun;
U par disciplines, par junes e par ureisun;
U Dex, el feu de purgatiun, penerat
Celui qui ces pecchez espeni ci nen averat.
E se il en ces lius ne sunt espurgez,
Enz es peines d’enfern senz fin serrunt dampnez.
Pur çoe, par la grace de Deu, ci nus amendirum,
Ke nus pur nos pecchez ne verrium.
Par veire penitence, cum cest dame fist,
Si requerum Nostre Sire Jhesu Crist
K’il nus duinst faire tele penitence ici
Ke nus puissun senz fin regner, od Thaisi. Amen.


There was at one time a lady named THAIS,
Available to all, and she was so prized,
And frequented fools and lechers so much,
That, on her account, many were consigned to hell.
They came often to give her their goods,
Often impoverishing themselves because of her,
And those wont to gratify themselves with her
Created disturbances in front of Thais’s door
And frequently fought with each another.
When ABBOT PAPHNUTIUS heard about this,
He disguised himself, donning secular clothes;
Toward the Egyptian city where this lady lived
He went forth, taking with him one shilling,
For, by God’s grace, he hoped to reform this forlorn one.
Next, he offered her this shilling as if he meant to sin with her.
She took the shilling, saying: “We ought to enter here
So that I may repay my debt to you.”
Going inside with her, the abbot came to a lovely bed
Richly adorned with brocade and tapestry,
But he was not at all tempted; indeed, he scorned it,
For he was a very good and perfect monk.
Thereupon, she begged him to sit on the bed,
And the abbot began to speak as follows:
“Take me to a more private place, if there is one,
Where I may satisfy my desire more comfortably,
For it seems to me shameful,” he said, “to lie here
Where others may easily discover us.”
“I can,” she said, “lead you further in
Where no one other than God may see us;
But it is still abundantly clear to the eye of God,
For nothing can ever hide from him.”
Then Paphnutius was glad in his heart
As he heard Thais mention Almighty God.
“Do you know, then, who God is,” he said to her,
“Who gives to each according to what he does here?”
“I believe,” she said, “that God is omnipotent,
That he reigns without beginning and without end,
And that we must all come before his judgment.
He will place some in bliss, and others in torment.”
“Since you know this, why are you deluded?
For you’ve caused the loss of many souls by your wantonness.
Now you’ll have to answer not just for yourself,
But also for the others whom you’ve thus damned,
And on account of their damnation you’ll have twice the torment,
Wretch, born in an evil hour, if God doesn’t take pity on you!”
The abbot spoke and preached with so much holiness
That she began to weep profoundly,
Fell at his feet, and asked for penance./nobr>
She immediately took the holy abbot’s advice.
“But I ask for three days’ respite,” she said,
“And then I’ll go wherever you command.”
Thereupon, she gathered together her belongings,
And burned them all in the city center.
Forty pounds in worth was the dress
That she’d purchased through this filth.
Then she said to those who’d fooled with her:
“Come see how I abandon my sin!
You’re all burdened with sin on account of me.
May God, who’s called me to him, protect you.”
Then Thais left, with great devotion,
To the place appointed by Paphnutius.
Then he placed her among ladies in a monastery,
Leaving her there to do penance.
He closed her up by herself in a small cell
And sealed up the cell’s door with lead,
And, by the amount he specified, a little bread and water
Was given to her through a window, as he ordered.
When Abbot Paphnutius was about to leave,
Thais began to ask him:
“Dear father, how should I pray to Almighty God?
And where should I relieve myself naturally?”
He said: “You’ll relieve yourself in your cell,
And you’ll suffer the hardship you deserve.
Never lift your hands toward heaven,
Nor mention Almighty God with your mouth,
For your hands are full of great filth,
And your mouth is full of great wickedness.
For this reason, you’ll have to endure this harsh treatment
If you wish to be pardoned for your sins.
You’ll position yourself only toward the east
And say these words very frequently:
‘Dear Lord, who created me when I was nothing,
Have mercy on me, for I am a sinner.’”
When he had charitably instructed her,
He departed, leaving her in the house.
When she’d been shut in for three years
And carried out her penance,
Paphnutius went to Abbot Anthony
To learn whether God had pardoned her her sin.
Thereupon, Anthony called his monks together
And asked them to keep vigil that night in orisons,
Praying that God make a sign
Of this thing Paphnutius asked about.
Then, while they were all devoutly praying,
Paul, Anthony’s chief disciple, suddenly saw
In the sky a preciously ornamented bed
Guarded most lovingly by three virgins.
Upon seeing this richly adorned bed,
He said at once: “This signifies the grace of Abbot Anthony.”
Thereupon, he heard a voice saying thus:
“Not at all, but rather of Thais, chosen by God.”
The following day, when Paphnutius heard
That God had granted Thais such grace,
He departed joyfully, went to the abbey
Where Thais remained enclosed,
And broke open the door he’d sealed shut.
With holiness he asked her to come out at once,
Saying: “Dear girl, God has watched over you,
For he’s truly pardoned your sin, believe this.”
Thais began then to speak
And asked him to let her stay there longer,
Saying: “God knows, this is wholly my desire.
It grieves me that I should leave so soon.
But, father, I’ll act according to your pleasure,
For I dearly hope, through you, to come to Almighty God.”
And the abbot said: “Come out confidently,
For your sin is pardoned, have no fear.”
She answered, saying: “Since the time I’ve entered here,
I call God as my witness for what I tell you:
I never for a single hour forgot my sins,
But had them suspended before my eyes night and day,
And, since then, they’ve never departed from my eyes
So that my soul doesn’t forget my sins, you may be sure.
But, believe this, I wept for them at all times,
And now, dear father, I’ll leave here most reluctantly.”
Then Paphnutius said: “Not only for your penance
Has Almighty God granted this forgiveness,
But because you’ve had this fear in your heart.
This, dear girl, and your humble mind have aided you.
By God’s mercy and compassion,
You are absolved of all former sins.”
Then Thais went outside and wept profoundly,
But she lived outside for only fifteen days.
Thereupon, she departed with holiness from this life.
She lay clothed on the bed seen by Paul and was taken up.
Let’s take a lesson from this lady
Who was such a sinner of ill repute,
Yet she abandoned her sin, confessed,
And then came to holy salvation.
Let us give up our folly, seculars and brothers.
And we who sin in diverse ways,
Let’s confess all our folly,
For, if we wish, God calls us, saying:
“Come to me, you who are weighed down,
And I will relieve you of all your sins.”
For angels make greater joy in heaven over a sinner
Who, by penance, returns to his Lord,
Than for ninety-nine righteous ones, believe me,
Who have no need of penance.
Therefore, when God so kindly calls us
And promises relief for our sins,
And promises relief for our sins,
Let’s run unhesitatingly to confession.
For each sin, know for certain,
Will be expiated in this world or the other.
No matter how small a wrong a man has done,
He’ll suffer for it as greatly as it deserves.
And, likewise, for every good deed that he does,
He’ll have reward from God, don’t doubt this at all.
The sins that men in this world commit
Will be expiated in three ways:
They themselves will do penance by confession;
Or [adhere] to discipline, by fasting and prayer;
Or else, in purgatory’s fire, God will punish
Those who haven’t here expiated their sins.
And if they’re not purged in these places,
They’ll be damned endlessly to the pains of hell.
Therefore, by God’s grace, let’s amend ourselves now,
So that we not perish for our sins.
By means of true penance, just like this lady,
Let us beseech Our Lord Jesus Christ
That he enable us to perform such penance here
That we may, with Thais, reign without end. Amen.


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