St. Jerome and the Lion


1 Although the unique manuscript copy in New Haven, Yale University, MS Beinecke 317, presents this text as "Chapter 20" of Winter's Life of Saint Jerome, for reasons outlined above in the Introduction to Saint Jerome's legend, we have treated the lion episode as a separate composition, with its own line numbers and separate endnotes.

2 even, evening.

3 collacyon, evening reading; haltynge, limping.

4 see, saw.

5 ayenst, against (towards).

7 bysily, carefully.

8 fonde, found; be, been.

9 do cure, done (taken care); wex hoole, grew healthy.

12 be, by; enjoyned, laid upon.

13 kepe, protect.

14 parke, private forest.

17 fette, receive.

20 come be the wey, came along; stale, stole.

23 yatys, gates; thurft, dared.

24 latter, later.

25 wende, guessed (believed).

26 yeve, give.

27 dele, part.

29 yef, [to see] if.

30-31 ryth nought fynde, find right nothing (find nothing at all).

33 hewgh, hewed (chopped).

36 wyst, known; sone, soon.

37 lade, laden (loaded).

44 bad, bade (gave order).

46 with glad and faunynge chere, with a display of joy and affection.

50 that, what.

54 benyngly lyfte, graciously lifted.

58 caryage, baggage.

59 unnethe, reluctantly.

60 behyghte, promised.

61 charge . . . after, legally impose upon their heirs in perpetuity the obligation to make the same annual gift.

64-65 entendyd of herte to hospytalyté, gave our attention to hospitality from the heart.

65 saf, save (i.e., except for).

69 take, given.

72 Caldé, Chaldee.

76 werre, war; wykkyd lyvarys, evil-doers.

79 ynsolent, extravagant.

84 good loos, fair renown.

85 myslyvarys, unbelievers (evil-doers).

86 to my repref, to accuse me.

87-88 the mede of his behest, his promised reward.

88 desiderable temptacyon, desirable trial.


Abbreviations: Y = New Haven, Yale University Library MS Beinecke 317, fols. 20r-21v [base text].

1 prest and relygiows man. In many medieval calendars and liturgical books, Jerome's traditional cognomen was simply presbyter (priest), or, later, presbyter et doctor. The addition of relygiows man here specifically identifies him also as a monk. The insertion of such an introductory epithet here (lacking in LA) may be another indication that this translation of the lion story was originally self-contained and separate from Winter's work.

1-2 Beethlem . . . south syde. This detail, not in LA, is in Plerosque nimirum (Pseudo-Sebastian), PL 22.206: Bethleem . . . . quod ab Jerosolymis sex milibus separatur contra meridianam plagam.

3 collacyon. Anglicized form of Latin collatio, conference (lit.,"bringing together"). In monastic usage, it meant the gathering of monks after supper to hear and discuss a reading from the early Christian lives and maxims of the desert fathers (Vitae patrum) or from the Conferences of Cassian (early fifth century).

7 waisshe. In Y, was is awkwardly corrected above the line in a contemporary hand, perhaps the original scribe's.

12 profyghte. A late ME variant, influenced by Latin profectus, of ME profit (from OF profit).

12-13 enjoyned . . . this offyce. Hoc injunxit officium,"assigned a duty to the lion" (LA, ed. Maggioni, p. 656; trans. Ryan, 2.214).

17 fette. Literally"fetch," but here"get" or"receive." The lion was used to being fed by the monks each evening.

21 here. This is the only time the ass is referred to as female.

23 thurft. Preterite singular of the ME preterite-present verb thurven,"to need" (from OE þurfan); here, however, it means"dared," through a common ME confusion with durren,"to dare." See MED thurven 8(c).

46 faunynge chere. Translator's addition (LA merely has laetus,"glad"). Faunynge means physically showing affection and delight as dogs and other animals do (OE fægnian,"rejoice"; compare the now archaic English word fain,"glad," and see OED, fawn, vb.1).

48-49 or ellys . . . his felowe. This last clause seems to be the translator's addition, perhaps with a hint of sarcasm at the first explanation.

61 evyre after. The lion story proper thus ends with a gesture of formal lay charity, typical of the medieval era. The anonymous Syon author of the translation of the lion episode now departs from his source in LA, apparently to avoid repeating material already included in Winter's original translation of the life of Jerome. He provides the lion episode with a coda by reworking other material, omitted by Winter, from the closing section of the LA life. This material is skillfully linked to the end of the lion story through the motif of Jerome's charity. Although the lion episode proper ends with the considerable enrichment of Jerome's foundation by the oil merchants' bequest, the English translator borrows a short quotation from a later passage of the LA chapter, and thereby deftly refocuses the reader's attention on the charity the monastery gives to outsiders, implying that whatever wealth the monks have gained has been earned for them by their master and the customs he instituted.

64-65 we entendyd of herte to hospytalyté. A stiffly literal rendering of hospitalitati ex corde intendimus,"we extend hospitality from the heart" (LA, ed. Maggioni, p. 658, trans. Ryan, 2.215).

68-69 whatsoever was askyd . . . eny delay. Not from LA, but Pseudo-Sebastian, Plerosque nimirum, PL 22.207 (Mombrizio, p. 32, lines 44-45: et undecumque interrogatus fuisset paratum haberet et competens sine aliqua dillatione responsum).

69-71 yef ther were take hym a book . . . that he redde. This passage is not in LA. In Pseudo-Sebastian's Plerosque nimirum the equivalent material, which the English translator follows fairly closely, occurs shortly after the passage quoted in the previous note, long before the lion episode. See Mombrizio, p. 32, lines 54-58: Tanta namque utriusque linguae peritia fungebatur ut quoscumque libros æolicos in manibus acciperet: latine sine offensione transcurreret: iterumque latinos attico sermone legeret: ut crederetur hoc sermone conscriptum hic esse scriptum quod eius os inoffensa velocitate fundebat. Compare PL 22.207.

72 Caldé . . . Arabyke. This information is not in LA but occurs in Pseudo-Sebastian, Plerosque nimirum, somewhat earlier than the passage quoted in the previous note. Mombrizio, p. 32, lines 38-39 (also PL 22.206): Daniellem quoque prophetam Chaldæo stillo locutum [var. sermone prolocutum] et Job justum Arabico, in romanam linguam . . . mutavit. The ultimate source is Jerome's prologues to his editions of Daniel and Job in the Vulgate Bible (see Weber et al., eds., Biblia sacra, fourth ed., pp. 731, 1341); the prefaces are translated in Schaff and Wace, A Select Library, 6.491-93."Chaldee" is an old name for classical or imperial Aramaic, a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew and widely used in the Babylonian and Persian empires. The Book of Daniel, as extant, is composed partly in Aramaic, and partly in Hebrew. Pseudo-Sebastian exaggerates in implying the Book of Job was written in Arabic; Jerome in his preface describes it as a mixture of Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac. More accurately, its Hebrew vocabulary is richly idiosyncratic, with numerous loanwords from the neighboring Semitic languages, including Arabic, Akkadian, and Aramaic. See Buttrick, ed., The Interpreters' Bible, 3.892.

73-74 And therfor . . . weste. With this passage, the translator returns to the collection of"testimonies" in LA (trans. Ryan, 2.215).

75 his enemyes. In LA (trans. Ryan, 2.215) this passage, on Jerome's defense of the Church against heretics and the attacks he suffered in return, is carefully adapted from Sulpicius Severus, Dialogues 1.8, in which two characters (Postumianus and Gallus) offer somewhat different views of Jerome. See the translation by Hoare, Western Fathers, pp. 77-79.

77 Lollardys. LA merely has haeretici; the Lollards, who preached Church reform and espoused various unorthodox theological positions, were fifteenth-century England's best-known heretical sect.

81 ad Gallam. LA (ed. Maggioni, p. 1009, trans. Ryan, 2.216) has ad Asellam, to whom Jerome wrote his Letter 24, defending himself against the Roman clergy and protesting their mistreatment of him, in 385. Asella was an elderly Roman woman of great humility, who lived"enclosed," i.e., in voluntary solitude. Gallam doubtless is due to textual corruption.

84 be ynfamye . . . good loos. The second pair of opposites is the translator's addition; compare LA: scio ad regnum pervenire per infamiam et bonam famam,"I know how to get to heaven, whether others think well or ill of me" (ed. Maggioni, p. 1009, trans. Ryan, 2.216).

88 desiderable temptacyon. A near-literal rendering of LA's"desirable . . . trial" (desideranda [var. desiderata] tentatio, ed. Maggioni, p. 1009; trans. Ryan, 2.216), explaining, as a test of his capacity for patient suffering, the hostility and vituperation Jerome often incurred (in reality, he often failed the test). ME desiderable is a learned formation (now obsolete), from Latin desiderabilis, alongside ME (and OF) desirable.

94 Here endith . . . Jerom. Immediately following in Y, but omitted here, are the same Latin liturgical anthems and prayer that are found in the other copies after the end of Winter's chapter 19, printed above.
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St. Jerome and the Lion

St. Jerome and the Lion, from New Haven, Yale University MS Beinecke 317, fols. 20r-21v



















How be the byddynge of Seynt Jerom a lyon was keper of an asse and of the wysdom and
pacyence of Seynt Jerom. Capitulum 20. 1

    Seynt Jerom prest and relygiows man whan he dwellyd yn Beethlem, which is vi.
myle fro Jerusalem on the south syde, on an even as he sat with his bretheryn and
herde the holy lesson of here collacyon, there come sodeynly a lyon haltynge ynto the
monastery and whan the bretheryn see hym they ran awey for drede. But Seynt Jerom
went ayenst hym as ayenst a gest to receyve hym. Than the lyon shewde his foot that
was hurte to Seynt Jerom. Wherfore he callyd his brederyn ayen and badde hem
waisshe the lyons foot and seke bysily where the sore was and so they dyd and they
fonde that the sole of his foot was as hit had be woundyd and kut wyth knyves. And
after they had do cure and leyde medycynes therto hit wex hoole and the lyon, levynge
all his wyldnesse and fersnesse, dwellyd amonge theym as a tame best. Than Seynt
Jerom, seenge that God had not sent that lyon to theym oonly for helynge of his foot
but also for theire profyghte, be cownseyle of his bretheryn he enjoyned the lyon this
offyce: that he sholde dryve to pasture and kepe an asse which thei had to fecche
home wode fro the parke. And the lyon obeyed, for every dey yn maner of a shipherde,
he had out the asse to his pasture and abode with hym contynually as his felow and
defensour, and such tyme as the asse was wont to be brougth home for to laboure,
the lyon brought hym home bothe for to fette his owen mete and for to brynge home
the asse.
    But on a day hit happyd that while the asse was yn his pasture the lyon felle sore
aslepe and marchawntys that come be the wey, and see nothynge but the asse, stale
the asse and had here forthe with theym. And whan the lyon awooke and fonde not
his felow, he roryd and went abowte rorynge and whan he fonde hym not he turnyd
home soryly to the yatys of the monasterye. But he thurft not entyre as he was wont,
for shame. Whan the bretheryn of the hows see that he come latter than he was wont
to doo, and that he brought not the asse with hym, they wende that for hungire he had
ete the asse and therfor they wolde not yeve hym his mete that he was wont to have,
but they seyde unto hym, "Goo and ete that other dele of the asse as thou hast begonne,
and fulfylle thi glotenye." Nevertheles, for they were yn doute whedire the lyon had
do such trespas, they went ynto the pastoure and sought alle aboute yef they myght
have fownde eny token of the asse that he had be slayn; and whan they cowde ryth
nought fynde, they turnyd home and tolde Seynt Jerom alle that was doo. Than Seynt
Jerom had theym put the lyon to the same offyce that the asse was wonte to use and
so they dyd. They hewgh wode and leyde hit upon the lyon as they were wont to do
upon the asse and he suffred and bare hit pacyently. On a day whan the lyon had do
his laboure, he went out yn to the felde and ran abowte fro place to place, as yef he
wold have wyst what had befalle of his felaw the asse. And thus sone he see aferre
how the marchawntys come with theire camelys lade and the asse goynge before
hem. For the maner of that contré ys, that whan they goo ferre with theire camelys,
they make an asse go before hem with a rope abowte his nekke, to lede hem the ryght
wey. But whan the lyon knewe the asse he ran upon theym with a gret rorynge and
alle the men fledde and ran awey for drede. Than the lyon ferfully cryenge and rorynge
smot the grownde strongly with his tayle and made alle the camelys, as they were lade
with marchawndyse goo before hym home to the abbeye. Whan the bretheryn see
this, they tolde Seynt Jerom and he bad that they shulde waysshe theire gestys feet,
that is to say the camelys feet, and yeve hem mete and abyde the wyll of oure Lorde
therupon. Than the lyon ran abowte the monasterye and with glad and faunynge chere
he felle down prostrate at eche brotherys feet and waggynge his tayle he semyd to
aske foryefnes of the trespas, that he had not do as he sholde have do; or ellys more
veryly he made joye for the fyndynge of his felowe. But Seynt Jerom knowynge yn
spiryt what was to come, bad his bretheryn make redy that was necessarye for gestys
that were comynge. And while he was spekynge ther come a messengere to hym and
seyde that men were come to the yate that wolde speke with the abbot. Seynt Jerom
wente unto hem and they felle down prostrate at his feet and askyd hym foryefnesse
for stelynge of the asse. But he benyngly lyfte hem up and bad hem ryse and toke hem
ynto the abbey and shewyd hem gret charyté and humanyté. And afterwarde he
delyvered theym theire camelys with all theire marchawndyse and bad them take
theire owen and stele noon other mannys. Than they prayed Seynt Jerom that he
wolde take half the oyle that they had yn here caryage yn the wey of charyté, but he
wolde not assente. Nevertheles they compellyd hym so ferforth that unnethe he bad
his bretheryn take hit. And they behyghte that they wolde yeve so moche oyle eche
yere to his bretheryn and to charge theire eyrys with the same for evyre after.
    In this is shewde gret charyté of Seynt Jerom that he had yn kepynge of hospytalyté,
for not only he receyvyd men but also bestys to his charyté, and therfor he wrytith
hymself and sayeth thus, "In my monasterye," he sayeth, "we entendyd of herte to
hospytalyté, for we receyve alle with glad chere and waysshe theyre feet, saf only
heretykys." And as the holy man Severe wrytyth of hym, he was so excellent yn
connynge of Latyn, Grew, and Hebrew, that yn all connynge noon was lyke unto
hym. For whatsoever was askyd of hym he had redy a competent answere withoute
eny delay. And yef ther were take hym a book of Grew he wolde rede hit forthwith yn
Latyn. And a Latyn book ayenward as redily yn Grew withoute stomblynge, as yef
the same langwage had be wryte before hym that he redde. He translatyd the Book of
Danyel out of the tonge of Caldé, and the Bok of Job out of the tonge of Arabyke ynto
Latyn. And therfor sayeth Seynt Austyn that hys wysdom and eloquence shone as the
sonne out of the east ynto the weste. And oo thynge he laboryd ever yn all his studye:
that the enemyes of Crystys chirche shulde alwey be his enemyes. And therfor he had
contynualle werre agenst wykkyd lyvarys and mysbelevars. And therfor heretykes
and Lollardys hated hym because he impugnyd theire heresyes so myghtyly and wysly
that noon myght withstonde hym. Clerkys also hatyd hym for he sparyd not to blame
theire ynsolent lyvynge and theyre synnes. But alle good folke lovyde hym and had
hym yn worship. And how pacyently he took all detraccyon and persecucyon that
was doo ayenst hym, he showyth hymsilf yn a pystyll that he wrot ad Gallam where
he wrytyth thus. "I thonke God," he sayeth, "that I am fownde worthi to be hatyd of
the worlde, for they calle me a wykkyd doare. But I kan goo to the kyngdom of Hevyn
be ynfamye and be good fame, be sklawndire and be good loos. And wolde God that
for the name of my Lord and for His ryghtwynesse alle the myslyvarys of the worlde
shulde pursewe me. Wolde God that all the worlde shulde ryse agenst me to my repref
so that I mote deserve to be preysid of Cryst and that I mote hope to have the mede of
his behest. For hit is an acceptable and a desiderable temptacyon, whereof mede and
rewarde is hopyd to be had of Cryst yn Hevyn. And cursynge and sklawndire is not
grevows whan hit is chawngyd for the preysynge of God. And that trybulacyon is
joyfull and pacyently to be suffred which getyth grace here and endles blys hereafter."
To the which grace and blys oure lord Jhesu brynge us, thorough prayers and desertys
of this gloryows Seynt Jerom. Amen.
    Here endith the lyf of the holy doctoure Seynt Jerom.

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