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7. Zabyon


1 defensour, defender.

2 slee, slay.

4 discomfited, defeated.

5 wolde, would; ho, who.

6 werre, war.

8-9 engyne, engine (torture device).

9 boote, but.

11 leese, lose.

13 Geete, Get.

17 deed, dead.

25 stronde, beach.

26 andz2, if.

27 myddes, midst.

31 deliveraunce, rescue.

33 thenke, think.


ABBREVIATIONS: B = Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Bühler (1941); CA = Gower's Confessio Amantis; CT = Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; G = Pierpont Morgan Library MS G.66; MED = Middle English Dictionary; OED = Oxford English Dictionary; S = Scrope, Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Schofield (1936).

These explanatory notes cannot hope to provide a complete accounting for the source of every proverbial statement in Dicts and Sayings. That task would be a separate book in its own right. Instead, I have attempted to contextualize this rather heterogeneous body of lore by identifying the people and places named in the text, as well as noting points that may be of interest to students and general readers. Those interested in tracing the source of particular quotations should begin by consulting Whiting's Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500. Readers are also invited to consult the thorough notes to Knust's Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the original Arabic ancestor of Dicts and Sayings.

1 Zabyon. Schofield notes that in the Arabic version of Dicts and Sayings, this philosopher is named Zenon (S, p. 208n25). The most famous sage with this name is Zenon (or Zeno) of Citium (c. 344-c. 262 BC), the Greek philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer who studied with the Cynics and later was the founder of the Stoic movement. Given the chronological arrangement of the philosophers, however, Zeno of Citium, who lived after the likes of Socrates and Plato, probably would not appear so early in the text. More likely this is Zeno of Elea (c. 490-c. 430 BC), a member of the Eleatic School, whose members questioned everyday perceptions of reality.

16 And seith that alle evell is in dilectacion of money. For other manifestations of this maxim, see Whiting E176.

24 a yong man. Although the speakers in Dicts and Sayings tend to offer most of their counsel to the powerful - as befits a text that owes much to the "Mirror for Princes" narratives that present advice to aristocrats - here Zabyon speaks at length to an ordinary young man. As I explain in the Introduction, works of medieval wisdom literature often adopt a narrative framework in which an older man addresses a younger man, usually in the context of a father giving advice to his son; see, for instance, How the Goode Man Taght Hys Sone (Trials and Joys, ed. Salisbury, pp. 233-45).


18 Ande. G: nde preceded by a blank space for a capital A.





Zabyon was a grete defensour of his frendis, and he had suche frendis whiche
a kinge hadde thought for to slee. And whan Zabyon knewe therof he wente unto
hem for to helpe hem agenste the same kinge. And thanne the king assembled
grete people and discomfited hem, and there was Zabyon taken, and the kinge
commaunded that he shulde be gretly turmented in caas that he wolde nat telle ho
were thei that were consentynge for to make him werre. And Zabyon aunsuered
and seide: for no peyne that myght be done unto him, he wolde never telle any-
thinge that shulde hurte his frendis; and evyn forthwithall, he, beynge in an en-
gyne, boote of his owen tunge to that entente that he shulde have no power for to
accuse his frendys. That same Zabyon leved forty-eight yer, and heraftir folowe his
seyengis. Zabyon seide to his dissiples: "Yf ye leese anythinge, loke ye seye nat that
ye have loste it, but seye that ye have made restitucion of that that was nat yours."
And seide to oon of his dyssiples: "Geete thee many freendys, and thei shull aswage
thi thoughtis." And seith: "A wyseman shulde kepe him from weddynge of a feyre
wyffe, for many oon wolde have her love, and by that the wyf might sette thee lasse
by here husbande." And seith that alle evell is in dilectacion of money. And oon of
his men came to him and seid that he hadde but oon soone and he was deed, to
the whiche he seid [fol. 10v] that he knewe wel that he was mortall, and nat immortall. Ande
seith that a man aught nat to doute ne feere the deeth of the bodye, but oonly the
deeth of the soulle. Thanne it was aunsuered him, seyng thus: "Wilt thu seye that
a resonable soulle maye deye?" And he aunsuerd and seide: "Loke whanne a reson-
able soulle is converted into the natur of a beest withoute usynge reason, nathwith-
standinge that it is a substaunce incoruptible, yet it is taken for deed for it losith
the lyffe of undirstandinge." And as he wente by the see-syde, he sawe a yong man
syttinge on the stronde, weepynge and sigheng for the advercitees of this worlde.
And this Zabyon came unto him and seide: "Soone, be nat in dyspeire, for and thu
were never so riche and thu were in the myddes of the see in peryle of thi body and
of thi goodis, yet woldest thu wysshe no goodis but that thi body myght oonly be
saved; and yf thu were a kinge, and taken into pryson and thyne enemyes wolde
slee thee and depryve thee of alle thi goodis and thy realme, thu woldest nat desire
noon erthely thinge, but oonly the deliveraunce of thi body." The yonge man aun-
suered him and seide that he seide true, and thanne seide Zabyon to him: "Loke
that thu thenke that and alle thes perilles hadde come to thee and thu haddest
eskaped hem, thu woldest have bene wele contente of the state that thu standiste
inne at this tyme." And so departed the yonge man from Zabyon gretly comforted.

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