« Prev Rabanus Maurus Next »

§ 167. Rabanus Maurus.


I. Rabanus Maurus: Opera omnia, in Migne, Tom. CVII.-CXII. His Carmina are in Dümmler’s Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, II. 159–258. Migne’s edition is a reprint, with additions, of that of Colvenerius, Cologne, 1617, but is not quite complete, for Dümmler gives new pieces, and others are known to exist in MS.

II. The Prolegomena in Migne, CVII. col. 9–106, which contains the Vitae by Mabillon, Rudolf, Raban’s pupil, and by Trithemius. Johann Franz Buddeus: Dissertatio de vita ac doctrina Rabani Mauri Magnentii, Jena, 1724. Friedrich Heinrich Christian Schwarz: Commentatio de Rabano Mauro, primo Germaniae praeceptore (Program). Heidelberg, 1811. Johann Konrad Dahl: Leben und Schriften des Erzbischofs Rabanus Maurus. Fulda, 1828. Nicolas Bach: Hrabanus Maurus; der Schöpfer des deutschen Schulwesens (Program). Fulda, 1835. Friedrich Kunstmann: Hrabanus Magnentius Maurus. Mainz, 1841. Theodor Spengler: Leben des heiligen Rhabanus Maurus. Regensburg, 1856. Köhler: Hrabanus Maurus und die Schule zu Fulda (Dissertation). Leipzig, 1870. Richter: Babanus Maurus. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Paedagogik im Mittelalter (Program). Malchin, 1883. Cf. E. F. J. Dronke: Codex dip Fuld. Cassel, 1850. J. Bass Mullinger: The Schools of Charles the Great. London, 1877, pp. 188–157. J. F. Böhmer: Regesten zur Gesch. d. Mainzer Erzbischöfe, ed. C. Will. 1. Bd. a.d. 742–1160. Innsbruck, 1877.

III. Du Pin, VII. 160–166. Ceillier, XII. 446–476. Hist. Lit. de la France, V. 151–203. Bähr, 415–447. Ebert, II. 120–145.


His Life.


Magnentius Hrabanus Maurus is the full name, as written by himself,12161216    Praefatio to his De laudibus sanctae crucis Migne, CVII. col. 147, 148. Magnentius indicates his birth at Mainz. which was called in the Old High German Magenze (see Ebert II. 121 n.). Hrabanus is the Latinized form of Hraban (i e.“raven ”). Rabanus is the ordinary spelling. Maurus was the epithet given to him by Alcuin (Migne, CIX. col. 10) to indicate that in Rabanus were found the virtues which had made Maurus the favorite disciple of the great St. Benedict. of one of the greatest scholars and teachers of the Carolingian age. He was born in Mainz12171217    Cf. his self-written epitaph, Migne, CXII. col. 1671. about 776. At the age of nine he was placed by his parents in the famous Benedictine monastery of Fulda, in the Grand-duchy of Hesse, which was then in a very flourishing condition under Baugolf (780–802). There he received a careful education both in sacred and secular learning, for Baugolf was himself a classical scholar. Raban took the monastic vows, and in 801 was ordained deacon. In 802 Baugolf died and was succeeded by Ratgar. The new abbot at first followed the example of his predecessor, and in order to keep up the reputation of the monastery for learning he sent the brightest of the inmates to Tours to receive the instruction of Alcuin, not only in theology but particularly in the liberal arts. Among them was Raban, who indeed had a great desire to go. The meeting of the able and experienced, though old, wearied and somewhat mechanical teacher, and the fresh, vigorous, insatiable student, was fraught with momentous consequences for Europe. Alcuin taught Raban far more than book knowledge; he fitted him to teach others, and so put him in the line of the great teachers—Isidore, Bede, Alcuin. Between Alcuin and Raban there sprang up a very warm friendship, but death removed the former in the same year in which Raban returned to Fulda (804), and so what would doubtless have been a most interesting correspondence was limited to a single interchange of letters.12181218    Only one of the two, Alcuin’s, has been preserved (Migne, C. col. 398). That Raban wrote first is a reasonable conjecture from Alcuin’s letter. Cf Mullinger, p. 139.

Raban was appointed principal of the monastery’s school. In his work he was at first assisted by Samuel, his fellow-pupil at Tours, but when the latter was elected bishop of Worms Raban carried on the school alone. The new abbot, Ratgar, quickly degenerated into a tyrant with an architectural mania. He begrudged the time spent in study and instruction. Accordingly he chose very effective measures to break up the school. He took the books away from the scholars and even from their principal, Raban Maur.12191219    In a poem (Migne, CXII. col. 1600) addressed to Ratgar, he gently pleads for the return of his books and papers. In another longer poem he describes the defection caused by Ratgar’s tyranny (ibid. col. 1621). In 807 the monastery was visited with a malignant fever, and a large proportion of the monks, especially of the younger ones, died, and many left. Thus by death and defection the number was reduced from 400 to 150, but those who remained had to work all the harder. It was probably during this period of misrule and misery that Raban made his journey to Palestine, to which, however, he only once alludes.12201220    In his comment on Joshua xi. 8 (Migne, CVIII. col. 1053, l. 38). On December 23, 814, he was ordained priest.12211221    Migne, CVII. col. 15.

In 817 Ratgar was deposed and Raban’s friend Eigil elected in his place.12221222    See p. 700. With Eigil a better day dawned for the monastery. Raban was now unhampered in teaching and able once more to write. The school grew so large that it had to be divided. Those scholars who were designed for the secular life were taught in a separate place outside the monastery. The library was also much increased.

In 822 Eigil died and Raban was elected his successor. He proved a good leader in spiritual affairs. He took personal interest in the monks, and frequently preached to them. He paid particular attention to the education of the priests. He compiled books for their especial benefit, and as far as possible taught in the school, particularly on Biblical topics. The principal of the school under him was Canadidus, already mentioned as the biographer of Eigil.12231223    See. p. 701. His most famous pupils belong to this period: Servatus Lupus, Walahfrid Strabo (826–829) and Otfrid. He showed his passion for collecting relics, which he enshrined in a very costly way. He also built churches and extended the influence of Fulda by colonizing his monks in different places, adding six affiliated monasteries to the sixteen already existing.

In the spring of 842 Raban laid down his office and retired to the “cell” on the Petersberg, in the neighborhood of Fulda. There he thought he should be able to end his days in literary activity undisturbed by the cares of office. To this end he called in the aid of several assistants and so worked rapidly. But he was too valuable a man to be allowed to retire from active life. Accordingly on the death of Otgar, archbishop of Mainz (April 21, 847), he was unanimously elected by the chapter, the nobility and the people of Mainz his successor. He reluctantly consented, and was consecrated June 26, 847. In October of that year he held his first synod in the monastery of St. Alban’s, Mainz. It was a provincial council by command of Louis the German. Among the notables present were his suffragans, Samuel of Worms, his former fellow-teacher, Ebo of Hildesheim, Haymo of Halberstadt, his fellow-student under Alcuin, and also Ansgar of Hamburg, who had come to plead for the Northern mission. This synod renewed the command to the priests to preach. In this act Raban is recognized. On October 1, 848, a second synod was held at Mainz, which is memorable as the first in which the Gottschalk matter was discussed. Gottschalk had been a pupil at Fulda and his course had incurred the anger of Raban, who accordingly opposed him in the council. The result was that the synod decided adversely to Gottschalk and sent him for judgment to Hincmar. In the Annals of Fulda begun by Enhard (not to be confounded with Einhard), and continued by Rudolf, it is gratefully recorded that during the great famine in Germany in 850 Raban fed more than 300 persons daily in the village of Winzel.12241224    Migne, CVII, col. 24. In October, 851 or 852, Raban presided over a third synod at Mainz, which passed a number of reform canons; such as one forbidding the clergy to hunt, and another anathematizing a layman who withdrew from a priest who had been married, thinking it wrong to receive the eucharist from such a one.12251225    Hefele, IV. 179-181.

Raban died at Mainz Feb. 4, 456, and was buried in the monastery of St. Alban’s. He wrote his own epitaph which is modest yet just. In 1515 Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg removed his bones to Halle.


His Position And Influence.


Raban was one of the most eminent men in the ninth century for virtue, piety and scholarship. As pupil he was unremitting in his pursuit of learning; as teacher he was painstaking, inspiring and instructive; as abbot he strove to do his whole duty; as archbishop he zealously contended for the faith regardless of adversaries; according to his own motto, “When the cause is Christ’s, the opposition of the bad counts for naught.” He bore his honors modestly, and was free from pride or envy. While willing to yield to proper demands and patient of criticism, he was inflexible and rigorous in maintaining a principle. He had the courage to oppose alone the decision of the council of 829 that a monk might leave his order. He denied the virtues of astrology and opposed trial by ordeal. He early declared himself a friend of Louis the Pious and plainly and earnestly rebuked the unfilial conduct of his sons. After the death of Louis he threw in his fortune with Lothair and the defeat of the latter at Fontenai, June 25, 841, was a personal affliction and may have hastened his resignation of the abbotship, which took place in the spring of the following year. The relations, however, between him and his new king, Louis the German, were friendly. Louis called him to his court and appointed him archbishop of Mainz.

Raban’s permanent fame rests upon his labors as teacher and educational writer. From these he has won the proud epithet, Primus Germaniae Praeceptor. The school at Fulda became famous for piety and erudition throughout the length and breadth of the Frankish kingdom. Many noble youth, as well as those of the lower classes, were educated there and afterwards became the bishops and pastors of the Church of Germany. No one was refused on the score of poverty. Fulda started the example, quickly followed in other monasteries, of diligent Bible study. And what is much more remarkable, Raban was the first one in Germany to conduct a monastic school in which many boys were trained for the secular life.12261226    Migne, CVII. col. 82, 83, 84. It is this latter action which entitles him to be called the founder of the German school system. The pupils of Raban were in demand elsewhere as teachers; and princes could not find a better school than his for their sons. One of the strongest proofs of its excellence is the fact that Einhard, himself a former pupil at Fulda, and now a great scholar and teacher, sent his son Wussin there, and in a letter still extant exhorts his son to make diligent use of his rare advantages, and above all to attend to what is said by that “great orator,” Raban Maur.12271227    Migne, CIV. col. 519. Raban’s encyclopaedia, The Universe, attests his possession of universal learning and of the power to impart it to others. So, while Alcuin was his model, he enlarged upon his master’s conception of education, and in himself and his works set an example whose influence has never been lost.


His Writings.


Raban was a voluminous author. But like the other writers of his time, he made mostly compilations from the Fathers and the later ecclesiastics. He was quick to respond to the needs of his day, and to answer questions of enquiring students. He betrays a profound acquaintance with the Holy Scripture. His works may be divided into seven classes.

I. Biblical. (1) Commentaries upon the whole Bible, except Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, the Minor Prophets, Catholic Epistles and Revelation. He commented also on the Apocryphal books, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus and Maccabees.12281228    Unprinted are the commentaries on Isaiah, Daniel and John; lost those on Mark, Luke and Acts. The remainder are found in Migne, CVII. col. 439-670; 727-1156. CVIII., CIX., CXI. 679-1616. CXII. 9-834. These commentaries were probably in part compiled by his pupils, under his direction. They preserved a knowledge both of the Bible and of the Fathers in an age when books were very scarce and libraries still rarer. A single fact very strikingly brings out this state of things. Frechulf, bishop of Lisieux, in urging Raban to comment on the Pentateuch, states that in his diocese there were very few books of any kind, not even a whole Bible, much less any complete exposition of it.12291229    Preface to Matt., Migne, CVII. col. 727. Raban thus gives his views of biblical interpretation:12301230    Migne, CXII. col. 849. “If any one would master the Scriptures he must first of all diligently find out the amount of history, allegory, anagoge and trope there may be in the part under consideration. For there are four senses to the Scriptures, the historical, the allegorical, the tropological and the anagogical, which we call the daughters of wisdom. Through these Wisdom feeds her children. To those who are young and beginning to learn she gives the milk of history; to those advancing in the faith the bread of allegory; those who are truly and constantly doing good so that they abound therein she satisfies with the savory repast of tropology; while, finally, those who despise earthly things and ardently desire the heavenly she fills to the full with the wine of anagoge.”

In accordance with these principles his commentaries’ except that of Matthew, the earliest issued (819), contain very little proper exegesis, but a great deal of mystical and spiritual interpretation. The labor in their composition must have been considerable, but he carried it on for twenty years. He did not always copy the exact language of his sources, but reproduced it in his own words. He was particular to state the place of his excerpts. Each successive commentary had a separate dedication. Thus, those on Judith and Esther were dedicated to the empress Judith, because, he says, she resembled the Hebrew heroines; that on Chronicles to Louis the Pious, her husband, as a guide in government; that on Maccabees to Louis the German; that on Jeremiah to Lothair.

(2) He also prepared a commentary in the same style upon the Biblical hymns sung in morning worship.12311231    Comment. in cantica quae ad matutinas laudes dicuntur. [CXII. col. 1089-1166.

(3) Scripture Allegories12321232    Allegoriae in universam Sacram Scripturam. Ibid. col. 849-1088. a conveniently arranged dictionary, in alphabetical order of terms which were defined allegorically. Thus, “Annus is the time of grace, as in Isaiah [lxi. 2], ’the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Also, the multitude of the redeemed, as in Job iii. 6, ’let it not be joined unto the days of the year’ among the elect who are saved. Also the eternity of Christ, as in Psalm cii. 24, ’thy years are throughout all generations,’ because the eternity of God lasts forever. It also signifies our life, as in Psalm xc. 9, ’our years are thought upon as if a cobweb’ (Vulg.) i.e., our life rushes along in emptiness and corruption.”12331233    Ibid. col. 858.

(4) The life of Mary Magdalene and her sister Martha.12341234    De vita beatae Mariae Magdalenae et sororis ejus sanctae Marthae, ibid. col. 1431—1508. It includes the related sections of our Lord’s life and the legendary history of the sisters, and is in its way an interesting work. But he confounds Mary the sister of Lazarus with Mary of Magdala, and the latter again with the woman that was a sinner. Hence after declaring that Mary was a miracle of beauty he is obliged to touch upon her unchastity prior to her meeting with Christ.

II. Educational. (1) The Institutes of the clergy.12351235    De clericorum institutione, CVII. col. 293-420. This important work was written in 819 in answer to numerous requests. It is in three books, prefaced by a poetical epigram. The prose preface gives an outline of the work, and states its sources. The work is very largely directly compiled from Augustin’s De doctrina Christiana, Cassiodorus’ Institutiones, and Gregory’s Cura pastoralis. The first book of Raban’s Institutes relates to ecclesiastical orders, clerical vestments, the sacraments,12361236    He defends the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist by an appeal to Jewish Passover usage, the Eucharist being the Christian Passover, and the use of wine mingled with water for the reason that out of the Saviour’s pierced side there flowed both water and blood. The water signifies the people, the wine the blood of Christ. Therefore their union in the cup signifies the union of the people with Christ, ibid. Lib. 1. Cap. XXX[. (col. 319, 320.) and the office of the mass. The second book relates to the canonical hours, the litany, fasting, alms, penance, the feasts, prayers for the dead, singing of psalms and hymns, reading of the Scriptures, the creed and gives a list of the heresies. The third book treats of the education requisite to make an efficient servant of the church. It is noteworthy that he lays primary stress upon a knowledge of the Scriptures,12371237    Ibid. Lib. III. Cap. If. (col. 379.) and gives directions for their study and explanation. He then passes on to discuss the components of education as then conducted, i.e. the seven liberal arts, and closes with directions how to speak and teach with the best results. He properly remarks that the preacher should have regard to the age, sex, and failings of his audience. He is to come forth as God’s spokesman, and if he is truly a man of God he will be upheld by divine power. This is the proper spirit. Man is nothing. God is everything. “Let him who glorieth glory in Him in whose hand both we and our sermons are.”12381238    Ibid. Lib. III. Cap. XXXIX. col. 420

(2) On Computation.12391239    Liber de computo, CVII. col. 669-728. It was written in 820, and is in the form of a dialogue between a master and his disciple. Much of it was copied verbatim from Bede’s De temporum ratione, Isidore’s Etymologies, and Boëthius’ Arithmetic. But the resulting work marked an advance in instruction in the important matter of computing numbers, times and seasons.

(3) The Universe.12401240    De universo, CXI. col. 9-614. Isidore of Seville had already set the example of preparing an encyclopedia of universal knowledge, and Raban in his Universe merely reproduces Isidore’s Etymologies, with some difference in the arrangement of the material, and with the addition of allegorical and spiritual matter, interpretations of the names and words, together with many quotations of Scripture. The work was one of the early fruits of his learned leisure, being written about 844. It is in twenty-two books, the number in the Hieronymian canon of the Old Testament, and is dedicated to Haymo of Halberstadt, and to King Louis. It begins with the doctrine of God, and the first five books relate to religion and worship. The remaining books relate to secular things, ranging from man himself, considered as an animal, through the beasts to the starry heavens, time and the divisions of time, the waters on and under the earth, the clouds above it, and the earth itself. He then speaks of mountains and valleys and divers places; of public buildings and their parts; of philosophy and linguistics, stones and metals, weights and measures, diseases and remedies, trees and plants, wars and triumphs, shows and games, pictures and colors, dress and ornaments, food and drink, vehicles and harness.

(4) Excerpt from Priscian’s Grammar,12411241    Excerptio de arte grammatica Prisciani, ibid. col. 613-678. an abridged edition of a standard grammar. It is almost entirely confined to prosody, but it served to introduce Priscian into schools.12421242    Bähr, l.c. 419.

(5) The holy orders, divine sacraments and priestly garments.12431243    Liber de sacris ordinibus, sacramentis divinis et vestimentis sacerdotalibus, Migne, CXII. col. 1165-1192.

(6) Ecclesiastical discipline.12441244    De ecclesiastica disciplina libri tres, CXII. col. 1191-1262. The last two treatises, made during the author’s archiepiscopate, are merely extracts from the Institutes, with slight alterations.

(7) The parts of the human body, in Latin and German.12451245    Glossae latino-barbaricae de partibus humani corporis, ibid. col. 1575-1578. This glossary, was drawn up by Walahfrid Strabo from Raban’s lectures. At the end are the months and the winds in Latin and German.12461246    There are also extant a few words from his Latin-German glossary to the Bible, ibid. col. 1583. Cf. Steinmeyer u. Sievers, Die althochdeutschen Glossen gesammelt u. bearbeitet, Berlin, 1879 (I.3 sqq.); quoted by Ebert, l.c. 127.

(8) The invention of languages12471247    De inventione linguarum, Migne, CXII. col. 1579-1584. [letters], a curious collection of alphabets—Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Scythian and Runic, with the names of the supposed inventors. The little tract also includes the commonest abbreviations and monograms.

III. Occasional writings, i.e., upon current questions and in answer to questions. (1) The oblation of boys,12481248    Liber de oblatione puerorum, CVII. col. 419-440. the famous treatise in which Raban argued against the position the Mainz Council of 829 had taken in allowing Gottschalk to leave his order. Gottschalk produced two arguments, the first that it was not right to compel a person to remain a monk just because his parents had in his infancy, or immature youth put him in a monastery. The second was that the oblation of a minor must be established by a properly qualified witness, and that in his case only Saxons could give such testimony, since, according to Saxon law, it was illegal to deprive a Saxon of his liberty on the testimony of a non-Saxon. Raban tries to refute him upon both points. He shows that both the Scriptures and the Fathers by precept and example allow of the consecration of children, and in relation to the second point he rejoins: As if the service of Christ deprived a man of his liberty and nobility!”12491249    Quasi illi libertatem ac nobilitatem generis sui perdant qui servitium Christi profitentur. CVII. col. 431. But the real objection to Gottschalk’s second argument was the latter’s assertion that Frankish testimony could not be received. This roused Raban’s patriotism and incited his eloquence. “Who does not know,” he says, “that the Franks were Christians long before the Saxons? Yet the latter, contrary to all human and divine law, arrogate to themselves the right to reject Frankish testimony.”12501250    Ibid. col. 432. Having thus answered Gottschalk, he proves by the Bible his third argument, that a vow to God must not be broken. His final point is that monasticism is a divine institution. In this treatise he does not name Gottschalk, but the reference is unmistakeable. His whole conduct towards the unfortunate Gottschalk was intolerant.

(2) The reverence of children to their parents, and of subjects to their king.12511251    De reverentia filiorum erga patres et subditorum erga reges. Cf. Ebert, l.c. 139, 140. This was addressed to Louis the Pious after his deposition and imprisonment in the year 833. By Biblical quotations he shows that God has commanded children to honor their parents and subjects their kings, and has put his curse upon those who do not. Then coming directly to the point he makes the application to the existing circumstances, and calls the sons of Louis to obedience. He defends Louis against the charge of homicide in executing Bernard; and finally addressing the emperor he comforts him in his sorrow and counsels him to exercise clemency when he is restored to power. The whole treatise does great credit to Raban’s head and heart.

(3) On the degrees of relationship within which marriage is permissible.12521252    De consanguineorum nuptiis et de magorum praegtigiis falsisque divinationibus tractatus, CX. col. 1087-1110.

(4) Magic arts.12531253    De consanguineorum nuptiis et de magorum praegtigiis falsisque divinationibus tractatus, CX. col. 1087-1110. Raban was singularly free from the superstitions of his time, for in the second part of this tract, written in 842, he takes strong ground against necromancy in all its forms, of which he gives an interesting catalogue, and while explaining the appearance of ghosts, evil spirits and similar supposed existences on the ground of demoniac influence, he yet admits the possibility that the senses may be deceived. Curiously enough, he cites in point the appearance of Samuel to Saul. He denies the reality of Samuel’s appearance and holds that Saul was deceived by the devil; for two reasons, (1) the real Samuel, the man of God, would not have permitted the worship which Saul paid to the supposed Samuel; (2) the real Samuel was in Abraham’s bosom; he would, therefore, not say to the impious king, “To-morrow thou shalt be with me.”12541254    CX. col. 1100.

(4) A Response to certain Canonical Questions of the Suffragan Bishop Reginald.12551255    Responsa canonica super quibusdam interrogationibus Reginbaldi chorepiscopi, ibid. col. 1187-1196.

(5) Whether it is permissible for a suffragan bishop to ordain priests and deacons with the consent of his bishop.12561256    Si liceat chorepiscopis presbyteros et diaconos ordinare cum consensu episcopi sui ibid. col. 1195-1206. He replies in the affirmative.

IV. Writings upon Penance. (1) Two Penitentials.12571257    Poenitentiale, ibid. col. 467-494. Poenitentium liber, CXII. col. 1397-1424. They give the decisions of councils respecting penance. (2) Canonical questions relating to penance.12581258    De quaestionibus canonum poenitentialium libri tres, ibid. col. 1333-1336. (The preface only.) (3) The virtues and vices and the satisfaction for sin.12591259    De vitiis et virtutibus et peccatorum satisfactione, ibid. col. 1335-1398. (Only the third book.)

V. Miscellaneous. (1) Homilies.12601260    Homiliae, CX. col. 9-468. There are two collections, the first seventy in number upon the principal feasts and on the virtues; the second, one hundred and sixty-three upon the Gospels and Epistles. The first collection must have been made earlier than 826, for it is dedicated to bishop Haistulf, who died in that year. The most of these homilies were doubtless actually delivered by Raban. The sermons of Leo the Great, Augustin, Alcuin and others have been liberally drawn on, and so the homilies are compilations in great measure, like the rest of his works. Yet a few are apparently original and have the greatest interest, inasmuch as they treat of the vices then current and so furnish a picture of the times.12611261    Ebert, l.c. p. 141, mentions particularly Lib. I., Hom. XLII., XLIII. and LXIII. The first is directed against the ridiculous custom of making a great noise, shooting arrows and throwing fire in the air when the moon is waning in order to prevent its being swallowed up by a monster. The second is directed against soothsaying in its various forms, and the third against gluttony, drunkenness and scurrility.

(2) Treatise on the Soul.12621262    Tractatus de anima, Migne, CX. col. 1109-1120. The Vegitian extracts are not given in Migne, but by Dümmler, cf Ebert l.c. p. 136. It is an extract with slight additions from Cassiodorus’ De Anima, as he acknowledges in his preface to king Lothair. To it are appended extracts from the De disciplina Romanae militiae of Flavius Vegetius Renatus. The reason given for this strange appendix is “the frequent incursions of the Barbarians.” The treatise was perhaps the last product of Rabanus.12631263    So Ebert conjectures, l.c. p. 136.

(3) A martyrology.12641264   267 Martyrologium, Migne, CX. col. 1121-1188. The saints for the different days are noted, in most cases merely the name is given, in others there are short sketches. Its principal source is Jerome. It was prepared at the request of Ratleik, who stole the relics of SS. Marcellinus and Petrus for Einhard; and is prefaced by a short poem addressed to the abbot Grimold.

(4) The vision of God, purity of heart and mode of penance.12651265    De vivendo Deum, de puritate cordis et modo poenitentiae, CXII. col. 1261-1332. Three books dedicated to the abbot Bonosus (Hatto). The first is mostly extracted from Augustin’s De vivendo Deo; the second and the third from other old sources.

(5) The Passion of our Lord,12661266    De passione Domini, CXII. col. 1425-1430. a brief and pious meditation upon our Lord’s sufferings.

VI. Letters. (1) A letter to Bishop Humbert upon lawful degrees of relationship between married persons.12671267    Quota generatione licita sit connubium epistola, CX. col. 1083-1088. (2) Seven miscellaneous letters.12681268    Epistolae, CXII. Col. 1507-1576. Epist. i. to suffragan bishop Regimbald on discipline. Epist. iii. to Eigil against Radbertus’s view of the Lord’s Supper. Epist. iv. v. vi. to Hincmar, Notingus and Count Eberhard upon predestination. Epist. vii. to Louis the German; the acts of the Mainz council of 848. Epist. viii. on Gottschalk, a synodical letter to Hincmar.

VII. Poems. Raban was no poetic genius; yet he had carefully studied prosody and he was able to write verses to his friends and for different occasions.12691269    Carmina, ibid. col. 1583-1682. He also wrote some epitaphs, including his own. His most extraordinary production is a long poem, “The praise of the Cross.” This was begun at the suggestion of Alcuin in Tours, but not completed until 815. It is a monument of misdirected skill and patience. He presents twenty-eight drawings by his friend Hatto. Some are geometrical, others are of persons or objects. The page on which is the drawing is filled in by a stanza of the poem, the letters of which are regularly spaced and some are purposely arranged in prominent and peculiar positions so that they catch the eye and form other words. Each stanza is followed by an explanatory section in prose, and the second book is a prose treatise upon the subject. The whole is prefaced by three poems; the first pleads for the intercession of Alcuin, the second is the dedication to the Pope, and the third, “The figure Of Caesar” is the dedication to Louis the Pious. Alcuin had written a poem, “On the Holy Cross,” upon a somewhat similar plan. So that the suggestion may have come from him, but the idea may be traced to Fortunatus. This poem of Raban Maur was very popular in the Middle Age and was considered a marvel of ingenuity.

The hymns of Raban are few in number, for although many have been attributed to him his right to most of them is very doubtful.



« Prev Rabanus Maurus Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |