Notes to Carmen ad Astralabium

  • Juanita Feros Ruys
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Astralabi fili: Rubingh-Bosscher notes the similarity of the first line of this poem to the opening line of Macrobius’s Somnium Scipionis, “Eustachi fili, vitae mihi dulcedo pariter et gloria” (Somnium Scipionis, I, 1; Rubingh-Bosscher, p. 98). It also recalls David’s cry to his son: “fili mi Absalom, fili mi Absalom … Absalom fili mi, fili mi” (2 Samuel 18. 33; also 2 Samuel 19. 4); David is said to have missed Absalom every day while he was absent from him: “luxit ergo David filium suum cunctis diebus” (2 Samuel 13. 37). This reference thus forms a frame for the Carmen, as the evocation of David’s sorrow over Absalom appears again at the end of the poem, 997–998. Images of Old Testament and classical fathers nearing the ends of their lives also recur throughout the poem: Anchises (259–260), Abraham (289–290), and Daedalus (659). It is usual in medieval parent-child didactic texts for the child to be addressed in the opening in a vocative. For example, Dhuoda addresses her son William in her ninth-century Liber Manualis as “o fili Wilhelme” and creates an acrostic that reads: “Dhuoda dilecto filio Wilhelmo salutem: lege” (Riché, Manuel pour mon fils, p. 72, line 5, and acrostic pp. 72–78). Albertano da Brescia also addresses each of his three sons by name in the thirteenth-century treatises he wrote for them (Liber de amore et dilectione Dei et proximi et aliarum rerum, Ars loquendi et tacendi, and Liber consolationis et consilii).


Corporal Punishment Golden Rule Physical Punishment Twelfth Century Left Margin 
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© Juanita Feros Ruys 2014

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  • Juanita Feros Ruys

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