Monday, January 4, 2016

"A person acts what he is when he may do what he will"

From History Today, "Speak Well and Act Accordingly," about a collection of 11th century proverbs:
.... Medieval literature placed a high value on proverbs and many lines of Anglo-Saxon poetry have a vaguely proverbial ring. But our best source of Anglo-Saxon proverbs is a single collection, which survives in a manuscript now in Durham Cathedral Library. The Durham Proverbs provide a vivid glimpse into the everyday life of Anglo-Saxon England.... The manuscript is a collection of hymns and canticles, in Latin with interlinear English translations, probably for the use of the monks at Christ Church, Canterbury in the first half of the 11th century. Not long after the manuscript was made, someone in the monastery took advantage of a blank space between the hymns to write down a group of 46 proverbs. ....
Some proverbial wisdom from the Middle Ages:
  • A friend is useful, far or near; the nearer the better.
  • A person acts what he is when he may do what he will.
  • He never knows the pleasure of sweetness, who never tastes bitterness.
  • He is blind in both eyes who does not look with the heart.
  • If you speak well, act accordingly. [more]
Two more that the author included on her blog, "A Clerk of Oxford":
  • It does no good to tell all truths or blame all wrongs.
  • They do not quarrel who are not together.
Speak Well and Act Accordingly | History Today, A Clerk of Oxford: Playing with the Durham Proverbs