Pains and Pleasures of Interpreting and Appropriating Obscurity: The Versus maligni angeli in the Twelfth to Fifteenth Centuries

Lucie Doležalová
2020 Acta Universitatis Carolinae: Philologica  
The study addresses the subject of methods and character of medieval text transmission and interpretation through a case study of a brief obscure poem sometimes entitled Versus maligni angeli. While its origin is not known, it provoked four different detailed interpretations. All the commentators explain its meaning as Christian one but radically differ in the specific interpretations. They also justify the supposed devil's authorship of the poem in very different ways. They apply traditional
more » ... rategies of Biblical exegesis to this idiosyncratic source. Although it is a mere opuscule, this case shows medieval exegetical flexibility as well as curiosity inherent in perceiving the created world. List of surviving manuscript copies of the verses as well as editions of two of the glossed versions are provided in appendices. Sed multis et multiplicibus obscuritatibus et ambiguitatibus decipiuntur, qui temere legunt, aliud pro alio sentientes, quibusdam autem locis, quid uel falso suspicentur, non inueniunt: ita obscure dicta quaedam densissimam caliginem obducunt. Quod totum prouisum esse diuinitus non dubito ad edomandam labore superbiam et intellectum a fastidio reuocandum, cui facile inuestigata plerumque uilescunt.
doi:10.14712/24646830.2020.32 fatcat:hjs652jqs5fblclpbwqzkos5e4