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The Grammatical Metaphor: A Survey of Its Use in the Middle Ages Author(s): John A. Alford Source: Speculum, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Oct., 1982), pp. 728-760 Published by: Medieval Academy of America Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2848761 . Accessed: 16/11/2013 12:01
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SPECULUM 57,4 (1982)

The Grammatical Metaphor: A Surveyof Its Use in the Middle Ages


ByJohn A. Alford
The historyof the grammatical metaphor in the West begins in ancient Greece, with the naming of the rules that govern human speech, and continues up to the present day.* The Stoic philosophers produced fantastic psychological and metaphysicaljustificationsof their word "case" and its subdivisions"upright"and "oblique."' Lucillius (first centuryA.D.) wrote an epigram in which grammatical terms are given a sexual interpretation.2 Medieval poets, noting the literal meanings of such terms as casus and declinatio both signifying "fall" - drew elaborate comparisons between grammarand the storyof Adam and Eve: original sin is referredto as "the firstdeclension," and Adam and Eve are "oblique" nouns that fell away or "declined" from God.3 In 1414 the duke of Exeter wrote to Henry IV that "Scotland is like a noun adjective that cannot stand withouta substantive," and again in 1658 the Scots were referred to contemptuouslyas "those northern adjectives, not able to subsist without England."4 In 1783 an anonymous writerin Gentleman's Magazine asked, "Can any of you all impart a rule to conjugate the heart: To shew its present,perfect,future.Its active, passive, and its neuter?"5 More recently,BuckminsterFuller has confided the following piece of insighton the Almighty: God,to me,itseems, is a verb nota noun, properor improper.6 Apparently he had not read the sixteenth-century Spanish mysticBernardino de Laredo, who, in order to stress the indivisible nature of divine

* This study is a much expanded version of a paper presented on May 3, 1980, at the Fifteenth International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Theory in Europe (London, 1951), p. 32. 1 R. H. Robins,Ancient and MediaevalGrammatical 2 "Zenonis keeps Menander the bearded grammar-teacher, and says she has entrustedher son to him; but he never stops at night making her practise cases [literally"falls"], conjunctions, trans.W. R. Paton (London, 1926), 4:139. Anthology, and conjugations":The Greek figures, 1963), pp. 53, 108. (Stuttgart, Paul Lehmann,Die ParodieimMittelalter under "adjective." English Dictionary, Cited in Oxford 5 OED, "conjugate." 6 The Oxford 3rd ed. (New York, 1979), p. 220. ofQuotations, Dictionary

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Being, began one of his prayers,"O ineffableSacrament . . ., Eternal and Word, no part of speech but ThyselfPerfectSpeech!"7 substantive The grammatical metaphor has a long and illustrious history,but its in poetry,both frivoheyday is the Middle Ages. It appears everywhere lous and serious, in sermons,in theoreticaland philosophical treatises.It is a persistent feature in the literature of the time. Until recently,however, criticsminimizedits importanceand treated it as if it were the idiosyncrasy of only a few writers.For example, C. S. Lewis says of Alan of Lille's use of the metaphor in De planctuNaturae,"Agreeablywith time's common way of punishing, these conceits are now the author's chief disgrace"; and W. W. Skeat, confrontedin Piers Plowmanwith a long illustrationfrom grammar and very dull"), will not even attemptan explanation: ("barely intelligible, "The reader must puzzle out thispassage for himselfif he cares to read it."8 however,is to underestimateits place in To dismissthe metaphor so lightly, medieval thought.It had tremendous appeal throughoutthe Middle Ages, centuries.Thanks to the work and fourteenth especiallybetween the twelfth of such scholars as R. H. Robins, Jan Pinborg, G. L. Bursill-Hall, R. W. Hunt, James Murphy, Margaret Gibson, and others, we have come to appreciate the extent of grammaticalthinkingin the Middle Ages. Yet aside and the from the scant page and a half in E. R. Curtius'sEuropeanLiterature Latin Middle Ages (Excursus III), there is still no general treatmentof the as it figuresin writings of a more grammaticalmetaphoras such, particularly popular nature - poetry, sermons, moral treatises,and so forth. In the I willattemptto illustrate the wide variety of uses followingpages, therefore, to which the metaphor was put, and to give some explanation for its popularity.Two reasons in particular stand out. First,the Latin culture of the Middle Ages was an ideal contextin which the metaphoricalbasis of grammatical terminology (itself Latin in origin) could be recognized and exploited; and second, the medieval belief that grammar was necessarily related to logic or nature encouraged the use of grammaticalconcepts as the metaphorical equivalents of these things. The examples that follow are grouped into two large categories, therefore,depending on whether they (Part 1) or from grammatical derive chieflyfrom grammaticalterminology theory(Part 2). Part 3 will provide a briefconsiderationof the two works in which the metaphor is most prominent,De planctuNaturae and Piers Plowman. 1.
GRAMMATICAL TERMINOLOGY

When we use the terms of Latin grammar to describe the structureof English, we are able to treat them almost exclusivelyas technicalwords. A
7The Ascent of MountSion, trans. E. Allison Peers (London, 1952), p. 224. Compare John of Salisbury,"The word wherebyOmnipotence speaks is one, although the words He speaks are numberless":Metalogicon 4.37, trans.Daniel D. McGarry(Berkeley, 1962), p. 265. 8 TheAllegory ofLove (1936; rpt. New York, 1958), p. 106; The Vision ofWilliam concerning Piers the Plowman(1886; rpt. Oxford, 1961), 2:50.

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and it is nothing prepositionis a part of speech, a word like at, by,or before, else. The matter was quite otherwise, however, for a medieval person, immersed in the language from which the terms were taken. For him could refereither to a grammaticalconcept or to the officeof one prepositio subject to thiskind (thatis, one "put before" others). Particularly in authority of double-entendrewere the termsused to indicate grammaticalcase, as one may see in Isidore of Seville's explanation of theirorigins: ut "hic magister." Nominativus casus dictusquia per eum aliquid nominamus, filius," ut "huiusmagistri quaerimus, Genetivus, quia per eum genuscuiuscumque quia per eum nos liber."Dativus, ut "huiusmagistri vel quod rem significamus, quia per Accusativus, ut "da huic magistro." dare alicui aliquid demonstramus, quia per eum Vocativus, ut "accuso hunc magistrum." eum aliquemaccusamus, quia per eum nos auferrealiquid Ablativus, ut "o magister." aliquemvocamus, ut "aufer a magistro."9 cuiquamsignificamus, Grammaticalterminologyin the Middle Ages was thus derived from, and often associated with,the words of everydayspeech. My surveybegins with thisfact.In its simplestform,the grammaticalmetaphor is hardlymore than an extended pun, an elaboration of these double meanings built into the language itself. Paul Lehmann collected many examples of grammaticalword play in his Most of these are directed against the corruptionof Die ParodieimMittelalter. poet noted that the Roman curia. For example, one fourteenth-century although Donatus had identifiedsix cases, Rome got by withjust two, the dative and the accusative - that is, briberyand false litigation.Four cases Burana: excerptfromthe Carmina are employed in the following Romamvocativus, Si te forte traxerit et si te deponerevultaccusativus,
possit ablativus, qui te restituere

sitdativus. videquod [ibi]fideliter praesens

Lehmann identifiesvocativusas the summoner, accusativusas the plaintiff the defendant fromhis prebend, and ablatiwho seeks to displace (deponere) vus as the corruptjudge who will restore him for a price. Dativus is either the defendant (W. A. Meyer) or, as Lehmann thinksmore likely,the attorney or advocate who seeks to win a judgment for his clientby the paymentof a bribe.10 Lehmann cites numerous other examples of a similar nature. Obviously, the dual interpretationof case names is a favorite device in
9Etymologiae 1.7.31-33, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Oxford, 1911). Isidore's explanation is commonplace. See H. Keil, Grammatici Latini (1864; rpt. Hildesheim, 1961), 4:534; and Siger de Courtrai,Summamodorum significandi, ed. Jan Pinborg, Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and Historyof LinguisticScience 14 (Amsterdam, 1977), pp. 12-15. The explanation of the accusative is based on a mistranslation from Greek; see Otto Jespersen,Language (1905; rpt. New York, 1964), p. 20. '0 Die Parodie,pp. 49-50.

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medieval satire of the church. Probably the most celebrated work in which poem, someGoliae; this twelfth-century the device appears is theApocalypsis times attributedto Walter Map, exists in numerous manuscripts,in early English translations, printed editions, and even in two seventeenth-century loses somethingin the process." though the word play necessarily from the courtis transferred When the use of grammaticalterminology room to the bedroom, a much broader range of possibilitiespresents itself. In contrastto theircomplaintsagainst the curia, where the word play tends to center upon case names, medieval poets show the utmost ingenuityin finding a sexual interpretationfor virtuallyevery distinction known to is stilla rich source of puns: grammar.To be sure, case terminology Vocativos oculos, loculos ablativos mulieres. gerunt fueris Si dativus veneris quandocunque 2 eris.'1 genitivus In the firsthalf of the poem the word play centersupon women, who have vocativeeyes (to call lovers) and ablative purses (to take away theirmoney). There is additional word play on loculus ("purse" and "vagina"). In the second half, the poet addresses his male audience: if you would be a dative, givingto these women as oftenas you like, you'll end up a genitive,thatis, a father!These lines are apparently the basis for the followingexcerpt from poem presenting "Piers of Fullham," a rather tedious fifteenth-century "vayne conseytes of folyschelove undyr colour of fyschengand fowlyng." Comparing them to lapwings, commonly regarded as the most wanton of wives, birds,the poet warns of faithless That can makeand puta bone In thehoodisoftheir hosbondes, be goonferouteoflonde, Whanthey Andcan shewtheire goodly cherys bendatyff: folke that To knowen be calledablatif: Theirpurches i3envocatif Theyhavetheir that bynamegenetyf.13 That folke As edited by Hazlitt,the lines do not make the best of sense. But withthe aid of the Latin original,we can supply the deficiency.For example, although their "purches" can be stretched to mean the action of making profit,
11 Thomas Wright,ed., The Latin PoemsCommonly Mapes, Camden Society to Walter Attributed 16 (London, 1841), pp. 1-20, 271-92. 12 Lehmann,Die Parodie,p. 108. 13 ofEngland (London, 1866), 2:15. Remains oftheEarlyPopularPoetry W. Carew Hazlitt,

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especially by irregular means, such as concubinage (OED), the word is probablya scribalerrorfor"purses" or "purces." Besides case, other grammaticaldistinctions lend themselves,as I said, to sexual interpretation. There is number: one poet refers to his numerous 4 There is, not surprisingly, Liebessiinden as "the genitiveplural."' gender: in CarminaBurana (No. 219) we find men distinguished,sexually, as hic,haec, and hoc;"5and a poem written about 1215, apparentlyin response to Rome's attemptto enforceclericalcelibacy,begins: Prisciani regulapenitus cassatur, sacerdos perhicet haecolimdeclinabatur: sed perhicsolummodo nuncarticulatur, cumper nostrum praesulem haecamoveatur.16 There are the parts of speech, virtually every one of which is subject to the sexual pun. The distinction between "active" and "passive" verbs is particularly suggestive,providing a description not only of the relation between lover and loved one, but also an opportunityfor additional play on passiol ' passivum. As for the pronoun, the "second person" is used to referto one's mistress:in the dialogue De presbytero et logico,the priest is warned that his devotions in the Psalter will do him no good so long as he keeps illicitly "secundam personam"; and in the Speculumstultorum of Nigellus Wireker, we read of English clericsin Paris: et drinkail, Wessail necnonpersona secunda, Haec triasuntvitia quae comitantur eos.18
"Sed pluralis genitivus, /nequamnimis etlascivus, /mihi factus estnocivus," quotedinJ.A. "ZurVagantendichtung," Frantzen, Neophilologus 5 (1920),69 n. 15 OttoSchumann and Bernhard eds. (Heidelberg, Bischoff, 1970),1.3,p. 71:
14

Ordo procul dubio noster sectavocatur, quamdiversi generis populussectatur; ergo"hic"et "hec"et"hoc" ei preponatur, quod sitomnis generis, qui tothospitatur.
Wright, TheLatinPoems,p. 171. "Est hoc verbum 'diligo' / verbum transitivum, / nec est, per quod transeat, / nisi per passivum; /ergo, cum nil patitur, / nil valet activum,"Carmina Burana 88a, ed. Alfons Hilka and Otto Schumann (Heidelberg, 1941), 1.2, p. 82. The distinctionalso appears as metaphor in Thomas Usk's Testament of Love, ed. W. W. Skeat, The Complete Worksof Geoffrey Chaucer, supplementaryvolume (1897; rpt. Oxford, 1959), pp. 91-92. The dream guide consoles the lover by saying, "It is wel knowe, bothe to reson and experience in doinge, every active worchethon his passive.... Vertue of this Margariteoutforthwercheth;and nothingis more able to suffreworching,or worke cacche of the actife,but passife of the same actife; and no passife, to vertues of this Margaryte,but thee, in al my Donet can I fynde!" (Elsewhere Usk plays on the concept of grammaticalgender, p. 54.) A nonsexual use of the terms appears in John de Hauteville (Hantville),Architrenius, ed. Thomas Wright,The Anglo-Latin SatiricalPoets and Epigrammatists oftheTwe~fth Rolls Series 59,1 (London, 1872), p. 334. Century, 18 Frantzen,"Zur Vagantendichtung," p. 358.
16 17

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Perhaps the most extensive,and certainlythe most exuberant,use of gramLatin in a single poem comes froma thirteenth-century maticalterminology manuscript in Munich, printed by Lehmann under the title, "Erotischer (p. 223). The speaker begins with a parody of the first Grammatikbetrieb" the most popular grammar of line of Alexander of Ville-Dieu's Doctrinale, the day: "I writeto all young clerksin this springtime.Let us renounce our harsh schoolmasters.Hurry to me, scholars, and take up joyfullythe doctrinale that I write."What does his doctrinaleteach? The grammarof love: and not how one plays with the virginal"species"; what belongs to the first the third declension; how to recognize a figure"feminigeneris composita"; what case to inflectwith the daughters of Venus; what modes, forms,and mean. "Let the and interiectio qualities belong to a girl; whatcopula,coniunctio, first conjugation,presenttense,be our lectio- amo,amas,amat;let the shady grove be our school; and let the face of a maiden be the book that summons us to the lecture." Essentially,the piece is a grammatical reworkingof a by such diverse poems as favoritetheme in the pastoral tradition,typified "The Tables Burana No. 75 ("Omittamusstudia") and Wordsworth's Carmina Turned" ("Up! up! my Friend,and quit your books"). Most of the examples thus far have come from the traditionassociated with goliards, students, and wandering scholars, poetry dealing primarily with the themes (to quote John Addington Symonds) of "wine, women and song." Therefore, we may be forgivenif before abandoning this carefree we spend a world for the more somber interiorof church and monastery, Burana No. few momentsin the tavern.The followingexcerpt fromCarmina 191 ("Meum est propositum") makes a clever correlationbetween good wine and good grammar: Fertur in convivio vinus vinavinum. displicet atquefemininum; masculinum estdivinum, sed in neutro genere vinum Latinum.19 socios optimum loquifacit of the tale of a monk who, visitinganother cloister, The idea is reminiscent bringssuspicion on himselfby his bad grammar.Aftereach glass of wine, he exclaims "vinus bonus!" or "vina bona!" until finallyhe pronounces one "vinum bonum!" He explains to his astonished host: "Quale vinum, tale Latinum."20 Let us now followGrammaticato church. in MedievalEngland, G. R. Owst cites a sermon by Robert In his Preaching Rypon of Durham, who "reads his clerical congregation what sounds strangelylike a lesson in grammar." Taking "Ecce ego mitto vos" (Matt.
19Ed. Schumann and Bischoff,1.3, p. 20; also in Wright, TheLatinPoems,p. xlv. Burana: LiederderVaganten (1879; rpt. Heidelberg, 1956), p. 281; Ludwig Laistner,Carmina cf. "Tales versusfacio,/quale vinumbibo," p. 36.
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10.16) as his text,Master Rypon observes that the adverb "ecce" - like the pronoun "ego" - has three grammaticaluses: "Sumitur enim admirative, demonstrative,et excitative. . . Conformiter,hoc pronomen 'ego,' congruenter ad hoc adverbium 'ecce,' secundum grammaticos,accipitur trino modo: est enim discretivum, et super se alterius nominis demonstrativum, susceptivum... "21 Although Owst does not reproduce more of the manuin thiscase as scriptthan this,we may be sure thatgrammarserves primarily an organizationaldevice - what the sermon manuals referto as the "dividing of the theme." If Rypon's sermon "sounds strangely like a lesson in grammar,"then so do many others of the period. The medieval preacher found in the paradigms of grammara wealth of ready-made structures, by means of which he was able to organize his points. Listen to Michel Menot, a fifteenth-century preacher, as he elaborates upon the text "Omnes declinaverunt"(Ps. 13.3): "Suppose I should ask a small schoolboy how 'hic mundus' is declined. Immediatelyhe says: "Nominative,'hic mundus'; genitive,'huius mundi'; dative,'huic mundo,' and so forth.That's enough, I would say, you speak well; but now there is another declension, newly discovered, not from God but fromthe Devil, and it goes like this: Nominativo: hicmundus, persuperbiam. Genitivo: huiusmundi, perluxuriam. Dativo:huicmundo, periniquam bonorum et Ecclesie etcivilium distributionem. Accusativo: huncmundum, periniuriam. Vocativo: 0, munde, peravaritiam. Ablativo: ab hoc et ab hac mundo, et usuram. "22 perfraudem, simoniam, rapinam Menot then expands his moral interpretationof the cases by means of commentary, scripturalquotations, and exempla. We find the same scheme in a fifteenth-century of the GestaRomanorum, English translation a collection of moralized tales often used by preachers. The author notes that the sin of pride has six cases or "falles": "Some are prowde, thattheyhave a gretename in the contrey. . . and so we han the nominatifcase. The seconde case is genetifcase, for some are prowde, that theycomeof noble kynne.... Then the thridFalle is datifcase, for there are some that are prowde . . . for they mowgyvegretegiftes. . . ," and so on.23
(1926; rpt. New York, 1965), p. 329. Joseph Neve, ed., Sermons choisis de MichelMenot(Paris, 1924), p. 304. Menot's sermons are strewnwiththis sort of grammaticalword play. E.g., "loannis x. Qui non intrat per ostium in ovile ovium, sed ascenditaliunde ille est latro. Ecclesiasticus intrans ecclesiam per nominativum, genitivum, accusativumet ablativum,et dimisitvocativumSpiritussancti,bona que capit, tenet ut latro" (p. 164); "Deus non est remunerator nominum sed adverbiorum, id est non remunerabitopus quod fit,sed quod bene fit"(p. 299). For a discussion of Menot's sermons,see Etienne Gilson,"Michel Menot et la technique du sermon medieval,"in Les ideesetles lettres, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1955), pp. 93-154. 23 SidneyJ. H. Herrtage,ed., EETS e.s. 33 (1879; rpt. Oxford, 1962), p. 416 (italicsmine).
21
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That such procedure was very popular among preachers is hardly to be wondered at: all the best authoritiesrecommended it. Thomas Waleys,in his De modocomponendi sermones, shows the preacher how to correlatethe double and casus: meaningsof the grammaticalterms prepositio In one modepraepositio means"a preference givento someone"(praelatio), and in a partof speech.I willsay,therefore, anotherit means"preposition," following to a preposition, thatonlyone attribute Donatus, thatis,case (casus). belongs Thus of authority is in a position also whoever (inpraepositura) has case, thatis, a fall Behold how one meaningof the word unless he watcheshimselfcarefully. is joined to the otherby meansof similitude. And also, as partof the praepositio of thewordcasusisjoined to itsothermeaning; for sameidea, howone meaning is equivocal, in this casus as is evident, example.24 Another authority,Robert of Basevorn, devotes several pages of his Forma praedicandi in the order(1322) to the usefulnessof grammaticaldistinctions ing of a sermon. The preacher can structurehis remarks on the three degrees of the adjective (good, better,best), the three main tenses of the verb, or the three parts of the personal pronoun. The accidents of the verb - active,passive, neuter, deponent, and common - can be made to correlate both structurally withthe coming of Christ: and significantly Suppose thatthefollowing is thethemeforthe Nativity: "He sentHis Wordand healed them, and delivered themfromtheirdestructions." Then the declaration be: "The Word,"I say,whichwas active might withthe Fatherin thecreation of thisWordtheFather "sent" thatit might things, bepassive in assuming our nature, and "healedthem"in the flowof blood and waterfromHis side whilethe Word was neuter them"in thereleaseof thepatriarchs from [i.e.,dead], "and delivered limbowhilethe Word was deponent [i.e., laid in the grave],"fromtheirdestrucofjudgment the Word willbe common.25 tions,"in whichin severity

Or suppose that the theme is about the Magdalene, "Mary has chosen the betterpart." With the implicationthat "the betterpart" can be taken in the sense of "part of speech," Basevorn proceeds to explain her life as a grammaticaltruth: in thestateof sin,taking thenounwhile, Marywas a participle a partfrom losing the verb, whenin the her propername,she was calledpeccatrix; and a partfrom theSon of God,she of herrepentance, beginning theWord(Verbum), approaching for heard: "Your sinsare forgiven you";and a partfrom both,whilealternately,
24 Th.-M. Charland, ed., in Artes praedicandi(Paris, 1936), p. 395. Cf. below, P. 750, where prepositio is used to referto the blessed, "quia illi praeponunturdamnandis." 25 Charland, Artes praedicandi,p. 277. A similar scheme appears in a Nativitysermon by Garnier of Rochefort(twelfth century):"Nam Verbum substantivum est deus in Patre, Verbum adiectivumdeus in carne, Verbum activumin rerum creatione, Verbum passivum in passione, Verbum deponens in depositione animae." See N. M. Haring, "The Liberal Artsin the Sermons of Garnier of Rochefort," MediaevalStudies30 (1968), 59. This articlealso cites other examples of grammatical metaphorin Garnier'ssermons.

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and, thirty years,she both bewailedher life named for evil (malitianominatum) in to the Word of the of was elevated hands God.26 by angels, joined contemplation However one may regard such grammaticaltoursde force- Charland calls them "jeux d'esprits puerils" - their practical value as aids to the memory can hardly be denied. A listenerwith any knowledge of grammar was not likelyto forget,for example, the six points elaborated by Menot on the text, "Omnes declinaverunt."And most listenerscertainlypossessed such knowledge. The use of the grammaticalmetaphor was intended mainly for seran audience fullyable to appreciate its special nature.27As mons ad clerum, Lecoy de la Marche observes concerningthe sermons of Robert de Sorbon, filledwithtechnicalimagerydrawn fromthe various disciplinesof study: "II chaque classe qui faisaitecrire des sermonsad statusvoulait qu'on instruisit d'auditeurs par des images et des exemples tires de sa condition particuliere."28

paralt bien .

. les avoir adressees directement aux ecoliers: le meme esprit

2.

GRAMMATICAL

THEORY

though abundant, The metaphorsgenerated by grammaticalterminology, hardly rise above the level of puns or go beyond the rather mechanical functions of rhetorical and amplicatio. The metaphorsgenerated by dispositio grammaticaltheory,on the other hand, may serve both a rhetoricaland a deeper, philosophical purpose. The focus is no longer on the names but on the processes of grammar, which medieval thought equates with the processes of nature. The prevailing view is expressed by John of Salisbury: "While grammar has developed to some extent,and indeed mainly,as an invention of man, still it imitates nature, from which it partly derives its it tends, as far as possible, to conformto nature in all origin. Furthermore, This idea, it should be noted, goes back to the classical period. respects."29 On the issue of whetherlanguage is based upon nature or convention,the Greeks are divided. Plato seems to favor the naturalist position in the where Socrates argues that words have a logical relation to reality, Cratylus, point of view.30 while Aristotleis usually associated with the conventionalist The distinctioncan be pushed too far, however, and it is probably more accurate to characterize each side as a "tendency" rather than as a rigidly held position. John's own statementof the matter is cautious and full of qualifications("to some extent,""mainly,""partly,""tends," "as far as possito maintain ble"), and medieval thoughtin general is able, characteristically, both pointsof view at the same time.
p. 278. praedicandi, Charland,Artes "Nam laicis gramatica,fabule, nec alia subtilia,ut divisiones vel Cf. Ciliumoculi sacerdotis, p. 328 n. conclusiones scolastice,predicarinon debent": Owst,Preaching, 28 La au moyen age (Paris, 1868), p. 93. chairefranpaise 29 Metalogicon 1.14, p. 39. 30 Robins,Ancient Theory, pp. 1-47. and MediaevalGrammatical
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The patternis set by St. Augustine,whose importance as a transmitter of classical ideas about language can hardlybe overestimated.On the one hand, he seems to adopt the conventionalist position. In the Confessions, for example, he observes that certain grammatical concepts distort the nature of reality:because we are taught in grammar school that there are three tenses of the verb - past, present,and future- we tend (wrongly)to regard time itselfas tripartite.31 On the other hand, Augustine sometimesleans toward the naturalist position, as when he discovers in the verb moritur the very nature of the thingit represents:
And therefore I think it has not unsuitably nor inappropriately come to pass, though not by the intentionof man, yet perhaps with divine purpose, that this Latin word moritur cannot be declined by the grammarians according to the rtule tollowed by simnilar words. For oritur gives the formortusest for the perfect; and all similar verbs form this tense from their perfect participles. But if we ask the peftectof moritutr, we get the regular answer,mortuius est with a double u. For thus mortitus is pronounced, likefat uus, arduus,conspicuus, and similarwords, which are not perfectparticiplesbuitadjectives,and are declined withoutregard to tense. But inortuus,though in forman adjective, is used as perfectparticiple,as if that were to be dleclinedwhichcannot be declined; and thus it has suitablycome to pass that, as the thing itselfcannot in point of fact be declined, so neither can the word ant of the act be declined.32 signific

Augustine is able to combine two opposing views of language, the natural and the conventional,withoutany sense of contradiction.The key lies in his has come to reflectan ulterior truth: explanation of how the word moritur "not by the intentionof man, yet perhaps with divine purpose." This is a constant theme in Augustine's writings- the reflectionof God in human institutions. Although language is man-made, God has neverthelessestablished a profoundly real as well as conventional relation between certain words and things, just as he has brought about a real and not coincidental relation between certain historicalevents, mystically joined, as a sign to the of the Crucifixthing signified(e.g., the sacrificeof Isaac as a prefiguration ion). The disposition to regard language as "natural" and history as "typological"is one and the same. This realization is important: if we can that happens has a of history(not everything accept a selectiveinterpretation figuralmeaning), then we can also accept a view of language that is at once naturalist and conventionalist.33 Since God has left traces of himself in the language, early medieval
31 Noted in Marcia L. Colish, The Mirror of Language: A Study in the Medieval Theoryof (New Haven, 1968), p. 69. Knowledge 32 The City 0/tGod 13.1 1, trains. Marcus Dods (New York, 1950), p. 421. 33 Not even Isidore accepted the natutralist view withoutqualification;e.g., "Non autem omnia nomnina a veteribussecundum naturam inposita sunt, sed quaedam et secundum placitum,sicut secundum quod placet nostrae voluntati nomina et I1OS servis et possessionibus interdumn 1.29.2. damtts," Etymolo,gi9ac

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bent theirefforts writers toward findingdivine mysteries hidden in the facts of grammar. In the ninth century,for example, Smaragdus, abbot of St.Mihiel,wrotea Christianizedversionof theArsgrammatica of Donatus, based on the assumptionthatlanguage is a mirrorof theologicaltruth.If thereare eight parts of speech, it is not because Donatus says so, but because God has given to the number eight a mysticalsignificance: "Octo, sicut diximus, latinitatis oratio suis partibus impletur atque perficitur. Multi plures, multi pauciores partes esse dixerunt,modo autem octo universalistenet ecclesia, quod divinitusinspiratumesse non dubito," etc.34Similarly, an anonymous writer of the same period sees evidence of the Trinityin the three persons of the verb: "Personae autem verbis accidunt tres. Quod credo divinitusesse inspiratum, ut quod in Trinitatis fide credimusin eloquio inesse videatur."35 In such examples we may see the persistenceof the Augustinian view of language. Based on a logic of coincidence,thisview took on the trappingsof centuriesunder the a more systematic knowledgein the eleventhand twelfth Dialectics became the foundation of influence of the new Aristotelianism. grammatical study, resulting in what Martin Grabmann calls "die Bare description was no longer adequate. Logisierung der Grammatik."36 Indeed, Priscian was now criticizedfor having given the rules but not the a Scholasreasons behind the rules - in other words, for not having written ticgrammar.Numerous glossatorson hisInstitutiones attemptedto repair the defect,largelyby identifying the categories of thoughtbelieved to underlie grammatical distinctions.An anonymous writer at the beginning of the twelfth centurysaid that when philosophers distinguishedthe eight parts of speech, "they considered that all parts of speech, that is all words, were comprised under eight different properties,of which one, for example, was to signify substancewithquality;and theydecided to designate thisproperty by the word 'noun.'"37 Probably the most influentialattemptto rationalize on Priscian (ca. 1140). the rules of grammarwas Peter Helias's commentary Although he was not the firstto introduce dialectics into the study of grammar,as is sometimes stated, Peter Helias may neverthelessbe considered the fatherof speculativegrammarin the Middle Ages. His is the work to which all later grammariansof the period recur. In the words of Grabmann, "Was Abaelard fur die Dialektik, Petrus Lombardus fulr die die Theologie, Gratian fur das Kirchenrecht war, das war Petrus Heliae fulr
34

35 Domenico Comparetti,Vergil in theMiddleAges,trans. E. F. M. Benecke (London, 1908), p. 127 n. I am grateful to my colleague Teresa Tavormina for bringing this example to my attention. The same line of reasoning is used by Abelard, Alan of Lille, and Garnier of Rochefort;see Haring, "The Liberal Arts,"p. 60 and note 88. 36 "Die geschichtliche Entwicklungder mittelalterlichen Sprachphilosophie und Sprachlogik: Ein (berblick," MeangesJoseph de Ghellinck (Gembloux, 1951), 2:424. 37 R. W. Hunt, "Studies on Priscian in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries,"Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies1 (1941), 213; rpt. as part of his collected papers, TheHistory ofGrammar in the MiddleAges,ed. G. L. Bursill-Hall(Amsterdam,1980), p. 20.

16.

Jean Leclerq, "Smaragde et la grammairechretienne," Revue du moyen age latin 4,1 (1948),

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Grammatik, und zwar in ihrer sprachlogischen Ausrichtung."38 Helias's commentarydominated the schools until it was displaced fifty years later by theDoctrinale of Alexander of Ville-Dieu. Alexander, says R. R. Bolgar: startsfromthe assumption thata rationalbeing made the whole of the Latin languiage at one stroke to fitthecreatedworld;and we find1.him tacitly assuming the correspondence betweenthe rules he expoundsand the structure of human He likesto listthe categories in his mindas the logical experienice. whichfigure fhamework of theuniverse. There mustbe masculines and feminines. There must be threepersons.There mustbe cases wheretheseare declined.Actionmustbe describedin past, present, and future and withrespectto the variouspersons. There must be wordsforall thesepossibilities. The Doctrinale in suchfactual revels categories.... Take itas yourguide,and youwillfindyourself reconstructing the Latinlanguage.:39 This point of view was pushed to its logical extreme by the group of speculative grammarians known as the Modistae (e.g., Siger of Courtrai, Thomas of Erfurt),who tried to isolate the categories not only of Latin but of every possible language - to establish, in short, a universal grammar, of realityand human thought.40 based otnthe structure It is not difficult to see why these developments were so favorable to the continued growthof the grammaticalmetaphor. The attemptto base grammatical rules on extra-linguistic premises, such as logic or "the nature of things,"establishes them simultaneouslyin two separate modes. The rules repeat, at a deeper level of meaning, the same process we have seen already with respect to the terminology.There is now conceptual as well as verbal double-entendre. Moreover, insofar as grammatical distinctions were thoughtto express ulteriorcategories of thought,theycould serve as convenient counters in arguments of the most sophisticated kind. In contrast to the Augustinian tradition,where grammar is invoked primarilyto celebrate the wonders of God's creation, it is now available as a serious tool in the search for new knowledge. The fancifuletymologyof Isidore of Seville "oratio dicta quasi oris ratio" - is like a prophecy fulfilled.41 Oratiobecomes
p. 425. Entwicklung," 38 "Die geschichtliche

3" The Classical Age to theEnd of theRenaissance theCarolingian from and ILts Beneficiaries, Heritage (1954; rpt. New York, 1964), p. 209. and Mediaeval 40 An excellent brief account of modistic theory is given by Robins in Ancient 2nd ed. (London, 1979), pp. ofLinguistics, Theory, pp. 77-90, and in A ShortHistory Grammatical 74-90. See also Grabmann, "Die Entwicklung"; G. L. Bursill-Hall, "Mediaeval Grammatical of theMiddle Grammars 9 (1963), 40-54, and Speculative Linguistics Theories," CanadianJournal f/ Ages (The Hague, 1971); the introduction by Pinborg to his edition of Siger of Courtrai's (Munster/ im Mittelalter Suimma,and the same author's Die Entwicklungder Sprachtheorie of Copenhagen, 1967). For a comprehensive bibliography,see E. J. Ashworth,The Tradition (Toronto, 1978). Grammar MedievalLogicand Speculative 41 Etymologiae 1.5.3. Medieval grammaticaltreatiseswrittenin English actually translatepars as "part of reason"; see Sanford Brown Meech, "An Early Treatise in English Concernorationis Universityof Literature, ing Latin Grammar," Essays and Studies in English and Comparative

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ratio.Grammar slips over into logic. Finally,a high degree of metaphorical crossover between grammar and dialectics results from the overlapping of in the two disciplines,thatis, substance,quality,accident. In the terminology we find discussionsof the eucharisticaccidents and of early twelfth century, of nouns that parallel each other precisely:the same questions, the accidents the same solutions.42 The use of grammaticaldistinctions in the solution of philosophical and theological problems, particularlyin the eleventh and twelfthcenturies,is well known. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the nature of the process. Berengar of Tours, a major protagonist in the eucharistic conof the eleventhcentury, based his positionon a grammaticalanalysis troversy of the formula, "Hoc est corpus meum." His argument focuses on the pronoun "hoc," a part of speech which, according to grammarians of the time, signifiedthingsin substance only (as distinguishedfromnouns, which signifiedthings in both substance and accidents). Since the pronoun "hoc" stands for the bread itself, the bread also must be seen as existing in substance only - a form of Sprachlogik that amounts to a denial of the real presence of Christin the Eucharist.43 Lanfrance of Bec fashioned a rebuttal that is equally verbal in nature, and in turn his most famous student continued the same line of reasoning. Anselm's habitual mode of thoughtwas grammatical,observes Colish, and "the specific kind of necessary reasons and ContraGaunilonem which Anselm employs in the Monologion, Proslogion, tend to be grammaticalin nature."44Bernard of Chartres's theory of the semanticunityof inflectedwords - for example, albus,alba, albumall have the same signification, "white," although they have differentgrammatical forms- played a major role in the attemptsof later theologiansto reconcile of his names.45 Finally,Peter Lombard the unityof God and the diversity explained the prescienceof God, in particularthe paradox of his instantaneous knowledge of things sequential in time, by means of contemporary We meet such grammaticaltheoryon the tense of verbs in propositions.46
Michigan Publicationsin Language and Literature 13 (Ann Arbor, 1935), pp. 81-125. For other CatalogueofMiddleEnglishGramtreatisesin Middle English, see David Thomson, A Descriptive matical Texts(New York, 1979). 42 Hunt, "Studies in Priscian," pp. 215-17. A major influenceon thistendencywas Anselm. As Gillian R. Evans observes, "One of the most important achievements of the De Grammatico appears to be to bring togethera number of termswhich are common to the studyof grammar SuntLatini: Technical Language and Technical Terms in and to dialectic . . .": "InopesVerborum the Writingsof St. Anselm and Some Commentatorsof the Mid-TwelfthCentury,"Archives du moyen etlitteraire dge 43 (1976), 123. d'histoire doctrinale 43 Southern,"Lanfranc of Bec and Berengar of Tours," Studies to Presented in MedievalHistory (Oxford, 1948), pp. 44-46; Margaret Gibson,LanfrancofBec (Oxford, MauricePowicke Frederick 1978), pp. 63-97. My explanation is radicallyabbreviated,of course, and hardlydoes justice to of Berengar's argument. the complexity 44 TheMirror ofLanguage,p. 133. au douzieme siecle,Etudes de philosophie medievale 45 (Paris, 1957), p. 4 Chenu, La theologie 95. 46 p. 93. Chenu, La theologie,

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arguments everywhere,and because grammar was regarded as a kind of applied logic, they carried conviction. The metaphors upon which they depended were feltnot as mere figuresof speech, but as absolute categories to exaggerate the importance of this process in of thought. It is difficult early medieval theology. In the words of Chenu, "Au XIIe siecle, ce sont ceux qui pratiquerentla meilleure critiquegrammaticale, qui avaient chance d'etre les meilleurstheologiens."47 If men were led to seek metaphors in the grammar of Priscian and Donatus, then why not in the divine grammar of the Holy Spirit, whose words actually embodied the linguisticideal of a perfect correspondence between language and reality?I mean, of course, the Bible. Although a source of embarrassmentto early Christians because of its humble style- a far cry from the elegant periods of Cicero - the Bible emerged in the early Middle Ages as the supreme literarymodel.48 The challenge of classical Latin proved useful in isolatingthe special qualities of biblical language; and what had been a cause for shame was turned,like the cross itself, to an object of glory. "We do not follow Donatus," boasts Smaragdus, "because we have a greater authorityin Divine Scriptures."He the qualities that make biblical Latin superior to specifiesin his Grammar "vera propriaque Latinitas" - for example, its freedom to preserve the of Hebrew names by exact transliteration, in violationof the classical mystery rules governing the case endings of proper nouns. Smaragdus's idea of a Christiangrammar,based on the usage of the Bible, is a recurspecifically ring theme in medieval thought.49 Indeed, the movementto "correct" Priscian, though motivated primarilyby philosophical considerations,was not entirely free of this bias. Priscian was widely regarded as an apostate, whereas the new grammarians,such as Alexander of Ville-Dieu and Evrard of Bethune, were unarguably Christian and had writtentheir grammars from a Christian point of view. Secular grammar and Christian grammar were not the same thing. The distinctionhas rarely been made with more hyperbole than in the eulogy pronounced at the funeral of the thirteenthcenturyBolognese grammarian Sarti (described by his colleague Terrisius as "not a lowlypositivebut a superlative. . ., singularin number for he had no peers to forma plural"): At thehourof his death,as if the sun had gone down,night coveredthe faceof theearth, becausehe alone,shedding light upon thedarkand obscure treatises of theshadows, theold apostate, Priscian, dissipated corrected silenced thefollowers of Donatus,and, havingdescendedfromthe heights of SinailikeanotherMoses
47Chenu, La theologie, p. 107. 48 Languageand Its Publicin Late LatinAntiquity See Erich Auerbach, "Sermo Humilis,"Literary and in theMiddleAges,trans.Ralph Manheim (New York, 1965), pp. 27-66. 49 Leclerq, "Smaragde et la grammairechretienne."

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byGod,not composed handsa grammar of thelaw,putintomortal thetables with byman.50 When Alexander himselfdecried the continued use of the classics at Orin the words of the Psalmist:"Hec est pestifera, leans, he did so, significantly, David testante,cathedra / In qua non sedit vir sanctus, perniciosam / Doctrinamfugiens."51 differencesbetween scripFor our purposes, one of the most significant tural grammar and "ordinary" grammar lies in the area of syntax. The special nature of divine syntax was early pointed out by St. Jerome in a famous letteron the principlesof translation.His normal procedure, he tells us, is to render sense for sense and not word forword, "except in the case of (ubi et the holy scriptureswhere even the order of the words is a mystery" est). 2 This phrase is echoed by later champions of ordomysterium verborum to the studyof letters biblicalstyle.Peter Damian, whose passionate hostility is notorious,findsthat"in many places of Scripturea certainorder of words seems to be institutedand observed by God Himself"; and elsewhere he singles out the gospel of Mark: "If we examine nearly all the pages of Scripture, we shall hardly find that the spirit of truth has spoken with greater care or circumspectionby any other than by the blessed Mark, so thatthe verysequence of the narrativeand the order of the words contain a great sacrament."53 est,then even the ordomysterium If it is true thatin Holy Scriptureverborum variationbetween an Old Testament verse and its reappearance in slightest Take, for example, the revisionof the New may be profoundlysignificant. sacerdotale ("a priestlykingdom") in Exodus 19.6 to sacerthe phrase regnum regale ("a kinglypriesthood") in 1 Peter 2.9. What does the change dotium In a sermon preached in Paris about 1230, by a friarminor,we find signify? interpretation: the following
50 B. Haureau, Noticeset extraits Nationale (Paris, latinsde la Bibliotheque de quelquesmanuscrits 1891), 4:260-62. Several of myexamples come fromHaureau. Others may be found in Charles grammaticales des doctrines pour servir latins a i'histoire manuscrits de divers Thurot, Noticeset extraits de la Bibliotheque Imperialeet autres des manuscrits au moyendge, vol. 22 of Noticeset extraits am Main, 1964). (Paris, 1869; rpt. Frankfurt bibliotheques 5 Ecclesiale, ed. L. R. Lind (Lawrence, Kansas, 1958), p. 10. 52 Epistola 57 (Ad Pammachium), in Opera, ed. D. Vallarsi (Venice, 1766), 1:308; trans.A Select 2nd ser. (Grand Rapids, 1954), 6:113. Fathers, Library ofNiceneand Post-Nicene 53 Sermones, PL 144: "In plerisque sacrae Scripturaelocis ordo quidamjudiciorum ab ipso Deo videturet servari"(col. 564); "Perscrutantesnamque omnes fere paginas Scripturarum, institui invenire vix possumus spiritumveritatiscautius vel circumspectiusper alium quemlibet quam per os beati Marci fuisse locutum, adeo ut ipsa descriptionisseries, et ordo verborummagnum between secular and divine grammar is contineatsacramentum"(cols. 573-74). The distinction one of Peter's favoritethemes: "My grammar is Christ,""AlmightyGod does not need our grammar," "You wish to learn grammar? Good! Then learn to decline the word God in the Literaturdes Mittelalters der lateinischen plural," and so forth. See Max Manitius, Geschichte (Munich, 1911-31), 3:69.

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The clergy oughtto rulein all things, though thiswas nottruebeforethetimeof And becauseof thisMosessaid, weremoreworthy thanpriests. grace,whenkings mihigens sancta,regnumsacerdotale." "Vos eristis Throughthisit is seen that than priests, for a substantive is more worthy kingswere more worthy thanan But now in the timeof gracethe contrary is true,and because of this adjective. Petersaid in his epistle, "Regalesacerdotium, gens sancta, populusacquisitionis." are moreworthy thankings and princes, And thusit is clearthatpriests because is put a little thanregale, an adjective; fora substantive, sacerdotium higher as was said earlier, is moreworthy thanan adjective.54 etextraits the above appears, can hardlycontain B. Haureau, in whose Notices himself: "Voil'a certes, au profit des pretentions romaines, un argument nouveau, qui vaut bien celui des deux luminaires. La syntaxe intervenant pour mettrel'tat dans l'Eglise!" Actuallythere is nothingexceptional about either the friar'smethod or his conclusion. The great biblical commentator Hugh of St.-Cheralso questioned the meaning behind the syntactic inversion of the two texts("Sed quid est, quod in Exod. dicitur,regnum hic sacerdotale, much the same answer: "Soluvero sacerdotium regale?")and arrivedat pretty some prerogativeof the New Testament tion: This is said in order to signify withrespectto the Old. For in the New Testament,the dignity of priesthood is higherand more eminentthan kingship;and because of this,sacerdotium is used here as standingby itselfbecause a substantive; and regaleas existingin relation to another because an adjective. The converse was true in the Old Law; and because of thisit is said regnum sacerdotale: for then all were subject to the king,as now all are subject to the supreme pontiff."55 Finally,Thomas and sacerdotium is Waleys also argued that the historicalrelation of regnum reflectedin the grammaticalrelation of the two words, as they appear in Exodus 19.6 and 1 Peter 2.9. And he gave an additional rationale. Kingship is placed before priesthood in Exodus, because the promises of the Old Testament are carnal, whereas priesthood is put above kingshipin 1 Peter, because the promises made under the New Law are spiritual.Waleys neatly reduced his whole argumentto a formulathatmay stand as a main principle in the metaphorical interpretation of biblical syntax: "Diversitas in re fuit in modo loquendi."56 causa talisdiversitatis
54 Haureau, Notices et extraits, 6:254. The speaker's characterization of substantives as "more worthy" than adjectives is consistent with grammatical parlance and furnishes yet another instanceof how the language of grammarwas morallyloaded to begin with.Siger of Courtrai, for example, says in his discussion of rection that the word which possesses "more dignity" governsthe less "dignified" word: Summamodorum, ed. Pinborg,p. xxxiii. 55 Operaomnia Vetus etNovumTestamentum in universum (Venice, 1600), 7:328r. 56 Charland, Artes and sacerdotium praedicandi, pp. 395-96. The relationbetweenregnum is, of course, one of the burning issues of the thirteenthcentury,culminating in open conflict between Boniface VIII and Philip the Fair. John of Paris (ca. 1250-1306) discusses the issue at lengthin his treatise De potestate regiaetpapali (trans.J. A. Watt[Toronto, 1971]). In connection with the above questions, see especially chapters 4 ("The Precedence in Time of Kingship or Priesthood")and 5 ("The Precedence in Dignityof Kingshipor Priesthood").

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realized in Scripgoal of matchingwords to things,perfectly The linguistic ture, has its corollaryin the moral sphere: words should match deeds. Like the Ciceronian ideal of the virtuous rhetorician,medieval thought makes moral rectitudethe sinequa non of rhetoricalexcellence. Rightconduct lends life,essence. to one's speech, however; it lends validity, more than credibility Speech that does not spring from a righteous will is an empty gesture, it lacks a soul, it denies the very purpose of language. Words and deeds are in different modes, of the same moral reality.As such simplymanifestations, theyare equivalentsof each other. Words are deeds, and deeds are words. This fusionof the two is encouraged, above all, by the Bible. For example, in the Old Testament,can the Hebrew word dabhar,whichoccurs frequently mean both "word" and "deed," and thisis translatedin the Latin Vulgate as verbum.57 Thus, Psalm 32.6, "Verbo Domini caeli firmatisunt," may be interpretedin two ways: "by the word - or by the act - of the Lord the heavens were made." Both readings are correct. For medieval scholars, in fact, the Genesis account of creation was amazingly concentrated in the deliberate ambiguityof this single word. Did not God bring all thingsinto existence simplyby calling theirnames? We are words spoken by the Lord, and our mottled history,built upon the conflictof good and evil, is "an exquisite poem set off with antitheses"(Augustine).58The same identification of word and deed continues in the New Testament. "Let us go into "and see this word (hoc Bethlehem," say the shepherds at Christ's nativity, in this use of verbum The striking that is come to pass" (Luke 2.15). verbum) Haymo, Ambrose, most on the passage. commentaries contextis the focus of and others,citingOld Testament precedents,explain it as a familiarexam"in whichverbum is put for the thingsignified per verbum" ple of metonymy, and almost universally, (that is, by the speech of the angels).59 But further, of 1. that withthe Word John 1, is, Christ. "word" in thispassage is identified Thomas Aquinas, quoting Bede, says in his Catena aurea: "Vere quasi vigilantesnon dixerunt:Videamus puerum, sed verbumquod factumest; idest, Verbum quod semper erat videamus quomodo pro nobis caro factum est: represents siquidem hoc ipsum Verbum Dominus est."60On one level verbum and his the fusion of Christ on another deed and fusion of and word, the gospel. of metaphoricaltypes,but one in comes a variety From thisrich ambiguity then it is If words and deeds are synonymous, deserves attention. particular possible to speak of one in terms of the other. Human conduct may be regarded as a kind of rhetoricalsystem.Thus, to obey God's law is to speak
Languageand Religion(New York, 1965), pp. 129-32. Linguistics, David Crystal, ofGod 11.18, p. 361. City in of the text is summarized in Cornelius a Lapide, Commentarii Patristicinterpretation sacram(Paris, 1868), 8:677. scripturam refersto the Word as Verbum 60 P. A. Guarienti,ed. (Turin, 1953), 2:32. Garnier of Rochefort in order "to conveythe idea that there is no change in God": Haring, "The Liberal indeclinabile Arts,"p. 60.
5' 58

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of Augustine,we see to sin is to commita solecism. In the writings correctly; use of the metaphor. Defending the patriarchsagainst an early,if tentative, the charge of adultery,he says: in consists whoselearning of thegreatis likethatof boysat school, Such criticism theverbmustalso be is in thesingular, rule,thatifthenominative theimportant becausehe says, with thebestLatinauthor, and so they findfault in thesingular; secat.And again,knowing He shouldhave written, say they, secant. Pars in frusta whenhe says relligio, is speltwithone 1, theyblame him forwriting thatreligio Hence it maywithreasonbe said,thatas the poeticalusage of Relligione patrum. own of theunlearned, and barbarisms so, in their thesolecisms differs from words of the theimpureactions differ from of the prophets actions way,the figurative wouldbe whippedif he pled of a barbarism as a boyguilty vicious. Accordingly, a son begetting the usage of Virgil;so anyone quotingtheexampleof Abraham oughtto of hisownsinful handmaid, passionforhiswife's Hagar,in defence from thathe maynotsuffer not bycaningonly,but by severescourging, be corrected of This indeed is a comparison in eternalpunishment. the doom of adulterers and it is not intendedthata peculiar withtrifles; subjects greatand important or a solecism with usage in speech should be put on a level witha sacrament, of the subjects, whatis in thecharacter forthedifference allowing Still, adultery. resemof speech, and improprieties in theproprieties or ignorance calledlearning between to thegrandmoraldistinction or thewantof it in reference bleswisdom and vice.6' virtue Jerome, makes a similarcomparison beAugustine's famous contemporary, in Adversus Helvidium.In a clever display of tween grammar and morals his Jerome taxes his opponent simultaneouslyfor both his rhetoricaloccupatio, "I pass over faultsof dictionwhich abound verbal and moral shortcomings: I not a word about your absurd introduction. in every book you write. say you Good heavens! I do not ask for eloquence, since, having none yourself, I do not ask for of grace it to brother Craterius. for a of your supply applied of greatest it is the Christians I for with soul: look for of purity style, solecismsand of vices of styleto introduce anythingbase either in word or
action."62

Medieval taste,however,was not to be satisfiedby such general comparisons. Every possible point of contact between vices of the soul and vices of stylehad to be made explicit. In what deeper sense is adulterya solecism? centuries and thirteenth The development of the metaphor in the twelfth depended upon a fairlyprecise definitionof this grammaticalerror. "Soon Donatus, "est oratio inorloecismus,"according to Servius's commentary
61 series (Grand Rapids, 1974), first ContraFaustumManichaeum22.25, trans.A SelectLibrary, 4:282-83. Ironically,the veryphrase cited by Augustine fromVirgil,"pars in frustasecant,"is Latini, ed. Keil, Grammatici by Donatus himselfin his Ars grammatica, singled out for criticism discussionof the connectionbetween grammarand morals in Augustine,see 4:393. For further and the Poetics of the Law," ModernLanguage Notes93 Eugene Vance, "Augustine'sConfessions (1978), 618-34. 62 p. 343. Library, Opera,ed. Vallarsi,2:224; trans.,A Select

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dinatis dictionibus instructacontra rectam loquendi consuetudinem."63In contrastto a barbarism,whichis an error in the pronunciationor spellingof a solecismis an error of agreement (e.g., pars individual words (e.g., relligio), in frustasecant)and concerns the relations between words. Hence, just as a solecism goes against the very nature of grammar (ars recteloquendi) by violatingthe rules of right relation, so also adultery goes against our true nature by violatingthe rightrelation that should obtain between our actions and the image of God in us. Starting from philosophy rather than from (ca. 1080).64The grammar,Anselm arrived at a similaranswer in De veritate (like the scriptural treatisegrows out of the observationthat the word veritas applies equally well to both words and deeds: there is a truth use of verbum) of propositions and a truth of moral actions. Is this coincidence real or merely verbal? Anselm maintains that it is real, because both are true by virtue of the same principle, namely, their participationin "rightness"or rectitudo, ofwhichGod is thesourceand supremeexemplar.When a proposition correspondsrecteto the nature of things,or when the individual will correor truth.In sponds recteto the divine will,both are said to display rectitudo essence, to do a morally right action is to tell the truth; to do a morally wrong action is to tell a lie. Scripturalsupport for thisview appears in John 8.44, where the two meanings of "truth"come together:the Devil "stood not in the truth;because truthis not in him . . . , for he is a liar, and the father thereof."Typical of Anselm's thoughtin general, the argumentis grammatical at bottom and turns,like the definitionof grammar itself,on the word recte. The idea of the moral solecism, then, depends upon the moral and grammaticalconcept of recte;throughit doing and sayingmay be metaphorof icallyequated. The word is crucial, for instance,to moral interpretations the liberal arts, a favoritescheme based upon the exegesis of Proverbs 9.1, "Wisdom hath built herselfa house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars." Hugh of St.-Chercomments:"The house of wisdom is Philosophy.The seven columns are the seven liberal arts, that is, grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, and astronomy."Hugh considers each in order. music,geometry, arithmetic, If the object of grammar is recteloqui, then the firstcolumn is not to be found in the house of priestswho never speak the word of God, as required by their office,nor in that of detractors,who never speak rectaconcerning others: docet recte loqui. Hanc columnamnon habentin domo sua qui Grammatica nunquamaperiuntos suum ad loquendumverbumDei: cum tamenex officio id est grammaticam non habent . . Vel certe primamcolumnam, teneantur. de aliis: Haec autemrecteet congrue detractores, qui nunquamrectaloquuntur docetloqui.65
Latini,4:563. Keil, Grammatici byJasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson,in Truth, See the translationand commentary Dialogues(New York, 1967). Philosophical and Evil: Three Freedom 65 Operaomnia,3: 18r.
63

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Hugh continues in this vein through all seven of the arts. The second column, dialectics,is not had by "adulatores, qui falsa potentibusblandiunby those "qui semper scurriliaet turpia loquuntur"; nor the third,rhetoric, tur"; nor the fourth,arithmetic,by the proud, "qui in numero aliorum nolunt computari,"etc. Justwhen we thoughtthat Hugh had exhausted this scheme, we learn that the Devil also has a house of wisdom - "sapientia huius mundi" - and it also has seven columns: "Grammaticidiaboli sunt omnes hypocritae,qui recte et congrue loquuntur, sed incongrue vivunt. Dialectici diaboli sunt omnes dolosi, qui sophistice loquuntur ut decipiant. ... Rhetoresdiaboli, sunt advocati ... ," and so forth. This scheme is elaborated in even greater detail in a sermon by Bartholomaeus of Tours, prior provincial of the Dominican order. The Holy Spirit,he says, is a "master" who teaches us not only all truth but also all knowledge, all art: grammar, logic, music, arithmetic,geometry,physics, astronomy.Bartholomaeus's treatmentof grammar deserves to be given in the Anselmian theme of recte and veritas: richly full,forit illustrates WhoGrammar teachesus to speakcorrectly. [The HolySpirit] teachesgrammar. in thegrammar of the HolySpirit, as when everspeaksthetruth speakscorrectly intentionem], in the heartthrough [per rectam rightintention he speaks (1) truly in his heart. . ."; (2) truly in the heart Psalm [14.3], "He thatspeakethtruth of his tonguewas loosed,and he Mark [7.35], "The string through confession, Isaiah 40 recte];(3) trulyin works through satisfaction, spokeright" [etloquebatur work in truth[in veritate] and I will make a perpetual [sic; 61.8],"I willmaketheir In grammar whoputthemasculine forthefeminine, them." covenant with anyone
or the oblique case for the nominative or upright [pro recto],would be greatly

in thegrammar oftheHoly persons today commit theseerrors ridiculed. Yetmany forthefeminine, whenthey speakthefalseforthe Spirit. Theyput themasculine whenthey true; such men are liars.And theyput the oblique forthe upright, the mostwicked, and, whatis more, detract fromgood and just men and flatter and rendapartthelimbsof whentheyblaspheme theyabuse the authorhimself who their Suchare taught God through father, swearing. bytheDevil,whois their theseit can be said, "You are of your is a liar fromthe beginning; concerning father theDevil" John8.44].66 As in De veritate and of the passage depends on the word recte the continuity - even the text recte, pro recto) intentionem, loquebatur its variations(per rectam from John 8.44 is repeated. To do recteis to speak recte.The specific grammaticalerrorsmoralized by Bartholomaeus are standard textbookillusand the notion that idle swearingrends apart the trationsof the solecism,67
66 Haureau, Noticeset extraits, 4:35-36. Another interestingvariation on the idea of "right intention" is provided by the fourteenth-century translationof the Sommele Roi: "Who-so biddel God wij-oute devocion of herte,he spekel to God a langage pat men clepen patrolard, as who-so spekej half Englische and half Latyn. For he spekel to God wit his moul on, and wit his hertea-noper." TheBookof Vices and Virtues, ed. W. Nelson Francis,EETS 217 (1942), p. 233. 67 Thus Servius on Donatus: "'Quis tu es, mulier,quae me insueto nuncupasti nomine?' pro quae quis dixit: masculinumpro femininoposuit." Keil, Grammatici Latini,4:563.

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limbs of God is also commonplace - quite appropriately in the above metaphor, of the Word emcontext a "literalization"of the Verbum/verbum bodied in the word.68 My final example of the moral solecism is based on the error of putting one part of speech for another. Thus Donatus: "per partes orationis fiunt soloecismi, cum alia pro alia ponitur, ut 'torvumque repente Clamat' pro torve: nomen pro adverbo positumest" (Keil, 4.393). This typeof solecismis moralized by Robert de Sorbon (1201-1274) in a sermon on the text,"Seek the kingdomof God" (Matt. 6.33): ye first who seek knowlmanyclerks Primum quaerite regnum Dei.... This is said against and are masters and believethattheyare wise;and yettheyare filled edge first with do notknowevenhowto speakgrammatigreatfoolishness, inasmuch as they in theirdiscourse. This is clear, a solecism cally;on the contrary theycommit whenone principal principal part, becauseit is a solecism partis put foranother Now the richesof the worldand such as a noun adjectivefor a substantive. to the kingdom of God becausetheyexistonlyin temporal goods are adjectives with respect to relation to it [quia ei adjacent]; thekingdom of God is a substantive whichare adjectives, them.Therefore, thosewho amass the richesof thisworld, because the substantive put an adjective wheretheyoughtto put a substantive, in speech,thatis, a parte and the adjective, a parte suppositi, shouldbe put first itadheres to thesuppositum); and thosewhowishfirst to acquire appositi (seeingthat in theplaceof an adjective. riches, and thenthekingdom of God,puta substantive of . . . See, 0 Lord, how the sons of men diligently observethe covenants which and thosewhich are handed learning, are handeddownbytheir forefathers; theyneglectto keep; whence down by Thee, namelythe Ten Commandments, predicamenta, butthey make many clerks study a great deal in orderto knowtheten Whence, saysAugustine, nottheslightest effort to knowtheTen Commandments. are to be remindedconstantly, moved by Christian thatis, scholars, scholastici, thanoftheir words.69 humility, to shunmorethevicesof their manners This has all the marks of a sermon intended for a clerical audience - the of learning itselfas a admonition against pride in learning,the classification form of bona temporalia, and the technical vocabulary, such as adjective, In fact, Robert goes on to substantive, appositum, suppositum, predicamenta.70
68 Viz. Chaucer, "The Pardoner'sTale" (472-74): "Hir othes been so greteand so dampnable / That it is grislyfor to heere hem swere./ Oure blissed Lordes body theytotere . . . " ed. F. N. Chaucer,2nd ed. (Boston, 1957), p. 150, and see Robinson's note, ofGeoffrey Robinson,The Works p. 730. 5:56-57. etextraits, 69 Haureau, Notices is complicated by the use 70 The meaning of the grammatical and appositum termssuppositum of the same termsin Scholasticlogic (see Ashworthfor numerous studiesof suppositiontheory). and appositum (subject and predicate) were In Thomas of Erfurt'ssystem"the termssuppositum used to denote the syntacticfunctionsof the two parts of the basic sentence" (e.g., Socrates p. 82. For other explanations, see Robert Godfrey,"The Lancurrit):Robins, A ShortHistory, guage Theory of Thomas of Erfurt,"Studiesin Philology57 (1960), 27; and G. A. Padley, Europe 1500-1700 (Cambridge, 1976), p. 116. Alan of Lille also in Western Theory Grammatical uses the terms,in theirgrammaticalsense, as the basis of metaphorin De planctuNaturae; see G.

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show that to seek temporal goods before the kingdom of God is not only ungrammaticalbut also illogical, because it violates the proper use of the syllogism.The use of technicalmetaphors such as these is a hallmarkof his work. For example, in another sermon he treats the matter of absentee curates as a problem in Aristotelianlogic: "Pastor in ecclesia sua debet esse vir in agendo viriliter. . Grex est tanquam materia, pastor vero sicut forma. Sed dicit Philosophus quod, si separetur forma a materia, tendit in non ens materia et in nihil; ergo, si separetur pastor ab ecclesia, tenditgrex in non ens et in nihil."71 Toward the end of the medieval period, as if to prove the strength of the metaphor in one final,extravagantgesture, someone - perhaps Jean Gerson (1363-1429) - turned the entire Ars minorof Donatus into a moral allegory.The Donatusmoralizatus is, properlyspeaking, the natural culminahad tion of the tradition.Most of the grammaticalconcepts of the Arsminor already been moralized separately, and it only remained for someone of sufficient imagination- or lack of it - to bring all of these efforts together under the guise of an actual grammaticaltreatise.The Ars minorwas ideal for the purpose. It was relatively short (twelvepages in Keil's edition); it was to Latin grammarbetween the familiar, being the most popular introduction years 400 and 1500; and its structurewas already close to that of a moral of the pronoun: catechism.Typical is itstreatment Whatis a pronoun?A partof speechthatis oftenused in place of the noun to and now and thenrefers to a personpreviously the same meaning menconvey tioned.How manyattributes Six. What?Quality, belongto thepronoun? gender, number, form, person, case.Etc.72 And so it continues throughall the parts of speech. The moralized Donatus to itsown purposes, as follows: adapts thiscatecheticalstructure
are the ten Raynaud de Lage, Alain de Lille (Montreal, 1951), p. 114. The ten predicamenta predicaments or categories of Aristotle:substance, quantity,quality, relation, action, passion, where, when, posture, and environment.These also are subject to metaphorical exploitation. of Deguileville's ad aliquid,see Lydgate'stranslation For a literary treatment of thepredicamentum Pelerinagede la vie humaine,ed. F. J. Furnivall,EETS e.s. 77, 83, 92 (1899-1904), pp. 77-92. Robert'suse of the term"noun adjective" gives no problem; medieval grammariansdivided the noun into two kinds, noun substantivesand noun adjectives, whereas modern traditional the two as separate parts of speech. grammarclassifies 71 Haureau, Noticeset extraits, 5:158. Additional examples of the syllogismin sermons are avant 1300 (Paris, 1976), pp. 330-35. See given by Michel Zink,La predication en langueromane life. His fond of analogies based on university also Owst,Preaching, p. 327. Robertis particularly is built upon a long comparison of the Last Judgmentwith an examination of De confessione students by the universitychancellor; the book on which we will all be examined before receivingour "licentiate"in paradise is the book of conscience (Romans 2.14). The same idea is prominentin his De conscientia: "Et certe magnus magisterDeus, facieteis in die Iudicii, sicut Veterum Patrum parvis magistrisin schola de Grammatica,"etc. M. de la Bigne, ed., Bibliothecae (Paris, 1624), 5:798. An account of the life and works of Robert may be found in Histoire de la France(Paris, 1838), 14:291-307. litteraire
72

Keil, Grammatici Latini, 4:357.

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Quid est pronomen? Respondeo: sicut homo est nomen tuum, ita peccator est pronomen tuum. Cum ergo coram Deo orationem tuam fundis, pone pronomen pro nomine, ut dicas: 0 Pater coelestis, non ut homo te invoco, sed ut peccator veniam postulo. Pronomini quot accidunt? Sex, scilicetqualitas, genus, numerus, figura, persona, casus. Peccator ergo, prout est pronomen, cujus qualitatis? Infinitae,quia propter infinitam et incertammultitudinem delictorumquae facio, ea numerare non valeo. Cujus generis? Omnis: quia omni generi vitiorumpeccando participo, scilicet mortalium et venialium. Cujus numeri? Singularis: quia singulariter peccata mea animam meam cruciant,et conscientiammeam trucidant. Cujus figurae?Simplicis: quia non possum ea dividere in diversis Confessionibus; sed quando volo ea confiteri Sacerdoti,oportetquod omnia sub simplici,et sub una Confessione dicam clare et distincte,cum cordis Contritione et cum proposito emendandi. Cujus personae? Primae: quia non habeo judicare alios, sed meipsum, dicendo: Ego sum miserille qui sic et sic vixiin conspectu Dei et Angelorum. Cujus casus? De statu innocentiae,in statumculpae. Cujus declinationis?A manu Dei, in manum diaboli. Quot sunt declinationes in pronomine? Quatuor. Prima, est obedientia Dei in suggestionemdiaboli: per hanc declinavit Eva. Secunda, est ab obedientia Dei in consensum mulieris,ut Adam declinavitper Evam. Tertia, est a Paradiso in hunc mundum. Quarta, est ab hoc mundo in limbuminferni.73 The author goes on to define verbumas "Praeceptum Dei." The voice is active ("quia auditores Legis non justificabuntur apud Deum sed factores"), the number is plural ("quia sunt ista decem"), the tense is present ("quia oportet quod in praesenti perficiatur hoc Praeceptum, scilicet quamdiu sumus in hac vita"), and so on. The preposition stands for the joy of the elect, "quia illi praeponuntur damnandis." The interjection stands for the suffering of the damned, "quia sicut interjectio grammaticalis signat mentis affectum voce incognita: ita interjectio illa spiritualis signat hominis interioris motum ex passione dolorosa." As a repository of commonplaces in the tradition of moralized grammar, the work is unsurpassed. 3. GRAMMAR AND ALLEGORY

It would be surprising if the grammatical metaphor were represented in treatises, sermons, short poems, and the like and not in the genre most characteristic of the period - allegory. Indeed, metaphor and allegory spring from similar modes of perception and have a natural kinship with each other. It is not entirely coincidental, perhaps, that the most famous

73 IohannisGersonii Opera omnia,ed. Ellies du Pin (Aptwerp, 1706), 4:836. For a descriptionof the work,see Victorle Clerc and Ernest Renan, Histoire litteraire de la Franceau quatorzieme siele, 2nd edition (Paris, 1865), 1:421-22. In Lehmann's Die Parodie we find other examples of the grammaticalcatechism(see pp. 191 ff.and 197 ff.).Closer to theDonatu-s in tone and moralizatu-s substance, however,is a passage from a metricaltreatiseon grammar by Henry of Avranches in which the poet sees the Virginin the pronoun, prelates in preposi(mid-thirteenth century), tions,hereticsin irregularverbs,and so forth.The passage is edited byJ. C. Russell and John Paul Heironimus, The Shorter Latin Poems of Master Henry of Avranches Relating to England (Cambridge, Mass., 1935; rpt. New York, 1970), pp. 58-59.

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examples of grammaticalmetaphor should appear in two allegorical works, Naturaeand WilliamLangland's PiersPlowman. Alan of Lille's De planctu The plot of De planctuNaturae is simple. In the terse summaryof C. S. Lewis, "Nature appears to the author and laments the unnatural vices of humanity;the Virtuescome to share theirgrievancewithhers; and Genius is ordered to pronounce an anathema against the offenders.That is the whole Alan regards sexual perversion as the quintessentialexample of matter."74 man's break with Nature, intended by God as the pattern for human behavior. Whether Alan "was tempted to this peculiar theme by the endless opportunitieswhich it offeredfor fantasticgrammaticalmetaphor" (Lewis), he gives the metaphor a prominentplace in the I do not know,but certainly page: work. He introducesthe device on the first horret sexus,se turpiter Activi generis Sic in passivum genus. degenerare sexusdenigrat honorem, Femina virfactus, eum. hermaphroditat Veneris Arsmagicae fit et subjicit, idem, Praedicat duplexterminus illenimis. Grammaticae legesampliat in arte naturae Se negatessevirum, factus Arsillinonplacet, imo,tropus. Barbarus. translatio dici; istatropus poterit Non tamen In vitium cadit.75 melius istafigura Alan's general procedure, if not the specificapplication,is familiarto us by now. He uses grammarto amplifyupon the theme of sexual aberration.The active (activi generis)becomes the passive (passivumgenus); man is made woman; he becomes both subject and predicate at once. In short,"man here extends too far the laws of grammar."There is additional play on the word barbarus.In denying "barbarously"his own manhood, man becomes a barnaturam76 or, as Alan's barism,that is, a misused word whose force is contra it, "the of a civilized of corruption Salisbury puts contemporaryJohn word."77Though created by the rhetorical skill, as it were, of Nature
ofLove, pp. 105-6. Allegory PL 210:431. James Sheridan translatesthe passage as follows:"The active sex shudders in disgrace as it sees itselfdegenerate into the passive sex. A man turned woman blackens the fair of Venus turns him into a hermaphrodite. He is subject and name of his sex. The witchcraft predicate: one and the same term is given a double application. Man here extends too far the laws of grammar. Becoming a barbarian in grammar,he disclaimsthe manhood given him by hownature. Grammar does not find favour with him but rather a trope. This transposition, fallsinto the categoryof defects." ever, cannot be called a trope. The figurehere more correctly The Plaint ofNature(Toronto, 1980), pp. 67-68. To what extentAlan may have been influenced by the use of the grammaticalmetaphor in the work of his teacher, Matthewof Vend6me, is a question we cannot consider here; but see Lehmann, Die Parodie,p. 52, and Raynaud de Lage, Alain de Lille, p. 151, for some examples. A similar play on the sexual connotationsof subject and predicate,pointed out to me by Teresa Tavormina, may be found in Walter Map's De nugis ed. M. R. James (Oxford, 1914), pp. 152-53. curialium, 76 Keil, Grammatici Latini,4:444. 77 Metalogicon, p. 52.
74 75

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He naturae factus in arte- man has been deluded by the ars magicaeVeneris. cannot excuse his offense against the grammar of morals, however, by claimingpoetic license: dici; istatropus translatio Non tamen poterit In vitium melius istafigura cadit. Servius notes in his Behind thisidea lies a well-known rhetoricaldistinction. commentaryon Donatus ("De barbarismo") that deviations from correct grammar may be classifiedas either "vices or virtues,"and that the latter may be furtherdivided "in metaplasmos,in schemata, in tropos."78Tropes of which there are thirteentypes, among them metaphor, metonymy, or transference of meaning: synecdoche- all involvesome kind of translatio "Tropus est dictio translata a propria significationead non propriam causa."79 The question of when tropes ornatus necessitatisve similitudinem are permissiblegreatlyexercised medieval writerson the subject. John of of a figureas a "vitiumcum ratione" and Salisburyquotes Isidore's definition of St. Augustine's condemnation poets who excuse their solecisms and barto change theirnames rather and metaplasmos, barismsas schemata "preferring than give up these evident faults." John concludes, "The employmentof tropes ... is the exclusive privilegeof the verylearned. The rules governing so that the latitude in which they may be used is tropes are also very strict, to be limited."80 Nature, then,will not allow man's sexual translatio definitely can man the idea of vitium kind how a of argue cumn trope rationalizedas rationeagainst Ratio itself?- and this point is repeated later in the De planctu: Nature has taught Venus, "quae artis grammaticae regulas in suarum constructionumunionibus artificiosis admitteret; alias vero extra ordinarias nullius figurae excusatione redemptas excluderet. . . . Si enim genus masculinum genus consimile quadam irrationabilisrationis deposcat junctura vitium poterit injuria, nulla figurae honestate illa constructionis "81 turpabitur. excusare, sed inexcusabilissoloecismimonstruositate The functionof such metaphorsin De planctuNaturae has been explained most cogentlyby Richard Hamilton Green, and his remarks deserve to be repeated here in full:

Latini,4:443. Keil, Grammatici Latini, 4:399. Cf. Isidore on tropes: "Fiunt autem a propria significatione Keil, Grammatici ad non propriam similitudinem.. . . Metaphora est verbi alicuius usurpata translatio.... ad aliam proximitatemtranslata,"etc., EtyMetonymia,transnominatioab alia significatione mologiae 1.37. 80Metalogicon, p. 56. 81 PL 210:457. A playful example of sexual translatio, an "excusable solecism" or schema,is Ruodlieb.Of a couple in love, the poet says,"She was wont to affordedby the eleventh-century be called his lad and he her girl, one assuming the place of the other, / with the sexes exchanged, thus making a schemaof a solecism [mutato sexu soloecismi scemate facto]," ed. Edwin H. Zeydel (Chapel Hill, 1959), p. 114.
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Any assessment of the proprietyand effectof this kind of metaphor, however modern readers of Atan have found it,should be based on an awareness distasteful virtue of the mediaeval attitude,which regarded language not only as a specifying of human as opposed to animal nature, but as a natural phenomenon which, fromthe truth although in manyways a product of convention,derives its integrity says of of thingswhich it expresses.John of Salisbury,Alan's great contemporary, the grammatical arts that "they imitate nature, and to some degree have their origin in nature, and in all thingsas far as possible striveto conformto nature." This accounts, I think,forthe special appropriatenessof the grammarian'sdescriptive terms for aberrations in locution - they were barbarisms and, even more clearly,vices. The man who speaks exercises an art and should followthe rules of is similar to his natural acts in which, and maker his activity the art. As artificer of sexual reproduction.And among other things,he exercises the special creativity in the contextof the prologue, his perverse in a way whichis also significant finally, action is not only analogous to perversionin art, but is in shockingcontrastto the who gave him in created nature a norm to guide and action of the divine Artificer to the uses of language regulate his actions. Thus the general mediaeval sensitivity and the sense of its relations to things, and of things to their Creator, gave grammaticaland rhetoricalmetaphora peculiar effectiveness.82 This is an excellent summary of the matter, and I would add only the following qualification. In assessing "the propriety and effect of this kind of metaphor" in De planctu Naturae, the key question is how far Alan's identification of grammar and nature may be pushed. We cannot doubt Alan's general acceptance of the identification: even in "cet age de la critique grammaticale,'" as Chenu has demonstrated, he stands out as a foremost exemplar of grammatical reasoning, especially in his Summa and Regulae.83 Nor can we doubt that Alan means for the identification of grammar and nature to lend weight, resonance, and authority to his use of the metaphor in De planctu Naturae. Nevertheless, his practice is not rigorous or consistent. Indeed, one of Nature's main points - that heterosexuality is the "natural" condition of man - is not supported but rather contradicted by the evidence of grammar. It may be good morals, but it is certainly poor grammar, to insist upon "only the natural union of the masculine with the feminine gender." In fact, the disharmony between nature and grammar in this instance is the subject of a poem in the next century by Gautier de Coincy, prior of St.-Medard (d.
82 "Alan of Lille's De Planctu Naturae," Speculum 31 (1956), 661. See also Alain Michel, "Rh6torique, poetique et nature chez Alain de Lille," in Alain de Lille, Gautierde Chdtillon, ed. H. Roussel and F. Suard (Lille, 1978), pp. 113-24. Gieleeetleurtemps, Jakemart 83 Chenu, La theologie, pp. 103-5. For furtherdiscussion of the Regulae, see Gillian R. Evans, "The Borrowed Meaning: Grammar, Logic and the Problem of Theological Language in "Remarques sur Review96 (1978), 165-75; and Jean Jolivet, Schools,"Downside Twelfth-Century les 'Regulae Theologicae' d'Alain de Lille," in Roussel and Suard, pp. 83-99. The latterarticle stresses the conventionalistview of grammar in the Regulae: "Les regles de la grammaire humaine, et cela distinguecettescience de toutesles autres" (p. 89). d'une institution resultent

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they

1236). Disgusted by the taste of his fellow clergy for young boys "preferPerrotinto Peronelle"- he writes:
La Grammairehic a hic accouple. Mais Nature malditle couple. La mortperpetuel engenre Cil qui aime masculingenre Plus que le femeninne face, Et Dieu de son livrel'efface. Nature rit,si cornmoi semble, Quand hicet hecjoignent ensemble. Mais hic et hic,chose est perdue, Nature en est tostesperdue. . . 84

Alan glosses over this contradiction.Where grammar and reason coincide, Nature notes the fact - "cum enim attestante grammatica, duo genera specialiter, masculinum et femininum, ratio naturae cognoverit" - and where theydo not coincide, she cites the evidence of reason alone - "tamen Cypridi . . . ingessi,ut in suis conjunctionibusratione exigentiae,naturalem constructionem solummodo masculini femininique generis celebraret."85 Thus, although the grammar of Nature shares its terminology with that of human speech, it has its own systemof rules. There are just enough similarities to make the metaphor possible. Basically Alan has extended the toposof the "grammarof love" - particularly as we have seen it used in the satirical tradition- and put it to the service of an idea with which it is not entirely compatible. In short, although the theory of the natural origin of speech of the grammaticalmetaphor in De planctu accounts largelyfor the propriety is not philosophical but rhetoriNaturae,the chiefvalue of the figure,finally, cal. In contrastto De planctuNaturae,the use of the grammaticalmetaphor is quite rigorous in William Langland's PiersPlowman,a long, allegorical poem in threedifferent versions- apparentlysuccessiverevisions- now referred to as versionA (1362), B (1377), and C (1390).86 Langland accepts implicitly the medieval identification of language and nature and treatsthe evidence of grammarwithutmostrespect. For example, he findsproof of the Trinity(as did manyothers)in the plural formof the verb used by God at the creation: and seydefaciamus"(B.9.35). He stressesthe "For he was syngularhym-self verbal nature of the creation,an idea touched upon above:
For thorughthe worde thathe spake wexen forthbestes, Dixit,etfactasunt;
84 Quoted in Raynaud de Lage, Alain de Lille, p. 151 n. The example is cited also in the de la France, 14:843-57. littraire account of Gautier'slifeand worksin Histoire 85 86

Subsequent referencesare to Skeat's edition,which printsall three versionstogether.The dates are approximate.

PL 210:457.

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Metaphor The Grammatical


He mosteworche withhis worde and his witteshewe. And in thismanere was man made thorughmy3teof god almi3ti, and withlyfto laste. Withhis worde and werkemanschip (B.9.32-44)

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He is concerned, like medieval theologians in general, with the problem of of his names: "Why calle 3e hym Cryst," the unityof God and the diversity asks the protagonistWill, "sithenesluwes calle hym Jesus?"And the reply is that differentnames do not necessarily imply differentpersons: "Thow
knowest wel

(B.19.26-27). Like earlier writersfrom Isidore on, the poet places great store in etymology:the cardinal virtuesare so called not only because they but also because theyare "closyng3atis" (B.Prol. 104) - a pun on are "first" Latin cardo (hinge) - and the heathen are so called because of their early association with the "heath" - "Hethene is to mene afterheth and untiled erthe" (B. 15.45 1).87 Finally,he relies upon the grammaticalmetaphor as a vehicle for explaining some of his most importantideas. He divides the way to moral perfectioninto three stages,by analogy withthe positive,comparative, and superlative degrees of an adjective or adverb, and then defines their relation to one another by means of the grammatical concept of "infinites":
... Dowel and Dobet aren two infinites, Whiche infinites, witha feithfyndenoute Dobest."
(B. 13. 127-28)88

. . .

That kny3te, kynge, conqueroure

may be [one] persone"

A few dozen lines later, he explains thatjust as a transitiveverb rules its so also love ought to rule the Christianwith certain object ex vi transitionis, analogous effects(B. 13.150-5 1).89 In the longest grammaticalmetaphor in lines - he compares syntax and social order the poem - seventy-five to Langland's deep interest (C.4.335-409).90 Examples such as these testify
87 The pun on cardo/cardinal is commonplace. Langland's contemporary John Wyclif referred to the cardinals of Rome as "hinges of Satan's house" (F. J. C. Hearnshaw,The Social and Political Ideas of Some Great Mediaeval Thinkers [1923; rpt. New York, 1967], p. 212); in De vulgari Dante praises the curial vernacular as "cardinal," not only because it is firstin Italy, eloquentia but also because "as the door followsits hinges, so the whole familyof dialects moves in accord withthis vernacular" (Thomas G. Bergin,Dante [Boston, 1965], p. 162). For a general studyof word play in the poem, see Bernard F. Huppe, "Petrus,id est,Christus:Word Play in Piers Plowman;the B-Text,"EnglishLiterary History 17 (1950), 163-90. 88 The metaphor is discussed by Anne Middleton, "Two Infinites:GrammaticalMetaphor in PiersPlowman," EnglishLiterary History 39 (1972), 169-88. 89 The principal treatments of this metaphor are by R. E. Kaske, "'Ex vi transicionis' and Its Passage in Piers Plowman,"Journal of English and Germanic Philology62 (1963), 32-60; and Edward C. Schweitzer,"'Half a Laumpe Lyne in Latyne' and Patience's Riddle in Piers Plowman,"Journal ofEnglishand Germanic Philology 73 (1974), 313-27. 90See MargaretAmassian and J. Sadowsky,"Mede and Mercede: A Studyof the Grammatical Metaphor in Piers Plowman C:IV:335-409," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 72 (1971), 457-76;

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The Grammatical Metaphor

in language and to his faithin its validityas a guide to truth.More importantly, froma criticalpoint of view,theyare integral,if not indispensable,to the main argumentof the poem. BasicallyPiersPlowmanconcerns the search for truth- a search expressed in the formof a pilgrimageundertakenby the whole community first to the shrine of Saint Truth, and then as the individual quest of the personified Will for Do-wel, Do-bet, and Do-best. The value of truthis clear from the beginning. Withoutit there can be no salvation. When Will asks Lady Holy Church, "How may I save my soul?" the reply is unequivocal: "When all treasures are tried, truth is the best" (B.1.85, 129, 133). By "truth" she means primarily fidelity or obedience. Aftercreatingthe heavenlyhierarchy, God Tau3tehembi theTrinitee treuthe to knowe, To be buxomeat hisbiddying he bad hemnou3te elles. (B. 1.109-10) This same principle,we are told, governs the earthlyhierarchyas well. Thus obedience is both the cornerstoneof feudal societyand a prerequisiteof the spirituallife. The two are related. One serves God by servingany legitimate authority, whateverits position in the hierarchy,"for there is no power but fromGod: and those thatare, are ordained of God" (Romans 13.1). How grammarcontributesto the development of this theme may be seen in the long grammaticalmetaphor in C.4.335-409.91 Truth, we learn, is not only the politicalvirtuepar excellence governingthe relation between king and subject,masterand servant,and the like - but it is also the fundamental principle of grammar. Like society,speech depends upon fidelitas, each constituentpart observingits proper relation to the others: adjectives must be governed by nouns; pronouns must be ruled by theirantecedents; there must be agreement in number, gender, and case. Social and linguistic order meet in the grammaticalconcept of "relacion rect,"which Langland says,"ys a recorde of treuthe": and fyndyng outthefoundement ofstrenthe, Folwyng And styvelyche stondeforth to strengthe ofthefoundement,
Daniel Murtaugh,Piers Plowmanand theImage of God (Gainesville, 1978), pp. 44-50; A. V. C. Schmidt,"Two Notes on 'Piers Plowman,'" Notesand Queries214, n.s. 16 (1969), 285-86; and M. N. K. Mander, "GrammaticalAnalogyin Langland and Alan of Lille,"Notesand Queries224, n.s. 26 (1979), 501-4. 91The principaldiscussionsof thismetaphor are by Murtaugh,and Amassian and Sadowsky. differsfrom theirsmainlyin emphasizing the connection between the metaphor My treatment appears in Mander's note as menthe: and the theme of truth. Strangely, the word treuthe "Relacion rect,quath Conscience ys a recorde of menthe." For the relationbetween "truth"and grammarin stillanother poem, see J. A. Burrow'sA ReadingofSir Gawain and theGreenKnight (London, 1965): "I want to show here that [the pentangle passage] establishesits major premiss - that the pentangle is a sign of truth- with an argument drawn from speculativegrammar (Appendix One).

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The Grammatical Metaphor


In kynde and in case and in coursof noumbre; As a leellaborer that by-levyth with husmaistre In huspayeand in hyspyte and in hus puretreuthe, To payehym yfhe performeth and havepyte yfhe faylleth, And [give] hym forhustravaile al that treuthe wolde.

757

This descriptionof the "relacion rect"between lord and laborer a relation in several of Christ'sparables given a spiritual interpretation gives way immediately to a considerationof the "relacion rect"between God and man: cometh relacion So ofhol herte hope and hardy hussubstantif Seketh and suweth savacion, ofal a graciouse antecedent. That ysgod,thegrounde And manysrelatif rect yfhe be ryht trewe; in kynde with verbum He a-cordeth Crist caro factum est; In case,credere inecclesia in holykirke to byleyve; In numbre, rotie and aryse and remyssion to have, Of oure sory asoiledand clansed, synnes with And lyve, as ourecredeous kenneth Crist withouten ende. Thus, "relacion rect" takes on spiritualsignificance.It becomes a condition of salvation. The whole passage is simply a restatement,in grammatical terms,of Lady Holy Church's advice to Will: "When all treasuresare tried, truthis the best." As "hus substantif savacion," God is "antecedent" to man and ontologically.He is Creator and "grounde of al," from both historically which man as a contingent"relatif"derives his meaning and purpose.92If a man "be ryhttrewe,"he must agree or "accord" withthe divine antecedent. As Derek Pearsall rightly notes, "Grammaticalagreement in kynde (i.e. gender), case and number is here made to correspond to concord with Christ throughobservance of the keyarticlesof the Creed: beliefin the Incarnation ('The Word was made flesh,' John 1:14), beliefin holy Church, and beliefin the resurrectionof the body and the forgivenessof sins."93 Beyond this, in each correspondence. It is easy to see however,there is a special propriety how our shared humanitywithChristmightbe referredto as an agreement in "kynde." The idea is continued in a later reference to Christ,"that for oure love deyde, / And coveited oure kyndeand be cald in oure name, /Deus an homo"(404-5). Less obvious is whyfaithin Holy Church should constitute agreementin case. Throughout the metaphor,Langland associates case with
The language of the metaphoris clarifiedby a grammaticaltreatisefromthe earlyfifteenth century:"The thryddeacorde in gramer is by twene the relatyfand the antecedent. In how many maners schull they acorde? In thre, in gendre, in noumbre, and person, as thysbreede the whychis made of whete is mewly,iste panis qui fitde frumentoest mussidus." Ed. Sanford Brown Meech, "An Early Treatise," p. 100. In modern traditionalgrammar,we would referto the "relatyf"in this case as a "relative pronoun," but the term has wider applications in the ed. see the Secretum secretorum, century.For the idea that"Justiceis a noune relatif," fourteenth M. A. Manzalaoui, EETS 276 (1977), p. 70. 93 PiersPlowman: An EditionoftheC-Text(Berkeley, 1979), p. 80 n.
92

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The Grammatical Metaphor

the institutions of authorityon earth, that is, the governmentas well as the church. Agreement in case means willing participationboth in the body of the church and in the body politic; those who live as if theywere a law unto themselvesare "unstedefastforhem lackethcase" (390). Justas case is a sign of grammaticalfunction,so the king and the church serve to indicate the functions of our political and spiritual lives. Finally, the concept of number: grammatically speaking, there are only two, singular and plural. underlies the use of the termin the metaphor. Concord with This distinction Christin number means the unification of willsthroughlove: "qui in caritate manet in deo manet, et deus in eo" (406). It is to be one with him. Lack of means the multiplicity concord, either with Christor withsecular authority, of separate wills. It is to "come to bothe numbres,in which beth good and nat good and graunte here notherswil" (367-68). The most tellingthingabout Langland's use of the metaphor,however,is his decision to incorporate,in quite specificterms,the area of law. "Relacion rect" is also "ryhtful custome," wherebythe king may claim of his subjects their allegiance, support, and counsel; and they of him "lawe, love, and leaute." Like God, the true source of all temporal power, the king is "lord antecedent"in the politicalrealm: Botheherehefdand herekyng with no partie, haldyng in a muyre as a stakethat Botestande styketh twolondesfora trewe marke. By-twyne In the grammar of politics, unfortunately, not everyone observes the requirementsof case. For in contrastto "relacion rect,"which is "a recorde of which is a record of untruthand treuthe,"there is also "relacion indyrect," contempt for the common good.94 It is "withoutcase to cacche to." "The most partie of the puple" - a phrase reminiscentof Lady Holy Church's earlierjudgment (B. 1.7-9) - are "indirect": For theiwilnen and woldeas bestwereforhem-selve, Thauh thekyng and thecomuneal thecosthadde. Al resonreproveth suchimparfit puple, And halthemunstedefast forhemlacketh case. At this point, the word "case" leads us directlyinto the courtroom,and the terminologyof grammar - for example, case, parties, number, accord of the law: suddenlybecomes the terminology theinevere As relatifs indirect reccheth cacchesulver, Of thecoursof thecase so they thauhparties chide. Be thepecuniey-payed liteltale, medemaylacchemaketh He that
94 Amassian and Sadowsky explain the concept of indirect relation as follows: "An indirect relativeis not in the same case as its antecedent,an example of which is the pronoun 'whom' in I gave the book, is speaking'" (p. 463). the sentence,'The man, to whomn

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The Grammatical Metaphor


Nyme he a numbre ofnoblesother of shullenges; How that medea-counteth a-corde lytel. clyentes

759

indirect"have no concern with"case" in any sense of the word. Such "relatifs They are bound by no loyaltyexcept their love of "pecunie," personified and withoutprinciple, elsewherein the poem as Lady Mede - pliable, fickle, not so much the activeopponent to truthas the symbolof its utterabsence. The fusion of law and grammar in this passage is extremelyrevealing. These are the two areas fromwhich Langland draws most of his imageryin the poem, and they function as virtuallyinterchangeable concepts in his so law Justas grammardefinesthe rules of recte loquendi, expositionof truth. definesthe rules of rightliving.As Anne Middleton says in her discussionof the grammaticalmetaphor in B. 13.127-28: "Regularitiesof syntax,according to which particles of language have meaning, provide a paradigm of lawful behavior by which the functionsof men and estates withinthe ideal organismof Christiansocietymay be described."95Indeed, grammarmay be of law in the sphere of language. Beyond this defined as the manifestation of the moral idea, whichstands in the shadows throughoutthe whole history solecism,we should note the beliefthatthe principlesof law and grammardo not change. There may be diversityof tongues, and change even within one's own language; laws and the interpretationof laws may also vary according to time and place; but the underlyingprinciples of both systems remain fixed,absolute, inviolable. Herein lay the main appeal of the grammatical metaphor for Langland. Grammar was certain. In the shifting social and religiousunrest,it was "a stake that ground of fourteenth-century ... marke." in a for a trewe styketh muyre Although the grammatical metaphor remained in favor well beyond the (sevenmedieval period - witnessits extensiveuse in Trapp's Commentaries teenthcentury)- the subsequent historyof the figureis characterizedby a steady decline in its effect and popularity. Its vitalitydepended almost wholly,as I have indicated, upon two things: the continuationof Latin as a livinglanguage, and the preservationof the beliefin grammaras a reflection of reason or nature. The two are closely related, of course, although as a matterof convenience I have treated them separately.Latin was the source not only of the termsbut also of the principlesof grammar.Throughout the Middle Ages, grammarmeans Latin grammar.Even in the case of vernacular literature(as in the examples from Gautier de Coincy and William Langland), Latin remains the basis of the grammaticalmetaphor. It is the ideal embodimentof reason, the standard to which (it was language, the linguistic thought)even the rules of vernacularspeech should conform- a beliefthat has plagued the teaching and learning of grammar ever since. This sort of categorical thinkingcharacterizesthe medieval approach not only to gram95

p. 184. Middleton,"Two Infinites,"

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Metaphor The Grammatical

mar but to everyother area of human knowledge as well; and we have seen that the grammaticalmetaphor is often accompanied by metaphors drawn therefore, from other disciplines,in particular,dialectics. Not surprisingly, the decline of Latin and of the absolutist thought that attended its reign diminished the authorityupon which the grammatical metaphor chiefly depended forits forceand validity.96 The subject deserves further study. The number of examples included in this paper could easily have been expanded to filla book, and a great deal and literary more mightbe said about the broader philosophical,linguistic, modest: to call of the metaphor. My purpose has been relatively implications attentionto the extent of the device and to the varietyof its uses in the or the aberrationof a fewindividual Middle Ages. Far frombeing a curiosity the grammaticalmetaphor is - both as ornament and as argument writers, - an important clue to the medieval mentality.
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
96 The decline of the grammaticalmetaphor is paralleled, partlyfor the same reasons, by the decline of the legal metaphor; see myarticle,"Literatureand Law in Medieval England,"PMLA 92 (1977), 941-51.

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