The Ruodlieb is an early Latin specimen Chivalric romance from the 11th century, though it is difficult to destine its exact genre. Parts of the manuscript were found in 1803 as binding material for books from the library of the abbey of Tegernsee in Bavaria. In all likelihood the writer was a monk from that abbey. Since its discovery more material has been found – the latest discovery was in 1981. As the original parchment was cut up for binding books, the text is incomplete and often needs conjectures.
The story is as follows: a young nobleman, Ruodlieb goes abroad and serves a king. In return for his services, the king gives him advice. These advices give the poem a gnomic nature, compatible with Hesiod’s Works and Days or the Eddic Havamal.
Those expecting deep wisdom in these teachings will be disappointed by its trivial nature, but for a historian these maxims are a treasure of information about contemporary mentality.
The first advice is never to be friends with someone with red hair (rufus). The idea is that one’s complexion betrays one’s character and is associated with anger (ira), someone with red hair is irascible. Red is also associated with the skin of a fox and indeed, a rufus is can’t be trusted.
The second advice is never to deviate from a path through and village and go through the fields, lest someone will snatch the reigns (frenum) of your horse, when you give a haughty answer (responsum dando superbum).
Advice three and four go together: never ask accommodation in a house where an old man has a young wife. The husband will fear and the young wife will hope. But where a young man has an older widow, there you can sleep safely!
I have retained the spelling of the manuscript.
Ruodlieb ,Fragment 5, 451-67
Non tibi sit rufus umquam specialis amicus.
Si fit is iratus, non est fidei memoratus;
Nam vehemens dira sibi stat durabilis ira.
Tam bonus haut fuerit, aliqua fraus quin in eo sit,
Quam vitare nequis, quin ex hac commaculeris;
Nam tangendo picem vix expurgaris ad unguem.
Quamvis cenosa per villam sit via trita,
Numquam devites callem, quo per sata pergas,
Ne male tracteris careasque tuis ibi frenis
Correptus per quem responsum dando superbum.
Quo videas, iuvenem quod habet senior mulierem,
Hospicium tribui tibi non poscas iteranti;
In te nam magnam facis insons suspicionem.
Hic timet, hec sperat, fors inter eos ita versat.
Ast ubi vir viduam iuvenis teneat veteranam,
Hospitium posce; non hic timet hec nec amat te.
Tu(nc) ibi secure dormis sine suspicione.
memoratus (+ gen.): thinking ofsibi stat: temains with him
sibi stat: remains with him
tam haud…quam: by no means so…., that
fraus fraudis (f.): deceit
nequeo: to be unable to
ex hac (fraude)
commaculo (are): to defile (i.e. te ipsum)
tango tetigi tactum: to touch
pix picis (f.): pitch, tar
expurgo: to clean
ad unguem: till your nail (i.e. you will take over some of the bad character.)
cenosus (caenosus): muddy
quamvis: any whatever
tero trivi tritum: to tread upon
devito: to avoid
callis callis (m. and f.): foot-path
quo per sata pergas: in order to go through the fields
tracto (are): to handle, treat
careo ( + abl.): to be without
corripio corripui correptum: to snatch, seize
dando = dans
quo videas quod: where you see that
tribuo: to give
posco poposci: to ask
itero: to travel (Mediaeval Latin)
insons insontis: innocent
hec = haec
verso: to turn out
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