Posted by: kljolly | September 22, 2013

Control yourselves!

I came across another Aldredism, where he “corrects” the Latin of the original collectar (Scribe O’s work) while glossing it (Durham A.IV.19 fol. 6v 16-19).  In this case it is a passage from Colossians 3:12-13.

broð’ giwoedes [vel] ivih svoelce gicoreno godes hælgo 7 gileafo

Fratres. induite uos sicut electi dei sancti et dilecti uis


innaðo miltheartniss’es weldonis’ [vel] rv’mod’ eðmodnise

cera misericordiae. benignitatem humilitatem


gimetfæstnis’ giðyld vnderbearað bitvien

modestiam. patientiam. subportantes inuicem


7 onwældað ivh seolfv’

et do[:mi]nantes uobis met ipsis.

The New King James translation of the selection is:

as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another… 

But Aldred has altered donantes (forgiving in this context) by inserting “mi” above to make dominantes, literally dominating one another!  He does it quite deliberately using a colon insertion mark between the “o” and the “n” and writing the “mi” in large letters to match Scribe O’s style, albeit in his red glossing ink.

This seems a rather rude understanding of his relationship with his brothers in the community, but could indicate the kind of control an abbot or provost should have over the members.  Still, it doesn’t seem to match the “tender mercies” bearing with one another that Paul calls for.

It would also seem that Aldred does not know the rest of the verse omitted in the selection, which clarifies donantessi quis adversus aliquem habet querellam sicut et Dominus donavit vobis ita et vos [if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.]

However, the Old English gloss (onwældað ivh seolfvm) suggests that he may have understood the phrase to mean “control yourselves.”  In the absence of the rest of the phrase about complaints against each other and forgiving as God forgives, Aldred may have focused on the self-control necessary to bear one another’s burdens.  Donantes (root meaning to give) didn’t work for him or the train of thought set in motion by the earlier part of the verse, so he changed the text!

What does that say about Aldred’s character and understanding of Biblical instruction–and about his community’s relationships?



  1. […] of my work is transcribing, letter by letter, the glossed manuscript.  In doing so, I see things–odd words and different understandings the glossator has of the text–that I would not have noticed if I had just scanned it and then searched the text.  On the […]

  2. How extraordinary! So out of character, I would say.
    It may also be for purely linguistic reasons. Languages like Old English that use reflexive pronouns, which modern English no longer does, can be ambiguous. For example, French ‘ils se regardent’ can mean they look at each other or they look at themselves (as in a mirror, say). The Latin ‘invicem’ expresses the first meaning (each other) so presumably ‘vobismetipsis’ is to be understood as the second meaning (yourselves). The Vulgate has only ‘vobis ipsis’ here. People cannot forgive themselves, only each other. So Aldred’s alteration does at least make sense of this.

    • I was just looking at this issue yesterday afternoon, trying to figure out how Aldred understood uobismetipsis. In ecclesiastical Latin, and in several Bible verses, it seems to be a dative meaning yourselves or each other. So Aldred may have understood it has forgiving yourselves rather than each other, rather than thinking that donantes meant giving rather than forgiving.

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