A great many things keep happening

April 20th, 2010 § 0 comments

Since hearing it mentioned on In Our Time, I’ve been entranced by the start of Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks:

A great many things keep happening, some of them good, some of them bad. The inhabitants of the different countries keep quarrelling fiercely with each other and kings go on loosing their temper in the most furious way. Our churches are attacked by the heretics and then protected by the Catholics; the faith of Christ burns bright in many men, but it remains lukewarm in others; no sooner are church buildings endowed by the faithful that they are stripped again by those who have no faith. However, no writer has come to the fore who has been sufficiently skilled in setting things down in an orderly fashion to be able to describe these events in prose or in verse.

Alas, that seems to be more-or-less an invention of the translator. The Latin text begins:

Decedente atque immo potius pereunte ab urbibus Gallicanis liberalium cultura litterarum, cum nonnullae res gererentur vel rectae vel inprobae…

Which This translation renders more literally

With liberal culture on the wane, or rather perishing in the Gallic cities there were many deeds being done both good and evil

ah, well, it’s still a glorious opening line, regardless of authenticity.

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