Sunday, 22 January 2017

Here begins the work

Here begins 
The work of Virgil, prince of Latin poets
In his twelve books of the Aeneid
Compiled and translated from the Latin,
In our Scots Language
By a right noble and worshipful clerk
Master Gavin Douglas:
Provost of Saint Giles Kirk in Edinburgh
And Parson of Lynton in Lothian,
Who afterwards was Bishop of Dunkeld.

Heyr Begynnys
The wark of Virgyll prynce of Latyn Poetis
In his twelf bukis of Eneados
Compilit and translatit furth of Latyn
In our Scottis Langage
By ane richt nobill and wirschipfull clerk
Master Gawyn Dowglas
Provest of Sanct Gylys Kyrk in Edinburgh
And Person of Lyntoun in Louthiane
Quhilk eftyr was Bischop of Dunkeld

kyrk - kirk, church. One of the Scots words derived from Scandinavian language, such as kist (chest) and kirn (churn). Similar to (and related to) the Old English form cirice. 'The Kirk' is used to refer informally to the Church of Scotland and is found in events like the Kirking of the Parliament (still led by the minister of St Giles) and the Kirking of the Council services performed in some Scottish towns. A 'kirk session' is the body of elders and the minister of a church who decide issues that affect the congregation in the Church of Scotland.

The Aeneid/Eneados

The Aeneid of Virgil
Translated into Scottish verse
Gavin Douglas
Bishop of Dunkeld

This project is going to chart my reading and interpretation of Eneados - Gavin Douglas's 1513 translation of Virgil's Aeneid from Latin into Middle Scots. This includes the twelve prologues that he wrote for each of the books, as well as one he wrote for the 'thirteenth book' written by Maffeo Vegio in the sixteenth century. I've been lucky enough to handle a 1710 edition in the collection of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. Burns was familiar with the work of Douglas; he even uses a quotation from the prologues to introduce Tam O Shanter: "Of Brownyis and of Bogilis full is this Beuk."

I'm interested in the words and language that Douglas uses, both in his prologues and in his translation, and what this language can tell us about life in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. To this end, I'll not only be providing a basic translation of the prologues, but also my notes on any unfamiliar words or phrases I come across. Hopefully you'll find them as interesting as I do.