← Golden LegendYou do not have permission to edit this page, for the following reason: The action you have requested is limited to users in the group: Users. You can view and copy the source of this page. [[Image:Stgeorge-dragon.jpg|thumb|The story of Saint George and the [[dragon]] is one of many stories of the saints preserved in the ''Golden Legend''.]] The '''''Golden Legend''''' (Latin: '''''Legenda Aurea''''') by Jacobus de Voragine (Jacopo da Varagine) is a collection of hagiographies, lives of the saints, that became a late mediaeval bestseller. It was probably compiled around 1260. ==A medieval best seller== Initially titled simply ''Legenda Sanctorum'', Latin for "Saints' readings", its popularity gained it the title by which it is best known. More than a thousand manuscript copies of the work survive, and when printing was invented in the 1450s, editions appeared quickly, not only in Latin, but also in every major European language. It was one of the first books William Caxton printed in the English language; Caxton's version appeared in 1483. ==Fanciful etymologies== The book sought to compile traditional lore about all of the saints which were officially held up for veneration at the time of its compilation. De Voragine typically begins with a fanciful etymology for the saint's name. An example (in Caxton's translation) shows his method: :Silvester is said of ''sile'' or ''sol'' which is light, and of ''terra'' the earth, as who saith the light of the earth, that is of the church. Or Silvester is said of ''silvas'' and of ''trahens'', that is to say he was drawing wild men and hard unto the faith. Or as it is said ''in glossario'', Silvester is to say green, that is to wit, green in contemplation of heavenly things, and a toiler in labouring himself; he was umbrous or shadowous. That is to say he was cold and refrigate from all concupiscence of the flesh, full of boughs among the trees of heaven. As a Latin author, de Voragine must have known that ''Silvester'', a relatively common Latin name, simply meant "from the forest." The "correct" derivation in modern eyes is alluded to in the text, but set out in parallel to fanciful ones that lexicographers would consider quite wide of the mark. Even the "correct" explanations (''silvas'', "forest", and the mention of green boughs) are used as the basis for an allegorical interpretation. De Voragine's etymologies had different goals from modern etymologies, and cannot be judged by the same standards. De Voragine's etymologies have parallels in Isidore of Seville's ''Etymologiae'', in which linguistically accurate derivations are set out beside allegorical and figurative explanations. ==Lives of the saints== De Voragine then moves on to the saint's life, compiled with reference to the readings from the Roman Catholic Church's liturgy commemorating that saint; then embellishes the biography with [[supernatural]] tales of incidents involving the saint's life from less reliable sources. More than 130 sources have been identified for the tales related of the saints in the ''Golden Legend''; in addition to the Bible, these sources include apocryphal texts such as the ''Gospel of Nicodemus'', the histories of Gregory of Tours and John Cassian, and the ''Speculum historiale'' by Vincent de Beauvais. Many of his stories have no other known source. A typical example of the sort of story related, also involving St Silvester, shows the saint receiving miraculous instruction from Saint Peter in a vision that enables him to [[exorcism|exorcise]] a [[dragon]]: :In this time it happed that there was at Rome a dragon in a pit, which every day slew with his breath more than three hundred men. Then came the bishops of the idols unto the emperor and said unto him: O thou most holy emperor, sith the time that thou hast received christian faith the dragon which is in yonder fosse or pit slayeth every day with his breath more than three hundred men. Then sent the emperor for S. Silvester and asked counsel of him of this matter. S. Silvester answered that by the might of God he promised to make him cease of his hurt and blessure of this people. Then S Silvester put himself to prayer, and S. Peter appeared to him and said: "Go surely to the dragon and the two priests that be with thee take in thy company, and when thou shalt come to him thou shalt say to him in this manner: Our Lord Jesu Christ which was born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, buried and arose, and now sitteth on the right side of the Father, this is he that shall come to deem and judge the living and the dead, I commend thee Sathanas that thou abide him in this place till he come. Then thou shalt bind his mouth with a thread, and seal it with thy seal , wherein is the imprint of the cross. Then thou and the two priests shall come to me whole and safe, and such bread as I shall make ready for you ye shall eat." :Thus as S. Peter had said, S. Silvester did. And when he came to the pit, he descended down one hundred and fifty steps, bearing with him two lanterns, and found the dragon, and said the words that S. Peter had said to him, and bound his mouth with the thread, and sealed it, and after returned, and as he came upward again he met with two enchanters which followed him for to see if he descended, which were almost dead of the stench of the dragon, whom he brought with him whole and sound, which anon were baptized, with a great multitude of people with them. Thus was the city of Rome delivered from double death, that was from the culture and worshipping of false idols, and from the venom of the dragon. ==Miracle tales of relics== Many of the stories also conclude with miracle tales and similar wonderlore from accounts of those who called upon that saint for aid or used the saint's relics. Such a tale is told of Saint Agatha; De Voragine has [[paganism|pagans]] in Catania repairing to the relics of St Agatha to [[magic|supernaturally]] repel an eruption of Mount Etna: :And for to prove that she had prayed for the salvation of the country, at the beginning of February, the year after her martyrdom, there arose a great fire, and came from the mountain toward the city of Catania and burnt the earth and stones, it was so fervent. Then ran the paynims to the sepulchre of S. Agatha and took the cloth that lay upon her tomb, and held it abroad against the fire, and anon on the ninth day after, which was the day of her feast, ceased the fire as soon as it came to the cloth that they brought from her tomb, showing that our Lord kept the city from the said fire by the merits of S. Agatha. ==Invaluable to students of mediaeval culture== Written in simple, readable Latin, the book was read in its day for its stories; any one of which will be well told, but in mass they tend to become monotonous and blur together, with their repetitious accounts of martyrdoms and miracles. The book is the closest thing we have to an encyclopaedia of the lore of the saints in the late Middle Ages; as such it is invaluable to art historians and mediaevalists who seek to identify saints depicted in art by their deeds and attributes. Its repetitious nature is probably explained by the fact that de Voragine meant to write a compendium of saintly lore for sermons and preaching not the popular entertainment it became. In his history of ''The Reformation'', Diarmaid MacCulloch observed that the Golden Legend inadvertently may have helped trigger the Protestant Reformation by arming scepticism about the cult of the saints, such as that exhibited by Erasmus in his ''Praise of Folly''. By compiling such a thorough ''vade-mecum'' of saintly wonderlore, showing highly similar stories being attached to different saints and relics, questioning readers could conclude that these tales circulated by local churches were probably mythical. == External links== *''[http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/vorag.html Selections from the Golden Legend]'' (in Latin) at The Latin Library *''[http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/goldenlegend/ The Golden Legend]'' - William Caxton's Middle English version (not quite complete) <!--Longinus, which was a puissant knight, was with other knights, by the commandment of Pilate, on the side of the cross of our Lord, and pierced the side of our Lord with a spear; and when he saw the miracles, how the sun lost his light, and great earthquaving of the earth was, when our Lord suffered death and passion in the tree of the cross, then believed he in Jesu Christ. Some say that when he smote our Lord with the spear in the side, the precious blood avaled by the shaft of the spear upon his hands, and of adventure with his hands he touched his eyes, and anon he that had been tofore blind saw anon clearly, wherefore he refused all chivalry and abode with the apostles, of whom he was taught and christened, and after, he abandoned him to lead an holy life in doing alms and in keeping the life of a monk about thirty-eight years in Cæsarea and in Cappadocia, and by his words and his example many men converted he to the faith of Christ. And when this came to the knowledge of Octavian the provost, he took him and would have constrained him to do sacrifice to the idols, and Saint Longinus said: There may no man serve two lords which be contrary to other; thine idols be lords of thy malices, corrupters of all good works and enemies to chastity, humility and to bounty, and friends to all ordure of luxury, of gluttony, of idleness, of pride and of avarice, and my Lord is Lord of soberness that bringeth the people to the everlasting life. Then said the provost: It is nought that thou sayest; make sacrifice to the idols and thy God shall forgive thee because of the commandment that is made to thee. Longinus said: If thou wilt become christian God shall pardon thee thy trespasses. Then the provost was angry, and made the teeth of Saint Longinus to be drawn out of his mouth, and did do cut his mouth open. And yet for all that Longinus lost not his speech, but took an axe that he there found, and hewed and brake therewith the idols and said: Now may we see if they be very gods or not. And anon the devils issued out and entered into the body of the provost and his fellows, and they brayed like beasts and fell down to the feet of Saint Longinus and said: We know well that thou art servant unto the sovereign God. And Saint Longinus demanded of the devils why they dwelled in these idols, and they answered: We have found place in these idols for us, for over all where Jesu Christ is not named ne his sign is not showed, there dwell we gladly; and because when these paynims come to these idols for to adore and make sacrifice in the name of us, then we come and dwell in these idols, wherefore we pray thee, man of God, that thou send us not in the abysm of hell. And Saint Longinus said to the people that there were: What say ye: will ye have these devlls for your gods and worship them or have ye liefer that I hunt them out of this world in the name of Jesu Christ? And the people said with a high voice: Much great is the God of christian people, holy man, we pray thee that thou suffer not the devils to dwell in this city. Then commanded Saint Longinus to the devils that they should issue out of these people, in such wise that the people had great joy and believed in our Lord. A little time after the evil provost made Saint Longinus to come tofore him, and said to him that all the people were departed, and by his enchantment had refused the idols; if the king knew it he should destroy us and the city also. Aphrodisius answered: How wilt thou yet torment this good man, which hath saved us and hath done so much good to the city? And the provost said: He hath deceived us by enchantry. Aphrodisius said: His God is great and hath none evil in him. Then did the provost cut out the tongue of Aphrodisius, wherefore Saint Longinus signed unto God, and anon the provost became blind and lost all his members. When Aphrodisius saw that, he said: Lord God, thou art just and thy judgment is veritable. And the provost said to Aphrodisius: Fair brother, pray to Saint Longinus that he pray for me, for I have done ill to him, and Aphrodisius said: Have not I well told it to thee, do no more so to Longinus: Seest not thou me speak without tongue? And the provost said, I have not only lost mine eyes, but also my heart and my body is in great pain. And Saint Longinus said: If thou wilt be whole and guerished put me appertly to death, and I shall pray for thee to our Lord, after that I shall be dead, that he heal thee. And anon then the provost did do smite off his head, and after, he came and fell on the body of Saint Longinus and said all in weeping, Sire: I have sinned; I knowledge and confess my filth, and anon came again his sight, and he received health of his body and buried honorably the body of Saint Longinus. And the provost believed in Jesu Christ and abode in the company of christian men, and thanked God, and died in good estate. All this happed in Cæsarea of Cappadocia to the honour of our Lord God, to whom be given laud and glory in secula seculorum.--> [[Category:Religious books]] [[Category:Christian mythology]] Return to Golden Legend. Retrieved from "https://www.monstropedia.org/index.php?title=Golden_Legend"