Medieval Latin Reading Practice: 3 Books

If you’ve had about two years of Latin, either with a Classical focus or of course especially with an Ecclesiastical Latin focus, you will enjoy working your way through these actual, genuine Medieval texts in Latin linked below.

Hugh of Fouilloy’s ‘Aviarum/De Avibus’

  • The Medieval Book of Birds: Hugh of Fouilloy’s ‘Aviarum’ Edition, Translation, and Commentary by Willene B. Clark. It isn’t exactly about birds, though: it’s a treatise on moral theology for the laybrothers of the author’s Augustinian priory (1100s, France). Latin text on the left side, English translations on the right pages facing them! (Scans of an original manuscript’s illustrations can be found at the back.)

Works of Hrotsvitha, translated by other Professed Religious

  • The Non-Dramatic works of Hrosvitha : Text, Translation, and Commentary by Sister M. Gonsalve Wiegand, O. S. F., A. B., A. M. Hrotsvitha was a sort-of-nun (to be precise: a ‘secular canoness’) in 900s Germany who wrote famous religious dramas, epics, and legends. This book, about the latter, is by an American Franciscan sister in the 1930s in order to earn her Ph.D. The Latin with has facing English translations, as well as notes, and the works of Hrotsvitha included are: Maria; Ascension of our Lord; Martyrdom of Blessed Gongolf; Suffering of Pelagius; Fall and conversion of Theophilus; Basilius; Passion of Saint Dionysius; and the Passion of Saint Agnes.
  • Hrosvithae Liber Tertius: A Text with Translation, Introduction, and Commentary by Sister Mary Bernardine Bergman, A.B., A.M. Here are the epics of Hrotsvitha, translated by an American Benedictine sister (about a decade after the previous item, and Sr. Wiegand’s book is acknowledged in the Preface): the Gesta Ottonis and the Primordia Coenobii Gandeshemensis. The texts are in Latin on one side of the book, and in English on the other.

I hope you enjoy working with these finds!

(Please comment or message me with any ideas about other texts to include here–there can’t be too much reading practice. Another good thing to do to practice reading Church Latin is to make your way through the psalms. More on that to come!)

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