Grimald’s Translation of Bibilical Material in the Oxford Plays

Nicholas Grimald’s Translation of Bibilical Material in the Oxford Plays at Kalamazoo’s 48th Medieval Congress
Elisabeth Dutton, U de Fribourg
professor of medieval English in Fribourg, Switzerland
publishes on Tudor drama
book on Julian of Norwich, also editor of edition of Julian
experienced stage director

not expert on Latin at all…
which makes this ironic to work on this

part of Oxford something…

Grimald published
became classroom work
then became source for passion plays

all sorts of things to investigate

1619-1662 Nicholas Grimald
June 1657 published 42 poems in Tottel’s Miscellany…
only 10 poems in July 1657
perhaps the poems were removed because he became known as a recanter and was a poor poet

Any time someone says something good about Grimald, someone immediately responds to detract all good from it. For example, Xxx says Grimald was a proto-metaphysical poet, but Hudson says they are qualities of Latin poems of which his poems are “merely” translations.

Nott implies that Grimald claimed originality to his own work. Innovation was valued, but Grimald never said he was original. Indeed, his translations keep the wordplay from the Latin into the English… Therefore actually very difficult/expert presentation.

John Foxe innovation in religion… reformers retort is to restore. Renewal of the old, not new.

Newness is a virtue only when it escapes history or religious experience.

sacred and new is oxymoronic.

from St Paul dying to the world to Julian and Piers Plowman… to the metaphysical poets, Christian writers commonly employ oxymorons to reveal truth. Crucifix (death on cross) becomes fount of life.

In Christus Redivivus Grimald translates the ideas from Vulgate style into Virgilian Latin.
No direct analogy between x and Didot.
Mary Magdalene tells about Peter of his first meeting with Christ.
In Grimald, Mary uses extended simile that is not in any other source that we have found.

“the sun is buried under shadows” (like that)
Christ as light of the world…
images of light and darkness is too ubiquitous.
convincing epic simile

Grimald is not the first to make the soldiers guarding the tomb of Christ four. (To number them as four.)
Not being as inventive as we might like to think.
But his Latin medium is much more developed. Low characters speaking in Latin would be comedic.
They speak to Caiphas, prophesying about Christ.
echoes this “better that one man be obscured than that so many of our high honors be taken away” (Christus Redivivus IV).

“Happy are we to whom there has fallen so great a reward for our labors, such as neither the dice nor chance has given us for ages”… what the guards of the tomb said.
… “so pursue them that they may bear witness there is no gout in their feet”… talking about the apostles “stealing away” the body of Christ.

difficulty of translating a translation that has been translated…

Merrill says “translation of the play necessarily presents to the modern ear, accustomed to the simplicity of Biblical English, what seems at first to be jargon. As Grimald’s Latin is neither purely that of the Vulgate nor that of the Aeneid, so the English of the translation is neither that of the King James version of the Bible nor that of present-day English, but necessarily presents a mixture of elements as curious as the mixture of the Christian and the Pagan elements in the play” (60).

rhetoric is borrowed by a hero to praise himself
“high language to praise a middle-sized person” and bravery shown up “in a battle of the armed against the unarmed”

as Grimald translates, so is Grimald translated…

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