Sunday, July 4, 2021

Gesta 41: Codrus rex Atheniensium

You can find more Latin stories at Centum.LauraGibbs.net,
and more Tiny Tales at 100Words.LauraGibbs.net.


Centum Verba: Codrus Rex Atheniensium

Codrus, rex Atheniensium, contra Doricos pugnaturus, congregavit exercitum et super eventu belli consuluit Apollinem. Cui responsum est quod aliter non vinceret nisi ipse gladio interiret hostili.
Dorici, hoc audito, dixerunt ne quis laederet Codrum. 
Codrus, mutato regis habitu, arma accepit et exercitum penetravit. Miles Doricus lancea eum usque ad cor penetravit, et sic per mortem suam populum suum de manibus inimicorum suorum liberavit. 
Tandem de morte eius factus est planctus magnus ex utraque populi parte.
Sic Iesus Christus sciens quod genus humanum non posset redimi nisi ipse moreretur, venit in bello contra diabolum, mutans habitum suum quando naturam humanam assumpsit.



Notes: You can find this story in Valerius Maximus, and I've included that Latin text with a translation below. There is an English version of the Gesta story in Swan: Of the Conquests and Charity of Our Lord.

Here is the full version from the Gesta (I've included just the start of the allegorical part):

Cosdras imperator Atheniensium contra Dorenses pugnaturus congregavit exercitum, et super eventu belli consuluit Apollinem. Cui responsum est quod aliter non vinceret, nisi ipse gladio interiret hostili. Dorenses hoc audito dixerunt ne quis laederet corpus regis Cosdri. Quod postquam Cosdras cognovit, mutato regis habitu arma accepit et exercitum penetravit. Quod videns unus militum cum lancea eum usque ad cor penetravit et sic per mortem suam populum suum de manibus inimicorum suorum liberavit. Tandem de morte ejus factus est planctus magnus ex utraque populi parte.
Carissimi, sic dilectus dominus noster Iesus Christus consulto deo patre quod genus humanum non posset redimi, nisi si ipse moreretur, venit pugnaturus in bello isto contra diabolum. Et scies quod agnosceretur, mutavit habitum suum quando naturam humanam assumpsit.

Here's a 15th-century manuscript illustration from the Speculum humanae salvationis:


For comparison, here is Valerius Maximus:

Rex Atheniensium Codrus, cum ingenti hostium exercitu Attica regio debilitata ferro ignique vastaretur, diffidentia humani auxilii ad Apollinis Delphici oraculum confugit perque legatos sciscitatus est quonam modo tam grave illud bellum discuti posset. respondit deus ita finem ei fore, si ipse hostili manu occidisset. quod quidem non solum totis Athenis, sed in castris etiam contrariis percrebruit, eoque factum est ut ediceretur ne quis Codri corpus vulneraret. id postquam cognovit, depositis insignibus imperii famularem cultum induit ac pabulantium hostium globo se obiecit unumque ex his falce percussum in caedem suam conpulit. cuius interitu ne Athenae occiderent effectum est.

Here is Samuel Speed's 17th-century translation of Valerius Maximus: 

The King of the Athe∣nians, Codrus, when he saw his Territories wasted and invaded by vast numbers of his Enemies, despairing of humane assistance, sent to the Oracle of Apollo, and by his Embassadors desired to know, which way he might avoid that terrible War. The God returned for answer, that it would be ended when he fell by his Enemies hand. Which was not only spread about among his own People, but in the Camp of the Ene∣my: who thereupon commanded that not a man should touch the body of Codrus. Which when the King understood, he threw off his Royal Robes, and in a servile Habit threw himself into the midst of a Squadron of the Enemy, that were out a forraging, and wounding one of them with a scythe, provoked the souldier to kill him; by whose Death Athens escaped ruine. 


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