Michael Skupin, "A Nature
Interlude in the Vita Merlini"
The author of the 1,529-line Vita Merlini
based three long sections of his work on passages from the Etymologies of
Isidore of Seville. Transferring Isidore’s Latin prose to Latin poetry was a
demanding task, especially considering the difficulties inherent in the dactylic
hexameter rhythm. This paper will consider the passage involving bodies of
water. The first thing to be considered is Isidores original, a list of bodies
of water that have unusual properties. Minor corrections are proposed to two of
the toponyms that Isidore gives. After this, there is a discussion and
translation of the corresponding passages in the Vita Merlini. It will be seen
that the Vita Merlini poet was resourceful and creative in his transformation of
good Latin prose into excellent Latin poetry.
Keywords: Vita Merlini, Merlin, Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, medieval epic