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.

Vita Merlini, Merlin, Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, medieval epic