Wednesday, October 8, 2008

St. Clement's Inscription in Rome

Iscrizione di San Clemente

Much more important is the Iscrizione di San Clemente (St Clemensts inscription, late 11th century), which can still be read in the Church with same name in Rome. It is a dialogue from the Passio Sancti Clementis (6th c. A.D.) added to a fresco in the old underground church and portrays a miracle performed by Saint Clement.

The pagan patrician Sisinnius, after his wife converts to Christianism accuses the saint of using sorcery on his wife. When he has him tied and laid on the floor he orders two of his servants to drag him with a rope, and a third to lift him from behind with a pole:

Fàlite dereto colo palo Carvoncelle ('Push him from behind with the pole, Carvoncelle')

Gosmari, Albertel, traite. ('Gosmari, Albertel, pull!')

Fili de le pute, traite. ('Pull, son of a b*****s!')

And a miracle happens : the saint is suddenly standing up in front of them, untied, while the servants are dragging a column in his stead. At this point the saint exclaims sternly:

Duritia[m] cordis vestri[s] saxa traere meruisti

('You deserved to drag stones because of your cold-heartness!')

Remarkably, this inscription is a dialogue in vernacular in a church - where the lines are a sort of caption to the painted figures much like a comic book. It stands in a public place of a certain importance where it can be easily read and by everyone - to be sure an Italian-speaking audience.

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Kitto said...


I really enjoyed reading your blog. I learned a lot about an area that I'm not always familiar about. If you ever want to collaborate on something, let me know. I could use the help from a native speaker to improve my blogs.

Thanks for leaving the comment on my blog, Italian Language Resources.

Mauro Baglieri said...

You're welcome Keith. Thanks for your interest in the blog.

Ossiandog said...

Interesting material. I think maybe line 3 of the translation might read "Pull, you sons of w****s".