The Archpoet’s Job Application and the Interpretation of his Confession


  • David A. Traill



Carmina Burana, CB 191a, CB 220a, Archpoet’s Confession, Hugh Primas, primas, Rainald of Dassel, ministerialis, Council of Reims (1148), Hocin dialectica, whitening of clothes, »feigned penance«, Galtherus subprior


This article argues that the young ministerialis Archpoet-to-be, impressed by Rainald’s rise to prominence thanks to his success at the Council of Reims in1148, sought to be taken on as Rainald’s servant and scribe. When they met,he probably presented Rainald with two of his poems, namely, Cum sit famamultiplex (his job application) and Hoc in dialectica (his updating of Hugh Primas’sDe vestium transformatione), in which he makes a witty observation that can be understood to refer simultaneously to Hugh Primas’s hostility to there novation of garments to prolong their life and to Rainald’s success at Reims.Both poems flatter Rainald and demonstrate the young poet’s remarkable skill with words and his general intelligence. Consideration of the similarities between the Codex Buranus and Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana,Laur. 36.34 in their collections of the Archpoet’s poems suggests that their scribes had access to the same manuscript tradition. Peter Godman’s view of the importance of the concept of »feigned penance« for our understanding ofthe Archpoet’s confession is discussed and rejected. The paper concludes with a summary account of the Archpoet’s movements, which is largely based on what we know about Rainald’s career.