Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Voynich Manuscript:Carmina Burana

Carmina Burana is manuscript with texts from 11th through 13th century, written by mischievous clerical students making fun of their bosses at the Catholic church. It is written in mixed language - Latin and old German with bits of English and French. Among the illustrations is the one of  an imaginative forest, which reminded me a lot of a plant in the Voynich manuscript.

One mischievous clerical student in the 14th century was named Peter of Candia (later pope Alexander V), who started the drinking society at Greyfriars, Oxford (the same college that educated Roger Bacon). Peter of Candia may have come across the Carmina Burana's (or similar book) drinking songs.

Drinking and eating were the things that pope (anti-pope) Alexander V loved doing, according to his contemporary Theodiric of Niem, cited in Cormenin's History of the Popes.

In fact Alexander V was reportedly drunk when he signed the famous bull that resulted in the burning of the Wycliff's books in Prague - action that caused whole lot of troubles for the church in the aftermath.

I can assume he was also drunk when he signed the bull establishing the University of Leipzig, which centuries later gave the world Karl Marx and again... whole lot of troubles...

Anyway, for the magical forest in Carmina Burana and for the unidentified plants in the Voynich Manuscript... Cheers!


  1. Well, here I am again Ellie! I'm giving up on Nick and his cronies. He REALLY does not want the VMs to be "deciphered"!

    I'm so pleased that you have been researching Petrus of Candia and his "rowdy crowd" of merrymaking wining and dining. Did you read my comments about his possibly eating the wrong mushroom? That particular mushroom was right up at the top of the most desirable foods. Sadly, though, there was a mushroom very nearly identical which could kill the gourmand if consumed within three or four days of drinking any alcoholic beverages.

    Take a look at the VMs folio 86r3 (which has illustrations of the mushroom in four corners of the foldout (note the panicky people cowering and waving for help behind each mushroom.
    Commentary, which is written on the margins, refers to the Greek/Roman legend of Ceyx and Alcyone, husband and wife who were transformed into kingfishers "birds who nest on water".(Find the funny looking birds which appear to be riding the crests of waterfalls or waves.) During storms at sea, sailors would pray for the god/goddess to calm the waters. That is the legend which is told in folio 86r3.

    I've also found Artemis and her use of various parts of the mandrake plant. In particular, the juice of the fruit (see VMs folio 83v, with what looks like a pair of "maracas--gourd rattles". All parts of the plant were very dangerous to eat. However, various combinations of juice and water (or even smoke from burning certain parts) were used for various Anesthesiology purposes: Battlefield amputations and difficult childbirths, being two most important uses.

    I'll preview and see if this gets through OK. Let me know if you find this totally mind-numbing!


  2. I am sure we all want the thing to be deciphered :)
    Yes, I read your poisonous mushrooms idea. You can eat all mushrooms - some of them only once in your life :)
    How does your alphabet translation look like so far (if it is not secret)?

    1. I'm tired Ellie,

      Twice this morning I've written a lengthy post, only to have it disappear when I use the preview button. This is my last attempt (trial, I think I'm supposed to choose a "Reply as"?) If this note is successful, I will then write my monologue for the third time today.

      Cya later, I hope!

    2. Sorry you have trouble posting. I think I made it as easy as Blogspot permits me. I'll check if they changed something.

  3. "You can eat all mushrooms - some of them only once in your life :)"- That's a great one! I'm stealing it. Rich.

  4. Thank you, Richard! This is what my dad used to say. Timeless wisdom...

  5. Timeless wisdom ... which sometimes gets forgotten, in time. I'm off to my first visit with my eye surgeon (cataract). Good thing history repeats itself?

    Ellie, I think I figured out the preview/post sequence........

  6. Those strange fruits you display look like pineapples. Perhaps Magellan wandered that way during his trip around the world? If we can have discussion about coconuts, surely somewhere we're going to find pineapples and bananas?

  7. Pineapples grow in the ground. But how about mulberry trees -- and the leaves which are necessary to feed silkworms? The mulberry seedpod looks very much like a miniature pineapple or pinecone.

  8. Oh dear, Ellie!

    From mulberry fruit to the leaves of the "white" mulberry tree (take another look at your illustration) to silkworm culture (sericulture) to silk fabric production in 15th &16th century France and Italy!

    I subsume a lot of my grief (ensuing blindness & perhaps no cataract surgery possible) in "flying" through the vast Wikipedia archives on just about "anything"!

    I'll keep in touch with you and your great blogspot (and some of my favorite people: Rich, ThomS, and Reed Johnson. I will soon be setting all of my online magnification features to max, as well as any sound/captioning features that may be available (I have stereo speakers for use with videos).

  9. I'm correcting my reference to mulberry fruit. The Vms plant you display apparently is planted in the ground, so it more likely is a pineapple.

    I still wonder if some of "Burana" ms may still be referring to myths woven into very valuable tapestries (perhaps the "white horse" is a unicorn).

  10. Hectic day -- my apology for confused posts. Considering the time periods of the Burana and Vms artworks, my guess as far as what that "cone-shaped object might be MAY be accurate: if the mulberries landed on fertile soil, they apparently rooted prolifically. Silkworm farmers were actually more "orchardists" insofar as having to feed an enormous amount of mulberry leaves to the silkworms.

    Though I've never spun "reeled" silk thread, I have spun thread from the waste cocoons. (Cocoons from which the insect emerged before the "boiling and reeling" procedure could be done.) I'll be downloading and translating that "berry" folio today.

  11. I'm correcting my comment one more time: Mulberry fruit was cultivated by orchardists into the trees which provided the leaves which were the sole food for the silkworms. I am going to try to translate the Vms folio. I'll keep you posted.

  12. I'm backing up my "hunch" about the mulberry fruit: A couple of wiki articles refer to mischievous medieval students having to practice their written translations of various myths (Ovid, being just one producer of "myths/fairy tales"). So, check out the myth of "Pyramus and Thisbe" and their connection to the Mulberry tree (which apparently was their favorite spot for their assignations).....

    So, I now have the "story" being told, and can now proceed to decipher the Vms folio that displays that very strange "fruit". I'll catch up with y'all after you've had a chance to discuss your latest offering. Cheers!

  13. Ellie,

    More and more of what I see in the Vms appears to be a notebook/drawings/commentary/ for a "set-designer" working with a playwright. So, which playwrights/poets/set designers/ would have been active during the production of our mystery manuscript? So, could it be that some of the mischievous students you mention in Carmina Burana may have been "messing around" with the classroom notes they all would have been taking while their teachers droned on and on about some dreary Greek or Roman poet's mythic tales?

  14. May be 'mischievous' female student? Educated lady that outsmarted all guys:)

  15. The fruit of the pineapple plant grows above ground.
    I don't think is a pineapple in the VM.