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Sermo in Cantilena: Structure as Symbol in Imago Sancti Nicolai Michael L. Norton Imago Sancti Nicolai is the third of the four miraculorum Sancti Nicolai preserved in the twelfth-century Fleury Playbook (Orléans, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS. 201).' Based on a tenth-century addendum to the saint's life,2 the Fleury miraculum tells the story of a certain Judeus (Barbarus in most other versions)3 who leaves his unlocked treasure chest under the protection of an image of St. Nicholas only to have it stolen by three rather confused and disorganized thieves. Following a lament by Judeus, the saint intervenes and compels the thieves to return the stolen treasure. Judeus, upon discovering the return of his treasure, bursts forth in a hymn of praise, and the miraculum concludes with the Introit to the Mass for the Feast of St. Nicholas (6 December). Karl Young was among those uncomfortable with the connection between Imago and the Mass. After arguing that "the literary variety of this play effaces any liturgical or hymn-like aspect," he was forced to conclude, on the basis of the Introit incipit , that it "may still be attached in some way to the liturgy."4 Considering the radical shift in both literary and musical style between Imago and Mass, Young's discomfort is understandable. Yet such stylistic incongruities represent only a part of the interpretative dilemma. We might wonder, for example, about the choice of prefacing the Mass with a dramatic work whose protagonist is a Jew, particularly one who, departing from legend, is not overtly converted.5 We might also question the propriety of including the bumbling antics of the three thieves, who resemble former-day Three Stooges more than participants in a liturgical rite.6 The interpretative problems of this seemingly radical juxtaposition of sacred and profane are enough to induce even the most hearty of contemporary critics to seek intellectual 83 Episode/Section Verse Structure" Melodic Structure1" OO Judeus speaks to the Image 20(4"4"7B) 3(abc) 6(abd) 2(abc) 7(eef) 2(ggf) ?. A What is our plan? (2 line assigments) B The thieves plan the theft. (2 line assigments) C They find the treasure chest. D They decide to open the chest. E They open the chest. : 4*4*8b 4c4cgb 12'12"12*4b 12'12"12'12M" 12c12c12c12c4b 8"8·8·8' ??? O" aab aaVb aa'aVb aaWb1 aba'b1 aa aabc m. The Lament of Judeus. 21 hexameters See figure 2. IV. A St. Nicholas orders the return of the treasure. B Let us divide the treasure. C I will not be happy if we return it. D It is better to return it than hang. E Let us return it. "H'llT2 _ 9bi05>3 -nno's·3 10 "10"S"3 _10e 9^13 -10f10f5tí - ????^·2 ??*??· tttt 10*10' 4*4* 3(aab) Melody from Tres Filiae 3(a'a2b) l(a'a'b) l(a'a4b) Melody from JJ-D aabb (based on JJ-B) ab (based on JJ-B) ab (based on JJ-B) Episode/Section (cont.) Verse Structure" (cont.) Melodic Structure1" (cont.) tu - ite - i Do Section V melody (opening) ? I P · à Q Q mi- nusCon - gau - de - te G • ± Q -"-------*-m---------------------------------------------------mi - chika - ris - si- mi Michael L. Norton89 Superimposed on this numeric structure is a rhetorical structure showing a chiasmic pattern. Chiasmus, one of the so-called Gorgian figures, is that type of rhetorical balance in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the first but with the parts reversed.11 In conveying the theme of loss and restoration , the story is itself chiasmic. The chiasmus is also reflected in the progression and regression of emotional intensity. This "emotional progression" is reinforced by the selection of verse forms. The use of hexameters in the third episode serves effectively to isolate the section as both the emotional high point and the structural pivot of the form. The use of strophic forms in the outer episodes underpins both the serenity and the joy expressed by Judeus. Couplets and quatrains are reserved for the thieves in episodes 2 and 4, which show quite clearly, as Young notes,12 the agitation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 83-99
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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