ile de la cite
Île de la Cité, Paris

Musarum sedes, regina Lutetia, salve!
Francigenae tu metropolis pulcherrima gentis,
hospitio regem grato regisque ministros
excipis, et reliquas das iura suprema per urbes.
quis cives, populosa, tuos? quis condita iussu,
Carole magne, tuo, doctis collegia Musis?
aut iuvenes numerare queat, legumque peritos
causidicos? recitare loci quis commoda possit?
ipse bipartito rapidus te Sequana cursu
dividit, et gemino circumdatur insula tractu,
insula mirandis adeo quae pontibus urbi
iungitur, ut nisi praemonitus, disgnoscere pontes
a vicis nequeas reliquis, sic omnia miris
aedificata modis: sic ceu tellure locatae
stant utrimque domus, gemmis auroque repletae.
Sequana sed tacitis has subterlabitur undis.
omnibus in magnae strepitum quid partibus urbis,
obstantesque adeo turbas, gressusque morantem,
sint completa licet totis habitacula vicis,
commemorem? obstupui, fateor, quando omnia vidi
totis plena foris, et proclamata subinde
hic quaecumque velis cornu tam divite fundi.
quae si cuncta canam, quot habet Sorbona sophistas,
aut citius monachos totam numerabo per urbem.
(Nathan Chytraeus, Hodoeporica: Iter Parisiense 453-476)

Hail to you, queen Lutetia, abode of the Muses, you magnificent capital of the French people! In a pleasant environment you shelter the king and the king’s servants, and you dictate the supreme law to the other cities. O populous one, who could count your inhabitants, or the colleges founded for the learned Muses by your order, Charlemagne? Who could keep a tally of all the students or all the lawyers, experts in legislation? Who could enumerate the advantages of your location? The swift Seine’s flow divides you into two parts, and surrounded by its two branches there is an island—an island that is joined to the city by such spectacular bridges that for the uninformed it’s impossible to distinguish them from the other streets: in such impressive ways is every part of them constructed. It’s as if the houses on both sides, overflowing with jewels and gold, are erected on solid earth, while in reality the Seine glides underneath with its silent waves. Why should I tell of the hubbub in every quarter of this great city? Why speak of the throngs that block one’s way and hamper one’s progress even though in every street the houses are packed? I admit, I was amazed to see all the markets with all things in abundance, immediately peddled to the shoppers; amazed to see anything one could wish for poured out here from such a horn of plenty. If I were to sing of all that, I could sooner count how many sophists there are at the Sorbonne, or the number of monks in the entire city! (tr. David Bauwens)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: