This is the first edition of the Serium senectutis, an Anglo-Latin Menippean satire of the thirteenth century. Little is known of its author, Elias of Thriplow, who takes his cognomen from a small village, outside Cambridge, where he held land from the Bishop of Ely. The Serium senectutis survives in a unique manuscript, British Library, Sloane 441, which was copied in the early fifteenth century. It is a difficult work. Inventive and idiosyncratic in its diction, its complex syntax often obscure and sometimes faulty, the Serium senectutis does not so much articulate a continuous argument as hint at one. Few people will master its literary design in one or two readings, and there can be little doubt that the author intended things to be this way.
I have tried to make as much sense as possible of the Serium senectutis. The editorial principles I have adopted to this end are addressed in the introduction. Particularly difficult passages are discussed in the commentary; readers will also want to consult the translation and index verborum for implicit commentary on such passages. Often Elias’s style is so periphrastic, even vague, that passages not obviously corrupt are hard to comprehend; in such cases, the plot summary which appears in section 5 of the introduction, “Contents,” is worth consulting. Many readers will want to begin there. All translations from the Bible are from the DouayRheims version, except where it diverges from Elias’s Latin text. All other translations are my own.
I am extremely grateful to Dr. Nigel Palmer for introducing me to Elias, and to Professor Paul Gerhard Schmidt for encouraging me to edit a work which he first brought to the attention of scholars. For help with specific points I am indebted to Dr. Chris Lewis, Dr. Margaret Nickson, Mr. J. M. Farrar, Dr. D. M. Owen, Professor James Carley, Professor Eleonore Stump, Dr. M. C. Davies, Professor Sten Ebbesen, Dr. D. R. Howlett, Mr. R. Sharpe, Dr. R. W. Lovatt, Mr. M. G. Underwood, Dr. Charles Burnett, Professor Daniel Kinney, and Professor A. G. Watson. Their individual contributions are noted in the appropriate places, but I cannot pass over here the extraordinary interest and kindness with which they answered my inquiries, served me coffee, sharpened my thinking, and covered some of the gaps in my research.
For kindly permitting me access to their collections, I wish to thank the Master, Fellows, and Scholars of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the