This translation of Matthew of Vendôme Ars Versificatoria is based on the text printed by Edmond Faral in Les Arts Poétiques du XIISUPSUP SUPSUP et du XIIISUPSUP SUPSUP Siècle, published in 1924 by Librairie Ancienne Honore Champion and reprinted in 1971.
There exists at least four major manuscripts of the Ars Versificatoria. The one printed by Faral is that of Glasgow in the Hunterian Museum, numbered 511. Other manuscripts in England are in Balliol library, Oxford: one is numbered 263, folio 138-53; the other is numbered 276, folio 108-27. The latter, erroneously attributed to Gervais de Melkley, is missing the concluding thirty-four line verse epilogue. The Palatine Library of Vienna holds the fourth manuscript. Part one is numbered 246, folio 45 SUPSUP SUPSUP -50 SUPSUP SUPSUP and part two, folio 65 SUPSUP SUPSUP - 68 SUPSUP SUPSUP.
No definitive Latin text exists. Though a comparative analysis reveals differences in language varients and in minor details of matter, the Glasgow manuscript printed by Faral presents the essential doctrine and is, of course, more readily available for reference. For the convenience of reference I have retained the organization and paragraph numbering which Faral has imposed upon the text and have placed all source references in footnotes. In order to provide the reader with some sense of the nature of the medieval manuscript I have translated the rubrics and replaced them within the text in bold face type. The outline headings inclosed in brackets are not part of the text; they follow the designations of content set by Faral.
So as not to "play traitor to the text" I have tended toward a fairly literal translation with emphasis on exact meaning with some preservation of the flow of the Latin word. I have, therefore, retained a certain dedication to the etymology of words and have tried to draw some tone or color from it when choosing the English words in translation. Whenever possible I have attempted to retain any creative, symbolic or figurative aspects of language which reveal the individuality of the author and the flavor of his time. Thus, for instance, I translate Set quia stipulationis neverca est dilatio: "Because delay is the stepmother of covenant," when it might read "Because delay is the enemy of a promise given." Again, I retain Tullius since it indicates Cicero's name commonly used in the Middle Ages. My aim is to reveal as accurately as possible the author: his own questionable language skill and his attitude toward rhetorical practice, as well as his personality; all are consistently revealed in his text.
Of the standard treatises of Artes Poeticae, Matthew's style is particularly labored. There seems little doubt that this work is a teacher's manual when one notes the numerous instances in which the student is referred to as . . .