Elias of Thriplow was first brought to the attention of modern scholars by Beryl Smalley, who included him in the Appendix of Lost or Previously Unknown Works to her English Friars andAntiquity in theEarly Fourteenth Century.1 He figures there as a source for Thomas Ringstede’s fourteenth-century Commentary on Proverbs and the mid fifteenth-century Pabularium poetarum compiled at St. Albans under the aegis of Abbot John Whethamstede. Both Ringstede and the Pabularium cite a prosimetrum by Elias, De vita scolarium atque sua,or “On His Own Life and That of His Students”; in addition, Ringstede paraphrases material from another work by Elias, Contra nobilitatem, or “Against Empty Nobility.” Working only from the prose and verse fragments available to her in Ringstede and the Pabularium, Smalley offers a brilliant reconstruction of Elias’s aims and style in De vita scolarium:
He must have admired Pseudo-Boethius, De disciplina scolarium and
set out to imitate him. Pseudo-Boethius wrote entirely in prose; Elias
improved on him by adapting the alternate prose-and-verse form of
the true Boethius to the subject-matter of Pseudo-Boethius.2
So apt is Smalley’s characterization that in Olga Weijers’s edition of De disciplina scolarium it becomes historical fact:
Au XIVe siècle le Ps-Boèce a aussi été imité par un certain Elias
Tripolanensis, dont l’ ouvrage De vita scolarium atque cura est perdu
sauf quelques citations par deux autres Anglais.3
As we shall see, Elias of Thriplow’s works are contemporary with, or earlier than, the De disciplina scolarium, which Weijers dates to 1230– 1240.4 And despite the similarity of subject matter, there is no evidence
1 Beryl Smalley, English Friars and Antiquity in the Ear/y Fourteenth Century (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1961), 218–19, 351–53.
2 English Friars, 351.
3 Pseudo-Boece, De disciplina scolarium, ed, Olga Weijers, Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, 12 (Leiden-Cologne: Brill, 1976),33.
4 For the dating, see Pseudo-Bake, De disciplina scolarium, 10–13.