Walafrid Strabo
Walafrid, alternatively spelt Walahfrid, surnamed Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

(or Strabus, i.e. "squint
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned with each other. It typically involves a lack of coordination between the extraocular muscles, which prevents bringing the gaze of each eye to the same point in space and preventing proper binocular vision, which may adversely...

-eyed") (c. 808 – August 18, 849), was a Frankish
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 and theological
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...


Theological works

There is an exposition of the first 20 psalms (published by Pez. in Thes. Anecdota nova, iv.) and an epitome of Rabanus Maurus
Rabanus Maurus
Rabanus Maurus Magnentius , also known as Hrabanus or Rhabanus, was a Frankish Benedictine monk, the archbishop of Mainz in Germany and a theologian. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis . He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible...

's commentary on Leviticus. An Expositio quatuor Evangeliorum is also ascribed to Walafrid.

De exordiis et incrementis quarundam in observationibus ecclesiasticis rerum

Of singular interest also is his De exordiis et incrementis quarundam in observationibus ecclesiasticis rerum, written between 840 and 842 for Reginbert the librarian.

It deals in 32 chapters with ecclesiastical usages, churches, altars, prayers, bells, pictures, baptism and the Holy Communion. Incidentally, he introduces into his explanations the current German expressions for the things he is treating of, with the apology that Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

 had set him the example by keeping monkeys as well as peacocks at his court. Of special interest is the fact that Walafrid, in his exposition of the Mass, shows no trace of any belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation
In Roman Catholic theology, transubstantiation means the change, in the Eucharist, of the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into the substance of the Body and Blood, respectively, of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before.The Eastern Orthodox...

 as taught by his famous contemporary Radbertus; according to him, Christ gave to his disciples the sacraments of his Body and Blood in the substance of bread and wine, and taught them to celebrate them as a memorial of his Passion.

In the last chapter, Walahfrid describes a hierarchical body of both lay and ecclesiastical officers, using Pauline metaphors (1 Cor 12:11-27) to underline the importance of such a body as an organic unity. In so doing, he articulates a view on the nature of public office, ideally based on a sense of responsibility with respect to society as a whole. While Johannes Fried is wary associating this idealised scheme too much with current ideas about state and court in Louis' reign, Karl Ferdinand Werner and Stuart Airlie are rather more sympathetic to its relevance for contemporary thought at court: what gives the text added interest is that it was written by a courtier (Walahfrid), representing a "view from the centre".

Historical and poetical works

Walahfrid's chief historical works are the rhymed Vita sancti Galli (The Life of Saint Gall
Saint Gall
Saint Gall, Gallen, or Gallus was an Irish disciple and one of the traditionally twelve companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to the continent. Saint Deicolus is called an older brother of Gall.-Biography:...

), which, though written down nearly two centuries after this saint's death, is still the primary authority for his life, and a much shorter life of Saint Othmar
Saint Othmar
St. Othmar, O.S.B., was a monk and priest appointed as the first abbot of the Abbey of St. Gall, a Benedictine monastery in St. Gall, Switzerland....

, abbot of St. Gall
Abbey of St. Gall
The Abbey of Saint Gall is a religious complex in the city of St. Gallen in present-day Switzerland. The Carolingian-era Abbey has existed since 719 and became an independent principality during the 13th century, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It was...

 (died 759). A critical edition of them by E. Dümmler is in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica "Poetae Latini", ii. (1884), p. 259 ff.

Walafrid's poetical works also include a short life of St Blathmac
Saint Blathmac was a distinguished Irish monk, b. in Ireland about 750. He was murdered and became a martyr in Iona, about 825. His biography written by Strabo, the Benedictine Abbot of Reichenau , and thus the story of his martyrdom has been handed down.Balathmac, the scion of a noble family,...

, a high-born monk of Iona
Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats...

, murdered by the Danes in the first half of the 9th century; a life of St Mammas; and a Liber de visionibus Wettini. This last poem, like the two preceding ones written in hexameter
Hexameter is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Greek mythology, hexameter...

s, was composed at the command of "Father" Adalgisus, and based upon the prose narrative of Heto, abbot of Reichenau from 806 to 822. It is dedicated to Wettin's brother Grimald. At the time he sent it to Grimald Walafrid had, as he himself tells his audience, hardly passed his eighteenth year, and he begs his correspondent to revise his verses, because, "as it is not lawful for a monk to hide anything from his abbot", he fears he may be beaten with deserved stripes. In this curious vision, Walafrid's teacher Wettin saw Charles the Great suffering purgatorial tortures because of his sexual incontinence. The name of the ruler alluded to is not indeed introduced into the actual text, but "Carolus Imperator" form the initial letters of the passage dealing with this subject. Many of Walahfrid's other poems are, or include, short addresses to kings and queens (Lothar
Lothair I
Lothair I or Lothar I was the Emperor of the Romans , co-ruling with his father until 840, and the King of Bavaria , Italy and Middle Francia...

, Charles, Louis, Pippin, Judith, etc.) and to friends (Einhard
Einhard was a Frankish scholar and courtier. Einhard was a dedicated servant of Charlemagne and his son Louis the Pious; his main work is a biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni, "one of the most precious literary bequests of the early Middle Ages."-Public life:Einhard was from the eastern...

; Grimald; Rabanus Maurus
Rabanus Maurus
Rabanus Maurus Magnentius , also known as Hrabanus or Rhabanus, was a Frankish Benedictine monk, the archbishop of Mainz in Germany and a theologian. He was the author of the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis . He also wrote treatises on education and grammar and commentaries on the Bible...

; Tatto; Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims
Ebbo, Archbishop of Reims
Ebbo was archbishop of Rheims from 816 until 835 and again from 840 to 841. He was born a German serf on the royal demesne of Charlemagne. He was educated at his court and became the librarian and councillor of Louis the Pious, king of Aquitaine, son of Charlemagne...

; Drogo, bishop of Metz
Drogo of Metz
Drogo , also known as Dreux or Drogon, was an illegitimate son of Frankish emperor Charlemagne by the concubine Regina....

; etc.).

His most famous poem is the Hortulus, dedicated to Grimald. It is an account of a little garden that he used to tend with his own hands, and is largely made up of descriptions of the various herbs he grows there and their medicinal and other uses. Sage
Common sage
Salvia officinalis is a small, perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world...

 holds the place of honor; then comes rue
Rue is a genus of strongly scented evergreen subshrubs 20–60 cm tall, in the family Rutaceae, native to the Mediterranean region, Macaronesia and southwest Asia. There are perhaps 8 to 40 species in the genus...

, the antidote of poisons; and so on through melon
thumb|200px|Various types of melonsThis list of melons includes members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae with edible, fleshy fruit e.g. gourds or cucurbits. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit...

s, fennel
Fennel is a plant species in the genus Foeniculum . It is a member of the family Apiaceae . It is a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves...

, lilies, poppies
A poppy is one of a group of a flowering plants in the poppy family, many of which are grown in gardens for their colorful flowers. Poppies are sometimes used for symbolic reasons, such as in remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime....

, and many other plants, to wind up with the rose
A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows...

, "which in virtue and scent surpasses all other herbs, and may rightly be called the flower of flowers."

The curious poem De Imagine Tetrici takes the form of a dialogue; it was inspired by an equestrian statue depicting a nude emperor on horseback believed to be Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

 which stood in front of Charlemagne's palace at Aix-la-Chapelle.

Codex Sangallensis 878
Codex Sangallensis 878
Codex Sangallensis 878 is a manuscript kept in the library of the Abbey of St. Gall. It dates to the 9th century and probably originates in Fulda monastery. It contains mainly excerpts of grammatical texts, including the Ars minor and Ars maior of Aelius Donatus, the grammar of Priscian, the...

 may be Walafrid's personal breviarium
A breviary is a liturgical book of the Latin liturgical rites of the Catholic Church containing the public or canonical prayers, hymns, the Psalms, readings, and notations for everyday use, especially by bishops, priests, and deacons in the Divine Office...

, begun when he was a student at Fulda.

Ascribed works

Johannes Trithemius
Johannes Trithemius
Johannes Trithemius , born Johann Heidenberg, was a German abbot, lexicographer, historian, cryptographer, polymath and occultist who had an influence on later occultism. The name by which he is more commonly known is derived from his native town of Trittenheim on the Mosel in Germany.-Life:He...

, Abbot of Sponheim (1462-1516), credited him with the authorship of the Glossa Ordinaria
Glossa Ordinaria
The Glossa ordinaria , Lat., "the ordinary gloss/interpretation/explanation", was an assembly of glosses, from the Church Fathers and thereafter, printed in the margins of the Vulgate Bible; these were widely used in the education system of Christendom in Cathedral schools from the Carolingian...

or Ordinary Glosses on the Bible. The work dates, however, from the 12th century, but Trithemius' erroneous ascription remained current well into the 20th century. The work is now attributed to Anselm of Laon
Anselm of Laon
Anselm of Laon was a French theologian and founder of a school of scholars who helped to pioneer biblical hermeneutics.Remembered in the century after his death as "Anselmus" or "Anselm", his name was more properly "Ansellus" or, in Modern French, "Anseau."Born of very humble parents at Laon...

and his followers.

Primary sources

External links

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