|12th century Hell. Herrad von Landsberg/Public domain|
Medieval scribes protected their work by threatening death, or worse.
him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner,
let it change into a serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with
palsy & all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for
mercy, and let there be no surcease to
his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token
of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final
punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever.”
you, dear followers are aware of my love for reading and that I am suffering of
Bibliomania! That is - collecting books.
So I really understand the wish of those who created the above curse against
those stealing their books. It seems a bit drastic, but.....
the extreme effort that went into creating books in the Middle Ages, scribes
and book owners had a real incentive to protect their work. They used the only
power they had: words. At the beginning or the end of books, scribes and book
owners would write dramatic curses threatening thieves with pain and suffering
if they were to steal or damage these treasures. If someone ripped out a page, they were going to die in agony.
These curses were the only things that protected the books.
As it was in a time when people believed in them, they didn’t want to take the chance.
My bookshelves are loaded with books and I always think I don't have enough, even if I am aware I won't be able to read ALL of them. I think a curse like this one should come in handy for visitors tempted to "borrow"some of my books without my consent:
May the sword of anathema slay
If anyone steals this book away.
What do you think?