February 15, 2017

Oddities of all kinds #Protect your #books with curses



12th century Hell.
12th century Hell. Herrad von Landsberg/Public domain

 

Medieval scribes protected their work by threatening death, or worse.

“For 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.”
All of 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..... 
Given 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?



 

23 comments:

  1. Ha, Ha, I love your curse--and your extensive book shelf!
    Those are some seriously stiff penalties for stealing books in the middle ages, but like you said, books were painstakingly written by hand. The bookworms gnawing on entrails would certainly make me think twice!

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    1. Oh, thank you for checking the post! I am glad you agree with the curse which isn't mine. It also belonged to those times. As about my shelf, wait to see my post at the end of February - My bookshelf!

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  2. This was great, Carmen. They took their books seriously didn't they?
    Maybe we should start putting that blurb at the front of the books again? Ha.
    See ya tomorrow.

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    1. Of course they did. In the Middle Ages, creating a book could take years. And the work of a copyist was tremendous.To be a copyist, wrote one scribe, was painful: “It extinguishes the light from the eyes, it bends the back, it crushes the viscera and the ribs, it brings forth pain to the kidneys, and weariness to the whole body.” So stealing a book deserved a great punishment.
      Yes, I will be there! Have the coffee ready, please!

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  3. Great post. I love stuff like this, and it fuels my imagination.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and it is a source of inspiration!

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  4. What a detailed and horrific curse. As a former librarian, I bet some of my cohorts would love to make use of this strategy and perhaps extend the power of the curse to include overdue books LOL. The modern world owes so much to these individuals who slaved over the early books to preserve learning. Where would we be? Wonderful post, Carmen. I enjoyed it immensely.

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    1. Thank you, Flossie! I was sure you'd enjoy it due to your job. And not only. Yes, we owe immensely to those thorough people who slaved over each page and help mankind step ahead.

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  5. Hello, I popped over from Sandra's blog. Great idea with the curse, I always hate people who don't return books they borrow from me, although I've never been quite so dramatic. Hugs, Valerie

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    1. Thank you, Valerie!
      Isn't Sandra such a great author? Helping us connect over continents? I am with you regarding people who "forget"to return books they borrow from us.

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  6. Visiting from Sandra's blog!
    Too bad curses can't stop people today from giving our books away for free.

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    1. Thank you, Alex, for checking my blog! If you are a writer, too, you may find interesting/useful things on my above pages - Free Reviews Blogs and Useful author resources.
      I totally agree with you on the topic of people giving our books away for free.

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  7. A good way to keep your shelves full. I had a fun time visiting your blogs.Greetings from Iowa

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    1. At least theoretically. I doubt modern-day people are stopped by such a threat from "stealing"our books.
      Greetings back to you, and come visiting again!

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  8. Well, they did put a lot of work into those books. Glad library fines are pretty much the worse things we have to worry about now.

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  9. Absolutely! and think that they didn't have the modern tools - ballpoint pens, fountain pens or even pencils. They are true heroes for preserving the words of our ancestors.
    Thank you for checking my post and leaving a comment!

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  10. This reminds me of the tour we took of the Bell Witch Cave 20 or so years ago. The tour guide told us that people who take things from the cave as "souvenirs" often find they're cursed and end up rushing back to return the items. Even as into ghost stories as I am, I could see right through that as a ploy to keep people from taking things!

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    1. People are sometimes more sensitive to such threats than to money fines. Fear of the unknown is always powerful even in our modern days.
      Thank you for checking my post, Stephanie!

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  11. I'm glad they listened to the curses because so many people never think that a book is priceless. I will no longer lend out any book because I don't get them back or they break the spine!

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    1. I am of the same opinion. You know, even if I love the old style books, I mean, paper books, there may be an advantage with the electronic books. They can't be lent or stolen.
      Thank you for stopping by, Birgit!

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  12. Have a great weekend, Carmen.
    We all enjoyed your visit.
    I've got a fresh pot brewing:)

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    1. Yam-yam. You're tempting me!
      I'll teleport myself over there. It's not nice to refuse such kind treat.

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