Breaking the pen   2 comments

I’m going through the Martyrdom of Elian in Georgian, the text of which was published, with Latin translation, by Gérard Garitte in Analecta Bollandiana 79 (1961): 412-446 (reprinted in his Scripta Disiecta 1941-1977, vol. 1, pp. 347-381), and I’ve come across a phrase (§ 6.6) that has intrigued me. After the story’s bad guy, the judge and chief (მთავარი, მსაჯული) Maximos, interrogates the saint, Maximos writes out the sentence and then breaks the pen that he wrote the judgement with, the purpose of this being to certify what had been written.

და დაწერა ესე განბჭობაჲ მის ზედა, და შემუსრა კალამი იგი საწამებელად

And he wrote the judgement about him and shattered the pen (kalami) as certification.

Does anyone know of references (in any language) to similar acts, whether in hagiography or otherwise?

Posted December 29, 2013 by adam_bremer-mccollum in Georgian, Hagiography, History

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2 responses to “Breaking the pen

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  1. While not exactly related to the act of passing a judgment, I came across another occasion for breaking a pen in the writings of John of Dalyatha, Letter 2 (Beulay):

    ܐܬܥ̇ܙܙ ܠܒܝ ܗܫܐ ܥܠ ܩܢܝܐ ܐܬ̇ܒܪܝܘܗܝ܉ ܥܠ ܕܠܐ ܡܫܟܚ ܗܪܟܐ ܕܢ݂ܨܘܪ ܫܘܦܪ̈ܐ ܬܗܝܪ̈ܐ܉ ܕܚ̇ܙܐ ܐܢܐ ܢܗܪ̈ܘܬܐ ܕܡܝ̈ܐ ܚܝ̈ܐ ܕܡܢ ܡ̇ܒܘܥ ܛܘܒ̈ܐ ܪܕܝܢ.

    Now my heart is powerfully inclined against the pen that I might break it; as it is not able to depict here such wondrous beauties; for I see streams of living water issuing forth from the fountain of good things.

    Beulay: Mon coeur vient de s’emporter contre (ma) plume; je vais las briser parce qu’elle ne peut dépeindre ici des beautés merveilleuses; car je vois des fleuves d’eau vive couler de la Source des béatitudes.

    • Thanks for this, Joshua. I didn’t know about the passage before. As you say, it’s not wholly analogous, but I’m glad nevertheless to have another reference to the bare act.

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