Trithemius on Otfrid von Weissenburg: English translation
Otfrid, a monk of the monastery of Weissenburg of the order of St. Benedict in the
diocese of Speyer, a sometime auditor and disciple of Rabanus Maurus, abbot of
Fulda, a man greatly versed in holy scripture and extremely learned in secular
literature, a philosopher, orator, astronomer, poet and theologian second to none in
his age, preeminent in his intellect and skilful with words, wrote many distinguished
volumes in poetry and prose whereby he passed down his name and his genius to
posterity. Being educated by that volume in which the emperor Charlemagne once
begain to reduce the barbarity of our Teutonic language to grammatical rules, he
composed many marvelous things in poetry or rhyme in his mother tongue in
accordance with those rules, but in our day nobody can easily read or understand
them, however familiar with our language, for indeed that codified language differs
more from ours than Etruscan does from Latin. But everything the man wrote is
remarkably worth reading, and he imposed rules on the Teutonic language and kept to
numbered feet as in metrical verse. Of his writings the following are preserved.
A long, interesting verse work on the four gospels in accordance with the rules
mentioned above, to Luitbert, archbishop of Mainz, beginning ‘The grace of writing
German’, five books.
To king Ludwig, one book.
To Salomo, bishop of Constance, one book.
On the psalter, in the same type of language, three large books.
On the last judgement, one book.
On the joys of the kingdom of heaven, one book.
Sermons and homilies for Sundays and saints’ days, two books.
Letters to various people, one book.
He published many epigrams which were lost by the negligence of priors, and
scraped and tattered by the ignorance of monks and the sloth of abbots, and have not
come down to us.
He flourished in the time of emperors Ludwig and Lothar, A.D. 870.