Keywords: tavern, parody, parodia sacra, vagantes, goliards, Carmina Burana, Latin literature, drinking songs, Bakhtin
Abstract: Carmina Burana is a Latin-German manuscript written in the beginning of the 13th century. Our article is devoted to an analysis of the song ‘In taberna quando sumus’ from this collection. The poem describes the daily life of a medieval tavern and contains several typical elements of parodia sacra, ‘sacred parody’. In particular, it is characterized by multiple periphrases and direct quotations from the Bible and various important Catholic texts (for instance, the Roman Missal), placed in the context of a tavern feast. Parodia sacra is often constructed out of formulas and marked by reinterpretations of Christian symbols and rituals. These characteristics can be found in the song ‘In taberna quando sumus’. The tavern is a Church of drunkards, where money and not the Lord rules everything. Here, instead of hard work, people debauch, cast lots, similar to Roman soldiers, drink enormously (liturgical wine is replaced by profane, Bacchus takes the place of Christ). In the tavern, they drink to people instead of praying for them, and make thirteen toasts, and those who dare to scold these drunkards would face the same punishment as the enemies of King David. All of these elements, connected to the traditional motif of ‘memento mori’, allow us to consider the poem as a typical High Medieval Latin parody, which, in the words of M. M. Bakhtin, arose as a reaction to the ‘official’ hierarchical culture of the Middle Ages.
Acknowledgements: The study was carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Research in 2020.