Canons 15-20 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)

Let’s continue translating the summary (breviarium) of the canons of the council of Hippo, compiled at the Council of Carthage in 397.  As ever, corrections are welcome.  But somebody has to start.  Here’s what I have.

15.  Ut episcopi, presbyteri et diaconi non sint conductores aut procuratores privatorum neque ullo tali negotio victum quaerant, quo eos vel peregrinari vel ab ecclesiasticis officiis avocari necesse sit.

That bishops, presbyters and deacons shall not be the directors or the managers of private enterprises, nor shall they obtain their living by any such trade in which it may be necessary that they are either travelling or called away from their ecclesiastical duties.

16.  Ut cum omnibus omnino clericis extraneae feminae non cohabitent, sed solae matres, aviae, materterae, amitae, sorores, et filiae fratrum aut sororum, et quaecumque ex familia, domestica necessitate, etiam antequam ordinarentur, iam cum eis habitabant. Vel si filii eorum, iam ordinatis parentibus, uxores acceperint, aut servis non habentibus in domo, quas ducant, aliunde ducere necessitas fuerit.

That unrelated women shall not cohabit with any clergyman at all, but only mothers, grandmothers, maternal aunts, paternal aunts, sisters, and daughters of brothers and sisters, and anyone else from their family already living with them out of domestic necessity and before they were ordained.  Or, if their sons marry after having been ordained by their parents have been ordained, or [if] those [wives] whom they bring marry, not having slaves in the house, it shall be necessary to bring [them slaves] in from elsewhere. or [if], there being no slaves at the house [the wife’s former home] that they may bring, it shall be necessary to bring [them / slaves] from elsewhere.

I’m not convinced about the last two clauses.  Anyone got a better idea?  “quas” must mean “uxores”, I think; but is “ducant” and “ducere” being used in different ways?  Update: my thanks to Diego for clarifying this in the comments!

17.  Ut episcopi, presbyteri et diaconi non ordinentur priusquam omnes qui sunt in domo eorum Christianos catholicos fecerint.

That bishops, presbyters and deacons shall not be ordained before all who are in their house have become Catholic Christians.

18.  Ut lectores usque ad annos pubertatis legant; deinceps autem nisi aut uxores custodita pudicitia duxerint aut continentiam professi fuerint, legere non sinantur.

That readers shall read until the years of puberty; however thereafter unless either they have married after guarding their modesty, or have professed continence, they shall not be allowed to read.

19.  Ut clericum alienum, nisi concedente eius episcopo, nemo audeat vel retinere, vel promovere in ecclesia sibi credita. Clericorum autem nomen etiam lectores retinebunt.

That a clergyman from elsewhere, unless released by his bishop, no-one shall dare either to detain, or to appoint to a church committed to him.  But readers shall retain the rank of clergymen also.

promovere + in + ablative = “appoint to a benefice”, according to the Dictionary of Medieval Latin Compiled from British Sources (DMLBS), via Logeion.

Is the idea here that readers shall be considered as clergy, for the purpose of this canon?

20.  Ut nullus ordinetur, nisi probatus vel episcoporum examine, vel populi testimonio.

That none shall be ordained, unless approved, either by the judgement of the bishops or by the testimony of the people.

That’s an odd canon, isn’t it?  I wonder what lies behind it.


8 thoughts on “Canons 15-20 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)

  1. Canon 16: Note that ‘ordinatis’ agrees with ‘parentibus’, so “after their parents have been ordained”; and that ‘acceperint’ and ‘fuerit’ are in the same tense and mode, so they both have the same function (verb of a conditional clause) and it’s safe to supply a second “if”.
    I think a literal translation of the last part could be: “or if the sons take wives after their parents have been ordained; or [if], not having [female] slaves at home those [wives] that they bring, it were necessary to bring [slaves] from elsewhere”. ‘duco’ is not really used in two different ways, if you take it to mean not “marry” but simply “bring [‘extraneae feminae’ into the household]”, because both groups can be “brought” as exceptions to the main rule: the new daughters-in-law themselves, and such servants as they are forced to bring from elsewhere.

  2. Thank you so much for looking at this, which was a pig. (I ought to have spotted the ablative absolute – agreed).

    That’s a nice point about the two verbs being the same, so the “if” is implicit in the second clause also. It makes more sense of the sentence.

    I like your analysis of duco: I think I was unduly influenced by uxorem ducere, when really the author is going with uxorem accipere, leaving ducere free for other purposes. Just reading back to you what I understand here:

    aut (or) [if,] aliunde ducere necessitas fuerit (there shall be necessity/it shall be necessary to bring [slaves] from elsewhere), quas ducant,” (those [=the wives, agreeing with uxores] that they bring, “servis non habentibus in domo” (not having slaves at home/in the house). I.e. the wife does not have slaves in her new husband’s house, so has to bring some with her.

    “servis habentibus” an ablative absolute with the verb in the present active. Like a normal ablative absolute, it indicates a time; but in this case, present time. “those, not having slaves…”

    Is that right?

  3. Note that the ablative absolute can indicate a number of shades of meaning (temporal, causal, concessive, conditional, general circumstances, or combinations of these); in this case I guess causal fits better.
    But I just noticed that since ‘servis’ is ablative too it has to be the subject of ‘habentibus’. For some reason I was reading it as the object. I have to change my construction: ‘habentibus’ is used as the present participle of ‘haberi’ = “exist, be” rather than ‘habere’ = “have”, and so ‘quas ducant’ has to refer to the slaves after all: “or if, there being no slaves at [the wives’ former] home that they can bring, it is necessary to bring them from elsewhere”. That explains better the use of the subjunctive ‘ducant’, turning the subordinate into a relative of purpose (“there being no slaves at home for them to bring”).
    Sorry if I just added to the confusion! Maybe I should stop posing as a latinist.

  4. This is great. I had never come across haberi meaning “exist, be”. I find there is a JSTOR article on “”Haberi” + passive perfect participle” here. I must find out about this. But it does make the sentence much clearer.

    servis as the subject then does make sense!

    You know far more Latin than I do! But I always feel that, if the experts won’t translate these texts – and they never have – then it’s left to the rest of us to do whatever we can. Whatever we can do is better than nothing. Let the next chap come along and build on it, if he chooses.

  5. I’m unable to find “haberi” with this meaning in the lexica, although that article says the TLL has something. How would habens derive from it? Any pointers you can give me where I can read about this?

  6. Niermeyer includes this absolute value of the passive form s.v. habeo 5 “passive haberi et reflex. se habere: to be extant, to exist, to be”; and the DMLBS has s.v. habere 31b (pass.) “to be, be found, occur (= esse)”. The TLL has examples s.v. habeo ch. 2.II.A2 (page 2460.37), including several with in + abl.
    As to ‘habens’, I’m assuming that ‘haberi’ acts as a deponent here, and so can have a present participle with active form in place of the non-existent present passive participle (Allen & Greenough 190a: ‘morior/moriens’, ‘sequor/sequens’ etc.) Otherwise (if ‘habentibus’ is to be understood as active “have”), the meaning here will necessarily be that the slaves “have” something.

  7. Ah yes I see it in Niermeyer; both “haberi”, and also “se habere”. I see the entry in the DMLBS too.

    I appreciate the explanation about habens, and references. New to me, again.

    Thank you for these!

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