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Vita Anskarii

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29. Porro angustiam maximam mentis, quam in ipso perpessus est itinere, dum illud iter pararetur, Domino revelante pater noster sanctissimus ante praescivit. Visum namque est illi quadam nocte, quod tempus esset passionis Domini, et quod ille praesens adesset, cum dominus Iesus Christus a Pilato duceretur ad Herodem et rursus ab Herode ad Pilatum, denique cum a Iudeis et militibus sputa et obprobria patiens, per omnia membra verberibus, ut ipsi videbatur, afficeretur, ipse non sufferens illum sic puniri accurrens, opposuit se post dorsum eius verberantibus, omniaque verbera, quae illi infligebantur ipse in corpore suo susciperet, excepto, quod statura procerior, capite illi eminentior videbatur, et idcirco illud defendere non poterat. Hanc itaque visionem miles invictus Christi, quid significaret, prius / non cognovit, quam de hoc itinere reversus mente tractavit, quanta opprobria et irrisiones ibi sustinuerit et in quanta angustia fuerit quantasque blasphemias in Deum illatas ibi sustulerit. Nam quantum ad eius pertinuit animum, ibi ille sine dubio pro Christo passus est, et ibi Christus in servo suo prius sibi illata denuo sustinuit improperia. Porro quod caput illius defendere non poterat, hoc significare putabat, quia caput Christi Deus, quod passiones, quas sancti in hoc mundo pro Christo sustinent, partim ad ipsam etiam Dei pertineant maiestatem, quas ipse in se quodammodo compatiendo suscipiens, ad tempus quidem tolerat, sed quandoque districte iudicabit; sicut scriptum est: Mihi vindictam, ego retribuam, dicit Dominus.

30. Nec praetereundum quoque videtur, qualiter Domini virtus post hanc profectionem iam dictis Sueonibus patefacta sit. Gens enim quaedam longe ab eis posita, vocata Cori, Sueonum principatui olim subiecta fuerat; sed iam tunc diu erat, quod rebellando eis subici dedignabantur. Denique Dani hoc scientes, tempore supra dicto, quo domnus episcopus iam in partes Sueonum advenerat, navium congregata multitudine, ad eandem perrexerunt patriam, volentes et bona eorum diripere et sibi eos subiugare. Regnum vero ipsum quinque habebat civitates. Populi itaque inibi manentes, cognito eorum adventu conglobati in unum, coepere viriliter resistere et sua defendere. Dataque sibi victoria, medietate populi Danorum caede prostrata, aedias quoque naves eorum diripuerunt, auro et argento spoliisque multis ab eis acceptis. Quod audiens praedictus rex Olef populusque Sueonum, volentes sibi nomen adquirere, quod facere possent quae Dani non fecerint, et quia sibi etiam antea subiecti fuerant, innumerabili congregato exercitu, illas adierunt partes. Et primo quidem improvise ad quandam urbem regni ipsorum vocatam Seeburg, in qua erant septem milia pugnatorurn, devenientes, penitus illam devastando et spoliando succenderunt. Exinde confortati animo, dimissis navibus, iter quinque dierum arri/pientes, ad aliam urbem ipsorum, quae Apulia dicebatur, effero corde properabant. Erant autem in ea urbe quindecim milia hominum bellatorum. Cum itaque illo advenissent, conclusis ipsis in civitate, isti a foris urbem debellare, illi de intus coepere viriliter repugnare; illi intrinsecus defendebant, isti exterius impingebant. Sicque transierunt dies octo, ut omni die a mane usque ad vesperam dimicantes bello instarent, et multi hinc et inde caderent, neutra tamen pars victoriam obtineret: cum ecce nono die populus Sueonum diutina caede fatigatus coepit angustari, et timido corde expavescens, hoc solum cogitare, quomodo inde evaderent. ,Hic‛, inquiunt, ,non proficimus, et naves nostrae longius absunt‛. Nam quinque dierum, ut praediximus, iter erat ad portum, in quo naves eorum stabant. Cum ergo, quid sibi esset agendum, nimium turbati omnimodis nescirent, quaerendum sortibus statuerunt, utrum dii eorum eis vellent auxiliari, ut vel victoriam caperent vel vivi inde evaderent. Missis itaque sortibus, neminem deorum, qui eis subsidio esse vellet, repperire potuerunt. Quod cum denunciaretur in populo, ululatus et gemitus immensus exortus est in castris, omnisque virtus ab eis recessit. ,Quid‛, inquiunt, ,infelices acturi sumus? Dii recesserunt a nobis, et nullus eorum adiutor est nostri. Quo fugiemus? Ecce naves nostrae longius sunt positae, fugientibus nobis, isti insequentes ad internetionem nos delebunt. Quae ergo nobis erit spes?‛

Cum itaque in tanta essent angustia positi, quidam negotiatorum, memores doctrinae et institutionis domni episcopi, suggerere eis coeperunt: ,Deus‛, inquiunt, ,christianorum multotiens ad se clamantibus auxiliatur et potentissimus est in adiuvando. Quaeramus, an ille nobiscum esse velit, et vota ei placita libenti animo spondeamus‛.

Omnium itaque rogatu supplici missa est sors, et inventum, quod Christus eis vellet auxiliari. Quod cum publice denunciatum cunctis innotuisset, omnium corda ita subito roborata sunt, ut confestim ad urbem expugnandam intrepidi vellent accedere. ,Quid‛, inquiunt, ,nunc nobis formidandum quidve pavendum est? Christus est nobiscum; pugnemus et viriliter agamus, nihil nobis obstare poterit. Nec / deerit nobis certa victoria, quia potentissimum deorum nostri adiutorem habemus‛. Conglobati ergo omnes, laeto et forti animo ad debellandam profecti sunt urbem. Cumque in circuitu astantes pugnam inire vellent, ab his qui intrinsecus erant postulatum est, ut copia eis daretur loquendi. Quod cum rex Sueonum annuisset, illi subsecuti sunt: ,Nobis iam pax magis quam pugna placet, et foedus vobiscum inire cupimus. Et primo quidem quicquid ex spoliis Danorum praeterito anno in auro et armis adquisivimus, vobis pro munere foederis damus. Deinde pro unoquoque hominum in hac urbe constitutorum dimidiam libram argenti offerimus, et insuper censum, quem antea solebamus, vobis persolvimus, et datis obsidibus, abhinc subiecti et obaudientes, sicuti antea fuimus, vestro imperio esse volumus‛. Cum haec itaque oblata fuerint, necdum tamen animi iuvenum sedari poterant, verum alacriores facti et absque metu imperterriti pugnare tantum desiderantes, armis se urbem et omnia quae haberent vastaturos ipsosque captivos abducturos dicebant. Rex vero et principes saniori consilio dextras ab eis accipientes, foedus inierunt, et thesauris innumerabilibus atque obsidibus 30 sibi collatis, cum gaudio ad sua reversi sunt.

Denique pace inter eos foederata, statim Sueones Christi domini nostri omnipotentiam collaudantes eiusque magnificentiam viribus totis, quod vere magnus super omnes deos esset, praedicantes, quid ipsi, per quem tantam obtinuissent victoriam, vovere deberent, sollicite quaerere coeperunt. Unde a christianis edocti negotiatoribus, qui simul aderant, Christo domino placitum devoverunt ieiunium, ita ut ad sua reversi, postquam domi septem dies essent, alios septem omnes pariter a carne abstinerent, sed et post hoc quadraginta diebus evolutis, ipsi quoque unanima conventione quadraginta sequentes similiter a carne abstinentiam agerent. Quod et factum est; omnesque qui ibi affuerant hoc statutum libenti perfecerunt animo. Multi etiam post haec reverentia et amore Christi apud eos ieiuniis, quae christiani observabant, insistere et elemosinis, quia hoc Christo gratum didicere, quoslibet pauperes adiuvare coeperunt. Sicque favore omnium praedictus Erimbertus sacerdos libere apud eos quae Dei sunt agere, et cunctis Christi potentiam laudantibus, religionis divinae in illis partibus / devotio augmentum sui ab eo tempore sine ullius contradictione coepit habere. 

English

Life of Anskar
Translated by Charles H. Robinson

 

CHAPTER XXIX.

While preparations were being made for his journey [I.e. to Sweden] our good father foresaw in advance, by divine revelation, the mental anguish which he afterwards endured during his journey ; for one night he saw, as in a vision, that it was the time of our Lord's passion and that he was himself present when the Lord Jesus Christ was led from Pilate to Herod, and again from Herod to Pilate, arid when He endured the spitting and insults at the hands of the Jews and the soldiers, and it seemed to him that he was himself scourged all over because he would not stiffer Him to be so punished, but came forward and gave his back to the scourgers and received in his own body the blows that were inflicted on Him, His head only being excepted because, being taller of stature, He seemed to reach beyond him and he could not therefore protect His head. Christ's invincible soldier did not understand what this meant till, on his return from this journey, he considered how much insult and derision he had borne arid in what great straits he had been placed and what blasphemies against God he had there endured. For, in so far as he was himself concerned, he undoubtedly suffered there on Christ's behalf and Christ in His servant bore again the reproaches that were directed against Himself. Furthermore, he thought that the fact that he was not able to protect His head signified that the head of Christ is God and the sufferings which the saints endure in this world on Christ's behalf, pertain in part to the majesty of God who, in virtue of His sympathy, endures them for a time, but will some day severely judge, even as it is written Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." 

 

CHAPTER XXX.

Nor should we omit to mention how, after the completion of this journey, the power of the Lord was manifested to the Swedes. For a certain people named Cori* had in former time been in subjection to the Swedes, but had a long while since rebelled and refused to be in subjection. The Danes, being aware of this, at the time when the bishop had come into Swedish territory, collected a large number of ships, and proceeded to this country, eager to seize their goods and to subject them to themselves. Their kingdom contained five towns, When the inhabitants knew of their coming they gathered together arid began to resist manfully and to defend their property. I laving obtained the victory they massacred half the Danes arid plundered their ships, obtaining from them gold and silver and much spoil. On hearing this, King Olaf and the Swedes, who wished to win for themselves the reputation that they could do what the Danes had not done, and because this people had formerly been subject to them, collected an immense army arid proceeded to these parts. In the first instance they came to a town in their kingdom called Seeburg. This town, which contained seven thousand fighting men, they ravaged and despoiled and burnt. They left it with strengthened hopes and, having sent away their ships, set out on a five­days journey arid hastened with savage intent to another of their towns called Aputra in which there were fifteen thousand fighting men. When they reached it, these were shut up in the town, and whilst the one party vigorously attacked the town from outside, the other party defended it from within. In this way eight days went by with the result that, though they fought and waged war from morning till night, and many fell on both sides, neither side obtained the victory. On the ninth day the Swedes, being exhausted by the daily slaughter, began to be distressed, and in their terror considered only how they might get away. "Here," they said, we effect nothing and we are far from our ships." For, as we have said, it was five days' journey to the port which contained their ships. As they were greatly disturbed and knew not what they should do, they resolved to enquire by casting lots whether their gods were willing to aid them either to obtain a victory or to get away from the place where they were. Having cast lots they failed to discover any god who was willing to aid them. And when this was announced to the people there arose much outcry and lamentation in their camp, and all their courage left them. "What," said they, " shall we, unhappy people, do? The gods have departed from us and none of them will aid us. Whither shall we flee? Our ships are far away, and if we flee (those in the city) will follow after us and will utterly destroy us. What hope have we? " When they were in this great difficulty some merchants, who remembered the teaching and instruction given by the bishop, offered them advice. " The God of the Christians," they said, " frequently helps those who cry to Him and His help is all powerful. Let us enquire whether He will be on our side, and let us with a willing mind promise offerings that will be agreeable to Him." Accordingly, at their unanimous request, lots were cast and it was found that Christ was willing to help them. When this had been publicly notified, the hearts of all were forthwith so greatly encouraged that they wished to proceed immediately to make a bold attack on the town. "What," said they, " have we now to fear or dread? Christ is with us ; let us fight and behave like men ; nothing can withstand us, nor shall we fail to secure certain victory, for we have the mightiest of the gods as our helper. " When all were gathered together with courage and joy to attack the town, and they had invested it and were eager to commence the fight,. those inside asked that an opportunity for speech be afforded them, and when the Swedish King had agreed, they immediately said, "We desire peace rather than fighting, and we wish to enter into an agreement with you. In the first place we are prepared to give you for the sake of securing an agreement all the gold and the arms that we took as spoil from the Danes last year. Furthermore, we offer half a pound of silver for each individual man now in this town, and in addition we will pay you the tribute which we formerly paid and will give hostages, for we desire henceforth to be subject and obedient to your rule, as we were in former time. When this offer had been made, the passions of the young men could not be assuaged, but, being eager for action and devoid of fear, they desired only to fight and said that they would destroy by force of arms the town and all that the people possessed, and would carry them off as captives. The king, however, and his chief men, were of a wiser opinion, and, having accepted their offer and entered into an agreement with them, they gladly returned home, taking with them countless treasures anti the thirty hostages that were provided. When at length peace had been established between the two peoples, the Swedes extolled with utmost zeal the omnipotence and glory of Christ our Lord and declared that He was greater than all other gods. They began also to ask with solicitude what they ought to give to him, by whom they had obtained so great a victory. At the suggestion of some Christian merchants who were present at the time they promised that they would observe a fast that would be acceptable to the Lord Christ, and accordingly when they returned, after spending seven days at home they all abstained from eating flesh for another seven days. Moreover, when forty days had elapsed they unanimously agreed to abstain from eating flesh for the forty days following. This was done, and all who were present carried out their resolve with willing minds. After this many in their reverence and love for Christ, began to lay stress upon the fasts observed by Christians and upon alms giving, and began to assist the poor because they had learnt that this was pleasing to Christ. Thus with the goodwill of all did the priest Erimbert accomplish amongst them the things that pertained to God, and, whilst all applauded the power of Christ, the observance of the divine religion from that time forward increased in these parts and encountered opposition from no one.

NOTES
* That is the inhabitants of Curlandia. See Adam Bremen. De Sit. Dan. chap. ccxxiii,
© Paul Halsall March 1998

German

Leben Ansgars
Transl. by Werner Trillmich
 

Reise nach Schweden

29. Schon während der Reisevorbereitungen hatte unser hochheiliger Vater durch eine Offenbarung des Herrn im voraus erfahren, welche große Seelenangst er auf dieser Fahrt würde erdulden müssen. [...]

 

 

  • Country in which the text is set
    Courland
  • Featured locations
    Seeburg / Grobin
    Apulia
  • Bibliographic information

    Quellen des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts zur Geschichte der Hamburgischen Kirche und des Reiches. Ed. Werner Trillmich. Berlin 1961, p. 94-101

  • Translations
    Language Year Translator
    English 1921 Charles H. Robinson
    German 1864 L. Dreves
    German  1961  Werner Trillmich