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Dum ludis floribus: notes
London, British Library, Harley MS 2253, f. 76r

1. Dum . . . lacinia: the meaning of this line is unclear. i) Is ludis a noun (abl. pl., 'with games') or a verb (pres. 2 sg. 'you play')? If the latter, who is being addressed, the object of the speaker's love (who is otherwise spoken of in the third person) or someone else?  ii) What does lacinia mean? In classical Latin it means the border or fringe of a garment; later Latin laciniosus means literally 'jagged', figuratively 'over-ornamental, redundant'. Possibly the image is of the lady weaving flowers to make a subtil gerland for hire heed, as Emily does in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, 1(A), 1051-4.

2. Le dieu d'amour: the classical figure of Cupid, God of Love, was taken over into medieval love-poetry, both in Latin and in the vernacular; his medieval image was particularly influenced by the works of Ovid.

17. Scripsi: MS scripsit (pf. 3 sg. 'he/she wrote') is difficult to make sense of: I have followed Brook's emendation to the first-person form scripsi.
in tabulis: tabulae are wax tablets, used  from classical times onwards as recyclable notebooks. The tabula was a flat piece of wood or ivory, hollowed into a shallow tray which was filled with wax; notes or rough drafts were written on it with the sharp end of a metal stylus, and erased with the other, flattened end. Two or more tabulae could be linked together to form small booklets.
The rhythm of this phrase is suspect, leaving the line two syllables short, and it is possible that a word has been lost in transmission; could the original have read in meis tabulis 'in my notebooks', and the meis have been lost by scribal eyeskip to the following final -is?

19. wel: a possible sense, and the MS reading (with the ornate Anglicana w) is unambiguous; but why is the speaker silenced by joy? Possibly an error in the MS transmission for so uuel me is ('things are going so badly for me, I am so unhappy'). But the mixed feelings of the lover are also a standard convention in medieval love-poetry.

Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 24 July 2003 .