Alamoda’s word

Naples, Arezzo, Verona

  1. The word alamoda in the Gothic deeds

1.1 The deed from Naples

The word alamoda occurs in all the four Gothic subscriptions to the deed from Naples, i.e. in the phrase (cf. Tjäder 1982:100, 102, 104):

miþ diakona (-kuna) alamoda unsaramma

Traditionally, alamoda has been taken to be a proper name. The problem is to identify this deacon as he is not mentioned in the Latin text of the document. Therefore, Tjäder (1982:97) suggested that this is a common noun, alamoþs*, and the meaning of the phrase is: ‘mit unserem für uns alle einstehenden (uns alle vertretenden) “Diakon” As Tjäder points out (1982:97 fn. 50) actually the same interpretation is to be found in Scardigli (1973:282–283). The latter says that with alamoþs* “könnte es sich um einen fiktiven Namen handeln, der symbolisch für die ganze Kommunität steht, für den universus clerus”. Nevertheless, Scardigli assigns the content: “der sich zum Vermittler des Willens der Gemeinschaft macht, im Namen aller”.

In the Gothic concordance (Snædal 1998, I:XIII, II:53), I have adopted Tjäder’s (and Scardigli’s) interpretation, i.e. I took alamoda to be a dat. sg. of a common noun, alamoþs*, and not a proper name, Alamod (in Wulfilian Gothic Alamoþs*). In his review, Wagner (2000:235) comments on this:

“Grammatische Fügung und Sinn sprechen jedoch für letzteres.”

If alamoda is a proper name and the meaning of the phrase is ‘with our deacon Alamod’ the pronoun unsaramma is strangely placed after Alamoda. With this meaning, one would expect the phrase to be miþ diakona unsaramma Alamoda (or miþ Alamoda diakona unsaramma, or even miþ unsaramma diakona Alamoda). As it stands – accepting the traditional interpretation of alamoda – a direct translation of the phrase would be ‘with (the) deacon, our Alamod’. Such a translation is senseless in the context.

So, the word order indicates that unsaramma modifies alamoda, not diakona. This supports Tjäder’s interpretation, that alamoda is a common noun, not a proper name. The phrase could be translated: ‘with (the) deacon, our representative’. In Tjäder’s translation (cf. above) unserem goes with Diakon, presumably because he rephrases the meaning of alamoþs*. But he also says (1982:97): “Die gotischen Worte alamoths unsar können wohl begriffsmässig einem lateinischen procurator (oder actor) noster entsprechen.” So, at least implicitly, he indicates that unsaramma modifies alamoda.

1.2 The deed from Arezzo

The word alamoda also occurs in the deed from Arezzo. There it is a proper name and the person in question is a deacon, mentioned in the Latin text of the document as Alamud. The context is (cf. Tjäder 1981, 1982:45):

ik Gudilub ‘dkn’ þo frabauhtaboka fram mis gawaurhta þus dkn’ Alamoda […]

Here too, dkn’ Alamoda is taken to be a dat. sg. The problem is that in the first instance, ‘dkn’ is an abbreviation for the nom. sg. of diakon, so in the second instance ‘dkna’ would have been expected. But here another interpretation is possible: dkn’ Alamoda could be a nom./voc. sg. That would explain why the same abbreviation, dkn, is used in both instances. Then the construction is the same as in the following passages from the New Testament.

1TimB 1:18

þo anabusn anafilha þus, barnilo Teimauþaiu

Ταύτην τὴν παραγγελίαν παρατίθεµαί σοι, τέκνον Τιµόθεε

Mark (fol. Spir.) explicit: wulþus þus weiha guþ.

The first example is of course based on the Greek original but, nevertheless, it shows the existence of this construction in Gothic. The second example is an independent witness of that. Similar constructions occur several times in the Epistles, e.g. 1CorA 15:1 and 2CorAB 8:1, Aþþan kannja izwis, broþrjus (Γνωρίζω δὲ ὑµῖν, ἀδελφοί), cf. further 2ThessB 3:6, 2CorAB 6:11.

So, in alamoda we have a case of homophony. In the Naples deed it is a dat. sg. Of the common noun, alamoþs* ‘representative’. In the Arezzo deed it is a nom./voc. sg. of the proper name Alamoda, a weak noun derived from the first.

  1. Gotica Veronensia

Originally, there were at least twenty seven Gothic glosses in the Veronese manuscript, Cod. bibl. capitol. Veron. LI (49). Twelve of these glosses were added to Streitberg’s Gotische Bibel I in the 1950 reprint (3. ed., pp. 489–491) by an anonymous editor.The text is based on von Kraus (1929) and Gothein (1930), and is reproduced unaltered in subsequent editions. Since the new collation of Marchand (1973) and Gryson (1982:77–92) we know that two of the glosses printed in Streitberg are in fact illegible, others have been corrected, and three new added. So the text of thirteen glosses is known. These are the legible glosses, though single letters may be faint or illegible. From the photos accompanying Gryson’s (1982) edition one has to conclude that none of the remaining fourteen glosses is fully legible. In glosses III, VI, X, XI, XV, and XXV either no or perhaps one letter can be identified. A little more can be read from glosses II, V, XIII, XVI, XX, XXI, XXIII, and XXVI, so maybe it is possible to conjecture the illegible parts of them. In the following, glosses V, XVI, and XXI are dealt with.

2.1 Gloss V, fol. 10r, Mk 6:17–44

According to Gryson (1982:82, photo on pl. 27) the following letters are legible (heconsiders the reading li possible in the first line but to me only ai seems possible).

1 ××× ai
3 ×××× o
4 h

Though this is meagre it is tempting to suggest that the letters oh in the third andfourth line are from some form of the word io|hannes, cf. Gryson (1982:82).The homily deals with the decapitation of John, so perhaps Herod was alsomentioned. One suggestion could be: 〈bi h〉ai|〈roden | jah i〉o|h〈annen〉

This is reminiscent of the τίτλος of the κεφάλαια 15 in Mark (that begins at 6:14 according to von Soden 1911:408): περι Ιωαννου και Ηρωδου. Nevertheless the word order does not fit. Also the ai in Herod’s name would be inconsistent with all the sixteen occurrences in Codex Argenteus where the first syllable is always written with an e.

Finally, the accusative of Herodes does not occur in the Gothic corpus so we do not know if it was Heroden*, though that form seems most likely. But there is another possibility. It is not certain that the first line of the gloss ends in ai. The line ends in a vertical stroke that, of course, could be an i but I suspect that it is the left stroke of an u, i.e. the line ended in au.

Then the conjecture could be:

〈ik h〉au|〈biþ afmai¦mait i〉o|h〈anne〉

If so, this is a quotation from Mk 6:16:

‘gahausjands þan Herodes qaþ þatei þammei ik haubiþ afmaimait Iohanne, […]’

(ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἔλεγεν· ὃν ἐγὼ ἀπεκεφάλισα Ἰωάννην, […]).

Cf. also: “Recitatum est, postquam occisus est Iohannes Baptista” from the opening words of the homily (Gryson 1982:16). It should be noted that the form Iohanne is suspicious as the fourth line ends in a vertical stroke that is unlikely to be traces of an e. More likely it was an n or an u. Therefore other forms should be considered; i.e. either Iohannen, that is used three times as a dative in the Gospels, or Iohannau, that occurs once, Lk 9:9: ‘jah qaþ Herodes: Iohannau ik haubiþ afmaimait.’ (καὶ εἶπεν Ἡρῴδης· Ἰωάννην ἐγὼ ἀπεκεφάλισα·)

2.2 Gloss XVI, fol. 25r; Mt 5:14–15

According to Gryson (1982:86, photo on pl. 33) the following letters are legible:

1 nima×ht
2 k
3 ××××ah

In the first line, between a and h, there is a room for one letter. Nothing remains of it so perhaps it was erased or wiped out, or even never written. The second line does not, in my view, begin with a k, as Gryson suggests, but two letters, is, followed by a very faint t. It is impossible to identify any letter from the traces that follow. The third line begins with gaf. This reading is relatively certain though all the letters are faint. Then there is a clear i, followed by lh (i.e. I think the letter before the h is an l, not an a). But what should be made out of this: ni maht | ist | gafilh? I suggest the following:

(1)Add an a at the end of the first line → ni maht〈a〉
(2)Add baurgs after ist in the second line → ist 〈baurgs〉
(3)Add an at the end of the third line → gafilh〈an〉

This must be a translation of a passage from Mt 5:14 (just before the beginning of Codex Argenteus): οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ‘a city can not hide/be hidden[1].

 The verb κρύπτω is rendered with gafilhan sik in Jh 8:59 and 12:36: gafalh sik ἐκρύβη.

The closest match found is 1TimAB 5:25: filhan ni mahta sind κρυβῆναι οὐ δύναται.

2.3 Gloss XXI, fol. 33r, Lk 16:19–26

According to Gryson (1982:89, photo on pl. 35) only the first line is legible:

1 bi×ana


In the first line there is a room for at least one letter between bi and ana. I find it almost certain that this letter is a þ. In the second line there is only a vertical stroke at the beginning. So, this could be almost any letter but the expected word was almost certainly a week adjective in the acc. sg. masc. As the homily deals with the story about the rich man and Lazarus, that in Gothic begins with ‘aþþan manne sums was gabigs […]’ (Lk 16:19), the adj. gabigs is most likely. That is:

bi þana | g〈abigan〉

Cf. also “Homo, inquid, quidam erat diues” in the opening words of the homily (Gryson 1982:17).

As the gloss is, apparently, only two lines this can not be a translation of the τίτλος of the κεφάλαια 59 in Luke, which runs, according to von Soden (1911:410):

περι του πλουσιου και (του) Λαζαρου.

This continues what Friedrichsen (1962/63) did. Actually, only two of the Veronese glosses can be said to be identical to τίτλοι, i.e. IX: bi fimf hlaibans jah twans fiskans

περι των πεντε αρτων και των δυο ιχθυων, and XIV bi Lazaru περι (του) Λαζαρου.

None of the glosses discussed in the present paper can be conjectured to fit a τίτλος, though the last one shows a certain resemblance. Though it is risky to draw any conclusion from such conjectures, they tend to support Marchand’s (1973:468) view: “[…] the notes are not lectionary headings, as some have thought, but are simply ad hoc indications of the contents of the manuscript.” So, the match or resemblance with a few τίτλοι must be just a coincidence.

[1] The passage continues: ἐπάνω ὄρους κειµένη ‘situated upon a mountain’; in Gothic probably: ‘ufar fairguni ligandei’. In the opening words of the homily we read (Gryson 1982:17): “Ait dominus: Vos estis lux huius mundi”. It is impossible that the Gothic gloss translates the beginning of Mt 5:14 Ὑµεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσµου, i.e. something like ‘jus sijuþ liuhaþ manasedais/þis fairƕaus’, cf. Jh 8:12 ‘ik im liuhaþ manasedais’ ἐγώ εἰµι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσµου, and Jh 9:5 ‘liuhaþ im þis fairƕaus’ φῶς εἰµι τοῦ κόσµου.