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From Einhard's On Charlemagne

Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Latin with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Latin Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Latin language and its speakers' culture.

from Einhard's On Charlemagne

Erat eloquentia copiosus et exuberans poteratque quicquid vellet apertissime exprimere. Nec patrio tantum sermone contentus, etiam peregrinis linguis ediscendis operam impendit. In quibus Latinam ita didicit, ut aeque illa ac patria lingua orare sit solitus, Graecam vero melius intellegere quam pronuntiare poterat. Adeo quidem facundus erat, ut etiam dicaculus appareret. Artes liberales studiosissime coluit, earumque doctores plurimum veneratus magnis adficiebat honoribus. In discenda grammatica Petrum Pisanum diaconem senem audivit. In ceteris disciplinis Albinum cognomento Alcoinum, item diaconem, de Brittania Saxonici generis hominem, virum undecumque doctissimum praeceptorem habuit, apud quem et rethoricae et dialecticae, praecipue tamen astronomiae ediscendae plurimum et temporis et laboris impertivit. Discebat artem computandi et intentione sagaci siderum cursum curiosissime rimabatur. Temptabat et scribere tabulasque et codicellos ad hoc in lecto sub cervicalibus circumferre solebat, ut, cum vacuum tempus esset, manum litteris effigiendis adsuesceret. Sed parum successit labor praeposterus ac sero inchoatus.


He was outstanding in eloquence and could express excellently whatever he wished. And not satisfied with just his paternal language, he also expended effort in learning foreign languages. Among these he knew Latin so well that he could speak it with the same control as his native language. But Greek he could understand better than speak. He was in fact so eloquent in speech that at times he seemed effusive. He cultivated the liberal arts very studiously, and in the instruction of these he treated his teachers with great honor. In learning grammar he was taught by the aged deacon, Peter the Pisan. In the other disciplines he had as teacher Albinus, with the surname Alcuin, also a deacon, a Saxon from Britain, a very learned man in all respects. With him he devoted effort and time to learn rhetoric and logic, but chiefly astronomy. He learned the art of computing and with keen effort he explored the course of the heavenly bodies. He also tried to write, and was accustomed to carry about tablets and notebooks to have under his pillow for this purpose, so that when there might be time he could apply his hand to writing letters. But he had very little success since his work was at the wrong time and begun too late.

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