Translated by Robert D. Hughes, Barcino/Tamesis: Barcelona/Woodbridge 2008
We read of King Samuel of Lycaonia that no one in the world dared to speak ill of any of his own enemies in the presence of this man, for he used to say that to speak ill of one’s enemy was to take a womanly and knavish vengeance against him. We read of this same king in the History of Greece that his son had an eminent man and prisoner of his killed, and when it was mentioned to his father and he learnt that there was no reason for it, he replied by saying:
“There are three types of scoundrel, that is to say, the peasant scoundrel, who is wicked, because he is a brute animal; then there is the noble scoundrel, who is worse, because he is a vicious wolf; and then there is the royal scoundrel, who is descended from royalty and who, the greater he is the worse he is, because he is a baptised devil, filled with all kinds of evil and completely lacking in shame or fear. And such is my son, whose scoundrel’s ways have led him to kill his prisoner. And that is why, from now on, I do not wish him to be called my son nor to receive a share in my legacy, but wish that he bear the name of ‘the royal scoundrel’.”
And the History of the East says in this respect that the son, on hearing that his father had come to loathe him and disinherit him so horribly, said the following:
“Since my father calls me the royal scoundrel and has withdrawn my claim to the kingdom, I promise to God that from now on I shall for ever behave like a right royal scoundrel!”
And it says here that he assembled as many scoundrels as there were in that land and suggested that they tell him which knavish acts he might carry out that were genuinely scandalous. And it says that they advised him to commit the following acts. First, that he should take a whore as his wife and that she should always form part of his council. Second, that he should not show mercy to old women or young, nuns or laywomen, widows or wives, but that he should bring shame upon as many of them as he could. Third, that he should become a notorious robber and should not spare a soul. Fourth, if a lecherous cleric fell into his hands, or this cleric’s concubine, he should strip them completely naked and should then shave them from head to toe so that not a hair remained on their bodies which had not been completely shorn. Fifth, that he should not be loyal or true to a soul. Sixth, that he should give himself over to every carnal pleasure and should commit every foul deed that he could without any trace of shame. And they counselled him in various other laws of scoundrelism that are recounted by the History, which I do not propose to report for they include very great and hideous acts of villainy which should not be spoken.
So, when he was planning all this in a small town situated near a road, a man named Eusebi, the reverend bishop tripolitanus, passed by and was captured by those who were in the company of the said young man. They brought this bishop before him, all shorn and shaven and semi-naked, and he underwent all they did to him with supreme patience. But when he subsequently learnt who this young man was and why he was there and what he had so foolishly planned, the bishop said the following to him:
“My son, your father may call you a scoundrel, but, in truth, you can only be such by reason of your evil deeds. And therefore, do not hold yourself in contempt, my son, nor your soul, and do not cause your enemies to rejoice over you, as God has fitted you to do much good, for which reason do not seek to turn it into evil nor do things which some time soon will bring a horrible death upon your body and a more vile one upon your soul. So, return to your father and humble yourself at his feet, for this is what you must do, and it will be no discredit to you but rather a source of honour, for to do thus is the task of a good son. So, confess your guilt with humility to his face and you shall move him to pity, and shall obtain his mercy and shall return to your former estate.”
And it states that this young man realised that the saintly guidance that the said holy bishop had given him was right and, fully edified by his patience and kindly words, he said that he would follow his advice, but he implored him to go first to his father and to appease him, for he was a man who was easily vexed. And the bishop did just this. And when the bishop was with the father he said the following to him:
“My Lord, although, according to what Solomon says, a good father should keep his son close by the rod of correction so that he is good (Prov 13,24), nevertheless the correction must be moderate in order that the son should not give way to despair. For this reason,Saint Paultold parents that they should not aim to cause great indignation in their children, lest they become discouraged (Col 3,21). You,” said this bishop, “have caused your son to lose hope. […] For this reason, I beg you to pardon him this once for the sake of your own honour as well as mine, and he will make satisfaction for his misdeeds as you see fit, and you shall preserve him from despair and your family from shame.”
So then the king replied as follows, saying:
“Father, it displeased me greatly that courtesy should not have been shown to my prisoner in my own domains, and that he should not have been shown the kindliness that, in fact, behoves a man who is noble and royal like my son. For this reason, since you have begged me to do this and the arguments you have put forward are so reasonable, I forgive him, but wish him to give satisfaction to the sons of the deceased in such a way that they might be seated at his table at all times, and that he should present them with some notable gift in recompense for the harm done to them as a result of their father’s death.”
And thus was it done without delay, and the king’s son returned to his former estate.
OLD CATALAN VERSION
Llegim del rei Samuel de Licaònia que hom del món no gosava malparlar de negun son enemic en presència sua, car deia que malparlar de son enemic era fer d’ell venjança fembril e arlota. Llegim d’aquell mateix en la Història grega que son fill féu auciure un gran hom qui era son presoner, e com fos dit al pare e sabés que la causa era nul·la, respòs així:
Tres maneres hi ha de bacallars, ço és, bacallar pagès, e aquest és mal, car és bèstia; ha-hi bacallar noble, e aquest és pijor, car és llop maliciós; ha-hi bacallar real, e aquest és qui davalla de llinatge de reis, qui aitant com és major és pijor, car és diable batejat, ple de tots mals e sens tota vergonya e temor. E aital és mon fill, qui son presoner ha mort per sa gran bacalleria! Per què no vull d’aquí avant sia apellat mon fill ne haja part en ma terra, mas haja nom lo bacallar real.
E diu ací la Història oriental que lo fill, qui oí que son pare l’havia així llejament avorrit e desheretat, dix així:
Pus que mon pare m’apella bacallar real e m’ha tolt mon dret del regne, jo promet a Déu que d’aquí avant jo faré tostemps reals bacalleries!
E diu aquí que ajustà tots quants bacallars havia en la terra e proposà-los quals bacalleries poria fer qui fossen reals e de pes. E diu que consellaren-li que faés les següents. La primera, que presés per muller una putana e que tostemps estigués a son consell. La segona, que no perdonàs a vella ne a jove ne a monja ne a seglar ne a viuda ne a maridada, mas que totes les aontàs quantes ne pogués haver. La terça, que es faés robador públic e que no perdonàs a creatura. La quarta, que, si clergue negun deshonest li venia entre mans, o concubina d’aquell, que els faés despullar tots nuus, e aprés que els faés a tots plomar de cap a peus per guisa que no els romasés pèl en llur persona que no fos arrencat a raïl. La quinta, que no tingués fe ne veritat a creatura. La sisena, que tot plaer carnal se donàs, e tota llegea que pogués cometre comesés sens tota vergonya. E consellaren-li diverses altres lleis de bacalleria que la Història reconta, les quals no cur recitar, car contenen fort grans e lleges bacalleries e qui no es deuen dir.
Com ell, doncs, ordenant açò dins una poca vileta posada aprés un camí, passàs aquest Eusebi, reverent bisbe tripolitanus, preseren-lo aquells qui anaven amb lo dit jove, e com lo li menassen davant ja tot pelat e plomat e mig despullat, e lo bisbe amb sobirana paciència soferís tot ço que li feien, e aprés lo bisbe sabés lo jove qui era ne per què era aquí ne ço que havia tan follament ordenat, dix-li així:
Fill, ton pare te pot apellar bacallar, emperò tu no pots ésser aital sinó per tes males obres. Per què, fill, no menyspreus tu mateix ne la tua ànima, ne faces de tu mateix goig a tos enemics, car apte t’ha fet Déus a molt de bé, per què no ho vulles convertir en mal, ne faces coses qui et procurarien tost lleja mort en lo cos e pus lleja mort en l’ànima. Torna-te’n, doncs, al teu pare e humilia’t als seus peus, car així ho deus fer, e no t’és minva, ans t’és honor, car així es pertany de bon fill, e confessa ta colpa humilment davant la sua cara e provocar-l’has a pietat, e aconseguiràs misericòrdia sua e tornar-t’ha al primer estament.
E diu que aquest jove conec lo sant consell que li dava lo dit sant bisbe e, tot edificat de la sua paciència e de les sues bones paraules, dix que tendria son consell, mas pregà’l que ell anàs primer a son pare e que l’ablanís, car era hom fort brau. E lo bisbe ho féu així. E com lo bisbe fos amb lo pare dix-li així:
Senyor, jatsia que, segons que dix Salamó, bon pare dega tenir al fill a prop la verga de càstig perquè sia bo (Prov 13,24), emperò lo càstig deu ésser amb mesura per guisa que lo fill no vinga a desesperació. Per tal deia sant Pau als pares que no volguessen los fills posar en amargor gran, e açò per tal que no es desesperassen (Col 3,21). Vós —dix aquest—, havets vostre fill portat a desesperació. […] Per què us prec que li perdonats aquesta vegada per honor vostra mateixa e mia, e ell farà satisfacció de son defalliment a vostra coneixença, e guardar-l’ets de desesperació e la vostra casa de vergonya.
E llavors lo rei respòs així:
Pare, lleja cosa m’és estada que a mon presoner no sia feta cortesia en ço del meu, ne li sia ensenyada aquella amistat qui es pertany de fet a hom generós e real així com és mon fill. Per què, pus vós me’n pregats e tan raonablement hi havets al·legades vostres provacions, jo li perdó, mas vull que satisfaça als fills del mort així que tostemps siguen en sa taula, e els faça de present alcun assenyalat do en recompensació del damnatge a ells dat per la mort del pare.
E així estec fet decontinent, e el fill del rei tornà en lo primer estament.