Just Like a Mother Bee: Reading and Writing Vitae Metricae around the Year 1000
Viator 36 (2005)
In the late tenth or early eleventh century, Johannes, monk of Saint-Amand, sent his verse Vita Rictrudis (BHL 7248) to Rainerus, a monk of Ghent who was the author of several works of prose hagiography. Rainerus replied in a short highly allusive letter, in which he likened Johannes to a mother bee (mater apes).
Denique quia aeternam vitam esurientibus, veluti mater apes paradysi depasta flores, offertis canistrum dulcedine mellis refertum ac lumine fidei plenum satisque honeste ac lucide arte magistra decoratum, gratanter illud suscipimus sicut caelestem thesaurum aeternaeque memoriae commendare desideramus per omne aevum …
Rainerus combines diverse sources to form the striking image of the monastic author, Johannes, as mater apes. In this twenty-three-line letter, the reader Rainerus, like the poet Johannes, draws on numerous canonical works and melds them into his own text.