image of medieval king (11th century)

Week 10: Gesta Romanorum: Jovinianus

Background | Background Quiz | Starting Assumptions | Resources
Vocabulary | Etymology | Grammar
Reading Overview | Quiz: English
| Quiz: Latin | Latin Composition
Discussion Questions | Checklist | Perseus Dictionary | Perseus Tool

Discussion Questions

Please choose 3 of the following questions to answer and send your response in an email to the instructor ( Each answer should be a solid paragraph (150-250 words for each English discussion question, 500-750 words for the overall assignment).

You should then post your answers to the class Discussion Board. You need to have sent the email and posted your answers by Friday midnight. At some point you will also be posting at least two replies to comments posted by the other students; you may do that at any time during the week, until Monday midnight.

1. The world of Jovinianus. Jovinianus has his identity stolen from him so completely and totally that nobody can recognize him. Who are the kinds of people that are part of Jovinianus's world -- who does he go to for recognition? What can we learn about medieval society from the kinds of people that Jovinianus comes into contact with as he looks for someone to affirm his identity. What about the animal world: what animals are part of Jovinianus's world and should be expected to recognize him?

2. Recognition tokens and signs. One important element in Jovinianus' story is the special "signs" that Jovinianus and his wife have so that they can recognize each other. They are verbal signs, since Jovinianus has lost all his material possessions: What do you think these signs could be? Take a look at another famous couple, Odysseus and Penelope: what special sign or signal do they have so they can recognize each other? Can you think of any modern equivalent to these private signs and passwords? How do we "prove" to someone else who we are?

3. Early English Jovinianus. Take this early English translation of Jovinianus, and turn the words into modern English; you will probably need to use the Latin to help you!

IOvinianus [was] regnyng a wys Emperour in the cite of Rome; and he was riche in possessions. Hit happid þat he thougt in a nygt, as he lay in his bed, whethir þere be any god withoute me? And when he aros, he callid his knygtis & Squiers, and seid, "sers, loke ye be redy, for I woll go hunte to day." Anon thei yede to hunte; and as þemperour rode by the wey, þere toke him a grete hete, and þat so strongly, þat him thougt he was ny ded, but he may haue refresshing of water. And anon þere ros a clowde, so derk and so thik, þat hit hundrid, & hit assundrid, & departid him fro all þe people. So as he rode by him self, he saw a water afore him; & he smote the hors with his sporis, and yede in to þe water, and þere did of all his clothing, and kelid him in þe water. And as he was in the water, þere come a man in his owen lyknesse, but he saw him not; and he toke the Emperours clothing, and clothid him therewith, and lept vpon the Emperours hors, and rode forth to the Emperours men, as he had be emperoure him self; and as Emperour he was receiued, & turnyd home with hem to þe paleis.

4. Guardian angel and confessor. Both the guardian angel and the hermit who is Jovinianus' confessor are involved in his redemption. What is the role of the guardian angel? What is the role of the confessor? What does Jovinianus have to do to redeem himself from sin? How could the extraordinary events of this story provide a lesson to an everyday sort of person? Do you see some similarities between this story and the popular film It's a Wonderful Life, for example?

5. Reflecting on the week. Take a look back at what you wrote as your "starting assumptions" for this week, and look at the starting assumptions of the other students in the class. Did anything you read or studied this week make a big change in your starting assumptions? Did the assignment turn out to be pretty much what you expected? More interesting? Less interesting? What surprised you the most? If you were going to continue with this topic, what kind of research and reading would you want to do? What questions are still left unanswered?

6. Grammar revelations. Did you have a Latin grammar crisis this week? Did you get through it? What did you learn? Is there something you grasped this week that was never really clear to you before? A grammar epiphany? Is there something you are still really struggling with? What do you do when you are having trouble understanding a passage in Latin? Where do you look for help? In general, was the reading this week easier or harder than expected? What are you going to concentrate on in your Latin work in the coming week?

7. Website critique. Pick one of the websites that you visited this week as part of your work for this class (it could be a website about this week's topic, or a website for learning Latin). Provide a link to the site, and a brief desription of its contents. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this website? Who would find this website useful? What did you use this website for? What did you find there? Do you think you will visit this website again?

Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM