minstrel: Titivillus

Scolace Bookwyrm at innocent.com
Sat Dec 20 17:24:46 PST 1997

Astrid Sverige wrote on the SCA Minstrels list,

> I have discovered the location of the book which contained the
> reference to the patron demon of calligraphers.  The book is
> _Medieval Calligraphy: Its history and technique_ by Marc
> Drogin.  
> "I am a pure dyvel and my name ys Tytyvylus."
> The first reference to Titivilus by name appears in _Tractatus
> de Penitentia_, c. 1285 by John of Wales.  Petrus de Palude also
> commented "Fragmina psalmorum/Titivillus colligit horum"
> (Titivillus collects bits of the psalms.)
> He listened for verbal atrocities in religious services as well
> as those of copying and writing.  He became a patron of
> calligraphers because he absolved them of guilt since they could
> blame him for their errors.

And after wasting a lot of time, I decided to do something.

Disclaimer:  This was not done in a deliberately period style.  I 
highly doubt the style is accidentally period.  I know better, and 
ought to have put more effort into a period form as well as the 

Nonetheless . . .

             by Scolace Michaels

     Titivillus is a cruel thief
     Of the calligrapher's fierce toil
     O'er pages wrought for King and God
     That demon who perfection spoils

     The pages wrought for King and God
     In even lines, flowing and smooth
     Each letter is perfect in itself
     But the whole is marked by demon's tooth

     Each letter perfect in itself
     Yet makes up words that are not right
     For a monk must be celibate,
     Not celebrate, as one did write

     Aye, a monk must be celibate
     And resist ev'ry demon's lure
     Yet even in scriptorium
     Titivillus lurks for sure

     Yet even in scriptorium
     Where monks loyal and celibate
     Form letters perfect in themselves
     In pages for King and God writ
     Tittivilus dwells

Criticism, of course, is most welcome.


Anything not nailed down is mine. Anything I can pry loose is not nailed down.

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