Introduction Button Assurbanipal Button Blumberg Button Book Curse Button Damnation in the Curses Button Excommunication in the Curses Button Anathema in the Curses Button Negative Impacts Button Conclusion Button Works Cited Button

Damnation in Book Curses

Damnation was an effective tool for the thief who was not caught by human hands as punishments like excommunication and anathema required participation by the Church to condemn and ostracise the bibliomaniac for his or her actions. Damnation was between the soul and the Creator and therefore did not require the intervention of a human institution other than the curse itself. The book thief who successfully stole a book would therefore still answer for the crime even if their identity was undetected in the earthly life. An example of this type of curse was recorded by Drogin from a 16th century missal in France:

Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this book from this place may his soul suffer, in retribution for what he has done, and may his name be erased from the book of the living and not recorded among the Blessed" (70).

Removing a person's name from the book of the living was the same as damnation because, in Christian tradition, that volume contained all of the names of people who would receive eternal life (Drogin, 70). Another example is included which includes the use of damnation along with two innovations to the standard curse: the use of rhyming and the fragmentation of visual field . Drogin provides both the original Latin and a loose translation and arrangement into English:


Sor sup no scrip li poti
te er rum tor bri atur
Mor inf no rap li mori


wrote procure joys life supernal
May he who this book the of
steals endure pangs death infernal (90-1)

This book curse celebrates the accomplishment of the scribe in completing the copy which was a massive undertaking but also condemns the thief with damnation for stealing the text. The twining of the words in this way links visually the closeness of the two opposing activities: creating and illegally acquiring the text. In fact, both activities do have the common link in that they are inspired by a love of books and it is that love of books that is the thread between the two actions.




Created by Sandra Anderson, March 2003.