~ language and poetry ~
- 7 -


unknown author, 13th century

(skip the introduction)

Le miracole de Roma is a methodical description of the city's highlights, the earliest guide known not written in Latin. In fact, editions of the more famous Mirabilia Urbis Romae were available as of the 12th century, about a hundred years earlier, but written in medieval Latin.
Most of the text of Le miracole de Roma is basically a translation of the aforesaid Mirabilia, as the following excerpts show:

(from Le miracole de Roma)

8. De Capitolio. Capitolio, lo quale era capo de lo munno, dove stavano li consoli et li senatori ad regere tutto lo munno. Et lo monte intorno era murato de mura forte et alte. Et sopre la cima de lo monte tutte le mura erano de belle opere adornate, de auro et de vitro. Et infra la rocca de lo palazo de molte belle opere adhornate, de rame, de argento, de auro et de prete pretiose, ke forse speculo ad tutti genti. [...]
(from Mirabilia Urbis Romae)

24. Capitolium, quod erat caput mundi, ubi consules et senatores morabantur ad gubernandum orbem, cuius facies cooperta erat muris altis et firmis, diu super fastigium montis vitro et auro undique coopertis et miris operibus laqueatis. Infra arcem palatium fuit miris operibus, auro et argento et ere et lapidibus pretiosis perornatum, ut esset speculum omnibus gentibus. [...]

Capitolium. It was the head of the world, where the consuls and the senators stood, to rule over the whole world. The hill was encircled with tall and strong walls. And on top of the hill all the walls were adorned with nice works, in gold and glass. And inside the citadel the palace was adorned with nice works, in copper, silver, gold and precious stones, so to represent all the populations. [...]

Both works consist of short paragraphs, sorted by theme. However, their total number is different: Le miracole de Roma comprises 63, versus the 32 of the Mirabilia; the former not only includes a greater number of themes, but also some additional descriptions that in the Mirabilia's relevant paragraphs are missing. However, some paragraphs in Le miracole de Roma are slightly shorter than the relevant passages in the Mirabilia.
Also the ordering of the paragraphs is different, as can be told by comparing the numbers of the previous sample passage about the Capitolium. Le miracole de Roma starts with the Vatican, for obvious reasons, and continues with some important sites (the Campus Martis, the Forum, the Circus Maximus, etc.), it features a methodic list of monuments (obelisks, columns, statues, arches, bridges, and so on), up to the final description of the papal notaries and their charges, and the thirteen districts of Rome (which in the Mirabilia Urbis Romae are missing).

This is also one of the first written documents, i.e. an official source, in which a boundary line between the new language and Latin is clearly drawn; there is no doubt that in the spoken language such change had already taken place a long time before, but not in the written language, which very few people could access, apart from the clergy, which for many centuries still kept using Latin.
Le miracole de Roma definitely shows an 'Italian' structure; the use of articles, the conjugation inflections almost completely abandoned, the verbs and their position within the sentence, all these elements point towards the modern language, despite being still very archaic, and not completely freed from the Latin scheme, starting from the same name of the work, in which miracole means "things to be seen", in the Latin sense of the word (from mirare = to look at, to see).

This text, and the Mirabilia in earlier times, were basically written for the benefit of the many pilgrims who flocked to St.Peter's basilica, all round the year. Having to face journeys that turned out very long, dangerous, and often gruelling, in order to reach the apostle's tomb, we may think that many of them, once reached their goal, also payed a short visit to the Eternal City, which was said to harbour wonderful and legendary remains, before setting off on their return journey. After all, Leo's City (as the Vatican area was known in those days), located on the western bank of the Tiber, was only a suburban borough made of huts, shops and hostels, where the many languages spoken by the foreign communities that lived there (Saxons, Franks, Spanish, Friesians, etc.) mingled together.

Some of the themes dealt with, for instance the city bridges, the hills, the baths, the same streets, are merely listed as a sequence of names:

24. De le vie de Roma.
Le vie foro XXVIII: Traiana, Appia, Latina, Lavicana, Penestrina, Tiburtina, Numentana, Salaria Vetere et Nova, Flaminea, Emilia,
24. Rome's streets.
The streets were 28: Trajan, Appian, Latin, Labican, Prenestine, Tiburtine, Nomentana, New and Old Salaria, Flaminian, Emilia, [...]

But for the main monuments and buildings a description is also provided, with some history, often mixed with elements of fantasy. For instance, in paragraph 38, De le arcora triumphale de Roma (Triumphal arches of Rome), among others we find:

[...] ad Sancto Marco arcus lo quale se voca Manus Carnea. Et in quello tempo Dyoclitianus commannao ke sancta Lucia forse menata et martoriata pro la fede de Christo, et quello ke li fera incontenente fo admarmorito, se non solo le mane, ke remasero de carne, et inperz quello loco ne vocato ad Manus Carneas. [...] arch by St.Mark, referred to as Manus Carnea (i.e. "fleshy hands"). In those times Diocletian ordered saint Lucy to be taken and martyrized because of her faith in Christ, and the executioner was instantly turned into marble, except his hands alone, which remained of flesh, therefore that place is referred to as Manus Carnea.

With regard to the language structure, to call this a "dialect" may seem too early, although some elements already present in the text, mostly borrowed from Latin, remained unmodified, or very similar, in the roman dialect.
A few examples, that compare the original version with roman dialect and Italian equivalents:

archaic Italian

Roman dialect

modern Italian


tutti li imperatori de Roma tutti l'imperatori de Roma tutti gli imperatori di Roma all Roman emperors
he/she ordered
et mo' se clama... e m se chiama... e adesso si chiama... and now it is called...
solo le mane solo le mano solo le mani only the hands
de fore de fora di fuori outside
we have
we see
we want

Therefore, it is already dialect, as far as this language reflected the local speech, distinguishing itself from those used in other areas, yet at a very early stage, and still far from being sufficiently consolidated by a long tradition.

In conclusion, Le miracole de Roma maintains intact the allure of its medieval language but, at the same time, it already features the early basis upon which Rome's dialect would have gradually developed, century after century.


  1 - Nero's palace.33 - When Octavianus had a vision in the sky.
  5 - Hadrian's Castle.44 - The main gates of Rome.
15 - The Circus games.46 - Primicerius.
16 - Things that were in the Circus.47 - Secundicerius.
30 - Santa Maria Rotonda.48 - Nomenculator.
31 - When Santa Maria Rotonda was turned into a church.49 - First defender.
32 - Constantine's horse.50 - Archarius.

De lo palazo de Nero.

Infra lo palaczo de Nero fo lo templo de dio Apolline, l dov'ne mo' Santa Petronella. Nanti lo quale palaczo ne la basilica la quale se clama Vatticano, et ne adhornata et facta de musivo et de vitro. Et inperz se clama Vatticano, ka li sacerdoti cantavano le loro sacrificia nanti lo templo de dio Apolline, et inperz tutta quella parte de la eclesia de Santo Petro se clama Vatticano. Et in quello loco era un altro templo, lo quale era Vestaro de Nero, lo quale se clama Sancto Andrea. Ad lato dov' la Memoria de Cesare, ne la gulia, dov' la splendevile cnere de Cesare, suso, ne lo melo. Et s como, esso vivente, tutto lo munno li fo subiecto, et cos, morto esso, fine ad la fine de lo munno starao subiecto ad eo lo munno. La quale memoria fo adhornata de tabole de rame, de sotto, et de lectere 'narate convenevilemente scripte. Et de sopre ad lo melo, dove iace l'ossa de Cesare, fo adhornato de auro et de pretiose prete, la dove fo scripto: Cesar tanto era, quanto tutto lo munno; Et mo' in micina sepultura ne recluso. Et quella memoria fo facta ad lo suo honore, sicomo la dicta memoria appare.

Nero's Palace.

Inside Nero's palace stood the temple of god Apollo, on the spot where now is St.Petronilla. In front of the said palace is the basilica known as Vatican, adorned and built by using mosaics and glass. And it is called Vatican, because the priests sang their rites in front of the temple of god Apollo, thus all that part of St.Peter's church is referred to as Vatican. And on that spot stood another temple, that once was Nero's Vestarium [changing room], and now is called St.Andrew. On one side, where Cesar's Burial is, stands the spire, the place where Cesar's great ashes are, high above, inside the sphere. And as the whole world was subject to him when he was alive, after his death the world will be subject to him until the end of time. The aforesaid memorial was adorned with a copper facing, in its bottom part, and with golden letters, solemnly written. Above, inside the sphere, where Cesar's bones rest, it was adorned with gold and precious stones, and these words were inscribed: Cesar was as great as the whole world; and now he is enclosed in a small grave. And that monument was built in his honour, as shown by the same burial.

De lo Castiello Adriano.

Et ad lato ad quello loco ne lo Castiello lo quale fo templo de Adriano imperatore, si como dice, et legemo, la storia de sancto Pietro. Et dice: La memoria de Adriano imperatore de molte granneze lo templo fo hedificato, et adhornato de granne prete et adhornato de diverse hystorie. Et in torno fo adhornato de cancella 'narate, con pavoni 'narati et uno bove; et li pavoni foro doi, li quali sonno ne lo Cantaro de paradiso. Et in IIIIor parti de lo Castello foro IIIIor caballi de rame 'narati, et in IIIIor parti foro porte de brunzo. Et ne lo giro de mieso fo lo pilo de lo porfiro de Adriano, lo quale stao in Laterani et iaceve Innocentio papa II. Et lo copertime stao in paradiso de Sancto Pietro, sopre lo pilo de lo Profecto. Et tutte queste cose sopre dicte appareano et erano facte pro lo dicto templo, et le polzelle de Roma giano spesso ad lo dicto templo con loro votora, sicomo dice Ovidio in libro Faustorum.

Hadrian['s] Castle.

And on one side of that site stands the Castle, which was the temple of emperor Hadrian, as the history of St.Peter says, and as it is read in it. It says: the temple built by emperor Hadrian's tomb was very large, adorned with large stones and various stories. All around it was adorned with golden gates, with golden pheasants and one ox; the pheasants were two, and they are now located by the cantharus in the courtyard [of St.Peter's]. On four sides of the castle were four golden horses made of bronze, and on four sides were bronze doors. In the central circle was the porphyry sarcophagus of Hadrian, which is now in the Lateran, and pope Innocent II lies in it. And its cover is in St.Peter's courtyard, over the grave of the Prefect. And all these things were seen by and made for the aforesaid temple, and the roman girls often visited this temple with their offerings, as Ovid wrote in the book Fasti.

De lo ioco de Circo.

Circus Prisci Tarquinii fo de molta belleze, et cos fo gradato ke nullo Romano offendea ad l'altro ad vedere lo ioco. Et intorno erano l'arcora ornate de vitro et de auro. Et intorno de sopre erano le case de lo Palazo, dove sedeano le femine ad vedere lo ioco: XIIII dies in kalende de madio se facea lo ioco. Et in meso erano doi agulie; la menore era LXXXII pedes et la maiure CXXIIII pedes. In sumitate ne l'arco triumphale; la dov' la Torre de l'Arco stava uno cavallo de rame 'narato ke parea ke facesse iusta s como cavallo ke volesse currere. Et ne l'altro arco, lo quale era in pede, stava un altro cavallo de rame 'narato si como volesse currere.

The Circus games.

The Circus of Tarquinius Priscius [Circus Maximus] was very beautiful, and had sloping sides so that no Roman covered the other while watching the games. And all around were arches adorned with glass and gold. And around, high above, were the houses of the Palace, where the women sat and watched the games: on the 14th day before May's kalendae (= April 18) the games were held. In the center were two spires; the smaller was 82 feet and the taller 124 feet. At the end is the triumphal arch; where stands the Arch Tower was a horse of gilted bronze, which looked just like a horse willing to run. And by the other arch, which stood at the bottom, was another horse of gilted bronze, as if willing to run.

De le cose ke foro in Circo.

Et tutte quelle cose foro portate da Constante imperatore, filio Eurachii, con tutto hornamento facto de rame, le quale portao seco in Sicilia lo tempo de papa Iuliano, et demorao kelle III anni, et poi fo da li soi occiso. Et quelle cose ke tulze ad Roma, li Saracini ke vennero de Alexandria et de Damasco, quelle cose senne portaro le quale foro de Roma. Et ne l'alteze de lo Palazo era la sede de lo imperatore et de la imperatrice, donne se vedeano lo ioco.

Things that were in the Circus.

All those things were brought by emperor Constant, son of Eurachius, with rich decorations made of copper, which he carried with him to Sicily at the time of pope Julian; he dwelt there three years, and then he was killed by his own people. And those things that had belonged to Rome and he had removed, were taken away by the Saracens, who had come from Alexandria and from Damascus. In the top part of the Palace was the seat of the emperor and the empress, who watched the games from that site.

De Sancta Maria Rotunda.

Ne lo tempo de li consoli et de li senatori, Agrippas prefectus subiugao ad li Romani et ad li senatori quelli de lo Conte de Suave et altri occidentali populi, con quattro legioni; et poi ke retornao ad Roma, la canpana de la statoa de Persida sonao, ke era in Capitolio, ne lo templo de Iovis et de Moneta. Et pro tutte le provincie de lo munno si era in Capitolio una statoa co la canpana ad collo; et incontenente ke la canpana sonava, li Romani connosceano quale provincia era rebella. De la quale canpana, lo sacerdote ke guardava la soa stimana lo templo, odo sonare la canpana. Disselo ad li senatori. Et li senatori lo dissero ad Agrippas prefecto. Et quello respuse ka non potea tanto fatigare; peto indutia ad li senatori III dies. Ne lo quale termine una nocte, per lo molto pensamento, se adormo. Et ad esso aparse una femina, la quale dixe ad esso: "Agrippa, ke pensi et que cogiti?"Et quello respuse: "Penso, Madonna". La quale li dixe: "Confortate et promettime de fare quello templo lo quale mustraraio ad ti, et diceraio se venceragi". Lo quale respuse: "Madonna, volentieri". Et in quella visione li mustrao lo templo in quello modo che lo fece. Lo quale disse ad essa: "Madonna, ki si' tu?". La quale respuse: "Io sonno Cybeles, matre de tutti li dei et faci sacrificio ad Neptuno, co lo quale serraio teco et venceragi". Et Agrippa se levao molto lieto et recitaolo infra li senatori. Et con granne ardimento co la soa cavalaria si gio et vicque tutta Persida, et feceli pacare onne anno tributo ad li senatori de Roma. Et retornao ad Roma et fece quello templo, et fecelo dedicare ad honore de Cybeles matre de tutti li dei, et de Neptuno, dio marino, et de tutte le demonia, et ad quello templo li puse nome Pantheon. Ad honore de Cybeles fece fare una statoa 'narata, la quale puse sopre una pingia 'narata, in cima de lo templo dove stao lo pertuso, et coperio la statua de molto bello cohoperimento de rame 'narato.

Santa Maria Rotonda.

In the time of consuls and senators, prefect Agrippa, with four legions, subjected to the Romans and to the senators the people of the Count of Soave and other Western people; and once returned to Rome, the bell of the statue of Persia, that stood on the Capitolium hill, in the temple of Jupiter and Moneta, rang. For each province of the world, on the Capitolium hill stood a statue with a bell hanging from its neck; and as soon as the bell rang, the Romans realized which province was rebelling. This bell was heard by the priest who during that week was on duty, taking care of the temple. He informed the senators. And the senators informed prefect Agrippa. He replied that he could not carry out such an effort; he asked the senators for a three-day term. During this time, one night, due to the long ponderation, he fell asleep. And a woman appeared to him, and she said to him: "Agrippa, what are you thinking, what are you pondering about?". And he replied: "I am thinking, my Lady". And she said to him: "Trust me, and promise me to build the temple I will show you, and I will tell you whether you will win". And he replied: "I will be happy to do so, my Lady". And during that vision, she showed him the temple, in the same way he built it. And he asked her: "My Lady, who are you?". She replied: "I am Cybele, mother of all the gods; offer a sacrifice to Neptune, who will be on your side, and you will win". And Agrippa woke up very happy and told the senators. And with great courage, he went with his cavalry, and he was victorious throughout Persia, and imposed a yearly tax for Rome's senators. He returned to Rome, built that temple, and he had it dedicated in honour of Cybele mother of all the gods, and of Neptune, sea god, and of all divinities, and gave that temple the name of Pantheon. In honour of Cybeles he had a golden statue made, which he placed above a golden pine-cone, atop the temple, where the hole was, and covered the statue with a beautiful cover of gilted copper.

Quanno fo facta ecclesia
Sancta Maria Rotunda.

Venne poi Bonifatius papa, ne lo tempo de Foca imperatore christiano, et vide quello templo si belledissimo, facto ad honore de Cybeles, matre de tutti li dei. Et molte fiate li christiani erano impedimentiti da le demonia. Et lo papa pregao lo imperatore ke concedesse ad esso quello templo. Et si como fo dedicato in kalende de novembro ad honore de Cybeles, et cos lo fece dedicare, quello templo, ad honore de la beata damma sancta Maria sempre virgine, la quale ne matre de tutti li santi. Lo quale templo lo imperatore lo dunao ad lo papa. Et Bonifatius papa, con tutto lo populo romano, ne la die de kalende de novembro, lo dedicao; et adordinao in quella die ke lo papa de Roma ve celebrasse la messa, et lo populo de Roma ve recipesse lo corpo et lo sangue de Christo. Et in quella die tutti li santi co la matre soa, damma sancta Maria sempre virgine, et co li angeli santi aiano festivitate, et li morti aiano parte de tutto lo sacrificio de lo munno pro assolutione de li loro peccati.

When Santa Maria Rotonda
became a church.

Later on came pope Boniface, at the time of the Christian emperor Foca, and saw such a beautiful temple, built in honour of Cybele, mother of all the gods. And the Christians were often tormented by demons. The pope begged the emperor to let him have that temple. And as it had been dedicated to Cybele on the kalendae of November (i.e. November 1), he had that temple dedicated to the holy lady saint Mary virgin, who is the mother of all the saints. The emperor gave the pope that temple. And pope Boniface, together with all the roman people, dedicated it on the day of the kalendae of November; and he decreed that on that day the pope of Rome would have celebrated mass there, and that the people of Rome would have received the body and blood of Christ. And that on that day all the saints with their mother, the lady saint Mary virgin, and with the saint angels would have been celebrated, and that the dead would have received a part of all the world's sacrifice for the absolution of their sins.

De lo caballo Constantino.

Ad Laterani ne uno caballo lo quale se clama Constantino; ma non ne vero. Et inpers ki vole sapere la veritate, lega questo libro. Ne le tempora de li consoli et de li senatori venne uno rege potentissimo in Ytalia da la parte de Oriente, et da la parte de Laterani assidiao Roma, et afflixe lo populo Romano de molte vattalie et de molti periculi. Et in quello tempo uno cavalieri de granne forma et de virtute et forte et ardito se levao, lo quale dixe ad li consoli et ad li senatori: "Se forse alcuno homo ke be liberasse da questa tribulatione, quanto fora remunerato da voi?". Li quali respusero et dixero: "Qualunqua cosa esso addemannasse, incontenente li fora dato". Lo quale dixe ad essi: "Volete ad mi dare XXX sexternas oncie de argento et la memoria de la victoria, complita la vattalia, de uno caballo de rame 'narato?" Et li senatori li impromisero de fare quanto sapea addemannare. Lo quale dixe: "Armeteve tutti et vengate de mesa nocte et stete ne le mura, po li meroli, et facerete quello ke be diceraio". Et li Romani fece incontenente quello ke li dixe. Lo quale cavalcao ne lo cavallo senza sella, et tulze la falce per presori nocti, et vide lo rege ad piedi de uno arbore ad fare suo ascio; et quanno lo rege gia, ne lo arbore stava una cucubaia ke semper cantava. Et quello gesso de Roma et secava la herba, la quale in fascio portava legata nanti de s, ad custume de scudieri. Lo quale incontenente ke odo la cucubaia cantare, adcostaose ad l'arbore et conube lo rege ke vena ad l'arbore. Et lo rege ga de sotto ad l'arbore ad fare suo ascio. Et li conpanioni ke erano co lo rege de quello credeano de li soi; presero ad gridare ke esso se levasse de la via nanti ad lo rege. Et quello nollo lassao per essi, ma se infense levare de quello loco et adcostaose ad lo rege, et per la molta soa forteze, desprezao tutti quelli, et prese lo rege co la mano et portaolo pesoli fi ad le mura de Roma, et prese forte ad gridare: "Gescate fore et occidate lo exercito de lo rege, inperz ka esso tengo in presone!". Et incontenente tutti li Romani gessiero fore, et quali occisero et quali misero in fuga, et tulzero innumerabile peccunia de auro et de argento, et retornao ad Roma con victoria, et pacaro quello ke promisero ad lo dicto cavalieri, XXXM sexterna de argento, et fecero fare uno caballo de rame 'narato senza sella pro memoria, et de sopre ad lo cavallo pusero esso con la dericta mano exstesa, co la quale prese lo rege, et ne lo' capo de lo cavallo pusero la memoria de la cucubaia, per lo canto de la quale fece la victoria. Et lo rege ke era de micina persona, si como lo prese, legate le mano dereto, per suo ardire, la memoria soa fecero et pusero so' lo pede de lo cavallo.

Constantine['s] horse.

By the Lateran is a horse named Constantine; but this is not true. So who wants to know the truth should read this book. In the time of consuls and senators, came to Italy from the eastern regions a very powerful king, and set Rome under siege on the side of town of the Lateran, distressing the Roman people with many battles and many endangerments. In those days a courtly knight of great virtue, strong and bold, uprose, and he said to the consuls and senators: "If there was a man who freed you from this trouble, how much would he be rewarded with?". They replied saying: "Anything he asked, would be immediately given to him". He asked: "Would you give me 30 thousand silver sesterces 1 and, as a monument in memory of my victory, once the battle is over, a horse of gilted copper?" The senators promised him to allow him what he had been able to ask. He said: "Each of you arm yourselves, and come at midnight, and remain by the walls, behind the buttresses, and do what I tell you to do". The Romans immediately did what he told them to do. He rode a horse without a saddle, and for several nights he took a sickle, and saw the king under a tree, where he rested; and when the king went there, on the tree was an owl that always sung. He left Rome, reaping the grass, which he carried tied into a bundle in front of him, in the fashion of a squire. As soon as he heard the owl sing, he approached the tree and realized that the king was coming towards it. The king was going under the tree to take a rest. And the men who were with the king thought that he was one of their people; they began yelling at him to move out of the king's way. He did not leave the spot because of them, but pretended to go away, and crept close to the king, and thanks to his great strength, in spite of each of them, he grabbed the king with his hand and carried him bodily up to Rome's walls, and started crying out loud: "Come out, and kill the king's army, as I keep him bound!". At once, all the Romans came out, killing some, chasing away the others, and they took from them a countless number of gold and silver coins; they returned to Rome victorious, and payed the aforesaid knight what they had promised him, 30 thousand silver sesterces, and had a gilted copper horse made without a saddle, in memory of this, and placed him over the horse with his right hand wide open, the one he had captured the king with, and over the horse's head they placed the figure of the owl, thanks to whose singing he had achieved this victory. And they had the figure of the king, who was of small build, made just as he had captured him thanks to his courage, with his hands bound behind him, and placed it under the horse's hoof.

1 - The original word sexternas may be a hybrid term created by the unknown chronicler, blending sestertius, silver roman coin of the original value of 2 1/2 asses (5 ounces, or 1/4 of a denarius), later reduced to the value of 4 asses during the Punic Wars, and sextans, bronze coin worth 1/6 of an as (2 ounces).
The apparent numeric discrepancy between "30 sesterces" (at the beginning of the paragraph) and "30 thousand sesterces" (towards the end) may be explained with the following difference:
  • sestertius: silver coin (see above);
  • sestertium: one thousand sesterces.
    According to Nonius (4th century AD), the neutre form sprung from the common use of the genitive sestertium after milia ("thousand"), so that sestertium (not mentioning milia) was initially given the meaning of 1000 sesterces, and later on it was used by itself as a neutre noun, septem sestertia, "seven thousand sesterces" (Horace).
    However, the Mirabilia's text says: Date michi XXX milia sextertias..., "give me 30 thousand sesterces", so this may also be due to an omission by the chronicler (but in this case we should better call him a translator) in turning the Latin text into early Italian.

  • 33
    Quanno vide la visione
    Octabiano in celo.

    Ne lo tempo de Octabiano imperatore, li senatori vedenno esso de tanta belleze, lo quale nullo homo potea sostenere ne li oculi loro, et de tanta prosperitate et de tanta pace ka tutto lo munno facea ad s tributo; et dixero ka lo voleano adorare, ka santitate era in s, et se vero non forse, non vnnera prospere tutte le cose ad esso. Et Octabiano dixe, et ademannao termine da li senatori et fece vocare la Sibilla Tybertina ad esso, et tutto quello ke li senatori li aveano dicto, dixe ad la Sybilla. La quale peto termine tre dii. Et la Sibilla ieiunao tre dii in quello palazo et poi respuse ad Octabiano et dixe: "Misre imperatore, questo ne lo sinno de lo iudicio. Lo tuo sudore refonnerao la terra. De celo deo venire lo rege de lo munno, se licentia forse ad ti de vederelo". Et incontenente fo aperto lo celo et molto splendore descese sopre esso, et Octabiano vide in celo una virgine coronata molto belledissima sopre una altare molto bella, et tenea in brachio uno infante. Et Octabiano senne deo molta mirabilia, et odo una voce cos dicenno: "Questa ne l'altare de lo filio de Dio". Et Octabiano incontenente se iectao in terra et adorao Christo. La quale visione poi dixe ad li senatori, et quelli molta mirabilia senne diero. Et questa visione fo ne la camera de Octabiano imperatore la dov'ne la ecclesia de Sancta Maria in Capitolio, et da quello nanti fo clamata Sancta Maria in Ara Celi.

    When Octavianus had
    a vision in the sky.

    At the time of emperor Octavianus, the senators, in seeing him so magnificent, as to their eyes nobody compared to him, and bringer of so much prosperity and so much peace that the whole world acclaimed him, said that they wanted to worship him, that he was betowed with holiness, and that had this not been true, he would have not been so propsperous in everything. Octavianus spoke, and asked the senators to fix a term; he had the Tiburtine sibyl called to him, and informed the sibyl of what the senators had told him. She asked for a three-day term. The sibyl fasted for three days in that palace, and then answered Octavianus, telling him: "For pity's sake, emperor, this is the sing of judgement. Your deeds will found again the earth. The king of the world must come from the heavens, and maybe you are allowed to see him". And in that very moment the sky opened, and a great light fell upon him, and Octavianus saw in the heavens a beautiful young lady with a crown, on a very nice altar, who carried in her arms a child. And Octavianus was very amazed, and heard a voice saying: "This is the altar of the son of God". And Octavianus threw himself to the ground at once, and worshipped Christ. Then he told the senators about this vision, and they were very amazed about it. This vision took place in emperor Octavianus' chamber, on the spot where the church of Santa Maria in Campidoglio stands, and henceforth it has been called Santa Maria in Ara Coeli.

    De le porte principale de Roma.

    Le principale porte de Roma sonno queste, le quale erano de rame dentro, et de fore de ferro: Porta Capena, la quale se clama de Sancto Paulo, ad lato ad lo sepolcro de Remo; Porta Appia, ad la quale aparse Christo ad lo beato Petro, et questa porta abbe doe vie, la via de Accia et la via de Ardia; Porta Latina, la dove sancto Ianni fo messo ne la conca plena de oleo buliente; Porta Metroni; porta Asinarica si ne quella de Laterani; Porta Lavicana, la quale se dice Maiure, et inperz se dice Maiure, ka sonno doi porte conionte et vicine, s de fore et s de dentro, si bene ne manifesto ad quelli ke le vedo bene, et zaskeduna abe la via soa; et l'altra ne clusa, la dov' la ecclesia de Sancto Barnaba, quella ne la porta Lavicana, et quella via ga ad civitate Lavicana, la quale fo la dov' la ecclesia de Sancto Cesari, ke fo antiquo episcopato, lo quale fo de Toscolana; l'altra porta ne..., la quale guarda ad la via Pompeiana voi Pelestrina, la quale via ne alta et spatiosa, ad differentia de quella ke ne la menore, et dicese la maiure; Porta Ta[u]rina, inperz ke b'ne scolpito uno capo de bove dopplo, secco et verde; lo secco ne de fore et significa quelli ke macri intravano in Roma; lo verde oi lo grasso, de dentro, significa quelli ke gessiano grassi de Roma; et questa porta Ta[u]rina se dice porta Sancto Laurentio voi Tiburtina; Porta Nummentana; Porta Salaria; questa porta ao doi vie: Salaria vetere, la quale vao ad ponte Molli, et la nova, la quale vao ad ponte Salaro; Porta Pinciana; Porta Flamminea; Porta Collina, ad lato ad lo castiello Adriano. Queste sonno le porte de Trastebere: Porta Septemniana; Porta Aurelia voi Aurea; Porta Portuensis.

    The main gates of Rome.

    Rome's main gates, that were made of copper inside, and of iron outside, are the following ones: Porta Capena, which is referred to as San Paolo, on one side of Remus' tomb; Porta Appia, by which Christ appeared to St. Peter, and this gate has two roads, the Appian way and the Ardeatine way; Porta Latina, the site where St.John was placed into a cauldron filled with boiling oil; Porta Metronia; Porta Asinaria is the Lateran's one; Porta Labicana, which is called Maggiore, and it is said Maggiore because it is made of two adjoining gates, very close one another, both on the inner side and on the outer side, as it clearly appears to whom looks at them carefully, and each of them has its own road; one of the two is closed, where is the church of St.Barnabas: that one is porta Labicana, and that road led to the city of Labico, which stood where the church of St.Caesar is,1 and it was an ancient bishopric belonging to the Tuscola diocese; the other gate is...2, which follows the direction of via Pompeiana or Prenestina, a long and broad road, unlike the other, smaller, and it is referred to as the greater; Porta Taurina, because there is a relief of a double ox head, a bone one and a lively one; the bone one is on the outside, and represents the skinny ones [oxen] that entered Rome; the lively or fat one, on the inside, represents the ones that left Rome well fed; and this porta Taurina is referred to as Porta San Lorenzo or Tiburtina; Porta Nomentana; Porta Salaria; also this gate has two roads: old Salaria, which leads to Mollo Bridge 3, and the new one, which leads to Salario bridge; Porta Pinciana; Porta Flaminia; Porta Collina, on one side of Hadrian's Castle. These are the gates in Trastevere: Porta Settimiana; Porta Aurelia or Aurea; Porta Portuense.3

    1 - This site may coincide with the modern San Cesareo, a small village along via Casilina (once via Labicana), more or less where the ancient Labicum stood.

    2 - The one whose name is omitted actually is the eastern archway of the same Porta Maggiore, known in ancient times as Porta Naevia or Porta Praenestina.
    For pictures and further details about this gate and the following Porta Tiburtina, see Aurelian's Walls, eastern side.

    3 - Present names: Milvio Bridge, Porta Portese.

    De Primocerio.

    Primocerio si ne prima mano. Li Greci, de la mano dico chera. Primocerio adpo li Greci dico papia. Et esso deo habere guardia de li clavi de lo palazo, et deo essere honorato adpo lo imperatore. Et de die et de nocte deo stare ne lo palazo.


    Primicerius stands for first hand. The Greeks call the hand chera. The primicerius is called papia by the Greeks. He must watch over the keys of the palace, and must be honoured [as second in rank] after the emperor. He must remain inside the palace night and day.

    De Secundocerio.

    Secundocerio si ne secunda mano. Adpo li Greci ne clamato Deptereu. Et deo essere honorato ne lo palazo. Et kello deo stare nocte ed die, et de le corone et de tutte le vestimenta de le feste, le quale se veste lo imperatore, esso le deo avere in guardia.


    Secundicerius stands for second hand. The Greeks call him Deptereu. He must be honoured inside the palace. He must stay [there] night and day, and must watch over the crowns and all the ceremonial robes worn by the emperor.

    De Numenculatore.

    Numenculator in lengua greca, adpo noi se clama questore. Esso deo avere cura de le vidue, de li orphani et de li poveri, et nanti esso se deo disputare de le testamenta.


    The Greek language term Nomenculator,1 is called a questor in our country. He must take care of widows, orphans and the poor, and the disputes concerning testaments must be held in front of him.

    1 - this does not correspond to the matching passage in the Mirabilia Urbis Romae, which reads: The Latin Nomenculator is called questor by the Greeks.

    De Primo Defensore.

    Primus defensore in lengua latina, adpo li Greci se clama prohecdicis, lo quale deo avere homini so ss, li quali defennano la sedia de lo imperatore.

    First defender.

    What in Latin is the First defender is called prohecdicis by the Greeks; he must have men under him, who are to defend the imperial seat.1

    1 - another mistake, as the Mirabilia says sedem imperi, i.e. "the seat of the empire", while this text says "the emperor's throne".

    De Archario.

    Archarius, lo quale era clamato secreto, et de sapere le secrete cose et le consilia de lo imperatore, et de recoliere lo incenso de lo imperatore.


    Archarius was called 'secret'.1 He must know the emperor's secret things and decisions, and carry out the census for the emperor.2

    1 - the Mirabilia Urbis Romae explains more clearly that Archarius, so called after archano (i.e. "secret") . . . .

    2 - this might be a further mistake; recoliere lo incenso sounds as "collect incense", while the Mirabilia Urbis Romae describes this duty as colligere censum ("carry out a census"). The medieval translator may have mistaken the translation of "census" with "incense" (Latin: tus; Italian: incenso).

    The relevant passage in the Mirabilia briefly mentions a few more charges: the saccellarius, who cared for nuns in monasteries, the protoscriniarius, first treasure-keeper, the bibliothecarius, or librarian, and the referendarius, the emperor's official reader of all written texts.

    a further paragraph, 2 De lo Cantaro de Santo Pietro , is published (with a translation)
    ROMAN MONOGRAPHIES - Fountains, part I, page 2