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ORIGO GENTIS LANGOBARDORUM, by Georg Waitz, MGH, SSrrLang, Hannover 1878
Part of the Origo Project ~ Courtesy of
Project started in January 2005, updated in January 2005

Introduction to the "Project Origo" 
by fravia+

I have decided to give my own lasting contribution to the web. Just an attempt, anyway. Might as well throw it up in the air to see how well it gets shot down.

Fittingly with my past studies, my contribution will consist in the accurate scanning of some great early medieval sources. I have decided, to begin with, to spread into the deep Web the complete collated version of the Origo Gentis Langobardorum, that I have scanned from Georg Waitz's "massgebende" (authoritative) edition, in MGH (Monumenta Germaniae Historica) SSrrLang (Scriptores rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum saec. VI-IX), Hannover 1878. This text was not available on the web (until now) together with its fundamental footnotes and variants.

The importance of giving anybody full access to THE authoritative editions of all fundamental sources for medieval -and more generally historical- studies doesn't need much underlining: Seeking the web (or perusing most universities' libraries) you can and will find - Alas!  - only superficial, almost useless, editions of the original latin texts... provided you'll find latin editions at all, since most (so-called) "universities" now teach history of the middle ages using just translations instead than the real collated texts.
To-day universities are, at least for early medieval studies, in a phase of complete decadence: incompetent teachers and an absolute lack of basic knowledge wherever you look. In fact the average university of today is, from a knowledge and competence point of view, in a situation waaay worse than any average "gymnasium" from 150 years ago :-(
150 years ago a good gymnasium professor -geschweige denn a university professor- knew latin, greek and maybe Sanskrit as well: today university professors, in comparison, don't know shit from shinola.

Take, for instance, the names variants in the footnotes of any authoritative edition of the sources (like this very Origo Gentis Langobardorum now in your hands): such variants possess an incredible importance, especially when trying to understand which may have been the correct spelling of a given name, since names are among the words most prone to errors when copying: the copists imprecisions being due to the linguistic and historical gap vis-à-vis the events they are writing down. Imagine what you yourself would actually write down, if someone would suddendly dictate for you a list of -say- medieval polish names :-)
Unfortunately today "historians" often enough do not really *use* (nor mostly would know how to use) the authoritative sources. Ok, they do cite them allright, since they "must" be cited, but they seldom use them. Yet sources (massgebende Quellen) must not only be just regularly used, but rather thoroughly "squeezed", in order to extract out of them even their lightest and smallest hints, each one of which is more worth than a 200 pages long 'trendy' secondary study.

Once again, names and names variants are for the early medieval centuries (and, come to think of it, for today's web as well), one of the very few historical crumbs we may be able to chew. Their importance, especially for the historical timespan described in the Origo, is paramount. For, in the early middle ages, Parchment (Pergamene, Pergament, Parchemin, Pergamena) was used, which is somehow similar to the web-bytes I'm writing this onto: it is in fact re-writable! Yup, scripts may disappear, not unlike our ephemerical web of bytes!
You can indeed scratch a parchment text -with a stone- back to white, deleting (almost completely) the original text -or any previous writing- in the process. That's the reason so few early medieval sources have survived. And the Origo is one of those few.
The story of the Longobards is but an example. But a very interesting one: Once you have read the Origo, (together of course with at least the Codex Gothanus and Paul's Historia Langobardorum) you will know almost as much as anyone else can about a decisive historical span of almost 300 years, over an area as big as half Europe.
The problems will begin when you'll try to squeeze such few lines into a coherent interpretation :-)

But even the six pages of the Origo alone will allow us to gather rock-solid data with some simple exegesis techniques, as I hope to show. For these reasons I have accompanied this edition of Waitz's Origo with an introduction to the Origo that I have written myself, whose purpose, as stated, is not only to "illustrate some basic text exegesis techniques", which were as useful yesterday, as they are today and will be tomorrow, but also "to spread old half-forgotten lore in times of decadence", teaching how history of the early middle ages should be studied (but, alas, isn't).

For instance the Origo has only six pages, but six pages of historical primary DATA, not of opinions of somebody that may - or may not- have read the sources and their variants. Armed with such DATA, you yourself will be able to check, or confute any historical interpretation of those times, or even propose a new (and probably rather solid) one. Welcome to concrete "hard bricks" history.

Of course I am aware of the fact that the Monumenta Germaniae (MGH) themselves have now decided to scan and publish all the sources, and have promised to do so before 2010. So sooner or later Waitz's work would have been published on the web anyway. Well, now it will be sooner :-)
Moreover - Alas! - This MGH enterprise seems to be just another crippled commercial project, similar to the one some clowns developed, through Proquest, for Migne's Patrologia latina, and the MGH choices seem also to exclude their own "in usum scholarum" series.

While I'm confident that soon or later all important medieval sources will be freely available on the web (legally or illegally :-) I'm at the same time worried that the beastly commercial morons may want to call the rules of the game, and -as usual- choose irrelevant crap over fundamental texts. Hence I am gladly throwing two "perennial" cents of mine into their grinding wheels.
Since no copyright whatsoever can be imposed on books edited in 1878, I have decided to publish these texts myself brevi manu :-P

I have decided to port everything to plain good ole HTML, respectintg the original edition formattings by Waitz. Read, or Print, and enjoy, it's now free for all!

Don't forget that the punctuation is from Waitz, and does NOT appear, of course, inside the original codici.
This is important: the position of a single comma may change everything! As Sielaff pointed out, the following passage from the Origo (later used by Paul for his Historia): " nomen secundae Walderada, quam habuit uxorem Scusuald rex Francorum, quam odio habens, tradidit eam Garipald in uxorem. Filia regis Herulorum tertiam uxorem habuit nomen Silinga; de ipsa habuit filium nomine Waltari..." can be read differently if we just change Waitz's punctuation and use a different (and probably more solid
 :-) variant: " nomen secundae Walderada, quam habuit uxorem Scusuald rex Francorum, quam odio habens, tradidit eam Garipald in uxorem, filio regis Herulorum. Tertiam uxorem habuit nomen Silinga; de ipsa habuit filium nomine Waltari..." ("Filio", instead of "filia" in the codex Matritensis, see Waitz edition, and note that the possibility of a direct connection between Erules and Bavarians is not *that* far-fetched: the Langobards conquered the Erules in 505 ~ 512 and occupied Bohemia immediately thereafter).


This is of course a long-winded project, that will remain in fieri for some time.

HTML format, font sizes and colors have been chosen in order to be optimally seen ON LINE with a Opera browser with the option "full screen mode" (just press the taste F11).
Use such option and each page with all relative notes will be perfectly visible on a single 17' screen. Just align the brown bar that precedes each page with the top of your screen.
The white gaps between the pages have on-line aligning aims and also the purpose of allowing a neat separate printing on A4 standard sheets.

I have used my own (massgebend) sources of the original texts. For scanning purposes I have used Omnipage Pro 12 Office. After having scanned the texts I have accurately checked everything more than once (however I would be grateful for any nit-picking). I think I am fully qualified for this kind of work: After all I have a University Diplom in History of the early Middle ages and a German University Doctorat in Geschichte des früheren Mittelalters. Moreover my mentor's Sielaff's lessons have not been forgotten.

Fravia+, January 2005

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