Book Series Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin, vol. 10

The Relatio metrica de duobus ducibus

A Twelfth-Century Cluniac Poem on Prayer for the Dead

Christopher A. Jones, Scott G. Bruce

  • Pages: 216 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:4 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, Latin
  • Publication Year:2016

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56827-0
  • Paperback
  • Available

The first edition and translation of a fascinating Latin poem on the cult of the dead at twelfth-century Cluny.


“The dual-language edition with introduction and commentary is an unrivaled medium for the presentation of Medieval Latin texts, and it is to be hoped that many more studies of this sort will be forthcoming in the Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin.” (Justin Lake, in The Medieval Review, 22/06/2017)

“Den Herausgebern ist zu danken, dass dieser Text mit seinen vielfältigen Aspekten monastischer Kultur des 12. Jahrhunderts der Forschung endlich in einer kritischen Edition zur Verfügung gestellt ist. Seine Inhalte, sein Ideenreichtum verdienen die Aufmerksamkeit mehrerer Fächer.” (Franz Neiske, in Francia-Recensio, 3, 2018)

« (…) il faut insister sur la grande valeur de la présente édition. Comme l’indiquent les É. dans les premières part. de leur introduction, l’intérêt de la Relatio metrica est multiple. Non seulement il s’agit d’un témoin exceptionnel de la mémoire de Mayeul comme propagateur de la prière commémorative dans le Cluny du milieu du XIIe siècle, mais le texte peut aussi servir à l’étude de la poésie monastique et des conceptions médiévales du Purgatoire, de l’assistance mutuelle entre les vivants et les morts, et de l’art de la guerre. » (Johan Belaen, dans Le Moyen Âge, 126/2, 2020, p. 406)

“This book will prove valuable to scholars interested in the history of Cluny, the Peace of God movement, the emergence of Christian knighthood and the early Crusades, the history of prayer for the dead, and the doctrine of purgation and torment of the dead. Although directed to scholars of religion and literature, the translation means that this book could even be used for undergraduate research: the legend and its message are just that simple and instructive about the medieval past.” (Michael Edward Moore, in Speculum, 96/3, 2021, p. 834)


Christopher A. Jones is Professor of English at Ohio State University. Scott G. Bruce is Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder.


The twelfth-century Latin poem called the Relatio metrica de duobus ducibus has never been edited or translated before. On its surface, the poem retells a popular exemplum about an encounter between two warring dukes and a mysterious army from heaven. While retelling the story in verse, however, the poet has greatly expanded his prose source, elaborating its teachings about the importance of intercessions for the dead and introducing wholly new emphases on knightly piety and the benefits of dying for a holy cause. The present book, which offers the first edition, translation, and analysis of the poem, situates the 827-line poem in its literary and historical contexts. The publication of the Relatio metrica should be of interest to scholars of medieval Latin poetry, Cluniac monasticism, and the spirituality of the Crusades.


Preface and acknowledgments
Table of abbreviations


1. Abbot Maiolus and the Cult of the Dead at Cluny 
2. The Latin prose exemplum of the two dukes
3. The manuscript of the Relatio metrica
4. Patterns in the poet’s adaptations of the prose source
5. Versification and language
6. The poet’s literary sources
7. The authorship of the Relatio metrica
8. Principles of the edition, translation, and commentary

Edition and Translation

Appendix: The Prose Relatio de duobus ducibus (long version) 

Index of Latin words discussed in the introduction/commentary
Index of biblical passages cited
Index of ancient and medieval authors cited
General index