Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home


Johannes de Hauvilla

Translated by Winthrop Wetherbee

ISBN 9780674988156

Publication date: 05/06/2019

Architrenius, a satirical allegory in dactylic hexameters completed in 1184 by the Norman poet Johannes de Hauvilla, follows the journey of its eponymous protagonist, the “arch-weeper,” who stands in for an emerging class of educated professionals tempted by money and social standing. Architrenius’s quest for moral instruction leads through vivid tableaux of the vices of school, court, and church, from the House of Gluttony to the Palace of Ambition to the Mount of Presumption. Despite the allegorical nature of Architrenius, its focus is not primarily religious. Johannes de Hauvilla, who taught at an important cathedral school, probably Rouen, uses his stylistic virtuosity and the many resources of Latin poetry to condemn a secular world where wealth and preferment were all-consuming. His highly topical satire anticipates the comic visions of Jean de Meun, Boccaccio, and Chaucer.

This edition of Architrenius brings together the most authoritative Latin text with a new English translation of an important medieval poem.


  • Its stylistic ambitions, complex figurative language, and impressive knowledge of ancient literature and mythology made the Architrenius a classic in the Middle Ages and a canonical school text equal to the works of Bernardus Silvestris, Alan of Lille, and Walter of Châtillon. However, in a strange and, perhaps some would argue, justified, twist of fate (as did Petrarch, who disliked the poem intensely), scholarly interest in Johannes’s work has lagged far behind that afforded his more famous contemporaries…This elegant volume is clearly a labor of love: it provides students and scholars with an eminently useful translation of an often misunderstood and misjudged twelfth-century Latin epic…It is to be hoped that both edition and translation will change the fate of the Architrenius, bringing this distinctive, if unusual work to the attention of both Latin aficionados and the wider public.

    —Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Speculum


  • Winthrop Wetherbee is Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Cornell University.

Book Details

  • 576 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press