Odo of Cheriton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Odo of Cheriton[1] (c. 1185 – 1246/47) was an English preacher and fabulist.

He visited Paris, and it was probably there that he gained the degree of Master. Bale mentions a tradition that he was a Cistercian or a Præmonstratensian; but he can hardly have taken vows if, as seems most likely, he was the Master Odo of Cheriton mentioned in Kentish and London records from 1211 to 1247, the son of William of Cheriton, lord of the manor of Delce in Rochester. In 1211-12 William was debited with a fine to the crown, for Odo to have the custodia of Cheriton church, near Folkestone. In 1233 Odo inherited his father's estates in Delce, Cheriton, and elsewhere. A charter of 1235-6 (British Museum, Harl. Ch. 49 B 45), by which he quitclaimed the rent of a shop in London, has his seal attached, bearing the figure of a monk seated at a desk, with a star above him (St. Odo of Cluny?). He died in 1247.

Like Jacques de Vitry, he introduced exempla freely into his sermons; his best-known work, a collection of moralized fables and anecdotes in Latin, sometimes titled Parabolæ from the opening words of the prologue (Aperiam in parabolis os meum), was evidently designed for preachers. Though partly composed of commonly known adaptations and extracts, it shows originality and the moralizations are full of pungent denunciations of the prevalent vices of clergy and laity.[2]

The collection contains some seventy-five fables, twenty-six of them from the Aesop corpus, others taken from the Roman writers Seneca, Ovid and Juvenal, from the Medieval writers Petrus Alphonsi, Jacques de Vitry and Stephen of Bourbon, from the Bible and from English folktales.[3] It exists in numerous manuscripts and the work was printed by Léopold Hervieux (Fabulistes Latins, IV, 173-255); a thirteenth-century French version is extant, as is a 14th-century Welsh version called Chwedlau Odo ("Odo's Tales") and an early Spanish translation. Some of the contents reappear, along with many other exempla, in his sermons on the Sunday Gospels, completed in 1219, extant in several manuscripts; an abridgment of this, prepared by Mathieu Makerel, was printed by Jodocus Badius Ascensius in 1520.

The only other extant works, certainly authentic, are Tractatus de Penitentia, Tractatus de Passione, and Sermones de Sanctis; but the Speculum Laicorum also cites him as authority for many other exempla. Hauréau's contention (Journal des Savants, 1896, 111-123), that the fabulist was a distinct person from the author of the sermons and treatises, is not supported.


  1. ^ John Philipot Villare cantianum: or, Kent surveyed and illustrated. 1776. p.294
  2. ^ There is a translation by John C. Jacobs: The Fables of Odo of Cheriton, New York, 1985; and a limited preview on Google Books [1]
  3. ^ Kaufmann, Wanda Ostrowska (1996). The anthropology of wisdom literature. Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Bergin & Garvey. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-89789-472-2. 


External links[edit]