The Architrenius is a vivacious and influential Latin satirical poem in nine books dating from 1184. It describes the journey of a young man (the "Arch-Weeper") on the threshold of maturity, confronting the ills of the church, the court, and the schools of late twelfth-century Europe. Dramatizing the human tendency towards vice and the vanity of worldly things, the poem is full of social commentary and flights of brilliant description. There are characteristic scenes in which a desire that combines prurience with frank sexuality is set against a quasi-religious idealism. The directness with which the poem engages social and psychological problems anticipates the work of the great vernacular writers Boccaccio and Chaucer. Winthrop Wetherbee's prose translation is presented alongside the original Latin, and augmented by an introduction and extensive notes.
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