Saturday, July 03, 2010

Bastons or Bâtons

Baston in medieval French (later bâton) could be translated as staff, club or rod, but it was also used as a generic term for weapon. Godefroy gives several passages where estocs, swords, spears and other weapons are described as bastons.

I think it’s plausible that the medieval Latin baculum was used in a similar range of senses. Mathew Paris describes an incident where William de Valence receives some hard knocks at a tournament at Newbury in 1248.
“…ut introductiones miliaea initiales addisceret, baculatus.”

J. A. Giles translates this as:
...and was well batoned, in order that he might receive his apprentisage in knighthood.

But Richard Vaughan’s 1984 translation is less literal:
… and as an initiation to knighthood, thoroughly beaten.

Likewise, argumentum ad baculum can be translated literally as an appeal to the stick, or less literally as an appeal to force.

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