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Alcuin Quotes

Quotations by Carolingian Scholar Alcuin of York

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Portrait of Alcuin of York

A portrait of Alcuin of York based on a medallion from the 9th-century Bamberg Bible.

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Alcuin was head of Charlemagne's Palace School and a significant figure in the Carolingian Renaissance. Among his surviving letters to the King of the Franks and contemporary scholars can be found some pearls of wisdom that still ring true today.

  • And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God (Vox Populi, Vox Dei), since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.
    -- Letter to Charlemagne, 800 C.E.

  • If your zeal were imitated by others, we might see a new Athens rising up in Francia, more splendid than the old . . .
    -- Letter to Charlemagne as referenced by Lewis Sergeant and T. Fisher Unwin in The Franks, from Their Origin as a Confederacy to the Establishment of the Kingdom of France. G.P. Putnam's sons, 1898.

  • Man thinks, God directs.
    (Homo cogitat, Deu indicat.)
    -- Epistles

  • Teachers of Christianity must be educated in the example of the apostles. They must be preachers, not predators, trusting in the goodness of God alone.
    -- Letter of 796 C.E., as referenced by Douglas Dales in Christ the Golden-Blossom: A Treasury of Anglo-Saxon Prayer. Canterbury Press, 2001; p. 110

  • What makes bitter things sweet? Hunger.
    -- attributed by R. Lacey and D. Danziger in The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium: An Englishman's World. Little, Brown and Co., 1999; p. 57

  • Lord, you have called us to serve you
    In the midst of the world's affairs.
    When we stumble, hold us
    When we fall, raise us
    When we are hard pressed with evil, deliver us
    When we turn aside from good, restore us
    And bring us at last to your glory
    -- as quoted by Ray Simpson in A Holy Island Prayer Book: Prayers and Readings from Lindisfarne. Morehouse Publishing, 2002; p. 104

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