Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 4.228. The title of the epigram refers to the Ubiquitarians, also known as Ubiquists, who were a Protestant movement of the late 16th century. The name comes from a theological dispute regarding the presence of the body of Christ in the Eucharist. Melanchthon argued that the Eucharist was everywhere, and since a body cannot be in many places at once, the body of Christ could not be in the Eucharist. Johannes Benz, the founder of Ubiquitarianism, maintained that body of Christ had been deified and was therefore everywhere, including in the ubiquitous Eucharist. You can read more about the Ubiquitarians at this Wikipedia article. Owen's poem is not about theology, at least not directly - instead, he is focusing on the paradox that the homeless man is at home everywhere, in the sense that he has no actual home of his own - and, not having a home, he cannot be exiled from it. In a world of gross inequality, the poor are everywhere, like the body of Christ.

Tota patet tellus inopi, quacunque vagatur
Pauper in exilio est nullibi, ubique domi.

All th’ Earth’s before the poor, where e’re he roam
He’s never exil’d, ever is at home.


Ubiquitarius - Ubiquitarian
totus - all, whole, entire
pateo - lie open, be accessible
tellus - earth
inops - poor, needy
quacunque -wherever
vagor - wander
pauper - poor man
in - in, into
exilium - exile, banishment
sum - be, exist
nullibi - nowhere
ubique - everywhere
domus - home


(image source)