Gesta Romanorum Vol. I (1871)/Of Humility

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Gesta Romanorum Vol. I  (1871) 
Anonymous, translated by Charles Swan
Of Humility



There was a queen who dishonoured herself with a servant, and bore him a son. This son, on arriving at years of maturity, practised every description of wickedness, and conducted himself with the greatest insolence toward the prince, his reputed father. The prince, unable to account for such perversion of mind, interrogated the mother as to the legitimacy of her child; and finding, by her reluctant confession, that he was not his son, though loth to deprive him of the kingdom, he ordained that his dress, for the time to come, should be of a different texture and colour; one side to be composed of the most ordinary materials, and the other of the most valuable; so that when he looked upon the baser portion, his pride might be abated, and the vicious propensities, in which he had indulged, relinquished; on the other hand, when he surveyed the more gorgeous part, his hopes might be raised, and his spirit animated to goodness. By this judicious device, he became remarkable for humility, and ever after abandoned his dishonest life.


My beloved, the queen is any one who commits a mortal sin. The worthless side of the garment is our fleshly substance; the other is the soul by which man is classed with the beings of heaven, and aspires to an immortal existence.