Latin drinking songs
by: Gn. Dionysius Draco Invictus
When one thinks of the Middle Ages, one thinks of castles, knights, monastries, small villages and an occasional war or epidemia. With regards to culture, medieval culture is almost exclusively associated with spiritual culture. Monks sang, prayed and wrote mostly in Latin. The language of the common folk was considered underdeveloped and not suitable for cultural, let alone spiritual purposes. Latin was also an intercultural language - an Italian monk could understand an English monk writing to him, for example (not that it occurred often) - serving political purposes.

What few people know, however, is that in and around cities, (self)-exiled priests, monks, students or city inhabitants with some form of education, also had Latin songs which were a far shot from the ascetic spiritualism found in Gregorian chants. On the countrary, these songs revolved around earthly life in all its aspects: love, death, sex and the joy of drinking with comrades. An ever-satirical tone was also present throughout these songs.

Where I live, in Belgium, some of these songs have survived up until today and are included in the students' "codex", a book compiling songs sung during drinking festivities (also known as a "cantus"). Here are a few examples of well-known songs:

Io vivat!
(usually sung standing)

1. Io vivat! Io vivat!
Nostrorum sanitas!
Hoc est amoris poculum,
Doloris est antidotum

2. Io vivat! Io vivat!
Nostrorum sanitas
Dum nihil est in poculo,
Iam repleatur denuo

3. Io vivat! Io vivat!
Nostrorum sanitas
Nos iungit amicitia,
Et vinum praebet gaudia

4. Io vivat! Io vivat!
Nostrorum sanitas
Est vita nostra brevior,
Et mors amara longior

5. Io vivat Io vivat!
Nostrorum sanitas
Osores nostri pereant!
Amici semper floreant!

6. Io vivat! Io vivat!
Nostrorum sanitas
Iam tota Academia
Nobiscum amet gaudia

1. Hey, hey, long live
The sanity of our company!
That's the love for the cup
The antidote against pain

2. ...
Until nothing is left in our cup
And yet it is refilled

3. ...
Friendship binds us
And wine brings us joy

4. ...
Our life is too short
Bitter death is too long

5. ...
Complainers can go perish
May our friends ever flourish

6. ...
Yet the whole Academy
Rejoices along with us!

Gaudeamus igitur

1. Gaudeamus igitir, iuvenes dum sumus (bis)
Post iucundam iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus (bis)

2. Ubi sunt qui ante nos in mundo fuere? (bis)
Vadite ad superos
Transite ad inferos
Ubi iam fuere (bis)

3. Vita nostra brevis est, brevi finietur (bis)
Venit mors velociter
Rapit nos atrociter
Nemini parcetur (bis)

4. Vivat Academia, vivant professores (bis)
Vivat membrum quodlibet
Vivant membra quaelibet
Semper sint in flore! (bis)

5. Vivant omnes virgines, graciles, formosae! (bis)
Vivant et mulieres,
Tenerae, amabiles
Bonae, laboriosae! (bis)

6. Vivat et respublica qui illam regit! (bis)
Vivat nostra civitas,
Maecentatum caritas
Quae nos hic protegit! (bis)

7. Pereat tristitia, pereant osores (bis)
Preat diabolus
Quivus antiburchius
Atque irrisores (bis)

1. Let us therefore rejoice, for as long as we're young
After our beautiful youth
After our burdensome old age
The earth shall claim us

2. Where are those who walked this world before us?
Go to the heavens
Cross over to the underworld
Where they have been

3. Our life is short, it will shortly end
Death comes quickly
Takes us cruelly
And won't spare anyone

4. Long live the Academy, long live the professors
Long live any member
Long live all members
May they forever flourish!

5. Long live all girls, gracious and pretty!
Long live the women too,
Tender and lovable,
Good and industrious!

6. Long live the state which rules [the Academy]!
Long live our community
Mecenate and caretaker
Which protects us here!

7. Let the sadness die, may the complainers perish
May the devil die
May student-haters perish
And those who mock us, too!
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