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Notker Labeo, also known as Notker Teutonicus i.e. "the German", Notker the German, or Notker III (born c. 950, died 28 June 1022) was a Benedictine monk and the first commentator on Aristotle active in the Middle Ages. "Labeo" means "the thick lipped". Later he was named Teutonicus in recognition of his services to the language.

He was born in Saint Gall. He was descended from a noble family and nephew of Ekkehard I, the poet of Waltharius. He came to Saint Gall when only a boy, and there acquired a vast and varied knowledge by omnivorous reading. His contemporaries admired him as a theologian, philologist, mathematician, astronomer, connoisseur of music, and poet. He tells of his studies and his literary work in a letter to Bishop Hugo of Sittenmarker (998-1017).

He was obliged to give up the study of the liberal arts in order to devote himself to teaching. For the benefit of his pupils he had undertaken something before unheard, namely translations from Latin into German. He mentions eleven of these translations, but unfortunately only five are preserved: (1) Boethius, "De consolatione philosophiae"; (2) Marcianus Capella, "De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii"; (3) Aristotle, "De categoriis"; (4) Aristotle, "De interpretatione"; (5) "The Psalter". Among those lost are: "The Book of Job", at which he worked for more than five years; "Disticha Catonis"; Virgil's "Bucolica"; and the "Andria" of Terence (Terenz in German).

Of his own writings he mentions in the above letter a "New Rhetoric" and a "New Computus" and a few other smaller works in Latin. We still possess the Rhetoric, the Computus (a manual for calculating the dates of ecclesiastical celebrations, especially of Easter), the essay "De partibus logicae", and the German essay on Music.

In Kögel's opinion Notker Labeo was one of the greatest stylists in German literature. "His achievements in this respect seem almost marvelous." His style, where it becomes most brilliant, is essentially poetical; he observes with surprising exactitude the laws of the language and created the first systematic orthography of Old High German.Latin and German he commanded with equal fluency; and while he did not understand Greek, he was weak enough to pretend that he did. He put an enormous amount of learning and erudition into his commentaries on his translations. There everything may be found that was of interest in his time, philosophy, universal and literary history, natural science, astronomy. He frequently quotes the classics and the Fathers of the Church. It is characteristic of Notker that at his dying request the poor were fed, and that he asked to be buried in the clothes which he was wearing in order that none might see the heavy chain with which he had been in the habit of mortifying his body.


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