Testamentum Porcelli. Text, Übersetzung und Kommentar. Abhandlung zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der Phiosophischen Fakultät I der Universität Zürich vorgelegt von Nikolaus Adalbert Bott, Zürich 1972.
The text has been revised by Raffaella Tabacco: the cruces desperationis that Bott introduced for three hapax legomena have been removed, since these can be interpreted as neologisms devised for comic purposes (solivertiator, rixoribus, capitinas) rather than as errors of transmission; the punctuation has been changed to join de Thebeste usque ad Tergeste with what precedes rather than with what follows; the phrase qui testamento meo interfuistis has been inserted, this probably having fallen out through carelessness in the text of Bott; Tergillus signavit has been inserted between the signatures, this, too, having also fallen out most likely through carelessness; the reading Celsinus has been restored at the point of the correction Celsinianus introduced by Bott, since the change does not seem necessary.
The Testamentum Porcelli is a short satirical text in which it is imagined that a pig makes a will and distributes his possessions and the parts of his body before being slaughtered. Jerome makes two references to the text, establishing a terminus ante quem for its composition: he tells that the work was recited by boys in school arousing much laughter (Commentarii in Isaiam 12.1: Testamentum autem Grunnii Corocottae Porcelli decantant in scholis puerorum agmina cachinnantium; cf. In Rufinum 1.17, where Jerome also uses the appellative Grunnius to refer to his enemy Rufinus). The text has generally been dated to the 4th c. The fact that it has come down to us in at least seven codices dated between the 9th and 12th c. confirms that the text was read a lot. At first it interested jurists as an example - albeit a parodic one - of a legal will: the author shows that he was well acquainted with judicial terminology and procedures, revealing himself to be much more sophisticated than he might initially appear. It was then an object of attention on the part of historians of language for its strong late-antique features: in particular, one finds in the cook’s words constructions that recall the usage of Itala and Vulgata. In the last few decades, historians of literature have also dedicated various studies to the satirical element; animal satire has a long tradition in medieval and Renaissance texts, where it is possible to find various wills of different types of animals.
The interpretive problems that the short text presents are numerous, starting with the hapax legomena, which have sometimes been considered textual corruptions (Bott in three cases: solivertiator, rixores, capitina), but are probably neologisms devised for comic purposes. Verbal humor is surely one of the marks of the small work, beginning with the name of the protagonist, whose tria nomina preserve in the gentile ‘Grunnius’ the grunt of the pig, and in the cognomen ‘Corocotta’ a hybrid animal that is a cross between a hyena and a lioness, as Solinus attests (27.26: hyaena… in Aethiopiae parte coit cum leaena, unde nascitur monstrum: corocottae nomen est), or else a famous bandit mentioned by Dio Cassius (56.43.3: Κοροκότταν γοὖν τινα ληστήν ἐν Ἰβηρία ἀκμάσαντα…); the cook that wants to kill the piglet has the redender Name ‘Magirus’; the eponymous consuls under whom the will is imagined to be written allude to the culinary arts (Clibanato et Piperato consulibus), as likewise do a few of the witnesses (Lardio, Ofellicus, Cyminatus, Lucanicus). The parents, naturally an object of bequests, are called Verrinus Lardinus and Veturina Scrofa. Double entender of a sexual and obscene nature is also frequent. The text in its entirety presents a complex interpretive problem for identifying its less obvious meanings, and on this the critics have been vexed: the testator has been identified as a parody of a soldier (Daube: while being filius familias with living parents, he can distribute his peculium), sometimes more specifically as a parody of a barbarian soldier condemned to capital punishment (Champlin: on the basis of the first narrative section, in which, in the course of a brief dialogue between the cook and the pig, the latter is apostrophized as fugitive porcelle), or else still even as a parody of Jesus Christ by some opponent of Christianity, perhaps a Jew (Aubert). [R. Tabacco; tr. C.L. Caterine].