De duodecim abusivis saeculi ‘Of the twelve abuses of the world’

  • Latin
  • prose
  • Hiberno-Latin texts
(fl. 7th century)
Anonymous Irish author of the Latin treatise De duodecim abusivis saeculi, a work which is otherwise attributed in the manuscripts to Cyprian, the 3th-century bishop of Carthage.

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Ascribed to: CyprianCyprian
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Archbishop of Sevilla (Visigothic Spain), theologian, scholar and highly influential author, who is known especially for works such as his Etymologiae, Synonyma, De natura rerum, De ortu et obitu patrum, De officiis ecclesiasticis and a Chronica maiora.

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Augustine of HippoAugustine of Hippo
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Attributed to Cyprian, whence the anonymous author is commonly known as ‘Pseudo-Cyprian’; also sometimes attributed to Isidore of Seville and Augustine of Hippo.
  • Latin
  • Latin.
7th century
prose (primary)
Textual relationships

Sources: Bible, Rule of Benedict, Irish wisdom literature.

(Possible) sources: Rule of BenedictRule of BenedictView incoming data
Related: Día feasaid lim nodas fuilDía feasaid lim nodas fuil

Middle Irish poem (4qq) attributed to Mugrón, which offers a verse rendering or verse summary of the preface to De duodecim abusivis saeculi.

Sermo ad regesSermo ad regesHomily in Middle Irish and Latin on the responsibilities of kings


Hiberno-Latin textsHiberno-Latin texts


Twelve chapters:

1. Sapiens sine operibus (The wise man without works)

2. Senex sine religione (The old man without religion)

3. Adolescens sine oboedienia (The young man without obedience)

4. Dives sine elemosyna (The rich man without charity/alms-giving)

5. Femina sine pudicitia (The woman without modesty/decency)

6. Dominus sine virtute (The lord without virtue/strength)

7. Christianus contentiosus (The contentious Christian or the Christian who loves the world)

8. Pauper superbus (The proud poor man)

9. Rex iniquus (The unjust king)

10. Episcopus neglegens (The negligent bishop)

11. Plebs sine disciplina (The community without punishment)

12. Populus sine lege (The people without (Christ’s) law)


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

Edition wanted
A new critical edition is needed.
[ed.] Hellmann, Siegmund [ed.], Ps.-Cyprianus. De xii abusiuis saeculi, Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, 34, Leipzig, 1909.
Internet Archive: <link>
Edition of the text as it comes down at a later stage of transmission.
[ed.] Migne, Jacques-Paul [gen. ed.], S. Thascii Cæcilii Cypriani episcopi Carthaginensis et martyris opera omnia, 2nd ed., Patrologia Latina, 4, Paris: Garnier, 1891.
Internet Archive: <link> Documentacatholicaomnia.eu: <link>
cols 947–960 direct link

Secondary sources (select)

Johnson, Máire, “The Vita I S. Brigitae and De duodecim abusiuis saeculi”, Studia Celtica Fennica 9 (2012): 22–35.  
The Vita I S Brigitae and De Duodecim Abusivis Saeculi’ considers several similarities in the lessons offered by the anonymous vita of Ireland’s famed Saint Brigit of Kildare and the sermons of De Duodecim Abusivis, an Hiberno-Latin work of the seventh century generally fathered on Cyprian. Of particular importance here is the discourse that De Duodecim proffers concerning the dives sine eleemosyna, the Christianus contentiosus and the pauper superbus, which appears to be echoed in the interactions between Saint Brigit and her followers in the Vita I. These parallels provide clues to the evolution of the hagiographical dossier of Ireland’s chief female saint, and permit the proposal of a modest stemma for several of its constituents. In addition, it is hoped that the apparently-shared messages of vita and homily may also suggest potential avenues for additional future analyses.
Studia Celtica Fennica: <link>
Breen, Aidan, “De XII abusivis: text and transmission”, in: Próinséas Ní Chatháin, and Michael Richter (eds), Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: texts and transmissions / Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Texte und Überlieferung, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002. 78–94.
Breen, Aidan, “Pseudo-Cyprian De duodecim abusivis saeculi and the Bible”, in: Próinséas Ní Chatháin, and Michael Richter (eds), Irland und die Christenheit: Bibelstudien und Mission. Ireland and Christendom: the Bible and the missions, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1987. 230–245.
Anton, Hans Hubert, “Pseudo-Cyprian, De duodecim abusivis saeculi und sein Einfluß auf den Kontinent, insbesondere auf die karolingischen Fürstenspiegel”, in: Heinz Löwe (ed.), Die Iren und Europa im früheren Mittelalter, 2 vols, vol. 2, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1982. 568–617.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
December 2010, last updated: January 2024