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    The most famous apology in history was made to a much maligned, though far from innocent, cleric: Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII. He had become involved in what is known as the Investiture Dispute, a fierce Church-State Kulturkampf, revolving round the appointment of bishops. His chief opponent, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV — not a nice man but not a monster either — had called him an impostor, an antipope, an Antichrist and I know not what, but had got the worst of it in the armed struggle that followed. Henry decided to purge his excommunication and get the interdict on his territories withdrawn by apologising and doing penance. The Pope had sought the protection of Countess Matilda of Tuscany, then the world's richest woman, and princess of startling beauty, taste and wisdom. He was sheltering at her stupendous mountain stronghold of Canossa, not far from Modena, and the Emperor had to climb there barefoot, in the depths of winter, to make his kowtow. Why has this amazing story not been the subject of a great opera? Perhaps it has. Needless to say, the apology was insincere and the tragic story ended in tears on both sides, the Pope's bitter last words being: "I have loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore I die in exile." But the fact that the Church was slow to canonise this remarkable man suggests that to begin with it did not accept his version of events. A century later. Henry II of England was locked in mortal struggle over the same issue with Becket, and also apologised after he caused the archbishop's murder. This, too, was in some degree insincere, and trouble broke out afresh soon after Henry had donned sackcloth. Becket was at least as intemperate as Hildebrand, but he not only got his halo but did so in the fastest time on record. But then he was a martyr, and they always move to canonisation faster than any other category of saint.
    历史上最为有名的“道歉”是向一位神职人士所致:此公乃是希尔得布兰德,即教皇格列高利七世,他被人诋毁多多,然而也并非无辜。他卷入了史书所记载的“授职争议”,即一次围绕教会与国家之间有关任命主教问题的激烈的“文化冲突”。他的主要对手就是神圣罗马帝国的皇帝亨利四世——他算不上是个好人,但也不是什么魔鬼——他称教皇是个骗子、伪教皇、假耶稣,还有一些不知道是什么样的骂名,但是在随后的武装冲突中,他却为此一败涂地。亨利四世决定向教皇请罪,表示诲意,以此希冀教皇解除将其逐出教门的惩罚,并撤回在其领土上的授权禁令。教皇寻求托斯坎尼区的玛蒂尔达伯爵夫人的庇佑,这位伯爵夫人是当时世界上最富有的女人,一位倾国倾城,睿智聪颖,极有品味的郡主。教皇躲进了她那气势恢宏的山间城堡,它建在离摩德纳市不远的卡诺萨。皇帝不得不在隆冬季节赤脚攀上城堡,前去叩头谢罪。 这样一个令人拍案叫绝的故事却不曾成为一个大歌剧的主题,未知何也?或许已经有了。毋庸赘言,这次道歉并非真心实意,而悲剧则是以双方眼泪洗面告终。教皇临终时痛楚地说:“吾爱正义而恶不公:故而吾死于流放。”但是,教会迟迟不将这位杰出的人封为圣人,此事表明他们从一开始就未曾接受他对事件的说法。一个世纪之后,英格兰的亨利二世与贝克特大主教在同一问题上打得你死我活,不可开交;在他指使谋杀大主教之后,也做了道歉。这在某种程度上也并非诚心诚意,在亨利二世披上麻衣去忏悔之后,麻烦再度出现。贝克特主教至少也和希尔得布兰德一样放纵无度,然而他不但得到了光环,而且是以有史记载以来最快的速度得到的。再说啦,他算是个殉道者,这些殉道者比起其他类圣人,其被封圣的速度要快得多。

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