Angilbert is asking what the women (the sisters and daughters of Charles the Great) might think of the return of their nephew/brother Pepin from Italy in the poem AD PIPPINUM ITALIAE REGEM by Angilbert :

Quid Gisla et Theodrada simul cum prole retractant
Cetera regali, quas tuus angit amor?
Quid Gisla, egregii sponsa praepulchra tonantis,
Quid Liutgardis, ovans regis amore luat?


What is it Gisla and Theodrada and the rest of the royal offspring are thinking right now, who are worried about you because of their love? What "luat" Gisla, the beautiful wife of maginificent God, and what "luat" Liutgardis while being jubilant because of her love for the king ?

Does "luere" mean something like "pay tribute"? What might this mean?

  • Sorry to be slow in replying. Without the rest of the poem it is difficult to guess the tone, I hope my answer is helpful, but I may be completely off-key. If you discover a better translation, you are encouraged to answer your own question (and earn points).
    – Hugh
    Nov 9, 2018 at 6:39

2 Answers 2


The key to this piece is quas tuas angit amor ‘whom your love torments.’

Angilbert uses enantiosemy three times to convey the uncertainty and (angit!)anxiety. (Double meaning in the Carolingian Court is almost always a sign of wit and scholarship jon LLStackExch 1143) Does retractant mean ‘undertake anew?’ or does it mean ‘be reluctant, hesitate?’ he uses a word which has both meanings.

re-trāctō (-trectō āvī, ātus, āre) be reluctant , hesitate
or .... to undertake anew. Lewis&Short Perseus Tufts

ango, xi, ctum, and anxum, 3, v. a. to distress, torment, torture
or .... to embrace, to surround Lewis & Short (Perseus.uchicago)

luo make amends, expiate, suffer punishment for
or.... loose, let go, be free (Lewis&Short)

Luo in particular has two meanings, two etymologies, both loan words from Greek, lŭo ere lui from λουω (wash) which gives Latin compounds diluo and eluo. Lŭo ere lui from λυω (loosen) which gives the Latin compounds solvo (soluo), dissolvo.

So, leaving out three descriptive phrases, and translating quid as How!

Quid Gisla et Theodrada simul retractant?
(quas tuus angit amor)
Quid Gisla,
Quid Liutgardis, luat?

How Gisla and Theodrada at the same time resolve and hesitate!
(they whom your love strangles and enfolds)
How Gisla is,
how Liutgardis is liberated and goes through torment!

Note:enantiosemy (OUP) A case of polysemy in which one sense is in some respect the opposite of another.

Note: Quid adv. interrog. 'How they guzzle and booze!' Quid comedent! ebibent! (Perseus Tufts L&S)

  • 1
    Thank you very much, Hugh, for your answer. It sheds a new light on this poem for me. I thought that Angilbert was over-cautious in naming the relations between Pepin and his family. But now I see that Angilbert is not exactly cautious, he is sharp! Great! Nov 10, 2018 at 15:13

The verb luo is a cognate of the Greek λύω, which means to destroy or loose, often in the sense of undoing a legal obligation or relationship. The Greek word is similar in meaning to the Latin solvo. When comparing λύω with the Latin luo, a similar sense can be observed. For instance, one of the definitions given by L&S is?

to render void, of no effect

I think that makes most sense in this context. Given that quid can mean "why" and luat is in the subjunctive, I understand the meaning to be something like:

Why should Liutgard, in her happiness, disengage from the love of the king?

And just to clarify, I'm not suggesting that to disengage is a precise translation for luere, because I believe luere, in this case, expresses the idea of dissolving whatever bond of love that might have existed. However, I thought that "disengage" sounded more natural and succinct for expressing that idea.

  • Thank you, EB! In fact, I think you are going in the same direction as Hugh, who gave the answer that was complete, You also point to the ambiguity of the phrase. I will read poems like this with ambiguity from now. Nov 10, 2018 at 15:16
  • @LiesbethAgelink. You're welcome. Nov 10, 2018 at 15:46

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