The Old Frisian Five Keys of Wisdom and its Background
The literary motif of the ‘Keys of Wisdom’ developed in the Early Middle Ages around the enumeration of precepts for ‘unlocking’ true knowledge. This motif is found in many medieval didactic and grammatical works, both in prose and poetry. It also forms the basis of an Old Frisian text, known as Five Keys of Wisdom. The Old Frisian text mentions the definition of the five ‘Keys of Wisdom’ in Latin, each followed by a comment in the vernacular, with an exposition befitting the legal context of the manuscripts in which it occurs. In this study, I argue that the Latin elements of this text descend from a list of five ‘Keys of Wisdom’ that was widely attested to in the Middle Ages.