The Titivillus Can-Can

Titivillus was the demon that medieval scribes blamed when they accidentally dropped letters. I wrote this silly little song to commemorate my campmates continually forgetting words at Pennsic XLII. Of course, once it was written, I realized it was more of a scribe’s song than a word-forgetting song, so I dedicated to Master Piero di Paxiti da Vincenza, the husband of my Laurel, who was going on vigil that very week to become a Laurel in the scribal arts. Vivat, Master Piero!

The Titivillus Can-Can
by Katherine Ashewode, “The Pocket Bard”
(To the tune of Offenbach’s “Can Can Music”)
Dedicated to Master Piero di Paxiti da Vincenza
July 2013

Titivillus, Titivillus
A demon most ridivillus
He’ll steal your letters, hide them well
Make it seem you cannot spell
The words that are upon the page
Will send you flying in a rage
For the demon always lurks
Where the scribal master works

Scrolls are ruined!
Grab another parchment sheet
Spilled the inkpot!
On your fine embroidered seat
Cut your finger!
Now you’ve gone and snapped your pen
Spelled a name wrong!
Guess it’s time to start again

Titivillus, Titivillus
No demon more ridivillus
He jumbles all the words around
Till the meaning can’t be found
You give away your finished scroll
To a sweet and happy soul
Hope and pray he doesn’t read
Then your work is fine indeed!



  1. Kudrun Pilegrim (SCA) said,

    October 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you! Titivillus is my left-handed Siamese cat’s name. He searches out all my errors (scribal and non-scribal) and carries them in a sack to his master, leaving a reminder of my error on the floor or bed.

  2. pwestergaard said,

    October 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    This continues to make me SO happy. 🙂

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