London, British Library, Cotton Otho C. i, vol. 2 Gregory (Wærferth), "Dialogues," "Vitae Patrum"

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Christine Franzen


219. London, British Library, Cotton Otho C. i, vol. 2

Gregory (Wærferth), "Dialogues," "Vitae Patrum"

[Ker 182, Gneuss 359]

HISTORY: Ff. 1-61 (A below), containing the metrical preface, introductory lines, and Books 1 and 2 of Gregory's "Dialogues," were probably copied early in the llc from what was most likely a 9c manuscript from Sherbourne. The metrical preface and introductory lines to the translation of Gregory's "Dialogues" survive only in this manuscript. Sisam (1953: 202) first noticed that in the metrical preface the -tan of Wulfstan (f. lr/8) in 'Me awritan het Wulfstan bisceop' was written over an erasure and in a later hand, probably second half of the llc, when apparently someone altered the name to make it appear that it was written for St. Wulfstan of Worcester. His suggestion that the original readingwas Wulfsige, bishop of Sherbourne in the time of Alfred, is generally accepted. Ff. 62-148 (B and C), containing Books 3 and 4 (incomplete) of Gregory's "Dialogues," translations from the "Vitae Patrum," the letter of Boniface, and "Evil Tongues," were written about forty years after Part A in two hands in a script which Ker (Cat.) believes is characteristic of Worcester manuscripts of the same date. It is not known why Books 3 and 4 were added much later; it is possible that they replaced original ones which were somehow lost. Sisam (1953: 203 and n. 2) notes that Book 2 ends as if something follows. The remainder of the manuscript, ff. 149-155 (D), containing Ælfrician material but missing leaves at the beginning and end, is believed by Sisam not to have been part of the rest of the volume originally. He notes that many letters were unskillfully freshened up in this section in a hand which substituted a Caroline 'g' for an Insular one; a 12c reader's hand is also found here but nowhere else in the volume. Running titles in a script and format characteristic of known Worcester manuscripts are visible on a number of folios throughout the manuscript as it now stands (see "Additions" below), suggesting that the entire volume was in Worcester by 1060 x 1080. Glosses throughout in the tremulous hand confirm it was still there in the first half of the 13c. The volume had left the Worcester library by 1593. An inscription in the bottom margin of f. 3 lr reads 'Michaeli Lapworthus medicus Novemb. 1593' (apparently a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, in 1562). Atkins and Ker (1944: 12) note that the Lapworth family was from Sowe in Warwickshire. It was acquired by Cotton and bound together with volume 1 before 1621, as noted in the catalogue of the Cotton library made in 1621 (now Harley 6018). The Cotton fire of 1731 damaged the manuscript but no leaves were lost.

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