London, British Library, Cotton Julius E. vii Ælfric's "Lives of Saints"

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A. N. Doane


201. London, British Library, Cotton Julius E. vii

Ælfric's "Lives of Saints"

[Ker 162, Gneuss 339]

HISTORY: Early 11c. From Bury St. Edmunds, 'Liber S<an>c<t>i Edmundi Regis & M<a>r<ty>ris' (ex libris, f. 3r, 13c). This is the only more or less complete copy of Ælfric's "Third Series" of homilies ( composed ca. 992-1002, Clemoes 1959: 244), consisting of 29 Saints' lives by Ælfric plus several by other hands, as well as additional edifying pieces arranged (with a few deviations) according to the Sanctorale or fixed dates of the liturgical year. In his English preface (ff. 3v-4r) Ælfric directed that copies should be accurately made and that no material be added. This manuscript does not represent the original scope or order of Ælfric's project as the non-Ælfrician "Seven Sleepers;' "Eustace;' and "Eufrasia" (nos. 30, 41, 44) are part of the original plan of the manuscript to judge by the "Capitula;' while the "Mary of Egypt" (no. 31), not mentioned in the capitula, suggests augmentation as the manuscript was in progress (cf. Hill 1996: 235-36). Torkar (1971) detects minor linguistic differences between nos. 30, 41, 44, the well-integrated non Ælfrician pieces, and the main series, suggesting that all three came from the same distinctive manuscript source ("Mary of Egypt;' more awkwardly interpolated, does not share these features and would presumably be from some other exemplar). On the non-Ælfrician nature of these four items see Magennis 1986 with full reference to earlier work. Belonged to Sir Robert Cotton by 1621 (Harley 6018, no. 179); 'Thomas Cotton' at bottom of f. 3. [Note: The proximate source of Ælfric's series of saints' lives, in both the list of saints and the details of the texts, is the so-called Cotton-Corpus legendary, compiled in the north of France sometime after 877 and preserved in a number of English manuscripts (see Zettel 1982: 17-22; on the manuscript tradition and contents see Jackson and Lapidge 1996). Ker (Cat., 210) suggests that Cotton Julius E. vii was "possibly once bound with Cotton Tiberius B. ii, ff. 2-85 [Gneuss 371, Abbo of Fleury, Vita S. Eadmundi; [ff. 2-69r] Hermannus Archidiaconus (attrib.) Miracula S. Eadmundi (long version incomplete [ff. ff. 70r-82v]), s. xi/xii (prov. Bury St. Edmunds), which is inscribed 'Liber feretrariorum sancti edmundi in quo continentur uita passio et miracula sancti edmundi. Item Vite et passiones xxxiii sanctorum in anglico. S. 155' (s. xiv). The manuscripts are of the same size, but the table of contents of Julius lists 39, not 33 lives:• Tiberius page size is actually 280 x 180 mm. (vs. Julius 272 x 185 mm.). At end (f. 85r bottom) is medieval (14c?) inscription in two stints 'deficiu<n>t hie vi miracula / q<ue> sunt i<n> li<br>o d<o>m<ini> ioh<annis> de [c p<ri>orus?]'.

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