Oxford, Bodleian Library, Auct. F.3.6 (2666) Prudentius, "Carmina"

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Matthew T. Hussey


345. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Auct. F.3.6 (2666)

Prudentius, "Carmina"

[Ker 296; Gneuss 537]

HISTORY: A complete compilation of Prudentius' poems, including "Cathemerinon;' "Psychomachia;' "Peristephanon;' "Contra Symmachum;' and others, written and glossed by several hands, mainly in an anglo- caroline minuscule in the first half of the 11 c (Ker, Cat.). The extensive Latin glossing and annotation derives from a Continental tradition. Wieland notes that in the case of the "Psychomachia" Anglo-Saxons had at least two families of Latin glosses to draw upon; Auct. F.3.6's glosses are closest to Wieland's Group B, as represented by Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 23 (24] and printed by Burnam from Valenciennes, Bibliotheque Municipale 413 (Wieland 1987: 225-27, Burnam 1910; cf. Burnam 1905), but the textual affiliations and families of A-S manuscripts show "resistance ... to categorization" (Wieland 1987: 228). O'Sullivan groups Auct. F.3.6 with the subgroup "'BIi" of the "Valenciennes" group (O'Sullivan 2004: xvii). Additions of OE glosses, scribbles, and charms were made in the later 11 c in hands characteristic of the Exeter scriptorium (Ker, Cat.; Drage 1978: 392) which may imply not only an early Exeter provenance, but perhaps origins (Wieland 1997: 170), though this is far from certain (Gameson 199 6: 150). The l lc magical "Thebal" inscription on f. ii recto is an early form of an inscription found later on magically prophylactic rings of the 12c and 13c in England and Germany (see Michelly 1987: 80 and Antoine 2005: 107-8). The charm on f. iii verso is in OE and garbled Irish, having an analogue in Bald's 'Leechbook', London, BL Royal 12.D.xvii, f. 20rv (298] (see Meroney 1945: 178-79). In the third quarter of the llc, an entry in Leofric's inventory and a Leofric donation inscription (f. iii verso = item 3) make clear that the manuscript was among those donated by Leofric to the Exeter foundation (inventory ed. Conner 1993: 234, Lapidge 1994: 135); based on variations of wording among the extant Leofric donation inscriptions, Drage suggests that the book was given its inscription closer to 1072, relative to other manuscripts with similar inscriptions (Drage 1978: 29-40). The book seems to have remained at Exeter, as it is listed in the 1327 Exeter inventory in two entries as 'Prudentii plurima opuscula' (wording also found here in a medieval inscription on f. iii verso) and 'liber eiusdem' and in the 1506 inventory as 'plurima Prudentii opuscula in i libro' (Oliver 1861: 307 and 368). It may have been chained in the Exeter library, as there are rust stains on medieval flyleaves on the center tail, similar to rust marks in other manuscripts with an Exeter provenance. The book was donated to the Bodleian Library by the Exeter Dean and Chapter in 1602, and may have been chained in Duke Humfrey's library, as an early modern paper flyleaf at the back of the volume has a rust mark top center (Clarkson 1996: 177). The book was subsequently rebound. A note on the paper fly at the front bears the note: 'Repairs undertaken on fols. 1-2, 6, 9, 190-93 I in June-July 1979 have caused some discoloration I of the parchment. I B. C. B.-B. [Bruce Barker-Benfield], 11 July 1979'.

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