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Coloured-Line Drawings Of Greed, In Prudentius, Psychomachia

Coloured-Line Drawings Of Greed, In Prudentius, Psychomachia

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1000

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Cleopatra C VIII

Item number: f.25r

Length: 20.4

Width: 12.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

Prudentius (born in 348 in northern Spain, died after 405) spent most of his life following worldly pursuits, but later turned to writing, in which he aimed to glorify God and atone for his earlier sins. One of his most popular works is a poem called the Psychomachia (Conflict of the Soul), which describes battles between female personifications of virtues and vices. Instead of being a dry theological treatise, the poem has the qualities of an exciting story with high drama and lots of bloodshed and violence. The descriptions of the women, including their clothes, armour, and details of their conflicts, lend themselves to illustration. This copy was apparently written by a scribe of Christ Church, Canterbury.

In the upper scene Greed temps a man with the object in her right hand, and then spears him when he reaches for it; in the lower scene Greed drives men into open fires in which gold is burning.

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