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Dedication, in Solinus, 'Wonders of the World'

Dedication, in Solinus, 'Wonders of the World'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1130

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian B XXV

Item number: f.1r

Length: 27

Width: 18.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

C. Julius Solinus wrote the 'Wonders of the World' or 'Collection of Memorable Things', probably in the mid-third century AD. He unblushingly plagiarised material on ancient curiosities from Pliny's 'Natural History' and other works to create a gazetteer of geography, historical events, religion, customs, and natural history. Revised in the 6th century under the title 'Polyhistor,' it became very popular in the Middle Ages, although its title was mistaken as the author's name. The 'Wonders of the World' included a short section on the British Isles and Ireland, and introduced the name 'Mare Mediterraneum' (Mediterranean Sea).

The first page of the manuscript announces Solinus's prologue ('Incipit prologue in Libri Solinus'). In it he dedicates his book to Adventus, who was probably a Roman official of the mid-3rd century. After his greeting to Adventus, the prologue begins with the large letter C which is decorated with leaf designs that imitate classical ornaments known as acanthus and palmettes, in a lower middle-range version of 12th-century decorative styles. In the right margin, a later medieval reader has written notes on the text, indicating the manuscript's extended life as a study tool and reference work.

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