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The Lunar Phases, In Macrobius's Commentary on Cicero's 'Dream of Scipio'

The Lunar Phases, In Macrobius's Commentary on Cicero's  'Dream of Scipio'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1125

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Faustina C I

Item number: f.72r

Length: 29.2

Width: 18

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Should a politician act upon practical necessity or be guided by theory? Cicero (1st century BCE) has several philosophers debate this question in ?On Public Affairs? (?De re publica?), ending with the ?Dream of Scipio?, a vision of heavenly glories awaiting selfless politicians. Macrobius (5th century CE) commented on the 'Dream? through the lens of contemporary philosophy which argued a superior transcendent reality. The commentary?s mysticism and its views of geography (proposing a round earth) appealed to medieval theologians. This manuscript?s handwriting style and inclusion of verses by Rhygyfarch (Ricemarch), poet of St David?s, link it with Wales. Macrobius discusses phases of the moon to help explain the universe as a big geometrical system which unifies everything, including human actions. The notes between the lines give help with Greek vocabulary, but a later reader scribbled some more in the margin. One diagram (right) concerns the lunar month, while the other shows phases of the moon.

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