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Ownership Inscription in the 'Trojan History' of Dares Phrygius, from Canterbury

Ownership Inscription in the 'Trojan History' of Dares Phrygius, from Canterbury

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1350

Shelfmark: Harley MS 641

Item number: f.1r

Length: 31.2

Width: 20

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Bound in a volume with several other manuscripts, this is the first page of a 'History' which advertises itself as an eyewitness account of the Trojan war by 'Dares of Phrygius'. The page begins with a letter from a certain Cornelius, who claims to have found Dares' manuscript and translated it into Latin. The 'history' was probably written in the 5th or 6th century, judging by the style of its Latin. It was taken seriously in the Middle Ages, preferred above Homer because of its claims of being a first-hand account. It includes the exploits of figures who are minor characters in Homer, providing rich material to authors such as Chaucer, who based his 'Troilus and Creseyde' on it. The large blank space at the left of the page was meant to have a large, decorated letter 'C' to begin his name, Cornelius. Farther down the page, the history itself begins with another blank space, this time for the first letter of the name of the Greek king, Peleus. A later reader has scribbled the letter in with red chalk. In the lower margin, an inscription identifies the book as belonging to the library of the monastery of St Augustine in Canterbury.

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