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Augustine, City of God

Augustine, City of God

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1130

Shelfmark: Royal MS 5 D.ix

Item number: f.141v

Length: 38

Width: 26

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

When Rome fell to Alaric's army of Visigoths in 410, those citizens who had remained pagans blamed the emperor's rejection of the old gods in favour of Christianity. St Augustine wrote 'The City of God' in response. One of his most widely-read books, it remained important through the Middle Ages because his response went beyond the immediate situation. He wrote of the action of God in the world and in human history. This 12th-century copy of it was made in England and given to Rochester cathedral priory before 1202. Bishops, canons, monks and priests there would have studied it as a theological text, consulted it when writing sermons and read it for enjoyment.

Near the end of Book 14, Augustine sums up by briefly describing "two cities formed by two loves": earthly and heavenly. In the margin by it, a note reads "on the two loves", a cross formed of dots marks the passage's beginning, and a line descends its length. This may mean that it was read aloud during one of the daily prayer services on a feast day. In the second column, Book 15 begins with a large, decorated initial.

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