Cassiodorus's 'On the Soul', in a Miscellany
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
This mid to late 12th century manuscript belonged to St Augustine's abbey, Canterbury. It contains an assortment of writings which might have been of interest to a theological writer working in an important monastery such as St Augustine's. Detailed expositions on grammar and the meanings of obscure words found in scripture, recipes for gold and colours for illuminating, a homily for Palm Sunday and a letter of spiritual counsel to a monk are included. It probably would have been used as a reference for writing theological commentaries and sermons and in producing materials for paintings in manuscripts.
Several of the treatises and commentaries have to do with meanings of obscure words and grammar. Cassiodorus, a 6th-century Roman senator who founded a monastery known for its learning, wrote treatises on grammar as well as biblical commentaries and theological treatises. 'On the Soul' explores the nature of the soul and laments human failings such as the contemporary war between the Goths and the Romans. Modestly decorated, this copy was made for study rather than for showing off to important visitors or the public.