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Etymologies, by Isidore of Seville, in a Miscellany

Etymologies, by Isidore of Seville, in a Miscellany

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1170

Shelfmark: Royal MS 7 D.ii

Item number: f.10r

Length: 12.5

Width: 9.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

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.

In his 'Etymologies', Isidore, bishop of Seville (about 560-636), wrote on the origins and meanings of words. His etymological discussions follow a logic which differs from that recognised by modern scholars. He depended on comparisons which sometimes became quite abstract because they were based on figures of speech and a mystical view of nature. Nevertheless Isidore's 'Etymologies' was an extremely influential and widely read treatise in the early middle ages. It is right at home in this collection because it makes the natural world, language and grammar part of the history of Christianity.

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