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On the Contemplative Life, by Julianus Pomerius

On the Contemplative Life, by Julianus Pomerius

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1180

Shelfmark: Royal MS 6 D.v

Item number: f.1r

Length: 33

Width: 22

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Monasteries developed into different forms through the middle ages, and their ideals developed as well. Julianus Pomerius, a late 5th-century north African who lived in France, wrote a treatise on the contemplative life of the monk and how it relates to an active life (De vita contemplativa). An important document of early medieval mysticism but its popularity and influence continued throughout the middle ages. It survives in more than ninety medieval manuscripts, nearly always with accompanying other writings on the spiritual life of monks and nuns. This copy belonged to Rochester cathedral priory, according to the inscription in the lower margin. It may have been the gift of archbishop Hubert Walter (1193-1205), but the name in the inscription is not clear. The inscription also pronounces anathema (a curse) on anyone who tries to remove the manuscript from the library.

At the top of the page, the title says that it was written by Prosper of Aquitaine. This mistake is often made, at least in part because one of the treatises which usually follows the 'Contemplative Life' in manuscripts is Prosper's collection of sayings ('Epigrammatica').

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