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Zoomorphic Psalm 59 Initial, In St. Augustine's 'Commentary On Psalms 51-100'

Zoomorphic Psalm 59 Initial, In St. Augustine's 'Commentary On Psalms 51-100'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1100

Shelfmark: Royal MS 5 D.i

Item number: f.45r

Length: 36.5

Width: 23.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

St. Augustine (354-430) was one of the most prolific and influential writers of the early Christian Church. Some of his many writings were among the bare essentials which every medieval monastic library ought to own. His commentary on the 150 Psalms was often written in three volumes (which would have covered Psalms 1-50, 51-100, and 101-150 respectively) of which this is the second. It has an inscription stating that it was written under Arnulf, Prior of Rochester; by 1107 he was no longer prior, so the manuscript must be earlier than that date.

This initial 'T' is formed of a hybrid dragon, depicted as if seen from above. It seems that someone examined this initial closely by candle-light, because there is a roughly triangular burn-hole in the middle of the dragon's back. On the other side of the leaf the burnt text has been rewritten in 12th-centry script, proving that the damage happened at an early date.

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