Prudentius, Psychomachia (War of the Soul)


The Psychomachia (War of the Soul) is a work of allegory in which seven Virtues and seven Vices battle for possession of the human soul. Composed by the late-Antique poet Prudentius (b. 348, d. c. 410), the text was hugely popular and was distributed throughout Christian Europe. This copy was produced in the monastic scriptorium at Christ Church, Canterbury, and includes commentaries (glosses), written in Old English. Such commentaries are often present in the schoolbooks of monastic communities, so their presence here may indicate that this book was used for teaching at the monastery school. 

The 83 drawings illustrating the text make it one of the most profusely decorated of Anglo-Saxon books. The seven Virtues are presented as female champions of the Christian faith, paired with seven female pagan idolaters. 

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
Prudentius, Psychomachia
4th quarter of the 10th century–11th century, Canterbury
Latin / Old English
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Cleopatra C VIII

Full catalogue details

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