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Art. 112, Eulotropia et celidonia: Introduction

Abbreviations: AND: Anglo-Norman Dictionary; ANL: Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts (R. Dean and Boulton); BL: British Library (London); Bodl.: Bodleian Library (Oxford); CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; CUL: Cambridge University Library (Cambridge); DOML: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library; FDT: French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages (Sinclair 1979); FDT-1French Devotional Texts of the Middle Ages, . . . First Supplement (Sinclair 1982); IMEV: The Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and Robbins); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MWME: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500 (Severs et al.); NIMEV: A New Index of Middle English Verse (Boffey and Edwards); NLS: National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh).

This short prose item preserves two extracts from The Book of Secrets of Albertus Magnus of the Virtues of Herbs, Stones and Certain. The Ludlow scribe selects the first and fourth of sixteen herbs described in this work of natural lore, which circulated widely in Latin manuscripts from the late thirteenth century onwards. In the mid-sixteenth century the book was translated into English. The earliest printings of it came from the shops of William Copland (three editions) and William Seres (one edition), all undated; later it was printed by William Jaggard and then T. Coates in six editions dating from 1595 to 1637 (Best and Brightman, pp. xliii–xliv). The rationale for the scribe’s two selections is not self-evident. Heliotrope is said to bring about calm speech. It also exposes the crimes of thieves and adulterous women. Celandine possesses ameliorative virtues, too, in its ability to quell enemies and end quarrels. It can give the prognosis for a man suffering a dire illness: if he is to live, he will weep; if not, he will sing. The virtues of both involve an additive from an animal (a wolf’s tooth, a mole’s heart) and the placement of the herb under a person’s head. For further bibliography on medieval English herbals and their Latin sources, see MWME10:3641–45, 3818–38. The translation printed here is by Jan Ziolkowski, prepared for this edition.

[Fol. 137r. Scribe: B (Ludlow scribe). Quire: 15. Layout: No columns, written as prose. Editions: None. Other MSS: See Best and Brightman, pp. lxiii–lxiv. Translations: None.]

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