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Anglo-Saxon prognostics in context: a survey and handlist of manuscripts

Roy Michael Liuzza

Anglo-Saxon England / Volume30 / December 2001

The various Latin and Old English texts which have come to be called ‘prognostics’ have not, in general, been well served by scholars. For some texts the only available edition is Oswald Cockayne’s LeechdomsWortcunningand Starcraft of Early England from 1864-6; most others are available only in the broad but somewhat unsystematic series of articles published by Max Förster in Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen in the 1910s and 1920s. Anselm Hughes does not include the eight prognostic texts in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 391 in his otherwise fairly thorough edition of much of that manuscript; Peter Baker and Michael Lapidge omit any discussion of such texts from their excellent survey of the history of the computus in the preface to their edition of Byrhtferth’sEnchiridion. The mid-eleventh-century Christ Church manuscript now known as London, British Library, Cotton Tiberius A. iii has attracted the notice of many fine scholars, including liturgists, linguists and monastic and art historians, who have been drawn to the series of texts at the beginning of the manuscript (fols. 117-73 and 2-27), including two magnicent full-page drawings (117v and 2v) and glossed copies of the Benedictine Rule and the Regularis Concordia. Helmut Gneuss describes this carefully presented series of interrelated texts as ‘a compendium of the Benedictine Reform movements in Carolingian Francia and in tenth-century England’; Robert Deshman has argued that the very sequence of texts is ‘laden with meaning’. Despite their appreciation of these manuscript sequences, however, few scholars have included in their study of this material the eighteen prognostic texts which follow the Regularis Concordiain the manuscript (27v-47), though most of these are in the same hand and are arranged, it may be argued, with equal care.

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