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Macer Floridus at the British Library...

Hi everyone,

The British Library turned out to have 4 copies of Macer Floridus, and I spent an hour in this afternoon trying to compare them all.

Their copies are divided into two pairs, each corresponding to one particular edition. However, the differences between editions were extremely narrow - little more than "9" for "-us", "q-(bar)" for "que" etc. The woodcuts appeared identical, differing only the amount of ink applied to them. :-)

As far as alternative names for plants goes, one copy (shelfmark I.A.38486) had a large number of annotations (though I don't know when they date from). For example, the first plant (artemisia) had the following alternative names (I may well have read some of them incorrectly, but it wasn't for lack of trying):-

	mater herbae
	mat'razia altior
	bright in boure
	wild barley
	tanazetu		(?)
	calida & fitta mq		(?)

Given that this writing was fairly hard to read, I simply didn't have the time to do the same for the other 76. :-(

The text is formal and metric throughout, with comments beside as a kind of shortcut to the remedies in the text - for example, "de oculis", "de menstruae", etc. However, if this had been used as the basis for the VMS, I would expect to see more symmetry on the page than we do.

As it is, the only page in the VMS that looks at all like poetry is f81r (thanks to Philip Neal who pointed this out over lunch the other day).

The diagrams have nothing in common with the VMS that I could see - they're nicely conceived (and nicely executed) woodcuts, but you'd have to work extraordinarily hard to make a case for any significant similarities.

For example, the illustration for the flowering part of henbane (which is helpfully identified in the marginalia of one copy as "henban") is gratifyingly similar in topology to the one Dana identified in the VMS, but not in any other respect that I could see (like detail, rendering, approach, etc). :-/

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....