Medi 452 1.1 - Page 5

Harley 647 is a parchment codex that features a series of astronomical and astrological texts and images. It is roughly 320 x 280 mm. The text is written in Latin, in Caroline miniscule.

The first section (ff. 1r-2r) is a text based on astronomical comments made by Isidore of Seville, and includes two short prayers.

The bulk of the pages (ff.2v-17v) include text from Cicero’s Aratea, a translation of the earlier Greek text “Phaenomena” written by the poet Aratus. The description of each constellation is accompanied by an illustration, many which incorporate text extracts from Astronomica (another astronomical text written by Hyginus).

A third section (ff. 16r-20r) includes excerpts from several texts that originated in the late antique era concerning the natural world and philosphy. There is a diagram of the solar system (f.19r) and a diagram of the Northern and Southern hemispheres (f.21v).

Harley 647 has been dated between c.820 to the 11th century, and is thought to have origins in Northern France. The first folio was added slightly later than the majority of the text, c. 1000. Folio 21 includes a note that reads, “Ego indignus sacerdos et monachus nomine Geruvigus repperi ac scripsi.” The specifics of Geruvigus’ relationship to the manuscript are unclear. It was included in a catalogue of the Benedictine Abbey of St Augustine in Canterbury in the late 15th century. Green leather binding was added post-1600. It currently resides in the British Library and may be viewed through their digitised manuscript collection.

Harley 647

Background Information

PREVIOUS: f.3v, Harley MS 647

LEFT: f.10v, Harley MS 647,

RIGHT: f.13r, Harley MS 647

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Information from the British Library