'Conflict Of The Soul'
British Library, MS Cotton Cleopatra C VIII, c.1000
The capture of Lot
folio 4 verso, upper register
Prudentius (born in 348 in northern Spain, died after 405) spent most of his life following worldly pursuits, but later turned to writing, in which he aimed to glorify God and atone for his earlier sins.
One of his most popular works is a poem called Psychomachia (Conflict of the Soul), which describes the battles between female personifications of human virtues and vices.
Instead of being a dry theological treatise, the poem has the qualities of an exciting narrative filled with high drama, with lots of bloodshed and violence.
The descriptions of the women, including their clothes, armour, and details of their conflicts, lend themselves to illustration.
This copy was apparently written by a scribe of Christ Church, Canterbury.
Referenced on p 314 Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages by Edward Lewes Cutts
... wood-cut is an illustration of the incident of Lot and his family being carried away captives by the Canaanitish kings after their successful raid against the cities of the plain;
but it puts before our eyes a group of the armed retainers of a Saxon king on a military expedition.
It will be seen that they wear the ordinary Saxon civil costume, a tunic and cloak; that they are all armed with the spear, all wear crested helmets;
and the last of the group carries a round shield suspended at his back.
The variety of attitude, the spirit and life of the figures, and the skill and gracefulness of the drawing, are admirable.
End: Prudentius' Psychomachia 24r, Good-Works fights Avarice
Next: Prudentius' Psychomachia 4v, Abraham In Pursuit
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