From Manuscript to Print: the Evolution of the Medieval Book


St. Gregory the Great
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Pope Gregory I (590—604), also known as Gregory the Great, was the first monk to be elevated to the papacy. St. Gregory exemplified the ideal that the pope should be the "servant of the servants of God" — indeed, he was the first to use this formula. A member of the Benedictine Order, Gregory presented a hagiographical account of its founder, St. Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480—ca. 550), in his Dialogues.

This elaborate fifteenth-century copy of the Dialogues is open to the beginning of Book Two, which contains the life of St. Benedict. The great achievement of St. Benedict was to compose a Rule for monks that provided discipline without imposing excessive austerities. The Rule of St. Benedict is in fact a model of balance: it gives equal weight to prayer, manual labor, and reading in the monastic regimen. Due to St. Benedict’s insistence on the importance of reading, the Benedictines developed copy-rooms, known as scriptoria, in which they preserved religious texts. They also preserved many secular classical texts that would otherwise have been lost during the most chaotic period of the Middle Ages.

Purchased in 1903 for A.D. White.

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Gregory the Great. Dialogues. Northeastern Italy (Padua?), 15th century.
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the Sacred Word
Private Prayer
Leather and Chains
Medieval Music
How the Classics Survived
Manuscripts in the Age of Print
Evolution of the Book
Appetite for Destruction
Manuscript Facsimiles
Cornell's Medieval Books
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