Love, Faith, and Myth


By Margaret Ann Zaho, PhD,

Visiting Instructor, UCF Art Department

The facsimiles purchased include the Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, a 6th century Imperial Byzantine manuscript that is perhaps the oldest illuminated extant copy of the Gospels in existence. Also purchased was a facsimile edition of the 9th  century Drogo Sacramentary, one of the finest examples of Carolingian book illumination.  Also purchased was a 12th century Bestiarium facsimile. This bestiary, an illustrated book of animals with accompanying moral lessons, contains 130 gilded illuminations. Another purchase was a facsimile of the Vergilius Vaticanus, an early 5th century illuminated manuscript that contains the writings of the Latin poet Vergil. The Vatican Vergil, the original is housed in the Vatican Library, is the oldest secular extant illuminated manuscript in the west. Also purchased was a gorgeous facsimile of the 16th century allegorical love poem, the Romance of the Rose, a book presented to Francis the 1st, the king of France. These facsimiles are representative of some of the most famous and influential manuscripts from each of their respective periods.  The manuscript facsimiles in the collection now represent the 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

These manuscripts are an exciting and much needed addition to the collection. Art, art history, graphic design, and the new book arts program will benefit from the facsimiles as well as the scholarly text that comes with the editions. The books will also be a great resource for those studying Latin, German, French, and Greek as well as history students, humanities studies, language studies, philosophy, and theater.

In addition to the opportunities and research materials provided to scholars by access to these rare books, their purchase has made UCF’s collection one of the best of its kind in the state.

Manuscripts are often divided into groups depending upon their content. The most basic and perhaps most logical division is between sacred and secular manuscripts.  After that distinction, books are further subdivided into smaller and more distinct categories.

Sacred books, for example, are divided into numerous categories including, liturgical, prayer, Bibles, Gospels, and others.

Secular books are often divided into categories such as literature, mythology, allegory, and narrative.

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