Posted by John Bidwell
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 5:39:00 PM
Virgil (Romance). French (Middle French). La Vie, les ditz, et merveilles de Vergille, quil fist luy estant en Romme, nouvellement imprimee. Lyon: Heirs of Barnabé Chaussard [ca. 1535]. Purchased on the Lathrop Harper Fund, 2011.
Story tellers of the Middle Ages attributed magical powers to the poet Virgil. By means of the dark arts, he could defeat his foes, defend his friends, extinguish fires, control the weather, light up Rome at night, and build a bridge to Babylon, where he had a dalliance with the daughter of the sultan. These stories appear in manuscripts dating back to the twelfth century as well as printed editions in French, Dutch and English, none of them surviving in more than two or three copies. This French edition features a woodcut portrait of the sorcerer in his library. The first known English edition is also at the Morgan.