From my diary

I have spent a few days, researching the Martyrologium Poeticum of pseudo-Bede.

This work would ordinarily be a bit late for us.  Bede himself appears in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum, but the editors declined to include his dubia and spuria, doubtless realising that this would take them centuries into the middle ages.

The text is the first witness to All Saints’ Days – All Hallows Day – being celebrated on 1st November.  So it gets quoted in the literature.  I’ve been trying to find out about it, with this in mind.

However I noticed a funny thing, when I was looking through the papers.  There was nothing at all under this name for more than 50 years.  There were a cluster of papers by John Hennig in the 1920s and 30s, and a couple of French papers of the same era, and then nothing.  This made me suspicious.  Generally texts do not cease to be worked on entirely, after attracting interest for centuries.

But I have seen this before.  This evening my suspicion was confirmed – that the text is today known under a different title.  No longer do we study the Martyrologium Poeticum; instead it is the Metrical Calendar of York, or even simply MCY!

The text with an English translation has been edited by Kazutomo Karasawa in The Old English Metrical Calendar (Menologium), Cambridge, 2015, in Appendix 2 (p.138), as one of a number of related texts that Dr. K. included in his edition.

It’s very bad practice to do something like this, without better reason than I have yet to see.  I nearly wrote an article, entirely based on the older literature.  I am not the only one to be misled.

I shall have to write something with a bibliography about all this, and I do need to read the articles by Michael Lapidge that list the manuscripts.  But that can wait to another time.


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