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Christ's College : Life of St Eupraxia and Passion of St Eirene

Christ's College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, produced during the late 16th century, contains two hagiographical texts: the <i>Life of St Eupraxia and Passion of St Eirene</i>. Eupraxia was a 5th-century Constantinopolitan nun and Eirene a martyred princess, whose story is set in 4th-century Persia. The former text is the work of a priest and monk named Ignatios and its language has vernacular features, a common characteristic in hagiography, a form of literature directed at an unusually wide audience. The latter is anonymous and written in a more classical style of Greek.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The two texts are physically distinct from one another, having been written by two different scribes on different papers. The scribe of the first text provided it with quire signatures to guide its binding, but none survive in the second. It is therefore possible that they were originally separate creations which were bound together at a later date. However, they were produced in the same period and their scribes wrote in a similar style with similar decorative flourishes, using the same layout. It therefore remains possible that they were always intended to be combined into a single volume.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>A further circumstantial indication of a possible common origin is the fact that both hands have been identified among the various copyists of another Christ's College manuscript, MS Rouse 254, a composite volume of ascetic texts. Both were bought by W.H.D. Rouse on the island of Kalymnos in 1898. This raises the possibility that they came from the same source and had a history of common ownership extending back to the time of production. Unfortunately, Rouse's note recording this acquisition (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(4);return false;'>f. [i] verso</a>) is vague about the purchase, saying only that the manuscript came from one of the numerous islands of the Sporades, while the equivalent note in the other manuscript gives no information on its provenance beyond the date and place of purchase.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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