Barlaam et Josaphat, octosyllabic anonymous version

  • S. XIV3/4 [Friuli]; paper; mm 293 × 211; 1 folium
  • Cividale del Friuli, City Public Library, Fondo D’Orlandi*, folder 24 (ACD H 24)

Written by a probably local copyist who was familiar with the linguistic habits of French texts transcribed in Italy.

A ‘mirror’ of exemplary education, the story of Siddharta’s discovery of the true faith, once attributed to St. John Damascene, was subject to a subsequent series of re-adaptations in various languages, so as to more fit the Christian doctrine, through the tale of the vicissitudes of the pagan king Avenir, his son Josaphat, the monk and doctrine teacher Barlaam. The definitive success was reached upon the inclusion of their lives into Jacobus de Varagine’s Legenda aurea (ca. 1261-1266). The fragment kept at Cividale is among the witnesses of an anonymous French translation in in 12224 octosyllabic verses, drawn out in the first quarter of the thirteenth century quite trustworthily to the Latin sources, which attained a certain success. The local historian Luigi Suttina (1883-1951) opportunely wanted to organize the fragment, which he reported in 1905 and later edited in 1932, within the patriarchal civilization frame, since he supposed its provenance from a codex belonging to Bertrand de Saint-Geniès, patriarch of Aquileia from 1334 to 1350. But due to its watermark the paper document is in fact referable to the years 1360-70 and to Northern Italy, including Udine (Briquet, 7406-7). The palaeographical examination of the text, written in the typical Italian chancellery script (minuscola cancelleresca), allows to report a typology observed in other Friulian late-medieval papers.

City Library of Cividale del Friuli - Ms. ACD H 24

City Library of Cividale del Friuli – Ms. ACD H 24

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