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The Arundel Lyrics. The Poems of Hugh Primas

The Arundel Lyrics. The Poems of Hugh Primas

Edited and translated by Christopher J. McDonough

ISBN 9780674055575

Publication date: 11/22/2010

This volume presents two complementary medieval anthologies containing lyrics by two outstanding Latin poets of the second half of the twelfth century. The poet Peter of Blois was proclaimed by a contemporary of his to be a master composer of rhythmic verse. Peter’s secular love-lyrics gathered in the Arundel manuscript give substance to that claim. Written with a technical virtuosity that rivals the metrical display of Horatian lyric, the poems give eloquent and learned expression to the cult of secular love that emerged in the twelfth ­century.

The collection is further augmented by verse as varied as Christmas poems and satires on the venality of the Roman Curia and immoral bishops, including a famous lament about church corruption by Walther of Châtillon.

The cleric Hugh Primas won recognition and fame for compositions in which he reflects upon his experiences, good and bad, while traveling around the cities of northern France (such as the important sees of Rheims and Sens) in search of patronage. Artistic in conception and execution, the poems are memorable for the witty and often acerbic tone with which Primas engages the holders of ecclesiastical power.


  • The material in the volume repays study and the scholarly apparatus is impressive...This volume should receive a warm welcome. [The Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library] will be a boon to professional medievalists, their students and the general reader, and every good library ought to own the series.

    —Keith Sidwell, Times Literary Supplement


  • Christopher McDonough is Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press