William of Malmesbury and the Latin Classics Revisited

R. M. Thomson

in Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263327
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734168 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

William of Malmesbury and the Latin Classics Revisited

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William of Malmesbury was probably the greatest historian of England between Bede and Macaulay. He was born around 1090 and disappears from the historical record late in 1142; from childhood until the end of his life he was a monk of the ancient Benedictine foundation of Malmesbury in Wiltshire. The chapter mentions his florilegium, the Polyhistor, a compendium of information about ancient peoples and places that drew on both pagan and Christian writers of antiquity: there are eighteen pagan works. William’s invocation of ancient texts certainly adds dignity to his narrative, but it did not necessarily contribute to his historical accuracy. His classicizing occasionally led him to surprisingly unmonastic, and indeed un-Christian, sentiments and language.

Keywords: William; Malmesbury; Polyhistor; language; Wiltshire

Chapter.  5481 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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