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This manuscript in the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris is written in Latin, with a translation with commentaries in Flemish. The text is of Boethius (De consolatio philosophiae), the illumination is by an anonymous artist but dates from the 15th century [1].

De consolatio philosophiae was written during a one-year imprisonment Boethius served while awaiting trial – and eventual horrific execution – for the crime of treason under the Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great. Boethius was at the very heights of power in Romeand was brought down by treachery. This experience inspired the text, which reflects on how evil can exist in a world governed by God (the problem of theodicy), and how happiness can be attainable amidst fickle fortune, while also considering the nature of happiness and God. It has been described as “by far the most interesting example of prison literature the world has ever seen.” From the Carolingian epoch to the end of the Middle Ages and beyond, this was the most widely copied work of secular literature in Europe. It was one of the most popular and influential philosophical works, read by statesmen, poets, and historians, as well as of philosophers and theologians. [2]

Snails appear on five folios, all rather stylized, with the shell seen as 2D-squashed and the aperture relatively large; the animals all have two tentacles only.

BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f12vBNF_MS Neerlandais1_f12v_detail2BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f12v_detail3

On folio 12v, in the lower border, two snails may be seen in the corners. In the left hand corner, the dextral shell is grayish; on the right hand the sinistral shell is brownish. Both shells give a ribbed impression and are imaginary species.

BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f58v_BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f58v_detail

On folio 58v in the centre of the border at left, a snail is illustrated with a colour pattern on the shell reminding of several species belonging to the family Helicidae.

BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f116v_BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f116v_detail

A whitish snail is found in the lower-left corner of folio 116v.

BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f212v_BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f212v_detailBNF_MS Neerlandais1_f212v_detail2

A similar snail is seen in the central part of the left-hand border on folio 212v. Moreover, a brownish specimen is present in the lower-left corner. Both snails are dextral.

BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f318v_BNF_MS Neerlandais1_f318v_detail

Finally, there is whitish, dextral snail on folio 318v in the upper part of the right-hand border.

Notes:
[1] BNF, Ms. Néerlandais 1, 392 ff. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84511055.
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Consolation_of_Philosophy.

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