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Cursor Mundi

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Cursor Mundi refers to the immense and much copied fourteenth-century poem.

Written in the early part of the fourteenth century, the Cursor Mundi served as a biblical encyclopedia. Composed in English and consisting of over 30,000 lines, it is a text common to the Middle Ages that is not much used today.

Contents [hide] • 1 Cursor Mundi and its readership • 2 Cursor Mundi and its authorship • 3 Cursor Mundi and its contents • 4 References

Cursor Mundi and its readership

A modern scholar rarely would find an encyclopedia with the size and vast content of the Cursor Mundi. In fact, two modern undertakings of the project add up to over seven volumes ([The Early English Text Society]) and a Southern version of the text done in five volumes ([The Ottawa Project]) simply because of the immense nature of the text. Yet, both of these versions are mere adaptations of the original Northern version,

In fact, the Cursor Mundi is known more by name then in anything else. Originally, published in nine manuscripts there is little use for the manuscript to be read from start to finish.

Cursor Mundi and its authorship

The unknown author of the Cursor Mundi presents himself as a chosen shepherd; a shepherd who was chosen because of his talents.

His focus lies in two realms. One being what the Bible actually says and the other being what it does not. Therefore, he omits such things like apocrypha, those texts whose authors and origins are unclear, legends, and other bits of history which he deems irrelevant to his summary. And while the author claims that it is a biblical summary, he references the popular Historia Scholastica by [Peter Comestor].

The Cursor Mundi’s authorship lends to an interpretation that reads more like a modern encyclopedia and less like a biblical interpretation.

Cursor Mundi and its contents

In terms of contents, the Cursor Mundi is divided in accordance to the seven ages of salvation history.

The poet considers the Bible to be one of many sources in the history of the church. He focuses on characters more than anything else where Jesus and Mary are the central figures. According to preface of [The Early English Text Society] the Cursor Mundi is a collection of poignant and vivid versions of stories arranged “in an orderly, encyclopedic yet fundamentally digressive manner” .


Hudson, Anne. "The 'Cursor Mundi': Poem, Texts and Contexts." The Review of English Studies ns 50 (1999): 363-364. JSTOR. Graselli Library, University Heights. 15 Apr. 2008.

Lawton, David. "Englishing the Bible." The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. 60-477.

Marx, C.W. "Untitled." The Modern Language Review os 96 (1996): 457-458. JSTOR. Graselli Library, University Heights. 15 Apr. 2008.

Peer Reviews

Work on your tenses, they tend to shift. Your content is good, but the articulation is choppy and sloppy. Try to fix it up. Grade: B-

An adequate amount of information, but lacking a bit in historical context. The grammar is also a bit shaky. Grade: B

I'm sorry, but I really have no clue what this was all about. Poem? Encyclopedia? Bible interpretation? I couldn't seem to get a clear definition from your article, or any idea of its relevance to history or literature. It seems like you did research, you just did not articulate yourself well. Grade: C

It was difficult for me to understand exactly what the article was about. I think the substance is probably there, but you need to fix up the language so it becomes clear. C+

I concur with the previous reviews. There are facts in this paper, but you do not organize them very well. You were too broad, therefore, the paper had no substance. It was also quite a very short article. In the future, you will need to focus more on your topic and pay more attention to detail, specifically, your grammar and spelling. On this occassion, the grammar and spelling mistakes made it difficult for readers not only to read the document, but also to interpret your meaning. C

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