The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Voigts, Linda Ehrsam. "The Latin Verse and Middle English Prose Texts on the Sphere of Life and Death in Harley 3719." 21 (1986): 291-306.
According to medieval thinking, the universe was built on a numerical system. Understanding this system gave people the power to predict various events, including whether a person would live or die as the result of a certain illness. The Sphere of Life and Death gives the mathematical formulas and a chart to predict the outcome of a patient. Comparison to other manuscripts suggests that the Sphere of Life and Death is connected to "a fifteenth-century scientific and medical compendium of English origin" (297). The verse accompanying the Sphere also seems to have a source in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. Other studies of Middle English prose neglect to mention the works which follow this tradition. The text of the Sphere of Life and Death is reprinted here.