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Contents of the Speculum Morale (apocryphal)

The Speculum Morale consists of three books, each of which is divided into “partes”, which in turn consist of “distinctiones” further divided into chapters. The Speculum Morale opens with a prologue, which has survived in only one manuscript (ms. Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Fiesole 140, fol. 1ra).

In this prologue, the Franciscan author presents his work as a compilation from the works of saints and venerable masters for moral edification and instruction and exhortation of the simple, seeking simple truth with a coarse staff and unsophisticated style. These sentences echo chapters 1-4 of the Libellus Apologeticus, the general prologue Vincent of Beauvais had written for his Speculum Maius. Vincent's words also resonate throughout the rest of the prologue of the Speculum Morale. It even echoes his short introductions to the chapter lists and alphabetical register of the Speculum Naturale and Speculum Historiale.

The thematic foundation of the Speculum Morale is derived from the work De Consideratione Novissimorum, compiled by a Franciscan author, possibly Durand of Champagne. In addition, it contains extended extracts from Durand's Speculum Dominarum, Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, and further from Stephen of Bourbon's Tractatus De Diversis Materiis Predicabilibus, and the commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Four Books of Sentences by Peter of Tarentaise and Richard of Mediavilla.

The De Consideratione Novissimorum provides both the beginning of the Speculum Morale (1.1.1-4) and most of its second book, which is devoted to the four last things. Like its principal source, the Speculum Morale opens with an explanation of a quote from the biblical book Ecclesiasticus: "In omnibus operibus tuis memorare novissima tua et in aeternum non peccabis" ("In all your works, remember your last things, and you will not sin in eternity") [Ecclus. 7.40]. These words shape its division into three books, each considering part of the quote from Ecclesiasticus, namely activities (passions, virtues, grace and laws), the four last things and avoiding sin through penance.

“In all your works” is the basis of book 1 of the Speculum Morale, which is divided into four parts: 1: human actions and passions of the soul; 2: law and divine grace; 3: virtues in general, theological and cardinal virtues; and 4: the gifts of the Holy Spirit and beatitudes. Book 2 concentrates on “remember your last things”, with these four parts: 1. death; 2. Last Judgment; 3: the punishment of the wicked; and 4: beatitudes of the body and soul. Book 3, divided into ten parts, deals with “you will not sin in eternity” and discusses a long list of sins: 1: things preventing sin; 2: sin in general; 3: pride and its daughters; 4: envy and its daughters; 5: anger and its daughters; 6: acedia and its daughters; 7: avarice and its daughters; 8: gluttony and its daughters; 9: lust and its daughters; and 10: penance, concluding with prayers of thanks.

Sources: Mews, C.J. and Zahora, T., Remembering Last Things and Regulating Behavior in the Early Fourteenth Century: From the De consideratione novissimorum to the Speculum morale. In: Speculum 90 (2015), pp. 960-994, esp. 980-982 and 993-994; supplemented with observations by Hans Voorbij.

Image: Speculum Morale, Johannes Mentelin, ed. Straßburg, November 9, 1976, vol. 2, p. 1ro, kept by Münich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2 Inc.s.a. 1215 m-1.

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