Book of Kells: Part Two

I’m going to point out a few things about this manuscript, and then you’re going to take over to help me transcribe and then translate parts of it.  Remember that transcribing is just figuring out what the Latin letters and words are and writing them down.  Translating would be expressing that Latin into another language of your choice.

The first thing that pops out to me are the huge letters that spell “Liber”.  A close look at these remarkable letters pays off.  The latin word liber means book.  The scribes who wrote this were monks, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that this is a religious book.  Latin was the language for science and religion in the Western world for centuries, and this is one of the reasons why learning Latin is so useful for a deep understanding of history.

First, let’s do some transcription:

1.  Look above the letters ER in liber, at the Latin that begins with incipit.  Using the guide on page 35 for the under case letters, transcribe the two lines (four words).

2.  Look closely and try to transcribe the two smaller words that are above the two lines you just translated.    Do you think that’s Latin?  If so, what is it?  If not, what else is it?

3.  Using the guide for upper case letters, transcribe the first two lines that begin below liber, but stop at the S in the second line.

4.  This is a Latin word.  Find its definition.  Can you think of any English words related to this Latin word?

5.  Try to transcribe the rest if you are up for the challenge. One hint, the symbol in the last line that looks like a circle with a line through it is a strange version of the letter F that your guide doesn’t point out.  In your transcription, also include any markings that exist above the letters, because they are significant.   Notice the similar markings in the Latin at the very top of the manuscript.

6.  Transcribe the two Latin words at the very top of the manuscript, beginning with the capital M.

7.  When you have verified your transcriptions with me, I’ll give you the password so that we can begin translating!

Good Luck!


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