by Sarah Laskow, November 09, 2016
Medieval scribes protected their work by threatening death, or worse.
In the Middle Ages, creating a book could take years. A scribe would bend over his copy table, illuminated only by natural light—candles were too big a risk to the books—and spend hours each day forming letters, by hand, careful never to make an error. To be a copyist, wrote one scribe, was painful: “It extinguishes the light from the eyes, it bends the back, it crushes the viscera and the ribs, it brings forth pain to the kidneys, and weariness to the whole body.”
Drogin’s book had dozens of such curses in it, and he had collected at least a dozen more to include in the second edition, which was never published. Inside his copy of the book, he still has a baggie of antique file cards, full of book curses.
As Drogin collected curses, he started to find repeats. Not all scribes were creative enough to write their own curses. If you’re looking for a good, solid book curse, one that will serve in all sorts of situations, try this popular one out. It covers lots of bases, and while it’s not quite as threatening as bookworms gnawing at entrails, it’ll get the job done:
“May whoever steals or alienates this book, or mutilates it, be cut off from the body of the church and held as a thing accursed.”
Source : Atlas Obscura