Pedigree: The edition which Mr. Furnivall referred to is a reprint from 1827 (in William J. Thoms’ “A Collection of Early Prose Romances”, volume II), of an Antwerp printing (“circa 1520”) by Johan Doesborcke (quarto in the Bodleian’s Douce collection).
Synopsis: The Classical Roman poet Virgil shares only a name and location with his Medieval / Renaissance counterpart depicted here. “The Lyfe of Virgilius” tells the story of “the Lyfe of Virgilius, and of his Deth, and Many Maruayles that he dyd in hys Lyfe Tyme by Whychcrafte and Nygramancye (necromancy) thorough the helpe of the Deuyls of Hell” (Doesborcke’s Colophon).
In his 1827 Collection, William Thoms details the medieval antecedents to the tales collected in the sixteenth century book, and also mentions that other poets such as Horace were morphed into “wise men” and wizards, in a similar manner to that which classical heroes / figures (such as Orpheus) became knights upon errantry (“Sir Orfeo”).
Since Doesborcke’s book has “chapter” titles, but no table of contents, I will list those titles here:
–How Romulus cam within the fayer towne of Reynea that he destroyed, and how he slewe his broder Remus that was lorde of Raynes.
–Howe the son of Remus, that aho was named Remus after his fader, dyd slewe his unkell Romulus and afterwarde was made emperoure, and so reyned emperoure.
–Howe Virgilius was sette to schole. (…and beguiled books of necromancy away from a devil.–Ed.)
–Howe Virgilius dyde make his complaynt to the emperour as he was com to Rome.
–Howe the emperoure of Rome beseged Virgilius beynge in his castell.
–Howe the Emperour restored ageyne unto Virgilius all his enherytaunce and gooddes, and gaue to hym many other thynges.
–Howe the gentyl woman pulled vppe Virgilius, and howe she let hym hange in the basket when he was halfe way vp to hyr wyndowe, and howe the people won dered and mocked hym.
–How Virgilius put out all the fyer of Rome.
–Howe the gentylwoman was put upon the scaffolde, and howe the folke of the towne went and fetched fyer at hyr tayle, and also lyght candels betwene hyr legges. (I have an unaccountable urge to admonish, “I’m NOT making this up, you know!” 8)
–Howe Virgilius made saluatio Rome.
–Howe the emperour asked counsayll of Virgilius howe the nyght ronners and yll doers myght be ryd out of the stretes.
–Howe Virgilius made a lampe that at all tymes brenned.
–How Virgilius made a orcharde by the fountayne, the fayrest and goodlyest that euer culde be founde in all the worlde.
–Howe Virgilius made his wyfe a ymage.
–Howe Virgilius had his pleasure with the Sodans daughter.
–Howe Virgilius brought agene the Sodans daughter into hyr faders lande, and howe he founde hyr slepynge vpon hyr bedde.
–Howe Virgilius was taken there.
–Howe Virgilius cam out and led with hym the fayer lady the Sodans daughter, and how he founded the towne of Naples.
–Howe the emperour beseged the towne of Napels.
–Howe Virgilius dyd strengthe the towne of Napels with scholers and merchauntes.
–Howe Virgilius made in Rome metall serpente.
–Howe Virgilius dyed.
Google Books has an online copy of Thoms’ “Collection of Early Prose Romances” here: