The Seven Sages and the emperor’s son, with the rubric, Incipit liber septem philosophorum cuiusda[m] Imperatoris Romani, Italy, N. (Venice), 1440s, Add MS 15685, f. 83r

The Seven Sages
of Rome

The Seven Sages of Rome is the most famous premodern text of which nobody has ever heard. This project aims to change that. The story cycle, told in at least 30 languages from Central Asia to Iceland over more than five centuries, centres on a non-consensual sexual encounter between a mute prince and his stepmother.

Main Strands

Our project, funded by a UK German collaborative research project in the humanities grant jointly from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, has three main strands.


We reappraise the text's gender politics from the perspective of recent gender studies.

Multilingual database

Most of the versions have not yet been edited or even identified, and we take a first step towards this by collating and expanding the available factual information on the transmission until 1600.

Dutch edition

We edit one of The Seven Sages' earliest European traditions from a multilingual hub, the three oldest versions of the Dutch tradition.

Funded by

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