The Bodley Medal

It is unclear why the Bodleian had this medal made in 1646, but it appears to affirm the Library’s devotion to international learning at a time when Oxford was suffering the upheavals of the English Civil War. It depicts a classical female figure holding busts of the sun and moon, around which is inscribed ‘AETERNITAS · RP · LITERARIAE’ (‘the eternity of the republic of letters’). On the other side of the medal is a profile of Sir Thomas Bodley, around which is inscribed ‘TH · BODLY · EQ · AVR · PVBL · BIBLIOTH · OXON · FVNDATOR’ (‘Sir Thomas Bodley, founder of the public library at Oxford’). Today copper replicas of the medal are awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of literature, culture, science and communication.