Fishy Letters

A rare illuminated Merovingian codex, the Vatican Gelasian Sacramentary, is the major new addition among 31 manuscripts brought online at Digita Vaticana on December 22.

The sacramentary is a liturgical book that contains the key parts of the mass as celebrated in about 750 CE. It was superseded by a new sacramentary when Charlemagne called for standardization by Rome, and that in turn was later replaced by the Roman Missal. The attribution of this sacramentary text to poor old Pope Gelasius is as spurious as his link to the forged Gelasian Decree.

The colourful miniatures of this codex, probably made at Paris, comprise elaborate crosses and ingenious animal lettering. Most other surviving Merovingian codices are quite plain with no illumination, but the sacramentaries are something special. There's an even more elaborate one, Latin 12048, at Paris (hat tip to Mare Nostrum for alerting me to this). Here is how the Vatican codex treats the word "noverit" on folio 132r, assembling it out of birds and fish:
More mysterious was this fishy "Deus" at fol. 173r. This line of text begins: "Deus qui diligentibus ..." according to the Wilson edition.
But I did not get the riddle of why it means Deus. Help anyone? [Twitter always has the answers. @BillyGrammar was managing the @dpa_intl feed when he saw this and promptly replied:
@Archivalia_kg retweeted the question and in similar vein @Irizaurus answered:
So it seems settled that D-S has been compacted, perhaps as a nominum sacrum (a reverent abbreviation of a holy name) or as a pun (say D-S and it sounds like Deus, a pun also applied to the old Citroen DS car). The observation was also offered that the fishy decoration seems very Irish, so I am favouring humour as the likely reason.]

The codex also contains amazing naive-art beasts like this tiger-donkey on the previous page:

These are possibly the last uploads of 2015. These postings brings the front-page total to 3,451. The Pal.lat. series has already been placed online in Germany in the past and is not commented on here.
  1. Pal.lat.817,
  2. Pal.lat.926,
  3. Pal.lat.952,
  4. Pal.lat.953,
  5. Pal.lat.954,
  6. Pal.lat.955,
  7. Pal.lat.956,
  8. Pal.lat.957,
  9. Pal.lat.958,
  10. Pal.lat.977,
  11. Pal.lat.989,
  12. Pal.lat.991,
  13. Pal.lat.992,
  14. Pal.lat.992,
  15. Pal.lat.994,
  16. Pal.lat.995,
  17. Pal.lat.998,
  18. Pal.lat.1006,
  19. Pal.lat.1017,
  20. Pal.lat.1068,
  21. Reg.lat.316, Gelasian Sacramentary (above).
  22. Vat.lat.396, John Chrysostom, homilies
  23. Vat.lat.407, John Chrysostom, homilies
  24. Vat.lat.410, John Chrysostom, homilies
  25. Vat.lat.414.pt.1, first of a three-volume collection: Augustine, 13th century, France. Mobius 
  26. Vat.lat.414.pt.2, ditto, second of three
  27. Vat.lat.415, Augustine, De Trinitate and various
  28. Vat.lat.3200, Dante, Commedia, with this fine beard
    Contains an apparently spurious statement on the final folio placing Dante's tomb in the wrong Ravenna church. Of course, with all the skulduggery over that body, who knows if it is not right?
  29. Vat.lat.3438, Fulvio Orsini
  30. Vat.lat.4820, with a little booklet bound in at the end, by Angelo Colocci, tabulating Provencal chansons (ff 81r–104r)
  31. Vat.lat.4938, Augustine on Psalms, 8th-century uncial from northern Italy. Mobius
As always, use the comments box below to correct or comment. Follow me on Twitter, @JBPiggin, for more news, or use the RSS follow button at top right of this page. [This is Piggin's Unofficial List 34.]


St George

The Codex of St George is a missal made at Avignon, France in the early 14th century for Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi (c.1260 - 1341). Stefaneschi was a Roman poet and arts patron who also commissioned the Navicella (earlier post) in Old St. Peters for 2,200 florins from Giotto. Here is an image from the missal that evidently shows Stefaneschi himself, probably in about 1325 or so.

The miniature and initials are by an anonymous painter who is known only as the Master of the St George Codex and is famed for the fine expression and composition of his figures. Here is St George battling the dragon, according to the legend, and the onlookers watching fearfully (folio 85r):

The codex is one of the 44 new manuscripts uploaded Dec 14 on Digita Vaticana, taking the posted total to 3,420. The full list follows, whereby I will not comment on the Pal. lat. series which was made publicly available a couple of years ago in Heidelberg, Germany.
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.C.129, Codex of St George (above).
  2. Borg.lat.898, a copy of the Itineris ad septentrionales fructus by Johannes van Heeck, a Dutchman who was a co-founder of the Accademia dei Lincei.
  3. Cappon.114,
  4. Ott.lat.319, a 7th-century uncial manuscript of Augustine on Psalms. Notes at St. Louis.
  5. Pal.lat.931,
  6. Pal.lat.942,
  7. Pal.lat.996,
  8. Pal.lat.997,
  9. Pal.lat.1002,
  10. Pal.lat.1007,
  11. Pal.lat.1009,
  12. Pal.lat.1011,
  13. Pal.lat.1012,
  14. Pal.lat.1013,
  15. Pal.lat.1016,
  16. Pal.lat.1021,
  17. Pal.lat.1025,
  18. Pal.lat.1027,
  19. Pal.lat.1029,
  20. Pal.lat.1031,
  21. Pal.lat.1048,
  22. Pal.lat.1065,
  23. Pal.lat.1073,
  24. Pal.lat.1076,
  25. Pal.lat.1077,
  26. Pal.lat.1079,
  27. Pal.lat.1088,
  28. Reg.lat.1492, Jean de Meun's continuation of the Roman de la Rose, his French translation of Boethius's Consolations of Philosophy, and other works. Bourges, 1470. Description at St. Louis. With fine miniatures such as this woman with a bow:
    This is Venus firing a flaming arrow at the castle, which sets vast parts of the building on fire at the climax of the story. The text reads: "Comme Venus (tirait?) au chastel un brandon de feu pour embraser ...  " and this is obviously a lot racier than older versions like Princeton Garrett MS. 126.
  29. Ross.1069,
  30. Urb.lat.7, 14th-century Bible with Jerome prologues and fine initials. Here is David fighting Goliath at folio 185r
  31. Urb.lat.21, Nicholas of Lyra, Postillae morales
  32. Urb.lat.24, Thomas Aquinas on Aristotle
  33. Urb.lat.159, finely illuminated law text by Bernardo Bottoni on Gregory's Decretals, with a 14th-century arbor consanguinatis where the tree is held in a planter by the law-giver (discussed by Hermann Schadt, Arbores, at p 259 ff.)
  34. Urb.lat.218, Gasparino Barzizza, c. 1360-1431, Commentum super epistulas Senecae Cordubensis ad Lucillum.
  35. Urb.lat.254, 1614, begun by Francesco Maria II della Rovere, duke of Urbino, 1548-1631, mostly blank
  36. Urb.lat.262, geomancy and astrology
  37. Urb.lat.270, 16th century on carriage equippage
  38. Urb.lat.285, Narciso Aurispa on fortifications
  39. Urb.lat.298, Robert Kilwardby
  40. Urb.lat.330, Petrarch
  41. Urb.lat.358, Punic Wars
  42. Vat.gr.327,
  43. Vat.gr.903,
  44. Vat.gr.1820,

As always, if you can add more information, use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for more postings. [This is Piggin's Unofficial List 33.]


A Costly Petrus Roll

Last week in New York, Sotheby's sold at auction for $250,000 a parchment roll containing a 13th-century copy of the Compendium of Petrus Pictaviensis, a timeline of biblical history compiled in Paris in the late 12th century for use in education. Of about 200 extant copies of this huge diagram, the auctioned item is probably the only one left in private ownership.

It is one of the items listed in my manuscript survey, which offers links to many of the digitized rolls. The sale description notes that the just-sold item, of English origin, is "inscribed with a few sixteenth-century annotations, attesting to the roll’s continued usefulness as a guide to biblical and other history."

This week, Digita Vaticana added 15 new items to its posted index, including another copy of the Compendium, this one in book form. Pal.lat.963 dates from the 15th century and was made in Germany with many fine miniatures. The New York sale gives a rough idea of the immense market value of the Rome item. In Pal.lat.963 we can admire the dynamics of Abraham being stopped as he is about to sacrifice Isaac:

The second image is a fine little Nativity from the same book. Mary seems to have a very comfortable bed in this stable, but Joseph looks tired and cold. The manuscript is not completely fresh online. It was available last year or even earlier on Heidelberg's Biblioteca Palatina portal, but is now on the Vatican's server as well.

Here is the full list of 15 new postings:
  1. Pal.lat.939,
  2. Pal.lat.941,
  3. Pal.lat.962,
  4. Pal.lat.963, Petrus Pictaviensis, with Candelabra and Compendium
  5. Pal.lat.1014,
  6. Pal.lat.1024,
  7. Ross.884, Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, and Terence, Eununchus, now believed to have been copied out by Machiavelli himself. See Alison Brown's discussion. (And all praise to the scanner for opening up the foldouts.)
  8. Vat.lat.376, Augustine of Hippo: On Epistles of John and other extracts
  9. Vat.lat.377, Ado of Vienne, Martyrologium, etc.
  10. Vat.lat.392, John Chrysostom, in Latin
  11. Vat.lat.393, John Chrysostom, Homilae, Epistulae
  12. Vat.lat.1894, Diogenes Laertius, Latin translation by Ambrose Traversari, of De vitis philosophorum - 15th century
  13. Vat.lat.3306, a 12th-century manuscript of the Comedies of Terence (possibly with glosses from the Commentum Brunsianum)
  14. Vat.lat.3594, De regno, by Leodrisio Crivelli. Text here (PDF).
  15. Vat.lat.3833, the Collectio Canonum by Deusdedit, written between 1083 and 1087. This is the sole complete manuscript of this legal work. See Lotte Kéry. Notable for tabular material, but no diagrams. This is a palimpsest with four Vulgate gospels from the 7th or 8th century underneath (see Trismegistos).
As a later addition to this post (in January 2016), I will list the 34 most recent BAV manuscripts issued online on Biblioteca Palatina. These were all announced by its RSS feed on December 7, 2015.

  1. Pal. lat. 646 Io(annis) Mo(naehi) apparatus sexti libri decretalium (14-15th century)
  2. Pal. lat. 650 Bonifatii VIII sextus decretalium cum apparatu Ioannis Andreae (14-15th century)
  3. Pal. lat. 652 Bernardi (Circa) prepositi papiensis breuiarium decretalium (14th century)
  4. Pal. lat. 654 Nicolai (Siculi) episcopi panormitani lectura super 2a parte et sic super toto 2° libro decretalium (1460)
  5. Pal. lat. 660 Nicolai Siculi: Nicolai Siculi abbatis episcopi panormitani lectura super primo decretalium (15th century)
  6. Pal. lat. 661 Nicolai Siculi: Nicolai Siculi episcopi lectura super prima parte secundi libri decretalium (15th century)
  7. Pal. lat. 662 Nicolai Siculi: Nicolai Ciculi (l. Siculi) doctoris excellentissimi in monasterio sce. Marie de monacbis in Sicilia lectura in tertium librum decretalium (15th century)
  8. Pal. lat. 663 Nicolai Siculi: Nicolai Sciculi (l. Siculi) episcopi panormitani tractatus in secundum librum deeretalimn: Lectura de prima parte secundi libri decretalium (15th century)
  9. Pal. lat. 665 Nicolai Siculi: Dni. (Nicolai) abbatis de Scicilia (sic) famosissimi et monarchae iuris canonici doctoris lectura super quinto decretalium (15th century)
  10. Pal. lat. 666 Nicolai Siculi: Sammelhandschrift (15th century)
  11. Pal. lat. 669 Tractatus in constitutiones clementinas (15th century)
  12. Pal. lat. 670 Ioannis Andreae: Novella primi (1407)
  13. Pal. lat. 674 Iohannis Caldarini bonon. tabula auctoritatum et sententiarum biblie inductarum in compilacionibus decretor. et decretalium ; Flores ex libris sacrorum canonum et legum nec non ex libris reuerendorum doctorum dedic. Eberardo praeposito ecclesie Hoyern (15th century)
  14. Pal. lat. 677 Reinheri ord. predicatorum liber hereticorum ; Articuli mgri. lohannis Wiclef condempnati in Anglia per . XIII . episcopos et XXX . magistros in theologia . in Conuentu frm. predicatorum anno dni. 1380; Dni. Petri de ordine celestinorum inquisitoris hereticorum processus (15th century)
  15. Pal. lat. 678 Sammelhandschrift (13th century) 
  16. Pal. lat. 679 Sammelband (15th century), in two parts
  17. Pal. lat. 680 Fris. Nycolai Eymerici ord. pred. sacre theologie magistri Cappellani domini nri. pape etc. in terris domini Regis Aragonie inquisitoris liber inquisicionis (15th century)
  18. Pal. lat. 681 Fratris Nicolai Eymerici directorium inquisitionis haereticae pravitatis (15th century)
  19. Pal. lat. 682 Fratris Martini (Poloni) ord. praedicatorum tabula decretorum et decretalium ordine alphabetico (15th century)
  20. Pal. lat. 683 Sammelhandschrift (15th century)
  21. Pal. lat. 684 Egudii Bellimere (sic) decisiones in ius canonicum ; Bertrandi de Arnassana sacri palatii causarum auditoris ordinacio decisionum antiquarum (praecedentium) redacta sub congruis titulis in hoc presenti compendio (15th century)
  22. Pal. lat. 685 Sammelhandschrift (15th century)
  23. Pal. lat. 686 Sammelhandschrift (15th century)
  24. Pal. lat. 690 Martiniani (i. e. Martini Poloni) summa iuris canonici (15th century)
  25. Pal. lat. 692 Bartolomaei Pysani
  26. Pal. lat. 693 Sammelhandschrift
  27. Pal. lat. 694 Bartholomaei Pisani 
  28. Pal. lat. 696 Bern(ardi) Papi(ensis)
  29. Pal. lat. 700 Sammelhandschrift
  30. Pal. lat. 701 Liber formularum, in two parts
  31. Pal. lat. 706 Iohannis 
  32. Pal. lat. 698 Tabula super summam Beymundi (de Pennaforti) (13th century)
  33. Pal. lat. 699 Tabula iuris
  34. Pal. lat. 1906 Epigrammata et Epistolae
If you can contribute more data, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for more information.


Stemmata in Incunables

What I have been looking at in recent weeks is how early printers coped with the idea of a stemma without drawing a tree. The period I am looking at is that of the so-called incunables, books printed before 1500, and I should stress that I am not concerned here with fanciful treelike art like that of Hartmann Schedel (as in the previous post) but with the pure stemmata.

The simplest approach in this period was to cut a pre-existing graphic as a woodblock, which is what the author and publisher did in Die Cronica van der hilliger Stat va[n] Coelle[n] (The Chronicle of the Holy City of Cologne, 1499, ISTC ic00476000 GW 6688). Here, each name is placed in a rectangular clipeus with curvilinear connectors.

A copy of this little book printed in Cologne has been digitized by the HAB. Although headed "Der Stam ind Ursprunck der Herzogen von Sassen", the graphic is in fact nothing more than a new version of the 1043 stemma by Siegfried of Gorze, which had been drawn to argue (in vain) the irregularity of Emperor Heinrich marrying Agnes of Poitou and was endlessly repurposed for the next five centuries:

The same book contains an adaptation of the Stemma of Cunigunde of similar age. These woodcuts are innovative in form, but do not advance diagrammatic technology in any essential way.

Strictly traditional stemmata could also be cut in wood, as in the 1475 Rudimentum Novitiorum where the roundel form is made chainlike:

The long-familiar pattern of roundels is set up as a block in this Seleucid genealogy in a 1498 edition from Basle of Nicholas of Lyra, once again imitating forerunners in the manuscripts, but with the change in this printing that the connecting lines are almost as wide as the roundels:

Slightly out of period is a 1511 Paris-printed Boccaccio Genealogy of the Gods (John Rylands Library copy), where the fanciful leaf-work of the Boccaccio autograph manuscript (1363-66) is dispensed with and roundels and little scrolls are used:
Much more creative and innovative is the early effort by the printers to build stemmata out of punch-cut type. These experiments had to be adapted to the type-form, the printing frame in which every element had to be rectangular so the form could be fitted and wedged before going to press.

The Chronica Bossiana printed by Zarotto at Milan (or Parma) in 1492 (ISTC ib01040000 GW 4952) has an extraordinarily modern-looking stemma which employs rectangles and straight connecting lines:

For a while I found it hard to believe this Genealogy of the Visconti was truly made this way, back in 1492. It would look absolutely at home in a modern PowerPoint presentation, and apart from the Latin and the typeface, it could grace any modern digitally composed book without anyone suspecting its age.

The Italian printer produced it in red ink in a book that otherwise is in black (in my plot, the print should therefore properly be red too) and pasted it in the front. Scrutiny suggests this may not be xylographic like the Cologne stemma above, but a composed typographic page using rules, though I am not expert enough to judge how these boxes and connecting lines could have been set up.

The author of this world chronicle, Donato Bossi (biography in Italian), paid for the printing, so he may well have had a hand in the design. You can inspect the page as printed and zoom in by consulting the Chronica Bossiana copy at the HAB. The University of Cambridge has another copy which is not digitized, but is carefully described, and I will quote that description:
[Genealogical tree of the Visconti family], caption "Geneologia uicecomitum Principum Mediolani descendentium de Inuorio Ducatus Mediolani", 1v; Donatus Bossius. Chronica, dedicated to Johannes Galeatius Sforza, duke of Milan.

Later, printers were to develop other options, such as using blank space to build a stemma. The table of figures of speech by Georg Major printed as a preface to Philipp Melanchthon's De arte dicendi at Leipzig in 1528 (and also at Paris in 1529, digitized at HAB), contains a stemma with no connecting lines at all:

But as far as I can tell at first sight, these minimalist stemmatic arrays are not yet found in pre-1500 printing.


Jesus in a Nutshell

One of the peculiarities of 15th-century tree diagrams is that the humans are often shown as half-figures emerging from a kind of nutshell. Possibly this is a stylized nest. These show up in manuscripts and then appear in early printed books where the art continues in the same fashion.

There is a remarkable instance of this in Urb.lat.300 which is the among the manuscripts uploaded Dec 1 to Digita Vaticana. This is a manuscript of the Fons memorabilium universali of Domenico Bandini d'Arezzo (c. 1335-1418), for which the catalog gives the additional title De viris claris Lexicon. It was likely copied thus during the author's lifetime.

This has a most unusual table of contents at the front which shows Christ growing out of a hexagonal fountain, with the book's topics listed in roundels at the end of branches. It is discussed in Hermann Schadt's Arbores, p 335, the reference for which you will find in a previous blog post.

This short of thing is familiar from the Hartmann Schedel Liber Chronicarum of 1493, as in this hand-coloured copy in Munich showing Mizraim, his wife and their son Ludim:

Christiane Klapisch-Zuber (L'Ombre, p 297) terms this object a corolla. These motifs in fact have a medieval past. For example, the Dialogus de laudibus sanctae crucis at Munich (BSB, clm 14159) contains a similar treatment of Isaac as a bust in a graphic that is a kind of at-a-glance diagram of how the Old Testament is organized and its themes:

The December 1 uploads bring the posted total on Digita Vaticana to 3,361. Here is the full list, and once again I will not describe the Pal.lat. releases here, as it is likely most of them have been online before today in Heidelberg, since Rome and the German library have partnered to digitize them.
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.D.197, Nicholas of Lyra, Postillae
  2. Barb.lat.3935, a 14th/15th century Dante
  3. Barb.lat.3954, Petrarch
  4. Borg.copt.109.cass.XIV.fasc.44,
  5. Borg.copt.109.cass.XIV.fasc.45,
  6. Borg.copt.109.cass.XIV.fasc.47,
  7. Borg.copt.109.cass.XIV.fasc.48,
  8. Borg.copt.109.cass.XIV.fasc.49,
  9. Borg.copt.109.cass.XV.fasc.50,
  10. Borg.copt.109.cass.XV.fasc.51,
  11. Borg.copt.109.cass.XV.fasc.52,
  12. Borg.copt.109.cass.XV.fasc.54,
  13. Borg.copt.109.cass.XV.fasc.55,
  14. Borgh.183, Book of Hours with this hair-raising visitation of death wielding a club:
  15. Cappon.199,
  16. Cappon.252.pt.B,
  17. Cappon.318,
  18. Pal.lat.537,
  19. Pal.lat.771,
  20. Pal.lat.818,
  21. Pal.lat.835,
  22. Pal.lat.884,
  23. Pal.lat.896,
  24. Pal.lat.904,
  25. Pal.lat.908,
  26. Pal.lat.911,
  27. Pal.lat.914,
  28. Pal.lat.916,
  29. Pal.lat.922,
  30. Pal.lat.924,
  31. Pal.lat.925,
  32. Pal.lat.934,
  33. Pal.lat.935,
  34. Pal.lat.936,
  35. Pal.lat.937,
  36. Pal.lat.938,
  37. Pal.lat.950,
  38. Pal.lat.951,
  39. Pal.lat.1015,
  40. Patetta.685,
  41. Urb.lat.11, Gefroi de Pinkegni, commentarii in Evangelia etc. In French. Important supplementary source of Occitan version of bible. See Samuel Berger. This codex is celebrated for its copious miniatures by Neri da Rimini (c.1270 - c.1330), including this Three Kings with the Infant Jesus on 13v:
  42. Urb.lat.16, Nicholas of Lyra, Postillae on Psalms, Job, Minor Prophets
  43. Urb.lat.17, Nicholas of Lyra, Postillae
  44. Urb.lat.27, Thomas Aquinas on Gospel of Matthew
  45. Urb.lat.56,
  46. Urb.lat.76,
  47. Urb.lat.85,
  48. Urb.lat.101, Bede and Anselm
  49. Urb.lat.123, Alexander of Ales OFM
  50. Urb.lat.161,
  51. Urb.lat.165,
  52. Urb.lat.180, Burkhard of Worms, legal
  53. Urb.lat.182, Aristotle's Historia animalium, De partibus animalium, De generatione animalium, all penned in Florence in about 1470. Anthony Grafton's Rome Reborn catalogue noted of this codex: Pope Nicholas V was a patron of the translation of ancient scientific works from Greek into Latin. New translations of Aristotle's books on animals, which describe over five hundred different species and are the principal ancient works on the subject, played an important part in this pope's intellectual program. George Trebizond's translation was commissioned by Nicholas V. Its details are listed in the St Louis catalog. Later noticed by @LatinAristotle.
  54. Urb.lat.251,
  55. Urb.lat.253,
  56. Urb.lat.277,
  57. Urb.lat.282,
  58. Urb.lat.291,
  59. Urb.lat.299,
  60. Urb.lat.300, manuscript of the Fons memorabilium universali of Domenico Bandini d'Arezzo (above).
  61. Urb.lat.307, Nonius Marcellus, Paul the Deacon
  62. Urb.lat.309, Aulius Gelius, Attic Nights, 15th-century copy
  63. Urb.lat.313, Cicero, Epistolarum ad familiares
  64. Urb.lat.314, panegyrics by Pliny and others
  65. Urb.lat.317, Asconius on Cicero
  66. Urb.lat.323, Cicero, 15th century
  67. Urb.lat.329, Martianus Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, 15th-century copy including this fine drawing at fol. 139v and figural miniatures:
  68. Urb.lat.336, Libanius, letters etc, 15th-century copy
  69. Urb.lat.374,
  70. Vat.ar.13,
  71. Vat.gr.802,
  72. Vat.gr.1135,
  73. Vat.lat.127, commentary on Mark and Luke
  74. Vat.lat.239, Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 15th century copy
  75. Vat.lat.275, Ambrose on Psalms
  76. Vat.lat.298, Basil the Great and Cyril of Alexandria
  77. Vat.lat.354, a collection of 123 of Jerome's letters, 11th century
  78. Vat.lat.355, volume 1 of a 9th or 10th century manuscript in Beneventan script of the above. Important in the history of collecting the correspondence of Jerome of Stridon. The second volume, Vat.lat.356, is not yet online. Though there are about 7,000 manuscripts with Jerome letters, Andrew Cain says it took till the 9th century to assemble them all, so this codex dates back to that compilation period.
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