Imperial Handbook

Among the most precious documents to survive from late antiquity is the Notitia Dignitatum, a handbook to the Roman Empire's civil government and military structures as of about 400 CE.

It survived in a book known as the Codex Spirensis which vanished before 1672, but was copied out half a dozen times by interested readers. One of those copies, the Vatican's arrived online on July 7 and this is a major event for anyone interested in this extraordinary sourcebook. Dr Ingo Maier, who has spent many years studying the handbook, has a website devoted to many of its details.

Fairley's English partial translation of the text (1899) is online at Fordham. Online, you can compare the Vatican copy, Barb.lat.157 with three other online copies: the two in clm10291 in Munich and that in BNF lat. 9961 in Paris (jump to fol. 72r to begin reading the latter). As far as I know, the Trent codex is not online and from the Oxford codex, only the pictures are on the internet.

Below is the Vatican codex's copy of the Provincia Dalmatiae page, compared to the W copy (Munich) below it. It is plain that the Vatican copy is more fanciful and that the artist has willfully converted the town into an early modern one.
However the other manuscripts are hardly more accurate, as you will see from the Luke Ueda-Sarson Praeses Dalmatiae (i.e. Governor of Dalmatia) composite page. Many of the images, including the specific shields of the military units, require considerable expert interpretation to understand.
Even this figure of a coach and horses needs interpreting:

My especial personal interest in the Notitia is that the Codex Spirensis also preserved a major Roman legal diagram which acquired the medieval name arbor juris or arbor consanguinatis and which is among the important classical precursors to the invention of information visualization in late antiquity:

Here is the full list of 38 uploads by Digita Vaticana on July 7 bringing the posted total to 4,794
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.F.28 - Details
  2. Barb.lat.157 - Notitia Dignitatum (above) - Details
  3. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVIII.fasc.64 - Details
  4. Capp.Giulia.XVI.16 - Details
  5. Chig.H.VI.188 - Details
  6. Ott.lat.1190 - Details
  7. Vat.gr.186 - Details
  8. Vat.lat.401 - Details
  9. Vat.lat.424 - Details
  10. Vat.lat.466 - Details
  11. Vat.lat.534 - Details
  12. Vat.lat.724 - Details
  13. Vat.lat.751 - Details
  14. Vat.lat.762 - Details
  15. Vat.lat.764 - Details
  16. Vat.lat.769 - Details
  17. Vat.lat.774 - Details
  18. Vat.lat.777 - Details
  19. Vat.lat.798 - Details
  20. Vat.lat.799 - Details
  21. Vat.lat.800 - Details
  22. Vat.lat.801 - Details
  23. Vat.lat.802 - Details
  24. Vat.lat.805 - Details
  25. Vat.lat.806 - Details
  26. Vat.lat.810 - Details
  27. Vat.lat.811 - Details
  28. Vat.lat.816 - Details
  29. Vat.lat.817 - Details
  30. Vat.lat.824 - Details
  31. Vat.lat.825 - Details
  32. Vat.lat.830, Details,
  33. Vat.lat.839, Details,
  34. Vat.lat.842, Details,
  35. Vat.lat.843, Details,
  36. Vat.lat.11543, Details,
  37. Vat.lat.12939, Details,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List 59. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana.

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