In publishing and academia, one speaks of submitting a manuscript to the editor or professor, but there was a time when submitting really was submissive. A common frontispiece in papal medieval manuscripts symbolically depicts the author kneeling before the pope and humbly holding out his book to be blessed:

This author is Laurentius Pisanus, a rather obscure author of philosophical dialogues. The codex is among 44 items placed online September 23 by the Vatican Library. Here is the full list:
  1. Borg.et.3: this Ethiopian manuscript opens with some interesting sketches:
  2. Borg.et.24, narrow charter (previously rolled?)
  3. Borgh.164, Godfrey of Fontaines' Disputed Questions (1r-24r: Tabula quaestionum variarum de re theologica et philosophica), 13th-14th century ms
  4. Neofiti.37,
  5. Vat.ebr.43
  6. Vat.ebr.399
  7. Vat.ebr.400
  8. Vat.ebr.401
  9. Vat.ebr.402
  10. Vat.ebr.403
  11. Vat.ebr.406
  12. Vat.ebr.408
  13. Vat.ebr.412.pt.1
  14. Vat.ebr.415
  15. Vat.ebr.416
  16. Vat.ebr.417
  17. Vat.ebr.418
  18. Vat.ebr.419
  19. Vat.ebr.421
  20. Vat.ebr.422
  21. Vat.ebr.425
  22. Vat.ebr.426
  23. Vat.ebr.427
  24. Vat.ebr.434
  25. Vat.ebr.436
  26. Vat.ebr.437
  27. Vat.ebr.439
  28. Vat.ebr.441
  29. Vat.ebr.446
  30. Vat.ebr.447
  31. Vat.ebr.451
  32. Vat.ebr.451
  33. Vat.lat.342
  34. Vat.lat.808
  35. Vat.lat.814
  36. Vat.lat.879
  37. Vat.lat.886
  38. Vat.lat.894
  39. Vat.lat.899
  40. Vat.lat.908, Bonaventura, Commentary
  41. Vat.lat.930, Pope Innocent, 1215-76
  42. Vat.lat.961, Laurentius of Pisa, Dialogus Humilitatis, with a fine opening miniature (above)
  43. Vat.lat.986
  44. Vat.lat.991, Albertanus of Brescia, 13th century
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 69. 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.


Cost Exorbitant

Bringing the world's most important library to the internet wasn't going to be cheap, but until now, we didn't realize just how expensive DigiVatLib would be. The Vatican Library in Rome has issued some puffy press releases, the media have printed vague predictions and pretty pictures of the reading rooms, but there haven't been any hard facts to enable some critical discussion.

My colleague Alvise Armellini, Deutsche-Presse Agentur correspondent in Rome, has done some digging and has just published what as far as I know is the first detailed, behind-the-scenes account of this globally important cultural project to scan the ancient manuscripts page by page: 
Credit: BAV/dpa/Bild
You can read the English version online at dpa, while the German version appears in many newspapers including Bild, Sächsische Zeitung, Mannheimer Morgen and Frankenpost.

There are some important revelations here. 

One is that the librarians decline to surrender the fragile Vatican manuscripts to digitization, presumably because the light levels, cradles and page-turning of the present scanning equipment, and perhaps the skills of the staff, are too rough for them (the cotton-gloved lady above is using a flatbed, not a cradle scanner). There's no indication of how these will be ultimately scanned, although the Vatican Library's May 17, 2016 statement says these are first priority.

For the first time we get the cash value of what NTT Data, a big Japanese systems software company, is donating: 18 million euros. Even for a multinational, and even if it's mainly their own costing of the book value of services, not cash, that's an extraordinarily large sum of charity. It makes comparable 1-million-at-a-time German government grants look paltry by comparison.

It outstrips a grant from Manfred Lautenschläger to digitize the 2,000 items of the Pal. lat. collection, the cash value of which has never been published, but must be in the range of 5 to 10 million euros. The contribution from the Polonsky Project -- about half of 2 million pounds, or 1.2 million euros -- to digitize Hebrew manuscripts in Rome is much less.

NTT Data Italia says its funding extends to 3,000 manuscripts up 2019. The portal does not say which manuscripts NTT sponsored, but this is probably in any case only a nominal figure.

From simple arithmetic, it would seem to value NTT's work at 6,000 euros per manuscript. That is surprisingly high: e-codices, the Swiss online library that is the gold standard among manuscript digitization projects, disclosed in March this year that digitizing was costing it 3,000 to 5,000 dollars per manuscript, and this includes expensive metadata research which the Vatican simply does not bother with.

What of the future? There are 82,000 manuscripts in total, so at the current rate, putting them all online would take more than 100 years, Armellini notes.

Why can't the digitization project be scaled up? Antonio Massari, the Italian software engineer in charge, reveals that he wouldn't be able to find enough staff for unlimited expansion. "If money was no object, we could feasibly scale up operations by a factor of five," Massari says. "Beyond that, we would probably not find enough experts with the right skills to supervise and carry out the project." Conversely, that would mean he has tied down about 20 per cent of skills available in Italy.

It remains entirely unclear what happens after 2019. Is it possible the entire project could crash and burn without a follow-on sponsor? Other big sponsors will have to be found. Like the widow with her mite, you can help too. There is a fund-raising arm, Digita Vaticana, and they are even offering a free goody as an incentive, a texturally perfect facsimile of a page from the Vatican Vergil.


Trigger Warning

It's not often that Vatican manuscripts have trigger warnings for extreme graphic content, but I would rather not know what some of the pictures in a copy of Avicenna's textbook of medicine depict.

Urb.lat.241 has just been digitized by the Vatican. According to Anthony Grafton's Rome Reborn, catalog, this unfortunate man at fol 280r has haemorrhoids.
I will spare you the diarrhoea image a few pages later. Then there is a chap (left) showing a horrified onlooker at fol. 246v something from the intestines. Don't ask.
If you get into impossible contortions to gargle, spare some sympathy for this unfortunate gentleman at fol. 389v:
Medical students tend to gaze with arms crossed and eyes wide in fascination at organs where the rest of us would rather flee the room:
I quickly turned the page after this anatomical presentation on fol. 308v:
The book is a copy dated to 1300-1310 of Gerard of Cremona's Latin translation of the medical summa by Ibn Sīnā, Abú 'Ali Al-Husain ibn 'Abd Allah (Avicenna) (d. 1037).

The Vatican Apostolic Library released nine manuscripts online last week and 75 more on September 12 for a new total of 5,437. Here is the full list:
  1. Urb.lat.93
  2. Urb.lat.164
  3. Urb.lat.220
  4. Urb.lat.239
  5. Urb.lat.240
  6. Urb.lat.241, Avicennae Canonis libri by Avicenna (above)
  7. Urb.lat.267
  8. Urb.lat.347
  9. Urb.lat.401
  10. Urb.lat.532
  11. Urb.lat.547
  12. Urb.lat.565
  13. Urb.lat.566
  14. Urb.lat.579
  15. Urb.lat.582
  16. Urb.lat.586
  17. Urb.lat.596
  18. Urb.lat.598
  19. Urb.lat.662
  20. Urb.lat.688
  21. Urb.lat.706
  22. Urb.lat.707
  23. Urb.lat.718
  24. Urb.lat.725
  25. Urb.lat.731
  26. Urb.lat.747
  27. Urb.lat.748
  28. Urb.lat.752
  29. Urb.lat.753
  30. Urb.lat.754
  31. Urb.lat.756
  32. Urb.lat.766
  33. Urb.lat.768
  34. Urb.lat.770
  35. Urb.lat.777
  36. Urb.lat.779
  37. Urb.lat.786
  38. Urb.lat.787
  39. Urb.lat.788
  40. Urb.lat.790
  41. Urb.lat.794
  42. Urb.lat.798
  43. Urb.lat.803
  44. Urb.lat.804.pt.1
  45. Urb.lat.805
  46. Urb.lat.814.pt.2
  47. Urb.lat.815.pt.3
  48. Urb.lat.816.pt.1
  49. Urb.lat.816.pt.2
  50. Urb.lat.817.pt.1
  51. Urb.lat.817.pt.2
  52. Urb.lat.817.pt.3
  53. Urb.lat.820.pt.2
  54. Urb.lat.820.pt.3
  55. Urb.lat.822.pt.1
  56. Urb.lat.822.pt.2
  57. Urb.lat.823.pt.1
  58. Urb.lat.823.pt.2
  59. Urb.lat.824.pt.1
  60. Urb.lat.824.pt.2
  61. Urb.lat.825.pt.1
  62. Urb.lat.825.pt.3
  63. Urb.lat.826.pt.1
  64. Urb.lat.826.pt.2
  65. Urb.lat.828.pt.1
  66. Urb.lat.828.pt.2
  67. Urb.lat.829.pt.4
  68. Urb.lat.830.pt.1
  69. Urb.lat.830.pt.2
  70. Urb.lat.831.pt.1
  71. Urb.lat.831.pt.2
  72. Urb.lat.832.pt.1
  73. Urb.lat.835
  74. Urb.lat.871
  75. Urb.lat.872
  76. Vat.ebr.428
  77. Vat.ebr.431
  78. Vat.ebr.432
  79. Vat.ebr.433
  80. Vat.ebr.442
  81. Vat.ebr.443
  82. Vat.lat.577
  83. Vat.lat.882
  84. Vat.lat.826
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 68. 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.