Ottonian Artistry

Most of the great artists of 10th-century Europe are anonymous. One of them, who goes by the name Master of the Registrum Gregorii, was a leading illuminator in Trier in Germany at some point between 977 and 993 and created the splendid Ottonian evangeliary Reg.lat.15. It was digitized by the Vatican in the past week. The book has huge and very ornate initials:

It has been copiously studied by art historians. The Trier workshop must have been superb, as a second great illuminator, perhaps a student of the Master, seems to have been put to work on folio 1r and 2v, which contain purpureus pages with gold writing based on late antique models. The latter illuminator, believed to have worked in Mainz, also created the famous Prayerbook of Otto III, now in Munich.

Here is a selection of the new codices online:
  1. Borg.et.8
  2. Reg.lat.8, psalms, Versio Gallicana (with touches of the Vetus Latina), annotated with the help of a Greek text. Incipit, beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum. This is a 12th-century manuscript from Germany or Bohemia and has the Beuron number 438 (my list). No illuminations, but rubrics throughout.
  3. Reg.lat.15, evangeliary from Trier, Germany (above)
  4. Reg.lat.137
  5. Reg.lat.144
  6. Reg.lat.157
  7. Reg.lat.181
  8. Reg.lat.192
  9. Reg.lat.217
  10. Reg.lat.221, ff. 18-33 contains the natural-history book by Hugo de Folieto (13th century), incipit "Si dormitatis inter medios cleros", according to the eTK. Also: "Desiderii tui karissime petitionibus ..." (13c) (use the eTK via the link at the Medieval Academy of America).
  11. Reg.lat.225
  12. Reg.lat.239
  13. Reg.lat.244
  14. Reg.lat.289
  15. Reg.lat.314
  16. Reg.lat.363
  17. Reg.lat.371
  18. Reg.lat.376
  19. Reg.lat.386
  20. Reg.lat.395
  21. Reg.lat.446
  22. Urb.lat.1779 
  23. Vat.copt.98
  24. Vat.lat.707 , Bartholomaeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum HT to @LatinAristotle who notes: ms names fellow Dominican "Albertus [Magnus] Teutonicus":
  25. Vat.lat.1337
  26. Vat.lat.1375
  27. Vat.lat.1386
  28. Vat.lat.1419
  29. Vat.lat.1471
  30. Vat.lat.1487
  31. Vat.lat.1506
  32. Vat.lat.5748

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 110. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Did Classical Rome Invent the Scala Diagram?

Some weeks ago, this blog reported the first appearance online of a major legal-history manuscript in Rome, the Tractatus Vaticanus or Vat.lat.1352. At that time the images of it were only offered in black and white, and at poor resolution. Now this fine old codex is available in color and at excellent resolution as the work of digitization proceeds.

The core material in this book is the so-called Quadripartitus, a monument of Carolingian canon law, which is a guide to penances at confession that is not in itself rare. In all, 11 manuscripts survive (this one is siglum Y, see Wikipedia and Rob Meens for a survey of these manuscripts). Its organization is as follows: Fols 12 - 84r: Paenitentiale. Fols 84v - 97r: more sections "ex panitentiali romano," "ex penitentiali theodori" etc, including several excerpta patrum (see Oberleitner, Augustinus, 1970).

Its particular interest however lies in its occasional excerpta (quotations) from lawyers and church fathers, some unique, about jurisprudence. The page of greatest interest is fol. 62r which shows a very early arbor juris diagram:

Readers of the earlier blog post, may recall that the text beneath the diagram refers to it as both an arbor and as a scala. This diagram is canonical to a key topic in Roman private law: inheritance. It explains which relations are entitled and in which order when someone dies intestate and leaving property.

A case can be made that arbor is the medieval term whereas scala is the older Latin technical term for this monument in the history of visualization. In the classification of these diagrams by Hermann Schadt (see my Missing Manual), this form belongs to the Typ 1 class.

Schadt argued that such diagrams may not just have been devised in late antiquity, but that they could indeed have already existed in the classical Roman period. Since Schadt's important book in German,  Die Darstellungen der Arbores Consanguinitatis und der Arbores Affinitatis: Bildschemata in juristischen Handschriften (Tübingen: Wasmuth, 1982) is not easily accessible to most readers, I will set out his case in summary here.

Schadt’s first argument is one of usage. It is hardly plausible to suppose that the emperor Justinian’s Institutions, a foundational law textbook issued in 533 CE, introduced this diagram type to legal scholarship for the first time, since the Institutions are based on previous textbooks and explain the degrees of relationship to the student without any especial introduction of the topic. Under the supervision of Tribonian, two law professors (Theophilus and Dorotheus) had been assigned to extract statements about the basic institutions ("Institutiones") of Roman law from the existing teaching books.

One infers from this procedure that visualization of the degrees by means of a diagram was not new, but already an established skill among law teachers. Schadt notes that Servius (4th century) quotes Varro (1st century) as having written on the topic of degrees, adding that another work on the topic is attributed to Ulpian (+277), though no diagram is mentioned by these. But the word degree is telling.

Schadt stresses that the Pauli Sententiae (about 400) alludes to a diagram of the arbor juris type.

At this point in the argument, he refers to Vat. lat.1352 and suggests that its medieval repetition of the word scala (ladder) may well be quoting some centuries-old legal tract. 

Schadt’s second argument is one of inertia: the arrangement of such a diagram would have been difficult to design and therefore it is likely to have been conserved unchanged once it entered wide use (and not to have been altered by Tribonian or any compiler).

His third argument is chronological, alluding to the antiquarian content of the oldest form of Typ 1 tables which have textual tags saying they represent the “lex hereditatis”, the law of succession prior to the Roman Republican period. Those diagrams contain only the adgnati, that is to say those relations under the potestas or manus of the head of the Roman household who comprised the sui heredes – both the younger family living at home including the wives (the uxor in manu, the nurus in manu, etc.) and the older relatives living elsewhere, the proximi adgnati, essentially the head of the household’s cousins, since the older generations are dead.

The diagrams thus sets out the legal bounds of family under the fifth-century-BCE Law of the Twelve Tables and gives no acknowledgement to the praetorian legislation of the Republican period, which widened the circle of entitled family to the cognate relatives. (It should be noted however that cognates were only entitled to bonorum possessio, not to full title in intestate property, and that they therefore had only secondary status to those who claimed under the civil-law provisions.)

In addition, this table does not affirm the right of a child to inherit from an intestate mother, which was introduced by the Senatus Consultum Tertullianum under Hadrian (117-138). The ego’s sister is also missing from the diagram, though Gaius 2.85 states that she was considered agnate in his day.

Schadt's fourth argument is linguistic: some of the terminology (patruus maior and maximus) is antiquated and would not have been employed by a late-antique lawyer. Typ 1 should therefore be dated before the mid second century, he suggests, citing Max Kaser, Das Römische Privatrecht II, 141, 336.

His fifth argument is based on the diagram’s later evolution: If a more “advanced” scala (a left-right-mirrored version of Typ 5, the whole cognate family, extended to the 8th degree) was drawn in the Notitia Dignitatum (circa 400 CE), then a simpler version, the agnate-family Typ 1, must date from earlier, perhaps a lot earlier.

Schadt thus argues the diagram was treated as a scala (ladder) in antiquity, and that the Baumvorstellung notion for it did not arise until the 7th or 8th century (Darstellungen, p 59), and that the basic arbor juris diagram goes further than the late-antique period.

The four main manuscripts transmitting this "classical" Typ 1 scala, each with its own defects, are:
Paris, lat. 4410, fol. 3v, also often called the Stemma de Cujas (image on Mandragore):

Paris, lat. 4412, fol 75v-76r

Vatican, Reg. lat. 1023, 66v-67r (only online in black and white so far)

Leiden, BPL 114, fol 8r, (image on Socrates).

A mere glance at the five items above will make plain that none is definitive. The Tractatus has a version where cognate relatives are mentioned too, though this was not valid in early Roman law. The first column of the Stemma of Cujas (Cuiacus) has slipped lower by one row. Reg.lat.1023 is a dog's breakfast of graphic alterations and lat.4412 and BPL 114 are simply ill-assembled. The version in my missing manual is the sum of this design, eliminating the errors.

There are also said to be other manuscripts with similar figures in existence, as cited by Max Conrat, Geschichte, page 145, note 2 (Schadt does not discuss these), but I have not been able to confirm these exist, since none of them is, as far as I can see, yet accessible online. Those citations are of  an Epitome ab Aegidio Edita (Cod. Lugd. 169 = BPL 169 at Leiden, only 4 images digitized) and a breviary of law, Paris, BNF latin 4406, variously given as fols. 57, 58 or 68 (not digitized yet by Gallica that far through the book). Conrat's Lugd. 47, another breviary, listed as Lugd. Bat. 47 in Haenel, is probably VLQ 47 at Leiden, but only 8 images of this are offered on Socrates.


Pretty Portolan

Among at least 25 new manuscripts online in the past week at the Vatican Library is a 16th-century portolan chart attributed to the Mallorcan mapmaker Joan Martines. This may not be the oldest of such charts, but in its bright colors it is a thing of beauty and it was evidently never used for actual seafaring but kept as a work of art.

Below is the Aegean Sea with Rhodes at right and Crete below. The coloration makes you want to fly there this minute:
  1. Reg.lat.83 , Gerson
  2. Reg.lat.169 , 5th Lateran Council
  3. Reg.lat.320
  4. Reg.lat.353
  5. Reg.lat.382
  6. Urb.lat.426 , Livy: Ab urbe condita, a 15th-century manuscript (upload is not working yet)
  7. Urb.lat.1708 , an arithmetic handbook (the fly-leaves are palimpsests)

  8. Urb.lat.1710 , portolan (above)
  9. Vat.gr.586 , 12th century manuscript of John Chrysostom
  10. Vat.gr.920.pt.2 , book of Greek plays, Sophocles, etc., 14th century, from fol 175r onwards
  11. Vat.gr.1007 , Plutarch, a fairly important manuscript source
  12. Vat.gr.1296.pt.1 , manuscript S of the Suda, the famed Byzantine encyclopedia, copied 1205
  13. Vat.gr.1296.pt.2
  14. Vat.gr.1296.pt.3
  15. Vat.gr.1533 , Four Gospels, with fine canon tables:
  16. Vat.lat.1138 , William Durand
  17. Vat.lat.1143 , ditto
  18. Vat.lat.1267 , an 11th-century grab-bag of Chrysostom, Augustine, Isidore and other authors: presumably a scholar's own anthology
  19. Vat.lat.1277 , Chrysostom and Augustine
  20. Vat.lat.1327 , texts from synods, Byzantine period, in Latin translation
  21. Vat.lat.1333 , 15th century compilation of councils
  22. Vat.lat.1387 , 14th-century Bottoni, Glossa (compare below)
  23. Vat.lat.1390, Bernardo Bottoni's Glossa ordinaria in Decretalium Gregorii libros I-V cum glossulis (1266). A very beautiful 14th-century copy with elaborate mise-en-page. The arbor juris below (discussed by Hermann Schadt in his Darstellungen) is just one of the fine illuminations.
  24. Vat.lat.1411 , 14th-century manuscript of Digests of Justinian with some fantastic action filled illuminations like this:
  25. Vat.lat.11559 , Lucan, De bello civili Pharsalia
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 109. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Exposing the Peutinger Diagram

I recently announced a project to study how the late antique Peutinger Diagram was made. This reverse engineering project is comparable to lifting the hood/bonnet of a sleek car in the hope of understanding the mechanical principles by which it was built and operates.

The first step is to create a digital version of the Peutinger Diagram on which we can overlayer the findings as we accumulate them. My starting point is the digital projection of the Diagram created by Professor Richard J. A. Talbert’s team for the 2010 book Rome’s World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered (Map A).

This projection is a panorama photograph after images of the 12th-century parchment pieces of the sole surviving copy had been stitched together digitally and slightly skewed so that everything matches up.

The result was a banana-shaped image that is not very practicable in full-screen view, so I have straightened the Talbert projection, inserting a single hinge about one third of the way from the left. The left and right tips of the panorama were raised a total of 2.85 degrees with respect to one another.
The pivot point is located at Cesena, Italy and roads and rivers in the vicinity have been adjusted accordingly but the slight shifts are in no way egregious, being well below the diagram's threshold of geographical accuracy.

The second step was to create a scalable vector graphic (SVG) file based on this projection. I began by merging a selection of SVG files which are stored online at the Ancient World Mapping Center in and employed in the Talbert Map Viewer and pivoted these in the same way. I soon found however that they are not very satisfactory from a SVG-design point of view, being full of transforms, unsuitable data objects, data cruft, broken lines and many tracing errors.

I have almost entirely retraced by hand the photographic image with a great many simplifications. This adaptation will provide us a compact, interactive, fast-loading data-file similar to that I have published for the Great Stemma. I have retained the Talbert colour coding system and some of his data objects. Acknowledgement to the Talbert team's work will appear on the new file.

The third step is to match this new data view of the Tabula with the past scholarship, whereby Konrad Miller's 1916 book, Itineraria Romana, is the great monument. Miller, a German citizen-scholar who died in 1933, analysed the diagram into its key routes, effectively recasting its data into list form. What I am now doing is mapping Miller's routes as an over-layer onto the SVG file.

The results will be uploaded as I go to the project page on ResearchGate. Keep visiting the project page to see the progress. Collaborators and followers are very welcome.



The Evangelion of Capua is a celebrated lectionary in Greek that was penned by a monk, Kyriakos the Wretched, in 991 in the town of Capua, southern Italy. Vat. gr. 2138 at the Vatican Library has just come online and you can now admire the colourful tempera patterns of its illumination.

The plaited headbands and initials chiefly served to help celebrants find their places when using this codex as a lectionary. It dates from the period when Greek was still the common language in Calabria and other parts of the Italian south. Pressed by Arab incursions and economic instability, a religious leader, Neilos of Rossano, relocated north by stages to Grottaferrata near Rome.

This is perhaps the most magnificent of a series of books made by the band of monks he trained. It is precisely datable to 991 during their stay in Capua, as the Met guide explains, and to the hand of Kyriakos, monk and presbyter. Why he was styled the Wretched I do not know, but he was on form while doing this work.

Here is my list of items brought online by the Digi Vat Lib digitization project in the week ending March 10, 2017:
  1. Reg.lat.24
  2. Reg.lat.81
  3. Reg.lat.90
  4. Reg.lat.210
  5. Reg.lat.223
  6. Reg.lat.276
  7. Reg.lat.357
  8. Reg.lat.364
  9. Reg.lat.418
  10. Urb.lat.388
  11. Urb.lat.524
  12. Urb.lat.865
  13. Urb.lat.1073
  14. Urb.lat.1078.pt.1
  15. Urb.lat.1078.pt.2
  16. Urb.lat.1078.pt.3
  17. Urb.lat.1081
  18. Urb.lat.1083
  19. Urb.lat.1504
  20. Urb.lat.1567
  21. Urb.lat.1632
  22. Urb.lat.1639
  23. Urb.lat.1640
  24. Urb.lat.1642
  25. Urb.lat.1644
  26. Urb.lat.1645
  27. Urb.lat.1664
  28. Urb.lat.1675
  29. Urb.lat.1676
  30. Urb.lat.1677
  31. Urb.lat.1709
  32. Urb.lat.1713
  33. Urb.lat.1721
  34. Urb.lat.1744
  35. Urb.lat.1773
  36. Vat.gr.2138, the Evangelion of Capua (above). Gregory-Aland number: l 562. See a detailed study of folio 29v by Bruce Metzger ...
  37. Vat.lat.1276
  38. Vat.lat.1476
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 108. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Fake Book

Did you ever hide money in books? I used to as a boy, until I returned a library book with a banknote left inside it as a forgotten bookmark. I frantically rushed to the Epsom Branch of the Auckland Public Library system, found the book on its shelf and opened it to find the cash still there.

And did you ever beg as a child to be given an old book so you could cut out the core to use as a secret hiding place? The Vatican has at least one such fake book, but there are no banknotes in this one any more. Legat.Pal.lat.24 is a hollowed-out volume presumably used to secrete valuables or messages in libraries. It is held in the Fondo legature and the binding has been dated to 1869-1878.

Here is the full list of digitizations I have harvested in the past week:
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.F.4, evangeliary?
  2. Legat.Pal.lat.24, hollowed-out fake book (above)
  3. Reg.lat.6, Glosae Super Iohannem
  4. Reg.lat.7, a mid 9th-century Bible from St Denis in Carolingian script, unusual because the copyist wrote out Tb 1- 6,12 in the Vetus Latina instead of the Vulgate text of Jerome (fols. 44 ff). Beuron number 143
  5. Reg.lat.17, Augustine
  6. Reg.lat.18
  7. Reg.lat.32, Ambrose of Milan on Psalms
  8. Reg.lat.38, Augustine and Ambrose
  9. Reg.lat.68, Ivo of Chartres, Richard of St Victor and others
  10. Reg.lat.73
  11. Reg.lat.111
  12. Reg.lat.113, Rabanus Maurus with this wonderful initial
  13. Reg.lat.114, Vegetius? Boethius?
  14. Reg.lat.138, John Chrysostom and some Ambrose
  15. Reg.lat.139
  16. Reg.lat.145, Bernard on sin
  17. Reg.lat.159, autograph(?) Theologia Christiana of Peter Abelard, the best witness of the work as Abelard conceived it. Dated to 1122-1125 by Constant Mews
  18. Reg.lat.166, Boethius
  19. Reg.lat.177, John of God, Liber poenitentiarius
  20. Reg.lat.178, John of Tambaco
  21. Reg.lat.200, Claudius of Turin
  22. Reg.lat.206, Prosper of Aquitaine
  23. Reg.lat.245, Faustus of Riez
  24. Reg.lat.246
  25. Reg.lat.269, Iohannes Sarisberiensis
  26. Urb.lat.352, miscellany, Alanis de Insulis and others
  27. Urb.lat.429, a Renaissance copy of Lorenzo Valla's translation of Thucydides. See History of Information.
  28. Urb.lat.430, Herodotus in Latin translation
  29. Urb.lat.474, the flyleaves are taken from a vanished Vetus Latina bible of the 9th or 10th century and contain fragments from 2 Mcc; Beuron Number 199
  30. Urb.lat.607
  31. Urb.lat.821.pt.A, paper manuscript relating to Spanish Kingdom of Naples
  32. Urb.lat.821.pt.B.1
  33. Urb.lat.821.pt.B.2
  34. Urb.lat.821.pt.B.3
  35. Urb.lat.1278
  36. Urb.lat.1389
  37. Urb.lat.1503
  38. Urb.lat.1513
  39. Urb.lat.1525
  40. Urb.lat.1542
  41. Urb.lat.1552
  42. Urb.lat.1630, conclave Gregory XV
  43. Vat.gr.155
  44. Vat.gr.503
  45. Vat.gr.920.pt.1
  46. Vat.gr.1635
  47. Vat.lat.1128
  48. Vat.lat.1260
  49. Vat.lat.1274
  50. Vat.lat.1275
  51. Vat.lat.1278
  52. Vat.lat.1283
  53. Vat.lat.1285
  54. Vat.lat.1309
In addition, we find the following 12 Palatina manuscripts new online.
  1. Pal. lat. 572 Sammelhandschrift (15. Jh.)
  2. Pal. lat. 1122 Avicenna; Arnoldus ; Franco de Polonia; Petrus ; Ptolemaeus, Claudius: Medizinisch-naturwissenschaftlicher Sammelband (2. Hälfte 13. Jh. ; 1. Hälfte 14. Jh.), including an Alkindi text with the incipit: In medicinis per artem compositis considerans (Alkindi cum comm. Arnaldi de Villanova). Ptolemy text begins Scientia astrorum dividitur in duo. See eTK
  3. Pal. lat. 1126 Gentilis : De febribus vel expositio super primam fen quarti canonis Avicennae (Italien, Mitte 15. Jh.)
  4. Pal. lat. 1127 Gentilis : De febribus vel Expositio super primam fen quarti canonis Avicennae (Padua, 1462), Excusati ab his que in librorum principiis; Febris est calor extraneus innaturalis. Gentilis of Foligno was a commentator on Avicenna. See eTK
  5. Pal. lat. 1131 Avicenna; Ludovicus de Florentia; Mundinus : Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Heidelberg, 15. Jh. (1476)), Quoniam nihil carius et amabilius; .a Mundinus de Foro Iulio eTK
  6. Pal. lat. 1134 Petrus ; Bartholomaeus de Sancta Sophia; Rāzī, Muḥammad Ibn-Zakarīyā /ar-; Gerardus : Medizinische Sammelhandschirft (Deutschland, 1454 ; 1400), a text by Peter of Tussignano here was compiled at the University of Bologna in 1385: incipit: In dispositione medicinarum seu receptarum convenientium. See eTK
  7. Pal. lat. 1137 Rāzī, Muḥammad Ibn-Zakarīyā /ar-; Ps.-Hippocrates; Jacobus : Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Amberg, um 1560)
  8. Pal. lat. 1141 Isrāʾīlī, Isḥāq Ibn-Sulaimān /al-; Knab, Erhardus: Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Heidelberg, letztes Viertel 15. Jh.)
  9. Pal. lat. 1142 Isrāʾīlī, Isḥāq Ibn-Sulaimān /al-; Paulus : Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (um 1500), a main text here is on fevers, with the incipit: Amice carissime fili Iohannes lacrima. See eTK
  10. Pal. lat. 1768 Ps.-Aristoteles ; Thomas ; Petrus ; Johannes ; Knab, Erhardus: Sammelhandschrift (Südwestdeutschland, 2. Hälfte 15. Jh.)
  11. Pal. lat. 1817 Avicenna: Canonis libris tres (II., IV., V.) (Italien, 13./ 14. Jh.)
  12. Pal. lat. 1828 Luther, Martin: Bericht über den Augsburger Reichstag von 1530 (Weimar (?), Mitte 16. Jh.)
I would like to especially thank Pieter Beullens who last month provided leads to further identify some of these items from the electronic Thorndike and Kibre (eTK) while it was still paywalled. [At U Missouri, searches tended to fail with a message: "You are not allowed to access this database. Please contact LEV or PDK for access." On March 6, Lisa Fagin Davis of the Medieval Academy of America announced on Twitter the link on the academy website had been rectified to always lead to a search page that does not demand a password. Thanks so much for this improvement. Use that link.]

What I did not previously know is that the eTK database can also be searched in a more aesthetically pleasing format via IndexCat at the US National Library of Medicine, which is also free.

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 107. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.