2017-04-23

Law Professor

Take a trip on Google Street View to Bologna, Italy, where one of the greatest law professors, Accursius, c. 1182-1263, is entombed with his son in a curious elevated sarcophagus at the side of a busy street. The Tombe dei Glossatori is a pretty little green-roofed shrine.

Accursius senior, c. 1182-1263, was a professor in Bologna whose work became a definitive textbook through the medieval period. He is thought to have built up and revised his 2 million words of commentary on the Institutions, Code, Digest and Novels of Justinian over a lifetime of research and writing.

Consider now how law students for hundreds of years consulted this man's law commentaries, and take a look at a 14th-century manuscript of his Apparatus dealing with the Digest from book 39 onwards. The Vatican Library has just digitized Vat.lat.1426 and you will see that not only does the Digest occupy the centre space with the margins full of glosses, but there are also glosses on the glosses. This may not be the oldest manuscript, but Robert Figueira notes that no archetypal manuscript has ever been identified.

The Vatican copy is interesting for its idiosyncratic illuminations, which would be delightful subjects for Make Up the Caption competitions. What are they saying here about the faceless bricklayer at right?[The true answer, by the way, is that this is the section De operis novi nuntiatione, illustrated by a king giving orders for a building campaign. HT to @Glossaeluris.]

The whimsical artist also shows us a comical curule chair below with the carved arms shaped like heads of surprised hounds emerging from one body. The gaze directions of the humans seem to suggest something odd is happening off-stage at right. But what?

Here is my full list of digitizations recorded in the past week, whereby I will exceptionally include Palatina items that were previously online at Heidelberg:
  1. Borg.et.23
  2. Pal.lat.8
  3. Pal.lat.26
  4. Pal.lat.28
  5. Pal.lat.29
  6. Pal.lat.30, Diurnale Benedictinum with Psalter Romanum, 13th century, Tuscany or perhaps Piedmont, Beuron number 370. Original online release at Heidelberg has more details.
  7. Pal.lat.31
  8. Pal.lat.32
  9. Pal.lat.34
  10. Pal.lat.35
  11. Pal.lat.1908
  12. Pal.lat.1917
  13. Pal.lat.1939
  14. Pal.lat.1940
  15. Pal.lat.1941
  16. Pal.lat.1962
  17. Pal.lat.1975
  18. Pal.lat.1986, the strange Bellifortis (c. 1405) of Konrad Kyeser (1366 – after 1405), a German military engineer. Listed on eTK (a service kindly provided by Medieval Academy of America).
    Zsombor Jékely kindly invites us to compare this to a fragmentary Bellifortis in Hungary here: http://real-ms.mtak.hu/90/
  19. Pal.lat.1990
  20. Pal.lat.1994
  21. Pal.lat.1995
  22. Vat.lat.1426, Accursius (above)
  23. Vat.lat.1538, Macrobius, Saturnalia
  24. Vat.lat.1540, an unfinished copy of Macrobius, Saturnalia, in an Italian humanistic cursive hand. Gaps left for miniatures, opening line, "[M]ultas variasque res in hac vita nobis," lacks planned illuminated M, and start of book 8, "[P]rimus mensis post epulas non remoti," (folio 165r) lacks P. A scholar has instead obtained this codex at a discount and used it to collect glosses in the margins.
  25. Vat.lat.1672
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 112. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.

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