Matteo's Grotesques

Matteo da Milano was a talented Italian illuminator working in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Originally from Milan, he did most of his work in Rome and Ferrara for the Estes, the Medicis, the Orsini and the della Rovere families. His specialty was illustrating for the wealthy clerics from these ranking families and was noted for the borders which he decorated with grotesques, jewels, cameos and other all'antica features, carefully drawn flora and fauna (see article by Andreina Contessa).

You can see the style in S.Maria.Magg.12, a lovely music manuscript for use by the choir from Advent to Lent, made for Santa Maria Maggiore of Rome and now in the Vatican Library.

It is one of the latest codices digitized in color by the Vatican Library. My full list:
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.3.pt.bis, collection of materials on Shroud of Veronica. Curious because title page is got up like that of a printed book, indicating how dominant print style had become by 1616.
  2. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.62, biographies. Paolo Vian has added a 2014 note at the front saying the catalog item dealing with this codex seems to be partly duff.
  3. Borg.ar.265
  4. Borgh.216
  5. Ott.lat.2862
  6. Reg.lat.243, miscellany with Augustine at ff. 1-53 (11th century)
  7. Reg.lat.261, 15th-century miscellany of Alcuin, Chrysostom and others
  8. Reg.lat.279
  9. Reg.lat.281, HT to @ParvaVox who recognizes this as a beautiful 9th-century manuscript of De vita contemplativa by Julianus Pomerius, copied by Agambaldus, monk and scribe.
  10. Reg.lat.299
  11. Reg.lat.328
  12. Reg.lat.339 : another HT to @ParvaVox who noticed a remarkable Carolingian stemma at fol. 7r in this 9th-century codex showing a funny-looking, cartoon-style Charlemagne and Louis the Pious. I will have to do some more digging to figure out where this belongs in stemma history: it's not a history book as such, but mainly a theology compilation.
  13. Reg.lat.346
  14. Reg.lat.372
  15. Reg.lat.435, Martyrologium, plus an interesting legal glossary at ff 41r-44v: Summula seu definitiones de legalibus verbis; 12th or 13th century French.
  16. S.Maria.Magg.12, magnificent 15th-century music codex (above)
  17. Urb.gr.120
  18. Urb.lat.320
  19. Urb.lat.859
  20. Urb.lat.1065.pt.1
  21. Urb.lat.1072.pt.2
  22. Urb.lat.1123
  23. Urb.lat.1225
  24. Urb.lat.1229
  25. Urb.lat.1230
  26. Urb.lat.1238
  27. Urb.lat.1222
  28. Urb.lat.1234
  29. Urb.lat.1239
  30. Urb.lat.1240
  31. Urb.lat.1246
  32. Urb.lat.1248
  33. Urb.lat.1256
  34. Urb.lat.1262
  35. Urb.lat.1772
  36. Vat.gr.86, black and white microfilm only
  37. Vat.gr.1702,
  38. Vat.lat.1040, eTK index of science manuscripts lists incipits Utrum de corpore mobili ad formam and Circa initium primi libri de generatione
  39. Vat.lat.1438, legal Bartholomew of Brixen and Bernardo Bottoni
  40. Vat.lat.2151, eTK index of science manuscripts lists incipit Prohemium huius libri continet duas of late medieval logician and metaphysician Walter Burley
  41. Vat.lat.6767
  42. Vat.sir.343
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 116. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Moovel Mash-up

A little over a year ago, the remarkable Roads to Rome map of Europe was published by researchers at Germany-based Moovel Labs. It's an algorithm-generated grey-and-white diagram which assembles the shortest land routes from every point in Europe (including Turkey and European Russia) to Rome.
The map (which you can zoom into and explore on an interactive viewer) won global interest because of its dendritic simplicity. It has a soothing balance about it, calling to mind blood vessels in a living organism or the veins in an outlandishly shaped leaf. And yet it is quite packed with data. You can see at a glance where any two Europeans' paths will meet up if they both set out for Rome.

Somewhere, either on your local roads, or speeding long-distance towards Italy by motorway, your two ways will merge, and the fat trunk lines mark the routes where the great throng will pour towards Rome's Seven Hills.

It turned out I was not alone in wondering if this was somehow long ago foreshadowed by the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 12th-century parchment copy of a late-antique visualization of travel itineraries of the Roman and Persian worlds where Rome is depicted as the very middle of a spider-like web.

Moovel Labs' spokesman told me others had mused about this too. It seems however I was the only person who took that question so seriously as to eventually overlay Moovel's Roads-to-Rome data on the Peutinger with a view to publishing the outcome.

The principal obstacle, it turned out, was a practical one: no compact, high-resolution digital surrogate of the Peutinger Diagram yet existed. The current standard mapping, Richard Talbert's Peutinger Map A, was only available in a server-side viewer.

The work to create a better surrogate was detailed in an earlier blog post. I have now marked by hand on this surrogate the roads picked out by the Moovel algorithm. This overlay is a 370-KB SVG file that should open in most browsers. The trunk route northwards out of Rome to Florence has been widened to 28 pixels and there is a descending hierarchy of ramifying routes down to the smallest breadth, 2 pixels, where you can clearly see each Peutinger chicane, or zigzag marking a rest stop.

None of the beauty of the Moovel diagram carries over to the elongated Peutinger layout, which looks like nothing so much as a tangle of utility cables in a muddy trench. The adaptation is in no way limpid, which underlines how the design of any diagram is not a neutral thing, but closely bound to its purpose. The Peutinger designer had very different intentions from the Moovel team's purpose.

Despite this, three informative conclusions can be drawn from the exercise.

First of all, the Peutinger Diagram ostentatiously shows 12 roads that terminate at Rome, but this spider's-web presentation is a conceit. Most of these roads peter out in central Italy. The Moovel map emphasizes just one northbound (leftwards) and one southbound (rightwards) route, and a moment of reflection recalls to us that even mighty Rome itself is really no more than a stop along a peninsular trunk road.

Secondly, there may be no motorways on the Peutinger Diagram, but roads then and now follow the same lie of the land and connect the same main population centres, so many of the ancient routes live on as multi-lane highways and can be easily found among the Moovel trunk and branches. However many lesser shortcuts and even some main ancient roads were evidently unknown to the Peutinger designer.

A road north from Florence over the Apennines to Bologna seems from Pelagios to have existed then, and is followed today by Italy's trunk autostrada, yet the Peutinger designer simply ignores its existence as an irrelevance. Throughout the pre-medieval era, northbound travellers from Rome mostly preferred another, longer route, the Via Flaminia, then the Via Aemilia, as Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen very accessibly explained some years ago.

All these missing routes are denoted in my mash-up by dotted lines. Also missing is the route from Bologna to the Venice shore (Altino) and on to Aquileia.

The Moovel map guides traffic through the claustrophobic Fréjus, Mont Blanc and St Gotthard road tunnels under the Alps, ignoring old busy routes like the Via Francigena. Back in the day, the traveller had to huff and puff through the thin air of the Montgenèvre, Little St Bernard, Great St Bernard and Spluegen Passes over the Alps (named in the Peutinger "In Alpe Cottia," "In Alpe Graia," "In Summo Pennino" and "Cunuaureu": see René Voorburg's magnificent Omnes Viae to find these). Only the Brenner Pass crossing shown on the Peutinger Diagram remains a main road today.

Thirdly, the Peutinger Diagram is entirely unknowing about northern Europe. Three of the Moovel's fat trunk routes to the far north thus fall off the top edge of the Peutinger Diagram, which finishes at the Netherlands and southern Germany and has no cognizance of the Baltic countries or Russia. However latitudinally, the scope of these two diagrams is very similar, stretching from Britain to eastern Turkey.

Overlaying the Moovel data on the Peutinger emphasizes how cramped (and unmaplike) the late antique project is. Where the roads fan out on the Moovel chart, the Peutinger Diagram crams them together like stiff fingers on an arthritic hand, in effect classifying the routes into regional blocks as sets of local itineraries.

My experiments with the Peutinger Diagram will continue. Don't forget to check my project page on ResearchGate to monitor progress. Collaborators and followers are very welcome to announce themselves.

Bekker-Nielsen, Tønnes. ‘Terra Incognita: The Subjective Geography of the Roman Empire’. In Studies in Ancient History and Numismatics: Eds Aksel Amsgaard-Madsen, Erik Christiansen and Erik Hallager, 148–61. Aarhus: Aarhus UP, 1988. Online.
Talbert, Richard J. A. Rome’s World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010.


Bell Towers

St Peter's Basilica in Rome was not built in a day. Its bell towers are additions. Pope Urban VIII decided in 1636 to adopt the architect Bernini's scheme. This can now be examined online in a book of planning drawings, Vat.lat.13442.pt.1, including a curious little lift-the-flap page with design alternatives:
Many of the drawings are overlays on an engraving by Matthias Greuter. This was printed as a kind of master drawing for the project, which lasted many years. A start was made on the south tower, but due to technical problems the work was suspended. The completed parts of Bernini's structure were dismantled in 1646.

The portfolio is one of the manuscripts placed online in the last few days by the Vatican Apostolic Library. My list:
  1. Carte.dAbbadie.18 (black and white, low-res)
  2. Carte.dAbbadie.19 (black and white, low-res), translation from Arabic by Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie, the 19th-century Franco-Irish explorer
  3. Pages.1, Codex Leidradi (HT to @ParvaVox and @LatinAristotle who point out Bishop Leidrad of Lyons' autograph ex-libris in this very early (8th century) copy of Aristotle's Organon.)  Here is the inscription as transcribed by @LatinAristotle:
    The codex begins with
    Porphyry's Isagoge in the Latin translation (early 6th century CE) of Boethius. Check it out on ELMSS. @ParvaVox adds the reference CLA IV 417. Note the diagrams including this one:
  4. Reg.lat.458, a Lives of the Saints compilation (from cathedral priory of St Andrew, Rochester, Kent?) including a life of St Pol de Léon
  5. Vat.gr.463
  6. Vat.gr.758 ,
  7. Vat.lat.518.pt.1
  8. Vat.lat.752, philosophical: Bonaventura, Aquinas
  9. Vat.lat.1300
  10. Vat.lat.1439
  11. Vat.lat.1440, Pope Innocent: Apparatus in Decretalium Gregorii, with this opening initial:
  12. Vat.lat.1444
  13. Vat.lat.1452
  14. Vat.lat.1457
  15. Vat.lat.1463
  16. Vat.lat.1501, Notabilia of Johannes de Soncino
  17. Vat.lat.1509
  18. Vat.lat.1529 , Pietro de Crescenzi, Ruralia commoda, 14th century
  19. Vat.lat.1535
  20. Vat.lat.1544
  21. Vat.lat.1545, Macrobius, Commentary on Cicero's Scipio's Dream, 15th century
  22. Vat.lat.1549
  23. Vat.lat.1550
  24. Vat.lat.1551
  25. Vat.lat.1553, De verborum significatu, by the 2nd-century lexicographer Festus, epitome by Paulus. Incipit: Augustus, locus sanctus, ab avium gestu. Edition: De verborum significatu quae supersunt cum Pauli epitome, ed. Wallace M. Lindsay, Leipzig: Teubner 1913.
  26. Vat.lat.1557
  27. Vat.lat.1559
  28. Vat.lat.1561, Leonardo Bruni, De Militia
  29. Vat.lat.1562
  30. Vat.lat.1563
  31. Vat.lat.1564
  32. Vat.lat.1566
  33. Vat.lat.1576
  34. Vat.lat.1578
  35. Vat.lat.1581
  36. Vat.lat.1588
  37. Vat.lat.1617
  38. Vat.lat.1619
  39. Vat.lat.1627
  40. Vat.lat.1639
  41. Vat.lat.1658
  42. Vat.lat.1665
  43. Vat.lat.1667
  44. Vat.lat.1670
  45. Vat.lat.1674
  46. Vat.lat.1676
  47. Vat.lat.1677
  48. Vat.lat.1680
  49. Vat.lat.1685, Cicero, Letters, a Renaissance manuscript
  50. Vat.lat.1691
  51. Vat.lat.1701
  52. Vat.lat.13442.pt.1, drawings of Bernini's facade for the Basilica of St Peter in Rome (above)
  53. Vat.lat.15414

Also worthy of note is the arrival online, in colour and hi-res, of Vat.lat.1528, formerly only available in black and white. This is a 14th-century copy of De Balneis Puteolanis, the medical poem on the healing benefits of thermal baths by Petrus of Eboli. This copy lacks the racy illustrations. It is listed in Thorndike-Kibre only under the prologue, Inter opes rerum deus est. See Ballester

At Heidelberg, 15 new manuscripts have arrived online, most of them scientific. Those indexed by Thorndike-Kibre are marked eTK below:
  1. Pal. lat. 1171 Petrus : Medizinsche Sammelhandschrift (Italien, 14. Jh. (nach 1310))
  2. Pal. lat. 1172 Petrus : Conciliator Pars I (Heidelberg, Mitte 15 Jh.), eTK: Quod necessarium non sit medico ceteras speculationis scientias (15c); Also: Unum in ternario ac omne
  3. Pal. lat. 1180 Arnoldus ; Gentilis ; Bacon, Rogerus: Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Heidelberg, 2. Drittel 15. Jh.), eTK: Ad investigationem ergo scientie de gradibus medicinarum
  4. Pal. lat. 1188 Avicenna; Hippocrates; Copho; Arnoldus ; Leopoldus ; Hermes; Ps.-Vergilius; Augustinus Bathus Senensis; Antonius de Haneron: Miscellaneenband (Sachsen, Ende 15. Jh.), eTK: Debes considerare planetas hora revolutionis (15c)
  5. Pal. lat. 1196 Isaac : Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Frankreich, 13./14. Jh.), eTK: Cum in primis coegit antiquos disputare (15c)
  6. Pal. lat. 1198 Liber medcinalis (Regensburg oder Freising, 1565)
  7. Pal. lat. 1203 Kommentare zu den Aphorismen des Hippokrates (2. Drittel 15. Jh.), eTK: Intentio Hippocratis fuit componere librum pauci (15c)
  8. Pal. lat. 1205 Arnoldus praepositus Sancti Jacobi; Arnoldus ; Maimonides, Moses; Jacoby, Johann; Gentilis ; Costofferus; Auicenna; Bernardus ; Magninus : Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Deutschland, 2. Hälfte 15. Jh), eTK: Accidit interdum aeri qui est hic apud nos (15c)
  9. Pal. lat. 1419 Ptolemaeus, Claudius: Opus quadripartitum (Deutschland, 2. Drittel 15. Jh.)
  10. Pal. lat. 1420 Ptolemaeus, Claudius; Johannes ; Albertus ; Johannes ; Bradwardine, Thomas; Simon ; Johannes : Sammelband mit Quadriviumstexten (Italien (I) , Italien und Köln (II), Ende 13. Jh. (I) ; 14. Jh. (II))
  11. Pal. lat. 1423 Pruckner, Nicolaus; Leowitz, Cyprian: Nativitäten ; Astrologische Urteile (Heidelberg, 2. Hälfte 16. Jh.)
  12. Pal. lat. 1425 Leowitz, Cyprian: Tomus tertius nativitatum (Augsburg, Mitte 16. Jh.)
  13. Pal. lat. 1436 Leopoldus ; Johannes ; Prophatius Judaeus: Astronomisch-astrologische Sammelhandschrift (Belgien, Mitte 15. Jh. (1447))
  14. Pal. lat. 1439 Peuerbach, Georg /von; Regiomontanus, Johannes; Albertus ; Johannes ; Głogowczyk, Jan; Ps.-Hippokrates; Prosdocimus ; Hermes: Astronomisch-astrologische Sammelhandschrift (Krakau, Leipzig, 1487-1493), eTK: Aries facit calorem temperatum (15c)
  15. Pal. lat. 1446 Abū-Maʿšar Ǧaʿfar Ibn-Muḥammad; Qabīṣī, Abu-'ṣ-Ṣaqr ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz Ibn-ʿUṯmān /al-; Māšā'allāh Ibn-Aṯarī: Astrologischer Sammelband (Deutschland, Mitte 15. Jh. (I) , letztes Drittel 14. Jh. (II)), eTK: Accipiat nomen suum
Finally, the Vatican Library is playing catch-up, having just posted some manuscripts already familiar from the Heidelberg site:
  1. Pal.lat.1357, eTK: India ulterior finitur ab oriente oceano (14c)
  2. Pal.lat.27
  3. Pal.lat.33
  4. Pal.lat.37
  5. Pal.lat.38
  6. Pal.lat.44
  7. Pal.lat.48
  8. Pal.lat.49
  9. Pal.lat.54
  10. Pal.lat.61
  11. Pal.lat.62
  12. Pal.lat.63
  13. Pal.lat.64
  14. Pal.lat.66
  15. Pal.lat.69
  16. Pal.lat.70
  17. Pal.lat.71
  18. Pal.lat.101
  19. Pal.lat.130
  20. Pal.lat.131
  21. Pal.lat.203
  22. Pal.lat.205
  23. Pal.lat.312
  24. Pal.lat.395
  25. Pal.lat.397
  26. Pal.lat.399
  27. Pal.lat.711
  28. Pal.lat.1089, eTK: Somnus corporis of Galen
  29. Pal.lat.1930
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 115. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.