Tuning up the Tabula

Readers will know I have created a digital surrogate of the Tabula Peutingeriana, the only detailed chart of Latin antiquity to show the lands, cities and roads of the known world. I am now tuning it up with extra features. The newest is an animated and interactive means of showing how the archetype must have looked, comparing it to the error-ridden impression given by the sole surviving manuscript.

Here's an example of what you see: the normal picture is a clean schematic plot from the manuscript including obvious errors such as that below, which shows towns in Roman Africa as blue circles and a main road which I have colored green. Look carefully and you will see that the copyist has unaccountably shifted a section of the road upwards, closer to the sea (green area):

I want to show readers wordlessly how that defect can be repaired. In the picture below, you can see how the town and the section of road can be shifted downward and re-integrated into the route:

The coastal town that is moved here is Hadrumetum, now Sousse in Tunisia. The technique I have invented to highlight such changes is to show a gradual transition where the one disappears and the other gradually takes shape at the same time. Go to the website, http://piggin.net/plold.htm, and bring up the chart. If you hover your cursor over that pale yellow button at top right, the picture hereabouts begins to slowly change, as the following still picture, taken mid-way through the transition, shows:

You can see that a side road (to Cubin, an unidentified place) also shifts. So far I only have three of these transitions built into the chart. It took me a couple of days of tinkering with Javascript and cascading style sheets before I stumbled on a simple but effective technique involving the "hover" feature in CSS3, but it does take a while to write the code by hand for each case.


My Missal

It's not often that we know so much about an 11th-century manuscript as we do with Borg.lat.211, a missal which has been intensely studied by Francis Newton and Hartmut Hoffmann and which has just been brought online by the Vatican Library. We can even follow how it was made and where it was used.

The manuscript detectives have established that the missal, which contains the Cassinese Calendar, was written at Monte Cassino in 1098-1099, under the direction of Leo of Ostia (Leo Ostiensis or Leo Marsicanus or Leone dei Conti di Marsi, born 1046), the first chronicler of this original Benedictine monastery. Leo's hand is seen in many corrections and his taste can be deduced from the illuminations:

Being a historian and librarian himself, Leo naturally fascinates historians today. He was a nobleman and Benedictine monk who ended up a cardinal and bishop of Velletri, where he died 1115 May 22, a date known from an entry on folio 6 (see p 91 of Lowe's The Beneventan Script) of this book. Lowe is able to point from such additions that the handwriting required in the scriptorium at Monte Cassino was never adopted at places like Velletri.

Read Newton's notes about the missal. The calendar at the front, with names and dates of death of key people, is an important source of the prosaic bits of monastic history not found in Leo's chronicle. Because this codex keeps on giving, expect new discoveries as new sleuths now keep looking at it in digital form. Because the parchment has got damp at some point and is badly foxed, the photography has been repeated at another wavelength to bring out the script.

Here is my list of the 43 latest DigiVatLib digitizations.
  1. Barb.or.89
  2. Borg.lat.211, missal above.
  3. Reg.lat.92
  4. Reg.lat.112
  5. Reg.lat.168
  6. Reg.lat.754
  7. Reg.lat.769
  8. Reg.lat.772
  9. Reg.lat.816
  10. Reg.lat.875
  11. Reg.lat.939
  12. Reg.lat.972
  13. Reg.lat.974
  14. Reg.lat.976
  15. Reg.lat.995
  16. Reg.lat.1240
  17. Vat.gr.748, a Byzantine Octateuch with catenae, 13th or 14th century, no 77 in list of Septuagint Bible sources
  18. Vat.lat.1385, a Renaissance copy of Bernardo Bottoni's law text (1266), Glossa ordinaria in Decretalium Gregorii PP.
  19. Vat.lat.1546 is an 11th or 12th century manuscript of the late antique writer Macrobius which has a place in the history of diagrams with its sketches of circumsolar motion. Bruce Eastwood, the expert on pre-medieval astronomical diagrams, explains that the following diagrams are by the glossators comparing two different theories of the orbits. HT to @LatinAristotle for this.
  20. Vat.lat.1791
  21. Vat.lat.1845
  22. Vat.lat.1851
  23. Vat.lat.1855
  24. Vat.lat.1872
  25. Vat.lat.1874
  26. Vat.lat.1876
  27. Vat.lat.1882
  28. Vat.lat.1900
  29. Vat.lat.1909
  30. Vat.lat.1915
  31. Vat.lat.1922
  32. Vat.lat.1925
  33. Vat.lat.1926
  34. Vat.lat.1929
  35. Vat.lat.1934
  36. Vat.lat.1949
  37. Vat.lat.1975
  38. Vat.lat.2004
  39. Vat.lat.3548 , one of the finely illuminated Ottonian sacramentaries from Fulda (copied around 1020), HT to @ParvaVox
  40. Vat.lat.3780, a lovely 15th century book of hours, thought to have been made in Lyon. Here is August in its calendar:
    ... and here is the Nativity illumination:
  41. Vat.lat.13948
  42. Vat.lat.13949
  43. Vat.lat.15294.pt.1, an album of wrapping slips from reliquaries. These were recycled from old documents in the papal offices around the period 1120-1140 and wrapped around votive objects placed in a very old altar in the pope's chapel. HT to @LatinAristotle who explained this to me and points to an article in 2000 by Bernard de Vregille on item 105, part of a letter from France.
    Curiously, the journal, Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes, complains bitterly it was not permitted to reproduce an image of the slip. Well, here it is.
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 125. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.