Humanist's Astronomy Book

The personal library of the great Florentine humanist Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406) was scattered after his death. It remains a thing of fascination for every scholar. It's the definitive overview of what an early Renaissance man with the income to buy books read, with Coluccio's own notes scattered in the margins.

Coluccio's private copy of the Great Stemma formed for a while the title picture on my Twitter account. (I replaced it with the current gaudy recreation because parchmenty pictures don't work as panoramas.)

Thanks to digitization a good many of his books are now online to inspect.A real treasure among their number is Collucio's private copy (in Latin) of the Almagest by Ptolemy the Geographer, Vat.lat.2056, which has just arrived online at the Vatican Library digital portal.The diagrams are fascinating. The first image below is from a celebrated rota used by astrologers; you can read off the climates here, starting with the mouth of the Dniepr at top:

We continue to wait for Vatican's DigiVatLib to do color versions of the Florentine notary's books, such as his Seneca, Reg.lat.1391, which is still only available in black and white.
  1. Reg.lat.675
  2. Reg.lat.901
  3. Reg.lat.997
  4. Reg.lat.1072
  5. Reg.lat.1082
  6. Reg.lat.1110
  7. Reg.lat.1115, a major compendium of magic (Jacobus Faber Stapulensis), astrology and astronomy (John of Glogau); this was on the site in murky black and white, but is new in color; a vital improvement since it is far from easily legible. See eTK for contents.
  8. Reg.lat.1119
  9. Reg.lat.1122
  10. Reg.lat.1126
  11. Reg.lat.1144
  12. Reg.lat.1152
  13. Reg.lat.1156
  14. Reg.lat.1159
  15. Reg.lat.1160
  16. Reg.lat.1161
  17. Reg.lat.1162
  18. Reg.lat.1170
  19. Reg.lat.1184
  20. Reg.lat.1196
  21. Reg.lat.1207
  22. Reg.lat.1226
  23. Reg.lat.1234
  24. Reg.lat.1246
  25. Reg.lat.1257
  26. Reg.lat.1266
  27. Reg.lat.1267, contains the only complete text of Dracontius, the African author, and his Satisfactio. One of the Beneventan script examples compiled by Lowe (and a prime exhibit in a mistaken theory that Visigothic and Benevantan script are linked), it is composed of different parts, miniscule at first, then Beneventan from folio 139:
    1. Euclid, Boethius, ff 1-135, 13th century, including the glorious diagram below
    2. Beda, ff 136-138, 11th century
    3. Calendarial matter, ff. 139-140v and part of 143, 9th-10th century
    4. Versus Marci Poetae de S. Benedicto, ff 141v-142v, 10th century 
    5. Dracontius, Satisfactio, ff  143v-150v, 9th-10th century 
  28. Reg.lat.1269
  29. Reg.lat.1275
  30. Reg.lat.1289
  31. Vat.lat.1927
  32. Vat.lat.1944
  33. Vat.lat.1954
  34. Vat.lat.1956
  35. Vat.lat.1965
  36. Vat.lat.1980
  37. Vat.lat.1982
  38. Vat.lat.1987
  39. Vat.lat.1999
  40. Vat.lat.2006
  41. Vat.lat.2007
  42. Vat.lat.2024
  43. Vat.lat.2032
  44. Vat.lat.2042
  45. Vat.lat.2046
  46. Vat.lat.2047
  47. Vat.lat.2056, Ptolemy's Almagest, see above
  48. Vat.lat.2069
  49. Vat.lat.9484
  50. Vat.lat.15399
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 128. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


First You Have to Throw It

Traditional philology studies old texts by weighing every word. A colleague mentioned to me yesterday this article:
Springer, Matthias. 'Riparii - Ribuarier - Rheinfranken nebst einigen Bemerkungen zum Geographen von Ravenna' in: Die Franken und die Alemannen bis zur "Schlacht bei Zülpich" (1998), 200-269.

Seventy pages and 200 footnotes to explain two words, "Francia Rinensis", in the Ravenna Cosmography. That's enormously valuable, but it's not the only technique that produces results.

Experimental study of a document assumes that we can learn about it by using it. Nowadays, if we dug up an ancient pointed stick from a bog, we would make a replica and throw it. The final determination of whether it was a spear or a bean-stake would be experimental.

That's why I argue for a new approach to the Tabula Peutingeriana, the third or fourth century Latin chart of the known world. Draw it. Redraw it. Observations come pouring out.

My second experimental paper has just gone online as a preprint/draft. Here is the abstract:
The ancient world lacked scaled maps. But simply knowing directions to places beyond the horizon would have sufficed to draw the Peutinger Table, the world's oldest detailed chart of Eurasia and North Africa. Previously unnoticed in the chart's picture of the European coastline are twists and turns which bolster the recent new evidence that its perspective on the world is from Roman-ruled Africa, not Italy. One such turn aligns the whole Mediterranean on an axis from Gabes to Antioch. The chart also rotates Greece, the mouth of the Adriatic and Italy to the point of view of a traveler arriving from the Tunisian coast. Though the Latin chart's author and precise date are unknown, its method of showing distant coasts recurs in a map made in 1841 by New Zealand Maori. Where a pre-modern map has sightlines leading back to a common point of origin, it can "tell us about itself".
Cite it as: Piggin, Jean-Baptiste. Late Antiquity: How the Peutinger Chart Reshapes Europe for African Eyes. Academia.edu preprint, 2017-09. Online.

There's also a feedback/discussion page (but you need to be registered with Academia.edu to take part).


Old Trees

Early tree diagrams are some of the surprises in the latest batch of Vatican digitizations. One welcome arrival online is a 10th-century text of the Lex Romana Visigothorum with two elaborate kinship scheme diagrams at 20v and 21r. This has now been issued in color, after only a black and white scan had been online at the Vatican Library portal.

You'll notice this looks a bit like a Flemish building facade, not a tree. A full list of contents of this codex, Reg.lat.1048, from the Cologne Leges Database:
  • 1 - 19: Isidore, Etymologiae
  • 20 - 21r: Stemmata graduum
  • 21v - 224r: Lex Romana Visigothorum with younger explanationes titulorum and younger glosses
  • 224r - Series regum Francorum, Formula extravagans I No. 5, glossary in three languages
The table above had come to be called an arbor juris, a law diagram, so it was not long before the decoration began to become treelike, perhaps as a mnemonic aid to students. The completely new releases at DigiVatLib include a law book, the Decretum of Burchard of Worms, which takes the tree idea further, indicating the change in progress. Reg.lat.979 is one of the earliest codices ever to associate a tree with a table of consanguinity. Note how the Reg.lat.979 drawing below, dated about 1080, does not yet put the table in the tree. The tree simply takes root on the roof like a cheeky weed:
Here is the full list of new releases (I am reporting occasional the black and white conversions to color, but am not able to track these systematically):
  1. Chig.I.V.152, a fine Renaissance edition of Aristotle's Rhetorica translated to Latin by George of Trebizond
  2. Ferr.409, another, less lavishly executed copy of the same text, HT to @LatinAristotle
  3. Reg.lat.149, copyist Nicolò de' Ricci
  4. Reg.lat.153, sturdy old breviary with liturgical calendar, litanies, etc.
  5. Reg.lat.184
  6. Reg.lat.647, hagiography,
  7. Reg.lat.896
  8. Reg.lat.946, Gesta Francorum
  9. Reg.lat.979, Decretum of Burchard of Worms (above)
  10. Reg.lat.1034
  11. Reg.lat.1038
  12. Reg.lat.1045
  13. Reg.lat.1058
  14. Reg.lat.1059
  15. Reg.lat.1060
  16. Reg.lat.1063
  17. Reg.lat.1064
  18. Reg.lat.1068, Plato: Calcidius' translation of the Timaeus, HT to @LatinAristotle
  19. Reg.lat.1073
  20. Reg.lat.1075
  21. Reg.lat.1077
  22. Reg.lat.1086
  23. Reg.lat.1087
  24. Reg.lat.1088
  25. Reg.lat.1089
  26. Reg.lat.1093
  27. Reg.lat.1091
  28. Reg.lat.1100
  29. Reg.lat.1114, yet another Calcidius' translation of the Timaeus of Plato, HT to @LatinAristotle
  30. Reg.lat.1134
  31. Reg.lat.1141
  32. Reg.lat.1142
  33. Reg.lat.1151 the Physiognomia of Pseudo-Aristotle, translated to Latin by Bartholomew of Messina in the 13th century, HT to @LatinAristotle, who also points to a new edition and survey by Lisa Devriese, plus earlier work.
  34. Reg.lat.1154
  35. Reg.lat.1155
  36. Reg.lat.1163
  37. Reg.lat.1166
  38. Reg.lat.1167
  39. Reg.lat.1168
  40. Reg.lat.1169
  41. Reg.lat.1172
  42. Reg.lat.1175
  43. Reg.lat.1178
  44. Reg.lat.1181
  45. Reg.lat.1183
  46. Reg.lat.1193
  47. Reg.lat.1210
  48. Reg.lat.1225
  49. Reg.lat.1229
  50. Reg.lat.1244
  51. Reg.lat.1250
  52. Reg.lat.1251
  53. Reg.lat.1256
  54. Vat.gr.334, Byzantine
  55. Vat.lat.1303
  56. Vat.lat.1844
  57. Vat.lat.1863
  58. Vat.lat.1908
  59. Vat.lat.1923
  60. Vat.lat.1947
  61. Vat.lat.1983
  62. Vat.lat.1979
  63. Vat.lat.1989
  64. Vat.lat.1990
  65. Vat.lat.2003
  66. Vat.lat.2008
  67. Vat.lat.2012
  68. Vat.lat.2015
  69. Vat.lat.2016
  70. Vat.lat.2017
  71. Vat.lat.2020
  72. Vat.lat.2031
  73. Vat.lat.7697, Bindo da Siena, sermons
  74. Vat.lat.15204, a collection of fragments, including 3r-v, 4r-v: Canonum collectio "Concordia canonum"; 5r-v Gregorius Magnus, Homiliae in Evangelia (28.2–3) from the 7th or 8th century.
    The latter item, ELMSS number 2194, was found in the binding of a book printed 1498 at the Aldine press in Venice:
    Plus a 9th-century fragment of the Lex Ribuaria. My eye was also caught by the elaborate green cross below (folio 27v) where you can read the words Sancti Evagrii horizontally and De virtute animi vertically.
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 127. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Fresh Life for Roman Map

The most famous map in the world is the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman chart of roads and seas. In 2007, UNESCO placed it on its Memory of the World Register, a global list of 301 documents (as of 2013) which are irreplaceable to comprehend our recent and distant past.

The 12th-century sole copy of the chart is locked in a library vault in Vienna, Austria. So the only decent access you'll get is either to look up a high-resolution photograph (see Richard Talbert's Map Viewer) or check out the the first fully digital edition. The latter, which is my work, arrived online today, and it's #free.

With the digital edition, your browser can:
  • search for any of the 3,000+ names (press Ctrl + F)
  • use live links (signaled by a hand cursor) to get more info
  • zoom in (press Ctrl and mouse wheel) without loss of quality
  • reveal manuscript errors (hover cursor over yellow boxes)
Back in March I foreshadowed this edition, which has been the work of several months and is based on the phenomenal earlier work of Talbert and Tom Elliott (@paregorios). The credits line says:
  • Richard Talbert and Tom Elliott (transcription, projection, colors, original typology); 
  • Jean-Baptiste Piggin (replot, object modelling, interpretational overlayers, revised typology).
The live links lead to the interpretative database which Richard Talbert very generously placed online as a free resource several years ago. The colors of the lettering and roads are not medieval or ancient, but my own choice to make the document more accessible. Other alterations to give it fresh life include reducing spaced-out lettering to make it easily legible. For the sake of a compact file and fast loading I am not reproducing the little vignettes that show towns, temples and spas.

Here is the link to the Piggin Peutinger Diagram and here is the table of contents for my site. Download your own copy to preserve this astonishing artifact of the fourth-century Roman Empire.

Other online Tabula Peutingeriana resources you can consult are:


Joy of Geometry

Geometry texts are rarely models of exquisite typography, so it is special to see a truly well-laid-out Latin version of Euclid's Elements, Reg.lat.1137, in the latest set of digitizations from the Vatican Library. Menso Folkerts' introduction (on Bill Casselman's website) to the translations offers the basic details:
Euclid's Elements played an important role in the Middle Ages, rivalled in the legacy of Greek science ... perhaps only by Ptolemy's Almagest. For a long time, Euclid's text was represented only by fragments reputed to have originated in a translation by the late Roman philosopher Boethius. And during these early years it is almost certain that its true significance was not appreciated. 
But in the twelfth century it was introduced in its complete form along with other remnants of Greek science through the medium of translations from the Arabic. There seem to have been a very small number of independent translations, but the first six books of the Elements became part of the basic curriculum of that time, and copies spread throughout Europe. Many manuscripts from this period are still to be found among collections today. Most are rather drab productions when compared to the fancier manuscripts of that time ...

This 13th-century codex contains a translation from the Arabic commonly ascribed to Adelard of Bath. What's impressive as a matter of book history is the strict columnar layout, the variation in text size, the conscious manipulation of white space, the inviting optics of the drawings. Everything gives the impression of a well-designed modern book, though this particular one is obviously unfinished, since the space left for the illuminated initials (example above) remains empty.

Here is the full list of the digitizations of the past four weeks:
  1. Patetta.683
  2. Reg.lat.120
  3. Reg.lat.128
  4. Reg.lat.156
  5. Reg.lat.241
  6. Reg.lat.924
  7. Reg.lat.934
  8. Reg.lat.967
  9. Reg.lat.978
  10. Reg.lat.989
  11. Reg.lat.991, lawbook used at the chancery of the Carolingian court. Rosamond McKitterick argues this codex is one of the corrected masters from which copies of the legal codes were made for the use of officials and clergy in the provinces. With the Lex Ribvaria (B 16, with the best text), Alemanorum, Baiuuariorum and the Epitome Aegidiana (Charlemagne's regulations relating to the Lex Baiuuariorum). See Bibliotheca Legum.
  12. Reg.lat.1004, a general medical text of the 13th century with Hippocratic and pseudo-Hippocratic writings. From folio 94v, a text beginning: Ad compaginem membrorum ...
  13. Reg.lat.1006, De Planctu Naturae by Master Alan of Lille
  14. Reg.lat.1007
  15. Reg.lat.1009
  16. Reg.lat.1012,,The last folio is the beginning of the geometrical text De conicis (Cum continuatur inter punctum aliquod et lineam) (12c-13c) by Gerard of Cremona, translated from Apollonius of Perga. This diagram is on the first folio:
  17. Reg.lat.1017
  18. Reg.lat.1019
  19. Reg.lat.1022, the Mistère du Siège d’Orleans
  20. Reg.lat.1025, Rule of St Benedict begins this handbook of Geoffroy de Vendôme (1093-1132)
  21. Reg.lat.1033
  22. Reg.lat.1036, one might term this gorgeous codex a fat-cat lawyer's handbook, where every heading and keyword is illuminated to aid memorization, rather like a hyperlinked text:
  23. Reg.lat.1037
  24. Reg.lat.1039
  25. Reg.lat.1042
  26. Reg.lat.1043
  27. Reg.lat.1076
  28. Reg.lat.1078
  29. Reg.lat.1137 , Euclid's Elements, above
  30. Reg.lat.1174
  31. Reg.lat.1215
  32. Sbath.642
  33. Urb.lat.116
  34. Urb.lat.1091
  35. Urb.lat.1258
  36. Urb.lat.1619
  37. Urb.lat.1646
  38. Urb.lat.1647
  39. Urb.lat.1648
  40. Vat.arm.11
  41. Vat.lat.277
  42. Vat.lat.713
  43. Vat.lat.1380
  44. Vat.lat.1428
  45. Vat.lat.1429
  46. Vat.lat.1456
  47. Vat.lat.1721
  48. Vat.lat.1747
  49. Vat.lat.1850
  50. Vat.lat.1852
  51. Vat.lat.1857
  52. Vat.lat.1867
  53. Vat.lat.1889
  54. Vat.lat.1891
  55. Vat.lat.1901
  56. Vat.lat.1902
  57. Vat.lat.1911
  58. Vat.lat.1913
  59. Vat.lat.1914
  60. Vat.lat.1919
  61. Vat.lat.1920
  62. Vat.lat.1921
  63. Vat.lat.1924
  64. Vat.lat.1928
  65. Vat.lat.1931
  66. Vat.lat.1933
  67. Vat.lat.1966
  68. Vat.lat.1977
  69. Vat.lat.1978
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 126. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.