Making mistakes was part of the scribe's day, so knives were always at the ready to scrape off a duff letter or word. Messing up a diagram was harder to fix.

In his Album of Science I, John Murdoch highlighted corrections in a Vatican manuscript of Euclid, Reg.lat.1268, which came online in color a few days ago. Since last year it had only been available in murky black and white. Below is Murdoch's always readable discussion of these diagrams:

The Greek, Arabic, and especially medieval Latin manuscripts of Euclid's Elements and other geometrical works are for the most part accompanied by quite adequate figures, in some instances drawn with an accuracy and elegance—often with different colors—that rival and even surpass the best efforts of modern printing. In a few cases, however, this graphic excellence is found wanting. Two instances of such falsigrafia—a medieval term that covered not only wrongly drawn diagrams but wrongly constructed arguments as well—are given here, both from a fourteenth-century copy of an anonymous version of the Elements. That on the top [...] is the relevant figure for the Pythagorean theorem (Book I, Prop. 46; I, 47 in the Greek). Its problem is that two rhombuses have been drawn above on the legs of the right triangle in place of the requisite squares, a fact that is duly noted by the inscription written across the diagram reading: “this is false above” (hec est falsa superius). The example below (to I, 23) is more involved. Two attempts made by the scribe to provide a proper figure have proved abortive. At the lower right of this diagram we see touching instead of intersecting circles; this is appropriately labeled falsigrafium. A second attempt— scratched out and called falsa at the top left of the same diagram—erred in drawing the straight lines from the point of intersection of the circles to points A and P, which are not, as they should be, the respective centers of the two circles. They are that in the third, successful, attempt to produce a correct figure, here appearing at the bottom left. From: Murdoch, John E. Album of Science: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (New York: Scribner, 1984), illustration 115.
Murdoch also comments on two other diagrams from the same manuscript, which he presents as Illustrations 113 (how Latin translations of Euclid tended to overdo diagrams, fol 21v) and 122 (how a dodecahedron was drawn in two dimensions, fol 133r).

Here are the latest 27 manuscripts to come online for the first time at the DigiVatLib site:
  1. Barb.lat.3729 :
  2. Reg.lat.180 :
  3. Reg.lat.490 :
  4. Reg.lat.1083 :
  5. Reg.lat.1143 : eTK, a ninth-century Hippocrates, Constitutas sunt venas in corpore. See Kibre, Pearl, 1903-1985 Hippocrates Latinus: Repertorium of Hippocratic Writings in the Latin Middle Ages.
  6. Reg.lat.1149 :
  7. Reg.lat.1164 :
  8. Reg.lat.1223 :
  9. Reg.lat.1228 :
  10. Reg.lat.1230 :
  11. Reg.lat.1237 :
  12. Reg.lat.1258 :
  13. Reg.lat.1273 :
  14. Reg.lat.1274 :
  15. Reg.lat.1277 :
  16. Reg.lat.1285 :
  17. Reg.lat.1295 :
  18. Reg.lat.1299 :
  19. Reg.lat.1301 :
  20. Reg.lat.1310 :
  21. Reg.lat.1374 :
  22. Vat.lat.2064 :
  23. Vat.lat.2084 :
  24. Vat.lat.2103 :
  25. Vat.lat.2126 :
  26. Vat.lat.13391 :
  27. Vat.lat.14721: Iacobus de Marchia (1394-1476), Auctoritates doctorum de sanguine Christi.
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 129. 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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