Charlemagne's Daughter

The Vatican Library continues to re-scan codices in color to replace the dire black and white microfilms it previously had online. I just noticed the arrival of a fine old 9th-century codex from Faremoutiers Abbey where at one point Ruothild, an illegitimate daughter of Charlemagne, was abbess. Reg.lat.141 begins with a Latin translation from Basil the Great, apparently with some unique glosses:
Esteemed @ParvaVox points out in response on Twitter that it's a "quite extraordinary #Carolingian witness of a late antique doctrinal controversy ... containing glosses dating back to the fight against Pelagianism and Julian of Eclanum".

For those interested in Carolingian science, the eTK lists a tract in the codex beginning De mundi principio quomodo factus est ... At the back are paschal tables from 804 to 873 (a note marks Ruothild's death), as well as fine diagrams including this one of the phases of the moon:

Also new in color is Reg.lat.1140, a packed tome of 557 folios containing Fons memorabilium universi of Domenico Bandini of Arezzo, but what caught my eye was this amazing diagrammatic table of contents:

The last new color item of note is Vat.lat.2190, a 14th-century text by the Spanish Franciscan philosophy teacher and early Scotist, Peter Thomae (c.1280-c.1350), Ista convertuntur proprie videlicet esse et reytas, ens et res, entale et reale, entalitas et realitas, also listed in eTK.

There are of course completely new items online, of which I have spotted 26:
  1. Pal.gr.205
  2. Reg.lat.196
  3. Reg.lat.1206
  4. Reg.lat.1227
  5. Reg.lat.1239
  6. Reg.lat.1247
  7. Reg.lat.1293
  8. Reg.lat.1330, eTK: Astrologia est beneficio deorum nobis revelata
  9. Reg.lat.1548
  10. Reg.lat.1576
  11. Reg.lat.1614
  12. Reg.lat.1628
  13. Reg.lat.1629
  14. Reg.lat.1634, HT to @LatinAristotle, who points out this is Lucan's Civil War with a diagram laying out the topographical situation
  15. Reg.lat.1639
  16. Reg.lat.1651
  17. Reg.lat.1862
  18. Vat.lat.1417
  19. Vat.lat.2022
  20. Vat.lat.2049
  21. Vat.lat.2099
  22. Vat.lat.2172
  23. Vat.lat.2181
  24. Vat.lat.2184, a 14th-century collection on Aristotlean philosophy: the catalog lists commentators Averroes, Michael Scot and Étienne de Provins. eTK says contents include De Intensione et Remissione Formarum, an essay on the philosophy of Aristotle by Walter Burley: Incipit: In hoc tractatu intendo perscrutari de causa intrinseca.
  25. Vat.lat.2199
  26. Vat.lat.15372 seems to be a Renaissance book of hours, which according to notes on the endpapers was an heirloom and repeated family gift by legacy until it entered the Vatican collection in 2008. Browse it for the delicate images:
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 138. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Visual Analytics and the Roman Empire

For the past four centuries, scholars have analysed the Peutinger Chart by talking and writing about it. This late antique chart of the Roman Empire and the Orient has been described at great length and with great erudition.

But can that ever be adequate when the subject of analysis is an information visualization? Are we not likelier to discern its method of composition, its purpose and perhaps even its late antique origins if we analyse it visually? That is why I am developing some new visual analytical tools, which you can see in my two new regional charts (click on each small version to go to my website):

These focus on the Italia and Africa sections of the Tabula Peutingeriana. The first of the two was introduced in a previous post, and the latter got its first public exposure in a draft article at Academia.edu.

These graphic tools provide you with useful new ways to look at the Tabula and associated texts. You can summon up or dismiss a range of views by tapping or clicking on the radio buttons provided with the two graphics.

The view offered at first sight is of the Tabula converted to a subway-style diagram. This involves straightening out the horizontal lines and reducing to them to 1/5 or 1/20 in overall length so that everything can be seen at a glance. This transformation is entirely consistent with what the Tabula is: a chart that selects parallel, east-west lines for especial prominence and manipulates their length. I have also categorized the connections into long-distance and local ones and differentiated them by color.

My conversion of the Tabula to a spider or spider-web diagram omits the distances and contains only the place names. That is not to say the route-section lengths are irrelevant. Recently I have been reading the work of Emil Schweder, who proposed that the chart is not a diagram of routes, but a diagram of distances between places. His revisionism has a surprisingly modern feel, but even so, the graphic substrate of the network is its nodes and links, and that is what we must study first of all.

The second view compares these two spider diagrams to the outlines of the landmasses they represent. These will assure the user that my reformulations can be accommodated with modern geographical knowledge and that the Tabula itself possesses a certain integrity, only departing from a scaled representation of these landmasses in a rule-bound, not a chaotic way.

The third view is a visualization of the Ravenna Cosmography in terms of the Tabula. I have already introduced this textual work, which is in effect a second recension of the Tabula. There is a link on my SVG files to the Archive.org image of the Pinder & Parthey edition of the Cosmography. The greatest problem for the scholar comparing these two recensions is that there has been no published, complete tabulation of them side by side. I am told there is plan to create such a resource, but I think a visual comparison is an even more urgent desideratum. Here it is.

The Antonine Itinerary overlay offered for Africa is a similar comparison, though less productive. There is, I think, no longer any general doubt that the Itinerary (ItAnt) and the Tabula have quite different origins. The comparison shows you quickly why: The ItAnt not only peregrinates around the African provinces in a fashion that suggests its compilers wanted to visit a great many places on the way, not reach an ultimate destination by the most direct means. It actually omits the main highway from Carthage to Setif which passes through the wastelands of the arid high plateau (marked blue on the plot). There could not be a clearer indication that long-distance routes were of little interest to the ItAnt author, whereas long-journey itineraries were a resource that the Tabula author exploited wherever possible.

The fourth view probes for north-south alignments with two hypotheses in mind. The first is my own that some kind of graphic mechanism for easy reproduction is built into the Tabula. It would be surprising if the designer had paid no mind to methods that would minimize the risk of copying errors. In the case of the Great Stemma, a late antique chart with  many similarities to the Tabula, the mechanism is a grid of 10 by 70 spaces into which the individual entries or roundels had to be inserted. The second hypothesis I wanted to explore was one by Kurt Guckelsberger which proposes the forerunner of the Tabula was a high, narrow chart with the Orient at top and Atlantic below.

To compose this fourth view, I combined two sets of numbers from my database. The vertical positions (in the y axis) conform with the spider diagram (view one). But the horizontal positions (in the x axis) are determined by the distribution of the place-names in the 12/13th-century manuscript in Vienna. These numbers are taken from my exact facsimile, the Tabula Peutingeriana Digital Plot. This data-mix, as well as rotating the names by 90 degrees, allows you to focus on the scribally transmitted left-right positions, not the swerves or the writing, and judge if there is any kind of regularity between the rows

So far I can only say the fourth view neither confirms nor refutes the two hypotheses I mention. Keep looking and exploring and you may discover something I have missed.



The Vatican's copy of a treasured book of old French troubadour love songs has just been re-scanned in color and high resolution and placed online. Reg.lat.1490 contains the collection known as the Chansonnier cangé and is of especial interest because some of the works in it are by trobairises, the female troubadours of the 12th and 13th centuries in the Occitan region.

From the Wikipedia article Trobairitz, which I recommend you read, it would seem only four manuscripts of this work survive. The Vatican version was previously only online in a murky black and white copy.

Another fascinating manuscript just out in color is Reg.lat.1391 containing De Verecundia by one of the most famous humanists of the early Renaissance, Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406). Transcript. Read Mirabile for a summary. This was scribed by the Fifth Scribe in the tabulation of Ullman and Ceccherini, possibly in Coluccio's lifetime.

Also new online in color is Reg.lat.1446, dated about 1300, a collection of works on falconry and keeping birds healthy. eTK lists it as containing a translation of the Arabic-speaking falconer Moamyn's Sollicitudo nature gubernans.

Aside from these, 21 other manuscripts arrived online in the past week for the first time.
  1. Reg.lat.1136,
  2. Reg.lat.1491,
  3. Reg.lat.1533,
  4. Reg.lat.1539,
  5. Reg.lat.1586,
  6. Reg.lat.1594,
  7. Reg.lat.1597,
  8. Reg.lat.1609,
  9. Reg.lat.1619,
  10. Reg.lat.1632,
  11. Vat.lat.1412,
  12. Vat.lat.2060
  13. Vat.lat.2182,
  14. Vat.lat.2203,
  15. Vat.lat.2204,
  16. Vat.lat.2205,
  17. Vat.lat.2206,
  18. Vat.lat.2208,
  19. Vat.lat.2210,
  20. Vat.lat.2211, Seneca and Cicero
  21. Vat.lat.2272,
This list nearly failed to appear after Firefox 56 and its handy extensions, including Distill, essentially disappeared from the face of the earth late in the week. The browser has been reincarnated as Firefox Quantum and most old extensions don't work with this new generation or cannot automatically import their settings and logs.

As a temporary fix I have installed a time-lagged version, Firefox ESR, which recovered last week's state of the DigiVatLib portal. These snapshots of the past are logged in Distill, an extension which monitors DigiVatiLib for changes, and are of course essential in figuring out what changes every seven days.

Extension writers worldwide are going through hell this month as they attempt to migrate their software to meet Mozilla's ridiculous demands or just retire defeated.

Lightshot which used to have a lovely workflow for manuscript scholars is now buggy (and no longer does snips outside the Firefox window). Alpheios, a super-dictionary of Latin and Greek which every scholar should have installed and which was developed with grant money, is not compatible with Quantum. There must be a special place in hell for the Mozilla Foundation software developers who have taken down these solid running systems in the name of self-aggrandizing innovation.

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 137. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Panorama of Rome in 1457

Postcards of Rome are two a penny, but panoramic views of the city in the early Renaissance are special. This week's surprise digitization at the Vatican Library is a miniature painted from near the Vatican in or just before 1457. Arnold Esch captions it as below (my translation):
An unusual perspective on Rome, more or less the view that would be seen from Pope Pius II's apartment. Until this period, it had been usual to do landscapes from Monte Mario, and these tended to be idealized rather than actual views. This is the first realistic panorama of Rome, a miniature for a manuscript of Euclid completed in 1457 that had been commissioned by Francesco del Borgo, Pius II's architect.

The view is from the Vatican garden above the papal palace, with, at center, the Cortile del Maresciallo (with the Capella Magna in front, the small tower of the east facade behind) and the Campanile of St Peter's, towards the city in the curve of the Tiber River. At left is a footpath to the Castell San Angelo and the Tiber, in the center the dome of the Pantheon, with the trees of the Capitol on both sides and St Maria in Ara Coeli and the Senatorial Palace; at right in foreground the northern slope of the Gianicolo.
Anthony Grafton adds in the Rome Reborn catalog that the image may have been the first view of Rome to use new methods by Leon Battista Alberti to plot positions of buildings accurately. For a comparison, check out this reconstruction on Tomaso Paynim's blog: I think the miniature is from a standpoint on the high ground at left. San Angelo is at right.

Here are the newly digitized manuscripts, including tweeted annotations from the eagle-eyed @LatinAristotle
  1. Ott.lat.3385.pt.1
  2. Reg.lat.1452, eTK incipits: A philosophis astronomiam sic diffinitam accepimus (14C); Philosophis astronomiam sic diffinitam accepimus
  3. Reg.lat.1494
  4. Reg.lat.1508
  5. Reg.lat.1514
  6. Reg.lat.1518
  7. Reg.lat.1534
  8. Reg.lat.1536
  9. Reg.lat.1538
  10. Reg.lat.1543
  11. Reg.lat.1615 ,
  12. Reg.lat.1640
  13. Urb.lat.1104
  14. Urb.lat.1106
  15. Vat.lat.1420
  16. Vat.lat.1884
  17. Vat.lat.1950
  18. Vat.lat.2019
  19. Vat.lat.2112 , Aristotle, Problemata (tr. Bartholomew of Messina), HT to @LatinAristotle
  20. Vat.lat.2155
  21. Vat.lat.2178 ,
  22. Vat.lat.2180
  23. Vat.lat.2207
  24. Vat.lat.2218
  25. Vat.lat.2224, panoramic view of Rome (above) in Euclid Geometry
  26. Vat.lat.2225, eTK incipit: Circa dictum Campani in quo dicitur quod magnitudo (15C) (Nicole Oresme)
  27. Vat.lat.2230, HT to @gundormr: Vitruvius, On Architecture
  28. Vat.lat.10293
New in color (previously online in black and white only): Vat.lat.2185, eTK incipit: Cum in singulis scientiis secundum by 14th century author English mathematician Richard Suiseth, also known as The Calculator. Another manuscript of the same work arrived online last week.

In Heidelberg eight Vatican manuscripts of the Pal.lat. series are newly online:
  1.  Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1947 Katalog der Privatbibliothek Ludwigs VI. (1584)
  2. Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1948 Katalog der Palatina in Rom, lateinische (sowie griech., hebr. und arabische) Handschriften
  3. Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1952 Sammelband: Verzeichnis lat. und griech. Autoren, Alexander de Villa Dei, Pflanzenglossar, Rezepte, Metrik (Fragm.), de iure naturali, tituli decretalium (12.-16. Jh.)
  4. Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1953 Luther, Martin: Apophtegmata etc. (Johannes Aurifaber?)
  5. Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1954 Luther, Martin: Opera diversa (Schülerabschrift?)
  6. Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1955 Luther, Martin: Diverses lat. und deutsch ; Briefabschriften
  7. Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1956 Katalog der Palatina (1581). Geschichte (1581)
  8. Vatikan, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1959 Theologische Sammelhandschrift (1. Hälfte 15. Jh.)
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 136. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Pit-bull Professor

One of the fiercest fights in the history of scholarship opposed two very different men: on the one side a charismatic school science teacher - on the other, a university professor with a grudge.

A polymath who got his high school students to help in his research, Konrad Miller (1844-1933) introduced the German public to mappae mundi and the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman-era world chart. His celebrity seems to have personally offended Wilhelm Kubitschek (1858-1936), a numismatist and professor of ancient history at the University of Vienna, Austria. (Does anyone have photographs of them?)

Today, Miller is recognized as a founding father of cartographic history studies. He is still famed for a lithographic reproduction of the Tabula and Itineraria Romana, a massive 1916 handbook of its content. Both are now in the public domain (but you need to go to Russia to get a copy of IR). Kubitschek's assault on Miller's oeuvre is almost forgotten, so over the past few days I have been digging up and annotating the two main reviews.

Miller had been a smart farm boy who obtained both holy orders and a science doctorate in geology. Living in an era when the Catholic Church had too many, not few priests, he earned his living from age 37 on the staff of a public school in Stuttgart, Germany and in retirement ran a pilgrimage-tourism business.

Kubitschek, a student of Gustav Hirschfeld, had also been a schoolteacher before becoming chief of the royal Austrian coin collection and gaining his chair. In his pit-bull attack on Miller, it's possible to read habitual spite, or the defensive attitude of many old-time institutional academics towards amateurs and popularizers, but I suspect some kind of personal disappointment was the real driver of his feud, which went on for decades, according to Gerhard Winkler's biographical  note.

In 1902, Kubitschek had published Eine römische Straßenkarte, (DOI 10.11588/diglit.31257.7), a speculative analysis of the Tabula that was partly dire and partly ahead of its time, arguing the Tabula had nothing to do with an imperial frieze in Rome, the Agrippa Mural, and was possibly created as a private project. Perhaps he had vainly hoped for a commission to produce a new Tabula edition.

As it happens, the Peutinger Chart section of his mature 1919 article on ancient maps for the Pauly-Wissowa encyclopaedia was finally digitized just two weeks ago by Wikisource: read it now, though it still needs a second proof-read by a German-speaker.

It would have angered Kubitschek that outdated ideas were gaining fresh currency through Miller's best-selling publications. Miller, on the other hand, also had his work and a public life and was clearly not interested in avante garde theory: he thought entrepreneur-style and wanted to get a cheap facsimile and handbook on the market before his health declined.

He does reply to the fulminations of Kubitschek and other opponents, but gives them little space. Kubitschek, on the other hand, must have spent months marshaling his arguments against Miller in two enormous infinitely detailed reviews totalling 160 pages and complains he was denied more space that he needed to list Miller's failings.

I have annotated the two articles in English for those who don't read German or value a quick guide to what the feud was about. The title is: Explained: Kubitschek's Feud with Konrad Miller: A Manual. I have just uploaded this compilation to Academia.edu as one of my series of manuals.

The two texts are in the public domain. I thank the institutions which provided them and have made only fair use of them in my manual.

While much of Kubitschek's 1917 assault now seems petty, overblown and nasty, he is a century ahead of his time when he lays out what a proper new edition of the Tabula ought to provide (in addition to the best possible imaging, a transcription to the highest standards and a palaeographical analysis):
  1. It should convert all TP labels to modern script (a desideratum first achieved 100 years later in my own digital edition, 2017), minutely showing where all vignettes and rivers are placed;
  2. A critical analysis must be devoted to the scribal omissions of lines and the TP duplications (a difficult topic where we are not quite there yet);
  3. A graphic reconstruction is needed: he apparently means a geographical visualization of TP routes with a scale map as basis, a need only met in the 21st century by the Barrington Atlas, the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire and OmnesViae;
  4. Good indexes (i.e. search tools) are required, a need met since 2010 by the Talbert Database.
There's one more thing. The best news we could have would be the rediscovery of the Michael Hummelberg drawings of the Tabula as it was in 1526. They were last seen a century ago in the Museo San Martino in Naples (Codex R 35). Will they ever be found?

Hirschfeld, Gustav. Review of Weltkarte des Castorius, by Konrad Miller. Berliner Philologische Wochenschrift 8 (1888): 624–34.
Kubitschek, Wilhelm. ‘Bemerkungen zu Konrad Millers Itineraria Romana’. Zeitschrift für die Österreichischen Gymnasien 68 (1917): 740–54, 865–93.
———. ‘Eine römische Straßenkarte’. Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts in Wien 5 (1902): 20–96.
———. Review of: Konrad Miller, Itineraria Romana, etc., by Konrad Miller. Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen 179, no. 1–2 (1917): 1-.
———. ‘Karten’. 1, X, 1919. https://de.wikisource.org/wiki/RE:Karten.
Miller, Konrad. ‘Die Weltkarte des Castorius genannt die Peutingersche Tafel (= Castori Romanorum cosmographi tabula quae dicitur Peutingeriana)’. Ravensburg: Otto Maier, 1887. http://archive.org/details/Tabula_Peutingeriana_complete.
———. Itineraria romana. Stuttgart: Strecker und Schröder, 1916. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000968347.
———. Rekonstruierte Karten. Vol. 6. 6 vols. Mappaemundi: die ältesten Weltkarten. Stuttgart: Roth, 1898.


Soothe the Eyes

A great book should soothe the eyes, or that's what a subscription in one of this week's codices digitized at the Vatican Library suggests.

Vat.lat.5949, a 12th century martyrology from the Abbey of Monte Cassino (see also last week's post), contains two lines (above) transcribed and translated by Francis Newton:
Mulcet visum litteras / nodos et colores
Ingerens optutibus excellentiores

It (the book) soothes the eye, setting before the gaze
Letters, knots and colors quite outstanding
The Martyrdom of Eustasius with Regula S. Benedicti, Kalendarium and Homiliae Capitulares is one of 22 items placed newly online, and this book is indeed full of wonderful colored knot patterns:
  1. Ott.lat.3385.pt.2, listed in eTK with these two incipits: Cum a primo tanquam ab optimo (14c); Hec sunt verba que
  2. Reg.lat.198
  3. Reg.lat.1107
  4. Reg.lat.1377
  5. Reg.lat.1393 Vergil's Aeneid, HT to @LatinAristotle
  6. Reg.lat.1402
  7. Reg.lat.1420
  8. Reg.lat.1423
  9. Reg.lat.1437
  10. Reg.lat.1440
  11. Reg.lat.1458
  12. Reg.lat.1470
  13. Reg.lat.1473
  14. Reg.lat.1488
  15. Reg.lat.1499
  16. Reg.lat.1612
  17. Vat.lat.2129
  18. Vat.lat.2130, logic and mathematics. eTK lists: Cum in singulis scientiis secundum by 14th century author English mathematician Richard Suiseth, also known as The Calculator. Here is the librarian's contents list:
  19. Vat.lat.2152
  20. Vat.lat.5949, see above and Lowe p. 68.
  21. Vat.lat.11253
  22. Vat.lat.13152.pt.1
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 135. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.