Quick Click

Before I list the latest 26 manuscripts digitized at the Vatican Library, I want to draw your attention to one of the helpful new features added this year to the digital portal. It is a means, omitted in the early days of the new portal, to link to individual pages. Here is how the feature works.

If you are looking at a codex page and need to quote it, click on the "i" in a white circle in the left navigation pane:

Scroll down to and down to "Page URL":

From here you only need to click the "COPY" button to get a usable link in your clipboard.

And now, the list of 26 new additions:
  1. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXV.fasc.123, page of a gospel?
  2. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXV.fasc.124,
  3. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXV.fasc.125,
  4. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.126,
  5. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.127,
  6. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.128,
  7. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.129,
  8. Reg.lat.203,
  9. Reg.lat.1120, Justinian Code, glossed, 13th century
  10. Reg.lat.1271, commentary on Avicenna's canon (HT to @monicaMedHist)
  11. Reg.lat.1291, Renaissance commentary on Aristotelean mechanics
  12. Reg.lat.1410, 10th-century classics manuscript with Virgil, Horace, Juvenal
  13. Reg.lat.1454, Seneca, Letters to Lucillium
  14. Reg.lat.1489, Lancelot du Lac, French
  15. Reg.lat.1559, early Renaissance compilation of Latin classics
  16. Reg.lat.1608,
  17. Reg.lat.1645.pt.1,
  18. Reg.lat.1645.pt.2,
  19. Reg.lat.1647,
  20. Reg.lat.1655, early Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae
  21. Reg.lat.1656,
  22. Reg.lat.1661,
  23. Reg.lat.1663,
  24. Reg.lat.1668,
  25. Reg.lat.1675, Horace, 11th-century?
  26. Urb.lat.1402, Fiore delle medicine, 15th-century Italian medical treatise (HT to @monicaMedHist)
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 142. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Two Frances

My analysis of the Tabula Peutingeriana's western end has yielded a big surprise. To see what this is about, take a glance at how the manuscript depicts the area we associate with modern France (below):

It's strangely formless. Definitely not a hexagon. The Atlantic coast at left seems to have gone mostly missing. The outline looks vaguely like a sperm whale. What's that strange mouth or slit in the left-hand edge? Scholars have always been astonished at the crudeness of this late-antique "map". So I wasn't expecting to find any graphic intricacy here.

But there is something clever going on, and the first clue is that slit, which is marked Sinus Aquitanicus, the Bay of Aquitaine or as would today say, of Biscay. All seas and gulfs in the Tabula Peutingeriana (TP) are compressed into river shapes, so it is in itself unremarkable that the Bay of Biscay is not being shown here as the wide bight we are familiar with from modern maps.

The area below the slit was evidently marked Aquitania in the original TP, though some letters are now missing.

What is peculiar is the way the slit separates places which we would conventionally expect to abut one another on the plains of western France. At the deepest point of the slit is the inland city of Lemuno (Poitiers), on its top flank are Dartoritum (Vannes) and Portu Namnetum (Nantes)  and on its bottom flank are Audonnaco (Aulnay) and Mediolano Sancorum (Saintes), all inland.

To grasp how this odd watery border has arisen, the best tool of thought is the hexagon, a meme which normally denotes the political frontiers of modern France, but which I will apply to the natural limits, mountainous and marine, of Roman-era Aquitania and transmontane Gaul as far as the left bank of the Rhine:

My method for analysing pre-medieval charts is based on the observation that there are graphic continuities and discontinuities in every large diagram. These become obscured during cumulative copying by scribes. The TP's principal continuities are its long-distance routes, probably based on recorded itineraries. As a matter of prudence, I now denote these as "courses", since it cannot be proven that the TP itself was ever intended to guide travel.

In the present state of the TP - preserved as it is in a single manuscript from late in the long 12th century - some of these courses have become obscured by crowding, but can be recovered by careful examination. Where a long horizontal series of chicanes - the vernacular of the diagram - matches a direct-line, real-world journeying route, we are likely to have found such a course.

As far as I know, scholars have previously failed to notice that in Aquitania, correspond to roads running from southwest to northeast into the Alps, whereas in Gaul and the rest of the West, the TP privileges a set of courses that align with roads running northwest-southeast. Below, I have added a couple of pale yellow parallelograms to the hexagon to show these contrary orientations:

These continuities lead us in turn to discern a discontinuity. There is a break between these two sets of courses. Part of that break is formed by the Sinus Aquitanicus slit, and the rest of the break spreads to the right: a zone of transition where the courses of the two types are tangled or contorted or there are unaccountable blanks. I will develop these observations in detail further on.

The most plausible explanation for such a discontinuity would be that the TP was constructed from two separate data-sets, or perhaps even from two pre-existing charts. I have recently analysed the southernmost of these two datasets, the region abutting the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, and established that it emphasizes seven main routes which vary in length, are more or less parallel and are connected to one another by shorter minor routes. The following transport-system diagram is the result of this analysis:

You can see here two main horizontal courses (red and blue) flanked by the dark green, purple, chocolate, chartreuse and olive green courses (five in all) that are semi-parallel to them. The 15 yellow courses are transverse connections. It is surprising that a journey which modern travellers would regard as a trunk route, the Rhone valley highway from Arles to Valence to Vienne, is treated here as a minor link. The six thin curved lines represent connections near Lyon that do not fit this context. That is because they belong to the transition zone.

I have not yet completed a similar analysis for northern Gaul, but can say already that that part of the TP emphasizes a set of courses running from Normandy and the English Channel across to the main Alpine crossings..

Armed with this knowledge, we can estimate with greater confidence how the TP was put together. To merge the two datasets, the sub-maps had to be rotated so that all the courses were depicted more or less in parallel. The Bay of Biscay was changed from a full side of the hexagon to a mere slit between the two sections, and the Mediterranean Sea was squeezed down to a kind of river:

Let's finish with a look at the zone of transition, depicted in my abstract above by thin black curving lines. The labels are more legible in my plot than in the manuscript, so let's use that for the discussion.

The road southwards from Cabillione (Chalon) to Lugduno (Lyon) is depicted as a vertical ladder, a rather exceptional graphic form for this chart. Augustodunum (Autun) which is at a more northerly latitude than Chalon is nevertheless shown directly below it. The principal paved Roman crossing of the Morvan uplands is that from Autun to Autessioduro (Auxerre), whereas the connections from Autun to Degetia (Decize) - just peeping above from the left margin - are of less importance.

Here there appear to be no fewer than three courses: via Aquae Nisincii (Saint-Honoré-les-Bains?); via Boxum (Bussière?); and via Aquae Bormonis (Bourbon-Lancy). (For an up-to-date discussion of these identifications and their past as sacred Celtic sites, see Nouvel (2012) and Hofeneder (2011).)

If we consult this 75-kilometre-wide space on an online map, it's noticeable that these three courses relate to a tiny geographical area, with a radius of a single day's walk. Yet the area is being given unusually detailed treatment in the TP. Its paths are circuitous, poorly aligned with the major east-west courses to the north and south and too local for long-distance travel. The chart's graphic arrangement of the small towns and spas does not even represent their real-world spatial organization very well.

I have suggested in the case of Italy that such passages in the TP are most likely to be write-ins on the chart where general consistency was no longer achievable and insufficient blank space was available to make the additions coherent. It is for this reason that I exclude them for the time being from the main analysis and treat them as if they were glosses.

My working hypothesis is that not all lines on the TP are alike: some are primary courses, offering chains of straight-line distances that stretch across regions, others are secondary or local courses, showing cross-connections between the primary courses, and others again are infillings or graphic annotations added after the chart was completed.

The zone between Decize, Chalon and Lyon may have been left blank in the earliest version of the TP, extending inland the watery blank formed by the TP's Sinus Aquitanicus

Hofeneder, Andreas. ‘Tabula Peutingeriana’. In Die Religion der Kelten in den antiken literarischen Zeugnissen 3, Vol. 75. Mitteilungen der Prähistorischen Kommission. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2011.

Nouvel, Pierre. ‘Les voies romaines en Bourgogne antique: le cas de la voie dite de l’Océan attribuée à Agrippa’. In Voies de communications des temps gallo-romains au XXème siècle, edited by C Corbin, 9–57. Saulieu, France, 2012.


Divorce Manual

A handbook of marriage and divorce by Raymundus de Pennaforte (1175/85-1275) is one of the stars of the latest swathe of Vatican manuscript digitizations. The Summa Matrimonio is the classic remix, lightly adapted by Ramon from a previous textbook and itself modified soon enough.

Vincentius Hispanus of Bologna University is apparently the professor who contributed a compound diagram of incestuous marriages at 61r, introducing it as: "Hec conpositio arboris sanguitatis ..."
Of course it does not look like a wood-and-leaves tree. The top part looks like an arrow, the bottom part (glimpse it above) like a plinth, and the mid part (below) designed to somehow connect everything into one big confusing infographic, resembles too many stir-spoons spoiling a pot of broth:

As I have pointed out in the past: arbor should be taken simply as a medieval term for a recursive diagram.

Here is my list of digitizations noticed in the past seven days.
  1. Borg.arm.10
  2. Reg.lat.1261, 14th-century science and maths with Jordanus de Nemore, De Ponderis, and other authors. eTK lists De cometis, incipit: Occasione comete que nuper apparuit
  3. Reg.lat.1351
  4. Reg.lat.1482
  5. Reg.lat.1544
  6. Reg.lat.1567
  7. Reg.lat.1601
  8. Reg.lat.1607
  9. Reg.lat.1626
  10. Reg.lat.1627
  11. Reg.lat.1683
  12. Reg.lat.1697
  13. Vat.estr.or.109, in Japanese. Look at this spectacular binding cloth:
  14. Vat.lat.640.pt.1
  15. Vat.lat.640.pt.2
  16. Vat.lat.780
  17. Vat.lat.1250.pt.1
  18. Vat.lat.1262
  19. Vat.lat.2058, Commentary on the Almagest by George Trebizond. Anthony Grafton notes in his Rome Reborn catalog: Trebizond wrote a commentary as long as [his own Latin translation of the Almagest]. The commentary was severely criticized, which resulted in a falling out with Pope Nicholas V. This opulent manuscript was dedicated to Pope Sixtus IV along with Vat.lat.2055 of the translation. [Below is] a large figure of the model for the planet Mercury, shown at its least distance from the earth, with a list of Mercury's parameters and distances:
  20. Vat.lat.2229
  21. Vat.lat.2300 (above)
  22. Vat.lat.7228
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 141. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Marshal GT

I've often wondered how many medieval people actually introduced themselves by their place of origin, for example: "Hello, I'm John of Auckland."

One of the Vatican Library manuscripts which I spotted this week newly digitized in color is Vat.lat.933 containing works by Gervase of Tilbury (c. 1150s–c. 1222) and marked up by the great man himself with corrections. On the opening page he is described as Gervasius Tilberiensis (the obscure West Tilbury in Essex).

So it does appear he went by that name in his lifetime, even when he held titles like Marshal of the Kingdom of Arles or Provost of Ebstorf. Gervase is famed for writing the Otia Imperialia ("Recreation for an Emperor") for his patron, Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV. It describes many wonders of the distant world such as headless men (also known as akephaloi or blemmyes).

Also new in color is Reg.lat.1260, a binding of two manuscripts believed to be associated with the monastery of Fleury-sur-Loire in France (HT to @monicaMedHist for pointing this out and imaging Beccaria's description). A 10th-century manuscript includes scientific texts such as a glossary of Greek disease names (Incipit: Antrax id est rubor in superficie cutis (see eTK)). And here is its handy tabulation of phases of the moon:

Additionally now available in color is a 14th-century scientific manuscript with works of Boethius, Vat.lat.2114 with Categoriae 12v-32r; De Interpretatione 42r-53r; translation of Aristotle, Prior Analytics 162r-218v; of Aristotle, De Sophisticis Elenchis 53r-81v; of Aristotle, Topica 81v-162r. It also contains a commentary on Euclid, a great many marginal glosses, and diagrams:

Here is the list of completely new digitizations I have detected in the past week:
  1. Ott.lat.3384
  2. Reg.lat.1321
  3. Reg.lat.1542
  4. Reg.lat.1562
  5. Reg.lat.1564
  6. Reg.lat.1565
  7. Reg.lat.1566
  8. Reg.lat.1578
  9. Reg.lat.1590
  10. Reg.lat.1635
  11. Ross.40
  12. Vat.lat.1967
  13. Vat.lat.2114
  14. Vat.lat.2120
  15. Vat.lat.2195, a 14th-century manuscript of the Latin novel Metamorphoses by the 2nd-century Numidian writer Apuleius.
  16. Vat.lat.2221
  17. Vat.lat.2265
  18. Vat.lat.2281
  19. Vat.lat.3360
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 140. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Riddle me ree

At long last, the Vatican Library has digitized in color Reg.lat.1553, a fine Carolingian manuscript containing the late antique riddle collection known as the Berne Riddles. Previously only a murky grey scan was online.

Here's a sample:

Glorie edits this to:
Mortua maiorem uiuens quam porto laborem.
Dum iaceo, multos seruo; sistetero, paucos.
Viscera si [mihi] foris detracta patescant,
Vitam fero cunctis uictumque confero multis.
Bestia defunctam auisque nulla me mordit,
Et onusta currens uiam nec planta depingo
The translation quoted by Paul Sorrell:
Dead, I bear a greater labor than when living. When I lie dead, I preserve many; if I remain standing, few. If my insides are exposed, pulled away outside, I bring life to all and collect sustenance for many.  No beast or bird bites me when I am dead, and running along loaded down, I do  not mark the way with my foot.
The answer is: an oak made into a ship. This collection's only connection to Berne, Switzerland is that that is the current location of a slightly older manuscript. The compilation was apparently made in northern Italy, based on far older riddle books, perhaps the work of an insular (Irish) monk at Bobbio. This early-9th-century codex also contains music. For a discussion, see Chauncey E Finch (below).

Here are the manuscripts that have just arrived online for the very first time.
  1. Legat.Pal.lat.930, an ornate binding (without the book) of 1548
  2. Reg.lat.1235, geometry and arithmetic
  3. Reg.lat.1270
  4. Reg.lat.1280
  5. Reg.lat.1284
  6. Reg.lat.1303
  7. Reg.lat.1328, Vitruvius, On Architecture, HT to @gundormr
  8. Reg.lat.1404
  9. Reg.lat.1568
  10. Reg.lat.1574
  11. Reg.lat.1587
  12. Reg.lat.1625
  13. Reg.lat.1674, Servius' commentary on the Aeneid, book 6, HT to @gundormr
  14. Vat.lat.1824
  15. Vat.lat.2059, with the episcopal coat of arms of Domenico Dominici
  16. Vat.lat.2189
  17. Vat.lat.2196
  18. Vat.lat.2209
  19. Vat.lat.2226
  20. Vat.lat.3964, a list of library borrowings from the 1470s
Additionally, the Pal.lat. collection at the Vatican seems to within weeks of loud and merry celebration as the first complete section online. It is being digitized by Heidelberg University Library and will be fully in place when all 2,030 items are digitized. Still missing are 2,018-24 and 2,027-30 as well as earlier items which I have not had time to survey. Here are the new additions:
  1. Pal. lat. 1960 Doctrines des Pères, französisch nach den Vitae patrum
  2. Pal. lat. 1961 Legrand, Jacques (?): Jacques le Grant, Livre des bonnes meours (15. Jh.)
  3. Pal. lat. 1968 Martin : Le champion des dames (2. Hälfte 15. Jh.)
  4. Pal. lat. 1973 Seuse, Heinrich: Horloge de sapience (15. Jh.)
  5. Pal. lat. 1974 Historiographische Notizen, Briefabschriften (1505-1520)
  6. Pal. lat. 1984 Französische Gedichte des 16. Jhs. (16. Jh.)
  7. Pal. lat. 1985 Allegorische Darstellungen, Nachzeichnungen (?) zu Tapisserien (?) (16. Jh.)
  8. Pal. lat. 1987 Johannes a Breda (?): Lateinische Psalmenkommentare
  9. Pal. lat. 1991 Seuse, Heinrich: Vertu de la messe ; Horloge de sapience (15. Jh.)
  10. Pal. lat. 1992 Jehan Dupin: Livre de Mandevie (15. Jh.)
  11. Pal. lat. 1996 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1567)
  12. Pal. lat. 1997 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1570)
  13. Pal. lat. 1998 Schreibkalender, Eintragungen Friedrichs III. (1571)
  14. Pal. lat. 1999 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1571)
  15. Pal. lat. 2001 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1577)
  16. Pal. lat. 2003 Schreibkalender, keine Eintragungen (1579)
  17. Pal. lat. 2007 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1583)
  18. Pal. lat. 2008 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1584)
  19. Pal. lat. 2009 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1585)
  20. Pal. lat. 2010 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1586)
  21. Pal. lat. 2011 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1587)
  22. Pal. lat. 2012 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1588)
  23. Pal. lat. 2013 Schreibkalender mit handschriftlichen Notizen (Friedrich IV.?) (1606)
  24. Pal. lat. 2014 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Kf. Ludwigs VI. von der Pfalz (1572)

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 139. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.

Finch, Chauncey E. "The Bern Riddles in Codex Vat. Reg. Lat. 1553." Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 92 (1961): 145-55. doi:10.2307/283806.