Exultet Roll

The Vatican Collection's Exultet Roll, one of the great treasures of medieval southern Italian illumination, has just been digitized and placed online. Vat.lat.3784 was made at the Abbey of Monte Cassino in the period 1058-87 for use in the Easter Vigil liturgy under Abbot Desiderius.

It's not the only one - half a dozen Cassinese rolls have survived - but it is celebrated for the magnificence of its text and its drawings of angels and the rising of Christ.

Digitization programs tend to pass over scrolls because they are difficult to scan, so I am pleased the Vatican librarians chose this one and hope they bring out more rolls for the digitizers in the next few months. You will notice that the text is inverted with respect to the pictures. The digitization shows the images right side up. I have inverted one image with "Gaudeat et tantis tellus irradiata fulgoribus..." where you can see an angel standing on his head:

Examine the roll closely, and you'll find the explanation why. As the deacon reads from the roll, he slides its top end over the edge of the lectern to hang down for the congregation to see:

This blog post would not have been complete without heroic help from a reader, Aaron Macks (@gundormr on Twitter), who responded to my cry for help a week ago. I monitor the Vatican Library website with Distill, a simple scraper that is an extension to the Firefox ESR browser. The huge size of the Vat.lat index now defeats it, so @gundormr offered to write a script/program that would do the job.

This custom script not only works like a charm. It also picks up items that have been upgraded from low quality microfilm to high-quality (HQ) color scans. The report is generated as an HTML list. In good weeks, posts on this blog attract 1,000 readers and we all owe a big debt to @gundormr (an expert on books of hours) for keeping this service going.
  1. Reg.lat.37 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Reg.lat.43,
  3. Reg.lat.46,
  4. Reg.lat.47,
  5. Reg.lat.48,
  6. Reg.lat.56,
  7. Reg.lat.63,
  8. Reg.lat.102,
  9. Reg.lat.105,
  10. Reg.lat.108,
  11. Reg.lat.110,
  12. Reg.lat.143,
  13. Reg.lat.161,
  14. Reg.lat.164,
  15. Reg.lat.171,
  16. Reg.lat.176,
  17. Reg.lat.186,
  18. Reg.lat.195 (Upgraded to HQ), 9th century
  19. Reg.lat.666 (Upgraded to HQ),
  20. Reg.lat.1364 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Reg.lat.1481 (Upgraded to HQ),
  22. Reg.lat.1496 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Reg.lat.1573 (Upgraded to HQ),
  24. Reg.lat.1596,
  25. Reg.lat.1618,
  26. Reg.lat.1622,
  27. Reg.lat.1631,
  28. Reg.lat.1642 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Reg.lat.1653,
  30. Reg.lat.1666 (Upgraded to HQ),
  31. Reg.lat.1669 (Upgraded to HQ),
  32. Reg.lat.1685,
  33. Reg.lat.1689,
  34. Reg.lat.1692,
  35. Reg.lat.1695,
  36. Reg.lat.1699,
  37. Urb.lat.87,
  38. Urb.lat.105,
  39. Urb.lat.115,
  40. Urb.lat.146,
  41. Urb.lat.149,
  42. Vat.lat.427.pt.2,
  43. Vat.lat.585,
  44. Vat.lat.1984.pt.A,
  45. Vat.lat.2074 (Upgraded to HQ),
  46. Vat.lat.2104,
  47. Vat.lat.2150,
  48. Vat.lat.2183,
  49. Vat.lat.2370, Intentiones habemus in presenti conscriptione (13c-14c); see eTK
  50. Vat.lat.2412,
  51. Vat.lat.2448,
  52. Vat.lat.2453,
  53. Vat.lat.2456,
  54. Vat.lat.2459, Cura omnium egritudinum que accidunt a sumitate capitis; possibly by Pontius de S. Egidius; see eTK
  55. Vat.lat.2460, Cause difficultatis scientie pulsuum sunt; by Aegidius; see eTK
  56. Vat.lat.2507,
  57. Vat.lat.2520,
  58. Vat.lat.2583,
  59. Vat.lat.2618,
  60. Vat.lat.2663,
  61. Vat.lat.2690,
  62. Vat.lat.3784, Exultet Roll. See above.
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 147. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Cheery Again

After my grumble over the impractical index page for Vat.lat. manuscripts at the Vatican Library portal, two kind and very computer-savvy readers of this blog suggested solutions. That generosity cheered me (as did the removal of a post-surgery splint on my wrist). It now looks as if a nifty script will be scraping this current week's updates from the DigiVatLib website, but more on that in my next post.

Grateful, I decided to seek -- by hand -- the newly issued Vat.lat. items from the still-missing second week of January. It turns out there are 45, plus three codices newly upgraded from murky microfilm to high quality. They are listed below, only lightly commented.
  1. Vat.lat.168,
  2. Vat.lat.315,
  3. Vat.lat.427.pt.1,
  4. Vat.lat.636.pt.1,
  5. Vat.lat.636.pt.2,
  6. Vat.lat.788,
  7. Vat.lat.1316,
  8. Vat.lat.1503,
  9. Vat.lat.2057,
  10. Vat.lat.2086,
  11. Vat.lat.2087,
  12. Vat.lat.2091,
  13. Vat.lat.2187,
  14. Vat.lat.2219,
  15. Vat.lat.2227,
  16. Vat.lat.2309,
  17. Vat.lat.2312,
  18. Vat.lat.2320,
  19. Vat.lat.2323,
  20. Vat.lat.2367, Hippocrates: Ad discipulum suum Actonem longis petitionibus (14th century copy); see eTK
  21. Vat.lat.2368,
  22. Vat.lat.2374, Cornelius Celsus: Ut alimenta sanis corporibus agricultura; see eTK
  23. Vat.lat.2386,
  24. Vat.lat.2397,
  25. Vat.lat.2401,
  26. Vat.lat.2419,
  27. Vat.lat.2420,
  28. Vat.lat.2423, Acatia est sucus alchati; .te Synonyms
  29. Vat.lat.2428, Liberet te deus fili amantissime a via errorum (14c-15c); see eTK
  30. Vat.lat.2432,
  31. Vat.lat.2446, Avicenna: Medicina est conservatio sanitatis et curatio egritudinis; see eTK
  32. Vat.lat.2450,
  33. Vat.lat.2472,
  34. Vat.lat.2496, the Liber Sextus Decretalium with Iohannis Andreae kinship diagrams. Magnificent!
  35. Vat.lat.2518,
  36. Vat.lat.2626,
  37. Vat.lat.2644,
  38. Vat.lat.2645,
  39. Vat.lat.2649,
  40. Vat.lat.2657,
  41. Vat.lat.2668,
  42. Vat.lat.2672,
  43. Vat.lat.2696,
  44. Vat.lat.2697,
  45. Vat.lat.2752,
Newly in high-quality:
  1. Vat.lat.2146, Walter Burley,  Nota quod in homine sunt quinque sensus; see eTK
  2. Vat.lat.2186, Dominicus Gundissalinus, Cum omnes homines eque constent ex anima et corpore; see eTK
  3. Vat.lat.2426 , Urina alba in colore tenuis in substantia (14th century codex); see eTK

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 146. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.



This post begins with a grumble.The famous Vat.lat. collection of the pope's Latin books in Rome numbers about 15,000, of which 4,026 or well over a quarter are so far online. The Vat.lat. series forms about one sixth of the entire Vatican manuscript library. That progress in digitization would be a cause for great celebration if it were not for the architecture of the online portal.

I have now reached the state where my fairly good computer and my high-speed internet connection can no longer reliably download and compare the Vat.lat. index page with its absurdly long list of 4,026 items, even when I block the images. Loading the index page takes up to a minute.

The solution ought not to be difficult. The series needs to be listed in 1000-manuscript chunks:  1-999, 1000-1999, 2000-2999 and so on. Until our technical friends at the Vatican realize that no one on the internet nowadays serves single pages with 4,026 images and reorganizes the indices in a more rational fashion, I am not going to be able to monitor for updates.

As a result, all that I have this week for you are 10 items from the other Vatican sub-collections:
  1. Reg.lat.101 contains keys to bible study, including Brito de vocabulis byblie secundum ordinem alphabeti
  2. Reg.lat.1424, an 8th or 9th century compilation of the classics starting with the famous forged exchange of letters between Seneca and St Paul, and including a poetic bit of the De Consolatione Philosophiae of Boethius
    Check out the tweet by @ParvaVox with more details.
  3. Reg.lat.1464, Cicero, De Officiis and other works
  4. Reg.lat.1643, Solinus, De mirabilibus mundi
  5. Reg.lat.1660, poetry, Italian
  6. Reg.lat.1662, begins with Caecus in limine, a whodunnit from Pseudo-Quintilian
  7. Reg.lat.1679, Vergil, Eclogae, with a flyleaf reused from an old uncial missal, here the words "et presta ut sacrificium"
  8. Reg.lat.1680, Plautus, Comedies
  9. Sbath.34, an Arabic manuscript from the collection of the famed Father Paul Sbath
  10. Urb.lat.1101, letters, first date 1631, in Italian
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 145. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Felice Squares

A monument in the history of typography has just arrived online: the original manuscript of the first book demonstrating how to create Roman square capital letters geometrically. This is the work of Felice Feliciano, and as you can see in this extract for K and L, the letter proportion is based on the square or half-square:
Vat.lat.6852 is the original copy of Alphabetum Romanum, his treatise on the geometrical construction of Roman capital letters using the square and circle. It was digitized and issued online a few days ago. It is part of the Renaissance movement that created Antiqua, the new lettering based on Roman models.

Of course we do not now like to see a square K as wide as it is high, but it is part of the slow process of experimentation that brought microtypography to where it is today. Enjoy.

Here is my full list of new releases. eTK refers you to the Thorndike and Kibre index. I must remain brief, as my left hand is still in a cast after surgery, and typing is difficult.
  1. S.Maria.in.Via.Lata.I.45, the Evangeliary of S. Maria in Via Lata, battered, mouldy and a thousand years old. The canon tables pages are classic in style.
  2. S.Maria.in.Via.Lata.I.45.pt.A, jewelled cover and bookmarks of above, some items seemingly even older
  3. Vat.lat.168
  4. Vat.lat.207 homilies of Origen in Latin translation; NB: error in Trismegistos: not TM 67902 = Lowe, CLA Suppl. 1769 = Rome, "Vatican, Biblioteca del Vaticano Lat. 207" which is in fact Pal.lat.207 (Lorsch; 750-825).
  5. Vat.lat.339
  6. Vat.lat.434.pt.1
  7. Vat.lat.434.pt.2
  8. Vat.lat.435.pt.1
  9. Vat.lat.454.pt.2
  10. Vat.lat.527.pt.1
  11. Vat.lat.527.pt.2
  12. Vat.lat.618
  13. Vat.lat.765
  14. Vat.lat.771
  15. Vat.lat.788
  16. Vat.lat.790
  17. Vat.lat.791
  18. Vat.lat.851
  19. Vat.lat.1008.pt.1
  20. Vat.lat.1008.pt.2
  21. Vat.lat.1101
  22. Vat.lat.1162.pt.1
  23. Vat.lat.1162.pt.2
  24. Vat.lat.1162.pt.3
  25. Vat.lat.1175.pt.1, a great 12th-century work that uses stemmata to organize the teaching material: Radulfus Ardens, Speculum universale
  26. Vat.lat.1232
  27. Vat.lat.1250.pt.2
  28. Vat.lat.1304
  29. Vat.lat.1306
  30. Vat.lat.1314
  31. Vat.lat.1315
  32. Vat.lat.1568
  33. Vat.lat.1626
  34. Vat.lat.1898
  35. Vat.lat.1951.pt.1
  36. Vat.lat.1953
  37. Vat.lat.1961
  38. Vat.lat.1973
  39. Vat.lat.1985
  40. Vat.lat.1988
  41. Vat.lat.2009
  42. Vat.lat.2051
  43. Vat.lat.2053
  44. Vat.lat.2061
  45. Vat.lat.2076
  46. Vat.lat.2081
  47. Vat.lat.2116
  48. Vat.lat.2144
  49. Vat.lat.2156
  50. Vat.lat.2157 HT to @LatinAristotle: second copy of the above commentary by John of Jandun
  51. Vat.lat.2161 eTK
  52. Vat.lat.2164
  53. Vat.lat.2174
  54. Vat.lat.2197
  55. Vat.lat.2200
  56. Vat.lat.2220
  57. Vat.lat.2223
  58. Vat.lat.2270
  59. Vat.lat.2301
  60. Vat.lat.2310
  61. Vat.lat.2327
  62. Vat.lat.2329
  63. Vat.lat.2371 eTK
  64. Vat.lat.2372 eTK
  65. Vat.lat.2373 eTK
  66. Vat.lat.2387
  67. Vat.lat.2391
  68. Vat.lat.2404
  69. Vat.lat.2457, Constantine the African: Pantegni
  70. Vat.lat.5309
  71. Vat.lat.5699, a de luxe version of Ptolemy's Cosmography, dated 1469, translated from Greek to Latin by Iacobo Angelo. In the maps section, here is the Gulf of Athens. Note how each of the islands is a different colour, like confetti:
    There are wonderful idealized town views, like this of Florence: pick out the Ponte Vecchio and try to find the Duomo: in fact it is marked in historicizing fashion as Santa Reparata:
    Anthony Grafton noted for the Rome Reborn exhibition how the view on the next page showed Rome with the Castel Sant'Angelo, the Borgo and Saint Peter's at bottom right, separated from the city by the Tiber: "Within the city proper, the ancient monuments rise, without modern buildings and urban sprawl. The Pantheon, the Forum, the Capitoline and Palatine hills, and the Colosseum dominate the central space."
  72. Vat.lat.5845, the late antique Collectio Dionysiana and Collection of Cresconius in an important 10th-century South Italian composite manuscript in a Beneventan hand
  73. Vat.lat.6852, the original copy of the Alphabetum Romanum (above).
  74. Vat.lat.13152.pt.2
  75. Vat.lat.14936
  76. Vat.lat.14937
  77. Vat.lat.15294.pt.2
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 144. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


All the Palatine

The digitization of the Palatine Latin collection at the Vatican Library seems to now be as good as complete. But wait for the official announcement.

This is a pretty big deal, because it means the former Latin section of the University of Heidelberg Library as of 1622 has been recreated as an online avatar at Bibliotheca Palatina. The prestigious library was hauled off to Rome as war booty and only the German and Greek books later returned.

The 2,030-book collection will also constitute the first complete large collection or sublibrary at the 80,000-codex Vatican Library to be available online. (Though not at the Vatican itself, where only half of the items are so far available in the Pal.lat. online collection.)

The collection is being digitized at the University in Germany with funding from the benefactor Manfred Lautenschläger. Presumably for contractual reasons the Vatican itself can only show the digital images online after a certain delay. Here are the last 11 items I have logged:
  1. Pal. lat. 1819 [Juristische Sammelhandschrift]
  2. Pal. lat. 2006 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Pfalzgraf Johann Kasimirs; Abschussliste 1582 (1582)
  3. Pal. lat. 2020 Schreibkalender, Desiderata der Palatina
  4. Pal. lat. 2021 Indices zu Handschriften und Drucken der Palatina
  5. Pal. lat. 2022 Gebetbuch in deutscher Sprache, genealogische Notizen (16. Jh.)
  6. Pal. lat. 2023 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Kf. Friedrichs III. von der Pfalz/Pfalzgraf Johann Casimirs (1569)
  7. Pal. lat. 2024 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Kf. Ludwigs VI. von der Pfalz (1581)
  8. Pal. lat. 2027 Schreibkalender, Tagebuch Kf. Ludwigs VI. von der Pfalz (1579)
  9. Pal. lat. 2028 Mappe mit Einbandfragmenten (14./ 15. Jh.) (14./ 15. Jh.)
  10. Pal. lat. 2029 Inventarium manuscriptorum Latinorum Bibliothecae Palatinae (17. Jh.)
  11. Pal. lat. 2030 Codicum manuscriptorum Latinorum Vaticanae Palatinae Bibliothecae Index (Vatikanstadt, 1678)
Meanwhile work continues to digitize the other Vatican collections, with these 11 items arriving online in the past week:
  1. Reg.lat.1521: La Bugia, Rime del Marchese M. Palombara
  2. Reg.lat.1646: classics, signed by scribe William in 1270 on the last page
  3. Reg.lat.1648
  4. Reg.lat.1657, Cicero, Ad Familiares
  5. Reg.lat.1667, Quintus Serenus Sammonicus (died 212): De medicina praecepta saluberrima, a didactic medical poem, with this lovely opening initial:
  6. Reg.lat.1690, genealogy in German
  7. Reg.lat.1694, Evrard de Bethune's Latin grammar, Graecismus
  8. Reg.lat.1696, Cicero, fine Renaissance initials like this:
  9. Urb.lat.371, Sebastiani Maccii Durantini ... Soteridos
  10. Urb.lat.1061, letters and reports of 1593
  11. Urb.lat.1108, letters and reports of 1639-40
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 143. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.