We all like peek-a-boo pictures and this one from the 13th century is quite elegant. It shows a lady shyly peeking at a suitor (out of sight past the bird) and considering the weighty question of whether they are compatible without breaking the rules of incest.
It appears at fol. CCVIIr of Vat.lat.2671, a codex of law which has just been digitized at the Vatican Library. The book is the Summa super titulis decretalium of Goffred de Trano, compiled between 1241 and 1243 and this is a copy from just a generation later, scribed 1270/80, perhaps in Puglia, Italy. The image is part of an arbor, a scheme of forbidden in-law unions.

Goffred, according to Hermann Schadt passim, is the first to propose that this diagram is a tree: "Et quia in qualibet arbore, fructifera et naturali, quattuor, attendunt, truncus, rami, fructus et frondes. Et in hac arbore scripta eadem considerari oportet." Far fetched, as these matrices don't really look anything like trees, but the artist obediently paints a bird and a big frondy leaf.

On another folio, CCIVv, is the other model for the matrix, the placard-carrying man. Here is the head:
.. and here are the feet:
At first sight I thought that little face in the middle, like a joey in a kangaroo pouch, was the holder of the placard. In fact, look at for a while and you might even see a hang-glider here :-)  

 In all, 53 books were digitized last week, and here is the full list:
  1. Barb.gr.388,
  2. Barb.gr.392,
  3. Borg.ind.62,
  4. Chig.E.VIII.251 (Upgraded to HQ),
  5. Ott.lat.2048 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Ott.lat.3375,
  7. Vat.copt.111,
  8. Vat.lat.2247,
  9. Vat.lat.2253,
  10. Vat.lat.2285,
  11. Vat.lat.2289,
  12. Vat.lat.2290 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.lat.2393,
  14. Vat.lat.2671 (above)
  15. Vat.lat.2804,
  16. Vat.lat.2818,
  17. Vat.lat.3175,
  18. Vat.lat.3185, the Ars Notoria, a book of magic, which was first mentioned by Michael Scot in 1236 and thus was written earlier. Lots of diagrams in this 14th or 15th century copy:
    See the eTK. The incipit, Ego Apollonius magister artium merito nuncupatus, apparently refers to the supposed (but most unlikely) author, Apollonius of Tyana
  19. Vat.lat.3239,
  20. Vat.lat.3243,
  21. Vat.lat.3250,
  22. Vat.lat.3268,
  23. Vat.lat.3335,
  24. Vat.lat.3338,
  25. Vat.lat.3339,
  26. Vat.lat.3343, Solinus, listed in: Milham, Mary E. 'A Handlist of the Manuscripts of C. Julius Solinus.' Scriptorium, 37 (1983), 128.
  27. Vat.lat.3346,
  28. Vat.lat.3348,
  29. Vat.lat.3349 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.3365,
  31. Vat.lat.3368 (Upgraded to HQ),
  32. Vat.lat.3371 (Upgraded to HQ),
  33. Vat.lat.3372 (Upgraded to HQ),
  34. Vat.lat.3376,
  35. Vat.lat.3377,
  36. Vat.lat.3379,
  37. Vat.lat.3381,
  38. Vat.lat.3382,
  39. Vat.lat.3385 (Upgraded to HQ),
  40. Vat.lat.3392,
  41. Vat.lat.3405,
  42. Vat.lat.3412,
  43. Vat.lat.3418,
  44. Vat.lat.3419 (Upgraded to HQ),
  45. Vat.lat.3426 (Upgraded to HQ), medical, eTK lists incipit: Ostendendum est diligenter quod humana corpora et animalium sunt;  mutabili et instabili (11th century)
  46. Vat.lat.3435,
  47. Vat.lat.3443,
  48. Vat.lat.3446,
  49. Vat.lat.3449,
  50. Vat.lat.3461,
  51. Vat.lat.3470,
  52. Vat.lat.11817,
  53. Vat.lat.13895,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 166. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


The Islands

A remarkable 10th-century manuscript from southern Italy, perhaps from Monte Cassino, reveals  some of the first tender shoots of medieval illustration. Vat.lat.3342, just digitized by the Vatican Library, is a copy of Solinus's Collectanea rerum memorabilium, a compilation of marvels such as lotus-eaters, Amazons and the Blemmye with eyes in their chests and other racy bits from Pliny's Natural History.

There are no monsters in this codex, but a user has added little sketches of the islands of the world and their characteristic forms, as taught in schools since antiquity. Here are Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and Crete:

Britain has the scholiast stumped: how on earth is it shaped? Too weird. So he leaves it out, providing the gloss only in his own Carolingian-style handwriting. In the case of Taprobane (modern Sri Lanka), no one knows what is there so he shows it as an empty blob:

The main script is Beneventan according to Lowe, or as an earlier librarian called it on the flyleaf, lettera longobarda. Patrick Gautier Dalché, who notes that this the oldest extant manuscript of Mommsen's Class I of Solinus witnesses, identifies the glosses as coming from the Historiae of Orosius.

In Latin antiquity it was more or less settled that the known world comprises three continents and six main islands. The shapes were taught to help the student remember islands by their classically known outlines: much indented Corsica, four-cornered Sardinia, triangular Sicily, elongated strip-like Crete and pear-shaped Sri Lanka.

In all, 40 manuscripts have been scanned and placed online in the past week. Here is the list:
  1. Borg.ind.3 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Borg.ind.39,
  3. Borg.ind.42,
  4. Borg.ind.43,
  5. Borg.ind.46,
  6. Chig.R.V.33 (Upgraded to HQ),
  7. Ott.lat.3374 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Ott.lat.3376,
  9. Ott.lat.3378,
  10. Urb.gr.56 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.estr.or.80,
  12. Vat.estr.or.92 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.gr.1298.pt.2 (Upgraded to HQ),
  14. Vat.ind.29,
  15. Vat.lat.2288,
  16. Vat.lat.2410,
  17. Vat.lat.2652,
  18. Vat.lat.2834 (Upgraded to HQ),
  19. Vat.lat.2858,
  20. Vat.lat.2873,
  21. Vat.lat.3252 (Upgraded to HQ),
  22. Vat.lat.3322 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Vat.lat.3324 (Upgraded to HQ),
  24. Vat.lat.3331,
  25. Vat.lat.3333 (Upgraded to HQ),
  26. Vat.lat.3336,
  27. Vat.lat.3342, a 10th-century copy of Solinus's Collectanea rerum memorabilium (above)
  28. Vat.lat.3344,
  29. Vat.lat.3355 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.3356,
  31. Vat.lat.3383,
  32. Vat.lat.3390,
  33. Vat.lat.3394,
  34. Vat.lat.3398,
  35. Vat.lat.3407,
  36. Vat.lat.3410,
  37. Vat.lat.3410.pt.A,
  38. Vat.lat.3411 (Upgraded to HQ),
  39. Vat.lat.3560,
  40. Vat.lat.6150,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 165. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Lectio Brevior

It's a modest little drawing at the bottom right corner of a page, yet it's a key to the history of visualization. Last week I blogged about the little T-O map attached in late antiquity to the Jugurthine War by Sallust, but could only offer you a much padded example with lots of medieval additions.

This week, the Vatican Library has digitized a purer example, one of the oldest surviving. It dates from the 10th century, is quite simple, and must be much closer to what a late-antique grammarian doodled on a Sallust text to assist students: a circle marked east at top, with half its surface marked Asia and the rest divided between Europe and Africa:

It appears in Vat.lat.3326, a Sallust codex containing the Bellum Catilinae, the Bellum Iugurthinum, and the spurious Epistulae ad Caesarem senem (Letters to Caesar in his Later Years), and as you can see, this week's diagram is less wordy than that of last week in Vat.lat.3328 (dated to the late 10th or early 11th century):

Text scholars generally apply a rule, lectio brevior praeferenda, whereby the less wordy of two versions is assumed to be the older one. Scribes and editors tended to augment texts, not to cut them.

Here is the full list of new digitizations:
  1. Chig.E.VII.215 (Upgraded to HQ), book of recovered manuscript fragments
  2. Ott.lat.3372,
  3. Ott.lat.3379,
  4. Vat.ind.39,
  5. Vat.lat.2245,
  6. Vat.lat.2264,
  7. Vat.lat.2283,
  8. Vat.lat.2284,
  9. Vat.lat.2303,
  10. Vat.lat.2785,
  11. Vat.lat.2917 (Upgraded to HQ),
  12. Vat.lat.2934.pt.2 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.lat.3190 (Upgraded to HQ),
  14. Vat.lat.3223 (Upgraded to HQ),
  15. Vat.lat.3235,
  16. Vat.lat.3248,
  17. Vat.lat.3263 (Upgraded to HQ),
  18. Vat.lat.3270 (Upgraded to HQ),
  19. Vat.lat.3303,
  20. Vat.lat.3315,
  21. Vat.lat.3316,
  22. Vat.lat.3320, a ninth century manuscript, considered one of the Beneventan script examples by Lowe. Mainly glossaries, tabulated.
  23. Vat.lat.3325,
  24. Vat.lat.3326, (above). DigiVatLib scooped me:
  25. Vat.lat.3327 (Upgraded to HQ), yet another Sallust with Bellum Catilinae, Bellum Iugurthinum, this from the 12th or 13th century. Also seen as Beneventan by Lowe.
  26. Vat.lat.3329,
  27. Vat.lat.3330,
  28. Vat.lat.3332,
  29. Vat.lat.3334 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.3337,
  31. Vat.lat.3351 (Upgraded to HQ),
  32. Vat.lat.3352 (Upgraded to HQ),
  33. Vat.lat.3373,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 164. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Map of War

One of the more mysterious of ancient diagrams is a T-O "map" found in medieval manuscripts of the Jugurthine War by Sallust. Who drew it? I've been gathering information about this in the last few weeks, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the diagram pop up in this week's list of Vatican Library digitizations:
This version in Vat.lat.3328 which is dated to the end of the 10th or start of the 11th century is perhaps of German provenance. Curiously the codex has been rebound at some stage using strips of parchment from a newer manuscript in 13th-century Beneventan writing to strengthen the binding (noted by Lowe of both this codex and Vat.lat.3262.)

Asia, and thus the direction east, is at the top in this version of the diagram, which has been much "improved" by the scribes with extra toponyms. Other recensions of the graphic are rather bare.

Where does it come from? I would be highly sceptical of the claim that Sallust himself drafted the diagram while writing his history of a war in North Africa, since visualizations of this sort were not a part of the literary man's repertoire in the classical period. So the diagram may well be an addition by a late antique grammaticus.

Patrick Gautier Dalché has written a series of splendid syntheses about such diagrams where he argues that their models arose in education in the 4th to 6th century (see below). Whether any scholar has yet collated the Jugurtha's World diagram and constructed a stemma of its development I simply don't know yet.

Recently I added a couple of mappamundi to my Library of Latin Diagrams, and the Jugurtha T-O will join the collection later, once I have figured out what the prior recension is.

Before proceeding to the full list of 42 new items of the past week on the Vatican portal, I must recommend a series of more than 100 tweets with the tag #PolonskyProject posted on May 30 by participants at a one-day conference at the Vatican about the future of manuscript digitization. I wasn't present unfortunately, but am grateful that someone in the audience asked why the Library puts an ugly ownership watermark on its online images:
So now we know.
  1. Barb.gr.301 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Barb.gr.304,
  3. Barb.lat.41,
  4. Bonc.E.1,
  5. Borg.turc.5,
  6. Ott.lat.3377,
  7. Reg.lat.1686 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Vat.gr.1157,
  9. Vat.lat.2362,
  10. Vat.lat.2856 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.lat.2868 (Upgraded to HQ),
  12. Vat.lat.2889,
  13. Vat.lat.2973 (Upgraded to HQ),
  14. Vat.lat.2993,
  15. Vat.lat.3023,
  16. Vat.lat.3078,
  17. Vat.lat.3091,
  18. Vat.lat.3098, a 14th- or 15th-century science compilation with works by Levi ben Gershom (Astronomia), Campano da Novara and Muḥammad ibn Ǧābir Battānī. Note the care with which this geometrical diagram is drawn:
  19. Vat.lat.3123 (Upgraded to HQ), a beautiful little handbook of arithmetic, computus, calendars and trick with an abacus, including diagrams, either 12th or 13th century. eTK lists incipit: "Ars ista vocatur abacus hoc nomen vero Arabicum"
  20. Vat.lat.3161,
  21. Vat.lat.3218,
  22. Vat.lat.3222 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Vat.lat.3233 (Upgraded to HQ),
  24. Vat.lat.3236,
  25. Vat.lat.3259,
  26. Vat.lat.3266 (Upgraded to HQ),
  27. Vat.lat.3267,
  28. Vat.lat.3269 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Vat.lat.3280,
  30. Vat.lat.3282,
  31. Vat.lat.3283,
  32. Vat.lat.3287,
  33. Vat.lat.3289,
  34. Vat.lat.3290,
  35. Vat.lat.3297,
  36. Vat.lat.3298 (Upgraded to HQ),
  37. Vat.lat.3300,
  38. Vat.lat.3301,
  39. Vat.lat.3311 (Upgraded to HQ), Working Notebook by Pomponio Leto. See the Rome Reborn note by Anthony Grafton: "These fragments of what seems to have been Leto's field notebook contain his notes on an inscription including an ancient Roman calendar on stone. This calendar depicted the signs of the zodiac through which the sun passed, gave the lengths of days and nights, listed the agricultural tasks and religious festivals appropriate to each month, and provided other important information, like the dates of the solstices and equinoxes."
  40. Vat.lat.3319,
  41. Vat.lat.3323 (Upgraded to HQ),
  42. Vat.lat.3328, Bellum Jugurthinum of Sallust (above).
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 163. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.

Gautier-Dalché, Patrick. 2002. ‘Les diagrammes topographiques dans les manuscrits des classiques latins (Lucain, Solin, Salluste)’. In La tradition vive. Mélanges d’histoire des textes en l’honneur de Louis Holtz, 291–306. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00008331.

-------. 2014. ‘L’enseignement de la géographie dans l’antiquité tardive’. Klio 96 (1), 144–182. https://doi.org/10.1515/klio-2014-0006.