Diocletian and the Goats

Was the Emperor Diocletian of Rome a former Egyptian goat-herd? That is apparently what many Copts believed. This claim features in a Coptic manuscript just digitized at the Vatican Library, Vat.copt.65, which relates the life of Saint Theodore of Shwtp (or Saint Theodore the General), who was burned alive between 305 and 310 CE in Pontus in modern-day Turkey.

The contents of the 14th-century manuscript are discussed in detail by Dioscorus Boles on his blog. Among the interesting aspects are the story's allegation of Roman racism towards Egyptians and the practice of press-ganging Egyptians for Roman military service. Shwtp, in case you are asking, is town in Egypt.

Last week 26 manuscripts were released online. Here is my full list:
  1. Barb.lat.3996,
  2. Reg.lat.1350,
  3. Vat.ar.52 (Upgraded to HQ),
  4. Vat.copt.65 (Upgraded to HQ),
  5. Vat.copt.66 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Vat.copt.67 (Upgraded to HQ),
  7. Vat.gr.1702 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Vat.lat.2286, Bartolus de Saxoferrato 1314-1357 wrote this legal commentary: Lectura in primam partem Digesti Infortiati and Lectura super secunda parte Digesti novi. This is a 15th century copy.
  9. Vat.lat.2311,
  10. Vat.lat.3299,
  11. Vat.lat.3404,
  12. Vat.lat.3424, Ermolao Barbaro or Hermolaus Barbarus (1454-1493): letters to Jacopo Antiquario, seemingly attacking a book, Cornucopia, by his fellow humanist Nicolo Perotti. See eTK.
  13. Vat.lat.3433,
  14. Vat.lat.3440,
  15. Vat.lat.3442,
  16. Vat.lat.3457.pt.2,
  17. Vat.lat.3465, a panegyric of Thomas Aquinas. This Renaissance codex and others in the range were originally possessions of Antonio Carafa (1538-91), Vatican librarian.
  18. Vat.lat.3477,
  19. Vat.lat.3485,
  20. Vat.lat.3488,
  21. Vat.lat.3491,
  22. Vat.lat.3497,
  23. Vat.lat.3504,
  24. Vat.lat.3509.pt.1,
  25. Vat.lat.3536,
  26. Vat.lat.8866,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 169. 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.


Precious Scraps

Western manuscripts from the fifth century are so rare that even two torn fragments from a book are objects of excitement. In the past few days, the Vatican Library has digitized and placed online its fragments of the Historiae of Sallust, Reg.lat.1283.pt.B, where the text is written in rustic capitals on both sides of the parchment:

They are thought to be from a codex scribed in Italy. It was torn up to be used as bookbinding material in about 700 CE at a great early medieval center of learning, Fleury Abbey in France. The new codex, itself a great treasure, was acquired centuries later by the wealthy and erudite collector Queen Christina of Sweden and ended up at the Vatican.

Elisabeth Pellegrin says parchment from the same Sallust text was found in Orleans ms 192 and Berlin lat. Q 364. This is the only text of the Historiae from before 1000 CE to survive, according to Richard Matthew Pollard and indeed the work is only known incompletely.

The two fragments, framed on sheets of conservation parchment, are among 42 items released in the past week. The full list:
  1. Ott.lat.1475,
  2. Reg.lat.1283.pt.B, (above). Part A is already online
  3. Urb.lat.1304,
  4. Urb.lat.1641,
  5. Vat.copt.64 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Vat.et.75,
  7. Vat.gr.216 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Vat.gr.245 (Upgraded to HQ),
  9. Vat.gr.711 (Upgraded to HQ),
  10. Vat.gr.807 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.gr.1027,
  12. Vat.gr.1040 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.gr.2283,
  14. Vat.gr.2599,
  15. Vat.ind.38, Christian prayers in Tamil, written on palm leaves in southern India in the 16th or 17th century.
    Anthony Grafton writes:
    While inspecting the famous Palatine Library of Heidelberg, confiscated as spoil of war by Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, and presented to Pope Gregory XV in 1623, the papal librarian Allacci wrote Cardinal Ludovisi that amongst the notable objects was "a mass of palm leaves" ("uno mazzo di palme") whose language and content he did not know. It was a small collection of Christian prayers in Tamil entitled "Tamil mantiram" (Tamil prayers), which could be either the work of missionaries of the Counter-Reformation or an older composition from the ancient Christian communities in South India. The accompanying note, of unknown date, labels it as "carmina in lingua japanica" (songs in the Japanese language), which shows the difficulty of identifying works in "exotic" scripts before the additional growth of Oriental studies in the nineteenth century.
  16. Vat.lat.369,
  17. Vat.lat.3272,
  18. Vat.lat.3312,
  19. Vat.lat.3347,
  20. Vat.lat.3378 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Vat.lat.3384 (Upgraded to HQ),
  22. Vat.lat.3397,
  23. Vat.lat.3399,
  24. Vat.lat.3400,
  25. Vat.lat.3408,
  26. Vat.lat.3413,
  27. Vat.lat.3414,
  28. Vat.lat.3417 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Vat.lat.3425,
  30. Vat.lat.3427,
  31. Vat.lat.3434,
  32. Vat.lat.3445,
  33. Vat.lat.3447.pt.1,
  34. Vat.lat.3447.pt.2,
  35. Vat.lat.3448,
  36. Vat.lat.3450,
  37. Vat.lat.3452,
  38. Vat.lat.3469,
  39. Vat.lat.3486,
  40. Vat.lat.3511,
  41. Vat.lat.3555,
  42. Vat.lat.11218, letters of Pope Gregory XV (1612)
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 168. 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.


Leto Lecture

You settle into your seat and await the arrival of the lecturer, Pomponius Leto, perhaps the most famous university professor in 15th century Rome. His classics lecture today is about Varro, replete with mentions of ruined things you often see on your walks in the city.

You have been tasked with writing up the lecture for the rest of the class. Your blotted jottings will be transferred to a clean notebook after each class in the series.

How surprised you would be to hear that the notes, after you have polished them up, will be flown to the United States (where?) in the 1990s for the great Rome Reborn exhibition and will be re-digitized in color and high quality by the Vatican Library in 2018 so that even people in New Zealand (where?) will be able to see every shiver of your quill.

Anthony Grafton comments: "The student who copied this manuscript had a lively talent for drawing, seen here in his sketches of the Baths of Diocletian. As a whole the lectures show the rich way in which Roman texts and antiquities illuminated each other in the interdisciplinary scholarship of the Roman humanists."

There's a detailed online description of the notebook in the St Louis microfilm library catalog. Grafton's catalog has the wrong folio reference to the image above, but page through the digitization and enjoy the other quick sketches made in 1484 or thereabouts.

Only four Vatican manuscripts were released online last week. They were:
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 167. 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.