Layer Upon Layer

For about 700 years, an epic poem in Latin about the Roman civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Roman Senate led by Pompey the Great provided the key introduction to students in western Europe to the themes of war and politics. Pharsalia or De Bello Civili was constantly studied and commented on.

My own interest in the matter revolves around the diagrams often attached to manuscripts of the poem, and the vexed question of who devised the diagrams and when. (Spoiler alert:) it wasn't Lucan. Perhaps it was a late antique grammaticus. Here's a sample from Cod. 370 at the Burgerbibliothek Bern.

In other Lucan manuscripts without diagrams, layer upon layer of commentary was added. The manuscript Vat.lat.3284 contains both the text of Lucan’s DBC and level after level of exegesis by different hands over a long period.

Alessio Mancini of Kiel notes in a newly published paper on it: "The most recent hand, in particular, supplies a true full-scale commentary to Lucan’s text, and has been ascribed by Mariagrazia Antonetti to an unknown humanist close to the members of the Accademia Romana." But Mancini sees "massive use of the recollectae to Lucan written by Benvenuto da Imola." He instead traces the last layer of glosses to Ferrara in the first decades of the 15th century.

That manuscript has just been digitized by the Vatican Library, along with 41 other treasures in the past week. The full list:
  1. Ross.21,
  2. Ross.37,
  3. Vat.lat.2353,
  4. Vat.lat.2407,
  5. Vat.lat.3221 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Vat.lat.3284,
  7. Vat.lat.3345,
  8. Vat.lat.3363 (Upgraded to HQ),
  9. Vat.lat.3401,
  10. Vat.lat.3421,
  11. Vat.lat.3936,
  12. Vat.lat.3954 (Upgraded to HQ), a 1475 inventory of the pope's library, described for the Rome Reborn exhibition as one of the oldest surviving catalogs of the library. It has the signature of the compiler, Bartolomeo Platina, on fol. 76 and uses classification by subject, author, and title.
  13. Vat.lat.4004,
  14. Vat.lat.4025,
  15. Vat.lat.4037.pt.1 (Upgraded to HQ), speeches and letters of Bessarion, with some scientific texts included. Jordanus lists an anonymous mathematical text.
  16. Vat.lat.4073,
  17. Vat.lat.4076,
  18. Vat.lat.4079 (Upgraded to HQ),
  19. Vat.lat.4084, a 14th century compilation of 11 Arabic (Alhandreus, etc), Aristotelean and other astronomical/mathematical texts. See Jordanus and eTK. Here is a fine zodiac diagram:
  20. Vat.lat.4115 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Vat.lat.4122,
  22. Vat.lat.4123,
  23. Vat.lat.4129,
  24. Vat.lat.4130,
  25. Vat.lat.4131,
  26. Vat.lat.4138,
  27. Vat.lat.4141 (Upgraded to HQ),
  28. Vat.lat.4155,
  29. Vat.lat.4156 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.4172,
  31. Vat.lat.4174,
  32. Vat.lat.4178.pt.1,
  33. Vat.lat.4191,
  34. Vat.lat.4211,
  35. Vat.lat.4213,
  36. Vat.lat.4236,
  37. Vat.lat.4237,
  38. Vat.lat.4283,
  39. Vat.lat.4295,
  40. Vat.lat.4318,
  41. Vat.lat.4320,
  42. Vat.lat.4341,
There are also 28 items which have long been online in Heidelberg and have now joined the Vatican portal too:
  1. Pal.lat.608.pt.1 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Pal.lat.616,
  3. Pal.lat.619,
  4. Pal.lat.626,
  5. Pal.lat.627,
  6. Pal.lat.628,
  7. Pal.lat.630,
  8. Pal.lat.631,
  9. Pal.lat.632,
  10. Pal.lat.633,
  11. Pal.lat.634,
  12. Pal.lat.637,
  13. Pal.lat.638,
  14. Pal.lat.639,
  15. Pal.lat.640,
  16. Pal.lat.642,
  17. Pal.lat.644,
  18. Pal.lat.645,
  19. Pal.lat.646,
  20. Pal.lat.647 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Pal.lat.648,
  22. Pal.lat.650,
  23. Pal.lat.651,
  24. Pal.lat.652,
  25. Pal.lat.654,
  26. Pal.lat.655,
  27. Pal.lat.658 (Upgraded to HQ),
  28. Pal.lat.661,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 185. 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.

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