Matteo's Grotesques

Matteo da Milano was a talented Italian illuminator working in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Originally from Milan, he did most of his work in Rome and Ferrara for the Estes, the Medicis, the Orsini and the della Rovere families. His specialty was illustrating for the wealthy clerics from these ranking families and was noted for the borders which he decorated with grotesques, jewels, cameos and other all'antica features, carefully drawn flora and fauna (see article by Andreina Contessa).

You can see the style in S.Maria.Magg.12, a lovely music manuscript for use by the choir from Advent to Lent, made for Santa Maria Maggiore of Rome and now in the Vatican Library.

It is one of the latest codices digitized in color by the Vatican Library. My full list:
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.3.pt.bis, collection of materials on Shroud of Veronica. Curious because title page is got up like that of a printed book, indicating how dominant print style had become by 1616.
  2. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.62, biographies. Paolo Vian has added a 2014 note at the front saying the catalog item dealing with this codex seems to be partly duff.
  3. Borg.ar.265
  4. Borgh.216
  5. Ott.lat.2862
  6. Reg.lat.243, miscellany with Augustine at ff. 1-53 (11th century)
  7. Reg.lat.261, 15th-century miscellany of Alcuin, Chrysostom and others
  8. Reg.lat.279
  9. Reg.lat.281
  10. Reg.lat.299
  11. Reg.lat.328
  12. Reg.lat.339
  13. Reg.lat.346
  14. Reg.lat.372
  15. Reg.lat.435, Martyrologium, plus an interesting legal glossary at ff 41r-44vB: Summula seu definitiones de legalibus verbis; 12th or 13th century French.
  16. S.Maria.Magg.12, magnificent 15th-century music codex (above)
  17. Urb.gr.120
  18. Urb.lat.320
  19. Urb.lat.859
  20. Urb.lat.1065.pt.1
  21. Urb.lat.1072.pt.2
  22. Urb.lat.1123
  23. Urb.lat.1225
  24. Urb.lat.1229
  25. Urb.lat.1230
  26. Urb.lat.1238
  27. Urb.lat.1222
  28. Urb.lat.1234
  29. Urb.lat.1239
  30. Urb.lat.1240
  31. Urb.lat.1246
  32. Urb.lat.1248
  33. Urb.lat.1256
  34. Urb.lat.1262
  35. Urb.lat.1772
  36. Vat.gr.86, black and white microfilm only
  37. Vat.gr.1702,
  38. Vat.lat.1040, eTK index of science manuscripts lists incipits Utrum de corpore mobili ad formam and Circa initium primi libri de generatione
  39. Vat.lat.1438, legal Bartholomew of Brixen and Bernardo Bottoni
  40. Vat.lat.2151, eTK index of science manuscripts lists incipit Prohemium huius libri continet duas of late medieval logician and metaphysician Walter Burley
  41. Vat.lat.6767
  42. Vat.sir.343
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 114. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Moovel Mash-up

A little over a year ago, the remarkable Roads to Rome map of Europe was published by researchers at Germany-based Moovel Labs. It's an algorithm-generated grey-and-white diagram which assembles the shortest land routes from every point in Europe (including Turkey and European Russia) to Rome.
The map (which you can zoom into and explore on an interactive viewer) won global interest because of its dendritic simplicity. It has a soothing balance about it, calling to mind blood vessels in a living organism or the veins in an outlandishly shaped leaf. And yet it is quite packed with data. You can see at a glance where any two Europeans' paths will meet up if they both set out for Rome.

Somewhere, either on your local roads, or speeding long-distance towards Italy by motorway, your two ways will merge, and the fat trunk lines mark the routes where the great throng will pour towards Rome's Seven Hills.

It turned out I was not alone in wondering if this was somehow long ago foreshadowed by the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 12th-century parchment copy of a late-antique visualization of travel itineraries of the Roman and Persian worlds where Rome is depicted as the very middle of a spider-like web.

Moovel Labs' spokesman told me others had mused about this too. It seems however I was the only person who took that question so seriously as to eventually overlay Moovel's Roads-to-Rome data on the Peutinger with a view to publishing the outcome.

The principal obstacle, it turned out, was a practical one: no compact, high-resolution digital surrogate of the Peutinger Diagram yet existed. The current standard mapping, Richard Talbert's Peutinger Map A, was only available in a server-side viewer.

The work to create a better surrogate was detailed in an earlier blog post. I have now marked by hand on this surrogate the roads picked out by the Moovel algorithm. This overlay is a 370-KB SVG file that should open in most browsers. The trunk route northwards out of Rome to Florence has been widened to 28 pixels and there is a descending hierarchy of ramifying routes down to the smallest breadth, 2 pixels, where you can clearly see each Peutinger chicane, or zigzag marking a rest stop.

None of the beauty of the Moovel diagram carries over to the elongated Peutinger layout, which looks like nothing so much as a tangle of utility cables in a muddy trench. The adaptation is in no way limpid, which underlines how the design of any diagram is not a neutral thing, but closely bound to its purpose. The Peutinger designer had very different intentions from the Moovel team's purpose.

Despite this, three informative conclusions can be drawn from the exercise.

First of all, the Peutinger Diagram ostentatiously shows 12 roads that terminate at Rome, but this spider's-web presentation is a conceit. Most of these roads peter out in central Italy. The Moovel map emphasizes just one northbound (leftwards) and one southbound (rightwards) route, and a moment of reflection recalls to us that even mighty Rome itself is really no more than a stop along a peninsular trunk road.

Secondly, there may be no motorways on the Peutinger Diagram, but roads then and now follow the same lie of the land and connect the same main population centres, so many of the ancient routes live on as multi-lane highways and can be easily found among the Moovel trunk and branches. However many lesser shortcuts and even some main ancient roads were evidently unknown to the Peutinger designer.

A road north from Florence over the Apennines to Bologna seems from Pelagios to have existed then, and is followed today by Italy's trunk autostrada, yet the Peutinger designer simply ignores its existence as an irrelevance. Throughout the pre-medieval era, northbound travellers from Rome mostly preferred another, longer route, the Via Flaminia, then the Via Aemilia, as Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen very accessibly explained some years ago.

All these missing routes are denoted in my mash-up by dotted lines. Also missing is the route from Bologna to the Venice shore (Altino) and on to Aquileia.

The Moovel map guides traffic through the claustrophobic Fréjus, Mont Blanc and St Gotthard road tunnels under the Alps, ignoring old busy routes like the Via Francigena. Back in the day, the traveller had to huff and puff through the thin air of the Montgenèvre, Little St Bernard, Great St Bernard and Spluegen Passes over the Alps (named in the Peutinger "In Alpe Cottia," "In Alpe Graia," "In Summo Pennino" and "Cunuaureu": see René Voorburg's magnificent Omnes Viae to find these). Only the Brenner Pass crossing shown on the Peutinger Diagram remains a main road today.

Thirdly, the Peutinger Diagram is entirely unknowing about northern Europe. Three of the Moovel's fat trunk routes to the far north thus fall off the top edge of the Peutinger Diagram, which finishes at the Netherlands and southern Germany and has no cognizance of the Baltic countries or Russia. However latitudinally, the scope of these two diagrams is very similar, stretching from Britain to eastern Turkey.

Overlaying the Moovel data on the Peutinger emphasizes how cramped (and unmaplike) the late antique project is. Where the roads fan out on the Moovel chart, the Peutinger Diagram crams them together like stiff fingers on an arthritic hand, in effect classifying the routes into regional blocks as sets of local itineraries.

My experiments with the Peutinger Diagram will continue. Don't forget to check my project page on ResearchGate to monitor progress. Collaborators and followers are very welcome to announce themselves.

Bekker-Nielsen, Tønnes. ‘Terra Incognita: The Subjective Geography of the Roman Empire’. In Studies in Ancient History and Numismatics: Eds Aksel Amsgaard-Madsen, Erik Christiansen and Erik Hallager, 148–61. Aarhus: Aarhus UP, 1988. Online.
Talbert, Richard J. A. Rome’s World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010.


Bell Towers

St Peter's Basilica in Rome was not built in a day. Its bell towers are additions. Pope Urban VIII decided in 1636 to adopt the architect Bernini's scheme. This can now be examined online in a book of planning drawings, Vat.lat.13442.pt.1, including a curious little lift-the-flap page with design alternatives:
Many of the drawings are overlays on an engraving by Matthias Greuter. This was printed as a kind of master drawing for the project, which lasted many years. A start was made on the south tower, but due to technical problems the work was suspended. The completed parts of Bernini's structure were dismantled in 1646.

The portfolio is one of the manuscripts placed online in the last few days by the Vatican Apostolic Library. My list:
  1. Carte.dAbbadie.18 (black and white, low-res)
  2. Carte.dAbbadie.19 (black and white, low-res), translation from Arabic by Antoine Thomson d'Abbadie, the 19th-century Franco-Irish explorer
  3. Pages.1, Codex Leidradi (HT to @ParvaVox and @LatinAristotle who point out Bishop Leidrad of Lyons' autograph ex-libris in this very early (8th century) copy of Aristotle's Organon.)  Here is the inscription as transcribed by @LatinAristotle:
    The codex begins with
    Porphyry's Isagoge in the Latin translation (early 6th century CE) of Boethius. Check it out on ELMSS. @ParvaVox adds the reference CLA IV 417. Note the diagrams including this one:
  4. Reg.lat.458, a Lives of the Saints compilation (from cathedral priory of St Andrew, Rochester, Kent?) including a life of St Pol de Léon
  5. Vat.gr.463
  6. Vat.gr.758 ,
  7. Vat.lat.518.pt.1
  8. Vat.lat.752, philosophical: Bonaventura, Aquinas
  9. Vat.lat.1300
  10. Vat.lat.1439
  11. Vat.lat.1440, Pope Innocent: Apparatus in Decretalium Gregorii, with this opening initial:
  12. Vat.lat.1444
  13. Vat.lat.1452
  14. Vat.lat.1457
  15. Vat.lat.1463
  16. Vat.lat.1501, Notabilia of Johannes de Soncino
  17. Vat.lat.1509
  18. Vat.lat.1529 , Pietro de Crescenzi, Ruralia commoda, 14th century
  19. Vat.lat.1535
  20. Vat.lat.1544
  21. Vat.lat.1545, Macrobius, Commentary on Cicero's Scipio's Dream, 15th century
  22. Vat.lat.1549
  23. Vat.lat.1550
  24. Vat.lat.1551
  25. Vat.lat.1553, De verborum significatu, by the 2nd-century lexicographer Festus, epitome by Paulus. Incipit: Augustus, locus sanctus, ab avium gestu. Edition: De verborum significatu quae supersunt cum Pauli epitome, ed. Wallace M. Lindsay, Leipzig: Teubner 1913.
  26. Vat.lat.1557
  27. Vat.lat.1559
  28. Vat.lat.1561, Leonardo Bruni, De Militia
  29. Vat.lat.1562
  30. Vat.lat.1563
  31. Vat.lat.1564
  32. Vat.lat.1566
  33. Vat.lat.1576
  34. Vat.lat.1578
  35. Vat.lat.1581
  36. Vat.lat.1588
  37. Vat.lat.1617
  38. Vat.lat.1619
  39. Vat.lat.1627
  40. Vat.lat.1639
  41. Vat.lat.1658
  42. Vat.lat.1665
  43. Vat.lat.1667
  44. Vat.lat.1670
  45. Vat.lat.1674
  46. Vat.lat.1676
  47. Vat.lat.1677
  48. Vat.lat.1680
  49. Vat.lat.1685, Cicero, Letters, a Renaissance manuscript
  50. Vat.lat.1691
  51. Vat.lat.1701
  52. Vat.lat.13442.pt.1, drawings of Bernini's facade for the Basilica of St Peter in Rome (above)
  53. Vat.lat.15414

Also worthy of note is the arrival online, in colour and hi-res, of Vat.lat.1528, formerly only available in black and white. This is a 14th-century copy of De Balneis Puteolanis, the medical poem on the healing benefits of thermal baths by Petrus of Eboli. This copy lacks the racy illustrations. It is listed in Thorndike-Kibre only under the prologue, Inter opes rerum deus est. See Ballester

At Heidelberg, 15 new manuscripts have arrived online, most of them scientific. Those indexed by Thorndike-Kibre are marked eTK below:
  1. Pal. lat. 1171 Petrus : Medizinsche Sammelhandschrift (Italien, 14. Jh. (nach 1310))
  2. Pal. lat. 1172 Petrus : Conciliator Pars I (Heidelberg, Mitte 15 Jh.), eTK: Quod necessarium non sit medico ceteras speculationis scientias (15c); Also: Unum in ternario ac omne
  3. Pal. lat. 1180 Arnoldus ; Gentilis ; Bacon, Rogerus: Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Heidelberg, 2. Drittel 15. Jh.), eTK: Ad investigationem ergo scientie de gradibus medicinarum
  4. Pal. lat. 1188 Avicenna; Hippocrates; Copho; Arnoldus ; Leopoldus ; Hermes; Ps.-Vergilius; Augustinus Bathus Senensis; Antonius de Haneron: Miscellaneenband (Sachsen, Ende 15. Jh.), eTK: Debes considerare planetas hora revolutionis (15c)
  5. Pal. lat. 1196 Isaac : Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Frankreich, 13./14. Jh.), eTK: Cum in primis coegit antiquos disputare (15c)
  6. Pal. lat. 1198 Liber medcinalis (Regensburg oder Freising, 1565)
  7. Pal. lat. 1203 Kommentare zu den Aphorismen des Hippokrates (2. Drittel 15. Jh.), eTK: Intentio Hippocratis fuit componere librum pauci (15c)
  8. Pal. lat. 1205 Arnoldus praepositus Sancti Jacobi; Arnoldus ; Maimonides, Moses; Jacoby, Johann; Gentilis ; Costofferus; Auicenna; Bernardus ; Magninus : Medizinische Sammelhandschrift (Deutschland, 2. Hälfte 15. Jh), eTK: Accidit interdum aeri qui est hic apud nos (15c)
  9. Pal. lat. 1419 Ptolemaeus, Claudius: Opus quadripartitum (Deutschland, 2. Drittel 15. Jh.)
  10. Pal. lat. 1420 Ptolemaeus, Claudius; Johannes ; Albertus ; Johannes ; Bradwardine, Thomas; Simon ; Johannes : Sammelband mit Quadriviumstexten (Italien (I) , Italien und Köln (II), Ende 13. Jh. (I) ; 14. Jh. (II))
  11. Pal. lat. 1423 Pruckner, Nicolaus; Leowitz, Cyprian: Nativitäten ; Astrologische Urteile (Heidelberg, 2. Hälfte 16. Jh.)
  12. Pal. lat. 1425 Leowitz, Cyprian: Tomus tertius nativitatum (Augsburg, Mitte 16. Jh.)
  13. Pal. lat. 1436 Leopoldus ; Johannes ; Prophatius Judaeus: Astronomisch-astrologische Sammelhandschrift (Belgien, Mitte 15. Jh. (1447))
  14. Pal. lat. 1439 Peuerbach, Georg /von; Regiomontanus, Johannes; Albertus ; Johannes ; Głogowczyk, Jan; Ps.-Hippokrates; Prosdocimus ; Hermes: Astronomisch-astrologische Sammelhandschrift (Krakau, Leipzig, 1487-1493), eTK: Aries facit calorem temperatum (15c)
  15. Pal. lat. 1446 Abū-Maʿšar Ǧaʿfar Ibn-Muḥammad; Qabīṣī, Abu-'ṣ-Ṣaqr ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz Ibn-ʿUṯmān /al-; Māšā'allāh Ibn-Aṯarī: Astrologischer Sammelband (Deutschland, Mitte 15. Jh. (I) , letztes Drittel 14. Jh. (II)), eTK: Accipiat nomen suum
Finally, the Vatican Library is playing catch-up, having just posted some manuscripts already familiar from the Heidelberg site:
  1. Pal.lat.1357, eTK: India ulterior finitur ab oriente oceano (14c)
  2. Pal.lat.27
  3. Pal.lat.33
  4. Pal.lat.37
  5. Pal.lat.38
  6. Pal.lat.44
  7. Pal.lat.48
  8. Pal.lat.49
  9. Pal.lat.54
  10. Pal.lat.61
  11. Pal.lat.62
  12. Pal.lat.63
  13. Pal.lat.64
  14. Pal.lat.66
  15. Pal.lat.69
  16. Pal.lat.70
  17. Pal.lat.71
  18. Pal.lat.101
  19. Pal.lat.130
  20. Pal.lat.131
  21. Pal.lat.203
  22. Pal.lat.205
  23. Pal.lat.312
  24. Pal.lat.395
  25. Pal.lat.397
  26. Pal.lat.399
  27. Pal.lat.711
  28. Pal.lat.1089, eTK: Somnus corporis of Galen
  29. Pal.lat.1930
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 113. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Law Professor

Take a trip on Google Street View to Bologna, Italy, where one of the greatest law professors, Accursius, c. 1182-1263, is entombed with his son in a curious elevated sarcophagus at the side of a busy street. The Tombe dei Glossatori is a pretty little green-roofed shrine.

Accursius senior, c. 1182-1263, was a professor in Bologna whose work became a definitive textbook through the medieval period. He is thought to have built up and revised his 2 million words of commentary on the Institutions, Code, Digest and Novels of Justinian over a lifetime of research and writing.

Consider now how law students for hundreds of years consulted this man's law commentaries, and take a look at a 14th-century manuscript of his Apparatus dealing with the Digest from book 39 onwards. The Vatican Library has just digitized Vat.lat.1426 and you will see that not only does the Digest occupy the centre space with the margins full of glosses, but there are also glosses on the glosses. This may not be the oldest manuscript, but Robert Figueira notes that no archetypal manuscript has ever been identified.

The Vatican copy is interesting for its idiosyncratic illuminations, which would be delightful subjects for Make Up the Caption competitions. What are they saying here about the faceless bricklayer at right?[The true answer, by the way, is that this is the section De operis novi nuntiatione, illustrated by a king giving orders for a building campaign. HT to @Glossaeluris.]

The whimsical artist also shows us a comical curule chair below with the carved arms shaped like heads of surprised hounds emerging from one body. The gaze directions of the humans seem to suggest something odd is happening off-stage at right. But what?

Here is my full list of digitizations recorded in the past week, whereby I will exceptionally include Palatina items that were previously online at Heidelberg:
  1. Borg.et.23
  2. Pal.lat.8
  3. Pal.lat.26
  4. Pal.lat.28
  5. Pal.lat.29
  6. Pal.lat.30, Diurnale Benedictinum with Psalter Romanum, 13th century, Tuscany or perhaps Piedmont, Beuron number 370. Original online release at Heidelberg has more details.
  7. Pal.lat.31
  8. Pal.lat.32
  9. Pal.lat.34
  10. Pal.lat.35
  11. Pal.lat.1908
  12. Pal.lat.1917
  13. Pal.lat.1939
  14. Pal.lat.1940
  15. Pal.lat.1941
  16. Pal.lat.1962
  17. Pal.lat.1975
  18. Pal.lat.1986, the strange Bellifortis (c. 1405) of Konrad Kyeser (1366 – after 1405), a German military engineer. Listed on eTK (a service kindly provided by Medieval Academy of America).
    Zsombor Jékely kindly invites us to compare this to a fragmentary Bellifortis in Hungary here: http://real-ms.mtak.hu/90/
  19. Pal.lat.1990
  20. Pal.lat.1994
  21. Pal.lat.1995
  22. Vat.lat.1426, Accursius (above)
  23. Vat.lat.1538, Macrobius, Saturnalia
  24. Vat.lat.1540, an unfinished copy of Macrobius, Saturnalia, in an Italian humanistic cursive hand. Gaps left for miniatures, opening line, "[M]ultas variasque res in hac vita nobis," lacks planned illuminated M, and start of book 8, "[P]rimus mensis post epulas non remoti," (folio 165r) lacks P. A scholar has instead obtained this codex at a discount and used it to collect glosses in the margins.
  25. Vat.lat.1672
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 112. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


King's Breviary

Among the world's greatest treasures of book art is the series of lavishly illuminated religious books ordered by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1458-1490) to enhance his magnificent Renaissance library. What remains of this one-time royal library at Buda, estimated by Csaba Csapodi to have numbered 2,000 to 2,500 books, is now scattered round the world, but thanks to Zsombor Jékely you can browse many surviving volumes in the virtual Bibliotheca Corviniana Online, a directory of links to digitized manuscripts.

The Vatican Library owns one of the most prized items, the Breviary of Matthias Corvinus, Urb.lat.112, and has just digitized it. This volume is attributed to the Florentine master illuminator Attavante dei Attavanti, of whom Csapodi (article digitized by Roger Pearse) writes:
The work of this master and his school is easily recognizable by the delicate pattern of the classical floral design in the border decoration and its moderate use, and by the figural representations inserted into this ornamental frame. Some of these figures seem to be lifeless and conventional, but in many cases they may be portraits of contemporaries gazing at the reader from the leaves of the book.

Indeed. You would not have dared to paint a false smirk or scowl on the face of any eminent courtier in the administration of the martial Matthias. Or of any court lady in the ascendant:

For more on the Corvinian manuscripts, see my blog post two years ago, Hungary's Week, discussing Urb. lat. 110 (Missale Romanum or the Missal of Matthias Corvinus). Browse too to Rossiana 1164 (Missal of the Friars Minor); Barb.lat.168 (Livius: Historiarum decas I); and Ott.lat.501 (Pontificale).

Here is the full list of novelties from the past week or so:
  1. Barb.gr.438
  2. Barb.lat.4021
  3. Chig.P.VII.9.pt.B, part of an album of architectural drawings by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), with some designs by Carlo Fontana or Felice Della Greca (St Louis catalog). This section contains designs for the two-tiered altar at St. John Lateran (HT to @gundormr)
  4. Pal.lat.59
  5. Pal.lat.1747
  6. Pal.lat.1827
  7. Pal.lat.1916
  8. Pal.lat.1918
  9. Pal.lat.1920
  10. Pal.lat.1921
  11. Urb.lat.112
  12. Vat.et.208
  13. Vat.lat.518.pt.2
  14. Vat.lat.535.pt.1
  15. Vat.lat.535.pt.2
  16. Vat.lat.535.pt.3
  17. Vat.lat.1146
  18. Vat.lat.1156
  19. Vat.lat.1160
  20. Vat.lat.1243
  21. Vat.lat.1248
  22. Vat.lat.1256
  23. Vat.lat.1289
  24. Vat.lat.1355, Decretum Burchard, 11th century, notable for an arbor juris at 151v: do you think the top face in this totem looks vaguely like the young Karl Marx?
  25. Vat.lat.1363
  26. Vat.lat.1368
  27. Vat.lat.1369
  28. Vat.lat.1372
  29. Vat.lat.1376
  30. Vat.lat.1379
  31. Vat.lat.1393
  32. Vat.lat.1398
  33. Vat.lat.1407
  34. Vat.lat.1409
  35. Vat.lat.1421
  36. Vat.lat.1424
  37. Vat.lat.1425
  38. Vat.lat.1442
  39. Vat.lat.1461
  40. Vat.lat.1472
  41. Vat.lat.1475
  42. Vat.lat.1477
  43. Vat.lat.1488
  44. Vat.lat.1489
  45. Vat.lat.1493
  46. Vat.lat.1494
  47. Vat.lat.1497
  48. Vat.lat.1498
  49. Vat.lat.1500
  50. Vat.lat.1504
  51. Vat.lat.1507
  52. Vat.lat.1520
  53. Vat.lat.1524
  54. Vat.lat.1526
  55. Vat.lat.1533
  56. Vat.lat.1534
  57. Vat.lat.1536
  58. Vat.lat.1537
  59. Vat.lat.1539
  60. Vat.lat.1552
  61. Vat.lat.1556
  62. Vat.lat.1569, a copy of De rerum natura by Lucretius exhibited in Rome Reborn, where the catalog notes: This elegant manuscript of Lucretius's philosophical poem is an example of the interest in ancient accounts of nature taken by the Renaissance curia. The work, written in the first century B.C., contains one of the principal accounts of ancient atomism. This is one of numerous copies made at that time. The coat of arms of (Pope) Sixtus IV appears on it.
  63. Vat.lat.1571
  64. Vat.lat.1659
  65. Vat.lat.1682, Prognostichon Hierosolymitanum by Giovanni Michele Nagonio. The Rome Reborn catalog by Anthony Grafton notes: Nagonio, a papal functionary who wrote celebratory verses like these for many European monarchs, celebrates the triumphal entry of Julius II into Rome after his victory over the Bolognese.

    On the facing page one sees a self-satisfied pontiff, ringed by short celebratory texts. Nagonio's poems, which fill the rest of the book, reach a self-parodic level of flattery.
  66. Vat.lat.1686
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 111. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Power Over Life or Death

In the bad old days, power did not come from the people, but from a warlord or king, who in turn ascribed his might to God. That is the subtext of this fine illumination from the legal commentary of the monk Gratian, digitized in the past week by the Vatican Library and placed online, where this fine illumination shows a microcephalous angel conferring power over life and death on a king while his courtiers flatter. Check the original to see his goons, just out of this screenshot, as they too look on:

Here is my list of 31 notable novelties:
  1. Barb.lat.2226
  2. Pal.lat.1772
  3. Pal.lat.1774
  4. Pal.lat.1818
  5. Pal.lat.1826
  6. Pal.lat.1829
  7. Pal.lat.1833
  8. Pal.lat.1840
  9. Pal.lat.1848
  10. Pal.lat.1856
  11. Pal.lat.1887
  12. Vat.lat.651, commentaries on the New Testament in a square-format codex. These have been bound together from 9th- and 10th-century books of varying scripts and layouts. Authors: Alcuin and Rabanus Maurus. Here's a fine three-column section:
  13. Vat.lat.1170, Manipulus florum, 14th century
  14. Vat.lat.1366, Gratian (above)
  15. Vat.lat.1370
  16. Vat.lat.1371
  17. Vat.lat.1374
  18. Vat.lat.1400, Giovanni d'Andrea, Glossaria
  19. Vat.lat.1403, another law textbook, with lawyers and even bishops showing respect to the judge:
  20. Vat.lat.1415
  21. Vat.lat.1422
  22. Vat.lat.1432
  23. Vat.lat.1433
  24. Vat.lat.1462
  25. Vat.lat.1502, 14th-century Latin grammatical compiliation, starting with Regulae grammaticales incerti auctoris, So here you go: who wants to identify the true author?
  26. Vat.lat.1508, Petrarch
  27. Vat.lat.1510
  28. Vat.lat.1518, grammarian Pomponius Porphyrio
  29. Vat.lat.1519
  30. Vat.lat.1525, Columella, Res Rusticae, with a fine Renaissance frontispiece with putti and this magpie:
  31. Vat.lat.1558 , a 16th-century manuscript of Isidore of Seville's Differentiae
If you have been following this blog, you will know that the Vatican Library began at the start of this year to digitize black and white microfilms first, then follow up with hi-res color digitizations later to replace them. It's a commendable move, but I have not found an easy way to track these transitions from monochrome to high resolution, which in many cases mark the codices real arrival online.

We know that the digitization work is proceeding sequentially, and is currently working through the shelfmark range Vat.lat. 1300-1500. So at the risk of possibly repeating notes on items I have already blogged about, I will list 13 outstanding codices from this range that I know to now be available in the better digital quality:
  1. Vat.lat.1322, Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, Latin, one of oldest books of the pope, dating from the 6th century.  TM 66106 = Lowe, CLA 1 8
  2. Vat.lat.1341, the 9th-century Collectio Hispana Gallica Augustodunensis which contains acts of Spanish and African councils. This is a unique resource, and the fact that ecclesiastical forgers (the Pseudo-Isidore gang) made the codex to build their credibility in no way reduces its enormous value as a historical record. Full list of the councils with the transcript at MGH
  3. Vat.lat.1342 another text of Chalcedon from the 8th century TM 66107 = Lowe, CLA 1 9 =
  4. Vat.lat.1345 text of the 1120 Council of Nablus where laws of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem were prepared
  5. Vat.lat.1346 see for the arbor juris diagram
  6. Vat.lat.1347 with the celebrated law collection Collectio canonum quadripartita 
  7. Vat.lat.1349 an 11th century Collectio Canonum et Conciliorum.  
  8. Vat.lat.1360 see for the arbor juris diagrams
  9. Vat.lat.1383 see for the arbor juris diagrams
  10. Vat.lat.1390 see for the arbor juris diagrams
  11. Vat.lat.1391 law textbook, mainly Bernardo Bottoni, but the remarkable thing in it is a blank separation page, folio III, ripped from a very early Dante with snatches of Purgatorio
  12. Vat.lat.1468 Glossarium, 11th century, see Lowe Beneventan Script, p. 15a.
  13. Vat.lat.1512 8th-century manuscript of Claudius Donatus's 4th-century Interpretationes Vergilianae from Luxeuil, France in an unusual round hand: TM 66108 = Lowe, CLA 1 10

This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 111. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Algorithmic Drawing

Great art is not all about channeling emotion. It's also technique and following algorithms. The artist employed for the drawings in a 14th-century Italian manuscript of Virgil's Aeneid - the codex has just been digitized by the Vatican Library - reveals all too clearly his methodical approach in two drawings on the same page:

At top of the margin on folio 36v is a deer and below is a hare, illustrating the account of the hunt of Dido and Aeneas (IV, 117). John Murdoch comments in his Album of Science volume on antiquity and the Middle Ages, 204 (Scribner, 1984):
All of the animals are drawn in standard, unpretentious profile poses. Those standing on their hind legs are quite similar in overall form. [These two] are not merely similar, but almost identical. All one needed to do to transform the deer at top into the hare below was to replace the antlers with ears. One is tempted to think that the artist employed instructions from a model book that explained how to draw any number of animals with minimal change.
The pictures are undoubtedly interesting, though, showing garments and architecture of the 14th century in great detail, for example a contemporary Italian town:

Here are the main novelties on the Vatican Library digital portal from the past week:
  1. Borg.ar.279
  2. Borg.pers.15, a singularity, being a Latin-Persian dictionary, which was compiled by Ignazio de Jesus, ODC, used a bastard script and never got past manuscript stage. Anthony Grafton comments on this Dictionarium latino persicum in the Rome Reborn catalog:
    The Italian missionary priest Ignazio de Jesus (died 1667) dedicated this Latin-Persian dictionary to Cardinal Antonio Barberini (1607-1681), Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the new division of the curia in charge of missionary efforts. Unlike the author's Persian grammar, this dictionary was not printed. Father Ignazio lists Latin words alphabetically in the first column, gives the Persian equivalent in a Roman script transliteration (representing sounds not in the Roman alphabet by the addition of diacritic marks derived from the Persian version of the Arabic alphabet), and finally gives the Persian written form.
    Here is abacus to start the letter A:
  3. Urb.lat.1779
  4. Vat.copt.98
  5. Vat.lat.905
  6. Vat.lat.1245
  7. Vat.lat.1246
  8. Vat.lat.1338
  9. Vat.lat.1381
  10. Vat.lat.1383, Bernardo Bottoni's legal commentary with Juvenal interspersed. The arbor juris drawings are incomplete. The scribe never got round to writing in the kinship terms. But curiously the artist did draw the generic ego or Everyman who is the starting point of all the degrees of relationship:
  11. Vat.lat.1392
  12. Vat.lat.1399
  13. Vat.lat.1401
  14. Vat.lat.1404
  15. Vat.lat.1406
  16. Vat.lat.1446
  17. Vat.lat.1470
  18. Vat.lat.1485
  19. Vat.lat.1496
  20. Vat.lat.1523
  21. Vat.lat.1527
  22. Vat.lat.2761, see above regarding fol 36v
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 110. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.