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 bit of the De Consolatione Philosophiae of Boethius
  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.


Quick Click

Before I list the latest 26 manuscripts digitized at the Vatican Library, I want to draw your attention to one of the helpful new features added this year to the digital portal. It is a means, omitted in the early days of the new portal, to link to individual pages. Here is how the feature works.

If you are looking at a codex page and need to quote it, click on the "i" in a white circle in the left navigation pane:

Scroll down to and down to "Page URL":

From here you only need to click the "COPY" button to get a usable link in your clipboard.

And now, the list of 26 new additions:
  1. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXV.fasc.123, page of a gospel?
  2. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXV.fasc.124,
  3. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXV.fasc.125,
  4. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.126,
  5. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.127,
  6. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.128,
  7. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXVI.fasc.129,
  8. Reg.lat.203,
  9. Reg.lat.1120, Justinian Code, glossed, 13th century
  10. Reg.lat.1271, commentary on Avicenna's canon (HT to @monicaMedHist)
  11. Reg.lat.1291, Renaissance commentary on Aristotelean mechanics
  12. Reg.lat.1410, 10th-century classics manuscript with Virgil, Horace, Juvenal
  13. Reg.lat.1454, Seneca, Letters to Lucillium
  14. Reg.lat.1489, Lancelot du Lac, French
  15. Reg.lat.1559, early Renaissance compilation of Latin classics
  16. Reg.lat.1608,
  17. Reg.lat.1645.pt.1,
  18. Reg.lat.1645.pt.2,
  19. Reg.lat.1647,
  20. Reg.lat.1655, early Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae
  21. Reg.lat.1656,
  22. Reg.lat.1661,
  23. Reg.lat.1663,
  24. Reg.lat.1668,
  25. Reg.lat.1675, Horace, 11th-century?
  26. Urb.lat.1402, Fiore delle medicine, 15th-century Italian medical treatise (HT to @monicaMedHist)
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 142. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Two Frances

My analysis of the Tabula Peutingeriana's western end has yielded a big surprise. To see what this is about, take a glance at how the manuscript depicts the area we associate with modern France (below):

It's strangely formless. Definitely not a hexagon. The Atlantic coast at left seems to have gone mostly missing. The outline looks vaguely like a sperm whale. What's that strange mouth or slit in the left-hand edge? Scholars have always been astonished at the crudeness of this late-antique "map". So I wasn't expecting to find any graphic intricacy here.

But there is something clever going on, and the first clue is that slit, which is marked Sinus Aquitanicus, the Bay of Aquitaine or as would today say, of Biscay. All seas and gulfs in the Tabula Peutingeriana (TP) are compressed into river shapes, so it is in itself unremarkable that the Bay of Biscay is not being shown here as the wide bight we are familiar with from modern maps.

The area below the slit was evidently marked Aquitania in the original TP, though some letters are now missing.

What is peculiar is the way the slit separates places which we would conventionally expect to abut one another on the plains of western France. At the deepest point of the slit is the inland city of Lemuno (Poitiers), on its top flank are Dartoritum (Vannes) and Portu Namnetum (Nantes)  and on its bottom flank are Audonnaco (Aulnay) and Mediolano Sancorum (Saintes), all inland.

To grasp how this odd watery border has arisen, the best tool of thought is the hexagon, a meme which normally denotes the political frontiers of modern France, but which I will apply to the natural limits, mountainous and marine, of Roman-era Aquitania and transmontane Gaul as far as the left bank of the Rhine:

My method for analysing pre-medieval charts is based on the observation that there are graphic continuities and discontinuities in every large diagram. These become obscured during cumulative copying by scribes. The TP's principal continuities are its long-distance routes, probably based on recorded itineraries. As a matter of prudence, I now denote these as "courses", since it cannot be proven that the TP itself was ever intended to guide travel.

In the present state of the TP - preserved as it is in a single manuscript from late in the long 12th century - some of these courses have become obscured by crowding, but can be recovered by careful examination. Where a long horizontal series of chicanes - the vernacular of the diagram - matches a direct-line, real-world journeying route, we are likely to have found such a course.

As far as I know, scholars have previously failed to notice that in Aquitania, correspond to roads running from southwest to northeast into the Alps, whereas in Gaul and the rest of the West, the TP privileges a set of courses that align with roads running northwest-southeast. Below, I have added a couple of pale yellow parallelograms to the hexagon to show these contrary orientations:

These continuities lead us in turn to discern a discontinuity. There is a break between these two sets of courses. Part of that break is formed by the Sinus Aquitanicus slit, and the rest of the break spreads to the right: a zone of transition where the courses of the two types are tangled or contorted or there are unaccountable blanks. I will develop these observations in detail further on.

The most plausible explanation for such a discontinuity would be that the TP was constructed from two separate data-sets, or perhaps even from two pre-existing charts. I have recently analysed the southernmost of these two datasets, the region abutting the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, and established that it emphasizes seven main routes which vary in length, are more or less parallel and are connected to one another by shorter minor routes. The following transport-system diagram is the result of this analysis:

You can see here two main horizontal courses (red and blue) flanked by the dark green, purple, chocolate, chartreuse and olive green courses (five in all) that are semi-parallel to them. The 15 yellow courses are transverse connections. It is surprising that a journey which modern travellers would regard as a trunk route, the Rhone valley highway from Arles to Valence to Vienne, is treated here as a minor link. The six thin curved lines represent connections near Lyon that do not fit this context. That is because they belong to the transition zone.

I have not yet completed a similar analysis for northern Gaul, but can say already that it emphasizes a set of courses running from Normandy and the English Channel across to the main Alpine crossings..

Armed with this knowledge, we can estimate with greater confidence how the TP was put together. To merge the two datasets, the sub-maps had to be rotated so that all the courses were depicted more or less in parallel. The Bay of Biscay was changed from a full side of the hexagon to a mere slit between the two sections, and the Mediterranean Sea was squeezed down to a kind of river:

Let's finish with a look at the zone of transition, depicted in my abstract above by thin black curving lines. The labels are more legible in my plot than in the manuscript, so let's use that for the discussion.

The road southwards from Cabillione (Chalon) to Lugduno (Lyon) is depicted as a vertical ladder, a rather exceptional graphic form for this chart. Augustodunum (Autun) which is at a more northerly latitude than Chalon is nevertheless shown directly below it. The principal paved Roman crossing of the Morvan uplands is that from Autun to Autessioduro (Auxerre), whereas the connections from Autun to Degetia (Decize) - just peeping above from the left margin - are of less importance.

Here there appear to be no fewer than three courses: via Aquae Nisincii (Saint-Honoré-les-Bains?); via Boxum (Bussière?); and via Aquae Bormonis (Bourbon-Lancy). (For an up-to-date discussion of these identifications and their past as sacred Celtic sites, see Nouvel (2012) and Hofeneder (2011).)

If we consult this 75-kilometre-wide space on an online map, it's noticeable that these three courses relate to a tiny geographical area, with a radius of a single day's walk. Yet the area is being given unusually detailed treatment in the TP. Its paths are circuitous, poorly aligned with the major east-west courses to the north and south and too local for long-distance travel. The chart's graphic arrangement of the small towns and spas does not even represent their real-world spatial organization very well.

I have suggested in the case of Italy that such passages in the TP are most likely to be write-ins on the chart where general consistency was no longer achievable and insufficient blank space was available to make the additions coherent. It is for this reason that I exclude them for the time being from the main analysis and treat them as if they were glosses.

My working hypothesis is that not all lines on the TP are alike: some are primary courses, offering chains of straight-line distances that stretch across regions, others are secondary or local courses, showing cross-connections between the primary courses, and others again are infillings or graphic annotations added after the chart was completed.

The zone between Decize, Chalon and Lyon may have been left blank in the earliest version of the TP, extending inland the watery blank formed by the TP's Sinus Aquitanicus

Hofeneder, Andreas. ‘Tabula Peutingeriana’. In Die Religion der Kelten in den antiken literarischen Zeugnissen 3, Vol. 75. Mitteilungen der Prähistorischen Kommission. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2011.
Nouvel, Pierre. ‘Les voies romaines en Bourgogne antique: le cas de la voie dite de l’Océan attribuée à Agrippa’. In Voies de communications des temps gallo-romains au XXème siècle, edited by C Corbin, 9–57. Saulieu, France, 2012.


Divorce Manual

A handbook of marriage and divorce by Raymundus de Pennaforte (1175/85-1275) is one of the stars of the latest swathe of Vatican manuscript digitizations. The Summa Matrimonio is the classic remix, lightly adapted by Ramon from a previous textbook and itself modified soon enough.

Vincentius Hispanus of Bologna University is apparently the professor who contributed a compound diagram of incestuous marriages at 61r, introducing it as: "Hec conpositio arboris sanguitatis ..."
Of course it does not look like a wood-and-leaves tree. The top part looks like an arrow, the bottom part (glimpse it above) like a plinth, and the mid part (below) designed to somehow connect everything into one big confusing infographic, resembles too many stir-spoons spoiling a pot of broth:

As I have pointed out in the past: arbor should be taken simply as a medieval term for a recursive diagram.

Here is my list of digitizations noticed in the past seven days.
  1. Borg.arm.10
  2. Reg.lat.1261, 14th-century science and maths with Jordanus de Nemore, De Ponderis, and other authors. eTK lists De cometis, incipit: Occasione comete que nuper apparuit
  3. Reg.lat.1351
  4. Reg.lat.1482
  5. Reg.lat.1544
  6. Reg.lat.1567
  7. Reg.lat.1601
  8. Reg.lat.1607
  9. Reg.lat.1626
  10. Reg.lat.1627
  11. Reg.lat.1683
  12. Reg.lat.1697
  13. Vat.estr.or.109, in Japanese. Look at this spectacular binding cloth:
  14. Vat.lat.640.pt.1
  15. Vat.lat.640.pt.2
  16. Vat.lat.780
  17. Vat.lat.1250.pt.1
  18. Vat.lat.1262
  19. Vat.lat.2058, Commentary on the Almagest by George Trebizond. Anthony Grafton notes in his Rome Reborn catalog: Trebizond wrote a commentary as long as [his own Latin translation of the Almagest]. The commentary was severely criticized, which resulted in a falling out with Pope Nicholas V. This opulent manuscript was dedicated to Pope Sixtus IV along with Vat.lat.2055 of the translation. [Below is] a large figure of the model for the planet Mercury, shown at its least distance from the earth, with a list of Mercury's parameters and distances:
  20. Vat.lat.2229
  21. Vat.lat.2300 (above)
  22. Vat.lat.7228
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 141. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Marshal GT

I've often wondered how many medieval people actually introduced themselves by their place of origin, for example: "Hello, I'm John of Auckland."

One of the Vatican Library manuscripts which I spotted this week newly digitized in color is Vat.lat.933 containing works by Gervase of Tilbury (c. 1150s–c. 1222) and marked up by the great man himself with corrections. On the opening page he is described as Gervasius Tilberiensis (the obscure West Tilbury in Essex).

So it does appear he went by that name in his lifetime, even when he held titles like Marshal of the Kingdom of Arles or Provost of Ebstorf. Gervase is famed for writing the Otia Imperialia ("Recreation for an Emperor") for his patron, Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV. It describes many wonders of the distant world such as headless men (also known as akephaloi or blemmyes).

Also new in color is Reg.lat.1260, a binding of two manuscripts believed to be associated with the monastery of Fleury-sur-Loire in France (HT to @monicaMedHist for pointing this out and imaging Beccaria's description). A 10th-century manuscript includes scientific texts such as a glossary of Greek disease names (Incipit: Antrax id est rubor in superficie cutis (see eTK)). And here is its handy tabulation of phases of the moon:

Additionally now available in color is a 14th-century scientific manuscript with works of Boethius, Vat.lat.2114 with Categoriae 12v-32r; De Interpretatione 42r-53r; translation of Aristotle, Prior Analytics 162r-218v; of Aristotle, De Sophisticis Elenchis 53r-81v; of Aristotle, Topica 81v-162r. It also contains a commentary on Euclid, a great many marginal glosses, and diagrams:

Here is the list of completely new digitizations I have detected in the past week:
  1. Ott.lat.3384
  2. Reg.lat.1321
  3. Reg.lat.1542
  4. Reg.lat.1562
  5. Reg.lat.1564
  6. Reg.lat.1565
  7. Reg.lat.1566
  8. Reg.lat.1578
  9. Reg.lat.1590
  10. Reg.lat.1635
  11. Ross.40
  12. Vat.lat.1967
  13. Vat.lat.2114
  14. Vat.lat.2120
  15. Vat.lat.2195, a 14th-century manuscript of the Latin novel Metamorphoses by the 2nd-century Numidian writer Apuleius.
  16. Vat.lat.2221
  17. Vat.lat.2265
  18. Vat.lat.2281
  19. Vat.lat.3360
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 140. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.