First You Have to Throw It

Traditional philology studies old texts by weighing every word. A colleague mentioned to me yesterday this article:
Springer, Matthias. 'Riparii - Ribuarier - Rheinfranken nebst einigen Bemerkungen zum Geographen von Ravenna' in: Die Franken und die Alemannen bis zur "Schlacht bei Zülpich" (1998), 200-269.

Seventy pages and 200 footnotes to explain two words, "Francia Rinensis", in the Ravenna Cosmography. That's enormously valuable, but it's not the only technique that produces results.

Experimental study of a document assumes that we can learn about it by using it. Nowadays, if we dug up an ancient pointed stick from a bog, we would make a replica and throw it. The final determination of whether it was a spear or a bean-stake would be experimental.

That's why I argue for a new approach to the Tabula Peutingeriana, the third or fourth century Latin chart of the known world. Draw it. Redraw it. Observations come pouring out.

My second experimental paper has just gone online as a preprint/draft. Here is the abstract:
The ancient world lacked scaled maps. But simply knowing directions to places beyond the horizon would have sufficed to draw the Peutinger Table, the world's oldest detailed chart of Eurasia and North Africa. Previously unnoticed in the chart's picture of the European coastline are twists and turns which bolster the recent new evidence that its perspective on the world is from Roman-ruled Africa, not Italy. One such turn aligns the whole Mediterranean on an axis from Gabes to Antioch. The chart also rotates Greece, the mouth of the Adriatic and Italy to the point of view of a traveler arriving from the Tunisian coast. Though the Latin chart's author and precise date are unknown, its method of showing distant coasts recurs in a map made in 1841 by New Zealand Maori. Where a pre-modern map has sightlines leading back to a common point of origin, it can "tell us about itself".
Cite is as: Piggin, Jean-Baptiste. Late Antiquity: How the Peutinger Chart Reshapes Europe for African Eyes. Academia.edu preprint, 2017-09. Online.

There's also a feedback/discussion page (but you need to be registered with Academia.edu to take part).


Old Trees

Early tree diagrams are some of the surprises in the latest batch of Vatican digitizations. One welcome arrival online is a 10th-century text of the Lex Romana Visigothorum with two elaborate kinship scheme diagrams at 20v and 21r. This has now been issued in color, after only a black and white scan had been online at the Vatican Library portal.

You'll notice this looks a bit like a Flemish building facade, not a tree. A full list of contents of this codex, Reg.lat.1048, from the Cologne Leges Database:
  • 1 - 19: Isidore, Etymologiae
  • 20 - 21r: Stemmata graduum
  • 21v - 224r: Lex Romana Visigothorum with younger explanationes titulorum and younger glosses
  • 224r - Series regum Francorum, Formula extravagans I No. 5, glossary in three languages
The table above had come to be called an arbor juris, a law diagram, so it was not long before the decoration began to become treelike, perhaps as a mnemonic aid to students. The completely new releases at DigiVatLib include a law book, the Decretum of Burchard of Worms, which takes the tree idea further, indicating the change in progress. Reg.lat.979 is one of the earliest codices ever to associate a tree with a table of consanguinity. Note how the Reg.lat.979 drawing below, dated about 1080, does not yet put the table in the tree. The tree simply takes root on the roof like a cheeky weed:
Here is the full list of new releases (I am reporting occasional the black and white conversions to color, but am not able to track these systematically):
  1. Chig.I.V.152, a fine Renaissance edition of Aristotle's Rhetorica translated to Latin by George of Trebizond
  2. Ferr.409, another, less lavishly executed copy of the same text, HT to @LatinAristotle
  3. Reg.lat.149, copyist Nicolò de' Ricci
  4. Reg.lat.153, sturdy old breviary with liturgical calendar, litanies, etc.
  5. Reg.lat.184
  6. Reg.lat.647, hagiography,
  7. Reg.lat.896
  8. Reg.lat.946, Gesta Francorum
  9. Reg.lat.979, Decretum of Burchard of Worms (above)
  10. Reg.lat.1034
  11. Reg.lat.1038
  12. Reg.lat.1045
  13. Reg.lat.1058
  14. Reg.lat.1059
  15. Reg.lat.1060
  16. Reg.lat.1063
  17. Reg.lat.1064
  18. Reg.lat.1068, Plato: Calcidius' translation of the Timaeus, HT to @LatinAristotle
  19. Reg.lat.1073
  20. Reg.lat.1075
  21. Reg.lat.1077
  22. Reg.lat.1086
  23. Reg.lat.1087
  24. Reg.lat.1088
  25. Reg.lat.1089
  26. Reg.lat.1093
  27. Reg.lat.1091
  28. Reg.lat.1100
  29. Reg.lat.1114, yet another Calcidius' translation of the Timaeus of Plato, HT to @LatinAristotle
  30. Reg.lat.1134
  31. Reg.lat.1141
  32. Reg.lat.1142
  33. Reg.lat.1151 the Physiognomia of Pseudo-Aristotle, translated to Latin by Bartholomew of Messina in the 13th century, HT to @LatinAristotle, who also points to a new edition and survey by Lisa Devriese, plus earlier work.
  34. Reg.lat.1154
  35. Reg.lat.1155
  36. Reg.lat.1163
  37. Reg.lat.1166
  38. Reg.lat.1167
  39. Reg.lat.1168
  40. Reg.lat.1169
  41. Reg.lat.1172
  42. Reg.lat.1175
  43. Reg.lat.1178
  44. Reg.lat.1181
  45. Reg.lat.1183
  46. Reg.lat.1193
  47. Reg.lat.1210
  48. Reg.lat.1225
  49. Reg.lat.1229
  50. Reg.lat.1244
  51. Reg.lat.1250
  52. Reg.lat.1251
  53. Reg.lat.1256
  54. Vat.gr.334, Byzantine
  55. Vat.lat.1303
  56. Vat.lat.1844
  57. Vat.lat.1863
  58. Vat.lat.1908
  59. Vat.lat.1923
  60. Vat.lat.1947
  61. Vat.lat.1983
  62. Vat.lat.1979
  63. Vat.lat.1989
  64. Vat.lat.1990
  65. Vat.lat.2003
  66. Vat.lat.2008
  67. Vat.lat.2012
  68. Vat.lat.2015
  69. Vat.lat.2016
  70. Vat.lat.2017
  71. Vat.lat.2020
  72. Vat.lat.2031
  73. Vat.lat.7697, Bindo da Siena, sermons
  74. Vat.lat.15204, a collection of fragments, including 3r-v, 4r-v: Canonum collectio "Concordia canonum"; 5r-v Gregorius Magnus, Homiliae in Evangelia (28.2–3) from the 7th or 8th century.
    The latter item, ELMSS number 2194, was found in the binding of a book printed 1498 at the Aldine press in Venice:
    Plus a 9th-century fragment of the Lex Ribuaria. My eye was also caught by the elaborate green cross below (folio 27v) where you can read the words Sancti Evagrii horizontally and De virtute animi vertically.
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 127. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Fresh Life for Roman Map

The most famous map in the world is the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman chart of roads and seas. In 2007, UNESCO placed it on its Memory of the World Register, a global list of 301 documents (as of 2013) which are irreplaceable to comprehend our recent and distant past.

The 12th-century sole copy of the chart is locked in a library vault in Vienna, Austria. So the only decent access you'll get is either to look up a high-resolution photograph (see Richard Talbert's Map Viewer) or check out the the first fully digital edition. The latter, which is my work, arrived online today, and it's #free.

With the digital edition, your browser can:
  • search for any of the 3,000+ names (press Ctrl + F)
  • use live links (signaled by a hand cursor) to get more info
  • zoom in (press Ctrl and mouse wheel) without loss of quality
  • reveal manuscript errors (hover cursor over yellow boxes)
Back in March I foreshadowed this edition, which has been the work of several months and is based on the phenomenal earlier work of Talbert and Tom Elliott (@paregorios). The credits line says:
  • Richard Talbert and Tom Elliott (transcription, projection, colors, original typology); 
  • Jean-Baptiste Piggin (replot, object modelling, interpretational overlayers, revised typology).
The live links lead to the interpretative database which Richard Talbert very generously placed online as a free resource several years ago. The colors of the lettering and roads are not medieval or ancient, but my own choice to make the document more accessible. Other alterations to give it fresh life include reducing spaced-out lettering to make it easily legible. For the sake of a compact file and fast loading I am not reproducing the little vignettes that show towns, temples and spas.

Here is the link to the Piggin Peutinger Diagram and here is the table of contents for my site. Download your own copy to preserve this astonishing artifact of the fourth-century Roman Empire.

Other online Tabula Peutingeriana resources you can consult are:


Joy of Geometry

Geometry texts are rarely models of exquisite typography, so it is special to see a truly well-laid-out Latin version of Euclid's Elements, Reg.lat.1137, in the latest set of digitizations from the Vatican Library. Menso Folkerts' introduction (on Bill Casselman's website) to the translations offers the basic details:
Euclid's Elements played an important role in the Middle Ages, rivalled in the legacy of Greek science ... perhaps only by Ptolemy's Almagest. For a long time, Euclid's text was represented only by fragments reputed to have originated in a translation by the late Roman philosopher Boethius. And during these early years it is almost certain that its true significance was not appreciated. 
But in the twelfth century it was introduced in its complete form along with other remnants of Greek science through the medium of translations from the Arabic. There seem to have been a very small number of independent translations, but the first six books of the Elements became part of the basic curriculum of that time, and copies spread throughout Europe. Many manuscripts from this period are still to be found among collections today. Most are rather drab productions when compared to the fancier manuscripts of that time ...

This 13th-century codex contains a translation from the Arabic commonly ascribed to Adelard of Bath. What's impressive as a matter of book history is the strict columnar layout, the variation in text size, the conscious manipulation of white space, the inviting optics of the drawings. Everything gives the impression of a well-designed modern book, though this particular one is obviously unfinished, since the space left for the illuminated initials (example above) remains empty.

Here is the full list of the digitizations of the past four weeks:
  1. Patetta.683
  2. Reg.lat.120
  3. Reg.lat.128
  4. Reg.lat.156
  5. Reg.lat.241
  6. Reg.lat.924
  7. Reg.lat.934
  8. Reg.lat.967
  9. Reg.lat.978
  10. Reg.lat.989
  11. Reg.lat.991, lawbook used at the chancery of the Carolingian court. Rosamond McKitterick argues this codex is one of the corrected masters from which copies of the legal codes were made for the use of officials and clergy in the provinces. With the Lex Ribvaria (B 16, with the best text), Alemanorum, Baiuuariorum and the Epitome Aegidiana (Charlemagne's regulations relating to the Lex Baiuuariorum). See Bibliotheca Legum.
  12. Reg.lat.1004, a general medical text of the 13th century with Hippocratic and pseudo-Hippocratic writings. From folio 94v, a text beginning: Ad compaginem membrorum ...
  13. Reg.lat.1006, De Planctu Naturae by Master Alan of Lille
  14. Reg.lat.1007
  15. Reg.lat.1009
  16. Reg.lat.1012,,The last folio is the beginning of the geometrical text De conicis (Cum continuatur inter punctum aliquod et lineam) (12c-13c) by Gerard of Cremona, translated from Apollonius of Perga. This diagram is on the first folio:
  17. Reg.lat.1017
  18. Reg.lat.1019
  19. Reg.lat.1022, the Mistère du Siège d’Orleans
  20. Reg.lat.1025, Rule of St Benedict begins this handbook of Geoffroy de Vendôme (1093-1132)
  21. Reg.lat.1033
  22. Reg.lat.1036, one might term this gorgeous codex a fat-cat lawyer's handbook, where every heading and keyword is illuminated to aid memorization, rather like a hyperlinked text:
  23. Reg.lat.1037
  24. Reg.lat.1039
  25. Reg.lat.1042
  26. Reg.lat.1043
  27. Reg.lat.1076
  28. Reg.lat.1078
  29. Reg.lat.1137 , Euclid's Elements, above
  30. Reg.lat.1174
  31. Reg.lat.1215
  32. Sbath.642
  33. Urb.lat.116
  34. Urb.lat.1091
  35. Urb.lat.1258
  36. Urb.lat.1619
  37. Urb.lat.1646
  38. Urb.lat.1647
  39. Urb.lat.1648
  40. Vat.arm.11
  41. Vat.lat.277
  42. Vat.lat.713
  43. Vat.lat.1380
  44. Vat.lat.1428
  45. Vat.lat.1429
  46. Vat.lat.1456
  47. Vat.lat.1721
  48. Vat.lat.1747
  49. Vat.lat.1850
  50. Vat.lat.1852
  51. Vat.lat.1857
  52. Vat.lat.1867
  53. Vat.lat.1889
  54. Vat.lat.1891
  55. Vat.lat.1901
  56. Vat.lat.1902
  57. Vat.lat.1911
  58. Vat.lat.1913
  59. Vat.lat.1914
  60. Vat.lat.1919
  61. Vat.lat.1920
  62. Vat.lat.1921
  63. Vat.lat.1924
  64. Vat.lat.1928
  65. Vat.lat.1931
  66. Vat.lat.1933
  67. Vat.lat.1966
  68. Vat.lat.1977
  69. Vat.lat.1978
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 126. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Tuning up the Tabula

Readers will know I have created a digital surrogate of the Tabula Peutingeriana, the only detailed chart of Latin antiquity to show the lands, cities and roads of the known world. I am now tuning it up with extra features. The newest is an animated and interactive means of showing how the archetype must have looked, comparing it to the error-ridden impression given by the sole surviving manuscript.

Here's an example of what you see: the normal picture is a clean schematic plot from the manuscript including obvious errors such as that below, which shows towns in Roman Africa as blue circles and a main road which I have colored green. Look carefully and you will see that the copyist has unaccountably shifted a section of the road upwards, closer to the sea (green area):

I want to show readers wordlessly how that defect can be repaired. In the picture below, you can see how the town and the section of road can be shifted downward and re-integrated into the route:

The coastal town that is moved here is Hadrumetum, now Sousse in Tunisia. The technique I have invented to highlight such changes is to show a gradual transition where the one disappears and the other gradually takes shape at the same time. Go to the website, http://piggin.net/plold.htm, and bring up the chart. If you hover your cursor over that pale yellow button at top right, the picture hereabouts begins to slowly change, as the following still picture, taken mid-way through the transition, shows:

You can see that a side road (to Cubin, an unidentified place) also shifts. So far I only have three of these transitions built into the chart. It took me a couple of days of tinkering with Javascript and cascading style sheets before I stumbled on a simple but effective technique involving the "hover" feature in CSS3, but it does take a while to write the code by hand for each case.


My Missal

It's not often that we know so much about an 11th-century manuscript as we do with Borg.lat.211, a missal which has been intensely studied by Francis Newton and Hartmut Hoffmann and which has just been brought online by the Vatican Library. We can even follow how it was made and where it was used.

The manuscript detectives have established that the missal, which contains the Cassinese Calendar, was written at Monte Cassino in 1098-1099, under the direction of Leo of Ostia (Leo Ostiensis or Leo Marsicanus or Leone dei Conti di Marsi, born 1046), the first chronicler of this original Benedictine monastery. Leo's hand is seen in many corrections and his taste can be deduced from the illuminations:

Being a historian and librarian himself, Leo naturally fascinates historians today. He was a nobleman and Benedictine monk who ended up a cardinal and bishop of Velletri, where he died 1115 May 22, a date known from an entry on folio 6 (see p 91 of Lowe's The Beneventan Script) of this book. Lowe is able to point from such additions that the handwriting required in the scriptorium at Monte Cassino was never adopted at places like Velletri.

Read Newton's notes about the missal. The calendar at the front, with names and dates of death of key people, is an important source of the prosaic bits of monastic history not found in Leo's chronicle. Because this codex keeps on giving, expect new discoveries as new sleuths now keep looking at it in digital form. Because the parchment has got damp at some point and is badly foxed, the photography has been repeated at another wavelength to bring out the script.

Here is my list of the 43 latest DigiVatLib digitizations.
  1. Barb.or.89
  2. Borg.lat.211, missal above.
  3. Reg.lat.92
  4. Reg.lat.112
  5. Reg.lat.168
  6. Reg.lat.754
  7. Reg.lat.769
  8. Reg.lat.772
  9. Reg.lat.816
  10. Reg.lat.875
  11. Reg.lat.939
  12. Reg.lat.972
  13. Reg.lat.974
  14. Reg.lat.976
  15. Reg.lat.995
  16. Reg.lat.1240
  17. Vat.gr.748, a Byzantine Octateuch with catenae, 13th or 14th century, no 77 in list of Septuagint Bible sources
  18. Vat.lat.1385, a Renaissance copy of Bernardo Bottoni's law text (1266), Glossa ordinaria in Decretalium Gregorii PP.
  19. Vat.lat.1546 is an 11th or 12th century manuscript of the late antique writer Macrobius which has a place in the history of diagrams with its sketches of circumsolar motion. Bruce Eastwood, the expert on pre-medieval astronomical diagrams, explains that the following diagrams are by the glossators comparing two different theories of the orbits. HT to @LatinAristotle for this.
  20. Vat.lat.1791
  21. Vat.lat.1845
  22. Vat.lat.1851
  23. Vat.lat.1855
  24. Vat.lat.1872
  25. Vat.lat.1874
  26. Vat.lat.1876
  27. Vat.lat.1882
  28. Vat.lat.1900
  29. Vat.lat.1909
  30. Vat.lat.1915
  31. Vat.lat.1922
  32. Vat.lat.1925
  33. Vat.lat.1926
  34. Vat.lat.1929
  35. Vat.lat.1934
  36. Vat.lat.1949
  37. Vat.lat.1975
  38. Vat.lat.2004
  39. Vat.lat.3548 , one of the finely illuminated Ottonian sacramentaries from Fulda (copied around 1020), HT to @ParvaVox
  40. Vat.lat.3780, a lovely 15th century book of hours, thought to have been made in Lyon. Here is August in its calendar:
    ... and here is the Nativity illumination:
  41. Vat.lat.13948
  42. Vat.lat.13949
  43. Vat.lat.15294.pt.1, an album of wrapping slips from reliquaries. These were recycled from old documents in the papal offices around the period 1120-1140 and wrapped around votive objects placed in a very old altar in the pope's chapel. HT to @LatinAristotle who explained this to me and points to an article in 2000 by Bernard de Vregille on item 105, part of a letter from France.
    Curiously, the journal, Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes, complains bitterly it was not permitted to reproduce an image of the slip. Well, here it is.
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 125. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


What's the Time?

If you lived in the age of Chaucer and asked an educated person, "What's the time?" they might have looked at the shadow they were casting, called to mind the month of the year and come up with a pretty accurate answer. Timepieces of any nature were rare. Learning to reckon time is the purpose of John Somer's Kalendarium of 1387, which tabulates time data for the whole year.

The Vatican Library digitized this week a manuscript containing this treasure of English learning, Reg.lat.144. From eTK (search) we know which of the calendaria it is (there were many), based on the prologue incipit, Ad honorem dei et virginis gloriose necnon sanctorum confessorum.

It contains a remarkable teaching diagram to learn the zodiac:

Being an expensive book, its calendar of upcoming solar eclipses for the next few years is made with real gold foil (sorry, but the #Eclipse2017 in August is not here; the list stops at 1462):

And of course the astronomical and astrological canon is beautifully tabulated. Here is July:

This codex contains:
  • fol. 2r ff: John Somers' Kalendarium
  • fol. 19r ff: The Metrificata Bibliae Capita, incipit: "A creat et tribus ordinat ...."
  • fol. 29r ff: The Summarium Biblie, a 13th-century nonsense mnemonic for remembering the books of the bible:
Sex prohibet peccant abel enoch archa fit intrant
egreditur dormit variantur turris it abram
loth reges credit fuga circumcisio risus
sulphur rex gerare parit offert sara rebecca
post geminos puteos benedicit scala sorores
virgas abscedit luctatur munera dina
benom gens esau vendunt thamar impia tres tres
preficitur veniunt redeunt post tristia norunt
omne genus quintam languet benedictio ioseph
For a translation, see an article by Lucie Dolezalova which offers a key. The codex may contain a Carolingian text too, since it is mentioned in Paolo Vaciago's Towards a Corpus of Carolingian Biblical Glossaries.

Unfortunately the library only released three items in the past week (barring its Pal.lat. catch-ups which I always reported to you from the quicker Heidelberg web portal).
  1. Reg.lat.131
  2. Reg.lat.155 (above)
  3. Reg.lat.952
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 124. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.