Manuscript Number: ljs025

Version: Mar/02/2001

Aristotle (Tr. William of Moerbeke), [metaphysica, Liber Ethicorum, [and] Economica], in Latin. Manuscript on Vellum.

[Italy, s.XIIIex]

80 folios, lacking single leaves before folio 1 and after folio 10 (i.e. outer bifolium of first quire), probably a whole gathering after folio 22, two folios after folio 72, and all after folio 78 (i.e. all but the first two pp. of the Ethics), collation: 2, I12(-2), II-III12, IV8, V12, VI10, VII8, VIII8 (-2), double columns, written in two sections; ff. 1-42v, 36-37 lines in brown ink in a Gothic bookhand, capitals touched in red, some paragraph-marks in red or blue, running-titles in alternately red and blue letters, 2-line initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork extending far into margins (full length and in both colors on folio 1), eight large initials (4- to 5-line, mostly 4-line) in divided red and blue with extensive penwork infilling and full-length extensions in both colors, ff. 43-end, 45 lines, written in brown ink in a regular rounded Gothic bookhand, paragraph-marks throughout in red or blue, 2-line initials in red or blue with penwork in mauve or red, eight illuminated initials (mostly 4- to 5-line) in ivyleaf designs in full color on burnished gold grounds, many early marginal notes, late fifteenth or early sixteenth-century Florentine binding of pale tanned leather over wooden boards, panels ruled in saltires and stamped with Greek-cross tools, chiseled hasp-mark for chaining at inner side of bottom edge, 307 x 218 (183 x 125) mm.

Incipit: Table of contents: Incipit tabuli in ethicos/ Liber iste…; text: [def]…autem est bonum unius cuisque…/…Ad salutem int[ro]euntium a exeuntium…[def.]..


  1. Written in Italy (or possibly in the South of France), with the initials added in France.
  2. There is an inscription partly in code on the flyleaf: ‘anni domini Mo 368, die xx N [?] habui bgfrf cum gpstbtib buprb[...] fbxs’; one of the most common medieval codes was the substitution of vowels by the following consonants: the inscription would therefore read that on a certain day in 1368 the writer ‘habui agere cum gostancia supra...eaus’, which is not much clearer. ‘Gostancia’ may be the name of a girl, ‘Costanza.’
  3. Erased one-line inscription immediately below the last line of the second text (f. 77v) ending ‘...salutatis’ in a neat humanistic hand (reading this effaced inscription requires the use of ultra-violet light). It is almost certainly NOT the signature of humanist Colluccio Salutati, as theorized by Sotheby’s in 1980. It could be the signature of one of his descendants, in which case the manuscript might at one point have belonged to Salutati, but with so little of the inscription legible even under ultra-violet light, the question must remain open.
  4. The manuscript was in Tuscany around the year 1900 (see Sotheby’s description).
  5. Acquired from Sotheby’s, 10 December 1980, lot 79.


The volume comprises three works by Aristotle, unquestionably the most important and influential classical author in the Middle Ages. The texts are:

Ff. 1-42v: The Metaphysica, in the ‘new translation’, i.e. that of the Dominican William of Moerbeke (Thorndike & Kibre, 986; the last page corresponds with that given by G. Lacombe, Aristotles Latinus, I, 1937, pp. 151-152), opening imperfectly ‘autem est bonum...’.

Dr. Pieter Beullens is preparing an article on this codex. and comments in an unpublished e-mail: "The text of LJS 25 indeed appears to be an excellent witness of the so-called ‘Italian’ tradition of the text….Vuillemin-Diem studied over 200 manuscripts, of which only six (partially) contain the Italian text. [therefore] LJS 25 could add significantly to the data already known."

ff. 43-77v: The Liber ethicorum (the Ethica Nicomachea), also in the translation of William of Moerbeke (text corresponds with the specimen given in Lacombe, pp. 158-159), opening ‘[Omn]is ars et omnis doctrina...’. Two further short notes and the erased inscription follow the text.

ff. 78-end: The Economica, in the translation of Durandus (as in the specimen given in Lacombe, p. 166), opening ‘Iconomica et pollitica differunt...’, breaking off at the foot of the next page ‘...exeuntium’. The identification of this as the translation of Durandus is confirmed in an e-mail by Professor Josef Brams, who heads the Aristoteles Latinus project.

Professor Pieter Beullens of Antwerp in a private e-mail notes that this manuscript is not mentioned by either Gauthier or Vuillemin-Diem and was also not previously known to the Aristoteles Latinus edition project.


Aristotle, Metaphysica, edited by Gudrun Vuillemin-Diem, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995; Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea, eidted by René A. Gauthier, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972-4; Sotheby’s, 10 December 1980, lot 79.

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