Manuscript Number: ljs101
Version: Mar/28/2001Boethius, In Librum Aristotelis de Interpretatione, in Latin with some words in Greek. Manuscript on Vellum.
[North Central France (Perhaps Fleury, Saint-Benoît-Sur-Loire), S. VIIImed –XIIin]
64 folios, plus vellum flyleaves, lacking 2 gatherings after f. 44 and other leaves at end else complete, collation: i4, ii4+4, iii-vi8, (vii-viii lacking), ix-x8, xi4, second gathering misbound (order of folios should be 5, 9-10, 6-7, 11-12, 8), the manuscript was evidently very imperfect by the eleventh century when major portions were supplied – ff. 5-44 are ninth century (quires 2-6), but ff. 1-4 and 45-64 are eleventh century (quires 1 and 9-11) and quires 7-8 are lacking – the format varying with the two dates, (a) ninth-century part, single column, 20 lines beginning above top ruled line, blind ruling always scored from the flesh side, writing-space 150 x 120 mm., written in yellow-brown ink in an upright Carolingian minuscule, with some words in Greek uncials, headings, etc., in Latin rustic capitals, initials mostly 2 lines high set out partly or entirely into the left-hand margins either in the same ink or (from f. 30 onwards) alternately in the same ink and in red, four large diagrams (two in color, brown, red, green and yellow), the diagrams being on ff. 36r, 36v and 37v, and (b) eleventh-century part, the pages slightly narrower (205 x 177 mm.), single column, 23 lines beginning above top ruled line, ruled in blind, writing-space 136 x 105 mm., written in dark brown ink in a very fine small upright late Carolingian minuscule, some headings in tall slightly backward-sloping capitals, 2- (and sometimes 3-) line capitals drawn delicately in ink, capitals touched in green on first few pages, red initials on ff. 60r-v, red and blue initials on f. 2r and also presumably the red and blue initial on the ninth-century f. 5r was added at the same time in the eleventh century, a very large (almost full-page) decorated initial on f. 1v, a diagram on f. 54v, the text extensively corrected and repunctuated in a darker ink, including words changed or marked for deletion, etc., the added text on ff. 60v and 63r glossed using various common signes-de-renvoi (these are not ‘tyronian notes’ as had been suggested in the Kraus description), some late medieval ‘nota’ signs, some signs of use but generally in remarkably fine fresh condition with very wide margins usually preserving the prickings, bound in nineteenth-century English diced russia, doubtless for Phillipps, end flyleaf watermarked J. Whatman, 1832, in a brown cloth case, title gilt. 205 x 180 mm.
TEXT AND DECORATION:
This is an extremely important collection of secular and classical texts principally made in France in the mid-ninth century. These are school texts, on logic and the nature of learning and language. This is very probably the oldest entirely secular Western manuscript in private hands, perhaps a generation earlier than the Cassiodorus of the third quarter of the ninth century which was lot 34 in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s sale, Sotheby’s, 6 December 1988. At least one of the texts here is apparently unique. The manuscript stands as a remarkable symbol of the breadth of Carolingian scholarship and as a link between the ancient world of Athenian philosophy and the medieval learning of the emerging cathedral schools.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) became in the course of the Middle Ages the embodiment of the concept of human genius. Especially from the thirteenth century onwards, the philosophy of Aristotle became absolutely central to scholastic study. Before the rise of the universities, Aristotle’s works were mostly known, if at all, through the translations and commentaries of Beothius (c. 480-c. 524), author of the De Consolatione Philosophiae. The Periermenaias, or De Interpretatione, is one of two works of Aristotle which Boethius translated and wrote commentaries on (the other is the Categoriae or Liber Praedimentorum) and it forms part of the Aristotelian corpus of works on logic known collectively as the Organon. Boethius’ commentary on the Periermenias probably owes its survival to its inclusion in Alcuin’s program for the revival of classical scholarship in the court schools of Charlemagne. The oldest surviving manuscript of the text dates from the beginning of the ninth century, now in the Casa Madre dei Padri Maristi in Rome, which was written probably in Lyons and was presented to the cathedral there by archbishop Leidrat (d. 816; cf. E. A. Lowe, Codices Latini Antiquiores, IV, 1947, p. 4, no. 417; B. Bischoff, Manuscripts and Libraries in the Age of Charlemagne, 1994, p. 64). The nineteenth-century editor of the text, Karl Meiser, knew of no manuscript earlier than the tenth century. The dating of the core of the present book to the middle third of the ninth century places it was one of the primary witnesses to the text. This ms. is described by George Lacombe in the first volume of the catalogue of Aristoteles Latinus manuscripts (1957).
The second principal text here, attributed in the Middle Ages to Apuleis, is also of extreme rarity but in fact survives in two other manuscripts from Fleury abbey, one of the early ninth century (Orléans ms. 277, pp. 1-55) and the other of around the year 1000 (B.N. ms. Lat. 6638). Probably these two represent the exemplar and a copy of the present manuscript.
The present manuscript was made in two stages, representing the twin highpoints of the scriptorium of Fleury. The magnificent almost full-page initial ‘P’ on f. 1r is in the portion of the manuscript supplied in the early eleventh century, probably in the time of Abbot Abbo (d. 1004). It was this initial, celtic and insular in its interlace and lions’ heads, classical and Italian in its bursts of colored leaves, which Professor Nordenfalk ascribed especially to Fleury.
A group of very similar initials are discussed by him in ‘A Tenth-Century Gospel Book in the Walters Art Gallery’ in U. McCracken, L. Randall, and R. Randall, eds., Gatherings in Honor of Dorothy E. Miner, 1974, pp. 139-70, esp. pp. 163-70, including a manuscript of Aristotle’s Categoriae, the companion text to the present Periermenias, now Orléans, Bibl. Mun. ms. 277 (his fig. 23 on p. 165); for the Walters manuscript, W.3, and further examples, cf. L.M.C. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, I, France, 875-1420, 1989, pp. 7-9, no. 3). Fleury Abbey also decorated manuscripts for other houses in the time of Abbo’s successor, Gauzlin (abbot 1005-30), probably including Beauvais Cathedral (cf. J. Paul Getty Museum, MS. Ludwig V.I; A. von Euw and J.M. Plotzek, Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig, I, 1979, pp. 219-22).
Dr. Paul Saenger, in a paper delivered in November 1998 argues that a team of scribes working together in the late tenth century could have produced the codex.
This ms. is described in Lacombe, George, Aristoteles latinus : codices, Bruges: Desclée de Brouwer, 1957, OCLC 43656217; this ms. referenced in Aristotle, De interpretaione: vei Periermenias, edited by Lorenzo Minio-Paluello, Bruges: Desclée de Brouwer, 1965, OCLC 2353818; H. Schenkel, Bibliotheca Patrum Latinorum Britannica, I, ii, 1892, p. 48, no. 1213; Sotheby’s 16 June 1997, lot 3; Abbo of Fleury and the Birth of Visual Language: The Evidence of the Codex Schoenbergensis, Paul Saenger, Newberry Library, November 8, 1998 (unpublished).