Seneca the Stoic

Among the 213 manuscripts uploaded November 23 by Digita Vaticana is a copy of Seneca's Epistulae ad Lucilium. I read that Seneca manuscripts are not rare: there are about 400 of them in various states of incompleteness. This one, Vat.lat.366, is termed "v" in the stemma codicum and is consulted for variants.

Seneca's "we've all go to die sometime" stoicism is a good antidote to the current nervousness. Here is the bit of Letter 49 where he tells Lucilius: "You are mistaken if you think death is at a nearer remove while you're on a sea voyage ... It is always near at hand" (adapted from Gummere). Quite.
Full text of this passage at Perseus.

The uploads, which take the tally to 3,281 (one more item, Ott.gr.61, was added Nov 24), are to the greatest extent in Greek this time round. I will leave it to Greek experts to pick out what is of importance. There are also a great many Pal. lat. items where it is likely that these have already been online for some time at Heidelberg, so it is out of time to claim them as new.

The Vatican Library is always a great repository of doodles. Here's a bit of cruel Roman caricature which doubtless amused someone amid an otherwise wasted day in the papal bureaucracy:

The full list:
  1. Barb.gr.18,
  2. Barb.gr.36,
  3. Barb.gr.46,
  4. Barb.gr.56,
  5. Barb.gr.98,
  6. Barb.gr.99,
  7. Barb.gr.101,
  8. Barb.gr.104,
  9. Barb.gr.110,
  10. Barb.gr.112,
  11. Barb.gr.121,
  12. Barb.gr.122,
  13. Barb.gr.131,
  14. Barb.gr.132,
  15. Barb.gr.137,
  16. Barb.gr.146,
  17. Barb.gr.147,
  18. Barb.gr.166,
  19. Barb.gr.167,
  20. Barb.gr.169,
  21. Barb.gr.173,
  22. Barb.gr.174,
  23. Barb.gr.175,
  24. Barb.gr.183,
  25. Barb.gr.185,
  26. Barb.gr.186,
  27. Barb.gr.190,
  28. Barb.gr.196,
  29. Barb.gr.198,
  30. Barb.gr.202,
  31. Barb.gr.203,
  32. Barb.gr.207,
  33. Barb.gr.208,
  34. Barb.gr.209,
  35. Barb.gr.211,
  36. Barb.gr.213,
  37. Barb.gr.214,
  38. Barb.gr.216,
  39. Barb.gr.217,
  40. Barb.gr.221,
  41. Barb.gr.236,
  42. Barb.gr.242,
  43. Barb.gr.279,
  44. Chig.I.VII.252,
  45. Chig.P.VI.4, caricatures in a notebook (sample above), more than half of which is empty
  46. Ott.gr.3,
  47. Ott.gr.5.pt.1,
  48. Ott.gr.5.pt.2,
  49. Ott.gr.9,
  50. Ott.gr.18,
  51. Ott.gr.20,
  52. Ott.gr.22,
  53. Ott.gr.27,
  54. Ott.gr.30,
  55. Ott.gr.32,
  56. Ott.gr.33,
  57. Ott.gr.34,
  58. Ott.gr.37.pt.1,
  59. Ott.gr.37.pt.2,
  60. Ott.gr.43,
  61. Ott.gr.46,
  62. Ott.gr.47,
  63. Ott.gr.49,
  64. Ott.gr.50,
  65. Ott.gr.51,
  66. Ott.gr.54,
  67. Ott.gr.55,
  68. Ott.gr.56,
  69. Ott.gr.57,
  70. Ott.gr.60
  71. Ott.gr.61,
  72. Ott.gr.63,
  73. Ott.gr.72,
  74. Ott.gr.75,
  75. Ott.gr.77
  76. Ott.gr.78,
  77. Ott.gr.79,
  78. Ott.gr.80,
  79. Ott.gr.81,
  80. Ott.gr.82,
  81. Ott.gr.83,
  82. Ott.gr.86,
  83. Ott.gr.87,
  84. Ott.gr.96,
  85. Ott.gr.101,
  86. Ott.gr.103,
  87. Ott.gr.104,
  88. Ott.gr.113,
  89. Ott.gr.116,
  90. Ott.gr.117,
  91. Ott.gr.119,
  92. Ott.gr.120,
  93. Ott.gr.122,
  94. Ott.gr.126,
  95. Ott.gr.129,
  96. Ott.gr.130,
  97. Ott.gr.131,
  98. Ott.gr.132,
  99. Ott.gr.135,
  100. Ott.gr.136,
  101. Ott.gr.141,
  102. Ott.gr.144,
  103. Ott.gr.145,
  104. Ott.gr.151,
  105. Ott.gr.152,
  106. Ott.gr.155,
  107. Ott.gr.157.pt.A,
  108. Ott.gr.162,
  109. Ott.gr.168,
  110. Ott.gr.169,
  111. Ott.gr.171,
  112. Ott.gr.187,
  113. Ott.gr.190,
  114. Ott.gr.196,
  115. Ott.gr.202,
  116. Ott.gr.203,
  117. Ott.gr.204.pt.1,
  118. Ott.gr.204.pt.2,
  119. Ott.gr.220,
  120. Ott.gr.222,
  121. Ott.gr.224,
  122. Ott.gr.226,
  123. Ott.gr.227,
  124. Ott.gr.229,
  125. Ott.gr.230,
  126. Ott.gr.234,
  127. Ott.gr.235,
  128. Ott.gr.236,
  129. Ott.gr.238,
  130. Ott.gr.240
  131. Ott.gr.241,
  132. Ott.gr.253,
  133. Ott.gr.254,
  134. Ott.gr.263,
  135. Ott.gr.264,
  136. Ott.gr.265,
  137. Ott.gr.290,
  138. Ott.gr.294,
  139. Ott.gr.297,
  140. Ott.gr.298,
  141. Ott.gr.309,
  142. Ott.gr.310,
  143. Ott.gr.312,
  144. Ott.gr.313,
  145. Ott.gr.316,
  146. Ott.gr.321,
  147. Ott.gr.322,
  148. Ott.gr.323,
  149. Ott.gr.324,
  150. Ott.gr.326,
  151. Ott.gr.336,
  152. Ott.gr.340,
  153. Ott.gr.356,
  154. Ott.gr.359,
  155. Ott.gr.362,
  156. Ott.gr.363,
  157. Ott.gr.370,
  158. Ott.gr.371,
  159. Ott.gr.372,
  160. Ott.gr.374,
  161. Ott.gr.375,
  162. Ott.gr.377,
  163. Ott.gr.378,
  164. Ott.gr.381,
  165. Ott.gr.382,
  166. Ott.lat.2988,
  167. Pal.lat.270,
  168. Pal.lat.274,
  169. Pal.lat.282,
  170. Pal.lat.289,
  171. Pal.lat.309,
  172. Pal.lat.311,
  173. Pal.lat.323,
  174. Pal.lat.324,
  175. Pal.lat.330,
  176. Pal.lat.361,
  177. Pal.lat.362,
  178. Pal.lat.411, a richly decorated textbook of law completed 1417 by Winandus de Stega at Heidelberg University dealing with four arbores. Here are a couple of furiously fighting heirs (fol 7v) under an arbor hereditatis (discussed by Hermann Schadt at page 309-313 of Arbores: see the previous post).
  179. Pal.lat.412,
  180. Pal.lat.413,
  181. Pal.lat.502, the Palatine Lectionary, also online at Heidelberg.
  182. Pal.lat.597,
  183. Pal.lat.598,
  184. Pal.lat.610,
  185. Pal.lat.617,
  186. Pal.lat.622, a 13th-century Decretum Gratiani text, with the sculptural figure below (fol. 240v) at the head of a Schadt Type 5A Roman-style arbor consanguinitatis. There has always been some disagreement about who the wise old figure holding the tray of prohibited marriages represents, because there are no contemporary explanations. Is he a personification of tradition? Or God the Father as judge? Or someone too old to marry? The most general position is that he is a jurist, the wise guardian of the law, and thus Gratian himself (as I noted in a blog post two weeks ago). The version by Nicolò features an old man in rich robes of authority. We know effectively nothing about Gratian, barring his evident status as a law professor of 12th-century Bologna, so even a century afterwards, artists could make of him what they liked.
  187. Pal.lat.659,
  188. Pal.lat.709,
  189. Pal.lat.710,
  190. Pal.lat.739,
  191. Pal.lat.742,
  192. Pal.lat.773,
  193. Pal.lat.792,
  194. Pal.lat.816,
  195. Pal.lat.862,
  196. Pal.lat.871,
  197. Pal.lat.891,
  198. Pal.lat.1620,
  199. Urb.lat.680, Rambaldi commentary on Dante, Divine Comedy
  200. Urb.lat.687, Dante poems
  201. Vat.ebr.66,
  202. Vat.ebr.201,
  203. Vat.ebr.205,
  204. Vat.estr.or.43,
  205. Vat.gr.2627,
  206. Vat.lat.253,
  207. Vat.lat.281, Ambrose of Milan, various
  208. Vat.lat.349,
  209. Vat.lat.366, Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium
  210. Vat.lat.400, John Chrysostom
  211. Vat.lat.405, John Chrysostom
  212. Vat.lat.491, Augustine of Hippo
  213. Vat.lat.782, 13th century theological commentary
  214. Vat.lat.2001, with Emperor Frederick smiling a crooked smirk (below)

Use the comments box below to add details of anything you recognize. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for more news.


Curly Braces

One of the great macro-typography inventions of the first 100 years of western printing was the curly brace (or bracket) as a device to organize hierarchical information. Initially the letterpress type-piece for a brace seems to have been cut ad-hoc by hand, as in this single example in the Margarita Philosophica of Gregor Reisch (1503):

In some work, such as grammar texts, the brace could soon be taken as read and simply omitted, as in a 1533 printing in Basle, Switzerland of the grammar of Donatus edited by Heinrich Loriti or "Glarean". But the normal procedure was for the typesetter to make a brace for such layouts.

Where the material in the stemma was more copious, printers laid it out with its root at the top. In a 1540 Basle printing of Livy's Decades in the edition of Glarean, the brace is still hand-cut:

Printers soon recognized it was quicker to resort to their typecases, combining the small pieces of straight rule and rounded corners supplied by their typecutters to form braces.

The first explicit explanation of this practice which I can find appears 200 years later in The Printer's Grammar by John Smith (link goes to a full edition of 1787, but the original seems to have come out 1755). It explains how a printer mainly resorts to his middle-length rules to do this:
Middle and Corners are very convenient in Genealogical Work, where they are used the flat way; and where the directing point is not always in the middle, but has its place under the name of the Parent, whose offspring stands between Corner and Corner of the bracing side, in order of primogeniture.
The "directing point" was a specially cut form to be found in the standard typesets in Basle. We see this in a 1557 example of a book by Wolfgang Lazius (1514-1565) (biography) in De gentium aliquot ... (online), page 589:

Elsewhere the point might be made from two corners, as in this 1556 book of genealogies (online) by Ernst Brotuff (1497-1565) (nasty biography) printed at Leipzig, Germany, where if one looks carefully, the joins between the rules are visible:

Sometimes the brace was reduced to a minimum as in a 1559 example. As another option, Johannes Herold (1514-1567), who was a publisher in Basle (biography), often preferred stemmata with the root at the left, as we see in his 1561 Churfürstliches Haus der Pfaltz an Rhein (online). Here too one can see that these braces were not hand cut, but assembled from smaller parts:

The curly brace was thus the printers' most important instrument in adapting the ancient graphic idea of the stemma to the technology of the printing press, where the need to square the forms that will be put into the type-bed presupposes that all elements fit together at 90-degree angles. When Leonhard Ostein of Basle came to print Hulderic Zwingli junior's edition of the Compendium of Petrus Pictaviensis in 1592 (previous blog post), he could hardly do otherwise:

Later tabular printing including some braces has been listed by an interesting Munich project, Historische Tabellenwerke (ended 2007), but I am not aware of any research on braced stemmata in incunables. What I am currently trying to do is take this history back beyond 1500. It is plain that the solutions then in use were not experimental, but settled practices. Can anyone help me find older examples?


Arbor and Incest

Medieval canon law built up elaborate rules prohibiting marriage within kin groups. The principles of this were taught with a diagram known as the arbor juris, the first forms of which are classical in origin. The 64 uploads to Digita Vaticana on November 11, 2015 include Urb.lat.160, a mid-14th-century manuscript of decretals or codified canon law preceded by a particularly colourful arbor juris.

This class of diagrams was very comprehensively studied 1973-1982 by Hermann Schadt, who ordered the main group known as the arbores consanguinatis into seven main types. Urb.lat.160 contains the seventh of these types and was designed in the Decretum Gratiani (pars II, causa 35, qu. 5), a collection of canon law compiled in the 12th century by a jurist who is known as Gratian. At first it condemned a very wide range of potential marriages (some of the 14th degree by the classical Roman method of counting), but its scope was reduced in 1215.

I have compiled a "missing manual" to Schadt's  magisterial but not very reader-friendly book, and from it comes the following schematic. It shows the post-1215 form of Typ 7. Each roundel describes a relationship which was an impediment to marriage. The pink roundels in this matrix mark the kin relationships counted as third degree by the classical method:
The newly digitized manuscript contains miniatures which are probably genuine work of Nicolò da Bologna (see Italian biography). As Schadt explains, the Typ 7 diagrams developed an interesting iconography: an elderly man, perhaps representing the jurist, held the matrix in front of him as if it were a wooden placard. Tree branches grew to his left and his right, in his grasp. The Nicolò versions of these generally have six busts on the margin, male on the left, female on the right, apparently representing three generations of persons reacting with disappointment to the news that their love object is out of bounds.

The manuscript's arbor consanguinatis is followed by an arbor affinitatis, a large invariant type, which lists the in-laws that a person was also forbidden to wed. Schadt discusses this arbor on p. 276 of his book comparing it to other manuscripts. He notes the miniature's finely drawn depiction of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit and then being expelled from Paradise by an angel:

Here is the full list of the new uploads:
Please use the comments box to contribute more details. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for more news on Rome manuscripts.

Schadt, Hermann. Die Darstellungen der Arbores Consanguinitatis und der Arbores Affinitatis: Bildschemata in juristischen Handschriften. Tübingen [Germany]: Wasmuth, 1982.
Piggin, Jean-Baptiste. The Missing Manual: Schadt's Arbores. Academia.edu, 2015.


Erlangen Tree

Until recently, a celebrated 12th-century manuscript, variously known as the Chronicle of Frutolf or the Chronicle of Ekkehard of Aura (Erlangen, Universitätsbibliothek, ms 406), was not to be found online. On November 7, German archives blogger Klaus Graf published the news on his site of its arrival and within a matter of hours, my Twitter colleague Pierre Chambert-Protat (@chaprot) went online to alert me to it. Digital social media are a wonderful boon to scholarship.

On November 4, I had published on this blog a schematic outline of a "tree" at folio 204v of the selfsame manuscript. This is a plot, which I originally prepared for my own book but later decided not to use:

This figure, drawn in 1140 or thereabouts, is adapted from the century-old Stemma of Cunigunde, a drawing made in or shortly after 1013 when Cunigunde was anointed Holy Roman Empress. You can examine a reconstruction of that stemma on my website.

What does it show? The most important person here is R - Charlemagne - whose empire was divided among three of his grandsons by the Treaty of Verdun.

To enhance the chronicle, Ekkehard (or his predecessor editor Frutolf) repurposed the old diagram as a study in saintly ancestry by adding to it images of Arnulph and his holy mother Begga. Other manuscripts of the Ekkehard Chronicle present the Stemma of Cunigunde more or less faithfully, but the scribe-artist of the Erlangen codex decided to have some fun with it. He inverted it, and drew the figure of Arnulph at the left and Arnulph's saintly mother Begga at right. The bottom roundel (A in my plot) represents Arnulph.

Curiously, this artist omitted Cunigunde, although she had been the motive for creating the original drawing and she was revered in the entire Bamberg area, where this miniature was almost certainly made, as a holy figure and foundress of the cathedral. One must at least consider the possibility that the stemma was inverted in order to conceal her deliberate exclusion.

You can now enjoy the original at fol. 204v of the digital surrogate: 

What change in medieval culture had made this startling inversion of the stemma not just possible, but acceptable to the customer, probably the Cistercian Monastery of Heilsbronn in Germany which became the long-term owner of this codex? Is this quirky conversion on an artist's desk the precise moment when the family tree, later to become a prestigious badge of nobility, was invented?

As with all big questions, the answer is not a simple one. A long inquiry was conducted into these issues by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber. As a historian of Renaissance culture, she was curious about the roots of the craze from the 15th to the 19th centuries to depict European aristocratic genealogies by painting vast leafy trees where portraits of ancestors were pinned to a trunk and out onto the boughs. 

Researching her 2000 book, L'Ombre des Ancêtres, she cast far back into the medieval period, seeking precursors to those trees. This Heilsbronn tree of the late 12th century, as well as a couple of other painted trees made at roughly the same time at Weingarten, a monastery in the southwest of Germany, only dimly foreshadow the Renaissance craze. 

The Weingarten artist, working between the years 1185 and 1191, drew a leafy inverted stemma of the powerful Welf family with its most ancient known ancestor peeking out from inside the trunk at ground level, while a wide space was reserved in the crown of the foliage to be occupied by the Welfs' most illustrious offspring (by female descent), King Frederick Barbarossa. This is in Fulda, 100 D.11, folio 13v and is online. The other from Weingarten is now lost but an image of the tree was published by its owner, the collector and dealer Robert Forrer, in 1907. Unfortunately that book is not yet online. In Europe, it does not enter the public domain until 2018.

Klapisch-Zuber came, in effect, to the conclusion that it would involve an anachronism to call these drawings family trees or Stammbäume. There was no firm mental association between trees and the specific idea of ancestry yet.

The cultural change that took place in the 12th century with the rise of Gothic art was in fact much broader. Trees enjoyed a wide variety of uses in the graphic arts, ranging from trees of sevens as mnemonic devices to the tree manifestations of the Virga Jesse motif. Gothic cathedrals are in a certain sense trees of stone. This was what drove the experiments at Heilsbronn and Weingarten.

As I have already pointed out, inverted stemmata made to resemble trees with roots in soil are a rarity before the 16th century. It was 16th-century scholars like Scipione Ammirato who deserve the credit as the true originators of the family tree, not the medieval artists who created trees of ancestry more or less by fluke.

Forrer, Robert, ed. Unedierte Miniaturen, Federzeichnungen u. Initialen des Mittelalters. Strasbourg: Elsässische Druckerei, 1907.
Klapisch-Zuber, Christiane. L’ombre Des Ancêtres. Paris: Fayard, 2000.


Digita Vaticana Exceeds 3,000

Digita Vaticana, the manuscript digitization programme at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV) in Rome, exceeded 3,000 items on its main index page on November 3, 2015, meaning that it is now the biggest digitization program in Italy, having overtaken the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, where the Teca Digitale stalled at 3,000 after using up its grant four or five years ago.

I posted back in May with some metrics, when the BAV program passed the 2,000 point, and will not repeat the main points I made then about double-counting. They still stand and are worth rereading.

Comparing this achievement with other major European programs is not easy. To simplify, I will use numbers for documents created before the year 1600. The BAV tally under-represents its digital content, while including a whole swathe of 18th-century materials, particularly from the Capponi collection. Let us assume that these effects cancel one another out.

A blank search of Biblioteca Digital Hispanica pulls up a remarkable 10,008 pre-1600 hits. I hope somebody in Madrid is blogging about this, because BDH must have crashed through the 10,000 ribbon in the last few days and it deserves to spray around a few magnums of cava to celebrate.

Some probing two weeks back at Gallica in Paris returned a report that it held a whopping 14,975 documents from the same pre-1600 period, but this includes a huge number of single-sheet documents since Gallica scoops up not just library but archival material. I cannot see a way to filter their total for codices only.

A few weeks ago it was possible to get Germany's biggest digitization programme, at the MDZ in Munich to tell you via the search interface that it housed 3,700 pre-1600 manuscripts, but some officious engineer has spiked this. The national German search site, Manuscripta Mediaevalia, which has often been unreliable in the past, returns the number 4,748 if you search for digitized pre-1600 items. I suspect that is too low.

Then there is the excellent e-codices of Switzerland, with 1,404 manuscripts in high quality. They generously encourage you to download them. The British Library, which mean-mindedly thwarts downloading, claims almost 2,000 items digitized from among those curated by its ancient, medieval and early modern manuscripts section, judging by a blog post in late October.

Given these numbers, the BAV can now claim to be a serious player on a European scale. They still have a lot to fix, including poor quality control, a ridiculous watermarks policy and a precautionary copyright statement that hasn't been well thought through. But it's a good start. And remember, they still have 80,000 more items to come.
Here is the November 3 list of 76 items, plus the single item from last week, bringing the total to 3,003. This listing is going to be a work in progress, as I am busy with other things right now. If you can tell me what treasures the unmarked shelfmarks below represent, I will fill in the details later.
    If you have any corrections, please use the comments box below. follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for more news.