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les Enluminures

Juvenal, Satyrae (Satires); with introductory verses to satires II, IV-VIII by GUARINO DA VERONA

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy, c. 1460-1480

TM 942
  • 79.500 €
  • £68,100
  • $90,000


i (parchment, palimpsest with the text only partially erased on the verso) + 61 folios on parchment (high quality), foliated in pencil top outer corner recto, complete (collation i-v10 vi12 [-12, a cancelled blank]), horizontal catchwords middle lower margin, horizontal rules in ink, double full-length vertical bounding lines in hard point, prickings top and bottom margins (justification 162 x 105-85 mm.), written in 32 long lines by two scribes in humanistic book hands with the second scribe beginning at the top of f. 31, each line of verse begins with a capital copied between the vertical bounding lines, red used until f. 30v for some of the initial letters, for a few capitals within the lines of text, to highlight occasional capitals, for paragraph marks, and for rubrics, blank spaces for rubrics f. 31-end, space left for initial, f. 1, with a later acanthus-vine initial added in penwork, perhaps in the seventeenth century, blank spaces for 2- to 3-line initials at the beginning of remaining Satires, browning at edges of leaves, f. 29v, pen trials in margins, some spots and other stains outer margins, otherwise in very good condition with generous margins.  ORIGINAL Italian binding of dark leather over wooden boards, tooled in blind with five sets of double or single filets forming four rectangular frames, two left empty, alternating with two stamped with ropework tools, surrounding a rectangular center panel with ropework tooling stamped in three diamond shapes, covers worn (tooling worn almost flat and difficult to see) and scratched, modern repairs, spine rebacked, two clasps fastening front to back. Dimensions 237 by 170 mm.

One of the most popular classical texts of all time, Juvenal’s Satires seldom appears on the market (only our copy is recorded in the Schoenberg Database since 1998).  Satirizing all aspects of everyday Roman life in elegant Latin, Juvenal’s text was particularly popular during the Renaissance, when it was used extensively in the schools.  Distinguishing our manuscript, preserved in its original binding, are verse introductions by humanist schoolteacher Guarino da Verona “the greatest master of the century,” along with much evidence of use by students.


1.Written in Italy in the second half of the fifteenth century, based on the evidence of provenance, we suggest Northern Italy, c. 1460-1480 is likely.  The binding is original, and the front flyleaf is a palimpsest; the undertext has not been identified (it is likely a document); on the recto there are a series of dates, 1365-1368, and on the verso, a name, “Laurentio Mediolani” (of Milan) is legible, which supports an origin in Northern Italy.

Although a previous description (Tenschert, 1988) suggested that the first scribe in this manuscript also copied Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS 151, Aristotle, Ethica in Italian translation, written in Florence around the middle of the fifteenth century, this scribe could have worked both in Florence and in Northern Italy (we have not examined this manuscript ourselves, but based on the available image, the scripts are similar; Shailor, 1984, pp. 202-203, plate 26).  The script of the second scribe suggests he was from Northern Italy.

2.Inside front cover, notes in two (possibly three) fifteenth-century hands; the first is an ownership note, beginning “Iste liber [crossed out, and replaced with “iuvenalis”] est mihi (This book [or Juvenal] is mine”) followed by a name, which has been completely erased, and by the promise of a reward if the book is returned; the second statement appears to be another ex libris, again with the name erased, and similar in wording, followed by a brief prayer invoking Mary and asking for prayers at the time of death.  Other owners of this book (surely students who were studying this text), added notes, inside back cover, including two pictures of a dog.

3. Front flyleaf, title (Iuvenalis Opera), and ex libris, “Di me Valeriano Malfatti Barone, 1704”; the Malfatti family were from Roverto, north east of Milan near Trent.

4. Jonathan Hill, New York, Catalogue 213, Fine and Important Manuscripts and Printed Books, 2015, no. 9; Tenschert catalogue 41, Leuchtendes Mittelalter, Neue Folge II, 1998, no. 13.


ff. 1-61 [added heading: Juvenalis Opera], incipit, “Semper ego auditor tantum numquam ne reponam/ …”; [f. 60, Satire 16], incipit, “[Q]vis numerare queat felicis praemia galle/ … Vt leti falaris [sic] omnes et torquibus omnes,” Finis Laus Deo; [f. 61v, blank apart from added pen trials].

Juvenal, Satirae I-XVI; W. V. Clausen, ed., OCT (1959) pp. 37-175.

Satires 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 include the verse introductions by Guarinus Veronensis, ed. Endlicher, 1816, p. 116: f. 3v, [in red, satire 2], Carpitur hac satyra probitas simulata secuda [sic]/; f. 11, [in red, satire 4], Crispini  hic lacerat uitam …/ Vt reges auidos … sodales/; f. 13v, [in red, satire 5], Quot mala … notabilis/; f. 16v, [in red, satire 6], Hec satyra incestas …/ Vxorem … pectore toto/; f. 26v, [in red, satire 7], Medicant artes …/; f. 30v, [in red, satire 8], Nobilitas propria est …/; blank lines were left at the beginning of the remaining satires, ff. 35, 37v, 43, 46v, 48v, 52v, 57v, 60,  but the verses were not supplied.  The division into five books found in some manuscripts and printed editions is not present in this manuscript (and was apparently not planned). 

Juvenal (Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, c. 50-127 C.E.) was one of the great poets of ancient Rome, but little is known of his life, apart from a few biographical details from allusions in his own Satires.  His native town was Aquino in southern Lazio, but he appears to have lived most of his life in Rome, with the literary period of his life spanning the reigns of the emperors Trajan (98-117 C.E.) and Hadrian (117-138 C.E).  Probably while in Rome, he received the best education of his time and was trained in the moral principles of the Stoics.  His Satires are a collection of satirical poems in dactylic hexameter written in the late first and early second centuries A.D.  The distinctly Latin literary genre devoted to clever, humorous critique on a variety of subjects originated with Gaius Lucilius (c.160s-103/2 B.C.), and included works by Horace (65-8 B.C.), as well as the Satires of Juvenal’s near-contemporary Persius (34-62 A.D.), with whom he is often grouped in modern critical editions, reflecting the manuscript tradition.  Sixteen poems are extant (the sixteenth is incomplete). The Satires show Juvenal to be “a realist of the realists,” grappling with the real things of life and holding up a mirror to all aspects of the private life of the Rome of his day (see Ramsay, 1918, introduction).  He defines his own subject matter as “whatever men do – prayer, fear, rage, pleasure / joy, running about – is the gist of my little book.” 

The manuscript tradition of Juvenal is complex.  No complete list of the extant manuscripts exists, although over 500 have been recorded, perhaps more than for any other classical author.  Because the work is poetry, it was subject to an unusual amount of corruption; scribes also introduced changes to make Juvenal’s difficult Latin easier to understand. Modern scholars estimate that around 50-100 spurious lines were interpolated into the text before its revival in the fourth century.  These lines are present in all subsequent versions of the text.  Most scholars agree that the manuscript known as “P” after the name of one of its owners Pierre Pithou (the Codex Pithoeanus, Montpellier, Bibliothèque Universitaire de médecine, MS 125) offers the best text; it was copied at the important monastery of Lorsch in the first quarter of the ninth century.  Our manuscript belongs to the non-“P” manuscripts of Group “Phi,” which all descend from a version of the text made in the fourth century, also known as the edited recension. The attribution of the present manuscript to this group finds confirmation in numerous textual readings; for example, Satire 1, habitas at v. 114 (instead of habitat in “P”); quiescit at v. 126 (instead of quiescet in “P”); in Satire 2, et contum at v. 150 (instead of et pontum in “P”); etc. 

The Satires were particularly appreciated during the fifteenth century, as is evident from the survival of many manuscripts and early printed editions from this period.  Frequently taught in the humanist schools, editions with commentaries were used by teachers in preparing their lectures.  Of note in our manuscript are the verse introductions from the commentary on Juvenal by Guarino da Verona (1374-1460), one of the foremost humanists of his day.  He was named the “greatest master of his century” and attracted students from across Europe.  His short introductions, or ‘arguments’ in verse appear in many manuscripts from c.1456 to the end of the fifteenth century (Sanford, Online Resources, p. 205).


Clausen, W. V. A. Persi Flacci et D. Iuni Iuuenalis Saturae, Oxford Classical Texts, Oxford, 1959, 1992.

Courtney E. “The Tradition of Juvenal’s Text,” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 14 (1967), pp. 38-50.

Courtney, E.  A Commentary of the Satires of Juvenal, London, 1980.

Endlicher, S. Catalogus conicum philologicorum latinorum bibliothecae palatinae vindobonenesis, Vienna, 1836, p. 116.

Available online, http://reader.digitale-sammlungen.de/de/fs1/object/display/bsb10800303_00164.html?zoom=0.6500000000000001

Freudenburg, Kirk. Satires of Rome: Threatening Poses from Lucilius to Juvenal, Cambridge, 2001.

Highet, Gilbert.  Juvenal the Satirist, New York, 1961.

Ramsay, G. G.  Juvenal and Persius, with an English translation, Loeb Classical Library 91, Cambridge, 1918 (repr. 1996).

Rudd, Niall.  Juvenal. The Satires, Oxford, 1992.

Shailor, Barbara. Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Yale University, Volume 1, Binghamton, 1984.

Tarrant, R. J.  “Juvenal,” in L. D. Reynolds, Texts and Transmissions, Oxford, 1983, pp. 200-203.

Online Resources

Juvenal, Satires, in English translation (1918), with a preface to the online edition by Roger Pearse, 2008, summarizing the textual tradition

Latin Text, Juvenal, Satires, G. G. Ramsay, ed.

Ivvenalis Saturae edidit brevique apparatu critico instruxit Michael Hendry 2000-2004 (Latin text with critical apparatus)

Juvenal’s Satires in Latin at The Latin Library

Eva Sanford, “Juvenal,” in Catalogus translationum et commentariorum (CTC), volume one, Washington, D. C., 1960, pp. 175-238