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HIEREMIAS DE MONTAGNONE, Compendium moralium notabilium; Florilegium on the Virtutes and Vices by an UNKNOWN AUTHOR

In Latin, with some Italian, manuscript on parchment
Northeastern Italy (Padua or Vicenza?), c. 1400-1435

TM 669
  • 67.500 €
  • £60,100
  • $80,000


208 folios on parchment (very fine), early foliation in Arabic numerals in ink bottom outer corner recto, 9-223, as follows, 9-14, 17, 19-220 [trimmed on some folios], incorrect modern foliation in pencil bottom outer corner recto, 1-99, 100*-209 (cited in this description), lacking one gathering at the beginning and six leaves, one, originally f. 180, blank and cancelled (collation, i10 [-1, 2, 9, and 10, original folios 7, 8, 15-16] ii10 [-2, original f. 18, now following current f. 7] iii-x10 xi10 [beginning f. 107; incorrect modern foliation with f. 99 followed by f. 101] xii-xvii10 xviii4 [-4, following f. 169, original f. 180, probably cancelled blank] xix-xxii10), flourished horizontal catchwords center lower margin, leaf and quire signatures with a letter designating the quire and roman numerals the leaf, often trimmed, ruled very lightly in lead (often indiscernible), single full-length vertical bounding lines, prickings remain in top and bottom margins (justification, 252 x 160 mm.), written in two columns of fifty- to forty-eight lines in a regular round gothic bookhand by one scribe, red rubrics, blank spaces for 4- to 2-line initials throughout, tiny guide initials and notes for the rubricator, informal running titles added early (Arabic numerals indicating the book and the part of the work), lower or outer margins of fifty-five leaves trimmed (no loss of text): ff. 2-3, 5-6, 10-11, 17-20, 64-67 [outer margin], 68-74, 79-83, 101-105, 102bis-110bis, 111-116, 147-159, and 201 [outer margin], occasional staining (e.g. ff. 167-172, lower outer corner, 177-180v, and f. 196v, stained within text area, text still legible) and cockling, slight rodent damage lower outer corner, but overall in good condition with wide and clean margins. Bound in mid-fifteenth leather over fairly thick wooden boards (back pastedown, watermark, Briquet 14715, 1431-2, Vicenza; similar watermarks, Online Piccard, 65097-65098, Innsbruck, 1431, and 65100-65101, Wiener Neustadt, 1433), only traces of the leather covering remain, but it appears to have been red, now with six (of eight) metal corner pieces (possibly later replacements), stamped with a circular IHS monogram within a sunburst, and YHS surmounted by a cross, once with four catches on each board (none remain), traces of center pieces (now missing) visible on both boards, sewn on five bands with head and tail bands, thongs replaced, spine bare, numerous small worm holes. Dimensions 395 x 265 mm.

The Compendium moralium by Hieremias Montagnone is a fascinating florilegium that includes extensive extracts from classical authors (notably including seven passages from Catullus, the oldest manuscript witnesses to the text) that testify to the author’s early humanist interests. Manuscripts of this text are very uncommon on the market (only this one is listed for sale in the Schoenberg Database), and there is no modern critical edition. The second text, a florilegium on the virtues and vices, exists only in manuscript copies, and has yet to be studied.


1. Evidence of the script supports an origin in Northern Italy in the early fifteenth century, c. 1400-35. The evidence of the binding, which includes a paper pastedown with a watermark from Vicenza, 1431-2, also links the manuscript with Northern Italy, and it may have been copied in Vicenza or in Padua for a patron with early humanistic interests. This origin is of particular interest since its author, Hieremias de Montagnone, was from Padua.

The scribe concludes his text with a colophon, “Laus sit nato dei celi terreque rectori/ Laus tibi fuit christe quoniam liber explicit iste” (Praise to the son of God ruler of heaven and earth; Praise be to you Oh Christ since this books ends here), that was also used by the sixteenth-century Venetian printer Petrus Liechtentstein, whose edition of this text appeared in 1505 (not listed in Bénédictins du Bouveret, Colophons, 1965-1982), suggesting that this manuscript, or a manuscript copied from it, may have been known to the printer.

The Hebrew inscription on this pastedown in a tiny script (now quite faded and not yet deciphered), led previous cataloguers to suggest that this manuscript may have been used to secure a loan from a local Jewish moneylender; an interesting theory that would be substantiated if in fact the Hebrew note was a code for the owner and amount lent (the fact that the manuscript lacks initials may lend some support to the idea that its owner was in financial difficulties). In any case, even without decoration, this is an impressive large-format manuscript copied on beautiful high-quality parchment with very wide margins. 

2. Belonged to Bartolomeo da Fiume, who purchased it for twelve gold ducats: inscription on paper pastedown at back, “Iste liber est mei bartholamei a flumine emptus a me pro ducatis duodecim auri”, note in another hand, “M Brhio ii.”

When sold by Sotheby’s in 2008, the manuscript included two folios from an un-related fourteenth-century medical text, described as “crudely bound in” and related to the paper pastedown with the watermark from Vicenza, 1431-2; although the pastedown remains in the volume, the two leaves are no longer included.

3. Subsequently included in a library with the shelfmark, “A.90” (see f. 209v, originally f. 220v) and used as a source of scrap-vellum when the lower and occasionally the outer margins of numerous folios were cut-away (see above).

4. Sold at Sotheby’s, London, 3 December 2008, lot 27.


ff. 1-169v [earlier foliation, ff. 9-179v], incipit, “//per annos singulos et comedes in conspectu domini dei …[cf. Deut. 15:20]; c. 18 [Deut. 18:1]. Non habebunt sacerdotes et leuite …; [S]alomon in prov. c. 3 [Proverbs 3:9] Honora dominum de tua substantia …; De usuarum prohibitione et moralium, rubrice, Moisses in deuteronimio c. 23[:19]. Non fenerabis fratri tuo pecuniam ad usuram …, [Part five, book 5] De sepultura, Quintilianum declamationem. 5. Declam. Ad operiendum feditatem subtraheri …. ; Seneca de remediis fortuitorum …; c. 6. Si nichil sentio non pertinet … et uisu et corde feda amoverentur. Amen”, Laus sit nato dei celi terreque rectori/ Laus tibi fuit christe quoniam liber explicit iste. Explicit compendium moralium notabilium compositum per Jeremiam iudicem de montagnone Civem paduanum et scriptum, etc. Deo gratias. Amen;

Hieremias de Montagnone, Compendium moralium notabilium; text now begins imperfectly with chapter 22 of book one of part one, and is missing two leaves between ff. 6 and 7 [original ff. 15-16] with beginning of part one, book two, and a leaf after f. 7 [original f. 18], with book two part one, end of chapter 3, and beginning of chapter 4; part two begins f. 14v, part three, f. 57v; part four, f. 96, and part five, f. 136v. Printed in 1505 by Petrus Liechtenstein in Venice as the Epitoma sapientiae; there is no modern edition of the complete text; only the vernacular proverbs included by Hieremias (Gloria, 1884-5), and the quotations from Catullus (Ullmann, 1973) have been edited; Bloomfield, 1979, pp. 133-4, no. 1434.

A new list of surviving manuscripts is a desideratum. Ullmann consulted twenty-six in his study of the text (Ullmann, 1973, pp. 106-7), and knew of twenty-six additional copies (these references are in need of verification and updating), in addition to a number of copies that were no longer extant, or which he listed as lost (Ullmann, 1973, pp. 107-109). The text circulated in different versions – for example, Ullmann noted that some copies, do not include the citations to Catullus, and there is an alphabetically arranged version found in two manuscripts now in Germany – making the evidence of each surviving copy important. Many of the surviving copies are fifteenth century. The earliest dated copy may be Rome, Casanatense, MS 312 (C.IV.11), dated 1398 Since the Compendium moralium was written in Padua, it is of special interest that the copy of his text described here can be associated with the neighboring town of Vicenza early in its history (see provenance, above). 

ff. 170-209v [earlier foliation 181-220v; list of chapters, all in red] incipit, “De caritate, rubrica, i, De pacientia, ii, De dilectione dei et proximi, iii … De breuitate vite, lxxx, De lectionibus, lxxxi” [f. 170v, blank]; f. 171, De caritate, incipit, “Iohannis xi capitulo [Joh. 15:13]. Maiorem caritatem nemo habet quam ut animam suam ponat quis pro amicis suis ...; Prime epistole petri capitulo x [I Peter 4:8]. Ante omnia autem mutuam in nobis …”; … f. 208v, De lectionibus, capitulum lxxxi, incipit, “ Mathei xxiiii, Qui legit intelligat …. Basilius dicit, Sicut enim ex carnalibus escis homo ita diuinis eloquiis interior homo pascitur ac nuttritur”; [followed by extract from 1 Kings], Primum Regum, incipit, “Dixitque Abisay ad David … in christum domini et innocens erit. [1 Kings 26:8-9]. Sufficit nobis potuisse.”

This is an anonymous collection of excerpts on the virtues and vice, written in the same hand as Hieremias’ work. This text was previously known in only two copies (one of which is incomplete): Bloomfield, 1979, p. 127, no. 1338, lists a single manuscript, Vatican Library, Palat. Lat. 348; Bloomfield, 1979, p. 51, no. 439 lists London, BL Additional MS 39647, a fragment (Newhauser, and Bejczy, n° 1338, p. 99, and no. 439, list the same two manuscripts).

This text is much shorter than Hieremias’ work, consisting of eighty-one topics followed by appropriate quotations from the Bible and the Church fathers; unlike the Compendium moralium it does not include secular sources. Each chapter begins with biblical citations relevant to the topic, followed by citations from Patristic sources, which are often quite lengthy. These sources, listed only by author’s name, include Jerome, Ambrose, Gregory, Hilary of Poitiers, Isidore, Basil, Cyprian, Josephus, Eusebius and Ephrem (among others), and suggest that the compiler of this florilegium had access to an impressive library

Hieremias (Jeremiah or Geremia) de Montagnone (c. 1250/60-1320/1) is known as a judge in Padua in 1280. Little is known of his life, but he was also the author of a medical dictionary (now lost) and an unfinished collection of legal quotations known in a single copy, Venice, Bibl. Marciana, MS Lat. clas. V. 15. He is best known for this work, the Compendium moralium notabilium, a vast collection of moral excerpts from ancient and medieval sources. The colophon refers to Hieremias as a judge (here on f. 169v, see transcription above), and the text must postdate 1280. Moreover, internal evidence suggests it dates after 1295 when the Latin translation of Aristotle’s Economics cited by the text was completed. Modern scholars know of this text primarily for its very important early citation of the works of Catullus, but study of the complete text, especially in the context of early humanist circles in Padua still largely remains for future scholars (Weiss, 1949, pp. 15-50, remains the best introduction).

The Compendium moralium is divided into five parts, each of which is divided again into books. Each book includes numerous topics, arranged in logical order, followed by a series of quotations. Many of the topics included in the Compendium moralium are quite traditional (for example, in part one, book one, chapter 22 discusses usury; chapter 24, the vanity of the human world and human belongings, chapter 29, the devil, chapter 32, Christ and the Trinity). Book one of part two begins with justice, and continues with a chapter on love and many on friendship; other topics in part two include peace, beneficence and politics. The third part includes topics such as intelligence, prudence, teaching, secrecy and eloquence. Part four deals with temperance, wealth, power and honor, pleasure, sensual love and marriage, and part five with fortitude, war, adversity and death.  The length of each entry varies widely – some quotations are quite brief, and others are extensive. 

Within each book, the quotations are arranged in chronological order based on their author. His choice of a chronological arrangement is of interest, and suggests a particular sensitivity to the origin of his sources (even the biblical authors are treated within this time-frame, so for example, excerpts from Cicero, here called Tullius, Quintilian, and Ovid are placed before an excerpt from Matthew’s Gospel on f. 52v). As noted by Weiss (Weiss, 1949), Hieremias’ awareness of the difference between his medieval and antique sources is also reflected in his terminology; he calls classical authors “poeta” (poets) and medieval “versilogus” (verse makers or versifiers).  This historical sense, as well as his extensive citations from classical sources, links Hieremias firmly with the early humanist circles that were so important in Padua during his lifetime.  A generation before Petrarch (1304-1374) and Boccaccio (1313-75), Lovati Lovato (1240/1-1309) and Albertino Musato (1261-1329), among others in Padua, exhibited the interest in editing texts, seeking out new classical literature, and the cultivation of a classicizing style that were hallmarks of Italian humanism.

Hieremias’ classical sources were extensive, and included Ovid, Aristotle, Cicero, Boethius, Cato, Seneca, Socrates, Plato, Cassiodorus, Terence, Macrobius, Quintilian, Palladius (Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus Palladius, fourth century A.D.), Philo, and Sallust; most remarkable, however, are the excerpts from the Roman poet Catullus (here on ff. 11v, 18, 81v, 124, 133v, and 134v [original ff. 22v, 29r, 92v, 134r, 143v, 144v]; edited in Ullmann, 1973, pp. 110-112), which will be examined in detail below, although his quotations from Martial, Horace’s Odes, and Ovid’s Ibis also show the influence of Paduan humanism. His sources also include a broad range of Patristic and medieval sources in addition to the Bible, including Jerome, Priscian, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory, Hugh of St. Victor and Galfridus Anglicus (to name just a few); many chapters end with a section of proverbs in the Paduan dialect (Gloria, 1884-5).

The story of the transmission of the works by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84 B.C.-c. 54 B.C.) is a remarkable one, and one in which the Compendium moralium plays an interesting role. Catullus came from a leading equestrian family of Verona, but spent most of his life in Rome. His poems survive as a corpus of 116 compositions. Some address friends and associates or offer condolences for deaths, but Catullus is perhaps more notoriously known for his erotic poetry, in particular those addressed to Lesbia (named in honor of the poetess Sappho of Lesbos, his muse), and his rude and occasionally obscene attacks on other poets, orators, politicians, friends-turned-traitors and Lesbia’s other suitors. They had some acclaim in the ancient world, but were never considered one of the canonical school texts and there are only two records of their survival into the Middle Ages.  A ninth-century poetic anthology, now known as the Codex Thuaneus (Paris, BNF, MS lat. 8071) contains a single poem by Catullus. In the mid-tenth century Bishop Rather of Verona discovered a long-forgotten copy in the Cathedral scriptorium, and recorded in a sermon dated 965 that he had perused this “previously unread” text with delight. The poems were then not heard of again until a manuscript resurfaced in Verona in the last years of the thirteenth century, c. 1290, known as the Codex Veronensis, or V (said to have been hidden under a wine barrel according to a note in one late copy) – it is this manuscript, now thought to be a copy of the very manuscript seen by Bishop Rather in the mid-tenth century, that was most likely used by Hieremias as a source for his quotations from Catullus. Since the Renaissance copies of Catullus have been shown to descend from a (lost) copy of V, known as A, rather than from V itself, the citations in Hieremias’ Compendium are the earliest witness to Catullus’ text.

These two texts are interesting examples of an important genre in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, florilegia, consisting of organized collections of extracts from various authors (Rouse and Rouse, 1979, pp. 197-207, discuss many examples).  Florilegia were not simply handy collections of quotations for people too lazy to peruse the complete text of a given author, but rather, new works in themselves, created through careful thought with an eye to using existing texts for new uses. Scholars were once interested in medieval florilegia chiefly as sources of the transmission of for rare texts – and indeed, the citations from Catullus in Hieremias’ Compendium are very important, but now increasingly recognize their importance as texts in their own right, studied for what they can tell us about the interests of their compilers. In this respect, both these texts will repay further study. Hieremias’ text deserves careful scrutiny in the context of early humanism in Padua. The second florilegium in this manuscript, known in only one other manuscript, and possibly a fragment, is completely un-studied.


Bénédictins du Bouveret. Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux des origines au XVIe siècle, Freibourg, Switzerland, Editions universitaires, 1965-1982.

Bloomfield, Morton W., et. al.  Incipits of Latin Words on the Virtues and Vices 1100-1500, Medieval Academy of America Publication 88, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1979.

Gloria, in Gloria, A. “Volgare illustre nel 1100 e proverbi volgari del 1200”, in Atti del R. s. Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti 6, III (1884-85), p. 3, ser. 6 (1884-85), pp. 93-117; A.93-117.

Dorandi, Tiziano. “La versio latina antiqua di Diogene Laerzio e la sua ricezione nel Medioevo occidentale: Il Compendium moralium notabilium de Germai da Montagnone e il Liber de vita et moribus philosophorum dell ops. Burleo”, Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 10 (1999), pp. 371-396.

Mussafia, Mussafia, A. “Alcuni appunti sui “Proverbi volgari del 1200”, Atti del R. s. Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti IV (1885-86), p.IV (1885-86), pp. 126-8.

Newhauser, R. and Bejczy, I. A Supplement to Morton W. Bloomfield et al., ‘Incipits of Latin Works on the Virtues and Vices, 1100-1500 A.D.’, Instrumenta patristica et mediaevalia 50, Turnhout, Brepols, 2008.

Thomson, Douglas Ferguson Scott, ed. Catullus: Edited with a Textual and Interpretative Commentary, Toronto and Buffalo, University of Toronto Press, 1998.

Rouse, Richard H., and Mary A. Preachers, Florilegia and Sermons: Studies on the Manipulus florum of Thomas of Ireland, Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1979.

Ullmann, Berthold Louis. “Hieremias de Montagnone and His Citations from Catullus”, Studies in the Italian Renaissance, Rome, Edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1973 (revised and expanded version of an article originally published in Classical Philology 5 (1910), pp. 66-82).

Weiss, Roberto. Il primo secolo dell’umanesimo; studi e testi, Rome, Storia e letteratura, 1949.

Witt, Ronald G. In the Footsteps of the Ancients. The Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni, Boston, Brill Academic Publishers, 2003.

Online resources

Gabriella Milan, “Geremia da Montagnone”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 53 (2000), Rome, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana

Geremia de Montagnone, Epytoma sapientiae, Venice, 1505, digitized online