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PSEUDO-HOMER, Batrachomyomachia (The Battle of Frogs and Mice); LIBANIUS OF ANTIOCH, Select Letters; Anonymous Grammatical Treatise; ST. BASIL OF CAESAREA, Address to Young Men on Reading Greek Literature

In Greek and Latin, manuscript on paper
Northern Italy (the Veneto?), c. 1440-1470

TM 792
sold

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

iii+38+iii folios on paper, assembled from independent four booklets, certainly with text lacking at the beginning of section three and the end of section four, the first text also ends impefectly (collation i12 ii6 [through f. 18v] iii4 [through f. 22v] iv6 [probably originally a quire of 8, now missing 1 and 8; through f. 28v] v10), no catchwords or signatures, layout varies:  (1), ff. 1-18,  paper folded in 8°, chain-distance 40 mm., watermarks similar to Piccard, 1980, Fabeltiere, nos. 600-607 (attested mostly in Ferrara, c. 1445-1465), ruling Leroy P2b 20D1, (justification 158 x 82 mm.), copied in two columns of 29 lines per page;  (2), ff. 19-22,  paper folded in 4°, chain-distance 35 mm., watermarks unclear, ruling Leroy 20D1 (?), (justification 132 x 92 mm.), 22 lines per page; (3), ff. 23-28, paper folded in 4°, chain-distance 36 mm., watermarks similar to Piccard, 1980, Fabeltiere, nos. 453-524 (attested mostly in Ferrara, c. 1400-1440), ruling 20D1 (?), (justification 143 x 853 mm.), 19 lines per page; (4), ff. 29-38 paper folded in 4°, chain-distance 31 mm., watermarks very similar to Online Piccard no. 150094 (attested in Malpaga, 1462), ruling Leroy P2b 20D1, (justification 153 x 85 mm), 28 lines per page, leaves frayed, some water stains.  Bound in fifteenth- or sixteenth-century brown leather over squared wooden boards, tooled in blind with a border of multiple fillets and amphora, metal corner-pieces and center bosses, cover boards worm-eaten; leather partially lost, especially on the spine and back cover; lower inner cornerpiece on back cover partly detached; clasps lost.  Dimensions 210 x 145-135 mm.

The disparate contents of this codex illustrate the interest of educated Renaissance humanists in the language and literature of Ancient Greece.  It includes sections from four different manuscripts, now collected together in a fifteenth- or sixteenth century binding, possibly to serve as a school book and provides specimens of the handwriting of three different Greek humanists.  Two sections of the text appear to have been copied by a known scribe, Francesco Rolandello, a printer, scholar, and municipal chancellor in fifteenth-century Treviso. 

Provenance

1. This manuscript is a convolute, that is several manuscripts collected together in one codex, in this case consisting of four separate parts, now bound together in a near-contemporary binding.  The first and last of these, ff. 1-18v, and ff. 29-38v, are copied by a single hand, that can very likely be identified as that of Franciscus Rholandellus  or Francesco Rolandello (1427-1490), a printer, scholar and municipal chancellor in Treviso (Hunder, 1989, no. no. 519; and Tomè, 2012, pp.59-78).  The remaining two parts, ff. 19-22, and 23-28, were written by two different Italian hands of the fifteenth century, probably by roughly contemporary scribes, also from Northeastern Italy.  As a whole, the book’s disparate contents illustrate the interest of educated Renaissance humanists in ancient Greek language and literature, possibly collected together from different sources to serve as a school book.

2. The manuscript was in Venice by 1578; f. 22r (by a sixteenth-century owner of the manuscript), “Ετουτω το χαρτη υνε του Ηουανη του Πεκουλη απο τα Ηουανηνα κ(αι) οπου τω κλεψη να εχη την καταρα του Χρηστου κ(αι) της Κυρ(ας) της Παναγη(ας). Αμιν, αμιν, αμιν. Εγραψα εγο ω Ηουανης ο Πεκουλης εις την Βενετηα | 1578 νοεβριου εις 19 εις την Βενετηα εις την κουντα της Σαντα Μαρηνας Φορμοζας” (“This paper [sic] belongs to me, John Pekoulis from Ioannina, and should anyone steal it, let him have the curse of Christ and of [Our] Most Holy Lady. Amen, amen, amen. I, John Pekoulis, wrote [this] in Venice, on 19 November 1578, in Venice, in the quarter [?] of Santa Marina Formosa.”)

3. Remained in Italy in the seventeenth century,  f. 28r (by a seventeenth-century owner of the manuscript) “Questo libro sia di me Nicolo Oreccia (?) qual mi ho donato presoneria di anire a suo tutto.”

4. Private European Collection.

Text

I. ff. 1=18v: ff. 1r-15v, Τὰ προσκεφάλεα τοῦ μυθοῦ τοῦ Ὁμήρου ἀρχεῖ (“Here begin the chapters of the Homeric fable”), incipit, “Ἀρχόμενος πρώτης σελίδος χορὸν ἐξ Ἑλικῶνος / Incipiens primum musarum chorum ex Helicone … στράτος ἀλλ' ἔτι μᾶλλον / exercitus sed etiam magis” [ff. 16r-18v, blank];

Batrachomyomachia (falsely attributed to Homer), ending with verse 290 (the complete poem includes about 300 verses, with the number varying somewhat in different copies); with an anonymous Latin translation in prose (Knauer, 1996, 23-26, esp. p. 26).  Numerous modern editions including Glei, 1984, with a German translation, and Migoubert, 1998, with a French translation; English translation, Hine, 1972.

The Batrachomyomachia, or the “The Battle of Frogs and Mice” is a short jocular poem once attributed to Homer but most probably written in the last centuries BC.  It was extremly popular in its time: one hundred and fifty-five manuscript copies of it survive, about half of them from the fifteenth century.  The Latin prose translation found in this manuscript served as a crib; “dozens of sixteenth-century editions and reprints of Homer’s works” (Knauer, 1996, p. 26) contain a Latin text almost identical to the one in this manuscript.

The poem was adopted as a school text that served as a short and entertaining introduction to Homer.  The poet summarizes the plot in its first line, “Fain would I sound in all men's ears that awful strife, that clamorous deed of war, and tell how the Mice proved their valor on the Frogs and rivalled the exploits of the Giants, those earth-born men, as the tale was told among mortals. Thus did the war begin.”  It was the first Homeric work to be translated into Latin, in a translation by the humanist Carlo Marsuppini (1399-1453) about 1429.  A second translation has traditionally been attributed to the printer Aldus Manutius or to the German humanist Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522).  The Latin translation included in our manuscript does differs from both these translation, and may have been composed as a school exercise.

II. ff. 19r-22v [now bound incorrectly; correct order, ff. 19r-20v, 22r-v, 21r-v; letter 397], Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ κ(αὶ) αὐτοῦ Μητέρι (“Glory to God and to His Mother”), incipit, “Ἐθρέψαμεν ὑμῖν ἄρχοντα καὶ μέγα φρονοῦμεν …  [Letter 509] … καὶ γὰρ οἱ λύκοι μισοῦσι τοὺς κύνας”

Libanius, Letters 397, 398, 391, 553, 547, 379, and 509, ed. R. Foerster, Libanii opera, vol. 10, Leipzig 1921, pp. 368-370, 384-388, 391f., 483f., 511, and 518.

Libanius (c. 314-393), a  pagan, was the outstanding Greek rhetorician of the Late Imperial period.  Born in Antioch, he taught in Athens, Constantinople, Nicomedia, as well as in his hometown.  He was the author of numerous works, including a large corpus of letters of  more than 1,500 letters – the largest letter collection from any author this period.  They date from the period between the beginning of the 350s and 366, and from 387 and 393; among them are letters to famous contemporaries, including the emperors Julian and Theodosius, Themistius, Ammianus, and to Christian bishops, as well as letters to people who are otherwise unknown people. His letters, like the letters of his Christian student, St. Basil (see ff. 29-38v, below) were considered models of refined writing style, and survive respectivelty in some three hundred manuscripts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. 

III.  ff. 23r-27r [correct order: 23r-24v, 26r-v, 25v, 25r, 27r], incipit, “Τί ἐστι πνεύμα; Ποιότης συλλαβῆς τρέπουσα τὰ ψυλὰ σύμφωνα εἰς δασέα ἐν τῇ συνθέσει, ἢ φυλάττουσα αὐτὰ οἷα εἰσί … Διατί λέγονται ἀμετάβολα; Διότι οὐ μεταβάλονται· οὔτε ἐν τοῖς μέλλουσι τῶν ῥημάτων, οὐτε ἐν ταῖς κλίσεσιν τῶν ὀνομάτων. Ἐν μὲν τοῖς μέλλουσι τῶν ῥημάτων «ψάλω» - «ψαλῶ», «νέμω» - «νεμῶ», «κρίνω» - «κρινῶ», «εἴρω» (τὸ λέγω) - «ἐρῶ». Ἐν δὲ ταῖς κλίσεσιν τῶν ὀνομάτων οἷον «Νέστωρ» - «Νέστορος», «ἕλλην» - «ἕλληνος»); [ff. 27v-28v are blank];

An anonymous grammatical treatise, now beginning imperfectly; the text is very similar to the “Scholia Marciana,” edited by A. Hilgard, 1901, pp. 295-335.  Consisting of short questions and answers, this must have served as a textbook of Greek grammar and is likely to have been compiled by a schoolmaster in the late Byzantine period (1261-1453).

IV. ff. 29r-38v, (inc. [Π]ολλά με τὰ παρακαλοῦντά ἐστι ξιμβουλεῦσαι ἱμῖν, end lost, des. ἐπιμέλει ἀνωφέλει αὐτυς ἔσεσθαι. ὥσ),

Basil of Caesarea, Address to Young Men on How They Might Derive Benefit from Greek Literature, here ending imperfectly; Greek text and translation,  Deferrari, 1934, pp. 378-385.  The Letters of St. Basil, a student of Libanius, were very popular and survive in some two hundred and sixty manuscripts.  This particular text was read widely in the schools.  It was translated into Latin by Leonardo Bruni in 1403, and the first edition appeared in 1496 from the Florentine press of Lorenzo de Alopa.

Literature

Hymni Homerici accedentibus Epigrammatis et Batrochomyomachia, ed. A. Baumeister, Leipzig,1901.

Bradbury, Scott, trans. Selected letters of Libanius:  from the Age of Constantius and Julian, Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2004.

Callip, M. Dionisio Trace e la tradizione grammaticale, Acireale-Roma, 2011

Cribiore, Raffaella. The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2007.

Deferrari, R. J.  St. Basil: The Letters, vol. 4, Cambridge, Massacusetts, 1934, pp. 378-385.

Fabbri, Renata, “Sulle traduzioni latine umanistiche da Omero,” in Posthomerica  1., ed. Franco Montanari and Stefano Pittaluga, Pubblicazioni del Dipartimento di Archeologia Filologia classica e loro tradizioni NS 173, Genoa, 1997, pp. 110-111.

Foerster, R. ed.  Libanii opera, vol. 10, Leipzig, 1921.

Glei, Reinhold, ed.  Die Batrachomyomachie:   Synoptische Edition und Kommentar, Frankfurt am Main and New York, P. Lang, 1984.

Hilgard, A., ed. “Scholia Marciana,” in Scholia in Dionysii Thracis Artem grammaticam, Leipzig, 1901.

Hine, Daryl, trans. The Homeric Hymns, and The Battle of the Frogs and the Mice, New York, Atheneum, 1972.

Hunger, H. ed. Repertorium der griechischen Kopisten 800-1600, vol. 2, Frankreich, Vienna, 1989, no. 519.

Knauer, G. N. “Iter per miscellanea: Homer’s Batrachomyomachia and Johannes Reuchlin” in S. G. Nichols and S. Wenzel, eds. The Whole Book: Cultural Perspectives on the Medieval Miscellany, Ann Arbor, 1996, pp. 23-36, esp. 26.

Migoubert, Yann, ed., and Philippe Brunet, tr. La batrachomyomachie d'Homère, Paris, Allia, 1998.

Naldini, Mario, ed. Basil, Saint, Bishop of Caesarea.  Discorsi ai giovani = Oratio ad adolescentes, con la versione latina di Leonardo Bruni, Florence, 1984. 

Piccard, Gerhard.  Die Wasserzeichenkartei Piccard im Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart: Findbuch, vol. 10, Wasserzeichen Fabeltiere: Greif, Drache, Einhorn, Stuttgart, 1980.

Schucan, L. Das Nachleben von Basilius Magnus Oratio ad adolescentes, Geneva, 1973

Tomè, P. “From Venetia to Europe, in the Age of Reform,” Medievalia et Humanistica II.38 (2012), pp. 59-78

Online Resources

Wassezeichenkartei Piccard www.piccard-online.de

D. Muzerelle, Analyse des types de réglure de manuscrits grecs encodés selon le système Leroy, www.palaeographia.org/muzerelle/grecs1.htm

Πίνακες: Textes et manuscrits grecs http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr

Online English translation of the Batrachomyomachia (The Battle of Frogs and Mice) by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914 
http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/homer/frogmice.htm

Online Latin Edition of the Batrachomyomachia, Bibliotheca Augustana, ed. Helmut Ahlborn,

Akademie-Verlag, Berlin (DDR) 1968/1978
http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/graeca/Chronologia/S_ante01/Batrachomyomachia/bat_text.html

Glei, Reinhold F. (Bochum). “Batrachomyomachia,” in Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider, in Brill Online (paid subscription)
http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/

Weißenberger, Michael (Greifswald). “Libanius,” in Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider, in Brill Online (paid
http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/

TM 792

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