Gigantic Romanesque Copy of a Grammar Text in Four Columns


Genre: ,

PRICE: $34,500 (neither leaves nor partial quires will be sold separately)


Papias the Grammarian, Elementarium doctrinae rudimentum. 8 fols. on vellum: two sets of four consecutive folios, each representing the two inner bifolia of consecutive quires. Northern Italy, ca. 1180: approx. 432 mm x 309 mm each folio (justification, 335 mm x 226 mm). Four columns, 40 lines. Texts in four columns are very unusual. The format is usually reserved for the “Interpretation of Hebrew Names” appended to medieval bibles, but even in that case, four-column layouts are exceptionally rare. Ruled in plummet. Prickings visible in inner and outer margins. Additions made in the margins within red boxes. Decoration: sources noted in red; initials tipped in red. Text: the Elementarium was an extremely important alphabetical dictionary for the middle ages, the first recognizable dictionary and one lemmatized in abc-order. Nor are these the only innovations of the Elementarium. Papias was the first lexicographer to identify his sources, indicating them by a system of two or three letters: hi for Hyginus, vir for Virgil and p’s for Priscian. Our manuscript identifies many other sources, some obvious, some not. The abbreviations gg for Gregory, Aug for Augustine and Amb for Ambrose seem obvious, but bis and fi are not. The entries themselves can include grammatical information, related vocables and synonyms. Ours is a grand copy written only a century or so after its composition around 1050, and one of very few copies known that antedate 1200. Contents: there are only incunable editions of Papias’s text and a facsimile copy of the 1496 Venetian edition, Papias Vocabulista (Venice, 1496), which we consulted. Our manuscript has entries spanning pax to perpeti and placare to portus. Not all of the entries match perfectly, as this copy seems to be a expanded edition of the work. Provenance: perhaps from a defunct Cistercian monastery of northern Italy such as Morimondo or Santa Maria della Columba. Our leaves were acquired from a European dealer by Roger Martin, who subsequently sold the portion from pax to perpeti to Farley Katz, an American collector. The leaves comes with a UK export license allowing permanent export. Condition: lightly soiled, with spots and stains here and there, some water damage on the last leaves (not obscuring the text) and, as expected, cockled—especially where the water damage appears.

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