Cuttings from a Romanesque copy of Priscian Institutiones Grammaticae, in Latin with a single word in Greek, manuscript on parchment. [Germany, 12th century].
4 rectangular cuttings (all half leaves bisected laterally), largest 165 x 125mm, with remnants of single column of 18 lines in a handsome Romanesque script, capitals touched or dotted in red, rubrics in capitals underlined in red simple red initials (some with baubles mounted in their bodies) remains of a red line-drawn cat in the margin (standing on its hind legs to form an initial ‘I’), tiny marginalia, some scuffs, stains and folds, the smaller 2 pieces cockled, one particularly so, overall fair and legible condition.
Priscian (more properly Priscianus Caesariensis) lived in the opening of the 6th century AD during the final collapse of the Roman Empire. He was a native of Caesarea in North Africa and was educated and taught in Constantinople. This text was one of the fundamental textbooks of the mediaeval West for those wishing to learn Latin and no monastery, cathedral or secular school could be without a copy. Thus some 527 extant manuscripts are recorded today (M. Gibson in Scriptorium 26, 1972 and some 283 of those in existence by the 12th century). For modern scholarship the text is a storehouse of classical Roman works such as Plautus and Cicero (named on these cuttings) as well as a few lost works.