Substantial fragment from a codex of Aristotle, Rhetorica in the Latin translation of William of Moerbeke, the Magna moralia in the Latin translation of Bartholomeus de Messina incorporating De Bona fortuna and Ethica, and a Latin translation of Politica, decorated manuscript on parchment [Northern France (doubtless Paris), c. 1200]. 22 leaves, all singletons recovered from a series of bindings and professionally conserved and rebound, each leaf with double column of 37 lines in a large university hand, with some biting curves and almost certainly below topline, capitals in uppermost line or on outermost upright margin formed from ornamental penstrokes, 2-line initials in red or blue (many with guide initials in tiny penwork visible in their centres) with contrasting penwork trailing the entire length of the border, larger initials in red and blue panels with similar penwork, running titles in red and turquoise blue, a few leaves with catchwords and coloured quire signatures, prick marks from a few marginal notes from contemporary and near-contemporary use, signs of being folded in same place along top of leaves in region of topline of text, scuffs, spots and areas missing (almost all with small losses, 3 leaves with substantial losses; all such areas now skilfully restored with modern parchment), overall fair and presentable condition, 235 by 175mm.; now bound in on wide paper guards, in appealing modern calfskin over pasteboards (retaining grain pattern of skin), with both boards gently bowed in at tips to cradle the leaves. A noble relic of a compendium of Aristotles works in Latin translation, doubtless produced in the University of Paris for a master or student there Provenance: Written and decorated in de luxe and large scale format in the last years of the twelfth century or the opening years of the thirteenth century, probably for a wealthy master or student in the University of Paris (founded c. 1150). The book was then evidently set aside at the close of the Middle Ages and reused as binding material on a series of later books, before being recovered again from those and restored and rebound. Text: Just as the rediscovery of Ciceros letters is thought to have launched the Italian Renaissance, so the rediscovery and translation of the works of Aristotle (384-322 BC.) made possible the intellectual revolution of the universities in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Aristotles scholastic method focussed on observation and experimentation, rather than dogged reliance on the authorities of the past, and ultimately lead to the development of the modern scholarly scientific method. Cicero had described Aristotles works as a river of gold, but they were almost entirely lost to the West in the Dark Ages and only rediscovered in their original Greek as well as Arabic translations during the Crusades in the twelfth century. Thomas Aquinas himself appears to have requested that William of Moerbeke (d. c. 1286), a Flemish Dominican who had spent significant time in Greece, undertake a complete translation of Aristotles works or edit existing translations, to replace the inaccurate copies available from Arabic and Syriac translations from Spain. Parts of Moerbekes translation of the Rhetorica, on the art of persuasion, fills the first sixteen leaves here. However, he was not the only scholar to embark on this work, and the translation of the Magna moralia (chs. 17-18; that follows on fols. 17-20) is that of Bartholomeo de Messina (d. 1266). Little is known of this figure beyond his name and the fact that he served Duke Manfred of Sicily between 1258 and 1266. Here his text incorporates the second book of De Bona fortuna and Ethica before the explicit of the Magna moralia on fol. 20v (as can also be found in other French and Italian university copies of the text). The last two leaves contain parts of Politica (chs. 21-22), in the translation again of William of Moerbeke. Manuscripts from the dawn of this intellectual revolution seldom appear for sale, with the last copy of the Rhetorica evidently that in a fifteenth-century compendium once Phillipps MS. 3350, and last appearing in Sothebys, 7 December 1931, lot 130; and the last copy of the Magna moralia appearing in 1931 (fourteenth-century copy offered by Giuseppe Martini, cat. 22, no. 1, now Houghton Library, Harvard)
Substantial fragment from a codex of Aristotle’s Rhetorica from c.1200.
Categories: C12th - C13th manuscripts, Latest, Manuscripts Tags: aristotle, beautiful, codex, fine books, fragment, france, illuminated, illumination, leaves, manuscript, parchment, rare, rare books, rhetorica, thirteenth century, twelfth century, vellum