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Manuscript Overview
References
Bindings & Oddities

Abstract

Written in Italy in the fifteenth century, this manuscript contains a collection of Latin moralizing texts. The first section is only partially preserved but contains some of Aesop's fables in Latin. Aesop (ca. 620 – 564) was a Greek fabulist about whom we know very little, other than excerpts about his life found in later sources such as Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. Although numerous fables are attributed to Aesop, it is more likely that his reputation as a storyteller led to many later fables being attributed to him retroactively (Lefkowitz 3). The second text in the manuscript is also comprised of Aesop's fables but, as the rubric indicates, this is a specific translation completed by Italian humanist Lorenzo (Laurentius) Valla (1407-1457) in 1438. From the dedication in another manuscript (Palermo, Biblioteca Comunale 2Qqc79) we know that Valla completed the translation for Ferrante, the son of the Alfonso of Arragon (also called Alfonso II, King of Naples from 1494-1495). The third text contains some of the so-called "Distichs of Cato," a collection of proverbial wisdom written in Latin. In the medieval and renaissance periods it was erroneously attributed to the Roman statesman Cato the Elder (234–149 BCE) and sometimes even his great-grandson Cato the Younger (95-46 BCE). The text, however, was most likely composed in the third or fourth century CE by an anonymous author sometimes referred to as Dionysius Cato. The final two texts in the manuscript are canonical wisdom books from the Old Testament--the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Book of Proverbs is prefaced by a letter (or prologue) from St. Jerome to Bishops (later Saints) Chromatius and Heliodorus, all of whom lived in the late fourth century CE. In the letter Jerome dedicates his translation of the Book of Solomon (otherwise known as Proverbs) from Greek into Latin to the two Italian clergymen, with whom he retained an ongoing correspondence.

Hand note

Commentary on each distich written in smaller script than rest of text

Decoration Note

Seven marginal line drawings illustrating Aesop's fables (fols. 1r-4r); added detail throughout in red and blue ink; in some parts the red and blue ink is used to divide text sections or lines (such as on fol. 57r); text in black ink

Contributors

Principal cataloger: Berlin, Nicole

Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Contributor: Berlin, Nicole

Contributor: Emery, Doug

Contributor: Herbert, Lynley

Contributor: Wiegand, Kimber

Conservator: Polidori, Elisabetta

Conservator: Quandt, Abigail

Bibliography

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 834, no. 454.


The Walters Art Gallery. "Greek Orthodox Celebration." The Walters Art Gallery Bulletin 33, no. 6 (1981).


Lefkowitz, Jeremy. "Aesop and Animal Fable." In The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life, edited by Gordon Lindsay Campbell. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014: 1-23.


Carr, Annemarie Weyl, Lynn Jones, and Kathleen Maxwell. Byzantine images and their afterlives: essays in honor of Annemarie Weyl Carr. London: Routledge, 2016, p.182, illustration no. 8.2.


These are pages that we pulled aside that disrupted the flow of the manuscript reader. These may be bindings, inserts, bookmarks, and various other oddities.

Upper board outside

Lower board outside

Spine

Fore-edge

Head

Tail

Keywords
Literature
Ancient Greece
Ancient Rome
Italian
Humanistic
Italy
15th century
Literature -- Poetry
Private devotional text
Scholarly compendium
Devotion
Scripture
Drawing
Illustration

Origin Place

Italy

Date

15th century CE

Form

book

Binding

Non-original Binding

Binding Description

Bound in Italy, in seventeenth (?) century, with limp (goat?) vellum; Chris Clarkson suggests that perhaps the modern repairer put the cover back on upside down based on the direction of the title on the spine; the pastedowns and flyleaves at the front and back composed of bifolios of modern wove twentieth-century paper that are hooked in to the first and last gatherings; evidence of three alum-tawed straps on the top board, suggesting a late sixteenth to early seventeenth binding to Clarkson; both the top and bottom cover made of thin paste board; title of the book written in ink on the spine reads “Esopi Fabulae Pron Eccles”

Language

The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Provenance

Created in Italy, fifteenth century

Leo S. Olschki

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Olschki, ca. 1912

Acquisition

Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest

← search Aesop W.355

Origin Place

Italy

Date

15th century CE

Form

book

Language

The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Provenance

Created in Italy, fifteenth century

Leo S. Olschki

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Olschki, ca. 1912

Acquisition

Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest

Manuscript Overview

Abstract

Written in Italy in the fifteenth century, this manuscript contains a collection of Latin moralizing texts. The first section is only partially preserved but contains some of Aesop's fables in Latin. Aesop (ca. 620 – 564) was a Greek fabulist about whom we know very little, other than excerpts about his life found in later sources such as Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. Although numerous fables are attributed to Aesop, it is more likely that his reputation as a storyteller led to many later fables being attributed to him retroactively (Lefkowitz 3). The second text in the manuscript is also comprised of Aesop's fables but, as the rubric indicates, this is a specific translation completed by Italian humanist Lorenzo (Laurentius) Valla (1407-1457) in 1438. From the dedication in another manuscript (Palermo, Biblioteca Comunale 2Qqc79) we know that Valla completed the translation for Ferrante, the son of the Alfonso of Arragon (also called Alfonso II, King of Naples from 1494-1495). The third text contains some of the so-called "Distichs of Cato," a collection of proverbial wisdom written in Latin. In the medieval and renaissance periods it was erroneously attributed to the Roman statesman Cato the Elder (234–149 BCE) and sometimes even his great-grandson Cato the Younger (95-46 BCE). The text, however, was most likely composed in the third or fourth century CE by an anonymous author sometimes referred to as Dionysius Cato. The final two texts in the manuscript are canonical wisdom books from the Old Testament--the Book of Proverbs and the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Book of Proverbs is prefaced by a letter (or prologue) from St. Jerome to Bishops (later Saints) Chromatius and Heliodorus, all of whom lived in the late fourth century CE. In the letter Jerome dedicates his translation of the Book of Solomon (otherwise known as Proverbs) from Greek into Latin to the two Italian clergymen, with whom he retained an ongoing correspondence.

Hand note

Commentary on each distich written in smaller script than rest of text

Decoration Note

Seven marginal line drawings illustrating Aesop's fables (fols. 1r-4r); added detail throughout in red and blue ink; in some parts the red and blue ink is used to divide text sections or lines (such as on fol. 57r); text in black ink

References

Contributors

Principal cataloger: Berlin, Nicole

Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Contributor: Berlin, Nicole

Contributor: Emery, Doug

Contributor: Herbert, Lynley

Contributor: Wiegand, Kimber

Conservator: Polidori, Elisabetta

Conservator: Quandt, Abigail

Bibliography

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 834, no. 454.


The Walters Art Gallery. "Greek Orthodox Celebration." The Walters Art Gallery Bulletin 33, no. 6 (1981).


Lefkowitz, Jeremy. "Aesop and Animal Fable." In The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life, edited by Gordon Lindsay Campbell. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014: 1-23.


Carr, Annemarie Weyl, Lynn Jones, and Kathleen Maxwell. Byzantine images and their afterlives: essays in honor of Annemarie Weyl Carr. London: Routledge, 2016, p.182, illustration no. 8.2.


Bindings & Oddities

These are pages that we pulled aside that disrupted the flow of the manuscript reader. These may be bindings, inserts, bookmarks, and various other oddities.

Upper board outside

Lower board outside

Spine

Fore-edge

Head

Tail

Keywords
Literature
Ancient Greece
Ancient Rome
Italian
Humanistic
Italy
15th century
Literature -- Poetry
Private devotional text
Scholarly compendium
Devotion
Scripture
Drawing
Illustration
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