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Details & Cataloguing

Western Manuscripts & Miniatures

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London

Collection of leaves from manuscripts, including Aesop’s Fable of the burgher and the knight, in Latin, on vellum [fourteenth to fifteenth century]
nineteen leaves (including a bifolium): (a) leaf from Aesop, De Cive et Milite, 175mm. by 115mm., single column, 32 lines of Latin verse in black ink in a fine Italian bookhand, capitals for each line touched in red, small worming at base and slightly trimmed, Italy, late fourteenth century; (b) bifolium from a biblical commentary, each leaf 232mm. by 215mm., remains of double column, 44 lines in black ink in a fine early gothic bookhand, paragraph marks and running titles in red, probably France, thirteenth century; (c) leaf from a canon law manuscipt: Corpus iuris canonici, ch.XVI-XX, double column, 425mm. by 260mm., 36 lines in brown ink, with extensive gloss filling margins, initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork, Italy (perhaps Bologna), fourteenth century; plus six leaves from fifteenth-century liturgical books, a fragment of a leaf from a French fifteenth-century missal, 135mm. by 80mm., with 4 illuminated initials, and 8 leaves from fifteenth-century Books of Hours (4 with small illuminated initials containing fruit or foliage, and another with a border panel of acanthus-leaves on dull-gold or plain vellum grounds); many leaves recovered from bindings and with small holes, scuffs and stains
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Catalogue Note

Aesop’s fables are one of the fundamental cornerstones of Western literature, and the ultimate ancestor of all European moralised animal tales. The author is thought to have lived from c.620-564 BC. on the Black Sea coast, and drew his themes from stories from ancient Sumer (at that time already a millennia or two old). Socrates rendered some of the fables into verse from memory while in prison, and collections of them in Greek certainly existed by the third century BC. With the shift away from Greek in the Western Empire, Latin translations emerged. These attracted interest during the tenth and eleventh centuries from scholars such as Adhemar of Chabannes (d.1034), and the text was translated in the later Middle Ages into French, German, Middle English, Welsh, Scots and even Hebrew. In the sixteenth century, the text was carried by missionaries to Mexico and Japan, and translations were made into Nahuatl and Japanese. The text here is that translated into Latin iambic trimeters by Phaedrus, a freedman of Emperor Augustus in the first century AD.

Western Manuscripts & Miniatures

|
London