Lot 6
  • 6

Fragments of two bifolia from Ovid, Heroides, in Latin [Italy, late 13th or 14th century]

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Vellum
2 fragmentary bifolia, each leaf c.350x205mm, vellum, 39 lines, 235x135mm, with interlinear and marginal glosses, with 3 large decorated initials, recovered from re-use as a binding, one bifolium bisected horizontally, large loss of part of outer border and text of the other, scuffing and flaking of initials, stains, holes and with large areas of text still covered by paper, 16th- or 17th-century inscription “Cardinalii Zaberella”, overall in scruffy condition that could be significantly improved by cleaning and flattening

Catalogue Note

“The Heroides are the least well preserved of Ovid’s works” (R.J. Tarrant in Texts and Transmission, ed. Reynolds, 1983, p.268). They consist of fictional verse letters in Latin elegiac couplets written on behalf of aggrieved heroines whose lovers had mistreated, neglected, or abandoned them. These appear to be the outermost and innermost bifolia of the first quire of the parent volume, and fortuitously the better-preserved one includes what would probably have been the first leaf of the parent manuscript, with the most elaborate initial and the beginning of the text, letters from Penelope to Ulysses: "Incipit Ovidius epistolarum Penelope Ulixi. Haec tua Penelope lento tibi mitti, Ulixe … querere misso" (lines 1-37); the other leaves contain the middle of Phaedra to Hippolytus; the end of Oenone to Paris, and the start of Hypsipyle to Jason; the second half of Hermione to Orestus; and the start of Deianera to Hercules.