Lot 4
  • 4

Quadruplex Psalter

6,000 - 8,000 USD
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  • Quadruplex Psalter, fragments of two leaves in Latin and transliterated Greek. [southern(?) Germany, 12th century]
  • ink,paper
Two fragments on vellum (each ca. 12 1/2 x 5 4/5 in.; 317 x 148 mm), containing Psalms 31:11–33:1 and Psalms 38:3–39:7 respectively, each page originally written in 4 columns of 40 lines, red rubrics at the start of Psalms 32, 33 and 39, red initials, both fragments trimmed but each page preserving two complete columns and a small portion of a third column, worn from use in a binding, in a modern green folding-case with gilt title


acquisition: Quaritch, 2004

Catalogue Note

The text of each page is arranged in four parallel columns comprising the Romanum, Gallicanum, Hebraicum, and Septuagint versions of the Psalms, the latter transliterated into Latin characters. In the late 4th century St Jerome prepared three Latin translations: the Romanum was used generally only in the early Middle Ages yet remains in use at St Peter’s, Rome, and St Mark’s, Venice; the Gallicanum came to be the Vulgate version used in most churches of Europe; and finally the Hebraicum was a fresh translation from the Hebrew which, although a better text, was never able to supersede the already widely-disseminated Gallicanum. Here the Greek text is transliterated using the Latin alphabet.

Double psalters are rare, triple psalters are very rare, and quadruple psalters are exceptionally rare. The quadruple psalter was invented in the early 10th century by Salomon, abbot of St Gall (his manuscript is now Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, MS bibl.44), on which all other copies seem to depend, including Cologne, Dombibliothek, Hs 8, also 10th-century. Both these manuscripts and the present one are laid out with 40 lines in each of the four columns: doubtless the scribes were unable to understand Greek, so the only way to ensure that the Greek stayed properly aligned with the adjacent Latin was to replicate the exemplar precisely. A comparison between the present fragments and the Cologne volume (digitized online) shows that line-breaks are indeed in the exactly same places.