SIDONIUS APOLLINARIS (c.430/33-c.479), Epistolae, in Latin, manuscript on vellum [?France, late 10th century]
Among the earliest witnesses from the Epistolae of the great 5th-century Gallo-Roman aristocrat, high official, poet and letter writer, Sidonius Apollinaris.
Two fragments, 95 x 149mm and 95 x 142mm, forming part of one column, 11-12 visible lines written in brown ink in a Caroline minuscule, one four-line title supplied in red Rustic Capitals (stained, with part of the title obscured). Bound in grey buckram at the Quaritch bindery.
(1) Bernard Rosenthal.
(2) Schøyen Collection, MS 1650/2.
Sidonius Apollinaris, bishop of Clermont, was a key figure in the transition from the later Roman Empire to the early Middle Ages and the dawn of Europe as we know it. Nine books of his Letters survive, modelled on the nine books of Pliny, and described by the venerable 20th-century translator of Sidonius, W.B. Anderson, as ‘an invaluable source of information on many aspects of the life of his time’ (Sidonius: Poems and Letters, Harvard: Loeb Classical Library, 1965). The present fragments, as they are bound, are from the beginning of Book II, ep. I (to his brother-in-law Ecdicius Avitus, beginning: ‘Duo nunc partier mala […]’), in which he pleads with Ecdicius for his return to Auvergne to counter the pernicious influence of the barbarous Roman Seronatus; and the very end of Book I, ep. XI (to his friend Montius, ending: ‘[…] cui finis gloria fuit. Vale’), in which Sidonius dwells at length on a literary conspiracy that saw him unjustly accused of composing bad satire.
Over 100 manuscripts containing the works of Sidonius survive, to varying degrees of completion. The earliest are Bodleian Library MS. Laud Lat. 104, together with a fragment from the same manuscript at Erlangen University Library, MS 2112/7 (known as ‘L’ in Christian Lütjohann’s critical edition and classified as D37 in Franz Dolveck’s census), and St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 190 (D105 in Dolveck’s census), both dating from the first half of the 9th century. The majority of the surviving source manuscripts were composed from the 10th to the 13th centuries (in addition to MS. Laud Lat. 104, see also Reims, Bibliothèque Carnegie de Reims. Ms. 413 [Lütjohann 'R' and Dolveck D56], 9th century; Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Lat. 2781 [Lütjohann 'P' and Dolveck D43], 10th century; Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat.lat.3421 [Lütjohann 'A' and Dolveck D71], 11th century; Madrid, Biblioteca National de España Mss. 9448 [Lütjohann 'C' and Dolveck D25], 11th century; Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, S. Marco 554 [Lütjohann 'M' and Dolveck D16], 11th century).
The script is an unusual, widely spaced and ligatured Caroline minuscule dating from the late 10th (or early 11th) century. Dolveck suggests that the elongated forms are an attempt to correspond to the layout of its model. The present fragments are among the earliest witnesses to the text of the Epistles (earlier still is MS 1950/1, also in the Schøyen Collection, which dates from the 9th century) and likely the only manuscripts of Sidonius still in private hands. The present fragments are no 92B in Franz Dolveck’s census of Sidonian manuscripts in the forthcoming Prolegomena to Sidonius Apollinaris.
C. Lütjohann, Gai Solii Apollinaris Sidonii epistulae et carmina […], Berlin, 1887
Gavin Kelly and Joop van Waarden (eds), The Edinburgh Companion to Sidonius Apollinaris, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming January 2020. Franz Dolveck’s manuscript census is part of chapter 16, ‘The Manuscript Tradition of Sidonius’.