CICERO (pseudo-). Rhetorica ad Herennium, in Latin. ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM. [Padua, 1380s]
290 x 210 mm. 107 leaves: 1-138 143(of 4, iii blank cancelled, iv treated as a flyleaf), COMPLETE. Horizontal catchwords with pen-work ornamentation in lower margin on last verso of each quire, contemporary foliation 1-107 in arabic numerals in extreme upper right corner of each recto, omitting the number three and not numbering the last leaf. 20 lines (ff. 1r-98r) or 24-28 lines (ff. 98v-107r) written in dark brown ink in round Italian gothic bookhand between 21 or 25 (etc.) horizontal and 2 vertical lines ruled in brown plummet (ff. 1r-89v) or brown ink (ff. 90v-106r) or in blind (ff. 106v-107r), justification: 125 x 90 mm (ff. 1r-98r) or 175-180 x 120 mm (ff. 98v-107r). Headlines consisting of book numbers. The six opening lines written in elaborate capital letters each with fine brown-ink pen-flourishing, seven-, six-, four-, three- and two-line initial spaces most with guide letters, only a few two-line initials supplied, in red or blue flourished with the same or opposite color, a few paragraph signs in red or blue. FIVE LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS in colors and burnished gold, four depicting a lecturer gowned in a red robe and ermine, one with foliate infilling and extensions, the large opening initial with a three-sided border of swirling foliage and burnished gold disks incorporating a roundel depicting a bearded man. (Some smudging to opening border, some flaking of burnished gold, a few small wormholes through first ca. 15 leaves, dampstain to ff. 82-84, margins of first and last leaves slightly discolored from contact with bare wooden boards and turn-ins of binding.) Contemporary Italian blind-ruled goatskin over wooden boards, 10 plain brass bosses, remains of two clasps (several small wormholes, some wear to extremities, lower back joint cracked, loss to tail of spine); modern drop-back cloth box.
Provenance: early erasures and corrections to text -- extensive contemporary and later interlinear and marginal annotations, in several hands, including a distinctive early humanistic hand writing with red ink and including words and phrases in Greek -- various humanistic annotations and pen-trials on last leaf, including notes on categories of rhetoric, and the formula Circumstantie sunt: quis, quid, ubi, quando, cur, quomodo, quibuslibet animiculis -- R-O-M-A lettered on four of the gold disks on f. 1r -- red wax seal depicting the lion of St. Mark inside front cover -- ?Nani family of Venice: manuscripts from this library were acquired by Abbé Celotti and sold in London in 1825 (see following item); the arms of the Nani family included the lion of St. Mark -- Abbé Celotti: sale, Sotheby's 14 March 1825, probably lot 83 (the sale included several codices of the 14th or 15th century described as "M. T. Ciceronis Rhetorica") -- Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), ms. 915 (and 2969): his inkstamp and numbers on f. 1v: sale, Sotheby's, 24 April 1911, lot 224 ("Ciceronis (M. T.) Rhetorica ad Herennium, cum glossis, manuscript of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, on vellum with large initial and border illuminated in gold and colours, from the Celotti collection. folio. XIV-XV cent.") -- [Lathrop Harper 1979].
Contents: Rhetorica ad Herennium, with copious marginal annotations (ff. 1r-107r): Book I (ff. 1r-10r), Book II (ff. 10r-41r), Book III (ff. 41r-61r), Book IV (ff. 61r-73r), Book V (ff. 73r-107r, f. 107v blank); miscellaneous annotations (f. 108r-v).
The Rhetorica ad Herennium, attributed to Cicero from late Antiquity on, was greatly influential as a school text throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. This manuscript, though elegantly illuminated and written without space for interlinear annotations, has the broad margins intended to provide space for commentary. Abundant interlinear and marginal annotations in various hands of the 14th and 15th centuries show that it was carefully studied by a number of people, probably students and humanists associated with the University of Padua. The textual tradition of the Rhetorica ad Herennium has never been fully examined. In this copy the text is divided into five books, rather than the four now standard, and the chapter divisions also differ from those in modern editions.
The manuscript was decorated in Padua in the late 14th century. The border is very close in style to one found on a leaf from a Petrarch manuscript now in Australia (M. M. Manion and V. F. Vines, Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, Melbourne 1984, no. 15), described as "a fine example of late fourteenth-century Paduan illumination". There are also resemblances to other Petrarch manuscripts illuminated in Padua in the 1380s and now in Paris (Dix siècles d'enluminure italienne, Paris 1984, no. 73-75; La miniatura a Padova, Modena 1999, no. 47). The composition of the author portrait and the large sloe-eyes of the figures recall the style of Niccolò da Bologna, and indeed, it is possible that the illuminator of this manuscript was of Bolognese formation.
The subjects of the illuminations are:
f. 1r: Initial E: the lecturer, gowned in red and ermine, seated at a desk, lecturing from an open book; three-quarter border of colored foliage and gold dots, incorporating a roundel of a man gesturing, perhaps an orator
f. 10r: Initial I; the lecturer, in similar garb, standing and holding a book
f. 41r: Initial A: the lecturer in different headdress and gown, or a student, half length and gesturing
f. 61r: Initial Q: the lecturer half length, holding a book and gesturing
f. 73r: Initial R: colored foliate decoration