ISIDORE OF SEVILLE (c.560-636). Sinonyma, in Latin, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
150 x 108mm. 66 leaves: 1-212, 314, 412, 516, pencil folliation 1-65 misses leaf after f.49, COMPLETE, 17 lines written in brown ink in an early italic script on 17 horizontals ruled in brown ink and 3 verticals ruled in plummet, justification: 100 x 65mm, one- and three-line initials of red or blue, some folios with earlier un-used ruling at 90°, 16th-century paper titlepage (final blank verso and edges of upper or lower margins of a few folios damp-stained). Later vellum binding with two fore-edge ties.
1. Giovanni Francesco Vanni: his erased inscription Io. Fran. Vanni dated 1699 in lower margin f.1
2. ?T. Onesti: signature on final verso
Introduction f.1r&v; Sinonyma of Isidore of Seville ff.2-66v
Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, 'Hispalensis', was renowned for his learning and already named nostri saeculi doctor egregius at the Council of Toledo (653); he was finally canonised in 1598 and the title Doctor of the Church bestowed on him in 1722. During his episcopate he encouraged the establishment of churches and schools, both as a means of spreading an orthodox Christianity and to assist in the conversion of Jews.
Isidore's encyclopedic knowledge, transmitted by the survival of his writings, became a resource frequently drawn upon by medieval scholars. The best known is the Etymologiae covering not only theological and church matters but also mathematics, science and medicine, and with sections on grammar and rhetoric. There is a similar mix of the linguistic and doctrinal in the Sinonyma; it takes the form of an argument addressed to the sinner's soul to encourage it to give up the error of its ways and to strive for perfection. In the introduction Isidore is recommended as a comfort and succour to those who are sinking to the depths of despair, and as teaching a sure way of avoiding vice and of repenting sins already committed: thus one may not die wrapped in the sins of the world but may live with Christ the Lord.
Manuscripts of this text rarely appear on the market. We are grateful to Professor Albinia de la Mare for her observations that the early italic hand is localisable to Padua between 1460-70, and shows awareness of the developments of Bartolommeo Sanvito, and that the manuscript was likely to have been made for a humanist.