THOMAS AQUINAS (c.1225-1274). De ente et essentia; ALBERTUS MAGNUS (c.1200-1280). Commentarius de Aristotelis eticorum, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?southern France, third quarter 13th century]
298 x 212mm. 114 leaves: 112, 215(xv a singleton), 312, 412, 512, 614, 712, 810(of 14, lacking iii and iv), 915(12 plus 3), lacking a gathering between gatherings 6 and 7, two columns of up to 77 lines written in brown and black ink in small cursive hands between frame-ruling of three pairs of verticals and two horizontals to page edges, justification: approx. 220 x 140mm, rubrics, paragraph marks and one- to five-line initials in red, two marginal diagrams (dampstaining to upper and outer edges of final thirty folios, last two pages cockled and stained not affecting legibility). 19th-century marbled-paper boards (worn).
Like the copies of Thomas Aquinas's works offered as lots 10 and 11, this volume was undoubtedly intended for serious study, but the informality and variety of the script and presentation, combined with the variability of the parchment -- the number of natural holes, stitched and patched repairs -- indicate that it was produced in a very different context. Rather than being made by professional craftsmen working in well-organised co-ordination this manuscript shows every sign of having been produced by the friars themselves. It is written in different scripts, heavily abbreviated, one hand following another in the middle of a column, writing a varying number of lines, sometimes supplying red initials, sometimes brown. Once written it was carefully corrected and annotated. The impression that the manuscript gives accords perfectly with the prescription in the statutes of the Dominican Order that their books should be serviceable and useful, without incurring unnecessary expenditure: K. Humphreys, 'Dominicans and the copying of books', Scribi e Colofoni, X colloquio del comité international de paléographie latine, 1991, E. Condello & G. de Gregoio eds, 1995, pp.125-143. The rubric and colophons also argue that this copy of works by two of the greatest Dominican thinkers was made by members of their own order for use in a provincial studium or school: both are titled simply 'frater'. The qualification that they were 'of the order of Preachers' that is included in the titles and explicits of lots 10 and 11 was redundant. The mixture of scripts, both French and Italian, and the nature of the parchment suggest an origin in southern France.
Thomas Aquinas De Ente et Essentia ff.1-12v; Albertus Magnus Commentarius de Aristotelis eticorum, lacking a gathering between folio 77 and folio 78 with the end of Book VII, lectio i (from 'Et dicit, quod de [bestialitate]') to Book VIII, lectio iii ('et sic erunt multae species amicitiae'), and 2 leaves between folios 91 and 92 with Book IX lectio x (from 'Et notandum, quod hoc quod dicit omnibus conte[ndentibus]') to Liber IX lectio xii ('secundum quam aliqui sumendi sunt') ff.13-114: Opera Omnia, ed. Wilhelm Kübel, Aschendorff, 1987, XIV, 2, pp.520-600 and pp.689-698
A compilation of two influential early texts of Aristotelian theology: Aquinas's De Ente et Essentia (Of Being and Essence) is an early work, before the granting of his licentia docendi at Paris in 1256. It is nevertheless considered vital for the understanding of Thomist doctrine: its important distinction between Essence and Existence is seen by some commentators as the only road of entry to Aquinas's metaphysics. The pairing of the De Ente, Aquinas's most purely Aristotelian work, with the Commentarius de Aristotelis Eticorum of his teacher, Albertus Magnus, would have been a natural one for a 13th-century compiler. Aquinas may have first encountered Albertus in Paris in 1245-1248, and certainly studied under him from 1248-1252 at his newly-established Dominican Studium Generale in Cologne: indeed, a transcription in Aquinas's autograph of Albertus's lectures on the Ethics is known from this period. Two marginal sketches in the text of Book 5 of the Commentary on the Ethics illustrate principles of justice in opposition to the ideas of Pythagoras: the first uses sections of lines to demonstrate of the use of the term 'aequales' as an arithmetic rather than a geometrical property in distributive justice. The second provides a table of the relationship between a builder, a house, a tanner and a shoe in order to illustrate compensation according to proportion in relationships of exchange.
The missing leaves may be the result of censorship: the section lacking from Book VII concerns the ethics of sexual behaviour, including discussions of bestiality and incest.