[an error occurred while processing this directive] Burgess collection illuminated letter

Burgess Collection

Burgess Collection MS 34

[Aemilius Macer, or possibly Odo Magdunensis], Macer Floridus de Viribus Herbarum

Latin, 1 small illuminated initial and 4 smaller initials

[Italy, late 14th to 15th century]

Scanned Images of MS 34:

FoliosInitialScript
Folio 1rFolio 1rFolio 4v
Folio 1v

I. Material
II. Construction
III. Preparation of the Page 
IV. Text
V.
Decoration 
VI.
Illustration
VII. Binding
VIII.
Additions
IX.
Provenance

Description

I. Material

The manuscript contains 24 leaves of fine vellum and 4 front and 4 back flyleaves, each of paper. The lower corners of the last 3 leaves have been torn off. The corner of the final leaf has been repaired. 25.9 x 18.4 cm.

II. Construction

GATHERINGS FOLIOS CONTENTS
18-38 1-24 [Aemilius Macer, or possibly Odo Magdunensis], Macer Floridus de Viribus Herbarum

III. Preparation of the Page

Pricking marks for the lines of a triple vertical frame are visible at the top and bottom of folios 1, 8, and 17-24. Pricking marks for a double vertical frame are visible at the top and bottom of folios 9-16. Pricking marks for a single vertical frame are visible at the top and bottom of folios 2-7. Pricking marks for the lines of the text are no longer visible. Presumably, they were cut away when the leaves were trimmed. The ruled writing space is constant throughout at an area of 14 x 13.3 cm. However, the scribe wrote below the final line on two occasions (ff. 8v, 23r). Between 8 and 10 cm. of empty space has been left at the bottom of every page. Presumably, woodcuts or drawings of herbs were to be inserted at a later date.

The ruling in light brown is clearly visible on every leaf. Vertical lines are not visible for all pricking marks. Where visible, they extend the length of the folio. On folios that contain double or triple vertical frames, the lines vary from 0.6 to 0.7 cm. apart. These lines were drawn by an instrument known as lead point, or plummet. This instrument was one of the writing tools known as metal point. The mark made by the instrument varied in appearance according to the type of metal used. A silver-gray mark was made by a type of lead alloy (often silver and lead). Sometimes the metal was contained in a holder. This was the precursor to the modern pencil. This type of instrument began to be widely used in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. (Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts, pp. 78, 86; E.M. Thompson, p. 43). The text is written in one column of 29 lines, with much space at the end of each line (except ff. 8v and 23r, which both have 30 lines of writing). The lines of the text are 0.5 cm. apart.

IV. Text

A. Contents
[Aemilius Macer, or possibly Odo Magdunensis], Macer Floridus de Viribus Herbarum

1. Artemisia (mugwort), f. 1r
Inc. Liber Macer incipit et primo de artemisia. Herbarum quasdam dicturu carmine uires...
Ex. ...Et multis aliis affirmant utile causis.

2. Aprotano (southernwood), f. 1v
Inc. De Aprotano. Tercius aprotano fertur gradus esse caloris...
Ex. ...Incitat Innocuis uentris potata resistit.

3. Abscintho (wormwood), ff. 2r-3r
Inc. De Abstincho. In primo calor esse gradu vis sicca secundo...
Ex. ...Que constat mundi precio preciosior omni.

4. Urtica (nettle), f. 3
Inc. De Urtica. Dicimus urticam quam Grecus acalife dicit...
Ex. ...Et deficatum multis erit utile causis.

5. Alea (garlic), ff. 3v-4v
Inc. De Aleis. Scordeon argiue sunt alea dicta latine...
Ex. ...Alia qui mane cum uino supserit ore.

6. Plantago (plantain), ff. 4v-5v
Inc. Herba que nostra lingua plantago uocatur...
Ex. ...In quo preclaris celebrabitur laudibus illa.

7. Ruta (rue), ff. 5v-6v
Inc. A Medicis rute uis caustica dicitur esse...
Ex. ...Cum pugnature sint cum serpentibus atris.

8. Viola (violet), ff. 6v-7v
Inc. Nec roseus superare decor nec lilia possunt...
Ex. ...tradunt mox sistere fluxum.

9. Aristolochia (birthwort), ff. 7v-8v
Inc. Aristologie species tres diamus esse...
Ex. ...Hanc ideo quidam terre dixere venenum.

10. Marrubium (horehound), f. 8
Inc. Marrubium nostri dixere prassio nargi...
Ex. ...Hiis qui uesice morbo renumque laborant.

11. Hysopus (hyssop), ff. 8v-9r
Inc. Est ysopus siccum calidum quoque tercius illi...
Ex. ...Hunc mixtum roseo si fondas intus oliuo.

12. Iris (iris), f. 9
Inc. Yri dat florum nomen color ipse suorum...
Ex. ...Et pabulas eius istud cataplasma resoluit.

13. Enulla (leek), ff. 9v-10r
Inc. Enulla quam vulgus...
Ex. ...Confortare stomacum facit ut bene digerat estam.

14. Apium (parsley), f. 10
Inc. Est apium dictum quodam apes hanc ferre solebant...
Ex. ...Si superaddatur emplastra more frequenter.

15. Althea (wild mallow), ff. 10v-11r
Inc. Luceam speciem malue nullus negat esse...
Ex. ...Quos uis pestiferos morsus conmustaque curat.

16. Salvia (sage), f. 11
Inc. [S]alvia cui nomen elifagus apud argos...
Ex. ...Si sint hoc uncti orebro sub sole tempeti.

17. Anetum (anise), ff. 11v-12r
Inc. A medicis calidum siccumque refertur anetum...
Ex. ...Meruorum laxat tensuras frigore pellit.

18. Betonica (betony), ff. 12r-13r
Inc. Bertonicam soliti sunt ceston dicere greci...
Ex. ...Plimibeus abscedat color et melior reuocetur.

19. Savina (savin), f. 13
Inc. Brateos est grece, savina uocata latine...
Ex. ...In medicamentis iubet oribasius auctor.

20. Porrum (leek), ff. 13v-14r
Inc. [ ]amubis causis usus medicamine porri...
Ex. ...Et uentrem stimulat sic durum molitat aluum.

21. Camomilla (camomile), ff. 14v-15r
Inc. Antemis magnis commendat laudibus auctor...
Ex. ...Et caput inde lauet nullum magis adiuuat unguen.

22. Nepita (catmint), f. 15
Inc. Herbarum quam nepitam vulgari more uocamus...
Ex. ...Hocque modo uentrem [...].

23. Pulegium (pennyroyal), ff. 15v-16v
Inc. Fervida pulegii uis sicca que dicitur esse...
Ex. ...Et sic urinam compelit redere largam.

24. Feniculum (fennel), ff. 16v-17r
Inc. [F]eniculum medici calidum sicumque secundo...
Ex. ...Serpentes et ob hoc senibus prodesse putatur.

25. Accidula (sorrel), f. 17
Inc. [D]icimus accidulam quam grecus dicit arizon...
Ex. ...Adiuuat auditum mire pelitque dolorem.

26. Semperviva (houseleek), f. 17v
Inc. Altera uero minor specie est ni est istius herbe...
Ex. ...Nec minus hanc cunctis predictis posse iuuare.

27. Portulaca (purslain), ff. 17v-18r
Inc. Arachis grece qui portulata latine...
Ex. ...Effectus pares testatur prinius auctor.

28. Latuca (lettuce), ff. 18r-19r
Inc. Frutida latuce uis est et humida ualde...
Ex. ...Hiis quibus assidue fuerit cibus eius in usu.

29. Rosa (rose), f. 19
Inc. Dici flos florum rosa nobis uire uidetur...
Ex. ...Inde medelarum uarios seruatuatur ad usus.

30. Lilia (lily), ff. 19v-20r
Inc. [E]t roseas ut credo rosas argenteas debent...
Ex. ...Trugida maturat plus excoquit et cito mendat.

31. Saturgia (savory), ff. 19v-20r
Inc. Timbra solet dici grece saturngia latine...
Ex. ...Nansea sedatur hac si bene trita bibatur.

32. Thimus (thyme), f. 20r
Inc. Sidesit thimus pro thimo ponere thimbram...
Ex. ...Quod sint in venerem nimis animalia prona.

33. Algurum (woodbine), f. 20
Inc. Algurum patria sumpsere leuestica nomen...
Ex. ...Illud quod sta[...] sermonibus astipuletur.

34. Ostrucion (soapwort), ff. 20v-21r
Inc. [ ]rucion ostrucion quod vulgi more uocamus...
Ex. ...mistum lacte mulierbri.

35. Cerifolium (chervil), f. 21
Inc. Est cerifolio uis acris et ignea ualde...
Ex. ...Herbaque timperibus et frontti cocta ligetur.

36. Actriplex (orach), f. 21v
Inc. [...]frigidare gradu primo humectarem secundo...
Ex. ...Illius semine cum vino sepius astum.

37. Coriander (coriander), ff. 21v-22r
Inc. [ ]ervida vis herbe coriandri dicitur esse...
Ex. ...Nempe putant morem [...] parare dolorem.

38. Nasturtium (cress), f. 22v
Inc. [D]icunt frequentes quod hunc nastrucia vires...
Ex. ...Tussim compescit semine cum melle voratum.

39. Eruca (cole), f. 23r
Inc. [E]rucam calidam dicunt mediocriter esse...
Ex. ...Nanque calor dat temporem cum fligore mixtus.

40. Papaver (poppy), ff. 23r-24r
Inc. [D]iicunt vni siccam gelidamque papauaris esse...
Ex. ...Istud idem solo prestare putatur odore.

41. Cepa (onion), f. 24
Inc. [ ]e cepis medici non constentire videntur...
Ex. ...Emundare solent si sint hec sepe fricate.

The text is a partial copy of the Macer Floridus de Viribus Herbarum, an herbal in the form of a medieval Latin poem written in hexameters. (Frisk, p. 13) Herbals were mainly designed to serve a practical, medicinal purpose rather than a botanical or taxonomical one. (Sarton, p. 221) A typical description of an herb contained in an herbal might include the following information: "names and synonyms (sometimes accompanied by an etymology); description of the plant, including habitat and other practical information which subserved its therapeutic uses, for example, phenological data, especially the proper time to collect and the part or portion to be used; the virtues of the plant in question; and instructions regarding preparation, administration, dosage and storage." (Stannard, p. 444)

The original title of this text was probably De Viribus Herbarum. Macer and Floridus may have been added to the title separately. Frisk has noted that "Macer is mentioned as early as 1120-30 and a little later Floridus is added." (Frisk, p. 13) The general theory concerning the addition of Macer to the title is that "the author wished to hide behind the name of a Latin author, Aemilius Macer, who died in 15 B.C.E." (Frisk, p. 13) Frisk noted three possible reasons for the use of Macer as a pseudonym: 1) the author was trying to imitate Macer's poem of similar content; 2) the author was writing to honor Macer; or 3) the author was attempting to exploit the name Macer and his popularity. (Frisk, 13-14) The real author of the text is now thought to be Odo Magdunensis. The reason for this assumption is that his name is contained in a Macer manuscript at Dresden. This French physician was a layman from Meung on the Loire and lived during the beginning of the eleventh century. (Manitius, p. 539; Frisk, p. 14) Whoever the author was, he borrowed most of his material from those who, at the time, were regarded as quite reliable, e.g., Hippocrates, Diosocides, Plinius and Galen. However, the author occasionally made his own observations. (Frisk, pp. 14-15)

The Macer Floridus was quite popular and influential during the Middle Ages. This is shown by the plethora of surviving manuscripts, both of Macer Floridus and of those influenced by it. (Frisk, p. 15) The complete Macer Floridus is quite extensive. It includes 77 of "the most important healing plants and herbs that could be obtained easily and cheaply." (Frisk, p. 14) MS 34 contains 41 of the 77 original herbs. It can be ascertained that the 41 herbs described in MS 34 were all described in the original Macer Floridus by comparing MS 34 to the Middle English translation of Macer Floridus edited by Frisk. The Middle English translation contains all 77 herbs of the original Macer Floridus, plus an additional 27 herbs added by the scribe. MS 34 is not divided into three parts as is the Middle English translation. Nor do the herbs listed in MS 34 follow the order of those listed in the Middle English translation. In addition, the 41 herbs listed in MS 34 correspond to herbs listed only in the first two parts of the Middle English translation. Thus, MS 34 contains none of the 12 spices listed in part III of the Middle English translation. Generally, the descriptions of herbs in MS 34, like those of the Middle English translation, follow the above mentioned typical pattern of descriptions.

B. Script

The text is written in the tradition of the Gothic System of scripts. This complex system of scripts was prevalent from the late twelfth to the sixteenth century. The complexity of the system resulted from "the formation of distinct categories of script suited for use in a well perceived hierarchy of books and texts." (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 80) General features of the system are a more extreme lateral compression than that which developed in the Protogothic System of scripts and increasing elaboration of minims. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 80) MS 34 is written in Italian Bolognese Gothic Book Script. This script was "initially developed in the milieu of book production surrounding the University of Bologna" in the second half of the thirteenth century. This script differs Italian Gothic Book Script mainly in its more noticeable lateral compression. In contrast to most Gothic scripts, Italian Gothic Book Script retained the rotundity of Caroline minuscule. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 124)

The lateral compression that denotes this text as written in Italian Bolognese Gothic Book Script is apparent from the many biting of bows. Most notably, this can bee seen where the round d precedes an e (e.g., deducit, f. 1r, line 9). Also, there is a preference throughout the text for a "figure 2" or "Gothic" r. The ligature of s-t is common throughout. Joined letters are frequent throughout. There is also a preference for a written-out et, instead of an ampersand or tironian et sign.

MS 34 was written by one scribe. Light brown ink was used throughout. Rubrication above the first five sections is in bright red ink. Space was left for rubrication above the remaining 36 sections. This, however, was never completed.

V. Decoration

A. Initials

MS 34 contains one small illuminated initial and four smaller initials. The text begins with an initial that spans 4.5 lines, with foliage extending into the upper margin and down the inner margin. A light red/pink h is painted on a gold background. Green foliage emanates from the ascender and the left leg of the initial. Blue foliage emanates from the right leg. Blue foliage also frames the initial on the left and fills part of the space between the legs. The blue foliage between the legs is surrounded by a dark red/orange border. Nine gold discs with black spindles surround the initial in the upper and inner margins. Such gold discs and black spindles are Italian decorative devices that were prevalent from the late fourteenth to late fifteenth century. (See De Hamel, plates 224, 229, 231 and Mitchell, plate 119)

Four smaller initials begin the second through fifth sections of the text. These initials are painted in red and range in height from two to four lines. Spaces have been left for small initials in the remaining 36 sections, but the painting was never completed.

B. Paragraph Signs

This manuscript contains no paragraph signs.

C. Line Endings

This manuscript contains no line endings.

D. Border Decorations

This manuscript contains no border decorations.

VI. Illustration

This manuscript contains no illustrations.

VII. Binding

There are no remnants of the original binding. MS 34 was re-bound with modern boards covered by dark gray/green paper. A light brown morocco backstrip covers part of the front and back boards (3.5 cm. on each). The backstrip has eight blind tooled horizontal lines crossing from the front board to the back board. Two blind tooled vertical lines run the length of the binding on the edge of the backstrip on both the front and back boards. On the backstrip, "Macer." is stamped in gilt.

VIII. Additions to Manuscript

A. Back of front cover, upper half, small sheet of paper attached to the cover at the upper left corner: listing of each of the 41 herbs and their corresponding line numbers (in black typescript)

B. Back of front cover, lower left: 34, (circled, in pencil)

C. Back of front cover, lower left corner: WILLIAM WESLEY & SON, Booksellers and Publishers, 28 Essex Street, Strand, London (label in blue typescript)

D. Front of first front flyleaf, upper left corner: Macer, (underlined, in pencil)

E. Front of first front flyleaf, upper right corner: Burgess Ms. 34 (in pencil)

F. Front of first front flyleaf, middle: label of Edward Sanford Burgess (in black ink)

G. Each folio is numbered on the recto in the upper right corner (in pencil)

H. Line numbers have been added at the end of every 5 lines from 1 to 1275 (in pencil)

IX. Provenance

MS 34 contains the shop label of William Wesley and Son, booksellers and publishers in London. Perhaps MS 34 was rebound while in the hands of this bookseller. Edward Sanford Burgess acquired MS 34 from a London dealer in 1912. It was part of the collection of manuscripts inherited by Julia Burgess in 1935, and subsequently given to (and partly purchased by) the University of Oregon Libraries. (JB, box 6, folder 11; see also Faye and Bond, pp. 431-2)

Bibliography

Unpublished Source

Julia Burgess Papers. Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. UO Coll. 209, 9 boxes and 9 separate volumes. [Referred to above as JB.]

Published Sources

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