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

Burgess Collection

Burgess Collection MS 32

Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis
Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), De Conjuratione Catilinae and Bellum Jugurthinum
[Unknown], Poems


[Italy, mid-15th century]

Scanned Images of MS 32:

frontHand 1 - f. 25vHand 5 - f. 87rLetter m
Hand 2 - f. 85vHand 6a - f. 117vDagger
Hand 3 - f. 85vHand 6b - f. 175rCircles and cross
Hand 4 - f. 86vHand 7 - f. 118r
Front Flyleaf

I. Material
II. Construction
III. Preparation of the Page 
IV. Text
VII. Binding


I. Material

The manuscript contains 181 leaves of paper and one front and one back flyleaf, both of paper. Strips of vellum reinforce the fold of the inner and outer bifolios of each quire (e.g., in the first quire, ff. 1 and 14 and ff. 7 and 8 are reinforced in this manner). The edges of every page are browned and various pages are water-stained. 21.6 x 14.5 cm.

II. Construction

1141-14Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis (2r-85v), 
212-91215-110 [Unknown], Poems (85v-87r) and Caius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), De Conjuratione Catilinae (88r-118r)
108111-118[Unknown], Poem (118)
1112-1512119-178Caius Sallusticus Crispus (Sallust), Bellum Jugurthinum (119r-181v)

III. Preparation of the Page

Pricking marks for a single vertical frame are clearly visible on most pages (especially on the bottom of pages). Pricking marks for the lines of the text are clearly visible in the outer margin of most pages. The writing space is fairly constant throughout at an area of 14 x 7.7 cm.

The ruling in silver-gray varies from very light and hardly visible to rather dark and clearly visible. Vertical lines on each side of the writing space form a single frame that extends the length of the page. On some pages, the top and bottom lines of the writing space extend into the inner and outer margins. The lines of the frame and the ruling of the text 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 single columns of 25 lines. The lines of the text are 0.5 to 0.6 cm. apart.

Watermarks are present on most pages. When present, the watermarks are in the center of a bifolium. For example, if half of a watermark is on folio 1, its other half is on folio 16 (in a quire of 8 bifolia). The watermarks often vary in design. The most prevalent one is the letter M. Similar watermarks are provided by Briquet in Les Filigranes. All of these are of Italian origin and date from the late fourteenth to the mid fifteenth century. (Briquet, vol. II, pp. 448, 451; vol. IV, figures 8347-54) MS 32 also contains certain dagger-shaped watermarks. Similar ones, dating from the early to mid-fifteenth century and originating in Italy, can be found in Briquet's Les Filigranes. (Briquet, vol. II, pp. 304-5; vol. IV, figures 5130-1) These watermarks corroborate the date and place of origin of the manuscript (fifteenth-century Italy).

IV. Text

A. Contents

1. Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis (ff. 2r-85v)

a. Book 1, ff. 2r-38r
Inc. Quanquam te Marce fili annum iam audientem Cratippum idque Athenis abundare oportet preceptis institutis que philosopie propter summam et doctoris autoritate et urbis.
Ex. Hic locus a panetio est, ut supra dixi pretermissus. Sed iam ad reliqua pergamus.

b. Book 2, ff. 38v-59v
Inc. Quemadmodum officia ducerentur ab honestate Marce fili atque ab omni genere uirtutis satis explicatum arbitror libro superiore. Sequitur ut hec officiorum genera prosequamur.
Ex. Sunt tamen ea cognoscenda, pertinet enim ad utilitatem, de qua hoc libro disputatem est. Reliqua deinceps persequemur.

c. Book 3, ff. 60r-86v
Inc. Publium Scipionem Marce fili eum qui primus Africanus appellatus est dicere solitum scripsit Cato qui fuit eius fere equalis nunquam se minus ociosum fuisse quam cum ociosus nic minus solum quam cum solus esset.
Ex. Vale igitur mi Cicero tibi que persuade esse te quidem michi carissimum, sed multo fore cariorem si talibus monimtis præceptisque letabere.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was born in Italy in 106 B.C.E. Having been educated in Rome and Greece, he became an eminent statesman, scholar, lawyer and writer. His brilliant political career included the positions of quaestor (75 B.C.E.) and consul (63 B.C.E.). (Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 3, pp. 313-15) Mostly during the three years before his death in 43 B.C.E., Cicero composed several philosophical works. For Cicero, the chief value of philosophy was its practicality as a guide for life. Thus, it is natural that one of his main interests was ethics. De Officiis was the second of his two large works on ethics. (Stickney, pp. vii-ix)

It was during his retirement from public affairs that Cicero wrote De Officiis (44 B.C.E.). Cicero addressed the work to his son, Marcus, who was studying at Athens at the time. It is likely that he was at least partly composing the work for his son's instruction. De Officiis is devoted to the advisory aspect of ethics. Cicero divided the work into three books. In the first book, he discusses the question of whether an action is right, and, in the case of two right actions, which one is to be preferred. In the second book, he discusses the question of whether an action is expedient, and, in the case of two expedient actions, which one is to be preferred. In the final book, he discusses the conflict between right and expediency. (Stickney, pp. v, xix)

The copy of De Officiis contained in MS 32 appears to be complete. It follows quite closely the version edited by Stickney in 1885.

2. [Unknown], Poem (ff. 85v-86r)

Inc. Ad reverendum religiosus virum Jacobum prat[..].
Ex. Non possem laudes enumerare tuas.

This poem remains unidentified. However, the person who copied the poem into the manuscript seems to have been Jacobo Baptisti. He was likely one of the previous owners of the manuscript. (See section IX below). The hand of his inscription on f.1r matches that of this poem.

3. [Unknown], Poem (f. 86v)

Inc. Sal. Sententiæ. Virsus clara [.] unaque semper.
Ex. Inuidia [.] opuletia rei alicuius.

This poem remains unidentified.

4. Caius Sallusticus Crispus (Sallust), De Conjuratione Catilinae (ff. 87r)

Inc. Omnis homines qui sese student prestare ceteris animalibus summa ope niti debet ne uitam silentio transeant ueluti pecora que natura prona atque uentri obedientia fixit.
Ex. Sed omnis uis nostra in animo et corpore sita est.

It appears that the text of Sallust's De Conjuratione Catilinae was begun on f. 87r, but was quickly stopped and later begun on the recto of the following folio (f. 88r). Only the first five and one half lines have been copied. The scribe appears to have copied part of the next sentence (lines 6 and 7) and then erased it. Perhaps the reason for beginning the text again on the following folio was that the scribe did not leave enough space for an illuminated initial O at the beginning of the text. The scribe left twice as much space for the initial on the following folio.

5. [Unknown], Poem (f. 87r)

Inc. Candida [..]abat lacrimas more catella.
Ex. ...ista notanda michi.

This poem remains unidentified.

6. Caius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), De Conjuratione Catilinae (ff. 88r-118r)

Inc. Omnis homines qui sese student prestare ceteris animalibus summa ope niti decet ne uitam silentio transeant ueluti pecora quae natura prona atque uentri obedientia finxit.
Ex. Ita varie per omnem exercitum letitia meior luctus atque gaudia agitabantur.

Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust) was born at Amiternum (50 miles northeast of Rome) in 86 B.C.E. Little is known about his early life. However, Sallust himself noted that "he was attracted to a career in politics at an early age." It is known that he held the tribunate in 52 B.C.E. and probably gained a seat in the Senate a few years earlier. He was politically active during this period of dangerous civil wars and riots. He is known to have sided against Milo in the Milo-Clodius rivalry that dominated Roman politics at the time. Sallust was expelled from the Senate in 50 B.C.E. Later writers, including Cicero, were quick to point to Sallust's moral deficiencies as the reason for this expulsion (e.g., his rumored affair with Milo's wife). However, Ramsey notes that such charges are "the stock material of rhetorical abuse." Thus, their trustworthiness should be questioned. Following these events, Sallust found "refuge in the camp of Caesar," commanding one of his legions at Illyricum in 49 B.C.E. Caesar rewarded Sallust's loyalty by appointing him governor of a new province in Africa. However, Sallust was accused of extortion (for plundering the province) in 45 B.C.E. Because of this, or because of Caesar's assassination, Sallust retired from politics and decided to write history. (Ramsey, pp. 2-5)

The Conspiracy of Catiline (De Conjuratione Catilinae) is one of Sallust's two surviving historical monographs. It is likely that it was Sallust's first historical work. It is not known for certain when it was published, but the best scholarly guess seems to be around 42 B.C.E. Sallust decided to discuss the moral breakdown that was indicative of the political and social upheavals of this period. He chose as his subject Catiline, who "may be taken as a prime representative of the decadent noble who sought political advancement by espousing the cause of the downtrodden, while all the time his chief concern was to maintain and further his own dignitas." (Ramsey, p. 8) Thus, Sallust discussed the conspiracy of Catiline, or the manifestation of Catiline's "long-standing desire to seize absolute power and make himself master of Rome." (Ramsey, p. 15) Sallust portrayed Catiline as the ringleader of a plot to acquire the consulship in 64 B.C.E., perhaps by a bloody revolution. However, other sources (e.g., Cicero) show that it was hardly a conspiracy as Catiline probably had the support of certain very powerful men, including Crassus and Caesar. Nonetheless, Catiline was defeated in the consular election of 64 B.C.E. because of staunch opposition by Cicero. However, Catiline did not give up hope of acquiring the consulship. As a result of his defeat, his powerful backers deserted him and he was forced to appeal mainly to the urban poor. Once again, there was much opposition to Catiline's campaign for the consulship (especially from Cicero). During this round of elections, there actually was a conspiracy ending in the "outbreak of armed revolution and the crushing of Catiline's army in January 62." (Ramsey, p. 18) Unfortunately, Sallust passes over the details of the conspiracy leading up to the armed revolution, including Catiline's second loss at the polls which most likely led him to take up arms against the state.

The copy of De Conjuratione Catilinae contained in MS 32 appears to be complete. It follows quite closely the version edited by Ramsey.

7. [Unknown], Poem (f. 118)

Inc. O deus almus honos mundi celebrator olimpi et pelagi.
Ex. ... pulcra tenens...super astra cubilem.

This poem remains unidentified.

8. Caius Sallusticus Crispus (Sallust), Bellum Jugurthinum (ff. 119r)

Inc. Falso queritu de natura sua genus humamum, quod imbecilla atque eui breuis forte potius quam uirtute regatur.
Ex. Ex ea tempestate spes atque opes ciuitatis in illo site fuere; deo gratias.

The Jugurthine War (Bellum Jugurthinum) is the second of Sallust's two surviving historical monographs. The war took place between 112 and 105 B.C.E. Sallust wrote about it a little over 60 years later in about 41-40 B.C.E. Although he notes that one of his reasons for composing the work was the "hard fought and bloody contests," it is not likely that Sallust wrote about the subject because it was a great war. It was, in fact, the opposite of a great war. Indeed, there were no major battles that tested Rome's strength as a Mediterranean power. He wrote it from the eyes of a politician, rather than a soldier. He was interested in the political rivalry in Rome at the time of the war. Thus, Sallust notes that his second reason for composing the work was that during this war "the first challenge was offered to the arrogance of the Roman nobles." Although Sallust is fair to Metellus, the aristocratic commander of the army during this time, his biases in favor of the plebians often shows through. He contrasts Metellus and the other selfish, corrupt noblemen with Marius, the "man of the people." Marius was his plebian hero, who rose from obscurity to occupy the office of consul. Marius was the savior of the Republic, bringing the "exhausting struggle with Jugurtha to an end." Although Sallust often exaggerates and overdraws the contrast between Marius and the nobles, the Jugurthine War remains a valuable historical document, as it provides a non-aristocratic view of Roman politics during the late Republic. (Handford, pp. 7-10; Capes, pp. 27-8)

The copy of Bellum Jugurthinum contained in MS 32 appears to be complete. It follows quite closely the version edited by Capes.

B. Script

MS 32 contains seven or eight separate hands. However, all of the hands seem to have been written in the tradition of the Humanistic System of scripts. This system is believed to have begun in Florence just prior to 1400. The development of this system was a conscious reformation of scripts with the aesthetic intentions of reviving clarity and legibility in book production. The system comprises three different types of script: Humanistic Book Script, Humanistic Cursive Book Script and Humanistic Cursive. The texts and poems in MS 32 are written in Humanistic Cursive Book Script. This script was invented by Niccolò Niccoli by c. 1420. As with other scripts of this tradition, Humanistic Cursive Book Script was influenced by examples of Caroline Minuscule dating from the late twelfth century. Humanistic Cursive Book Script differs from Humanistic Book Script mainly in its more cursive ductus. This was caused by the fact that Humanistic Cursive Book Script was developed with the primary intention of being an alternate, more rapid form of Humanistic Book Script. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, pp. 126-7, 130-3)

Because one of the goals of the humanistic system was to restore clarity and legibility to scripts, there was also a strong desire to reduce the need for abbreviation. Nonetheless, certain abbreviations remained. This was generally the case with Humanistic Cursive Book Script. Because this script was intended as a more rapid form, it is understandable that more abbreviations were used. (Compare, for example, Brown, Western Historical Scripts, plates 50, 51.) Certain abbreviations are used consistently by all of the hands of MS 32. These include abbreviations for terminal letters as well as the common abbreviations for m, que, qui and quod.

Brown ink was used throughout. However, the darkness of the ink depends on the hand. Ligatures of s-t are common throughout. Joined letters are frequent in some of the hands. Fusion of letters is rare. The Humanistic feature of the two-compartment g is common throughout. Tall s and pointed a are also prevalent. These Semigothic Cursive letter-forms were often favored in Humanistic Cursive Book Script. (Brown, Western Historical Scripts, p. 132) Typical Italianisms appear in all of the hands and indicate an Italian origin (e.g., backwards c for con and q with a crossed descender for qui). (S.H. Thompson, plates 75-80)

Hand 1: This hand copied the first text contained in MS 32, Cicero's De Officiis. Hand 1 is written in a more cursive ductus than the other two texts of the manuscript.

Hand 2: This hand wrote a two-line verse at the end of De Officiis. Hand 2 is thinner than Hand 1 and contains elongated ascenders and descenders.

Hand 3: This hand copied the first poem contained in MS 32. Hand 3 also contains elongated ascenders and descenders. This hand is very thin and of rather poor quality.

Hand 4: This hand copied the second poem contained in MS 32. Hand 4 is written with a very cursive ductus. Nearly all of the letters are joined.

Hand 5: This hand copied the third poem contained in MS 32. Hand 5 has a slight cursive ductus with only some of the letters having been joined.

Hand 6: This hand copied the false beginning of Sallust on f. 87r and the entire text of the Sallust's De Conjuratione Catilinae. Hand 6 also probably copied the second Sallust text, Bellum Jugurthinum. The hands of each Sallust text are nearly identical.

Hand 7: This hand copied the fourth poem contained in MS 32. The ductus of Hand 7 is less cursive than all of the other hands contained in MS 32. Hand 7 contains elongated ascenders and descenders.

V. Decoration

A. Initials
MS 32 contains no illuminated initials. However, spaces were left for small illuminated initials at the beginning of each book of Cicero's De Officiis and each of Sallust's works, as well as at various other divisions throughout each of the three texts.

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

No remnants of the original binding remain. The manuscript was rebound in half-vellum over pulp boards (as opposed to wooden or paste boards that were used during the time this manuscript was originally created). (See Diehl, vol. I, pp. 63-4) In this style of binding, the vellum covers the spines and about one-quarter of each side-board. The four corners are also covered with vellum. The front and back of the binding is covered with paper of an interesting design (in green ink). The paper slightly overlaps the vellum on the sides and all four corners. The paper pasted on the inside of the upper and lower covers is the same used for the flyleaves and is much less faded than the paper used in the manuscript itself.

VIII. Additions to Manuscript

A. Inside upper cover, upper left corner: "Cicero & Sallust" (in pencil).

B. Inside upper cover, lower left corner: "4530" (in pencil).

C. Inside upper cover: Description of MS 32 from an Anderson Galleries Catalogue from 1936 (typed on a piece of paper and attached).

D. Front flyleaf, recto, top: Catalogue clipping from Davis and Orioli Catalogue, 1919 (attached).

E. Front flyleaf, recto, upper right corner: "Burgess" (in pencil); "32" (circled, in pencil).

F. Front flyleaf, recto, middle: "E87, Col 24, £8" (in pencil).

G. Folio 1r: Various inscriptions and writing; mostly illegible; two names are legible - "Jacobi Baptiste" and "Philippo de Castri" (in brown ink). See section IX below.

H. Folio 1v: Four lines of writing; crossed out; one name legible in first line - "Allexandri [.]" (in brown ink). See section IX below.

I. Folio 1v, middle: "[.] quello altro" (in brown ink).

J. Various poems have been added to the manuscript. See their descriptions in Section IV above.

K. The folios have been numbered in the upper right corner of the recto (in pencil).

Various marginalia is present throughout the manuscript.

IX. Provenance

MS 32 contains four inscriptions that indicate three possible owners. The first occurs at the top of f. 1r. The line reads: Iste liber est mei fr[..] Jacobi Baptiste. Further evidence for ownership by Jacobo Baptista is found in the first two lines of the poem that follows Cicero's De Officiis (ff. 85v-86r). The lines read: Ad reverendum religiosum virum Jacobum prat[..], [.] ordinis [.] divi Augustini. The clipping from the Davis and Orioli Catalogue (1919) that is pasted to the recto of the front flyleaf notes that Jacobo Baptista was an Augustinian of Prato (Tuscany, Italy) in 1454. The inscriptions corroborate his order and place of residence, but there does not seem to be an indication of date in the manuscript. If Jacobo Baptista was in possession of the manuscript in 1454, it must have been copied sometime before this date. We know this because Jacobo Baptista was not one of the copyists of the three texts of the manuscript. His hand does not match those that copied the texts. Likewise, his hand does match that of the first poem of the manuscript.

The second possible previous owner is also indicated at the top of f. 1r. Directly below the notation by Jacobo Baptista are six lines of mostly illegible writing. It seems that someone attempted to cross out these lines. However, the name Philippo de Castri is legible in the fifth line. The context in which the name was written cannot be ascertained, but Philippo certainly may have been a previous owner of the manuscript.

The third possible owner of the manuscript is indicated at the top of f. 1v. The writing has been crossed out, but the first of four lines is still legible. It reads: Hic Liber est mei Allexandri [.]. The identity of Allexandro cannot be ascertained, but it seems certain that he owned the manuscript at some point during his life.

In 1919, Edward Sandford Burgess purchased MS 32 from Davis and Orioli, a London Bookseller. MS 32 was part of the collection of manuscripts inherited by Julia Burgess, sister of Edward Sandford Burgess, on his death in 1935. This collection was then given to (and partly purchased by) the University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon. (JB, Box 6, Folder 14; Faye and Bond, pp. 431-3)


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

Last revision: 10/30/06 by N. Helmer
Created by Ian Rush for Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
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