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

Burgess Collection

Burgess Collection MS 33

Publius Terentius Afer, Comoediae


[Italy, mid-15th century]

Scanned Images of MS 33:

frontf. 97vf. 142vStar
Letter G

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


I. Material

The manuscript contains 144 leaves of paper and one front flyleaf of paper.  Strips of vellum reinforce the inner fold of the innermost bifolio of each quire (e.g., in the first quire, the inner fold between ff. 5 and 6 is reinforced in this manner).  Some pages are stained, especially toward the front of the manuscript.  21.4 x 14.4 cm.

II. Construction

110-6101-60Publius Terentius Afer, Comoediae

III. Preparation of the Page

Pricking marks for a single vertical frame are present on certain pages (especially in the second half of the manuscript).  The writing space varies from an area of 13.5 x 9.5 cm. to an area of 13.5 x 11 cm.

The text contains no ruling. It appears that the text may have been contained in a single vertical frame. The lines of this frame are visible on certain pages and appear to have been drawn by an instrument known as hard point. This instrument was simply a pointed object (perhaps a stylus) that made an indentation when one drew a line, pressing firmly, on a leaf of parchment or paper. This instrument was widely used until the elenventh century when it was joined by an instrument known as metal point. (Brown, British Library Guide to Writing and Scripts, p. 66; idem, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts, pp. 78, 86; E.M. Thompson, p. 43) The text is written in single columns of 24 lines.

Various watermarks are present on many pages of MS 33.  Two of these have been identified.  An encircled, five-pointed star is present on certain pages.  Briquet has provided five examples of this type of watermark.  The ones contained in MS 33 are nearly identical to #6068 in Briquet, vol. III.  Briquet noted that paper watermarked with such five-pointed stars is of Italian origin.  All five examples presented by Briquet originated during the middle two quarters of the fifteenth century (1425-1475). (Briquet, vol. I, pp. 349, 352)  The other identified watermark that appears on several pages in MS 33 is the letter G.  Briquet provided several examples of watermarks in the form of a G.  The G contained in MS 33 is nearly identical to #8202 in Briquet, vol. IV.  Briquet noted that this watermark and others like it are probably of Italian origin. All such examples of this type of watermark presented by Briquet originated between 1416-1454. (Briquet, vol. II, pp. 442-3)  Thus, both of the identified watermarks of MS 33 seem to indicate that the manuscript originated in Italy in the mid-fifteenth century.

IV. Text

A. Contents
Publius Terentius Afer (Terence), Comoediae

1.  Andria, ff 1-24v
     Inc. Terentii Liber.  Natus inexcelsis tectis cartaginis alte Romanis...
     Ex. ...intus transigetur si quid est quod restat.  Vos uale et plaudite.  Ego caliopius recensui.  Terentii affri Andria finitur.

2.  Eunuchus, ff. 24v-50v
     Inc. Incipit Eunucus acta ludis megalensibus L. Potumio Albino et L. Cornelio Merula edilibus curulubus...
     Ex. Ph: Nihil preter missum est.  Gn: Ite hac.  Vos ualete et plaudite caliopius recensui.  Terentii afri Eunucus explicit.

3.  Heauton Timorumenos, ff. 50v-74v
     Inc. Incipit Heantontimerumenon.  Acta ludis megalensibus egere...
     Ex. Cli: Syro ignoscas uolo quia que fecit mea causa fecit.  Cre:  Fiat.  Vos ualete et plaudite.  Ego Caliopius recensui.
     Explicit Eaphtontimorumenon.

4.  Adelphi, ff. 74v-98v
     Inc. Incipit Adephe.  Terentii Aphri Acta Laudis funebribus...
     Ex. De: Sine habeat in istac finem faciat.  Af: Istuc recte.  Vos ualete et plaudite caliopius recensui.

5.  Phormio, ff. 98v-123r
    Inc. Acta ludis recensui romanis sexto...Cornelio edilibus curulibus non est peracta tota modos fecit...
    Ex. Ph: Iam hic faxo aderit.  O: uos ualete et plaudite.  ego caliopius recensui.

6.  Hecyra, ff. 123r-144r
     Inc. Acta ludis romanis L. Postumio Albino L. Postumio Merula edibus curulibus...
     Ex. Par:  Sequor equidem plus hodie boni feci inprudens quam sciens ante hunc diem unquam.  uos ualete et plaudite
     calipius Recensui. ...Cecilio multum se miranti Legit.

Publius Terentius Afer, better known as Terence, was born at Carthage in 186 B.C.E.  As a child, he came to Rome and served as a slave in the household of Terentius Lucanus, a Roman senator.  Lucanus was impressed with Terence's appearance and intelligence and decided to give him a patrician up-bringing.  Thus, he took his master's name (Terentius) and the name of his birth place (Afer, for Africa).  He was not yet twenty years of age when he received the favor of Caecilius (c. 219-168 B.C.E.), a great playwright who was the most influential member of Roman literary circles at the time.  Caecilius, impressed with Terence's first play, Andria, facilitated his entrance into the "young Rome" literary party, which included men from many of the wealthiest and best families in Rome.  He was happy to have their company and it seems to have been quite a fertile envirnoment in which they offered suggestions and criticisms of each other's literary ventures.  His association with this party (which adhered to Greek models) led to his persecution by another party (which strictly adhered to Latin models).  This other party often claimed that the members of the "young Rome" party assissted Terence in the writing of his plays.  He vehemently denied this and it seems likely that it was not the case.  After having written and produced six plays between 166 and 160 B.C.E. (all included in MS 33), Terence left Rome and traveled to Greece.  He had hoped to research Greek comedy in its home and from this experience write brilliant new plays that would silence his critics.  Unfortunately, he died on his return to Rome in 159 B.C.E. (West, xvii-xix)

All six of Terence's plays take place at Athens.  The main theme of the plays is Athenian domestic life.  Each play revolves around the "antagonism between the follies of youth and the severity of fathers."  Usually, the events fill only one day and are reconciled with a happy marriage. (West, xxiv)  Each of these plays is contained in MS 33.  They are complete and follow fairly closely the edition of Kauer and Lindsay.  The manuscript contains didascalia before each play that contain an indication of the circumstances of the performance of the play, as well as the time of performance indicated by the current aediles and consuls.  The didascalia of Andria, the first play contained in the manuscript, is located at the end of the manuscript rather than at the beginning.  A short description of the characters and premise of each play is contained in an argumentum that follows each didascalia (except that of Andria).  Each play also contains a prologue that follows the argumentum.

B. Script

The text is 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.  MS 33 is 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 were used consistently in MS 33.  These include abbreviations for terminal letters as well as the common abbreviations for m, que, qui and quod.

MS 33 was written by one scribe.  The ink varies from light brown to dark brown.  The names of characters are written in red when the text ink is light brown and light brown when the text ink is dark brown.  These names appear in full at the beginning of each section (i.e., acts and changes in characters).  They appear in abbreviated form throughout each play to indicate change of speaker.  Joined letters are frequent throughout.  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 the text and corroborate the above mentioned watermark evidence that indicates that the manuscript probably originated in Italy (e.g., q with a crossed descender for qui, agumentum for argumentum and vertical lines that extend through capital letters). (S.H. Thompson, plates 65-6, 75-80)

V. Decoration

A. Initials

Divisions in all six plays, such as acts and changes of characters, are identified by medium-sized initials, each spanning from two to six lines.  The initials are alternately drawn in blue and red.

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 33 was probably rebound in the 16th century.  The blue paper of the binding seems to indicate an English origin.  The manuscript was rebacked, probably in the 18th century.  (These observations on the present binding were made by book collector Giuseppe Martini, from whom Edward Sandford Burgess may have purchased the manuscript;  JB, Box 6, Folder 14)

VIII. Additions to Manuscript

A.  Inside front cover, upper left corner:  pl. (in pen).

B.  Inside front cover, upper left corner:  M7, E K.-/45- (in pencil).

C.  Inside front cover, upper center:  De Bure (in pencil).

D.  Inside front cover, upper center:  33 (circled and in pencil).

E.  Inside front cover, upper right corner:  (illegible word in pencil).

F.  Inside front cover, center:  Manuscript, Terentii Comoediae, cum quibusdam glossis, 15th century M.S. on paper by an Italian scribe, 144 leaves, with large capitals in blue and red (in pencil).

G.  Recto of front flyleaf, upper right corner:  Burgess Ms. 33 (in pencil).

H.  Recto of first 40 leaves and intermittently throughout the remainder of the manuscript, upper right corner:  page numbers (in pencil).

I.  Various marginalia throughout (mainly on first 17 leaves).

J.  F. 144r, lower half:  illegible Latin writing ending in AMEN, perhaps by a previous owner (in light brown ink).

IX. Provenance

MS 33 may have been part of the collection of the famous bibliographer De Bure.  As noted in the previous section, the name De Bure was written inside the front cover.  The manuscript appears to have been purchased by Edward Sandford Burgess from Giuseppe Martini sometime before 1935.  MS 33 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. 431-2)


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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