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

Burgess Collection

Burgess Collection MS 37

[Unknown], Compendium of Logic, Commentary on the Organon, Compendium of Moral Philosophy and Commentary on Aristotle's Moral Philosophy (Nichomachean Ethics)


[Italy or England, mid to late 16th century]

Scanned Images of MS 37:

FrontPage 1Page 1Front FlyleafPage 102
Page 102 (Close-up)

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


I. Material

This manuscript contains 642 pages and one front flyleaf, all of thin rag paper. The edges of all of the pages are browned from age. The upper right corner of the first 130 pages are stained. 23 x 17 cm.

II. Construction

18-68 1-96 [Unknown], Compendium of Logic (1-102)
74 97-104
82 105-108 [Unknown], Commentary on the Organon (103-490)
98-108 109-140
116 141-152
128-158 153-216
164 217-224
178-218 225-304
226 305-316
238-258 317-364
266 365-376
278 377-392
284 393-400
298-308 401-432
314 433-440
328-348 441-488
351 489-490
366 491-502 [Unknown], Compendium of Moral Philosophy (491-505)
374 503-510
388-448 511-622 [Unknown], Commentary on Aristotle's Moral Philosophy (Nichomachean Ethics) (507-642)
4510 623-642

III. Preparation of the Page

This manuscript contains no pricking marks. However, vertical scoring does appear on some pages (e.g., pp. 109, 110, 113). In such cases, the scoring forms a single vertical frame. They do not extend the length of the page. In addition, vertical folding appears on several pages (e.g., pp. 1-82). In these cases, the folds form a single vertical frame that extends the length of the page. The writing space varies throughout, increasing from an area of 14.5 x 11 cm. at the beginning of the manuscript to 19.5 x 13.5 cm. at the end. The writing space on pages with indices is fairly constant at an area of 17.5 x 13 cm. MS 37 contains no ruling. The text is written in a single column that increases from 32 lines at the beginning to 70 lines at the end.

Watermarks are present on nearly every page. The watermarks are in the center of each bifolio. For example, if half of a watermark is on pages 1-2, its other half is on pages 15-16 (in a quire of 8 folios). The watermarks often vary in design. Some of them have the initials VIM on a banner at the bottom of the watermark. The watermark on the front flyleaf and other pages contains a horn in the center of other decorations and has the letters DURAN on a banner at the bottom of it. This has been identified as the watermark of Giles Duran. (See Churchill, watermark no. 314) Unfortunately, Churchill gives no information concerning Duran. In addition, Briquet does not mention Duran in Les Filigranes.

IV. Text

A. Contents

1. Compendium of Logic (pp. 1-102)

Inc. Organii Logici, Isagogé. Præfatio. Compendiorum necessitas patet praecipue...
Ex. finis compendii Logici, Methodus Disputationis Classicæ . . . et contentiosorum hominum est. 3.

This text seems to be an introduction to the study of logic. The text includes a discussion of the basic aspects of the study of logic (e.g., the name, nature and subject of logic). This is followed by a discussion of homonyms and analogies. Next, there is a section concerning each of the five predicables or universals (genus, species, difference, property and accident). Following this there is a discussion of certain of Aristotle's categories (e.g., substance, quantity, quality, relation, action, opposition, etc.). The text ends with discussions on propositions and syllogisms. The author of the text is unknown.

2. Commentary on the Organon (pp. 103-490)

a. Index, pp. 103-106
Inc. Index Quæstionem Logicalium. Ac primum. Ex disputatione de philosophia. In Uniuersum.
Ex. Finis Indicis quæstionem Logicalium.

b. Preface to Commentary on the Organon, pp. 109-130
Inc. In Universam Aristotelis Philosophiam commentarii. Præfatio. Ad humana sapientiæ templa sacrosque...
Ex. ...in veritate verba non magistri simus inraturi.

c. Prolegomena to Commentary on the Organon, pp. 131-174
Inc. Prolegomena Logicæ, Quæstio prima de Nomine Logicæ.
Ex. ...habitum docens sciis quibus applicate

d. Appendix to the Prolegomena, pp. 174-198
Inc. Appendix de Ente Rationis, Quæstio prima, An detur Ens Rationis. Quamuis ad metaphysicam...
Ex. ...prolegomenis Logicæ dicta sufficianorum.

e. Preface to Porphyry's Isagoge, pp. 199-253
Inc. In Introductionem Porphirii. Præmium. In hoc proomio breviter dicam...
Ex. ...genus denominatinum N.

f. Commentary on Porphyry's Isagoge, pp. 253-305
Inc. Disputatio 2a, de Universalibus, In Specie, Quæstio prima, Quid sit genus.
Ex. ...subiectum conuenientiæ primæ vero subiectum inhaesionis.

g. Commentary on Aristotle's Categories, pp. 305-408
Inc. In Librum Categoriarum, Aristotelis disputationes, proomium, Quæstio prima, Quid sit genus.
Ex. ...in compendio haec d[..] prima mentis operationibus.

h. Commentary on Aristotle's De Interpretatione, pp. 408-427
Inc. In Librum de Interprætatione, præfatio. Huius libri Aristoteles...
Ex. ...riddam si verum est quid non riddam.

i. Commentary on Aristotle's Prior Analytics, pp. 428-438
Inc. In Libros de priori Analisi, præfatio. Hos libros Aristotelicos...
Ex. certae m[..]æ addictum.

j. Commentary on Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, pp. 438-473
Inc. In Libros de posteriori Analisi disputationes, præfatio.
Ex. ...sic librorum analiticorum finem facio. finis Logicæ.

k. Commentary on Aristotle's Topics, pp. 474-491
Inc. In Libros Topicorum Aristotelis, Præfatio. Autor horum librorum...
Ex. Totius Logicæ finis.

This text contains a commentary on part of the Organon, the corpus of logical works written by the Greek Philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle was born in 384 B.C.E. in the town of Stagira in Greece. In 368/7 B.C.E., he "was sent to Athens, where he remained in close association with the Academy of Plato for twenty years, until the death of Plato in 348/7 B.C.E." (McKeon, p. xiv) After devoting about five years to the study of various biological specimens, Aristotle accepted the invitation of Philip of Macedon to become the tutor of his son Alexander. After about three years as tutor of Alexander, Aristotle resumed his scientific studies. In 335/4 B.C.E., he returned to Athens and devoted his time and effort to the organization of a school (the Lyceum), continued investigation into nearly every area of inquiry and the composition of his various writings. In 323 B.C.E., he fled Athens because of suspicion concerning his Macedonian connection. He died in 322 B.C.E. in Chalcis in Euboea. (McKeon, p. xiv)

At some point after Aristotle's death, eight of his works were grouped together and formed a logical corpus known as the Organon. These included the following works: Categories, De Interpretatione, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analyics, Topics, De Sophisticis Elenchis, Rhetoric and Poetics. This corpus also included, as a general introduction, Porphyry's Isagoge. Herbert Davidson has noted that this was a medieval Arabic grouping, with the earliest use of the term organon being probably in the sixth century. (Davidson, p. xi) The idea of such a corpus and the Organon itself were then transferred to the West during the later Middle Ages when Aristotle again became popular with the revival of interest of logic in the twelfth century. Most translations of Aristotle into Latin were made directly from the Greek. However, some were made from the Arabic, as many of the most important commentaries on Aristotle had been made in this language (e.g., by Averroes). (Kretzmann, pp. 45-6)

Porphyry (232-309) was a "Greek neo-Platonist, a pupil and the biographer of Plotinus and the one who arranged Plotinus' writings into six groups of nine essays (the Enneads)." (Spade, p. viii) Porphyry wrote the Isagoge as an introduction to Aristotle's Categories. However, "it does not directly deal with the categories at all; instead, it discusses the notions of genus, species, difference, property and accident - the five so-called predicables." (Spade, p. ix)

Porphyry's importance to medieval philosophy lies not in what he has to say about predicables, or universals, but what he does not say. In the introduction of the Isagoge, Porphyry raises three important questions about the status of universals: "whether genera and species are real or are situated in bare thoughts alone, whether as real they are bodies or incorporeals, and whether they are separated or in sensibles and have their reality in connection with them." (Spade, p. 1) Although Porphyry has not presented a detailed theory concerning universals, "his Isagoge was translated into Latin in the early Middle Ages and used as the occasion for discussing the problem of universals directly and in detail." (Spade, p. ix)

The text contains three introductory sections to the Isagoge of Porphyry. The preface contains a discussion of various aspects of philosophy, such as its name, existence, definition, origin, limits and divisions. The prolegomena contains a discussion of various aspects of logic, such as its name, necessity, origin, limits, object and divisions. The appendix of the prolegomena contains a discussion entitled De Ente Rationis - on the rational being. The commentary on Porphyry itself also contains a preface. In this section, the author presents a discussion concerning universals. This includes sections on Platonic, Thomist and Stoic universals. Following this, the author comments on each of the five universals presented by Porphyry in the Isagoge: genus, species, difference, property and accident.

The text also includes commentaries on five of the eight books of Aristotelian logic contained in the Organon. The author does not address the final three books of the Organon: De Sophisticis Elenchis, Rhetoric and Poetics. Each of the five commentaries contains a short preface introducing the topic. The preface of the commentary on Prior Analytics allows us to acquire an idea concerning the date of the original composition of the commentary on the Organon. In this section, the author mentions the work of John Duns Scotus (c. 1265-1308). Scotus did not finish his studies at the University of Paris until 1296, nor his studies at Oxford until 1301. Thus, it is likely that most of his important writings were not completed until the late thirteenth to early fourteenth century. (Schoedinger, p. 67) This allows us to place the original date of composition of this commentary sometime after the early fourteenth century. However, because of the extreme similarity in format of each text in this manuscript, it does seem quite possible that the same person was the author of all four texts. Thus, because of at least three references to John Calvin in the Commentary on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, it is probable that all of the texts were originally written after 1536. (See number 4 below) As with the other texts in MS 37, the author of this text is unknown.

3. Compendium of Moral Philosophy, pp. 491-505

Inc. Moralis Philosophiæ Compendium, Præfatio. Moralis philosophia sic de quod...
Ex. Compendii Moralis Philosophiæ finis.

This text seems to be an introduction to the study of moral philosophy, or ethics. It begins with a discussion of the various aspects of human action (e.g., definition, kinds, properties). Following this is a discussion of passion. Next, there is a section on virtues that contains discussion of the four cardinal virtues: prudence, courage, temperance and justice. The text ends with a section on good and evil and one on happiness The author of the text is unknown.

4. Commentary on Aristotle's Moral Philosophy (Nichomachean Ethics), pp. 507-642

a. Index, pp. 507-8
Inc. Index Quæstionum Moralis Philosophiæ, Ac primum.
Ex. quaest. 5. quomodo dividatur ars --112.

b. Prolegomena, pp. 511-21
Inc. In Moralem Philosophiam Aristotelis, Prolegomena, Quæstio prima de nomine existentia moralis philosophiæ.
Ex. ...faciliori explicabimus et ex ponibus.

c. Commentary on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, pp. 522-642
Inc. In decem Libros Eticorum Aristotelis, disputatio prima, de bono, fine, et beatitudine. Caput primum, de bono, malo, fine. Quæstio 1, Quotuplex bonum et quid sit.
Ex. ...honoribus et promiis [...].

The prolegomena seems to be an introduction to the commentary on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. It contains sections on the name, existence, authors, necessity, object and divisions of moral philosophy. The remainder of the text appears to be a commentary on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. The section following the prolegomena is entitled In decem Libros Eticorum Articulis. The ten books of ethics referred to by the author are the ten books contained in Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics. In addition, the author makes continual reference to the libri moralium as nichomachum. The author does address most of the issues covered by Aristotle. However, the text does not follow the order of the Nichomachean Ethics. Rather, our author address certain issues, such as good, evil, happiness, intellectual and moral virtue, etc., and then discusses the views of Aristotle on each issue. Frequently the author includes the views of other philosophers, such as Plato, Plotinus, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure and John Duns Scotus. Interestingly, in the section on free will, the author cites John Calvin three times. At one point, he cites Calvin's Institutes (p. 594). This allows us to date the original composition of this commentary to sometime after 1536, the date Calvin completed the Institutes.

The author of the text began a discussion of the four cardinal virtues, but only managed to complete the first chapter (on wisdom). It seems that the author ran out of space-the chapter on wisdom ends in the middle of the final page of the text. The author of the text remains unknown.

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, 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, p. 80) MS 37 is written in a cursive "mixed" hand. The term "mixed" is used to describe a hand that combines certain aspects of the various Gothic scripts, as well as introducing some aspects of Humanistic scripts. Brown has noted that such hands were common from the last quarter of the fifteenth century to the sixteenth century. (Brown, pp. 81, 114)

Many aspects of Secretary script can be seen throughout MS 37. For example, the ascenders of tall s and l are clubbed throughout. A right-handed extension of the first minim of n and m at the beginning of words is present throughout. In addition, the tall t, characteristic of Bâtarde and Later Secretary hands, is present throughout. Other Gothic features include the angular-backed d and plenty of abbreviations. MS 37 does, however, contain certain aspects of a Humanistic Cursive script. For example, a c-t ligature is prevalent throughout, as well as a general roundness of aspect of all letters. In addition, various capital letters and dipthongs are used throughout. (See Brown, plates 40, 43, 51; Thompson, plate 82)

Current provenance information identifies this text as having an Italian origin. There are, however, certain aspects of the script that challenge this provenance. For example, the typical late English cursive e is used throughout. (Compare with Brown, plate 43) In addition, an h with a curved, extended left ascender and right descender is used throughout the manuscript. This is a typical feature of Bastard Anglicana. (See Brown, plate 37) Also, the expected typical Italianisms are notably absent from the text.

MS 37 contains numerous book, chapter and section headings that are written in a more formal cursive book hand. All of the above mentioned characteristics of the text are present in the headings. However, the headings are more prominently influenced by Humanistic scripts. For example, the letters have much more space between them and there is a greater preference for a less angular-backed d.

MS 37 seems to have been written by one scribe. Brown ink was used throughout. Glossing occurs on several pages, e.g., p. 111. The glossing appears to be in the same hand as the text. However, it is written in a light brown ink. Page numbers were written by the scribe in the outer upper corner of each page. However, the scribe chose to repaginate before the second, third and fourth texts. The page numbers are written in the same brown ink as the text.

V. Decoration

A. Initials

This manuscript contains no initials.

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

The manuscript is bound in the original polished vellum over wooden boards. There is no stamping or tooling. The binding is firmly sewn and fastened to the quires with strips of used vellum (i.e., writing is present on each strip). The top edge of the front cover is stained red. It is certainly possible that such an undecorated binding indicates an Italian monastic provenance. Edith Diehl has noted that Italian monasteries were prolific producers of manuscripts, "but their monks do not appear to have had much zeal for decorating their bindings." (Diehl, p. 18) Indeed, most extant Italian monastic bindings are undecorated. Diehl also noted that some undecorated Italian monastic bindings are in full vellum covers (as is MS 37). (Diehl, p. 83)

VIII. Additions to Manuscript

A. Inside front cover, top: 37 (circled), E.S. Burgess, from Reginald Atkinson, London, April 1920 (in pencil)

B. Inside front cover, upper middle, small piece of paper attached to the cover: MS. on Paper, of about 1450, of ARISTOTLE, being a Latin rendering of his Logic and Moral Philosophy (Compendium) (in black ink)

C. Inside front cover, middle, small piece of paper attached to the cover: EDWARD S. BURGESS (in black typescript)

D. Front of front flyleaf, top: Burgess MS. 37 (in pencil)

E. Front of front flyleaf, upper middle: various Latin words, e.g., quand, quandoquidem (in brown ink)

F. Inside back cover, top: no 797 (in pencil); other unintelligible pencil marks

G. Inside back cover, upper half: various notes concerning the text, in Latin, e.g., q. 12. de virtutibus praecipuis (in brown ink)

IX. Provenance

MS 37 was acquired by Edward Sanford Burgess from Reginald Atkinson in London in April, 1920. 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.


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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