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The glossed manuscript: classbook or library book?

  • Gernot R. Wieland (a1)


In a recent article, Michael Lapidge has cautioned the scholarly world not to assume too readily that any glossed medieval manuscript was necessarily used in the schoolroom. Identical glosses, he points out, often appear in several manuscripts, forcing us to conclude that glosses were either copied along with the text or from a commentary. The glosses naturally show greater variety than the texts because the scribe could at will omit them, change them, or add to them. Nonetheless, the fact that the same glosses appear in several manuscripts indicates that they were not the spontaneous reactions of a teacher or student.



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1 Lapidge, Michael, ‘The Study of Latin Texts in late Anglo-Saxon England: the Evidence of Latin Glosses’, Latin and the Vernacular languages in Early Medieval Britain, ed. Nicholas, Brooks (Leicester, 1982), pp. 99140.

2 In my book The Latin Glosses on Arator and Prudentius in Cambridge University Library Ms. Cg. 5. 35 Studies and Texts 61 (Toronto, 1983), I proceed from the assumption that CUL Gg. 5. 35 is a classbook. Lapidge's excellent article demands that 1 rethink that assumption and offer definite proof that CUL Gg. 5.35 actually is a classbook.

3 See Gneuss, Helmut, ‘A Preliminary List of Manuscripts Written or Owned in England up to 1100’, ASE 9 (1981), 160. I have consulted all the Anglo-Saxon manuscripts containing the Psychomachia, but have not been able to consult all Anglo-Saxon manuscripts containing Arator, Sedulius or Juvencus; but I trust that the selection I have chosen is representative.

4 See, e.g., Lutz, Cora E., Remigii Autissiodorensis Commentum in Martianum Capellam: Libri I–II (Leiden, 1962), p. 17: ‘Undoubtedly he also made use of anonymous glosses on the Martianus manuscripts which he had at hand.’

5 BL Royal 15. A v was written in the second half of the eleventh century. Its unptd commentary (known generally as Anonymous X) is nonetheless relevant for the present investigation since it was apparently compiled in the first half of the ninth century; see McKinlay, A. P., ‘Arator’, Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, ed. Kristeller, P. O., 1 (Washington, 1960), 241–7.

6 This commentary glosses the following lines of Arator's De Actibus Apostolorum (text taken from CUL Gg. 5. 35):

Ut sceleris iudea sui polluta cruore

Ausa nefas compleuit opus rerumque creator

Hoc quod ab humanis sumpsit sine crimine membris

Humana pro stirpe dedit dignatus ab ima

Tangeret inferni non linquens ardua caeli

Soluit ab aeterna dampnatas nocte tenebras

Ad manes ingressa dies fugitiua relinquunt

Astra polum comitata deum cruce territa christi

Uult pariter natura pati mortisque potestas

Se uincente perit que pondere mersa triumphi.

7 See Wieland, , The Latin Glosses, p. 147, for a definition of commentary glosses.

8 See Ibid. p. 98, for a definition of syntactical glosses

9 The text is taken from Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibl., Clm. 19456 (s. x), which is reproduced Sedulii Opera Omnia, ed. J. Huemer, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 10 (Vienna, 1885), 316–56. 1 have chosen this excerpt (ptd Ibid. pp. 325–6) because the same text appears as marginal and interlinear glosses in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. Th. c. 4 (?Worcester, s. x), which proves that this commentary was known in Anglo-Saxon England.

10 This excerpt glosses Carmen Paschale 1.142–7 (ed. Huemer, p. 26):

Ingrediens populus rude iam baptisma gerebat,

Cui dux Christus erat, clamat nam lectio: multas

Vox Domini super extat aquas; uox denique uerbum est.

Verbum Christus adest, geminae qui consona legis

Testamenta regens ueterem patefecit abyssum,

Vt doctrina sequens plants incederet aruis.

11 Apparently these synonyms are not derived from any glossary; I could not find them in the Glossaria Latina Iussu Academiae Britannicae Edita, ed. W. M. Lindsay et al., 5 vols. (Paris, 19261931; repr. Hildesheim, 1965) or in the Corpus Glossariorum Latinorum a Gustavo Loewe Inchoatum, 7 vols. (Leipzig and Berlin, 18881923; repr. Amsterdam, 1965). Nor are they contained in The Harley Latin–Old English Glossary edited from British Museum MS Harley 3376, ed. R. T. Oliphant, Janua Linguarum: Studia Memoriae Nicolai van Wijk Dedicata, series practica 20 (The Hague and Paris, 1966) or in The Corpus Glossary with an Anglo-Saxon Index by Helen McM. Buckhurst, ed. W. M. Lindsay (Cambridge, 1921).

12 See Wieland, , The Latin Glosses, p. 48, for a definition of grammatical glosses.

13 See Ibid. p. 147, on interpretative glosses.

14 Ælfric's Grammar, e.g., does not address itself to specific problems arising from the De Actibus Apostolorum or the Psychomachia. Although glossaries such as Corpus, Épinal–Erfurt or Harley can be considered as the precursors of our modern dictionaries, they by no means contain the complete lexicon of the Latin language.

15 Lapidge, ‘The Study of Latin Texts’, p. 106.

16 For a full account of syntactical glosses, see Robinson, F. C., ‘Syntactical Glosses in Latin Manuscripts of Anglo-Saxon Provenance’, Speculum 48 (1973), 443–7;, and Korhammer, M., ‘Mittelalterliche Konstruktionshilfen und altenglische Wortstellung’, Scriptorium 34 (1980), 1858.

17 Occasionally the glossator also uses triangular symbols (e.g. p. 6, line 6, Êt … uérentur, or line 15, râpidis discursibus, or line 20, nôuns ôrbis), but these occur rarely in comparison to the dot and stroke and the circle and semi-circle method.

18 These are described in Robinson, ‘Syntactical Glosses’, pp. 454–7, 457–67 and 444–53 respectively.

19 The sentence is rearranged to read: ‘distulit nät¨éa ⋅èquë impërium (ortus)’.

20 Robinson, ‘Syntactical Glosses’, p. 465. The sentence leaves open the possibility that they were devised for someone as unsophisticated as a young oblate.

21 Sisam, K., Studies in the History of Old English Literature (Oxford, 1953), p. 186.

22 See Wieland, , The Latin Glosses, pp. 193–5, and ‘Medieval Mss.: an Additional Expansion for the Abbreviation q:’, Monumenta Apuliae ac Japygiae 1 (1981), 1926, for the q: gloss.

23 The other quare hoc glosses in BL Add. 24199 are:

hostili de parte latens ut fossa ruentes (14v5, line 262) latens: quare hoc

cauta acies uirgis adopertas texerat oras (14v8, line 265) uirgis: quare hoc

abradit spoliisque ungues exercet aenos (23r6, line 463) spoliisque: quare hoc

auribus intentis expectat contio quidnam (34r1, line 746) quidnam: quare

occasum lucis uenia precurrere gestit (34v7, line 782) uenia: quare

ne commissuris distantibus angulus impar (35v13, 1. 828) commissuris: quare hoc.

24 Possibly the ad quid glosses simply identify verbs, as do the quid glosses in Bodl. Lat. Th. c. 4.

25 CCCC 23 shares quare hoc glosses with BL Add. 24199 in lines 262, 265, 746 and 828. The following four, however, are unique to CCCC 23:

pergant ut hostis terga euntis caedere (2v9, Pref. 23) pergant: ad quid

ne quam fidelis sanguinis prosapiam (3r7, Pref. 36) ne quam: quare hoc

uigilandum in armis pectorum fidelium (3v15, Pref. 52) uigilandum: ad quid

uictricem uictrix abolens baptismate labem (8r11, line 103) baptismate: quare

In Durham B. IV. 9, lines 265 and 285 are glossed (see above, for BL Add. 24199), in Auct. F. 3. 6 lines 262 and 828, and in Cleopatra C. viii:

hunc uexillifere quoniam fors obtulit ictum (18v12, line 419) uexillifere: quare

ire uoluptatem quoniam uis maior acerbam (20r4, line 444) quoniam: quare hoc

26 In addition to the manuscripts listed here I also examined Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson C. 570 and London, British Library, Add. 11034 for Arator; Oxford, Bodleian Library, Barlow 25, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 304, and London, British Library, Royal 15. A. xvi for Juvencus; London, British Library, Royal 15. B. xix for Sedulius; and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 223, Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson C. 697 and Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm. 29031 for Prudentius. None of these contained enough glosses to be classified as a classbook. I should also mention that I have not examined TCC B. 14. 3 in its entirety, and that my information on Durham B. IV. 9 is fragmentary because of the poor quality of the microfilm. Nonetheless, the information I have convinces me that both manuscripts were classbooks.


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