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A Manuscript of Ovid's Heroides


I purchased in 1902 from the sale by Sotheby of 2347 manuscripts and rare books the property of Henry White, of 30, Queensgate, a manuscript of Ovid's Heroides, no. 1629 in the catalogue, the examination of which has led me to some conclusions. An account of it may be of interest. I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. E. A. Lowe, our foremost palaeographist, who has most kindly examined my manuscript with great care and fixed its date and origin. This manuscript, which I call O, written on vellum in fine large characters somewhere in northern Italy, belongs to the middle of the fourteenth century. It contains 48 pages, measuring 10 inches by 7 inches, averaging 35 or 36 lines in the page. The initial illuminated letter of the first epistle shows a female figure dressed in a vermilion coloured robe with blue cuffs, representing apparently Penelope, on a blue ground with gold stars, and with borders illuminated with lake vermilion and burnished gold. The manuscript resembles in style two figured in the Palaeographical Society's facsimiles Vol. III., plate 221, Brit. Mus. Add. 31,032 early s. xiv, and plate 227 Brit. Mus. Add. 27,428 s. xiv. Dr. Lowe writes: ‘There can be very little doubt as to the origin of the manuscript. It is north Italian. The curious errors of spelling make one think of the province of Venice. It is quite likely that it was written in the Veneto, and then migrated to the province of Lombardia. The fly-leaves contain the name of the proud owners of your manuscript in the fifteenth century. John and Peter and Anthony and Simon and Francis de Nailate owned the book. Some of them went to the school of Master Baltrami of Lucino. As the word Milan (‘civitas Mediolani’) occurs in the back fly-leaf, it seems highly probable that this Lucino is the place between Milan and Como.’ Examples of the writings on the fly-leaves are:

Iste liber Ouidi est nostrorum uidelicet Petri < et > Antonii filiorum domini Johannis de Nailate pergentium ad scolas Bertrami de Lucino, qui est bonus doctor.

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The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
  • URL: /core/journals/classical-quarterly
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