27. Cicero, philosophical miscellany
France (Corbie), second half of the 9th century
parchment; 315 x 265 mm; fols. iv (i–ii paper) + 90 + iii (paper)
San Marco 257
This composite codex (fols. 1–40; 41–90) holds an anthology of Cicero’s works (De natura deorum, De divinatione, Timaeus, De fato, Topica, Paradoxa Stoicorum, Academica II, Lucullus, De legibus) written in Caroline script at the flourishing scriptorium of the French abbey of Corbie and assembled no later than the 10th century. As indicated on fol. 1r—“Werinharius episcopus dedit Sanctae Mariae”—it belonged to Werinharius II, the bishop of Strasbourg (1001–28), who gave it to the city cathedral, where it was discovered and purchased by Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459) in approximately 1417–8. It was subsequently acquired by Niccolò Niccoli (c. 1364–1437) and was listed as no. 178 in his inventory. Following the humanist’s death, it was bequeathed to the library of the Dominicans of San Marco, where it became part of the “XXIII° banco ex parte occidentis”. It was during this period that Politian (Angelo Poliziano, 1454–94) collated this text of De natura deorum and De divinatione against the 1471 Venetian edition of Wendelin of Speyer (GW 6902; IGI 2878). It was transferred to the Biblioteca Laurenziana, where it is conserved today, following Napoleon’s suppression of convents and monasteries in 1809. Only two illuminations—purely ornamental—adorn the manuscript. One embellishes the letter Q (fol. 1r), which has two lateral medallions framing unidentifiable portraits; the letter is set beneath a round arch sustained by columns with Corinthian capitals in the Eusebian style. The other decorates the letter M (fol. 51va) at the beginning of the Timaeus. Both of them reflect the general insular influence that distinguished the work produced by the Corbie scriptorium also on a graphic level. The manuscript is open at fol. 1r, with the incipit of Cicero’s De natura deorum.