33. Latin miscellany (autograph manuscript by Giovanni Boccaccio)
Florence?–Naples–Romagna, 14th century
parchment; 288 x 208 mm; fols. v (paper) + 73 + iv (paper)
The manuscript contains an anthology of classic and medieval Latin writers, bearing witness to the eclectic and singular cultural interests of Boccaccio, who prepared and copied it in several stages and different circumstances. The volume includes Fulgentius’ Expositio sermonum antiquorum (fols. 1r–3r), Persius’ Satirae (4r–16v), several texts from the Appendix Vergiliana (Culex and Dirae, 17r–27v; Priapea, 39r–45v), Ovid’s Ibis (46v–9r) and Amores (49v–59r), the Megacosmus et Microcosmus by Bernard Silvestris (59v–67r), the medieval plays Geta by Vital of Blois (67v–9r), Alda by William of Blois (69v–71v) and Lydia by Arnulf of Orléans (71v–3v), a collection of aphorisms and various poems from the Anthologia Latina. This collection is exceptional due also to the fact that several minor texts in it have been handed down to us solely through this manuscript (or very few others). Examples include the tetrastich in honour of St Minias (fol. 3v), the Lamentatio Bertoldi, a scholastic cento of classical and middle-Latin quotations (ibid.), and the sole extant fragment of Lovato Lovati’s poem on Tristan and Isolde (fol. 46r). Boccaccio’s hand has been identified not only in the text, but also in the numerous marginal and interlinear notes, which provide evidence of his graphic and decorative talent. In the margins of fol. 4r the glosses are arranged so as to form a ‘jug’, a flower, a trilobate leaf (left margin) and other geometric shapes. The maniculae in a variety of gestures and positions are also in Boccaccio’s own hand (fol. 12v shows a three-button sleeve). The fate of this codex is entwined with that of the so-called Zibaldone Laurenziano (Plut. 29.8). The two manuscripts, which were once joined, were both made in part with palimpsest leaves from a 13th-century gradual in Beneventan script. The codex belonged to Antonio Petrei (1498–1570), scholar and canon of the Florentine basilica of San Lorenzo, as indicated in the ownership inscription on fol. ivr (but actually vr), and in the erased note on fol. 1r. The Biblioteca Laurenziana obtained it, along with 19 other manuscripts owned by Petrei, in the third quarter of the 16th century. The manuscript is open at fol. 4r, with the incipit of Persius’ Satirae.