Astronomical Texts

Astronomical Texts – Millennium Liber – Ms. Lat. Cot. 44 – Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin, Germany)

France — 11th or 12th century

Colored pen and ink drawings of stars, planets, and mythical figures: a masterpiece of the French Gothic in the tradition of the astronomical Aratea codex

  1. This 14th century astronomical compendium is a Gothic specimen in the tradition of Aratus of Soloi (ca. 315–240 BC)

  2. Scientifically correct depictions of the planets and stars appear alongside artful zodiac symbols

  3. 43 brightly-colored pen drawings of planets, stars, and zodiac signs illustrate the manuscript

Astronomical Texts

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Astronomical Texts

The manuscript at hand is a compendium of various astronomical treatises, tables, and illustrations, the work of an unknown 14th century author. The manuscript, which is housed today in the State Library of Berlin, was probably made in France. The gorgeous illustrations – 43 colored drawings in all – with pictures of the stars and other astronomical Phenomena, demonstrate the great skill with which the manuscript was made. Thus, the astronomical text offers a marvelous glimpse of this science, which has continuously delighted both scholars and laymen since antiquity!

Astronomical Texts

The manuscript at hand is a compendium of various astronomical treatises, tables, and illustrations, the work of an unknown 14th century author. The manuscript, which is housed today in the State Library of Berlin, was probably made in France. The gorgeous illustrations – 43 colored drawings in all – with pictures of the stars and other astronomical phenomena, demonstrate the great skill with which the manuscript was made. Astronomical Texts offers a marvelous glimpse of this science, which has continuously delighted both scholars and laymen since antiquity!

An Enthralled Astronomer

The codex known as Lat. Cot. 44 in the State Library in Berlin consists of 24 pages in a handy format of 15.5 x 11 cm. This manuscript with the title Planetarum et Asteriscorum Coeli figurae et Virtutes Astronomicae is a compendium of astronomical texts along with visual décor. This treatise, a 14th century French manuscript, delights with its sound knowledge, which indicates a well-educated author. The unknown writer of the Astronomical Texts of the State Library of Berlin was probably a man who was well-versed in the knowledge of astronomy and astrology as well as the practical application thereof.

Magnificent Artistic Furnishings

43 drawings of planets, stars, and zodiac signs illustrate the manuscript. The marvelous, brightly-colored pen drawings present star signs and symbols, mythical figures, but also depictions that arose from the time. Mysterious tables and diagrams round out the manuscript, e.g. the twelve zodiac signs and their corresponding effects. The text itself is an astronomical treaty that unites various astronomical texts into a compendium. Descriptions of the star signs of the Ptolemaic celestial charts and a description of the celestial and meteorological phenomena in the course of the twelve months of a year are also contained therein along with an astrolabe.

The Famous Aratea

The Astronomical Texts of the State Library in Berlin is influenced by the Aratea, as was nearly every other astronomical treatise of the time. This treatise about celestial phenomena is based on the ancient text Phainomena by Aratus of Soloi, which was translated, among others, into Latin by Cicero and Germanicus. The Leiden Aratea is a codex from the early 9th century, in which – like in the manuscript at hand – such constellations are presented in gorgeous miniatures.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Textos Astronómicos
Recopilación de textos astronómicos
Astronomische Texte
Textes astronomique
Testi di Astronomia
Size / Format
24 pages / 15.5 × 11.0 cm
Origin
France
Date
11th or 12th century
Style
Language
Illustrations
43 drawings representing the planets, stars and constellations

Available facsimile editions:
Astronomical Texts – Millennium Liber – Ms. Lat. Cot. 44 – Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin, Germany)
Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2007
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Detail Picture

Astronomical Texts

Perseus

Mythical characters are presented in this manuscript in addition to the signs of the zodiac. Although dressed in the style of 14th century France, the famous Greek hero Perseus is automatically identifiable by the sword and severed head that he holds in his respective hands. The head belongs of course to Medusa the Gorgon, whose gaze would turn her victims into stone. She was slain by Perseus at the bidding of King Polydectes, who coveted his mother Danaë and wanted to get rid of her son.

Textos Astronómicos
Single Page

Astronomical Texts

Libra, Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Scorpio

The zodiac symbols for the last four months of the year are presented here clockwise from the upper left along with the names of their corresponding months and explanatory texts: Libra, Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Scorpio. This group of zodiac symbols occupies the astrological calendar between the September equinox and the December solstice, when the shortest day of the year occurs.

These relatively simple drawings are likely based on earlier templates, perhaps even a Carolingian manuscript that was in turn modelled on a work from Late Antiquity. Each is drawn with red and black ink with the stars, which do not accurately depict the actual constellations, depicted using round dots of gold leaf.

Textos Astronómicos
Facsimile Editions

#1 Textos Astronómicos

Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2007

Publisher: Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2007
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Binding: Red leather binding with an astrological symbol stamped in gold. A velvet-lined case houses both the facsimile and commentary volume.
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
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