Codex Laurentianus Mediceus

Codex Laurentianus Mediceus – Typis Regiae Officinae Polygraphicae – Plut. 39, 1 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)

Italy β€” Mid 5th century

No luxury manuscript, but committed to the beauty of the pure text: Virgil's major works in the form of about of the year 450, preserved for study purposes and annotated with scholarly notes by humanists

  1. The text of the Georgics, Aeneid, and part of the Eclogues is written in rustic capitals

  2. Corrections in red ink were made by the Italian humanist Julius Pomponius Laetus (1428-98)

  3. It was acquired from the Vatican Library by Cosimo I de' Medici (1519-74), Grand Duke of Tuscany

Codex Laurentianus Mediceus

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Codex Laurentianus Mediceus

The Mediceus Laurentianus or Vergilius Mediceus is a famous manuscript written in Rome ca. 450 containing the most complete surviving text from antiquity of Virgil’s three major works: the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid. Created with accuracy in mind for the purpose of studying the text rather than as a luxury manuscript, it is one of the most important textual sources concerning the works of Virgil. After passing through the hands of various important humanists including the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de' Medici, the manuscript came to its current repository, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, ca. 1587.

Codex Laurentianus Mediceus

The individual manuscripts of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, which belonged to the historical basic holdings when the library was opened in 1571, are each referred to as Codex Laurentianus. The Codex Mediceus or Vergilius Mediceus is a Virgil (70-19 BC) manuscript written ca. 450 in rustic capitals preserved in the Laurentian Library, which contains the Georgics, Aeneid, and part of the Eclogues. A note at the end of the Eclogues records that the manuscript was corrected at Rome by Turcius Rufius Apronianus Asterius, who was consul in 494 during the reign of Theodoric the Great.

Form and Content of the Manuscript

Written in all capitals without punctuation or spaces between words, the manuscript contains the entirety of the Georgics and the Aeneid and only lacks the first five of the Eclogues and the beginning of the sixth up to verse 47. It is believed that the manuscript originally consisted of ca. 229 leaves, 220 of which are preserved, which measure 21.5 x 15 cm. The script is rather small in size making the manuscript appear less monumental than others, but this allows for 29 verses per page. It is a sophisticated text meant for private study rather than display, which is emphasized by the corrections made to the text for the sake of accuracy even at the expense of β€œmarring” its appearance.

Coveted by Renaissance Humanists

The manuscript was recorded in Bobbio Abbey in the Emilia-Romagna region in 1467. In 1471, the manuscript found its way into the hands of the Italian humanist Julius Pomponius Laetus (1428-98) who made corrections of his own in red ink. It was first preserved in the Vatican Library, and later purchased by Cosimo I de' Medici (1519-74), the Grand Duke of Tuscany, from the heirs of Cardinal Rodolpho Pio da Carpi (1500-64), a prominent humanist and patron of the arts in his own right. Soon after 1587, it passed into the possession the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, where the parchment codex is kept today. There is also a folio in the Vatican Library listed Cod. Vat. Lat. 3225, f.76.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Scilicet P. Virgilii Maronis Bucolicorum pars, Georgicorum libri IV et Aeneidos libri XII
Virgilio mediceo
Il Codice Mediceo di Virgilio
Size / Format
442 pages / 22.0 Γ— 15.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Mid 5th century
Epochs
Language
Script
Rustic capitals
Content
The Georgics, the Aeneid, and part of the Eclogues
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Bobbio Abbey
Julius Pomponius Laetus
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Cosimo I. de' Medici

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Laurentianus Mediceus – Typis Regiae Officinae Polygraphicae – Plut. 39, 1 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Typis Regiae Officinae Polygraphicae – Rome, 1931
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Detail Picture

Codex Laurentianus Mediceus

Note of the first corrector

At the end of the Tenth Eclogue, the last of the well-known collection of Virgil's pastoral poems known as the Eclogae or Bucolica, the Roman patrician Turcius Rufius Apronianus Asterius not only immortalized himself by commenting on the text, as is the case on many pages, but reveals to the reader that he revised the manuscript in 494 AD. The entry is dated April 21. At that time, the apparently highly educated man was consul under Theodoric the Great, who was not only king of the Ostrogoths from 493 to 526, but also ruler over all of Italy.

Codex Laurentianus Mediceus – Typis Regiae Officinae Polygraphicae – Plut. 39, 1 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Single Page

Codex Laurentianus Mediceus

Aeneidos Liber XII Explicit

The Aeneid is Virgil's epic poem about the mythological flight of Aeneas from captured Troy. Based on Homer's Iliad, but also inspired by the latter's Odyssey, Virgil describes Aeneas' numerous odysseys and encounters with goddesses and gods, mythological beasts and old acquaintances, until he finally arrives in Latium (central Italy), where he has to fight several battles before he can finally build a "new Troy" - Rome. The Aeneid thus tells a central founding myth of the Roman Empire.

Virgil's influential work is divided into twelve books, comprising a total of about 10,000 hexametric verses. In the Codex Laurentianus Mediceus, each book ends with a clearly recognizable explicit. Thus, this last page of the twelfth book closes with the words: VERGILI MARONIS AENEIDOS LIB XII EXPL FELICITER, distinguished from the rest of the clean script without punctuation or spaces between words by the airy placing of the individual words, thus visually realizing the caesura in content.

Codex Laurentianus Mediceus – Typis Regiae Officinae Polygraphicae – Plut. 39, 1 – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Florence, Italy)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Vergili Medicei simillimum publice phototypice impressum. Codex Laurentianus Mediceus

Publisher: Typis Regiae Officinae Polygraphicae – Rome, 1931
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: Vellum binding with brown leather straps and cream leather facings
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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