Liber Iesus and Treatise on Grammar by Donatus

Liber Iesus and Treatise on Grammar by Donatus Facsimile Edition

Milan (Italy) — Late 15th century

On the upbringing of the young Maximilian Sforza, son of the Duke of Milan: Latin grammar with wonderful miniatures

  1. A Latin grammar book is combined with a moralistic treatise in this splendid and extremely rare primer

  2. It was commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro (1452–1508), for his son Maximilian Sforza (1493–1530)

  3. The original works from the 4th century were authored by the Romans Aelius Donatus and Dionysius Cato

Liber Iesus and Treatise on Grammar by Donatus

  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
Liber Iesus and Treatise on Grammar by Donatus

This is a rare primer that was beautifully illuminated for Maximilian Sforza, eldest son of the Duke of Milan. It is a combination of both a grammatical handbook and a morally instructive treatise. Although primarily concerned with Latin, Italian and German texts are also included. This is probably the most gorgeous specimen of medieval Europe’s most popular Latin textbook, which was likely written in the 4th century.

Liber Iesus and Treatise on Grammar by Donatus

Illuminated primers intended for the education of children are among the rarest manuscripts produced during the Middle Ages. This primer was commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro (1452–1508), for his eldest son Maximilian Sforza (1493–1530) and features numerous splendid portraits of the Italian princeling. The text consists primarily of two parts, the Liber Iesus and the Grammatica del Donato, an anonymous adaptation of the Ars grammatica by Aelius Donatus, a Roman grammarian and teacher of rhetoric active in the mid-4th century and tutor of Saint Jerome (347-420). The work by Donatus belongs to the literary genre of the Ianuae and contains both grammatical and moralistic treatises. It is followed by the Disticha Catonis, a Latin collection of proverbial wisdom and morality by an unknown author named Dionysius Cato, who lived in the 3rd or 4th century. It was the most popular Latin textbook of the Middle Ages and was translated into numerous languages. Other elements of the primer include Italian poems, German dialogues, and prayers in Latin. The text was written down by a Milanese scribe named Giovanni Battista Lorenzi, whose skilled text has survived in many works but about whom little is known. It is adorned with wonderful full-page miniatures from various famous artists including Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis (ca. 1455 – ca. 1508), the Master of the Epithalamion of Jason de Mayno, Giovan Pietro Birago (active 1471–1513), the Master of Anna Sforza, and Boccaccio Boccaccino (ca. 1467 – ca. 1525).


Alternative Titles
Libri per una educazione rinascimentale : Grammatica del Donato : Liber Iesus
Libretto del Iesus
Libretto del ABC
Buch Iesus und die Abhandlung der Grammatik von Donatus
Late 15th century
Humanistic minuscule Square capitals
Educational books for Maximilian Sforza
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Liber Iesus and Treatise on Grammar by Donatus  – Ms. 2163 and Ms. 2167 – Biblioteca Trivulziana del Castello Sforzesco (Milan, Italy) Facsimile Edition
Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Modena, 2016
Facsimile Editions

#1 Grammatica del Donato e Liber Iesus

Publisher: Franco Cosimo Panini Editore – Modena, 2016
Commentary: 1 volume by Jonathan J.G. Alexander, Pier Luigi Mulas, and Marzia Pontone
Language: Italian
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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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