NKS 218 4°: Macrobius, Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis





NKS 218 4°: Macrobius, Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis

Parchment, 50 ff.; 23.9 × 14 cm; Southern France ?, c. 1150

The manuscript contains Macrobius’ commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis from chapter five of liber I and the entire liber II. The beginning of the manuscript is missing, but may have contained Cicero’s text itself apart from the missing chapters of the commentary. The text is accompanied by charts and beautifully coloured diagrams that were intended to facilitate the understanding of the text. Glosses and other notes (some irrelevant to the text itself) were added by various hands up until the fourteenth century. Magical formulae are added in the margins of ff. 16v-19r and 21v; on the latter page there is a note on how to win the love of a woman. On f. 20v there are two astronomical notes concerning the years 1363 and 1382

Circular diagrams occur at the five standard places in the text, as in other manuscripts: on 25r, the universe, carried on the shoulders of four giant figures; on 28r: Rain falling off the earth; on 34r: the five zones of the earth; on 36v: the five zones of heaven over those of the earth; on 38v: a world map. In addition there are diagrams and schemes on 3r, 8r, 21r, 24r, 30v and 49v-50v. Some diagrams are not only illustrative but also ornamental, as are the initials that occur in the text. One of these, an E on f. 46v, showing a man writing on tablets

In 1651, the manuscript was bequeathed to the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Près in Paris by Jean d'Artis, the dean of the law faculty at the university in Paris. It was brought to Denmark by D.G. Moldenhawer and was bequeathed to the Royal Library with several other manuscripts after his death in 1824

Bibl.: Greek and Latin Illuminated Manuscripts X–XIII Centuries in Danish Collections. Copenhagen 1921 p. 47 and pl. LXI–LXII. - Ellen Jørgensen, Catalogus codicum Latinorum medii ævi Bibliothecæ Regiæ Hafniensis. Copenhagen 1926, p. 332. - B. C. Barker-Benfield in L. D. Reynolds (ed.), Text and Transmission. A Survey of the Latin Classics, Oxford 1983, p. 224-232. - Erik Petersen (ed.), Living Words & Luminous Pictures. Catalogue, Copenhagen & Århus 1999, p. 103 no. 144

Erik Petersen