A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

Merton College MS. 291

Former shelfmark: O. 2. 7



Language(s): Latin

(fols. 1–95)

MARTIANUS CAPELLA, De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercuriae, with the gloss of REMIGIUS OF AUXERRE

MARTIANUS CAPELLA, De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercuriae
Rubric: Martiani Minei Felicis Capellae Afri Cartaginiensis de nuptiis phylologiae liber primus incipit.
Incipit: ⟨T⟩u quem psallentem thalamis quem matre camena
Explicit: (f. 94) magna cunctorum uoluptate peruenit. Sic Felix falsus finiuit falsa Capella ... Secute nugas nate ignosce lectitaris .
(SK 673).
REMIGIUS OF AUXERRE, Commentary on Martianus Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii

The B version of Remigius’ commentary, in full as far as f. 32v (ii. 71. 3), beg. ‘Introducitur hoc loco quaedam satira Martiani amica hos uersus in honorem Himeneni cecinisse ...'. At this point the gloss is signed S. There then occurs a lacuna, ii. 175 – vi. 632. After this, sporadic and informal glossing occurs, mainly in the same hand as earlier.

Text ed. J. Willis (Leipzig, 1983); comm. ed. C. E. Lutz (Leiden, 1962–5).

On f. 95 is a description of the countries of the world: ‘Terrarum orbis tribus diuiditur nominibus ... (Getulia) in latitudinem cccclxii.’

Fols. 95v-6, 97 blank. fols. 96–7 are a bifolium, originally at the front of the book, and misbound inside-out. f. 97r was pasted to the front board. On f. 96v, occupying the innermost column, is a prologue to the gloss, and a passage of gloss continuing from the foot of f. 1 col. B. The prol. beg. ‘Titulus iste iiiior nomina dat auctori suo. Martianus suum est ipsius auctoris proprium ...’. The other two columns were left blank, probably for a prefatory miniature.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: (text) pagina consonarent
Secundo Folio: (gloss) Hisque accederet
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 103 leaves (iii + 100)
Dimensions (leaf): 370 × 265 mm.
Dimensions (written): 210 × 110 mm.
Dimensions (written): 210 × 140 mm.
The edges drastically retrimmed and spattered with red.


1–118(8 canc.), a bifolium. Several quires are missing after 4.


Quires 1–4 are ruled with pencil for 28 lines of text, 210 × 110 mm., surrounded by gloss in 2 cols, within a frame of constant width 245 mm. but varying depth, the lines ruled independently of the text-lines.

The rest of the book was still ruled with the frame for a gloss in two cols, the text in a space 210 × 140 mm., in 29 long lines, the sparser gloss ruled for ad hoc, or not at all. Passages of verse are sometimes in 2 cols. Not pricked in the inner margins.


The text in a single excellent English protogothic bookhand, much resembling McLachlan’s Scribe A at Bury Abbey (E. Parker McLachlan, The Scriptorium of Bury St Edmunds in the Twelfth Century [New York & London, 1986], pp. 38–42, pls 8, 10). The main glossing hand is of French appearance. The same hands write the text and gloss in Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 57 (Juvenal and Persius).


The opening initial on f. 1 not supplied. Otherwise red, blue or green initials, occasionally arabesqued in 1–3 of the colours. Lines of verse begin with initials in alternating colours. Running heads in red. Geometrical diagrams on fols. 44v-7, astronomical and metrical on f. 94v.


Standard Merton s. xvii, repaired and rebacked; resewn on four bands. fols. i-iii and 98–100 are paper binding leaves, fols. iii and 98 modern paper blanks, the rest s. xvii, the outermost from the copy of the Bible in English also in MS 118. f. 97 was formerly the front pastedown in an earlier binding sewn on three bands; it has the marks of two foredge straps.


Origin: S. XII 2/4 ; England (?)

Provenance and Acquisition

Probably made in England, given to the College by William Reed in 1374: UO49. 1. On f. 96v, autograph: ‘Liber M. Wilelmi Red ex dono Magistri Nicholai de Sandwyco. Oretis igitur pro utroque’, and a table of contents; in the hand of Walter Robert ‘Liber domus scolarium de Merton’ in Oxon’ in communi libraria eiusdem et ad usum communem sociorum ibidem studencium cathenandus. Ex dono uenerabilis patris domini Willelmi tercii episcopi Cicestrie. Oretis igitur pro eodem et benefactoribus eiusdem ac fidelium animabus a purgatorio liberandis.’ For William Reed, fellow from 1344 until at least 1357, d. 1385, see MS 8.

At the head of f. 1 is the James no. ‘70’, s. xvii in. On f. iiv is a long title, c. 1600, describing the book as ‘in medio lacunosis et ualde mancus’. Inside the front board is a sheet of paper with a title, s. xvii, and ‘Q. 2. 7. Art:’, canc. and replaced with ‘O. 2. 7’ in red, washed out and replaced with the same and ‘(CCXCI)’ in pencil; the College bookplate. ‘7’ is inked on the foredge.

Record Sources

R. M. Thomson, A descriptive catalogue of the medieval manuscripts of Merton College, Oxford (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer), 2009.


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Merton College Library.


    Coxe, p. 115; Powicke, no. 539; C. Leonardi, ‘I Codici di Martiano Capella’, Aevum 34 (1960), 425–6; R. W. Hunt et al., The Survival of Ancient Literature (Oxford, The Bodleian Library, 1975), no. 128.

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Warden and Fellows of Merton College .

Last Substantive Revision

2019-10-25: First online publication

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