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

Merton College MS. 311

Former shelfmark: H. 3. 11



Language(s): Latin

f. 1 is blank but for some pen-trials of s. xii and xiv.

On f. 1v is a list of the contents of I, c. 1200, followed by Reed’s ex libris (see below), and table of contents, art. 6 being an addition to it though probably in the same hand. f. 2 is blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: (f. 4) honestum
Secundo Folio: (f. 102) ad meliora
Two originally separate volumes, put together during s. xiv.
Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Extent: 136 leaves
Dimensions (leaf): 250 × 175 mm.
All edges heavily retrimmed and spattered with red.


Two singletons hooked around the first quire, 1–48, 54, 6–128, 138(7–8 canc.) / 14–178, 184. Early catchwords in part I.


Standard Merton s. xvii; sewn on four bands; formerly chained from the usual position. On f. 1 is the mark of a central strap. Fols. 1 and 136 were formerly pastedowns in an earlier binding; on 136 are the marks of a large iron chain-staple (2 holes).


Provenance and Acquisition

On f. 1v: a smudged-out ex libris of s. xiv, beg. ‘Liber’; s. xiv ‘Liber M. Willelmi Reed episcopi Cicestrensis quem emit a domino Thoma Tryllek episcopo Roffensi. Oretis igitur pro utroque’; s. xv ‘Liber domus scolarum de Merton in Oxonia in communi libraria eiusdem et ad usum communem sociorum ibidem studencium ex dono uenerabilis patris domini Willelmi tercii episcopi Cicestrie Oretis igitur pro eodem et animabus omni fidelium defunctorum’; s. xiv ‘xix uolumen’. For William Reed, fellow from 1344 until at least 1357, d. 1385, see MS 8. Thomas Trillek was bp. of Rochester 1364–1372. This book was part of Reed’s legacy.

On f. 2v is a table of contents, s. xvii, and ‘Q. 3. 13. Art:’, canc. and replaced with ‘H. 3. 11 (CCCXI),’ in red; the College bookplate.

On f. 135 ‘Liber domus scolarium de Merton’ in Oxon’ &c.’, s. xv.

On fols. 1 and 2 is the James no. ‘6’ (wrongly), s. xvii in. ‘13’ is inked on the foredge.

Merton College MS. 311 – Part I (fols. 3–100v)


Language(s): Latin

1. (fols. 3–37v)
CICERO, De Officiis
Incipit: Quamquam te Marce fili annum iam audientem
Explicit: si talibus monimentis preceptisque letabere.
Final rubric: Martii Tullii Ciceronis de officiis liber tertius explicit.

Ed. M. Winterbottom (Oxford, 1994).

At the head of f. 3, in a small hand c. 1200, ‘Proemium Ciceroni script’

2. (fol. 38)
Epitaphia Ciceronis (Carmina XII Sapientum)
Rubric: Incipiunt epithaphia Ciceronis edita a xii. sapientibus ...
Incipit: Hic iacet Arpinas manibus tumulatus amici
Explicit: Quod mors eripuit gloria restituit
(SK 6449)

Followed by a series of notes on Cicero, in an anglicana hand of s. xiv in., on f. 38rv: ‘Tulius hic situs est uenerabile nomen in euum ... Seruicio pressam destituit Priam’ (30 lines; SK 16603); ‘Libri Ciceronis qui et Marcus Tullius’; extracts on Cicero from Valerius Maximus, Pliny, Nat. Hist., and Augustine, De Civ. Dei.

3. (fols. 39–70)
CICERO, De Natura Deorum
Rubric: Martii Tullii Ciceronis de natura deorum liber primus incipit.
Incipit: Q(uoniam) nequaquam satis adhuc explicate sint
Explicit: uideretur esse propensior.
Final rubric: Explicit iii. Incipit quartus.

Cited as O by the editors, a descendant of the now-defective Österreichische Nationalbibl. 189: ed. A. S. Pease (Cambridge, MA, 1955); see espec. i. 67.

4. (fols. 70–80v)
CICERO, De Diuinatione
Incipit: Vetus opinione ab heroicis ducta temporibus
Explicit: Iam saciata animos iam duros ulta dolores.
Final rubric: Martii Tullii Ciceronis liber quartus de natura Deorum explicit.

Ed. W. Ax (Leipzig, 1938).

f. 80v blank, but for the title of art. 5 in a humanistic hand.

5. (fols. 81–100)
CICERO, Orationes Philippicae
Rubric: Martii Tullii Ciceronis liber primus incipit.
Incipit: Antequam de re publica patres conscripti dicam
Explicit: (ends unfinished in iv [here numbered v]. 15) hic eum exercitum quem accepit amisit

Ed. P. Fedeli (Leipzig, 1982).

Part I is heavily annotated throughout in a Continental cursive hand, probably Italian, s. xiii ex. On f. 100v is a list, in this hand, cropped at the head, of members of an ?episcopal household (fratres, minores, domicelli, camerarii, garciones in panetria et hotelaria, in stabulo, in coquina), many with obviously French or Italian names.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Dimensions (written): 170–80 × 95–110 mm.


Ruled with crayon in 36 lines, in 2 cols except for art. 1; not pricked in the inner margins.


Written throughout in an expert protogothic bookhand of English appearance.


Handsome arabesque initials in red and green, sometimes also blue, open works and their subdivisions.


Origin: S. XII 3/4 ; script of English appearance.


I was apparently made in England, but seems to have been in southern France or Italy c. 1300, before returning by the mid 14th cent.

Merton College MS. 311 – Part II (fols. 101–36v)


Language(s): Latin

6. (fols. 101–34v)
PALLADIUS, De Agricultura
Incipit: Pars est prudentie prima ipsam cui precepturus es estimare personam
Explicit: ille augeatur iste decrescat.
Final rubric: Palladii Rutili Tauri Emiliani uiri illustris opus agriculture explicit.

Ed. R. H. Rodgers (Leipzig, 1975), not using this copy.

f. 116v blank. Faint notes in pencil on f. 135rv. f. 136rv blank.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Parchment
Dimensions (written): 190–210 × 125–30 mm.


Ruled with plummet in 2 cols of 36–50 lines, pricked in the inner margins.


Written in several Continental protogothic bookhands, of which the first (fols. 101–5va line 14), with some notehand features, is particularly striking and probably French. In both parts a large anglicana cursive hand of s. xiv med. (like that of John Grandisson, bishop of Exeter), responsible for the notes on f. 38rv, writes titles and running heads.


Very frequent large, plain red or green initials, and some red underlining.


Origin: S. XII ex ; Continental

Additional Information

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. 123; Powicke, no. 565; The Survival of Ancient Literature, no. 130, and Appendix, p. 106; Alexander & Temple, no. 76; Munk Olsen, L’Etude des classiques, I, p. 250.

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2019-11-05: First online publication

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