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

St John's College MS 81

Cicero, De oratore and Orator


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1ra-23vb:
Incipit: Cogitanti michi sepe numero et memoria uetera repetenti perbeati fuisse quincte
Explicit: ab hac contencione dispucionis animos nostros curamque laxemus
Final rubric: M TULLI CICERONIS de oratore liber tercius explicit
Cicero, De oratore

Ed. Kazimierz F Kumaniecki, M. Tvlli Ciceronis scripta, fasc. 3 (Leipzig, 1969). Eleven blank lines separate the two texts. The scribe recognized that his copy of text 2 was incomplete at the head and left a blank space to signal this fact; he remained unaware of precisely how much was missing there.

2. Fols. 23vb-28rb:
Incipit: || -toque robustius quam hoc humile de quo dictum est summissius
Explicit: obsequi uerecundia negandi scribendi me inpudentiam suscepisse
Final rubric: Orator Explicit
Cicero, Orator ad M. Brutum,

ed. Rolf Westman, M. Tvlli Ciceronis scripta, fasc. 5 (Leipzig, 1980) beginning at 26.91.1 (27). Fol. 28v is blank. The scribe signalled many topics in the margin, annotation extended by later notes in both the upper and lower margins by various hands of ss. xiv and xv.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: quam platonis
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: ii + 28 + ii (numbered iii–iv).
Dimensions (leaf): 273 × 190 mm.


1–28 312. Catchwords under the inner columns. No signatures.


In double columns, each column 210–220 × 70–75 mm. , with 12 mm. between columns, in 50 lines to the column. Prickings on the final few leaves; bounded and ruled in black and brown ink.


Written in gothic textura semiquadrata, with exaggerated anglicana descenders in the bottom lines, not the usual topline ascenders. Punctuated by point (some adjusted to punctus elevatus), virgula, and punctus elevatus, with a good many later adjustments.


An unflourished blue 3-line lombard at the head of item 1.

Elsewhere rubrics unfilled.


Dark brown leather over millboards, with a plain gold fillet, s. xvii. Sewn on three thongs. ‘81’ in black ink in a paper lozenge pasted to the top of the spine. Modern paper pastedowns, a College bookplate on the front one. At both the front and rear, two modern paper flyleaves; the two leaves at the rear (iii–iv) are still joined at the head.


Origin: s. xiv in. ; English

Provenance and Acquisition

Zach Pearce, S. T. P Decan Winton in Praefatione suae Editionis hujus Libri Ciceroniani de Oratore hunc MStum sic laudat’, with quotation (fol. i, s. xviii).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust.

Last Substantive Revision

2020-11: First online publication

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