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

St John's College MS 95

Orosius, History


Language(s): Latin

1. Fol. 1rab
Rubric: Argumentum sequentis operis
Incipit: Orosius presbiter hispanus genere uir eloq\ue/ns et historiarum cognitor scripsit
Explicit: primi martyris tunc nuper inuentas primus intulit Occidente extremo pene honorio imperium tenente Sciendum uero est quod hec ars nominatur ormesta id est miserabilis uel gemitus
Explicit: esse desiderans ad repellendas falsas perniciosasque doctrinas
GENNADIUS, De uiris inlustribus (CPL 957), ed. Ernest C. Richardson, TU 14, i (1896), 76, partially paraphrased with an ascription within the text. The text extends through ‘Occidente’ above, and the remainder forms a commentary-like prologue to the work.
2. Fols. 1rb–113ra
Rubric: Incipit liber primus beati OROSIJ presbiteri de ormesta mundi
Incipit: Preceptis tvis parui beatissime pater avgustine atque utinam tam efficaciter
Explicit: precepisti tibi adiudicanda si edas per te iudicata si deleas
Final rubric: Explicit Explicit liber Septimus sancti PAULI OROSII presbiteri de Ormesta mundi idem de miseriis huius seculi contra paganos hortatu beati avgvstini splendide conscriptus
Orosius, Historiae aduersum paganos (CPL 571), ed. Marie-Pierre Arnaud-Lindet, Orose Histoires, 3 vols. (Paris, 1990–1). Six lines at the foot of fol. 113ra and the entire second column are blank; fols. 113va–14va have a chronological summary, perhaps not complete. Our copy is noted by J. M. Bately and D. J. A. Ross, ‘A Checklist of Manuscripts of Orosius “Historiarum adversum paganos libri septem” ’, Scriptorium 15 (1961), 329–34 at 332 (no. 122).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Et sub apparitione
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: Fols. iii + 114 + iii (numbered fols. iv–vi).
Dimensions (leaf): 264 × 175 mm.
Foliation: An accurate foliation in upper corners of rectos, added s. xvi.


1–138 1410. Catchwords under the inner columns, some cut away; three (in quires 3–5) added later on the first rectos of quires and referring to the preceding final versos. Two signature systems: (a) originally, roman numerals at the centre lower margin of final versos, quires 1–13 = i–xiii; (b) a set added s. xv, in which all leaves in the first half of each quire are signed with a letter and arabic numeral (roman in quire 7), quires 7–14 = a–h.


After fol. 50, progressively heavy water damage along the leading edge, with a substantial number of leaves within fols. 80–96 mounted or repaired. A large triangular cut from the lower margin of fol. 64 (similar damage to fols. 71 and 72).


In double columns, each column 183–7 × 55 mm. , with 7 mm between columns, in 32 lines to the column. Frequent prickings; bounded and ruled in brown and purplish-brown ink.


Written in caroline. Punctuation by point, punctus versus, and occasional punctus elevatus.


Headings in red, but most spaces for them unfilled.

At the head (fol. 1rb), a 7-line arabesque initial with descender to the page foot, in blue and violet, with vine interlace, on gold leaf.

Books introduced by 6-line arabesque capitals (10-line for book 7, fol. 89vb) in red or green, sometimes both and sometimes with floral ornament in the contrasting colour (that for book 6, fol. 71va, is especially opulent, in green with red, blue, green, and gold leaf and flower infill.

At the heads of chapters, 2-line arabesque initials, usually alternating red and green, occasionally slate blue (and sporadically, gold).

Occasional 1-line red or green arabesque capitals to divide the text.

See AT, no. 82 (11), dating s. xii3/4, and plate v (fol. 1).


A modern replacement. Sewn on five thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf and two modern paper flyleaves; at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves and another marbled leaf (iv–vi).


Origin: s. xii med. ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

‘Orosius de ormessta [last four letters re-inked, s. xv] mundi ijdo fo Et sub [boxed] I xvij.’ (fol. 1, upper margin; s. xiv ex. or xiv/xv). The shelfmark is that of Chichester Cathedral (Ker MLGB 51).

‘Liber Collegii Divi Johannis Baptistae Oxon’ (fol. 49, upper margin; s. xviii or xix).

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.


    Marie-Piere Arnaud-Lindet (ed.), Orose Histoires, 3 vols. (Paris, 1990–1).
    J. M. Bately and D. J. A. Ross, 'A Checklist of Manuscripts of Orosius "Historiam adversum paganos libri septem" '. Scriptorium (1961), 329–34.
    Eligius Dekkers and Aemilius Gaar, Clavis patrum latinorum, 3rd edn. (Turnhout, 1995).
    N. R. Ker, Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books. Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks. 2nd edn. (London, 1964), extended by Andrew G. Watson, MLGB: Supplement to the Second Edition. RHS Guides and Handbooks 15 (1987).
    Ernest C. Richardson (ed.), Hieronymus liber De viris inlustribus; Gennadius liber De viris inlustribus. Texte and Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 14, i (Leipzig, 1896).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2021-07: First online publication

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