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

St John's College MS 116

Seneca, Epistolae ad Lucillium


Language(s): Latin

1. Fol. 1ra:
Rubric: In nomine domini nostri ihesu cristi Amen Sanctus YERONIMUS de Seneca in cathalago sanctorum
Incipit: Lvcius anneus seneca cordubensis phancionis stoyci et discipulus et patruus lucanj poete
Explicit: recepit indictum ut eligeret sibi mortem
Jeromes, De viris inlustribus 11

CPL 616, ed. Ernest C. Richardson, TU 14 (1896) 15.

2. Fols. 1ra-2vb:
Rubric: Epistole SENECE […] ad paulum apostolum et PAULI apostoli ad senecam
Incipit: Seneca paulo salutem Credo tibi paule nuntiatum fuisse quod hen cum lucilo nostro
Explicit: sine corruptela perpetuumque animal parit ad deum istic properantem
Ps.-Seneca; Ps.-Paul, Epistolae Senecae ad Paulum et Pauli ad Senecam

Ed. Claude W Barlow (1938), rep. PL supp. 1:673–8, followed (fol. 2, as in MS 36, fol. 46) by: ‘Epitaphium Senece moralis C⟨v⟩ra labor meritum sumpti pro munere honores […] ’ i.e. HILDEBERT OF LAVARDIN, ed. PL 171:1446. Succeeded (fols. 3ra–6va by a table of rubrics for the moral essays; fol. 6vb has two rubrics, one for the epistles generally, the second for the moral essays.

3. Fols. 7ra-156vb:
Rubric: LUCIJ ANNEI SENECE Liber Epistolarum libe ad amicum suum Lucilium […]
Incipit: Ita fac mi Lucili vendica te tibi et tempus quod ad huc aut auferebatur
Explicit: consentire est in uoluptates descenditur In aspera et dura subeundum est ||
Seneca, Epistolae ad Lucillium

Breaking off in 123.14 and also lacking 117.3–118 through lost leaves; ed. Friedrich Haase, Opera quae supersunt … vol. III (Leipzig, 1897), 3–412. In the lower margin of fol. 8, in an informal script, the note ‘Inceptus scribi 19. augusti 1385’. Sporadic (but on these occasions, intense) gloss material in the margins, in a tiny fere humanistica (omitted from Watson, DMO).

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: -uiter fecisse
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS).
Extent: iii + 156 + ii (numbered iv–v)
Dimensions (leaf): 235 × 160 mm.


16 2–1112 1210 1312 1414(–1 to –3, –12 to –14, some of these probably blank). All leaves to the central opening of each quire signed with a letter and an arabic number, although many are cut away. Quires 2, 4 – 7 = b, d – g, quires 8, 10 – 12, 14 = b, c – e, ?h. Catchwords within four rays, centred.


In double columns, each column 155 × 50 mm. , with 8 mm. between columns, in 37 lines to the column. Frequent prickings; bounded and ruled in black ink.


Written by two scribes, one in gothic textura rotunda; the second (who copied fols. 1–6v, 75v–156v) in humanistic bookhand. Punctuation by point (many converted to virgulae), virgula, punctus interrogativus, and punctus elevatus (scribe 2) by point and punctus elevatus (scribe I).


Headings in red.

Two initials with floral borders, 3 lines and 6 lines respectively, on fols. 1 and 7, the second with a picture of Seneca as a grey-bearded man holding a book and wearing a turban-like hat.

Elsewhere initia are 3-line alternate lombards, blue on red flourishing and red on violet flourishing.

See AT, no. 917 (95), the decoration added s. xv2/4, and plate lxiv.


Dark brown leather over millboards, stamped gold fillet, s. xvii. Sewn on five thongs. At the head of the spine ‘116’ on a paper lozenge; in black ink on the leading edges. The front pastedown is old paper (with extensive notes, s. xv ex., listing the works of Seneca, with some brief commentary); the back pastedown modern paper. At the front, two modern paper flyleaves and one of medieval vellum, with nail-holes and rust near the corners, perhaps from attachments for ties; at the rear, one medieval vellum flyleaf, perhaps an earlier pastedown, and one modern paper flyleaf (iv–v).


Origin: s. xiv ex. / 1385 ; Italian

Provenance and Acquisition

Three erased inscriptions, one surely of ownership (fol. iiiv).

...... Me Tenet Teste Standlye’ above ‘vincte bono Malmy’ (fol. iv); cf. the signature ‘Stonslye’ in MS 139.

Hicson verus est possessor huius libri’ (fol. iii, s. xvi); he also appears in MS 139, which was eventually donated to St John’s by William Paddy.

The old shelfmark ‘Abac: ij. N. 83’ (fol. iii).

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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