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

St John's College MS 137

Pierre Bersuire, Ovidius moralizatus


Language(s): Latin

Fols. 1–84:
Rubric: Incipit tryvet super ouidium Methamorphosios primo de dijs et eorum picturis atque figuris
Incipit: A veritate quid auditum auertent ad fabulas \ante [later]/ conuertentur ad thymotheum 4to. dicit apostolus Paulus
Explicit: pro ipso mortem subire nullatenus dubitarunt dicentes propter te mortificamur tota die
Final rubric: Explicit Ouidius Methomorphosyos siue intransformatis

In fact PIERRE BERSUIRE (BERCHORIUS) Ovidium moralizatum, the so-called Avignon edition, ed. as Metamorphosis Ouidiana Moraliter a Magistro Thoma Walleys Anglico (Paris, 5 April 1511); see also Reductorium morale, liber xv: Werkmateriaal, 3 vols. (Utrecht, 1960–6).

There are only eight written lines on the final page, an explicit has been erased, and fol. 84v is ruled but blank. Our MS was noted long ago in a list of English copies of Bersuire’s work; see M. Esposito, ‘On Some Unpublished Poems Attributed to Alexander Neckam’, English Historical Review 30 (1915), 450–71 at 469. For the ascriptions to Trivet, added to the MS s. xv2, and Waleys, see Sharpe, no. 1119 (398) and no. 1848 (687) respectively.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: virtutes
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (FSOS/FHHF).
Extent: Fols. iv + 84 + ii (numbered fols. v–vi).
Dimensions (leaf): 228 × 165 mm.
Dimensions (written): 165–70 mm, occasionally up to 175 mm × 118 mm.


1–712. Catchwords in the first four quires, on fol. 72v a note in plummet ‘vj. Quaternus’. All leaves in the first half of each quire were originally signed with a letter and a roman (some arabic in quire 5) numeral, but many cut away. Originally quires 1–7 = a–g, but a second set of signatures in brown crayon also occurs: –, a–c, –, d, –.


The lower leading edges of fols. 13–22 are heavily damaged by water, often patched, with text losses.


In long lines, 34 (to fol. 38v) and 35–7 (thereafter) lines to the page. Prickings; bounded and ruled in lead (to fol. 48v) and black ink.


Written in anglicana, by three scribes:

scribe 1 = fols. 1–38v (anglicana formata);

scribe 2 = fols. 39–49, although parts (e.g. fol. 45) could be by the next;

scribe 3 = fols. 50–84.

Scribes 2 and 3 both use secretary a.

Scribe 1 punctuates by occasional medial point; scribe 2 by occasional double virgula (perhaps a signal for a painted paraph) and medial point; scribe 3 by occasional medial point and infrequent virgula.


Headings in red.

At the head, a 6-line blue lombard on red flourishing and a demivinet formed from a red and blue bar, further red leafy flourishing at the corners.

Chapters headed by 2-line blue lombards with red flourishing.

The text broken with alternate red and blue paraphs.


A modern rebinding. Sewn on four thongs. At the front, four medieval vellum flyleaves (a four-leaf quire); at the rear, two medieval vellum flyleaves, apparently single (v–vi).


Origin: s. xv in. ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

‘Non in personis accepcio iuris habetur | verum deferri si quis virtute meretur’ (Walther, Sprichwörter, no. 17895b); by the bracket which joins the verses: ‘de sent’ et r’c cum eterni v’ stateram per cord’; below it, ‘Si qua sede sedes accedere tam vilissima | tanto spiritualiores fuit’ (cf. Walther, Sprichwörter, no. 28882–3) (fol. ii).

‘Liber quondam Magistri Thome Eyburhale datus Magistro Roberto Elyot Anno domini 1471 Ad terminum vite sic quod non vendatur sed post eius mortem detur alteri volenti predicare Orate igitur pro anima eius’ (fol. iv). For Eborall, the master of Whittington College, London, 1444–64 and a leading opponent of Reginald Pecock, see BRUO, 622–3 (our MS not noted among his books). For Elyot, vice-provost of Eton College 1482–98, see BRUO, 638 (the MS again unnoted).

The old shelfmark ‘Abac: ij. N. 91’ cancelled for the current shelfmark (fol. i).

‘Liber Collegij Divi Ioannis Baptistae Oxon’ Ex dono Magistri Ioannis Stonor Generosi de Northstoke in comitatu Oxon 1609’ (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.


    A. B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 vols. (Oxford. 1957–9).
    M. Esposito, ‘On Some Unpublished Poems Attributed to Alexander Neckam’, English Historical Review 30 (1915), 450–71
    Reductorium morale, liber xv: Werkmateriaal, 3 vols. (Utrecht, 1960–6).
    Richard Sharpe, A Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540. Publications of the Journal of Medieval Latin 1 (Turnhout, 1997).
    Hans Walter, Proverbia sententiaeque latinitatis medii aevi: Lateinische Sprichwörter, 5 vols. (Göttingen, 1963–7).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2022-01: First online publication

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