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

St John's College MS. 152

Priscian, with commentaries

Physical Description

Comprising three or four originally separate MSS
Form: codex
Support: all on vellum (HSOS/HFFH in the first and third/fourth, FSOS/FHHF in the second).
Extent: Fols. iii + 112 + iii (numbered fols. iii bis–v).
Dimensions (leaf): 215 × 145 mm.


In places, e.g. fols. 43v, 55–7, badly soiled, sporadic water and other damage often obscuring readings. Some lower margins, e.g. fols. 18 and 40, cut away.


A modern replacement. Sewn on five thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf (‘1787’ on its verso) and two modern paper flyleaves; at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves and another marbled paper leaf (fols. iii bis–v).


Origin: s. xii ex., xiii med., and xiii/xiv ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

‘Priscianus minor et in eodem Barbarismus cum aliis de librario sancti Augustini extra cantuar’ Cum ⟨ ⟩ I e partem d xj Ga 4to’ (fol. 1, lower margin, s. xv1; the leaf, originally blank, has been covered with grammatical notes of various s. xiii dates). Listed in James, AL, as no. 1390 (358): ‘Prescianus minor et in eodem Barbarismus cum al’ cum S 2o fo. veri similiter D. G.’ (Ker, MLGB 47).

‘Omnibus fidelibus ad quos presens scriptum pervenerit S de Okam salutem in domino sempiternam Nouiter me dedesse et concessese […] ’ (the opening of a letter, fol. 57v, lower margin, s. xiv in.).

An erased inscription, no longer legible, but it has the shape of a book-curse or a similar library mark (fol. 109, lower margin, s. xiii/xiv).

A note on presentation to a living in a church (fol. 62, lower margin, s. xiv in.).

Two old College shelfmarks ‘50’ cancelled and ‘49.’ (fol. 1, lower margin below the St Augustine’s inscription); ‘Abac: ij N. (fol. 1v, upper margin).

Manuscript 1 = Fols. 1–57


Language(s): Latin with some Hebrew additions

1. Fols. 1v–57:
Incipit: Quoniam in [hole] ante expositis libris de partibus oracionis .. in plerisque appollonii auctoritatem sumus
Explicit: exemplis gaudeant confid⟨encius?⟩que utantur qui laudibus utriusque gloriari student doctrinę Explicit [hole] liber construcconum [sic for construccionum]
PRISCIAN, , ‘Institutiones minores’, books 17–18.157 of the full Institutiones grammaticarum,

ed. Heinrich Keil, Grammatici Latini, 8 vols. (Leipzig, 1855–70), 3:107–278, with interlinear and marginal glosses in various s. xiii hands, inc. ‘Hoc intelligendum est de partibus integralibus […] Fol. 57v was originally blank, now with distinctiones and pen-trials, including a few in Hebrew. Our MS is listed in Margaret Gibson, ‘Priscian, “Institutiones Grammaticae”: a handlist of manuscripts’, Scriptorium 26 (1972), 105–24 at 117; and in G. L. Bursill-Hall, A Census of Medieval Grammatical Manuscripts, Grammatica speculativa 4 (Stuttgart, 1980), 183–4.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: ueri similiter
Support: vellum (HSOS/HFFH)
Extent: Fols. 57.
Dimensions (written): 155 × 77 mm.


1–68 78+1 (+7, its stub before fol. 51). No catchwords; one numerical signature (‘I’ centred on fol. 8v and answering ‘I’ on fol. 9).


In long lines, 30 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded and ruled in light brown ink (usually not visible).


Written in protogothic bookhand, s. xii ex. Punctuation by point and medial point.


On fol. 1v, a blue and orange 9-line capital with leaf, vine, spray, and dragons.

A few headings in red and sporadic 1-line red and gold lombards to divide the text.

At fol. 41v the initial flourished and a red and blue dragon drawn in the margin; numerous animal figures in gloss-hand inks elsewhere.

Listed as Canterbury work of 1150–80, C. R. Dodwell, The Canterbury School of Illumination 1066–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954), 123.

See AT, no. 53 (9), suggesting that MS 1 is Canterbury work, s. xii med. and citing the added drawing (fol. 41v) as s. xiii in.


Origin: s. xii ex. ; England

Manuscript 2 = Fols. 58–72


Language(s): Latin

2. Fols. 58–63:
Incipit: ⟨B⟩arbarismus est una pars oracionis uiciosa in communi sermone in poemate
Explicit: non sit frigius penetrat lacedomia pastor ledeamque helenam troianos uexit ad urbes
DONATUS, 'De barbarismo’, i.e. Ars grammatica 3,

ed. Keil, 4:392–402, , with a commentary inc. ‘In hoc libro qui dicitur barbarismus agit donatus tanquam […] Fol. 63v was originally blank, now with grammatical and theological notes (‘Quadruplex est ieiunium’, ‘In lacrimis duo sunt que nobis cognita prosunt’), mostly s. xiii ex. or xiv in.

3. Fols. 64–70v:
Incipit: Litera est nota elementi que cum scribitur et in uoce minime resonat
Explicit: nullam certam regulam seruat etiam in fine et in medio semper acuitur ut pape euax
Final rubric: Explicit liber primus de accentu
PS.-PRISCIAN, De accentibus,

ed. Keil, 3:519–28, , with a gloss. On fol. 70, in the lower margin, verses added s. xiii ex.: ‘Voce sathan penna cherubim colloque draconem | Et pede furtio’ designat pane latronem […] (Walther, no. 20784)., Fols. 71–2v were originally blank, now with added grammatical notes and distinctiones.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: alto [text]
Support: vellum (FSOS/FHHF)
Extent: Fols. 15


816 (–16, blank). No signatures.


Writing area: a central column 108 × 69 mm. , set within three gloss columns— 24 mm wide along gutter and two others 18 mm wide along the leading edge (the outer extending to the page edge, as well as into the upper and lower margins). The text in longlines, 23 lines to the page. No prickings; bounded and ruled in brown crayon.


Written in gothic textura semiquadrata, s. xiii med., with glosses in several hands of the later s. xiii or early s. xiv. Punctuation by point and medial point (in the gloss, by point only).


A 2-line high red-orange capital at the head of item 3.


Origin: , s. xiii med ; England

Manuscript 3 (or 3 + 4) = Fols. 73–112


Language(s): Latin with some French and English

Fols. 73ra–7vb, 86rab:
Incipit: An sit construccio ⟨Q⟩uemadmodum nomina sit et pronomina per omnes casus etc. hic incipit determinare principaliter de construccione ideo primo querendum est de construccione in communi […] [fol. 77v] ad 4m. quod pertinet preteriis temporis tamen ib’stn’no? uerbo presentis \ […] / preteritum loqui [with a signe de renvoie, fol. 78, ‘quere octauo folio sequente ea que hic deficiunt tali signo’] [fol. 86] presens tempus uerbi sicut et preteritum quia huius pertinet apud nos habet
Explicit: habent pertinet preteriti temporis ut ... ideo gauisus sum audeo . ueus sum
Final rubric:
An anonymous commentary on PRISCIAN.

Following the explicit are four verses, ‘Vestita et fructa caret […] ’ (not in Walther, ). Fol. 86v was originally blank, now covered with notes.

5. Fols. 78ra–85rb:
Incipit: ⟨Q⟩ueritur de figura prima in communi sermone
Explicit: et rationem excusare debet si dicatur quod sit ibi prolempsi. etc.
‘De figuris’ (Bursill-Hall), with some changes ofhand.
6. Fols. 85vab:
Incipit: Quesitum fuit de hoc sophismate Omnis homo moritur tempori vnus solus homo moritur
Explicit: Item quod potest confundi ab acto [a further line, mostly illegible, at the page foot].

Coxe’s suggestion that this is WILLIAM HEYTESBURY (Sharpe, no. 2082 [775–7]), sophisma 10 is not chronologically possible.

7. Fols. 87ra–8rb:
Incipit: Uel aliter sic dicendum quod licet non possit distribui in respectu \ […] / ad actum
Explicit: aliquem hominem currere et causam motus vel est ⟨ ⟩ enim sumit Numerum in hoc’.

Fol. 88v was originally blank, and is now covered with notes.

8. Fols. 89ra–110ra:
Incipit: Dicit isaac in libro de diffinicionibus Quod philosophia est assimilato [sic for assimilatio] hominis operibus sui creatoris
Explicit: mathematici menciuntur qui videntur dicere contrarium cuius declaracio non est presentis negocii Expliciunt Notule secundi libri construccionum
An anonymous commentary on ‘Priscian minor’ (Bursill-Hall), . The remainder was originally blank, but now has voluminous added material, mostly s. xiv in.: fols. 110rb–11 on grammar, fol. 111v medical material, fol. 112 a charm against mice and a snippet of English: ‘Alauda cyrrita gallice coppede laueroc hic cirris idem est quod cop’ (the misidentification of the language follows from two legitimately French glosses further up the leaf), fol. 112v trial alphabets.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: ipsarum
Secundo Folio: antecedentis
Support: vellum (HSOS/HFFH)
Extent: Fols. 16 + 24


918 (–17, –18; but the surviving 16 and 17 may be extraneous) [fol. 88, the split of the scribal stints] | 10–128. In the second portion, there are catchwords but no signatures.


In double columns, each column 155 (scribe 1) and 170 (scribe 2) × 57 mm. , with 7 mm between columns, in 48–9 lines. No prickings; bounded and ruled in black ink and brown crayon.


Two scribes, each responsible for one portion, both writing anglicana-influenced academic textura semiquadrata, s. xiii/xiv in slightly different formats. Punctuation by point (scribe 1) and medial point (scribe 2).


Item 8 is introduced by a 3-line red-orange lombard.

Lemmata from Priscian are underlined, and major sections begin with quotations in display textura.


Origin: xiii/xiv ; England

Additional Information

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.


    J. J. G. Alexander and Elźbieta Temple, Illuminated Manuscripts in Oxford College Libraries, the University Archives and the Taylor Institution (Oxford, 1985).
    G. L. Bursill-Hall, A Census of Medieval Grammatical Manuscripts, Grammatica speculativa 4 (Stuttgart, 1980).
    Henry Coxe, Catalogus codicum mss. qui in collegiis aulisque oxoniensibus hodie adservantur. Confecit Henricus O. Coxe: Pars 2 (Oxford, 1852).
    C. R. Dodwell, The Canterbury School of Illumination 1066–1200 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954).
    Margaret Gibson, ‘Priscian, “Institutiones Grammaticae”: a handlist of manuscripts’, Scriptorium 26 (1972).
    M. R. James, The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover (Cambridge, 1903).
    Heinrich Keil (ed), Grammatici Latini, 8 vols. (Leipzig, 1855–70).
    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).
    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 Walther, Initia carminum ac versuum Medii Aevi posterioris Latinorum, 2nd edn (Göttingen, 1969).

Funding of Cataloguing

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

Last Substantive Revision

2023-01: First online publication

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