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

MS. Bodl. 180

Summary Catalogue no.: 2079

Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiæ, in Old English; s. xii1

Contents

Summary of Contents: Translation in English of Boethius's De Consolatione Philosophiæ, which includes the preface and 42 chapters. The manuscript also contains a prayer in English.
Boethius , De consolatione philosophiae (Old English translation attributed to King Alfred)
fol. 1r
Alfred's Preface to De Consolatione Philosophiæ
Incipit: ÆLFRED KYNING ǷÆS ǷE|ALHSTOD ÐISSE BEC
Explicit: forþæmðe ælc mon sceal be his andgites mæðe and be his æmettan sprecan ðæt he sprecþ. (and) don þ(æt) þ(æt) he deþ

main hand

s. xii1

Ker 1957, item 23, p. 359
Sedgefield 1890, p. 1
Godden and Irvine, eds, 2009
fols 1r-3r

Unnumbered table of chapters of De Consolatione Philosophiæ

Incipit: Ærest hu gotan geƿunnon romana rice.
Explicit: Nu ƿe sceoldan eallon mægne spyrian æfter gode . ælc be his | andgites mæþe

main hand

s. xii1

Ker 1957, item 23, p. 359
Sedgefield 1890, p. 3
Godden and Irvine, eds, 2009
fols 3v-94r/6

Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy: Main text

Incipit: ON ÐÆRE TIDE ÐE GOTAN of Sciþþiu mægþe ƿiþ romana rice geƿin upahofon
Explicit: eall he hit gesihþ . (and) eall he hit forgilt. AMEN . | FINIT.
Language(s): English
Filiation: The text is closely affiliated with London, British Library, MS Cotton Otho A. vi, s. xmed (Sedgefield 1890, p. xv). Junius made a copy of this manuscript, the text is laid out side by side with the Latin printed edition (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 12, see Madan 1895-1953, n. 5124, p. 965).

main hand

s. xii1

Ker 1957, item 23, p. 359
Sedgefield 1890, pp. 7-149
Godden and Irvine, eds, 2009
fol. 94r/8-22
Prayer following Boethius translation (Cameron B.12.4.7)
Incipit: Drihten ælmihtiga god ƿyrhta (and) ƿealdend ealra gesceafta
Explicit: (and) ƿylder . nu . (and) a. a.a taƿorulde |buton oghƿilcu(m) ende Amen .
Filiation:

Folio 94v is blank.

This hand is the same hand as that which corrected the text, and most probably the same hand as the main hand.

s. xii1, probably copied at a later stage than the main text.

Ker 1957, item 23, p. 359
Sedgefield 1890, p. 149
Language(s): Old English

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: ii+ 94+ i leaves
Dimensions (leaf): c. 282 × c. 193 mm.
Foliation: The manuscript is foliated i, ii, 1-95. Fols. i, ii, and 95 are paper leaves probably dating from the time of binding.

Collation

fols 1-94: 1-610, 7-812, 912, missing 11 and 12 Signatures: Quire 1: '.I.', fol. 10v; Quire 2: '.II.', fol. 11r; Quire 4: '.IIII.', fol. 31r; Quire 5: 'V', fol. 41r; Quire 7: 'VII .', fol. 61r; Quire 8: 'VIII .', fol. 84v; Quire 9: 'IX', fol. 85r on lower margins. No catchwords.

Diagrammatic representation of the quiring structure

Condition

The manuscript is in good condition; it is stained and there are a number of holes, and other parchment irregularities, see fols 37, 58, 59, 81r, 83r; stitches, for example, on fol. 68.

Layout

fols. 1r-60v 73r-94v Ruled space 210 × 150 mm. Ruling in dry point consistently done on the flesh side of the parchment. Double bounding lines on both sides of the frame, ca. 7 mm apart. The lines are guided by two small pricks at the top and bottom on the outer and inner margins of the folio. Small pricks appear on the external margin ca. 80 mm apart to guide line. The ruling is still visible. The writing is above the line. See diagram.

fols. 61r-72v Ruled space 235 × 145 mm. This is Quire 7 which was ruled for 27 lines, but 2 or 3 lines have been left blank on each folio, both on the recto and the verso. However, the ruling technique is the same as the one used for the other quires; that is, ruling in dry point consistently done on the flesh side of the parchment. Double bounding lines on both sides of the frame, ca. 7 mm apart. The lines are guided by two small pricks at the top and bottom on the outer and inner margins of the folio. Small pricks appear on the external margin ca. 8 mm apart to guide line. The ruling is still visible. The writing is above the line. See diagram.

Hand(s)

One hand. An English vernacular minuscule of the twelfth-century, which retains features of the first half of the century, such as headless ‘a’ and tapered ascenders still upright. Insular ‘g’ is used throughout, whilst insular ‘s’ alternates with long ‘s’ and no ligatures appear to be used. The writing is regular and large in aspect. Ker argued that this manuscript was 'not well written' (Ker 1957, p. 359), but the scribe controls his or her hand throughout the quires, spacing minims and individual letters well. The height of the minims is regularly 3 mm. The prayer at the end is written most likely by this hand. Sedgefield suggests that: ‘A close examination decides against the identity of two hands, which however may belong to the same school of handwriting’ (Sedgefield 1890, p. xv). The hand of the prayer is different in aspect, because the scribe seems to write faster and pays less attention to the formation of the individual letters and the pen is cut with a thinner nib, but it is very likely that these two types of script belong to the same scribe. Probably this text was copied at a later stage, but certainly at the same time as the corrections were inserted. Brown Ink.

‘a’: insular, with a large lobe, occasionally the head protrudes on the left; ‘b’: with wedged, slightly forked ascender with a straight back and a rounded lobe; ‘c’: one broken stroke with a curled head; ‘d’: two broken strokes and a thick upright back stroke, which tapers at the top end, but curls to the right at the point of junction with the left stroke of the bowl. ‘e’: insular small rounded and closed with a little tongue on the right side, more evident in final position. ‘f’: a distinctive insular form: straight upward shaft finishing occasionally with a little curl towards the right, otherwise closing with a fourty-five degree angle. Two dot-like-strokes form the horizontal strokes on the left. A little serif protrudes from the top of the back of the shaft. ‘g’: insular, with an s shaped descender which curves towards the right just after the writing line, and turns flat into an open lobe on the right topped by a flat horizontal stroke. ‘h’: Caroline with a thick wedged and slightly forked ascender and a right limb which sometimes curls under the line. ‘i’, ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘u’: minims are traced one at a time, regular in shape and their feet always finish with a small serif to the right. ‘l’: Caroline form with a tall wedged straight ascender, the shaft ends on the line with a foot curling to the right. ‘o’: rounded, oval shaped closed. ‘p’ and ‘ƿ’ are mainly distinguishable through meaning. However, ‘ƿ’ is formed with a wedge-like head and a tailed descender curving towards the left and a closed elongated lobe. ‘r’: insular form, with a well defined bow and a descender which ends curving on the left, but finishing with a square or perpendicular angle. ‘s’: insular form, with a straight descender below the line of writing, occasionally curving to the left. ‘t’: straight head-stroke and straight shaft which curls to the right. ‘y’: is always dotted and the descender curves to the left finishing in a thin tail. The second stroke to the right is done quite high up near the start of the shaft. ‘æ’: formed by an insular a and an e which sits on the shoulder of the a and terminates with a tail on the top right. ‘ð’ is formed like d, with rounded bowl and upright ascender, but the median stroke is not always straight; it mostly curves from the left to the right finishing with a tail and then a dot below the tail itself, but still attached to the stroke. There is another type of ‘ð’ which appears more frequently towards the end of the manuscript. The basic formation is the same, but the scribe forms the left side stroke of the bowl to meet the ascender and then continues to finish with a tail curling leftwards. ‘þ’ is upright with wedged ascender and a tailed descender, and a pointed head-stroke. Capitals are enlarged form of the minuscule with the exception of ‘A’, which sometimes is a large two-compartment letter. ‘Litterae Notabiliores’ of the main chapters of the table of content are decorated with dots, but written in the same ink as the text by the main hand.

Use of tironian nota; crossed through þ for þæt; a macron usually abbreviates m, n.

Punctus mostly median, but also on the line.

No ligature.

West Saxon spelling retained, with occasional Kentish features (Sedgefield 1890, pp. xv, xxxv-xxxvi)

The manuscript was corrected by the main hand. Some minor corrections appear for, example, on on fols 1r, 2r/v, 3r/v, 4r/v, 6r/v, 7v, 8v, 9r/v, 10r/v, 13r and 14r/v. More substantial corrections appear, for example, on fols 12v, 14v, 55v, 58v, 62v. Method of correction: erasure and expuncture, a small comma-like sign indicates insertion of corrections inserted interlinearly. On fol. 24v, the signe de renvoi is a seven like comma is followed by a punctus, with the correction inserted in interlinear position; see also fol. 19r, where the correction appears on the left margin. On fol. 55r, the signe de renvoi is a punctus, followed by a comma and the correction inserted in interlinear position. Erasure on fol. 90v left blank.

s. xii1

Decoration

Red, blue, purple, or green initials. They mark sections and paragraphs, mainly at the beginning of chapters. They are inserted against guiding letters left by the main hand in the external margins of the manuscript. Not all the gaps have been decorated, see fols 11r (no guiding letter in the margin), 29r, 30r, 31r, 45r, 64v and 92v.

  • fol. 1r, four-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 1r, four-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 3v, four-line ornamental capital in green with pen-ink decorations in red.
  • fol. 4r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 4r, two-line capital in blue with pen-ink decoration in red.
  • fol. 5v, three-line ornamental capital in red with pen-ink decorations in blue and green.
  • fol. 5v, two-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 7v, three-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 8r, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 11v, three-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 12r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 13r, two-line capital in purple.
  • fol. 13r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 15r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 15r, two-line capital in green.
  • fol. 15v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 15v, two-line capital in purple.
  • fol. 16v, two-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 17r, two-line capital in purple.
  • fol. 19v, four-line capital in red with pen-ink decorations in green.
  • fol. 19v, two-line ornamental capital in blue.
  • fol. 20r, two-line ornamental capital in red with pen-ink work in blue.
  • fol. 20r, two-line ornamental capital in green with pen-ink decorations in red.
  • fol. 23r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 23v, two-line ornamental capital in red with pen-ink decorations in green.
  • fol. 23v, four-line ornamental capital in blue with pen-ink decorations in red.
  • fol. 24v, four-line capital in red with pen-ink work in red.
  • fol. 24v, three-line ornamental capital in red with pen-ink decorations in red.
  • fol. 24v, four-line capital in green.
  • fol. 25r, two-line ornamental capital in purple.
  • fol. 25r, two-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 29r, two-line capital in green.
  • fol. 31v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 31v, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 31v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 32r, two-line ornamental capital in blue with pen-ink decorations in red.
  • fol. 34v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 34v, two-line ornamental capital in blue.
  • fol. 35v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 35v, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 36r, two-line ornamental capital in red with pen-ink decorations in green.
  • fol. 36r, two-line capital in green.
  • fol. 36r, one-line capital in red.
  • fol. 36r, one-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 36v, one-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 36v, one-line capital in purple.
  • fol. 37r, one-line capital in red.
  • fol. 37r, one-line capital in purple.
  • fol. 37r, one-line capital in red.
  • fol. 38r, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 38r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 39r, one-line capital in red.
  • fol. 39v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 39v, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 41r, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 41v, two-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 41v, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 41v, three-line capital in red.
  • fol. 42v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 43r, two-line capital in purple.
  • fol. 43r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 43v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 43v, two-line capital in blue.
  • fol. 45v, two-line decorated capital in red.
  • fol. 49r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 51v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 51v, two-line capital in green.
  • fol. 55v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 59r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 65v, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 65v, three-line capital in green.
  • fol. 69v, two-line ornamental capital in blue with decorations in red.
  • fol. 70r, two-line capital in red.
  • fol. 77v, four-line ornamental capital in purple with decorations in red.
  • fol. 85r, two-line ornamental capital in red with decorations in purple.
  • fol. 87v, five-line capital in red.
  • fol. 89r, three-line capital in red.
  • fol. 89r, three-line capital in purple.
  • fol. 92v, two-line ornamental capital in red.
  • fol. 94r, two-line capital in purple.

Additions:

A s. xiv hand has inserted marginal annotations and headings to guide through books and chapters of the text, see for example fols 6v, 9r, 10v, 87v. The same hand wrote numbers, probably of chapters and books, on the lower margin of fol. 29v.

Binding

Bound, s. xviii.

Accompanying Material

Former 12 binding leaves of the manuscript now Oxford, Bodleian Library, Add. MS. D. 98 (see Madan 1895-1953, n. 2079, p. 201) contain a fourteenth-century copy of the Digest of Justinian (bks 19, 20) in a large hand. One of them, fol. 3r, bears an inscription, s. xvi: ‘Boecius de consolatione philosophie translated into the Saxonie tong by King Ælfred’. These leaves were bound separately in 1884. They were acquired according to Madan not later than 1602.

An old Bodleian shelfmark ‘NE.C.3.11.’, which was cut from the former binding, is pasted onto the backcover.

History

Origin: 12th century, early ; English, South East (?)

Provenance and Acquisition

Unknown.

Provenance unknown. Given to the Library by Thomas Draper, M.A. in 1601, ‘Translation quædam Alfrædi.’

Record Sources

Description by Orietta Da Rold (July 2010) for The Production and Use of English Manuscripts: 1060 to 1220, reused by permission. Thanks are due to to Susan Irvine for sharing information about this manuscript with the author.

Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (1 image from 35mm slides)

Bibliography

    Online resources:

    Gibson, Margaret T., Lesley Smith, and Joseph Ziegler, Codices Boethiani: A Conspectus of Manuscripts of the Works of Boethius, Warburg Institute Surveys and Texts, 25, 3 vols (London: Warburg Institute, University of London, 1995), vol. 1, p. 18 (mainly general information on the English tradition)
    Godden, Malcolm, and Susan Irvine, eds., The Old English Boethius: An Edition of the Old English Versions of Boethius's 'De Consolatione Philosophiae' (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)
    Godden, Malcolm, and others, The Alfredian Boethius Project 2002 (Faculty of English, University of Oxford, http://english.nsms.ox.ac.uk/boethius/AlfredianBoethiusIndex.html; accessed Jan 2010), a complete bibliography on the work, editions and manuscripts can be found here.
    Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957; repr. 1990), item 23
    Madan, Falconer, and others, A Summary Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1895-1953)
    Sedgefield, Walter John, ed., King Alfred's Old English Version of Boethius De consolatione philosophiae (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899), n. 2079, pp. 200-01