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

Christ Church MS. 508

Ovid, Tristia; Italy (?north-east), s. xv3/4


Language(s): Latin

Fols 1–86v
Rubric: Publij Ouidij Nasonis poetę clarissimi Liber primus de tristibus incipit
Incipit: Parue nec inuideo sine me liber ibis in urbem | Hei mihi quod
Explicit: iam facis ille monendo | Laudat et hortatu Comprobat acta suo
Final rubric: Finis Publij Ouidij Nasonis de tristibus
Ovid, Tristia

Ed. J. B. Hall (Stuttgart, 1995), with this manuscript listed as O8 in the codicum catalogus. The books divide at fol. 19, 33, 52, 68. There is a considerable amount of glossing, diminishing throughout the volume, in a very small version of the text hand. Most of this indicates grammatical relationships, but, e.g., a sequence of five citations from Tibullus appear as a marginal gloss on fol. 30. Fol. 86v has only four lines and the colophon, which is presented cul-de-lampe.

Fol. 87–89v: blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Carmina seccessum
Form: codex
Support: Paper: the quires are regular groups of two sheets and one half-sheet (in quires 5–7, the half-sheet without watermark), folded in quarto (the lost leaf after fol. 89 had half the mark). Probably a single watermark of type Drache/Basilique (although on one of the moulds the dragon’s tail is significantly narrowed); the mark resembles a variety of specifically Ferrarese stocks, perhaps most closely Piccard 10 (Fabeltiere) ii, no. 452 (1442), but cf. nos 442–52 (produced from the late 1420s on) and, for the severely pinched tail mould, nos 414–33 (mostly of the 1470s)
Extent: Fols: ii + 89 + ii (numbered fols iii, iv). All flyleaves added with binding.
Dimensions (leaf): 239 × 167 mm.
Dimensions (written): 150 × 90 mm.


1–810 910 (wanting last, a blank). Catchwords written vertically along the inner edge of the writing area; no signatures.


Written in long lines, 21 lines to the page (above top line).

No signs of pricking, some very light signs of bounding and ruling by dry-point, with double vertical borders (that to the left reserved for the opening capital of every other verse), but single horizontal bounding lines.


Written in a slanted humanist cursive with extravagant two-stroke final s.

Punctuation by line-ending point, double point (also at pauses within the line), and punctus interrogativus.

The manuscript has been previously described: Ker, MMBL, 3:609.


Headings in red at the opening and at book divisions. At the opening of the text and of its sections, two-line red Roman capitals, unflourished. Red sidenotes indicate important topics, by the scribe. On each recto, a running header of the book number in Roman capitals.


Brown russia letter, gilt stamps and bit tooled, s. xix, over millboards. Sewn on three thongs. In the spine compartments ‘Ovidius de tristibus M.S. saec. xiv [sic]’ in gilt. Endleaves and pastedowns marbled paper, a ChCh bookplate on the front pastedown.


Origin: Italy (?north-east); s. xv3/4

Provenance and Acquisition

There is continuous evidence of ownership from the early nineteenth century. At fol. iv, ‘Celotti’ ‘159’; his sale, 14 March 1825, lot 217. On the book-collector and art dealer, Luigi Celotti, see now Anne-Marie Eze, Abbé Luigi Celotti: Connoissuer, Dealer, and Collector of Illuminated Miniatures (unpublished doctoral thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, 2010). Sir Thomas Phillipps bought extensively at the sale: A. N. L. Munby, The Formation of the Phillipps Library up to the year 1840, Phillipps Studies, 3 (Cambridge, 1954), 50–51 & 147, including this manuscript, with his nos 960 and 2767 (in ink, fol. iv; the stamped ex-libris, fol. ii). It was put up for sale at Sotheby’s in the eight part of the Phillipps collection, on 10 June 1896 as lot 941, but did not sell (Schoenberg 40265) and returned to their rooms for the tenth part, 6 June 1898, lot 887 (Schoenberg 60033; a note from the sale catalogue, pasted to our fol. iv); it was purchased by J. and J. Leighton, booksellers, for 1 guinea. They sold it to Charles Butler (1822–1910) and it later made a return visit to Sotheby’s for sale, along with other manuscripts which had been owned by Butler, on 19 July 1921, as lot 489 (Schoenberg 48856); a pencil note in the Bodleian copy suggests it sold for £28 (which would be a remarkably high price). Presumably, from there, it reached Dobell’s: their catalogue 48 (1925), no. 14 offered for 10 guineas (the page pasted to our fol. i), whence purchased by S. G. Owen, the editor of (1889, 1894, 1915) and commentator on (1893, 1902, 1924) the Tristia. He bequeathed the book to ChCh, as he did the previous manuscript.

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna and David Rundle, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Western Manuscripts, to c. 1600, in Christ Church, Oxford (Oxford, 2017).


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact Christ Church Library.

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.