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

MS. D'Orville 95

Summary Catalogue no.: 16973

Hyginus, Astronomica; etc. Southern Germany, late 10th or early 11th century


Language(s): Latin

1a. (fols. 1r-38v)
Hyginus, Astronomica

According to L. Fitzgerald, 'Hygini Astronomica' (PhD thesis, St. Louis University, 1967) 24, 339–40, the text descends from BnF MS. Lat. 11127 contaminated with readings from another family.

1b. (fols. 25r-38v, quires 19–20, lower text of the palimpsest)

The diagrams on fols. 28v and 31v (for which see below, Decoration) are often found with astronomical excerpts from Pliny, Natural History (e.g. Berne, MS. 347, fol. 24v; MS. Canon. Class. Lat. 279, fol. 34r). It seems very likely therefore that the primary text contained an astronomical miscellany which included the Pliny excerpts or works based on them.

In format and script the lower text was very similar to the upper; indeed the scribe of the upper text uses the ruling of the lower. The lower text was probably therefore waste from the same scriptorium.

Formerly one volume with MS. D'Orville 77: see below.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment (fols. 25–38 palimpsest)
Extent: i + 38 + i (i, 1–39)
Dimensions (leaf): c. 238–42 (236 in quires 19–20) × 171–3 mm.


16–19(8), 20(6). No signatures. (For quires 1–15 see MS. D'Orville 77.)


1 col., 30 lines. Ruled in hard point. Written space c. 184–6 × 111–13 mm. ; in quires 18, c. 185 × 106 mm. ; in quires 19–20, c. 178 × 108–118 mm.


MSS. D'Orville 77 and 95 were written by four main scribes in caroline minuscule. Here, quires 16–17 by scribe B; quire 18 by scribes C and D; quires 19–20 by scribe D.


Good interlace initial, fol. 1r.

Diagrams, fols. 38r-v and in the lower text of the palimpset, fols. 28v, 31r. Fol. 28v: graph diagram illustrating the course of the planets through the signs of the zodiac (identical to PL 90.363–4). Fol. 31r: zodiac circle divided by radii into twelve parts; the names of the twelve signs were written inside the perimeter: only 'SAGITTAR⟨IVS⟩' can now be read. The word 'iouis' occurs under the sign which should be Leo, four signs away from Sagittarius. The diagram doubtless illustrates the circle of the planets in the signs of the zodiac.


Standard D'Orville binding of smooth brown leather, mid-18th century.

Former chained binding (MS. D'Orville 77, fols. 96v-97r, rust stains from a chain).


Origin: 10th century, late, or 11th century, early ; Germany, South

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly one volume with MS. D'Orville 77 (note the contents list on MS. D'Orville 77, fol. 1r, and similarities in script, decoration and format); still one volume in 1746 (see below).

Exact origin and medieval provenance not known: textual affiliations with Munich, BSB Clm 6369 possibly from Friesing.

Isaac Verburg of Amsterdam (1680–1745): together with MS. O'Orville 95 this was Oratores et Rhetores in Quarto no. 486 in the auction-catalogue of his books, Amsterdam, 1746 (Bibliotheca Verburgiana ..., p. 68)

Jacques Phillippe D'Orville of Amsterdam (1690–1751); bought at Verburg's sale: see the catalogue of D'Orville's collection by C. J. Strackhoven (18th century, second half), MS. D'Orville 302, fols. 20r, 21r. Separated from the present MS. D'Orville 77 by the time of that catalogue.

Jean D'Orville, b. 1734, his son, by descent

Jean D'Orville, son of Jean, by descent

Sold to the Rev. John Cleaver Banks (1765/6–1845): purchased from him by the Bodleian.

Acquired by the Bodleian in 1804. Previous shelfmark Auct. X. 1. 3. 36.

Record Sources

Description adapted (Dec. 2020) with permission from B. Barker-Benfield, 'The manuscripts of Macrobius' Commentary on the Somnium Scipionis' (DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 1975), II.150–159. Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)


Last Substantive Revision

2020-12-01: New description after Barker-Benfield for Polonsky German digitization project