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

MS. Holkham misc. 48

Summary Catalogue no.: Not in SC (late accession)

Contents

(pp. 1-148)
Dante , Divine comedy
Language(s): Italian
(pp. 1-54; Quires I-III)

Inferno

Rubric: Qui comincia la prima Cantica de la comedia di dante Chiamata Inferno laquale se diuide per Canti. En el primo canto fa prohemio sopra tutta lopra
Incipit: Nel meço del camin di nostra uita mi ritrouai per una selua scura chella diritta uia era smarrita

pp. 55-56 are pricked and ruled, but left blank.

(pp. 57-112; Quires IV-VIII)

Purgatorio

Rubric: Qui comincia il primo capitolo de la seconda Canticha dela comedia. Doue tracta del suo prohemio. E doue introduce Cato. E tracta dela prima spetie de negligentia
(pp. 113-148; Quires IX-X)

Paradiso

Rubric: Qui comincia il primo Capitolo dela terça Canticha dela comedia. Nelquale sitracta lo suo prohemio Come omni cosa naturalmente tende a buonfine. Loquale fine sic forma delordine mondano
Explicit: lamor che moue il sole & laltre stelle.
Final rubric: Explicit liber dantis deparadiso.
Colophon: Qui scripsit scribat semper cum domino uiuat

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: Maio per che
Form: codex
Support: Parchment of variable quality, the hair-and flesh sides often very different; the lower edges at the start of the book very ragged, and patched with other pieces of parchment before being decorated; the parchment of the Inferno section is generally inferior to that which follows.
Extent: iii (paper) + 74 + iii (paper) leaves.
Dimensions (leaf): 355-60 × 235 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 210-50 × 180-200 mm.
Foliation: The main text paginated in 19th-century pencil 1-147, the last page of the text and the flyleaves paginated in late 20th-century pencil i-vi, 178-154.

Collation

I8 (pp. 1-16), II-III10 (pp. 17-56) | IV-VI8 (pp. 57-104), VII-VIII2 (pp. 105-112) | IX8 (pp. 113-128), X10 (pp. 129-148); quires arranged with a flesh-side outermost quire signatures at the top gutter corner of the first rectos, ['a1']-'k1'.

Layout

Ruled in leadpoint for 36-45 written lines per page, in 2 columns; prickings (sometimes double) often survive in the outer margin.

Hand(s)

Written in a rounded Italian gothic script by more than one scribe, below top line, apparently with a change of hand at the start of Purgatorio.

Decoration

Rubrics in red introduce each canto; initial letters of verses stroked in red.

One historiated initial depicting Dante sitting asleep on a hillside at the start of the Inferno (p. 1); a large 'puzzle' initial in red and blue with red and purple penwork at the start of Purgatorio and Paradiso (pp. 57, 113); three-line initials in red with purple penwork to each canto, one of them in red with fine penwork in brown ink (p. 141). The lower border of every page with coloured drawings, occasionally using gold, illustrating the text; figures and scenes usually identified by inscriptions in red ink; the final page with an almost uncoloured ink drawing, possibly of Dante presenting his work to a dignitary with a retinue.The miniatures of the three main textual sections appear to have been decorated by different artists.

Binding

Typical Holkham binding of green straight-grained morocco over pasteboards, with the Holkham crest in gilt in the centre of the upper cover; the spine lettered in gilt 'COMMEDIA | DI | DANTE || MS. | DEL.SEC. | XIV.', and, at the bottom, '51[4]'.

History

Origin: Italian, North (?), Genoa (?); 14th century, third quarter

Provenance and Acquisition

One or more inscriptions are erased at the end of the text, perhaps partly in red ink.

Occasional annotations and corrections to the text in early Italian hands, including whole omitted verses (e.g. at the end of Canto 18: 'Di quella soza ...'; p. 28).

Bookplate of 'THOMAS WILLIAM COKE' (1754-1842) (upper pastedown), and signed 'Thos. Willm. Coke.' (p. ii); inscribed by his friend William Roscoe (1753-1831) 'The designs in this curious M.S. have great merit, when considered with reference to the very early period at which they were produced. [signed] W.R.' (p. iii); inscribed 'Cat. 2.' (p. 153) and '2' (p. 1, top gutter corner) in 19th-century pencil; formerly Norfolk, Holkham Hall, MS. 514, inscribed with this number in pencil (p. iii).

Record Sources

Draft description by Peter Kidd, late 1990s

Availability

To ensure its availability to future readers, access to this item is restricted, and readers are asked to work from reproductions and published descriptions as far as possible. To apply to see the original, please send a message to specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk, outlining the subject of your research, the importance of this item to that research, and the resources you have already consulted.

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (147 images from 35mm slides)