Cicero, De senectute, De amicitia, De somnio Scipionis, etc., in Latin, manuscript on paper

[Italy, 15th century, second half]

 Robert Hooke's Micrographia
Click here to see a flat image of these pages

Manuscripts of the Latin Classics are the epitome of Renaissance learning. The Italian Humanists made it their mission to recover the writings of Antiquity; and then, as now, Cicero's writing style was held as a model of elegance and clarity, causing his works to be copied innumerable times and surviving in thousands of medieval manuscripts.

This copy was clearly used in the 15th century as a study-text: some pages have extensive notes filling the margins, others have manicula (little hands with fingers pointing at particularly noteworthy passages of text), and many have glosses between the lines of text.

An added 15th-century inscription states that Valerius Cillenius Victor (or Valerio Cillenio Vittore) 'bought it at Rome from a certain Florentine'; Valerio is recorded elsewhere in the service of Cardinal Bessarion (d.1472), and Pope Sixtus IV (d.1484) in Rome. A 17th-century inscription on the first page records its later ownership by the Jesuit College at Agen in south-west France.

Given to the College in 1905 by Rev. E.W. Bowell, along with MSS. A.17.25 and A.18.1

Text kindly provided, especially for this exhibition, by Peter Kidd