Part of the Dialogues of Gregory the Great
Book III, Chapters 12,3.23 (intra eandem) ‒ 14,6.60 (in ortum), plus catchword
Produced probably in Flanders, perhaps circa 1450
[Published on 7 July 2015, with updates. The announcement that (after earlier sales from that collection), the residue of manuscript materials in the possession of Otto F. Ege’s family has been purchased by the Beinecke Library at Yale University encourages the anticipation of more revelations about surviving leaves from the dispersed manuscripts, perhaps also this one. Reports on that collection figured in our 2016 Symposium on ‘Words & Deeds’. Also, we can include the specimen from this manuscript now at The Newark Public Library.]
With permission, we illustrate a detached leaf, now in a private collection, from one of the manuscripts which the notorious bibliophile and self-styled ‘biblioclast’ Otto F. Ege (1888‒1951) dismantled for dispersal, mostly by sale, among different collectors and collections far and wide. Our recent post reflected on the conditions of dispersal and partial recovery for some of those fragments.
The leaf, seen here on both recto and verso, was purchased on its own several years ago in Boston. Its seller had little information about the leaf, whose identity awaited recognition. The present owner, having identified the Ege connection, told me about the leaf when I mentioned my work on some dispersed Ege leaves in other connections, and generously allowed me to study the specimen and report further findings.
The Nature of the Leaf
The parchment leaf presents, in 2 columns of 40 lines per page (with a written area of circa 204 × 148 mm), part of Book III of the Dialogues in Latin by, or attributed to, Pope Gregory the Great (pope from 590‒604).
As written, the leaf turns the yellowed hair side of its animal skin onto the recto (first side or page), with the whitish flesh side on the verso (second page). Recognizing the shapes of the margins at top, sides, and bottom, and identifying the text and its sequence across the leaf make it possible to discern which is front and which is back of the leaf.
A deeper trimming of the leaf, or matting to obscure its margins, so as to zero in on the text or decoration and obscure those outer, supposedly ‘extraneous’, features, could have required dependence upon the second of these two factors to establish or confirm the front and back. (Other posts report such problems with manuscript fragments and their varied resourceful solutions.)
Breaking off mid-sentence at both ends, that is, at the top of the recto and bottom of the verso, the leaf carries the last lines of one chapter, all of the next chapter, and much of the following one, before adding the catchword monasterii in the lower margin to signal the first word on the next leaf and to aid assembly of the book in its production. If no other leaf from the book survived, we would be stuck with its evidence, for better and for worse. (Sometimes, however, those few fragments can become extraordinarily eloquent, as illustrated in an earlier post in our series on Manuscript Fragments.)
On its own, without any other leaves from the manuscript, the catchword could be ambivalent as an indicator of the expected continuation of text either from the end of a quire to the next, or from each leaf to the next within a quire, because such practices for the position of catchwords could vary in the late Middle Ages. Observing the other leaves of the manuscript, provided that they might be found, can resolve this ambivalence.
Design and Layout
With some abbreviations, the text on the leaf was written by a single scribe in a skilled Lettre Bâtarde, a semi-cursive Gothic script used in France, Flanders, and Germany during the 14th and 15th centuries CE. For Latin manuscripts, the script may be called Bâtarde de manuscrits latins, using ornamented forms (‘des capitales romaines dorées et ornées’) for its initial letters.
This case of the script appears to have been produced in Flanders in about the mid-15th century. A distinctive feature of the layout is the use of some ascenders with exaggerated height in the first line of the page (here in the words sublata on the recto and contumelia on the verso), resembling practices for documents with a flamboyant display.
The leaf carries no running titles nor chapter titles, although the skipped line of script in each column (=columns ‘a’ and ‘b’) on the recto (recto, column a, line 15 [=line ‘ra15’] and line rb36) between the end of each chapter and the beginning of the next allows space, albeit left unfilled, for the title to be entered in script of red pigment. The openings of both chapters have enlarged and indented 2-line initials which alternate between blue or red pigment from one initial to the next.
These initials are embellished with decorative pen-flourishing which forms both a bed (or background) and extensions in the contrasting color (red or blue). As part of the dialogue structure of the text, the question concluding the chapter opens with an inline 1-line initial Q (for Quis) in blue pigment, decorated simply decorated with a bulbous element (line rb33).
Such features of layout impart a clarity and legibility to the structure and components of the text — that is, when consistently observed. And yet, despite the overall appearance of consistency, some other parts of the manuscript do not completely conform with these principles.
Pope Gregory’s Dialogues
Cast in the form of questions and answers between Pope Gregory and his disciple Peter the Deacon (died circa 605), the Dialogues collect in four Books a series of stories about the signs, wonders, and miracles associated with holy men (and also some women), mostly monastic, in sixth-century Italy. Book II focuses upon Saint Benedict of Nursia (circa 480 – 543 or 547), author of the Rule of Saint Benedict, while the other Books consider other figures, mostly accorded single chapters, of which Book III has 38 chapters.
The authorship of the Dialogues continues to be subject to dispute, as some scholars deny Gregory’s work and attribute the text to a pretender, while others rigorously defend the pope’s composition. For the present purposes, the debate might remain a ‘spectator’s sport’, meaning no disrespect.
Here we focus upon the text itself, insofar as transmitted in this witness, that is, insofar as we can determine the extant extent of its text. This quest is not easy, given the disruption — partly willful, partly negligent, partly careless, and mostly predatory — of evidentiary transmission, at the hands severally of the 20th-century plunderers and some sellers of the manuscript as a whole and its fragments.
The Latin Text as Such
The Latin text of the Dialogues — not using this witness or its manuscript — has been edited by Adalbert de Vogüé (in 3 volumes), with a French translation by Paul Antin, in the critical edition of Grégoire le Grand, Dialogues, in the series Sources Chrétiennes, volumes 251, 260, and 265 (Paris, 1979). In line with this resource (its Volume II, pages 289‒306), the text on the leaf extends from Chapter XII, Section 3, Line 23 (= Book III, 12, 3.23) to Chapter XIV, Section 4, Line 31 (Book III, 14, 4.31).
A freely available online edition of the Latin text appears here, with different section numbers (according to which the text on the leaf extends from within Chapter XII, Section 4 to within XIV, 8). An English translation of the text is available here.
The Span of Text on the Leaf
Details establish the clues for a wider context within the former book and its position in the transmission of the several texts. Recording these details prepares the grounds for their evidentiary potential in reconstructing the whole, both for the Dialogues and the rest of the volume.
Yes, it may seem boring, but sometimes getting technical and precise gets results.
The text on the recto of the leaf concludes Chapter XII (on the manuscript lines ra1‒13), extending from within Section 3.23 to the end of Section 4.31 (intra eandem [for eamdem] . . . per humiles premat). With the skipped lines for chapter titles not filled, there follow all of Chapter XIII (lines ra15‒rb35) and most of Chapter XIV (lines rb37‒40 + va1‒vb40), from Sections 1.1 to within 6.60 (in ortum), plus the next word monasterii as a catchword leading to the next page. The textual division between the recto and verso occurs with gothorum / tempora (XIV, 1.3/4).
And so, the textual coverage corresponds to some 112 printed lines by de Vogüé per leaf and about either 55 or 57 printed lines per page (not counting any titles). Given these standards, the preceding leaf would presumably conclude with Et dum magna nimis inundatio fieret (12, 2.23) and the following leaf would begin with monasterii fecit iactari ferramenta . . . (14, 6.60‒61).
That is, provided the manuscript followed the printed standard(s). As usual, anyway in manuscript studies, the truth resides in the details.
The Process of Detection
Such are some methods with which the search for other parts of the dispersed manuscript may or must proceed. Yet it is also important to bear in mind the variations either which the manuscript may have exhibited, on some still ‘lost leaves’, or which it certainly did, on some known surviving leaves, with respect to the received (or printed) versions of the Latin text.
The process of detection proceeds, as usual in manuscript studies, in various directions as the available or recoverable evidence, interpretations, clues, opportunities, and challenges might direct.
Now we turn to the other leaves from the volume, or anyway some of them, given the challenges of dispersal and distribution mostly without clear and direct trace. The present locations of the two leaves which stood directly before and after this one in the original manuscript are unknown to me, although the locations of various of their companions elsewhere in the manuscript have come to light, piecemeal.
Part of that process results from the individual and collective research across the years on the many fragments and residuals of medieval manuscripts which Otto Ege dispersed among different individuals and institutions in his proselytizing activities regarding manuscripts, printed books, and other graphic arts from the 1910s to the time of his death. Some links to these continuing contributions are listed in our previous post on The ‘Foundling Hospital’ for Manuscript Fragments and Lost and Foundlings.
Relevant here as well are some printed works. They include:
1) Julia Boffey, A.S.G. Edwards et al., Medieval Manuscripts in the Norlin Library: A Summary Catalogue (2002)
2) Christopher de Hamel, Joel Silver, et al, The Leaf Book Considered (2005)
3) A.S.G. Edwards, ‘Otto Ege: The Collector as Destroyer’, Manuscripta: A Journal for Manuscript Research, 53:1 (2009), 1–12
4) Barbara A Shailor, ‘Otto Ege: Portfolios vs. Leaves’, Manuscripta, 53:1 (2009), 13–27
5) Scott Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts: A Study of Ege’s Manuscript Collections, Portfolios, and Retail Trade, with a Comprehensive Handlist of Manuscripts Collected and Sold (2013),
especially Appendix X: Handlist, No. 41 (pages 132‒133).
Invaluable to the detective work is the ability to observe, either directly or virtually, the appearance and text of individual leaves dispersed in many directions into public or private collections, although sometimes the leaves or sets of leaves have had a tendency to wander further in other directions, sometimes traceable. We work with the materials at hand and in view.
The Ege Portfolio Edition of
Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts, Western Europe, XII–XVI Century
The Case of Manuscript Number 41 (Dialogues, etc.)
out of 50 Dismembered Manuscripts
A starting point is Otto Ege’s Portfolio edition of Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts (issued between 1930‒1950), to which the manuscript surrendered some of its detached leaves. Among those 50 numbered ‘Medieval Manuscripts’, this one is Number 41.
Among the different albums, or ‘Leaf Books’, constructed with cuttings from original manuscripts or printed books, which Ege (like some other collectors and sellers) prepared between circa 1923 and 1949 for sale and distribution, this one is probably the most famous or infamous. Its boxed set, album, or portfolio of 50 single leaves (numbered 1–50) removed from 50 different manuscripts was issued in an edition of 40 numbered sets, plus at least 1 and perhaps 2 unnumbered sets.
Of the latter, there are at least 1 unnumbered copy in the possession of the Ege family and 1 now-unnumbered copy at Smith College. The Smith College set may or must originally have had a number (‘doubtless’, with some details, as reported by Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts, Appendix X, page 106, note 1). If so, it could account for one — which one? — of the sets whose locations are currently unknown.
The Unknowns, ‘untraced as of May 2013’, are Sets Numbers 1, 3, 7, 14, 18, 20, 21, 26, 31, and 40 (listed in Ibid., note 3, updating an earlier list up to 2008). But we should note the relevant proviso that one of them could be ‘known’, that is, as the Smith College set, without as yet knowing which number that set would (or should) have had originally.
So, maybe, 9 sets remain as yet among the Unknowns. Not only have some Portfolios been lost (Number 33, ‘lost in shipping’), or lost trace of (for example, after sales from recorded sellers’ catalogues), but also some of the Known ones have lost some of their leaves along the way, and/or been broken up for resale. Apparently that is an ‘occupational hazard’ for ‘Leaf Books’.
Make Up Means Break Up First
In producing this Portfolio, Ege selected 50 manuscripts from his own collection, removed leaves from each of them, mounted each leaf onto a large paper mat using gauze-like tape hinges, added a descriptive printed label to the window of the mat, and assembled the mounted leaves into a single sequence which remains constant throughout the Portfolio. Thus were formed a linked pair of series:
- Leaves/Manuscripts Numbers 1–50 in
- Sets Numbers 1–40+ (see above).
The boxed sets were offered for sale to libraries and collectors, mostly around North America. And so, away they went. Within the Portfolio, the leaves from the manuscript of the Dialogues of Gregory the Great (and other texts) are Number 41, for which some specimens are made available online in a brave attempt — still in course — to begin to assemble a locus for sharing online the records for the individual specimens, along with their images (ideally of both recto and verso), transcriptions of their texts, identifications of those texts, and translations. An excellent rallying point.
A recent post on our Research Group website described aspects of this Portfolio, its characteristics, its dispersal, and the ongoing research on its evidence and implications, with respect to some other detached leaves belonging to another private owner (none from this same volume, Manuscript Number 41). Links posted there give some guidance for the directions in which research on these challenges can and do progress.
Meanwhile, to keep it clear, the Portfolio in question is ‘Number 51’ in ‘A Checklist of Leaf Books’ by John P. Chalmers, in The Leaf Book Considered, at page 114; and ‘Appendix VIII’ in Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts (pages 106–107). Ege’s other ‘Leaf Books’ using detached specimens extracted from original manuscript and printed materials are Chalmer’s Numbers 21, 50, 68, 73, 85, and 97‒98, whose production overall extended from circa 1923 to 1949.
These date-ranges and different enterprises are worth keeping in mind. Don’t fret. I’ll remind you when the time comes to see why that recognition might matter.
‘Ege Rogue Leaves’ & ‘Residuals’ Wander into the Field
Also, other cases of detached leaves, bifolia, or groups of leaves which came from ‘Ege Manuscript 41’ circulated in other ways. They did so as ‘Rogue Leaves of Otto Ege’, in the words of our Associate Lisa Fagin Davis on the trail of such leaves from various volumes now in many places, with dramatic results, for example for the Beauvais Missal (‘Ege Manuscript 15’). In larger groups, larger remainders from despoiled Ege manuscripts may count as ‘Residuals’. Those clumps could comprise bifolia and more, supposedly undeserving(!) of inclusion in the Portfolios or worthy of retention instead. Anyway, it’s a mess.
Trying to find some order, in the interests of organization and clarity. Within that second category of ‘Rogue Leaves’, the dispersed leaves from ‘Portfolio Manuscript 41’ belong to the first subset. This first sub-category comprises fragments which come ‘from the same manuscripts as leaves included in the [several Ege] portfolios’ (Shailor, ‘Otto Ege: Portfolios vs. Leaves’, at page 18).
The New Leaf is one such case. Now we know where it stands, bibliographically. Let us see how it stands on its own and within its larger context.
Selected leaves from its original volume served as one of the specimens deployed in one of Ege’s series of boxed sets, or portfolios, each with specimens of single leaves, taken from different manuscripts illustrating various aspects of medieval scripts and book-design. In producing this Portfolio, on a mission, Ege selected fifty medieval manuscripts from his personal collection and removed individual leaves from each of them.
The ‘severance package’ (my term) involved cutting the leaf, or rather, the bifolium, more-or-less along the folding line of the gutter, at which the folded pair of leaves had been sewn into the original manuscript. Ege’s cutting lines usually do not bother to trim the inner edges of the newly ‘liberated’ leaves (my term) into a uniform straight line.
The approach manifests a haste which cares little for the cosmetic effect, because the mounts would mask those ‘defects’. Fortunately for us, that determination to advance to the intended goal, no trimming required, allows us to observe the traces of sewing stations within the original manuscript, at least on some of the leaves reduced to ‘orphans’ under Ege’s knife.
Severing them from their ‘birth family’ (I still have Manuscript ‘Lost and Foundlings’ on my mind), Ege mounted each separated leaf onto a large paper mat using tape hinges. Into a window within the mat, he added a descriptive printed label, which provided, or asserted, his statement about the thing.
The result is a characteristic ‘Ege mount’. Selecting one such mounted leaf from each of the fifty chosen manuscripts, in the pre-determined order, he assembled them in sequence into the portfolio box, with a different leaf from each original in each boxed set. The sets were numbered in sequence, in an exclusive order. And so they were offered for sale or ‘distribution’, with varying success.
The Rest is History, and partly Mystery
Some sets have lost parts of their original contents, as a few of their leaves have strayed, while several have been disassembled for further distribution, notably through the sales rooms. Some other ‘stray’ or ‘rogue’ leaves from the dismantled manuscripts, not selected for the albums themselves, have wandered in various directions as well. Some have remained within Ege’s surviving materials. Others have found their way on their own, often without any form of documentation or information about their original volume and its context. Such is the case with the New Leaf from the end of a quire in Book III.
The lack of precise documentation hampers the identification of the leaves not only outside the albums but also within them. Ege provided brief captions for each leaf in the Portfolio, and thus he left them, as well as the Rogue Leaves, to fend for themselves.
From such incomplete, and fragmented resources, the current descriptions of the manuscript, and/or its various fragments, report it to be, for example, the ‘Dialogues of Gregory the Great’ (or ‘Gregory the Great’s Dialogues’), ‘Miracles of the Early Italian Fathers’, ‘a quality manuscript of Gregory the Great’s Dialogues in bâtarde script” (Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts, page 33), and ‘a fine Patristic compendium’ (Ibid., p. 77). These do not exactly amount to, or represent, the same thing(s).
Not only the Dialogues
Within the Portfolio Sets themselves, as well as among the Rogues, some leaves do not, in fact, contain parts of the Dialogues, but rather other texts by other authors. Only for some of them do the various library or sellers’ catalogue descriptions report those specific texts. As a result, a number of the so-called ‘Dialogue’ leaves continue to masquerade under assumed identities.
These factors impose barriers for recognizing the existence of the various dispersed portions of the manuscript, even when — as not always — the connection of a possible case with the known corpus of the book is glimpsed as a possibility to explore. For the Portfolio, Ege identified the leaf particularly as coming from a ‘composite’ manuscript of works by Gregory the Great, while some of the leaves in the Portfolio itself contain parts of the writings of other authors. Clearly, however, because of the relative uniformity of script, hand, layout, and decorative embellishment, it seems undeniable that those leaves belong to the same original manuscript.
Accordingly, to judge by those random (I mean that word) signs, we may recognize that, within the original book, the Dialogues stood with, at least, some Epistles and Homilies (in Latin) by or attributed to the Greek author John Chrysostom (circa 349 – 407 CE) and other texts by one or more authors. One of the current library catalogue descriptions identifies the text on its leaf as part of a Sermon by Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE). Patristic, pertaining to writings of the Church Fathers, that’s for sure. (So far.)
But also some Distinctions
Such factors conveyed with the Portfolio specimens and with some Rogue leaves from the manuscript, as well as adducible clues about them, encourage earnest descriptions on site which represent their own leaves, but do not necessarily represent the whole in its variety.
This observation does not intend at all to criticize the descriptions themselves, which offer valuable contributions, but it notices the importance of keeping in mind the value of examining the individual specimen without assuming that its characteristics prove the full set of clues for identifying a new specimen from the original volume.
To whit, regarding Set Number 5 in its current location (a leaf from ‘Chrysostom’), describing not only its specimen but also reaching out to encapsulate other leaves from the book:
It dates to fifteenth-century France, measures 31 x 22.5 cm, and is written in a widespread secular script called lettre bâtarde. These leaves are generally unadorned except for yellow filling in the first letters of sentences, occasional use of rubrication for incipits or divisions, and of course the dramatic ascenders in the top line. (Sometimes space has been left for rubrication which was not supplied.) Three-line decorated red/blue initials, when present, are filled with very attractive and intricate swirls and beads. There are sharp tears to the inner margin where the leaf was separated from the binding thread.
For convenience, the portions which I highlight in red signal elements pertaining only to some leaves from the book, insofar as I have been able to examine them, directly or indirectly.
The ‘yellow filling’ of opening initials apparently occurs only in the ‘Chrysostom’ portions, not within the Dialogues. Within the Dialogues portion, the decorated red/blue initials are much less frequently ‘three-line’ than two line, and the ‘occasional use of rubrication for incipits’ is nonexistent. Samples of three-line or two-line initials, in the different texts, ‘Chrysostom’ (at The Newark Public Library) versus the Dialogues (on the New Leaf), show the difference in line-heights for the decorated initials, which manifest the work of a single hand:
These differences probably indicate subtly different approaches in the different portions of the volume. For example, the rubricated titles were completed for part of it, but not for all, and the yellow filling (perhaps a characteristic reproduced from the exemplar) represented one set of texts in the ensemble, not all of them.
Such cues may alert us to more ready identification of the other remnants. For example, to let you in on some of the tricks of the trade, I mention that, by now, after all this research to get to know the questioned manuscript in its various witnesses, when I first glance a ‘new’ specimen, the glimpse of yellow filling is enough to enable me — so far — straightaway to rule out the Dialogues and to look instead toward Chrysostom’s texts or presumed texts. Saves a bit of time.
Word(s) to the wise. Or, every little bit helps. These cues might guide your investigations more surely. Both a plan and a hope.
The Remnants of the Dialogues in ‘Otto Ege Manuscript 41’: One Leaf in Each ‘Portfolio’ plus ‘Rogue’ Leaves Dispersed in Other Ways
Here, we concentrate upon the Dialogues. Step by Step. It makes a start.
The texts on some leaves in the manuscript have been identified already. Among the Known leaves from the manuscript, counting both the specimens in the Portfolio sets (where ‘Known’) and the identifiable (or Known) Rogue Leaves, the texts of some of them are identifiable, that is, where they are accessible to (my) view. The leaves in some collections are not available to hand nor reproduced online, or some might be reproduced in printed catalogues as yet unseen (by me). For some leaves, only one side is reproduced, or only a portion, whether online or in print.
With these givens, I have been able to add to the series of identifications and to put more leaves into textual order. But first it can be helpful to see what Ege had to say about the manuscript, or, anyway, its specimens, or, it could be, one of them which he took sufficiently to be worthy or adequate or handy for representing the whole.
Otto Ege’s Singular View of the Manuscript’s Specimens:
Inscribed Not Exactly in Stone but Set into Print
The specimens of Leaf 41 distributed among the Portfolio sets were accompanied, and introduced, by Ege’s printed caption, shown here from Set Number 9. The combination of fonts and the layout is worthy of notice (not least because we have acquired an eye for such things, as manifested in the efforts to design one of our own, called Bembino, which you see on this website) with its juxtaposition of styles and letter-forms. Just saying.
Our concern now is the leaf itself and what Ege thought about it, at least in print.
In his words:
This composite text includes the Dialogues of Pope Gregory I (St. Gregory the Great, 540-604 A.D.), which are largely autobiographical, and his writings on the lives and miracles of the early Italian Church Fathers. The book hand used is known as lettre bâtarde, a semi-cursive hand closely related to the everyday writing used by the people. Many French and Flemish printing types were based on similar bâtarde hands. The writing was done with comparative speed; the even tone and the exact alignment of the right hand margin, as well as the beauty of individual letters, are admirable. The long ascenders in the upper line were borrowed from the legal documents of that day. Many printers followed the practice shown here of emphasizing the tone of the first word or two in the beginning of a paragraph. It was usually done without varying the style of the letters, while here we see angular gothic used in the first third of the line, followed by the bâtarde script.
The caption describes the text of the book as ‘composite’, but mentions only Gregory’s Dialogues, even though the specimens in some sets (including Numbers 25, 29, 30, 35, and 37) only contained others’ texts instead. As a result, some of their descriptions in seller’s and libraries’ catalogues misleadingly label their contents as the Dialogues. I said some things about this already. Worth emphasizing.
Likewise, Ege’s caption confusingly describes practices not found on all of the specimens, but presumably only on whichever one(s) stood in view during the composition of the caption, or claimed precedence in the matting, which turned one side of the leaf or another into prominence, regardless of its position in the original. (A case of Turnabout-Is-Unfair-Play is shown here from another Rogue Leaf from a different Manuscript in the same Portfolio, wherein folio 4, labeled as such in the original manuscript, was turned back-to-front in the mounting.)
Such partiality could be the case with Ege’s mention of the ‘practice shown here [emphasis mine] of emphasizing the tone of the first word or two in the beginning of a paragraph’. That description perhaps refers to the color of an opening initial itself, followed by some enlarged letters in the customary ink, before settling down into the standard text script. It could refer to the simply enlarged and colored initial of a minor section on some pages, mostly or only in the Dialogues (as on the recto of the New Leaf), or to the wash of yellow color added within some standard ink initials in the Chrysostom portions. So much for imprecision.
Similarly, not all specimens follow the stated rule that ‘here we see angular gothic used in the first third of the line, followed by the bâtarde script’. Some pages have no such initials or opening lines. Etc.
As Far As It Goes, and Beyond
As said, some belong to the Portfolios as their Leaf 41. Others are Rogue, that is, dispersed on their own, often, alas, without any proper documentation — not that Ege’s caption for the Portfolio can count as adequate documentation, as it masks, omits, or misrepresents some of the evidence. However, the details of the individual pages come in handy.
Reconstructing the Sequence of Leaves Page by Page and Book by Book
The proposed reconstruction of the original sequence of some leaves is provisional, as more identifications or revisions may well come to light. So far, I have identified 6 leaves for Book I, 1 leaf each for Books II and IV, and 3 leaves for Book III. Some leaves in Book I occur in continuous textual order, indicated thus: > .
[Update: I have now identified another leaf, which completes Book II and begins the Chapter List for Book III, as shown here. This result alters the numbers of identified leaves for Books II and III, and also identifies the survival of another two consecutive leaves.]
Also, here, the practice of citing the number of the individual Album in the proposed reconstruction of the original order demonstrates readily that the detached leaves of ‘Manuscript 41’ were not distributed regularly among the Portfolios with early leaves from the manuscript allotted to lower numbers of that series (as may have been the case, at least in part, for some other manuscripts in the Portfolio). The choices for the order of distribution appears to be more complex or, on occasion(s), haphazard.
Assessing the span of text-per-column, -per-page, and per-leaf with respect to the printed text (for example in the edition by de Vogüé) allows for estimates of the extent of the losses between leaves, albeit with the awareness that the manuscript may have deviated in some ways from that standard. Certain discernible textual variations in the surviving portions encourage that awareness. For example, the turn between the Colorado leaf and the following leaf omits a few words (id est flebotomum) found in the printed text, and there is a supplied passage in the outer margin on the Colorado verso for a passage omitted in its second line.
The textual gaps in the reconstruction so far are highlighted in RED.
The corresponding Line Numbers in the printed text for the words with which a leaf begins or ends are highlighted in Bold, more readily to emphasize the direct flow (or not) between one leaf and another.
Book I (12 Chapters)
With some gaps, the known texts extend from within Chapter 2, Section 4.42 (iacebat) to the penultimate leaf of the Book. And so:
[GAP of 1 or more leaves presumably containing the Chapter List to Book I,
its Prologue (amounting to 93 printed lines),
Chapter 1 (68 printed lines), and
some of Chapter 2 (42 printed lines), perhaps also with an opening title or title-page, perhaps glorious]
Set 13. University of Minnesota
Book I, Chapter 2, Section 4,Line 42 (iacebat) ‒ Chapter 3, 3, Line 26 (capite)
[The span of text amounts to some 130 printed lines for the leaf.]
Set 32. University of Colorado at Boulder recto and verso
1.3.3, Line 27 (perpendit) ‒ 1, 4.8, Line 97 (ferramentum)
Set 22. Cleveland Public Library
1.4.8, Line 97 (posuit) ‒ 1.4.18, Line 215 (tument)
[GAP of some 206 printed lines = say 2 leaves?]
Set 17. Massey College, The University of Toronto
1.8, 3, Line 24 (spatium vivendi signaverit) ‒ 1, 9, 7 Line 72 (in magnis quae + catchwords faciunt latere)
[GAP of some 120 printed lines = say 1 leaf]
Set 9. Cincinnati Public Library
1.9.17, Line 192 (Quae cum) ‒ 1.10.7, Line 84 (idcirco), illustrated here with permission.
Set 4. Cleveland Institute of Art
1.10.7, Line 85 (bona facere) ‒ 1.10.17, Line 201 (omnipotentis dei )
Set 15. Kent State University
1.10.17, Line 201 (est cui) ‒ 1.12.1, Line 8 (ut acta de [for dei]) (recto) ‒ 1.12.6, Line 68 (ut esurientem me per),
coming close to the end of the Book
[GAP of 5 printed lines at the end of this Book]
Book II (38 Chapters)
[GAP up to within Chapter 7.3]
Set 6. University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Chapter 7, 3. Line 22 (contra Maurus) ‒ Chapter 8.4. Line 45 (inflammarent) on recto; span on verso = ?)
[GAP, extent of leaves yet to be determined]
Set 24. Lilly Library of the Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington
Chapter 35.6, Line 55 (Fit uero ipsa) ‒ Chapter 38.5, Line 43 (end of Book II) + Book III, Chapter List 1‒6
Book III (38 Chapters)
‘Rogue Leaf’ (Gwara, Handlist, No. 41.5) at Dartmouth College (illustrated here with permission)
Chapter List for Chapters 7–38, 3 lines skipped for title,
Prologue with elaborate decorated initial, and
Chapter 1, 1 (Line 1) with minor initial, to the first word of 1, 6 (Line 59) Factumque
[GAP of numerous leaves from Chapter 1, 6.59 to 12, 3.23]
Newly Discovered ‘Rogue Leaf’. Private collection (illustrated here with permission)
Chapters 12.3, Line 23 (intra eandem) ‒ 14.6, Line 60 (in ortum)
plus the catchword monasterii, evidently signalling the end of a quire
[GAP of numerous leaves from Chapter 14, 6.60 to 15, 8.70]
‘Rogue Leaf’ sold through Maggs Bros. Whereabouts unknown.
One page (recto or verso?) illustrated in Plate XXXIII for Maggs Bros European Bulletin No. 11: Manuscript Leaves, Illumination & Calligraphy, Also Early Writing from Egypt (November 1982), item 88 allows this identification:
Chapters 15,8, Line 70 (quantolibet dolore commotus) ‒ 15,16 Line 131 (quam tangit quia dum)
[With the other side of this leaf presenting a comparable span of text either preceding or following this portion]
[GAP of numerous leaves from Chapter 15, 16.131 to 36, 3.18]
Set 27. University of South Carolina, Early MS 41a [=Early MS 41, folio 1]
Chapters 36, 3, Line 18 (Rimis) ‒ 37, 10, Line 87 (morte illius)
[GAP to Chapter 38, 5.58 at the end of the Book]
Book IV (59 Chapters)
[GAP to Chapter 4, 9.82]
Set 23. Kenyon College
Chapter 4, 9, Line 82 (quod requivisti) – 7, 1, Line 9 (quatenus)
[GAP to the end of the Book and the Dialogues]
Chapter Titles and the Openings of Books and Chapters
In its portion of the Chapter List, the Dartmouth College leaf records the titles (without numbers) for those chapters in Book III which appear in whole or in part on the newly recovered leaf, so that we might discern their intended wording for the lines skipped within the text for each Chapter title, and so supply those for the chapters on the new leaf from the manuscript itself:
- [III, 12.] De Fulgencio Utriculanae civitatis episcopo (‘On Fulgentius, Bishop of Utricoli’ [[Otriculi]) near Orte in Umbria)
- [III, 13.] De Herculaneo Perusinae civitatis episcopo (‘On Herculanus, Bishop of Perusium‘, now Perugia)
- [III, 14.] De Isaac servo Dei (‘On Isaac, the Servant of God’)
With the space of 3 lines skipped for an opening title between the Chapter List and the Prologue, the opening initial for the Prologue of Book III (rb16–19) receives especial emphasis. It has a taller decorated initial of 3-line height and bichrome decoration, alternating blue and red pigments not only between the different elements (initial, extended penwork), but also within each of those elements.
Chapter 1, in contrast, opens with a simple 1-line initial (rb33), in the form of initial used within the Dialogues portion mostly for the interlocutors’ questions within chapters. That approach appears, for example, on the new leaf for Peter’s unattributed question which starts within line rb33.
It is worth noting that such variations within the seemingly standard presentation of the texts across the different pages and leaves should caution the wish to make fixed assumptions about how the missing or so-far unrecognized leaves accomplished their individual presentation in the flesh. The details and their variations matter.
For example, following the word ferramentum at the end of the page, a few words (id est flebotomum) in the printed text are omitted in turning from the Colorado leaf to the Cleveland Public Library leaf. Could this ‘omission’, a textual variant of some sort, result a sort of eyeskip by ‘our scribe’ or some other earlier scribe involving multi-syllabic words in the accusative beginning with f? Does it reflect the exemplar, omitting this phrase?
On the verso of the University of Colorado leaf, a passage omitted from Book I, 4,20–21 (una earum . . . speciosa uidebatur) in the text column is supplied in the outer margin opposite lines va2–6 in the same scribe’s hand, written in 5 slightly smaller lines which taper in width as they descend (shown here). The supplied passage is contained within a tablet-like frame with a projecting bulb-like top. A matching pair of signes-de-renvoi stand both to the left of the tablet and in the interline above line va2, to signal the start of that supplied passage and the intended place for its insertion within the course of the text. The shape of the signe-de-renvoi, resembling the left part of a simplified dumbbell, and its identically twinned pairing at both ends of the ‘dialogue exchange’ between the pair, resemble the forms employed in earlier cases of the genre.
One might wonder if this feature — an ‘omitted’ passage supplied in the margin by the same scribe as the main text, set within a simply embellished frame having scalloped inner contours, and equipped with a time-honored, perhaps by then out-of-date, form of signes-de-renvoi — represents the scribe’s more-or-less faithful representation of that manuscript (now lost, or lost track of) which served as his exemplar for transcription. If so, could we think of the exemplar as perhaps representing more directly, overall, a considerably earlier century in the transmission of the text? The critical edition (listing very few manuscript variants) cited above does not help here, so other forms of research might be required.
The Lilly Library leaf, which provides the transition from Book II to the Chapter List of Book III, exhibits an attested variant in its presentation of the beginning of Book II, Chapter 38 not at Qui et in eo specu (as in the edition by de Vogüé, page 246, Line 1) but at Nuper namque (Line 3 instead). This variant is described as ‘init. cap. post coruscat’ [that is, after coruscat and starting at Nuper . . . ] in the editorial note on page 246, citing witnesses in an 8th-century Greek version and in some printed editions (Paris, 1705), etc. [unspecified]. These witnesses demonstrate the transmission of this choice in where to place the beginning of the Chapter as a ‘legitimate’ and widespread alternate.
Such features, recognized, may prepare the way for an understanding of the character of this copy of the Dialogues within the overall transmission of the text through the Middle Ages into the Modern World, albeit with curious detours along the way.
The Manuscript as a Whole
In the original manuscript, the Dialogues stood with, at least, some Homilies (in Latin) by or attributed to John Chrysostom (circa 349 – 407 CE), Archbishop of Constantinople. The Census published in 1937 lists the former order of the texts, in which the Dialogues composed by (or ‘by’) Gregory the Great came first. Useful to know.
With the dispersed leaves, the order of texts would be difficult to identify on their own. As if it is not difficult enough already. However, we press on.
The Census Record of the Manuscript Before Dispersal
A brief account of the manuscript while still intact appears in the 1937 Census of ‘The Library of Otto F. Ege, 1888 South Compton Road, Cleveland, Ohio’, published in Seymour de Ricci, with the assistance of W.J. Wilson, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States, Volume II (New York, The H.W. Wilson Company, 1937), pages 1937‒1948. This list of medieval books in Ege’s library is described as a ‘selection, made by S. de Ricci and supplemented by more ample notes taken by W. J. Wilson’ (page 1937).
The entry for Item 56 (page 1945) surveys the original manuscript, still in its former state, including its binding. Because the report both provides vital information and withholds some evidence for its interpretations, it should be considered as it stands, in full, for what it is worth:
S. Gregorius Magnus, Dialogi, libri IV; S. Johannes Chrysostomus, Epistolae et expositionis in Epistolam ad Hebraeos, etc.; S. Anselmus, Meditationes. Vel[lum]. (early XVth c.). 274 ff. (31 × 22 cm.). Written in Flanders. Orig. wooden boards and stamped leather, with the Van der Cruisse de Walziers arms added.
Belonged ca. 1800 to Charles Van der Cruisse. — Obtained (ca. 1925) from Thorp, of Guilford. — This is apparently one of the mss. which disappeared during the War from the family library of the comte de Walziers, in northern France.
One might wish to know more clearly, for example, what forms were taken by the ‘Orig[inal]’ binding of boards plus leather and the sign(s) of ownership ‘ca. 1800’ by Charles Van der Cruisse, whether the count of ‘274’ folios included endleaves (if any) or solely considered leaves with text, if (as seems likely) the list of texts simply represents a summary contents list in the book (‘etc’), and what was the span of folios for each portion of the texts. At least the contents list tells us something, however incomplete.
In the volume, the Dialogues in all ‘IV Books’ stood with, at least, some works by or attributed to
- John Chrysostom (circa 349 – 407 CE), Archbishop of Constantinople, and
- Anselm (circa 1022 – 1109 CE), Archbishop of Canterbury.
Listed here for the Greek author Chrysostom are his Epistles and his Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews (translated into Latin), and another text or other texts (‘etc’). I have not seen (directly or indirectly) any leaves from Anselm’s Meditations and Prayers. The catalogue description for one of the Oberlin College leaves identifies its text as a Sermon by Augustine of Hippo
A future investigation of all the texts as represented on the Known leaves (Portfolio + Rogue Subset 1) might reveal more of the survivals from the full set of 274 folios cited in the Census. In that set, the Dialogues stood with, at least, some Epistles and Homilies (translated into Latin) by or attributed to John Chrysostom (circa 349 – 407 CE), Archbishop of Constantinople, and (on one of the Oberlin College leaves) by Augustine of Hippo. Long way to go.
The Census of 1939 (anyway printed in that year, who knows when sent to the printers, let alone when the texts were completed) lists the former order, as we soon see. Perhaps — although by now I come to think ‘Probably’ — its list takes the words from a Contents List within the Book.
If so, it is useful to keep in mind the ways in which medieval contents lists — in their infinite variety — managed to summarize and dismiss the books in their purview, moving concisely from one to the next, and beyond, in recording the contents of books both within or upon their own covers (say on a front flyleaf, if available, or on a cover itself) and in a library inventory or catalogue. Specimens of Contents Lists in 15th-century manuscripts exhibit a tendency toward concision. Not conducive in every instance to ensuring a full list of the different texts in a ‘composite’ manuscript.
Valuable as it is for information about the original manuscript before its despoliation, the Census record leaves too much to be desired. Still, it is what it is (whatever that is), and its evidence commands attention. That it gives us scraps might, in a sense, be fitting, because the manuscript itself now survives only as scraps, whether as single leaves, bifolia, or larger remnants.
And so, 274 leaves (according to the Census) as a whole remain the goal for full accounting. Other scholars may wish to pursue this quest more fully. I offer this step as a point for continuation.
Toward a Virtual Reconstruction
That the surviving leaves — so far as I have seen — do not carry page- or folio-numbers (unlike some other manuscripts in the Portfolios) nor running titles (ditto) means that a reconstruction of their original series must rely principally upon the chance to identify specific portions of the texts themselves, aided by the presence of some catchwords which apparently mark the ends of quires (in contrast to some manuscript practices in which catchwords align the sequence of leaves as such). In any case, the list of texts in the Census allows us to discern their order, no matter how shuffled the leaves may now seem in their redistribution.
Therefore, for our present purposes, an initial attempt at reconstructing the volume in virtual form focuses upon the first portion with the Dialogues (as above), while the quest for identifying more lost leaves of whatever kind continues. Already it is clear that some leaves or bifolia belong to other portions of the text, composed by Chrysostom or others. They include:
- 8 (The Newark Public Library), shown here
- 25 (University of Saskatchewan)
- 29 (Lima Public Library)
- 30 (Denison University)
- 35 (Rochester Institute of Technology) and
- 37 (Case Western Reserve University);
and the ‘Rogue Leaves’ of Gwara, Handlist, Numbers
- 41.4 (University of South Carolina, Early MS 41b [= Early MS 41, folio 2])
- 41.6 (Oberlin College)
- 41.7 (Reading Public Museum, insofar as reproduced in Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts, fig. 22), and
- 41.8 (Winthrup University).
More leaves may yield up their secrets. Perhaps some include portions of Anselm’s Meditations, as listed in the Census. That item allows, or rather requires, us to regard the original manuscript in its ‘composite’ state (as described by Ege’s caption) not exactly as some ‘Patristic compendium’ of texts by early Church Fathers alone.
Formidable in his own right as an author, Anselm nevertheless does not qualify, shall we say because of ‘birth order’, as one of those early Fathers. When the fuller extant structure of ‘Ege’s Manuscript 41’ becomes known, it would be worth reconsidering the summary description of its contents and authors. And it could be worth investigating its relatives with comparable composite structures.
Meanwhile, it is possible to document and illustrate some of the facts in evidence. The printed funerary oration for Charles-Michel-Hugues-Joseph van der Cruisse de Waziers (1785‒1862), an owner and/or perhaps an inscriber of the manuscript, gives some some indication of the person and his traits.
The binding presumably carried the form of the Van der Cruisse de Waziers arms found on other volumes in the family library. Who knows if the binding merited inclusion in the 1874 exhibition at Lille of ‘douze manuscrits remarkable pour leur reliure’ (nos 132—144 with their identity unspecified) in the collection of ‘M. Van der Cruisse de Walzers, Lille’ (page 45)?The sumptuous library of the Van Der Cruisse de Waziers family was formerly housed in the Château du Sart at Villeneuve-d’Ascq near Lille (Département du Nord), France. That library was plundered during the First World War.
A subsequent description (which I have not yet seen) of the library was published by E. Olivier, ‘La bibliothèque Van der Cruisse de Waziers’, in the Archives de la Société française des collectionneurs d’Ex libris et de reliures artistiques (November, 1925). A poignant anonymous plea for the plundered books, both manuscript and printed, being sold on the open market appears in the detailed list of 12 ‘Manuscrits disparus en 1915 près de Lille pendant l’Occupation’ published in the Blbliothèque de l’École des chartes, 92 (1931), 252:
On a récemment signalé plusieurs offres de vente, qui ont été faites en France et à l’étranger, de différents manuscrits et incunables disparus au cours de la dernière guerre de l’une des plus importantes collections privies du nord de la France, la bibliothèque Van der Cruisse de Waziers, conservée au château du Sart, près Lille. La liste sommaire de ces volumes, qui vient de nous être communiquée et que nous reproduisons, pourra permettre de les identifier.
But by then, the Dialogues volume had already, still bound and intact, passed into the biblioclastic hands of Otto F. Ege in or circa 1925 through the firm of Thomas Thorpe, bookseller, founded in 1883 in Reading and based in Guildford in Surrey (and elsewhere) until 2003.
The manuscript remained whole until, at least, the preparation of its witnesses’ descriptions for the Census published in 1937. The presence of specimen leaves from this manuscript in Ege’s Portfolio of Fifty Original Leaves, issued from 1930 to 1950, indicates that the process of dismemberment, at least in part, had begun several years before the printing of the Census and within a mere 5 years of Ege’s acquisition.
Gone, but not forgotten.
The Road to Dispersal and Virtual Recovery
The elements of recorded provenance suggest, but do not prove, that the manuscript remained for several centuries within the region of its production, in the 15th century in Flanders. The absence of many titles for chapters in the lines which the scribe skipped so as to make way for their entry in contrasting red pigment gives an appearance of incompletion, while the skilled script and expert penwork flourishes of the decorated chapter or section initials demonstrate polished workmanship.
It may become possible in time to identify the scribal artist(s) responsible for this workmanship in other manuscripts from the region, so as better to locate the center and individual(s) involved. Publishing more pages from the volume may aid and accelerate that process.
The original binding, or the obviously old binding which the volume possessed when described for the 1937 Census, comprised wooden boards with a stamped leather cover bearing the Van der Cruisse de Waziers arms in some form. The book apparently carried some indication of ownership ‘circa 1800’ of a named member of that family.
Collating the evidence for the stitching holes for the binding(s) upon the severed leaves of the surviving manuscript might cast light upon the history of its binding(s) before the forcible severance, sometimes by uneven jagged cuts, sometimes by tears, which released the leaves unto their new, separated fates.
The Prices of Dispersal
This book is said to be one of the several — top four at current count — ‘most widely dispersed’ of Ege manuscripts (Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts, p. 72). According to records of sales from this volume, a leaf from it cost $2 in 1944, another cost $3.50 in 1952, and another belonged to an 8-leaf set for sale for $25 (Ibid., pages 72 and 348).
The Chrysostom leaf at the University of South Carolina (Early MS 41b), which joins online the Dialogues leaf in Set 27 of the Portfolio in the same collection (Early MS 41a), carries traces of its journeys after detachment from the volume. Pencil inscriptions at the bottom of its pages record on the recto the original price of the leaf (‘$1.—’) and on the verso a price in pounds sterling (‘£100′ + ‘VAT’, citing Value Added Tax applicable after its adoption in the United Kingdom on 1 April 1973). The form of the original price resembles that on some other known Ege ‘Rogue Leaves’, illustrated, for example, here. The secondary price attests to travels through an English dealer.
The journeys of other leaves from the book are sometimes indicated in book-sellers’ or other catalogues (listed in part in Gwara, Handlist, No. 41) and in the records in various collections of the gifts or purchases of the Portfolios and of some ‘Rogue’ leaves. Some leaves retain direct signs of their passage beyond the volume, as with seller’s marks or, in some cases, mats. Others require other means to give voice to their enforced silence and to render possible a recognition of their ‘birth family’ and many siblings in the original volume.
This post offers a contribution to the quest to prepare a ‘Foundling Hospital’, if only in virtual form, for the orphaned leaves and other discarded remnants from the manuscript.
Perhaps you know of other leaves from this book? Please join the quest to recover fuller knowledge of the survivors.
We gladly thank the staff in the libraries of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Dartmouth College, and Kent State University and The Newark Public Library for help with inquiries about the materials in their collections and permission for reproduction. Special thanks are recorded to James Mainger (Cincinnati), Gregory Robl (Colorado), Peter Carini and Morgan Swan (Dartmouth College), Amanda Faehnel (Kent State), and Nadine Sergejeff (Newark Public Library). For our Update based upon images provided from Portfolio Set 24, we thank Zach Downey (Lilly Library). It is a pleasure to find such professionalism, enthusiasm, and generosity in these communications.
We thank the owner of the leaf for the opportunity to study and to reproduce it.
Next we report on some other ‘Lost and Foundlings’. Please visit our blog’s Contents List”.