Recent Additions to the Wren Digital Library (9)

O.1.31, Carmen de Algorismo and Massa Compoti

Single folio of manuscript with black and red text
O.1.31, f.18v

This manuscript contains two booklets by the same scribe. The first is a mathematical text Carmen de Algorismo and has an explicit on f.18v. The explicit indicates the end of a unit of text and may provide information such as the title, the author, the scribe, or the date of completion.

On f.18v of this manuscript the explicit of the first text is the larger script in red ‘Explicit Algorismus bonus et vtilis quod Johannes B’  followed by dating information (1419). The second text in this volume containing the Massa Compoti has an explicit on f.45v.

The word explicit may be an abbreviation of the Latin explicitus meaning ‘unrolled’, derived from the scroll form originally used for medieval manuscripts in the West. In medieval Latin the word means ‘here ends’. The incipit at the start of a text means ‘here begins’. In the absence of a title page, which was a development of the 15th and 16th centuries, both the incipit and the explicit provide a means of identifying the text.

B.15.20, Dicta by Robert Grosseteste etc

Single folio with two columns of text. Illuminated letter E in blue, red and gold on right hand column
B.15.20, f.337r

Robert Grosseteste was Bishop of Lincoln from 1235 until his death in 1253. The Dicta is a collection of texts from his lectures and sermons. The volume also includes works on pastoral care and confession which belong to a genre concerned to teach Church doctrine to the laity which emerged following recommendations from the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. On the featured page, note the explicit ending the tabula and the incipit at the start of De regimine principum by Giles of Rome.

F.12.55, Paris un Viene

Open page with two woodcuts: on left man and woman on a horse, on right group of four men greeting each other

The first books printed in Hebrew were from Italy. The main presses were in Venice and Mantua, but this book was printed in Verona in 1594 by Francesco dalle Donne. Printing began in Verona in the late-15th century but Francesco was the first printer to produce books using Hebrew type. This activity lasted for only a few years in association with Jewish publishers including Abraham Bath-Sheba whose device shows a lion and an eagle back to back.

Books printed in Yiddish, like this one, catered for a market for popular literature for those not fluent in Hebrew. Until the early-21st century, this copy (lacking the first stanzas) was the only known Yiddish version of this popular romance about Paris, a poor knight and Viene, a King’s daughter. It is suggested though that the type used for this book was based on rabbinic letters with additional diacritic marks which are usual in Yiddish.

Reference: Heller, Marvin J., ‘A Little-Known Chapter in Hebrew Printing: Francesco dalle Donne and the Beginning of Hebrew Printing in Verona in the Sixteenth Century’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 94-3 (2000), pp. 333-46

O.4.22, Gospel Lectionary

Single folio with Greek text and illuminated heading in blue, red and gold
O.4.22, f.1r

Over the past year, in collaboration with the Polonsky Foundation Greek Manuscripts Project, we have prioritised the digitisation of our Greek Manuscripts. These are all available in the Wren Digital Library as well as on the project website where there is new and additional cataloguing information.

A lectionary contains sections of the Bible to be read on particular days at divine service. Ornamentation is used to indicate each lection and sections. This is a shorter ‘Saturday-Sunday’ lectionary which normally gives the lections for these days only. Weekdays are also included but only for Holy Week and the period from Easter to Pentecost.

Finally a reminder that the Pethick-Lawrence papers are now available online via Atom.