Ms. Codex 840: Grammar

For Coffee With A Codex on November 22 we brought out Ms. Codex 840, an 15th century Italian treatise on the part of grammar dealing with spelling and with the nature and value of letters and their combinations. This is an attractive little book, only 6.5 inches (120mm) tall, and bound in a contemporary parchment binding.

Ms. Codex 840, 15th century parchment cover

The binding is attached using leather strips, which have been sewn onto the text block and then laced through slits cut in the parchment of the covers. The binder used strips of manuscript (written on paper) to strengthen the outer leaves of the text block. These manuscript fragments have not been identified.

Ms. Codex 840, inside the front cover

The text is a Latin grammar written by Johannes Antonius Porcellius, and focused on the topic of spelling, or orthography. It doesn’t appear that the text has been edited, and this manuscript isn’t mentioned in Kristian Jensen’s chapter “The humanist reform of Latin and Latin teaching.” (The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism (CUP, 1996), pp. 63 – 81) Porcellius was a teacher in Milan until 1459, and the manuscript was written in February 1460 according to a note on f. 4v, although it doesn’t appear that Porcellius himself wrote this copy.

Ms. Codex 840, f. 4v

The script is a clear Humanistic script, written in black ink with red ink used for rubrics and marginal notes; there are also many marginal notes written in dark ink, which appear to be written in later hands. There are illuminated initials and colorful borders on three pages.

Ms. Codex 840, f. 1r

Find out more about Ms. Codex 840 by viewing the digitized version and reading the full catalog records on BiblioPhilly.

We host Coffee With A Codex every Monday at 12pm ET / 5pm GMT on Zoom. For a schedule three weeks ahead, visit our main page here.

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