I gave some examples in a previous post of the unpublished “notae”, symbols indicating what type of comment was involved, in the margin of Cassiodorus’ Expositio Psalmorum, his commentary on the Psalms. The notae are listed and explained at the top; and I gave some manuscript images.
After doing so, a few more online manuscripts came to hand. I got them by looking at Halporn’s 1981 article on the manuscripts (JSTOR), plus quite a bit of legwork!
First and best of these is in Munich, at the BSB, a manuscript of the 2nd quarter of the 9th century, with the shelfmark Clm 14077. It’s online here. This manuscript does not just give the notae and the meaning: it also gives an example after each. This is unusual, and must indicate creative work by the copyist. Here is folio 1r:
Nice, isn’t it? But it also demonstrates how these sorts of indices, meta-textual elements, are vulnerable to interference in transmission.
The next one is a more conventional manuscript, this time in Paris, at the BNF. The shelfmark is Paris latinus 2194. It’s 10th century, once belonged to Colbert, and is online here. Sadly we have only a monochrome image, but it is a very clear one!
Note at the top the shelfmark’s of past owners. It was “Cod. Colb. 447” – manuscript 447, when it was owned by Colbert. Then it was “Regius 3642”, that is manuscript 3642 in the Royal library. At the revolution the old royal library became the core of the new Bibliothèque Nationale Français, and “2194” was written lower down. Manuscripts move around like bumblebees sometimes, and they reflect the times through which they passed.
The “notae” appear, with the usual explanation, followed by the preface. But see how the microfilm hides the actual symbols in the margin for the most part!
Also available online here is BNF Paris lat. 2195, this time in colour. This manuscript was written in the first quarter of the 9th century, and was once the property of the abbey of St Martial at Limoges, according to the catalogue.
Here the “notae” are clearly photographed. In fact it is notable that modern digitisation projects make a far better job of it than the old microfilmers. Perhaps the reputation of the institution is on the line. A microfilm might be seen by one or two scholars, who had been overcharged for it, and nobody cared if the quality was any good. Indeed the BNF certainly tried to sell me some quite useless microfilms once; and I had to threaten to involve Visa before they refunded my money. But the world can see these digital copies; and there is national prestige at stake. The end result is good for everyone, however.
This leaf has clearly been damaged. I would guess that the manuscript had lost its cover, at some point during its history, and the top right got wet and rotted. But it is still with us!
Another example of damage is in Vatican Palatinus latinus 271:It’s not clear what has happened here, is it, but the notae are unreadable.
Something similar has happened in the manuscript from Reichenau, now Karlsruhe Aug. Perg. 155, online here:
On the other hand we get this in Bamberg Msc Bibl. 56 (online here):
The ink has faded, and made the symbols hard to read, and a subsequent hand has redrawn them!
It is really very remarkable to be able to compare something like this so easily from my study. We are so fortunate. These are days of wonders!