The January Poems in the Chronography of 354

Each month in the Chronography of 354 consists of a two-page spread.  On the left there is an illustration of the month, on the right a calendar of days and festivals and anniversaries.

For the month of January the 4-line poem (= tetrastich) is preserved only in manuscripts of the Anthologia Latina.  Here it is:

Hic Iani mensis sacer est, en aspice ut aris
Tura micent, sumant ut pia tura Lares.
Annorum saeclique caput, natalis honorum
Purpureis fastis qui numerat proceres.

This month is sacred to Janus; Lo! See on the altars
How the incense glitters, how the Lares accept the pious incense.
It is the start of years and time, the birthday of the offices
Which the nobles enumerate in their purpled calendars.

The 2-line poem (= distich) is present, thankfully.  Each distich consists of a hexameter at the foot of the left-hand page, and a pentameter at the foot of the right-hand page.  Here it is:

Primus, Iane, tibi sacratur ut omnia mensis
Undique cui semper cuncta videre licet.

The first month is sacred to you, Janus, like everything;
From both sides it is possible for him always to see everything.

But there is a twist here: the first line is different in two of the manuscripts, R1 and R2.  Instead the first line reads:

Ianus adest bifrons primusque ingreditur annum…

Two-faced Janus is here, and first begins the year…

It seems to be taken for granted in the literature that the illustration and the hexameter in R1 and R2 are not genuine; but renaissance compositions.

The 16th century Vienna manuscript 3416 (online here) is the only one that has twelve images in it.   But these have clearly been redrawn by someone who fancied himself as an artist.  Here is the one for January (f.2v, image 15):

Vienna (Vindobonensis 3416, f.2v) – January

The 17th century R1 manuscript, Vat. (online here) image, f.16, seems more authentic in style, and is within the original border.

R1 (Vat. Barb. lat. 2154B, f.16r) – January

The only month illustration in R2 (available online in a scanned microfilm here) is as follows:

R2 (Vat. lat. 9135, f.224r, p.288 in the viewer) – January

R1 and R2 are the same image, copied at the same time.

The figures in V and R1 are both making a sacrifice with incense, but there the similarity ends.

(For more information on this series of posts, please see the Introduction to the Poems of the Chronography of 354).


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