Delving into old references in the BHL

One of the problems with skim-reading is that you miss stuff.  You can stare at the same pages repeatedly, and never see some of the things on the page.

Last night, I noticed some stuff in the St Nicholas material in the Bibliographia Hagiographica Latina.  There is no excuse for not having read it carefully enough, but I’d missed out on some material of interest.

Under BHL 6109, the spurious “chapter 15” of the Life by John the Deacon, the BHL gives the reference to the Falconius edition.  But it also makes clear that there are two variants of this text, labelled BHL 6108 and 6109.  The ending is different, labelled alpha and beta.  And the note reads:

Var. lect. Catal. Brux. I. 314, 1º (ibi clausula β).

What on earth was this?  Well, a look at the start of vol.1 showed that it was the Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum Bibliothecae Regiae Bruxellensis. Pars I, Codices Latini membranei, published in 1886 and online here, or so I thought (that proved to be “pars I, tomus II” – the real volume is pars 1 tomus 1, here).  So it ought to be a manuscript with a different ending, in the Brussels library, on page 314.  This turns out to be the “Codex signatus no. 1960-62” – the codex designated 1960-62.  The Vita of Nicholas starts on folio 2r, apparently, and continues to f.47.

Oddly this is the first time I have seen someone refer to the edition of C. Falconius as “Carminius” (!)  But he includes the whole text of “chapter 15” alright, but in a different and abbreviated form.

Now I have seen that the hagiographic copyists are pretty casual about the text.  They abbreviate or summarise at the drop of a hat.  So I suspect that is what we are dealing with here.

The rest of the manuscript – which does not appear to be online – contains more Nicholas material.  Some of this is given at full length over many pages in the catalogue.  So, if you want to work with Nicholas material, this is useful stuff. Yet all you have is these few words in the BHL, which I had  never truly looked at.

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Next, there is Exc., that is “Excerpta”.  The first item, “Bonaventura, Comment. de Alcobacensi mss. bibliotheca (Conimbricae, 1827), 233-35 (prologus)”, is the “Commentariorum de Alcobacensi mss”, on the Spanish Alcobacensis mss, and is online here.  The book is exactly as described and prints from the manuscript the text of the prologue of John the Deacon’s work.  This is useful, because it exhibits the interesting variant “materia” rather than the normal “materies“.  All the manuscripts I have seen print the latter, but the editio princeps printed the former.  This makes it a genuine minor variant, of use to classify manuscripts and to fit the editio princeps into a stemma.  Into my working file it goes.  If only one could verify this against the manuscript!  The text hides which manuscript this is, but it seems to be Ms. Alcobacensis 113 (so p.227), containing twelve Vitae Sanctorum.  Mr Bonaventura does not trouble to share with us any information about on which folio the Vita of Nicholas may be found, however.

My only fear here, however, is that the editor has printed Mombritius rather than the manuscript.

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The next item is wild:

Unger (C. R.), Heilagra manna sögur, II (1877), 51-52.

Call me an idiot, but that isn’t German.  Googling the phrase produces a Wikipedia article, Saints’ Sagas:

Saints’ sagas (Old Norse heilagra manna sögur) are a genre of Old Norse sagas comprising the prose hagiography of medieval western Scandinavia.

Urg.  But the book is online.  It was printed in “Christiania”.  Googling eventually tells me that this is Oslo in Norway.  Apparently it was only renamed Oslo in 1925, later than the publication of the book.  As specified, on page 52 (online here) there is the Latin text of the prologue of John the Deacon, along with what is presumably the Old Norse translation of it. Again this has “materia”.  Clearly there is a text tradition in that form somewhere.

Where does the Latin come from, tho?  The reader is left to ponder.  Is it from a “Codex Resenianus”?  The book is, of course, in Norwegian, which does not help one bit.  So I run the OCR in my elderly copy of Adobe Acrobat Pro 9.  But meanwhile I discover a copy of volume 1 online here.  Maybe that will explain.  I find a discussion on p.15, here.  In Norwegian.

But suddenly I remember that Abbyy Finereader Pro 15 includes a screen reader, and handles Norwegian:

Nikolaus Saga erkibyskups I. Den latinske Legende Andes i Speculum Historiale Lib. 13 Capp. 67—81, forkortet i Legenda Aurea P. 22—29. De som Appendix 1 trykte 2 Pergamentblade 655 qv. III, ere Levninger af en Codex fra den første Del af det 13de Aarhnndrede; Appendix 2, et Pergamentblad i det Norske Rigsarkiv, har tilhørt en Codex ældre end 1350, og har, efter dette levnede Fragment at dømme, hart Jertegnene i en fra de andre meget forskjellig og vidtløftigere Form.

Nikolau« Saga erkibyskups II. Denne vidtløftigere Nikolaus Saga er efter Indledningsbrevet til Bogen oversat eller bearbeidet af Broder Berg Sokkason, der 1325 blev Abbed til Munkajiverä: da han her kalder sig slet og ret Broder, har han maaske ndført dette Arbeide for han blev Abbed, altsaa for 1325. Som Grundlag for sit Verk har Broder Berg benyttet <Vita beati Nicolai episcopi» af Johannes Barensis (fra Bari i Neapel), dog har Ovcrsætteren betydelig ndvidet og forøget sin Original, i al Fald saaledes som denne foreligger i «Mombritii Sanctuarium»; han har desuden ogsaa benyttet andre Kilder, saaledes ved Afsnittet om Drømmene, Cap. 69 S. 86, der er taget af Gregors Dialoger Bog IV Cap. -18. De første 4 Capitler mangle ganske i Originalen, det samme er Tilfieldet med Slutningen af Cap. 6, Capp. 7—10 og Fortellingen om Basilisken og Hermelinen i Cap. 13. Enkelte Partier bar Oversætteren ndeladt, men det er dog lidet i Sammenligning med, hvad han har lagt til. Hvor han beraaber sig paa «meistari Johannes>, gjengives dennes Udtryk gjerne nøiagtigere. Til Sammenligning er Johannes’ Brev til Athanasius trykt i latinsk Original under Texten.

De her benyttede Haandskrifter ere:

Cd. Holm. 16 qv. paa Pergament omtrent fra Aar 1400, særdeles godt skreven; hvert Capitel er udstyret med illumineret Begyndelsesbogstav, hvilken ofte indeholder en Tegning, der har Hensyn til Capitlets Indhold. Foran og bag i Bogen ere to Blade, som oprindelig have været blanke; det tredieBlad optages af Prologen og Johannes’ Brev til Athanasius; Broder Bergs Sende-brev tinde* derimod ikke i denne Bog. Forsiden af det følgende fjerde Blad optages af et Billede af St. Nicholaus, paa dette Blads Bagside og femte Blads Forside lindes atter denne Helgens Billede sammenstillet med andre Personer, og paa femte Blads Bagside begynder atter Sagaen, og fortsættes da uafbrudt til Bl. 60…..

Um yes, quite.  Thankfully the miracle of Google translate gives us:

Archbishop Nikolaus’ Saga II. According to the introductory letter to the book, this more extensive Nikolaus Saga was translated or edited by Brother Berg Sokkason, who in 1325 became abbot of Munkajiverä: since he here calls himself simply brother, he may have carried out this work because he became abbot, i.e. for 1325. As Brother Berg has used the «Vita beati Nicolai episcopi» by Johannes Barensis (from Bari in Naples) as the basis for his work, however, the translator has significantly expanded and enlarged his original, at least as it appears in the «Mombritii Sanctuarium»; he has also used other sources, such as the section on dreams, Cap. 69 P. 86, which is taken from Gregor’s Dialogues Book IV Cap. – 18. The first 4 Chapters are completely missing in the Original, the same is the case with the End of Cap. 6, Chap. 7-10 and the Tale of the Basilisk and the Ermine in Cap. 13. The translator omitted certain parts, but it is little in comparison with what he has added. Where he refers to «meistari Johannes>, his expression is often reproduced more precisely. For comparison, John’s letter to Athanasius is printed in Latin Original under the Text.

The manuscripts used here are:

Cd. Holm. 16 qv. on parchment approximately from the year 1400, extremely well written; each chapter is equipped with an illuminated initial letter, which often contains a drawing that refers to the content of the chapter . At the front and back of the book are two leaves which were originally blank; the third leaf is taken up by the Prologue and John’s letter to Athanasius; Brother Berg’s sending letter, on the other hand, is not in this book. The front of the following fourth leaf is occupied by a picture of St. Nicholaus, on the back of this page and on the front of the fifth page, this saint’s picture is shown again, juxtaposed with other persons, and on the back of the fifth page, the saga begins again, and is then continued uninterrupted to Bl. 60.  …

I would infer from this that the Latin is NOT from a Norwegian manuscript, but from Mombritius.  The Bollandists have been deceived.  But well-done them to locate the item!


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