More manuscripts of the “notae” in the margins of Cassiodorus, “Expositio Psalmorum”

I gave some examples in a previous post of the unpublished “notae”, symbols indicating what type of comment was involved, in the margin of Cassiodorus’ Expositio Psalmorum, his commentary on the Psalms.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!


Notae in the margins of Cassiodorus, “Expositio Psalmorum”

An  interesting volume has appeared this year, which unfortunately I have not seen, but that I learned about from Jesse Keskiaho on twitter.  The book is by Evina Steinová, based on her 2016 dissertation (online here, I now find), and now in a revised book form from Brepols here as Notam superponere studui : The Use of Annotation Symbols in the Early Middle Ages (2019).  I understand that it contains an interesting piece on a work by the 6th century statesman-turned-monk Cassiodorus.

Cassiodorus’ commentary on the Psalms, the Expositio Psalmorum (= Clavis Patrum Latinorum no. 900) is a long allegorical commentary based largely on Augustine.  So long a work was set forth in three manuscript volumes each containing the commentary on 50 psalms.  It was completed at the start of 548 and dedicated to Pope Vigilius; and then reworked between 560-70 with marginal “notae” or symbols, which indicate the type of content.[1]  He provided the key to these signs at the beginning of the work.

The Latin text is printed in the Patrologia Latina vol. 70.  A more modern edition by Adriaen was printed in the Corpus Christianorum 97-8 (1958), but Walsh states that it is merely a revision of the PL text, and full of mistakes.  There is an English translation by P.G. Walsh in the Ancient Christian Writers series (in three volumes 50, 51 and 52).  A new edition was intended by James W. Halporn, who published a list of the manuscripts in “The manuscripts of Cassiodorus’ ‘Expositio Psalmorum'” in Traditio 37 (1981), p.388-396 (JSTOR).  I’m unclear that any edition ever appeared, and Halporn died in 2011.  Discussion of the tradition of the text is in Richard N. Bailey, “Bede’s text of Cassiodorus’ Commentary on the Psalms”, JTS 34 (1983), 189-193.

The Patrologia Latina text, infuriatingly, omits the notae, and the introductory list.  Here is the page on which the praefatio ends, and the commentary text begins:

Inevitably the translation by Walsh from this text also omits the notae.

The marginal notae may be seen, however, in a 9th century manuscript now in the Bibliothèque Nationale Français in Paris, shelfmark BNF lat. 14491, originally in the abbey of Saint-Victor in Paris.  This is online here in an exceedingly clear microfilm copy (the download, sadly, is low resolution).  On folio 10, following the “praefatio”, there is a list of the symbols used and their meaning:

Isn’t this gorgeous?  RA = ‘rithmetic.  Mc = music… and a little star, an asterisk = astronomy.  This section appears between the “veniamus” at the end of the praefatio and the heading of the first section of the commentary.  Transcribing as best I can:

Diversas notas more maiorum certis locis aestimabimus effigiendas.  Has cum explanationibus suis subter adiuncximus.  Ut quicquid lector voluerit inquirere per similitudines earum, sine aliqua difficultate debeat invenire.  (We will find that various symbols need to be marked in certain places, according to the custom of the ancients.  We’ve added these with their explanations below.  If any reader wishes to search by using their appearance, they ought to find them without difficulty.)

Hoc in idiomatis. Id est propriis locutionibus legis divinae.   (idioms. i.e. the correct way of speaking of the divine law)
Hoc in dogmatibus. valde necessariis.  (doctrines.  Very necessary)
Hoc in diffinitionibus.  (definitions)
Hoc in schematibus.  (figures)
Hoc in ethimologiis.  (etymologies)
Hoc in interpraetatione nominum.  (the interpretation of names)
Hoc in arte rethorica. (the art of rhetoric)
Hoc in topicis.  (topics)
Hoc in syllogismis.  (syllogisms)
Hoc in arithmetica.  (arithmetic)
Hoc in geometrica. (geometry)
Hoc in musica. (music)
Hoc in astronomia. (astronomy)

Examples of the use of these notae/symbols appear in the same manuscript, starting on the page facing the list of symbols.

In the 10th century Bamburg manuscript, Staatsbibliothek Bamberg Msc.Bibl.56 (online here) we have the first page with this:

I would have made this larger, but I could see no way to download the image; only warnings about the (non-existent) copyright claimed by the German state on the image.

The 9th century Karlsruhe manuscript, Aug. perg. 155, sadly has suffered damage:

Also online is British Library Additional 16962, also 9th century, which is indeed a volume of the work, but of the third volumes: psalms 101-150.

It’s very interesting to see such a scholarly help, I must say.

  1. [1]Halporn, “Mss”, p.388.

Arator, his “Historia Apostolica” and its “tituli” and “capitula”

Back in October I received an email enquiring about the chapter headings in the manuscripts of Arator.  My first reaction, like yours, was to wonder who on earth was Arator!  So I thought that it might be interesting to give some information here about this obscure figure, and discuss the question posed to me.

Let’s start with Arator himself.  He lived in the early 6th century, in northern Italy, and wrote a single work, on the Acts of the Apostles, generally labelled Historia Apostolica, or sometimes De Actibus Apostolis.

Few perhaps are aware that a sixth volume of Quasten’s Patrology exists, covering the Latin authors from the end of vol. 4 up to the time of the Venerable Bede.  Sadly it exists only in Italian.[1]  Let’s hear what it has to say:


A little information on the life of this poet and his writings is given to us in the Variae of Cassiodorus and in the works of Ennodius. We know that he was originally from the north of Italy and that his father, perhaps a teacher of rhetoric and certainly a man of high culture, had provided for his early education. Following the untimely death of his father, he was taken care of by the bishop of Milan, Laurentius, and so the young boy passed, together with the great Ennodius, into the school of Deuterius, as we learn from one of the Ennodian dictiones (number 9). There in Ravenna he established a great friendship with Parthenius, nephew of Ennodius, and they began to study the classics, especially the commentaries of Caesar, but also Christian authors such as St Ambrose, “Decentius” (as a rule identified with Dracontius) and Sidonius Apollinaris. The Gothic ruler Theodoric had the opportunity to appreciate his eloquence on the occasion of his participation, perhaps in 526, in an Dalmatian embassy, and Athalaric raised him to the position of Comes domesticorum and Comes privatorum He went to Rome in an unspecified year and was named subdeacon by Pope Vigilius. For four days, between April 13 and June 1, 544 AD, he had the honor of reading his poem on the Acts of the Apostles in the Roman church of St. Pietro in Vincoli, in the presence of clerics and laity, with frequent applause and repeated invitations to read some passages again. After that all trace of him is lost.

Arator has left us a single poem in two books, the De actibus Apostolorum in which the two proemial charms are addressed to Florianus (12 couplets) and to Pope Vigilius (15 couplets); and the final metric epistle (51 couplets) is addressed to Parthenius. They are all one, if only for their illustrative character of the Aratorian poetics. Apparently the poem would appear to be a late product of that movement, inaugurated by Juvencus in the fourth century, whose obvious purpose was to excuse the rough simplicity of the biblical text by covering its contents with a metrically unexceptionable and stylistically elegant form; in other words to create a high-level Christian epic, up to the standard of the great classical tradition.

This cliché does not quite fit the Arator’s poem. In fact, Arator chooses only a few episodes of Acts, reserving the first book for those relating to Peter, and the second to those concerning Paul. He gives much space, in imitation of his predecessor Sedulius, to the allegorical and moral interpretation of the succinctly expressed events, as well as, in some cases, to the mystique of numbers. In essence, the poem fits more decisively into the didascalic strand than into the epic one. This explains and justifies the good fortune that it had in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by the numerous commentaries produced upon it between the ninth and tenth centuries.

Editions: CPL 1504-1505; PL 68, 63-252 (H.J. Arntzen, Zutphiae 1769); G.L Perugi, Venezia 1909; A.P. McKinlay, CSEL 72, Vindobonae 1951.

Studies: J. Schrödinger, Das Epos des Arator De actibus apostolorum in seinem Verhältnis zu Vergil, Progr., Weiden 1911; A. Ansorge, De Aratore veterum poetarum Latinorum imitatore, Breslau 1914; R. Anastasi, “Dati biografici su Aratore in Ennodio”: MSLC 1 (1947) 145-152; K. Thraede, “Arator”. JbAC 4 (1961) 187-196; F. Châtillon, “Arator déclamateur antijuif”. RMAL 19 (1963) 5-128; 197-216; 20 (1964) 185-225; S. Blomgren, Ad Aratorem et Fortunatum adnotationes. Eranos 72 (1974) 143-155; R.J. Schrader, Arator revalutation: CF 31 (1977) 64-77; D. Kanschoke, Bibeldichtung, Munchen 1975, 53-55; 72-74; 93-97; G.R. Wieland, The Latin Glosses on Arator and Prudentius in Cambridge University Library; Ms. Gg. 5, 35, Toronto 1983; H. Tiffenbach, Altdeutsche Aratorglossen, Paris. B.N. lat. 8318: AAWG 3, 107, 1977; L.T. Martin, The Influence of Arator in Anglo-Saxon England, in: Proceedings of the PMR Conference, Villanova 1985; P. Angelucci, I modelli classici di Aratore. Per una tipologia dei rapporti poeta-fonte. Boll. Studi Lat. 15 (1985) 40-50; R.J. Schrader, Notes on the Text. Interpretation of the Sources of Arator. VC 42 (1988) 75-78; P.A. Deproost, La mort de Judas dans l’”Historia apostolica” d’Arator. REAug 35 (1988) 75-78; Idem, Les functions apostoliques du sacre dans le poème d’Arator. BAGB (1989) 376-393; Idem, Les images de l’heroisme triomphale dans l'”Historia apostolica” d’Arator, in: SP 23, Leuven 1989, 111-118; N. Wright, Arator’s Use of Caelius Sedulius: a Re-Examination: Eranos 87 (1989) 51-64; P. Angelucci, Centralità della Chiesa e primato romano in Aratore, Roma 1990; P.A. Deproost, L’Apotre Pierre dans une épopée du VIe siècle. L'”Historia apostolica” d’Arator, Paris 1990; Idem, Notes sur le texte et l’interpretation d’Arator. VC 44 (1990) 76-82.

That’s a rather wordy description, but clear enough for our purposes.  The successful public reading in 544 is known to us from a subscriptio to several of the manuscripts in which the work is transmitted.[2]

A deeply obscure English translation appeared in 1987.[3]  A modern French edition and translation exists in Les Belles Lettres series, and there is also a Portugese one[4]

There is apparently a complex manuscript tradition, as the poem was popular in the middle ages.  Unfortunately, lacking access to McKinlay’s edition, I can’t say anything about this.

But what about the table of contents and chapter titles, with which the original enquiry was concerned?  Well, the table of contents appears in the Patrologia Latina edition, which reprints the Arntzenius edition, but only in his introduction, in columns 58-9.  Apparently the capitula – the chapter headings – were still unprinted when McKinlay started work on his edition.[5]  Here’s the start of them:

The verse numbers are no doubt modern.  My correspondent was asking about the unusual usage “De eo ubi…”, “Concerning that passage where”.  For the text is a retelling of the Acts of the Apostles, so it is perfectly reasonable to refer to the passage of scripture.

Notice how often the verb appears, not at the end as in ancient texts, but in the middle of the sentences, just as it would in a modern language.  This by itself suggests that the chapter titles are not ancient, but medieval.

McKinlay reviewed 20 manuscripts, for both the table of contents (‘tituli’) and the in-body headings (‘capitula’).  The tituli and capitula differ, as is very common.  Furthermore they were not revised capriciously by scribes, as might be supposed, but rather were handled not much less carefully than the main text.  Rather the manuscripts fall neatly into two groups. The text of the items was revised, at some point during their transmission, and made closer to the biblical text.  They predate 820 AD, when they appear in ms. Paris 12284.

It all tends to show that we need much more information on these meta-textual elements.  The statements in the handbooks that have always tended to skip over the headings as late (which they may be) and often corrupt (which they may sometimes be) need to be based on something other than anecdote.  In the last century we have seen much more care taken with these elements in the medieval manuscripts.  If this is done enough, one day a monograph will be possible which can survey the field.  But not yet!


  1. [1]Angelo di Berardino &c, Patrologia: I Padri latini (secoli V – VIII), Marietti (1996).
  2. [2]Roger P.H. Green, Latin Epics of the New Testament: Juvencus, Sedulius, Arator, Oxford (2006), p.251-2; edition and translation of the subscriptio on p.391-2.  This item is edited from mss. Voss. Q 15 and Q 86, and Vat. Pal. Lat. 1716; but another 8 mss are known.
  3. [3]R.J. Schrader, Arator’s On the acts of the Apostles (De Actibus Apostolorum), Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987.
  4. [4]Bruno Bureau, Paul-Augustin Deproost, Histoire apostolique / Arator; texte établi, traduit et commenté, Paris : Les Belles Lettres 2017; José Henrique Manso, História apostólica a gesta de S. Paulo / Arátor, Coimbra : Centro de Estudos Clássicos e Humanísticos 2010.
  5. [5]A.P. McKinlay, “Studies in Arator: I. The Manuscript Tradition of the Capitula and Tituli”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 43 (1932), pp. 123-166. JSTOR.

An extant “sillybos” – parchment label – from an ancient roll

The British Library manuscripts blog has produced a rather marvellous article by Matthew Nicholls on Ancient Libraries.

But what made it special to me was an image of an item which I had never seen before.

As we all know, ancient books were written on rolls of papyrus.  The modern book form or “codex” belongs to late antiquity.  But the title of the work in each roll was written on a parchment slip known as the sillybos, or sometimes sittybos – the literature doesn’t indicate which is correct – which protruded from the end, allowing the reader to find out which roll he needed without unrolling any of them.

Cicero refers to such items in his letters to Atticus.  In book 4, letter 8, 2, we read:[1]

Postea vero quam Tyrannio mihi libros disposuit, mens addita videtur meis aedibus. Qua quidem in re mirifica opera Dionysi et Menophili tui fuit. Nihil venustius quam illa tua pegmata, postquam mi sillybis libros iIlustrarunt. Vale. Et scribas ad me velim de gladiatoribus, sed ita, bene si rem gerunt; non quaero, male si se gessere.

Since Tyrannio has arranged my books, the house seems to have acquired a soul: and your Dionysius and Menophilus were of extraordinary service. Nothing could be more charming than those bookcases of yours now that the books are adorned with title-slips. Farewell. Please let me know about the gladiators: but only if they are behaving well; if not, I don’t want to know.

 In book 4, letter 5.4 we read:[2]

Domum meam quod crebro invisis est mihi valde gratum. Viaticum Crassipes praeripit. Tu “de via recta in hortos.” Videtur commodius ad te: postridie scilicet; quid enim tua? Sed viderimus. Bibliothecam mihi tui pinxerunt constructione et sillybis. Eos velim laudes.

I am very grateful to you for going to see my house so often. Crassipes is swallowing all my travelling money. You say I must go straight to your country house. It seems to me more convenient to go to your town house, and on the next day. It can’t make any difference to you. But we shall see. Your men have beautified my library by binding the books and affixing title-slips. Please thank them.

A painting from Herculaneum shows an example of a roll with a sillybos dangling out of the end of the roll:

Matthew has posted here an image of one, attached to its original roll:

The slip has on it the name of “Bacchylides” – a poet of the 5th c. BC – with the title of the work, the Dithyramboi, underneath.  The bit of text attached is from the 17th dithyramb. The manuscript is BL papyrus 2056 (= P.Oxy. 1091), and is 2nd century AD in date.  It is, of course, from Oxyrhynchus, as is papyrus 733, the unique manuscript of Bacchylides’ poems.

It’s wonderful to see something like this.  It’s obvious how these could become detached, and a work could become anonymous and untitled.

Here is a parchment sillybos of the 1st-2nd century AD which became detached from a copy of the lost work, Sophronos, Mimes on Women. (I take this from Sarah Bond’s excellent article on the same subject).  This item is P.Oxy.II 304:

Another sillybos of the 1-2nd century is preserved from a copy of the 9th book of Hermarchus against Empedocles, POxy vol. 47, 3318.

A 2nd century AD sillybos comes from a commentary (hypomnema) on the Simonidea, possibly the Sayings of Simonides, POxy 25, 2433:

Even more interestingly, Dr B. tells us that a sillybos might be known as an index in Latin (although Cicero uses the Greek term), as we find in Livy 38, 56.  Here the lost speech of Scipio against Naevius (it looks as if Scipio was speaking for the defence) had Naevius’ name mentioned only in the sillybos, not in the speech itself:

[6] The index8 of the speech of Publius Scipio contains the name of Marcus Naevius, tribune of the people; the speech itself lacks the name of the accuser; it calls him now “a ne’er-do-well,” now “a no-good.” 

Note that a number of other sillyboi may be seen at the Oxyrhynchus website here.

I was also able to find another ancient depiction of a sillybos, protruding from a roll in the paintings from Pompei.  I found this online here.

Updated 21/07/2018 with additional images.

  1. [1]Loeb edition, vol. 1, p.292-3.
  2. [2]Loeb edition, vol. 1, p.284-5

Who was “Euthalius”, and what did he write?

The Catholic Encyclopedia contains the following paragraph:

The martyrdom [of St Paul] took place towards the end of the reign of Nero, in the twelfth year (St. Epiphanius), the thirteenth (Euthalius), or the fourteenth (St. Jerome).[1]

But who is this “Euthalius”?

In medieval Greek bible manuscripts, there is a mass of commentary material.  For instance, in the margins are explanatory comments, made up of chains (catenae) of quotations from the fathers.

But there is also a bunch of material of various types for the following three chunks of the New Testament; first, the letters of Paul, then Acts, and then the letters of the other apostles.  This appears in manuscripts which are generally fairly late.

There is a prologue for each of these three “chunks”, and the prologue usually has a title.  In each case, the title usually attributes the prologue to a certain Euthalius.  In some manuscripts he is referred to in the title as “the deacon”; in other manuscripts, as “bishop of Sulca”, although this bishopric is not known.[2]

Nothing is known for certain of this Euthalius.  The prologues refer to the Chronicle of Eusebius, which means that Euthalius is later than that – perhaps much later.  Any date from the end of the 4th century onwards is possible. There is a confession of faith by a much later Euthalius of Sulca,[3] but it seems unlikely that this is the same man.

The prologue to the letters of Paul falls into three sections, the first and last being a life of St Paul.  It is to this prologue that the Catholic Encyclopedia refers.

British Library manuscript additional 28816, f.1r – Euthalius’ prologue.

As with all commentary material, the material is made up of all sorts of things, present in different amounts in different manuscripts.

Willard considered that there are 4 different types of material, all perhaps by this Euthalius.  The major pieces consist of:

  • The three prologues
  • “Lesson lists”, or “large sections” – which divide the bible text (except for the Gospels and Revelation) up into 57 readings suitable for church.  These are the “Euthalian sections”, and were generally adopted in the Greek church.[4] There is also a division of the books into short stichoi or versus (i.e. “lines”) of regular length.[5]
  • Quotation lists – lists of Old Testament quotations in the bible text
  • Chapter lists – a list of chapter headings, kephalaia-titloi, unnumbered, which taken together indicate the contents of the letter. They do not correspond to the modern chapter divisions.

In addition there is other material, which has little claim to be considered by the same author as the prologues.  This includes a Martyrium Pauli; a collection of argumenta / hypotheses, i.e. summaries of the content of each book; some miscellaneous pieces, and, at the end of some manuscripts, notably Codex H 015, a colophon.  This reads as follows:

I wrote and edited this volume of Paul the Apostle, arranging it in verses according to my abilities, so that the text of our brothers may be clearly written and easy to understand, and I ask all of them for forgiveness for my audacity, that I may receive acceptance through prayer for my [work (?)].

The book was compared with a copy in the library of Caesarea, written with the hand of the holy Pamphilus.

Address: I am the Coronis, teacher of the divine doctrine. If you lend me to anyone, you should get a receipt, because borrowers are evil.

Answer:  I keep you as a treasure of spiritual blessings, one which is longed for by all men, combined from many parts and adorned with writing in various colors. In truth, I will not rashly give you to anyone, nor again will I grudge the […][6]

The same colophon is found in the 12th century minuscule 88, where the first word is “Evagrius”.  It is possible that the erased first line of Ms. 015 began likewise.  Some scholars have supposed that Euthalius was really this Evagrius.

For lack of any better collective term, all this non-catena material tends to be referred to as the “Euthalian apparatus” for these books of the bible.  The material also exists, naturally, in the languages into which the medieval Greek New Testament was translated, namely Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian, and Slavonic[7]; although there seems to be no more than the list of chapter headings in Latin.

The “Euthalius” material was first edited by itself by L. A. Zacagni in 1698.  His edition is conveniently reprinted by Migne in the Patrologia Graeca 85, columns 627-790.  Far more useful to most of us is an English translation and commentary, with von Soden’s text, which has been published recently by Blomqvist.[8] There is an excellent 2009 study by Willard, based on a 1970 thesis, which includes a well-organised survey of all the material and of more than 400 manuscripts.[9] At Google Books there is a preview of an article by Dahl which seems to cover some of the discussion.[10]  There is very extensive discussion of the material, much of it from before 1914, which can be referenced from Blomqvist and Willard.

This material is perhaps mainly of specialist interest.  Euthalius’ comments on Paul can only be derivative.   The text of his apparatus may preserve variant readings of the bible.  The development of chapter divisions must have been influenced by this work, and reflects the rise and progress of sections and chapter divisions.  But all the same, it is useful to know about this work.

Let us end by hearing something from the author.  Few indeed will have access to Blomqvist’s invaluable volume.  So perhaps it would be useful for readers to end with most of his translation of the prologue to the letters of Paul (PG 85, cols. 693-713).  I have omitted the summary of the contents of the letters in the middle.  The statement, to which the Catholic Encyclopedia referred, is at the end, and I have placed it in bold.

    *    *    *    *

Prologue by the Deacon Euthalius, prefixed to the Book of the Letters of Paul the Apostle

Admiring your zealous love of learning, most honored father, I have obeyed your authority and your persuasive powers, and set out through a certain narrow strait and passage, that of scholarship, to write this prologue about the deeds of Paul. In fear of being disobedient, I promised a work far beyond my faculties, because I knew what is said in the Proverbs, that ‘the disobedient son shall perish’, while the obedient will be exempted. But come, offer your prayers for me, and, as though you were furnishing me with steering oars on both sides, stretch out your hands to God, just like the great Moses himself once extended his hands when he gave aid to Israel, drawn up for battle. Pray that even I may escape the rising winds of the air, and that keeping the course straight till the end, I may bring for you the vessel of my work into a calm harbor.

Beginning now this speech, I will describe what contains the truth. Paul the Apostle was a Hebrew by race, of the tribe of Benjamin, belonging to the party of the Pharisees, educated in the Law of Moses by Gamaliel, the faithful teacher.

Further, he lived in Tarsus, the eye-stone of Cilicia, persecuting and seeking to destroy the Church of God. For this very reason, he was present at the slaughter of Stephen, the apostle and the martyr, and he was also then taking part in the killing, as he received the mantles of all those who stoned him, to watch over them so that he could use the hands of all to kill. And he was seen everywhere as the most prominent among the rioters, eager to destroy the elect of the Church. Many and grave were the deeds that he committed against the Church, and he left nothing behind in excessive fury, because in this he believed he was acting piously and that he was setting the greatest things right, as both he himself confesses in his letters, and as Luke tells us in his second book. For not only did he in the beginning hate and turn away from the message of truth, like most Jews did, but he now nourished in himself an anger even greater than that of the whole people. For when he saw the radiance of the message and the blossoming word of truth growing stronger than the Jewish teaching, suffering because of this, and considering the greatest things offended as their teaching was being overthrown, he created in himself great zeal and eagerness directed against the nurslings of the Church, that they either should renounce the true teaching or suffer just punishment for their faith in Christ.

And when Paul at that time had received letters from the priests and the teachers to the Jews in Damascus, he set out, roaring like a violent river, thinking he would dash against the disciples in Damascus from all sides and send them into the pit of perdition. Since the Lord knew that he had somehow acquired his unjust fury from a just intention, He appeared to him in the middle of the road, and with the intensity of the light, He took away his sight. And he changed to such a degree that he who used to contrive all terrible things against the Church and planned to wipe out all the disciples, suddenly, right there, was considered His beloved and a most faithful man. For the enemy became straightaway a follower of Jesus, and having cast off his furious condition, he advanced to become an entrusted delegate, he confessed his faith in Christ and was sent to a certain Ananias, a disciple in Damascus. When God, the examiner of truth, saw that he was acting prudently and had become a better man who had left the evil ones behind, He declared that he should be exempted from punishment in no other way than this. So he went to Ananias and was baptised, he shared in unspeakable mysteries and became a remarkable defender and champion of the message.

And entrusted with a new message from God, he received a newer way to salvation. The blessed Paul changed so much that he even changed his name, having become true to his new name – for Saul  indeed used to shake the entire church, but Paul had now ceased to persecute and destroy the disciples of Christ. Thus he transformed his zeal into the utmost piety, strengthening the pious disciples with letters if he sometimes happened to be absent, in order that they for the future might acquire the teaching not only through his deeds, but also through his words, and, being strengthened by both, they might carry an unshakeable stronghold of piety within their souls.

After some time, Paul again went up to Jerusalem, to see Peter. Then they also divided the whole world between them, and after Paul received the part of the Gentiles, as it befell Peter to teach the Jewish people, he traversed many cities and many lands, and he almost filled all of Illyricum with the teachings of faith in Christ. Truly, he suffered and endured countless horrors for the sake of his belief in Christ, and he went through many and various dangers for the sake of the Gospel, as he himself recounts, but, having struggled hard for faith, he vanquished them all. For at that time, God still wanted Paul, and the unspeakable plan and decision of the Lord kept him living among men until he had proclaimed the Gospel to all nations.

And in the late hour, Paul again goes up to Jerusalem to visit the saints there and to help the poor. In the meantime, sedition took hold of the city, and the people were in a great uproar, as the Jews were rousing the crowd, because they considered it a terrible and heavy burden to be accused by the man who once protected them and shared their fury, and they were eager to kill him. But soon the chief captain Lysias took him away and sent him with military escort to the ruler in Caesarea. They arrested him and brought him to the governor. Felix was his name. When Paul realized that the Jews were plotting against him, he soon appealed to the emperor before the tribunal. His case was suspended, and the plot that the Jews had prepared against him came to nothing. And now the authorities sent him to the emperor in Rome, and there he proved himself worthy in the same struggles and he worked hard for the same prizes. Finally, he even departed from life for the sake of the doctrines of truth, as he considered life with Christ better than this life, which leads to death. For when the emperor Nero shortly afterwards wanted to lead him out of this life, he in fact bestowed true and genuine life upon him, and he made the man he took from earth a citizen of the heavens. So there the blessed Paul, having fought the good fight, as he says himself, received the crown of the holy and victorious martyrs of Christ.

The Romans, having enclosed his remains in the most beautiful kingly buildings, attend a festival to his memory once a year, on the third day before the calends of July, on the fifth day of the month Panemos, celebrating his martyrdom.

[There then follows a summary of the contents of the 14 letters]

Thus, the book as a whole includes every aspect of proper social conduct arranged according to progress.

So far, let this be said about them as described in our epitome. But in the following, we will prefix to each letter a short exposition of the chapters, worked out by one of the wisest of our fathers, a Christ lover. Not only that, but by going over the reading of the text we have with scholarly method indicated briefly the accepted list of the divine testimonies, and the most accurate division of the readings. This we will present just after this prologue.

I also considered it necessary to indicate briefly the period of time covered by the preaching of Paul, by making a summary based on the chronological tables of Eusebius, the disciple of Pamphilus.

When I get the book in my hand and open it, I find that the passion of our Savior, His resurrection on the third day, and the assumption of Christ back to heaven happened in the eighteenth year of the emperor Tiberius. And I saw there that the apostles after a few days elected the well-named Stephen and his companions to serve as deacons. I learn that after this there was a huge insurrection among the Jews, as we have already stated, and that Stephen then fought his fight, while Paul indeed approved of the murder. Soon he met the leaders of the Jews and received letters to the Jews in Damascus against the disciples. But in the middle of his journey the call came to him from God. This was a short time before the end of the year. When the nineteenth year of the emperor Tiberius began, Paul began to preach the message, the story tells, and he traversed the whole world preaching faith in Christ, until the thirteenth year of the emperor Claudius, when Felix was governor in Judaea. When Paul was accused by the Jews, he defended himself before him. But he kept the Apostle for two years in the prison of Caesarea. When Porcius Festus succeeded him in office, he soon wanted to reopen his case, thus presenting a great favor to the Jews. Then, as the blessed one understood that he could not escape the treachery unless he appealed to the emperor, he did so before the tribunal and was sent to emperor Nero in Rome. With him he had Aristarchus, whom he rightly called his fellow prisoner somewhere in the letters, and Luke, who consigned the acts of the apostles to writing. So there, in the city of the Romans, Paul was again kept under guard for two whole years.

Luke tells the story up to this point in the Acts of the Apostles, as this was the time when he finished his book. Since he had no knowledge then of what happened later, he did not include his martyrdom, as Luke and Aristarchus then left him and went away. But Eusebius, who has accurately described the following period, has told us also the story of his martyrdom in the second book of his History of the Church.

He says that Paul lived as a free man, and he confirms that he preached the word of God, no one preventing him. It is said that Paul, having defended himself before Nero, was sent from the emperor as a free man to serve the message, and that he preached the gospel for ten more years. When Nero reached the height of his madness, he killed Agrippina, his own mother, and also his father’s sister, his own wife Octavia and countless other relatives. After that, he instigated a general persecution of the Christians. And thus, he was roused to bring slaughter upon the apostles. Then, having called Paul to him, he once again placed him before the tribunal. Luke was with him also this time. Then it happened, in the thirty-sixth year after the passion of our Savior, in the thirteenth year of Nero, that Paul died as a martyr by having his head cut off by the sword.

From the nineteenth year of the emperor Tiberius, when he began to preach the gospel, till his twenty-second year, there are four years, and the years of Gaius are also four, but the years of Claudius are a little less than fourteen. His successor, Nero, killed the Apostle in the thirteenth year of his reign. Paul the Apostle says this about his first defense, writing to Timothy: ‘At my first defense no one stood by my side; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.’ By this he means Nero. He says this about his second defense, in which his martyrdom was completed: ‘Fulfill your good ministry. For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has drawn near.’ Shortly after this, he writes that Luke is with him again: ‘Luke, who is with me, greets you’. The entire period of Paul’s preaching is twenty-one years, another two years he spent in prison in Caesarea. In addition, he was again two years in Rome, and the last years amount to ten.  Thus, all the years from his calling until his perfection number thirty-five.

But let no one rebuke me for this and reject the events following Acts, saying that Luke does not confirm them. To this a prudent man would respond: ‘My good friend, if you do not accept the period following Acts, show me,’ he would say, ‘where Luke tells the story of the martyrdom of Paul!’ For if Luke had told us about the martyrdom and estimated Paul’s stay in Rome to be only these two years, there would be no need for us to elaborate the chronology. But since he does not tell us about the martyrdom, as it happened much later than the time he covers in his book, trust for the remainder the chronicler Eusebius, and accept his history with benevolence, as a friend. For the disciples of Christ, receiving for their edification the teachings and traditions of the fathers with obedience and faith, are made heirs of the heavenly kingdom.

  1. [1]Article on St Paul; I first encountered the statement second hand in the strange hoax volume, “King Jesus: King of Judaea and Prince of Rome” by Ralph Ellis, p.212, which read: “It is said that his death took place in the 12th, 13th or 14th year of Nero, depending on whether you read St. Epiphanius, Euthalius or St. Jerome, which translates as either AD 66, 67 or 68.”  But this unreferenced statement seems to be derived from the Catholic Encyclopedia article.
  2. [2]All this from chapter 12 of Willard’s monograph.
  3. [3]See Jack Finegan, Encountering New Testament Manuscripts, Eerdmans (1980) p.45, online here.
  4. [4]There is more information online in the old Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography article here.
  5. [5]Again see the old Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography article here; and this article, E M Thompson, Handbook of Greek and Latin paleography, chapter 6, on στίχοι.
  6. [6]Blomqvist, p.16.
  7. [7]An article on the Slavonic by W. Veder, “The Slavonic Translation of the Euthalian Apparatus to the Acts and Epistles”, is here.
  8. [8]Vemund Blomqvist, Euthalian Traditions: Text, Translation and Commentary, De Gruyter (2012).
  9. [9]Louis Charles Willard, A Critical Study of the Euthalian Apparatus, De Gruyter (2009).  Google Books preview here.  This uses the Aland numbers, rather than the shelfmarks, to refer to the manuscripts.  For some reason Willard left the Greek untranslated, which means that only those with reasonable Greek can follow some of the argument.
  10. [10]N.A. Dahl, “The ‘Euthalian apparatus’ and the affiliated ‘argumenta'”, in: Studies in Ephesians, Mohr Siebeck (2000), p.231-278.  Dahl is mainly concerned with mentions in the prologue of an “edition” of the Corpus Paulinum, the collection of Paul’s letters.  I was unable to access more than a selection of pages.

Some tables of contents in minuscule Greek manuscripts

Via AWOL I discovered the existence of a search engine for Greek manuscripts, made by David Jenkins and online at Princeton here.  I promptly started looking for examples of the “summaries” or “tables of contents” in Greek texts.  Not many of the texts that I looked at had them; but a few did.

First off, let’s have a look at an 11th century manuscript of Eusebius’ Church History, BML Plut. 70.28. On folio 2v we find this:

Table of contents for Eusebius HE in 11th century manuscript
Table of contents for Eusebius HE in 11th century manuscript

But none of this material is in the body of the manuscript as far as I could see.

Here’s a 16th century version of the same thing, much influenced by the age of printing no doubt.  This is Ms. Vatican Ottobonianus gr.108.  Fol. 1v looks like this:

16th century table of contents for Eusebius HE
16th century table of contents for Eusebius HE

It’s neater: but not fundamentally different in content.

Next up, a 9th century manuscript (Pal. gr. 398) from Heidelberg of Arrian’s CynegeticaFol. 17r looks like this:

9th century table of contents for Arrian's Cynegetica
9th century table of contents for Arrian’s Cynegetica

If we then look at the start of the text on fol.18, we see the same material – numerals appear in the margin against each chapter, while the “chapter heading” is in the right margin:

Opening of Arrian's Cynegetica, with chapter number and title on right.
Opening of Arrian’s Cynegetica, with chapter number and title on right.

Unfortunately I found no early examples in the manuscripts listed.  The majority of manuscripts listed were biblical (as this is where digitisation has concentrated), which is not what I am looking for.  Manuscripts of Plato’s works had no table of contents; nor did a manuscript of the histories of Herodotus.  But my search was by no means comprehensive.

It’s still nice to see these things, tho.  What I nowhere saw was modern-style chapters, blank lines followed by titles with numbers and another blank line.  Which is interesting itself.


Notes on chapter divisions in Syriac manuscripts from antiquity

The British Library holds some of the most ancient Syriac manuscripts in the world, brought there in 1842 by Archdeacon Tattam from the monastery of Deir al-Suryani in the Nitrian desert in Egypt.  Last Saturday I went down there, along with Syriacist Steven Ring, and examined four of them for evidence of chapter divisions.  This sort of thing is not recorded at all well in critical editions, so personal inspection was necessary.

The first item examined was Ms. Additional 12150.  This is a large folio manuscript, containing translations from Greek, and dated (by the scribe) to 411 AD!  That is, it was written the year after the sack of Rome by Alaric and the Goths.  I used Wright’s Catalogue, p.632 f., as a finder’s guide.  The text is written by a single scribe.

It begins on folio 1r with scribbles in Syriac and Arabic.  The page must originally have been blank, which is curious; for the text begins on folio 1v with no heading.  However a running header in red, apparently by the same scribe as the text, appears on the verso of each leaf; in this case, saying “.o. Clement .o.”, because the volume begins with discourses and homilies from the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions; labelled as “I” by Wright.

Folio 1v shows the start of chapters 1, 2 and 3 of discourse 1, or so I find from De Lagarde’s 1861 edition of the text.

There are no chapter numbers.  Each chapter begins on a new line, and ends with a series of “o.o.o.o”, sometimes all in black, sometimes alternately in black and red.  This fills up most of the remainder of the line; and a blank line sometimes follows.  De Lagarde shows the item in his edition, but for some reason has omitted the newlines.

The subscriptio to the first discourse is in red on f.53r.   There it is followed by a blank line, then “.oo. .oo. .oo.”

I found that:

  • Discourse 1 is divided into chapters throughout.
  • Discourse 3 is not divided at all.
  • Discourse 4 is divided throughout.
  • Homily 12 has a few divisions only towards the end.
  • Discourse 14 is not divided at all.

The next item in the codex, II, is the work of Titus of Bostra against the Manichaeans.  This has chapters, ending with three examples of a marker, consisting of four dots in a diamond shape; later on reverting to the same end-of-chapter marker as used for Clement.  Again a new chapter means a new line.

I curse, by the way, that the British Library would not allow me to take snaps of the pages with my mobile phone; thus I am reduced to verbiage, where an image would show what I mean.

After Titus we find (III) the treatise of Eusebius on the Theophania, in five books.  This also is divided into chapters by the same markers.  However, part way through book 4, the ninth chapter — there are no numerals, remember — begins with a heading in read, and each chapter then has a heading for the remainder of the book.  Book 5 also has some.

Item IV is Eusebius, The Martyrs of Palestine.  This is divided into sections with red headings.  Inside each section are chapter divisions as before. E.g. f.235v, 236r.

Item V is Eusebius’ Encomium on the Martyrs, divided into chapters like the rest of the ms.

Nowhere are there any numerals.

It is interesting that some of the Clementine material is divided, and some is not.  I would infer from this that the divisions are not by the scribe, who would otherwise have done the same thing all through.  The differences in the Clement material may be accounted for most easily, if we suppose that the scribe had a box full of rolls, each containing one item, which he proceeded to copy into his brand new codex.  He only had a rag-bag of rolls, which is why discourse 2 is missing — the discourses are headed with their number in the subscriptions — and some of these came from sources that were divided, while some were not.

The same applies to the Theophania; while all the rolls were divided into chapters, the last two had headings in the roll.

The next manuscript examined was a quarto, Additional 14639.  This dates to the 6th century AD, and contains a Syriac translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s Historia Ecclesiastica.

I noted that on f.11b there was a red heading.  F. 18 has chapter divisions, marked by filling up the line with a diamond of 5 dots, then newline.

The table of contents to book 2 appears on f.18v.  It is not numbered.  Each table element is on a new line, and alternate elements are in different colours, black and red text. At the end of each element the scribe has filled up the line with dots or diamonds.  Divisions in the text are mainly by means of red headings.

There is a deviation in the table of contents.  The one on f.70a starts with alternate red and black elements, as before; but the scribe then changes to first word of each entry in red, with the rest of the words in black.  However the table of contents on 96v is back to full alternating as before.

I then looked at Additional 14542.  This dates to 509 AD, and contains Basil the Great’s work on the Holy Spirit.  It is a quarto volume.

A chapter division is visible on f.7r., and on f.5r.  10r 13v, with coloured dots.  There are no headings, but definitely chapter divisions of the form we saw earlier.  The subscriptio is in red.

My final manuscript was Additional 17182, containing the homilies of Aphrahat.  It dates to 474 AD.  It too is quarto.

There are infrequent chapter markers. One appears on f.3v; another on f4r.  There are no blank lines when a new chapter begins, but there are newlines.  F.7v has two diamonds at foot of page.  There is a red heading on f.11v and f23r.  There is also a running title on the verso, but this time only at the end of each quire.  Presumably this means that the book was written in quires, and the running heading told the binder what order to assemble the book.

In short we find, in these very early manuscripts, copious evidence of division into chapters.


Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 4

One of the most useful elements of Schröder’s “Titel und Text” is the appendix.  This attempts to work out what words were used by the Romans for “work-title”, “book-title”, “table of contents”, “item in a table of contents”, “chapter”, “title”, and “poem heading”.

I would imagine that Dr Schröder compiled these references by a database search, but if so, it was done well.  It might bear repeating now, since Schröder did her search before 1998.

As it seems increasingly clear that nobody has read Schröder, I will place my own hasty translation of the appendix here.  She gave the quotations only in the original.  I appended existing translations wherever I had them, or thought them important; sadly I ran out of time to do them all.  I also broke up the format, indenting quotations rather than  giving them inline, and placed the footnotes inline as well.

I hope that it will be useful.

Appendix : Notes on the Latin  words for ‘Work- / Book-title’, ‘table of contents’, ‘element in the table of  contents’, / ‘chapter’ ‘title’ / ‘poem heading’.

‘Work title / book title’324

324. See also Moussy, Claude: Les appellations latines des titres de livres, in: Fredouille (Ed.), p. 1-7.

The term “nomen” is used for “title of a work” in Comedy, although at first personal names were used predominantly for titles (see above p.35):

(Plautus, Casina 30) comoediai nomen dare vobis volo; […I wish to give you the name of this comedy;]

(Plautus, Poenulus / The little Carthaginian 50f.) nomen dare vobis volo / Comoediai, 55 nomen iam habetis; […I wish to give you the name of this comedy, the name you already have;]

(Plautus, Asinaria / About the Asses 7) ut sciretis nomen huius fabulae, 10 huic nomen graece Onagost fabulae. [that you may know the name of these fables …  ]

The title of the work is given with the verbs vocare or nominare:

(Plautus, Casina 31 f.) Κληρούμενοι vocatur haec comoedia / graece; [this comedy is called Cleroumenoi in Greek]

(Plautus, Merc. 9) graece haec vocatur Emporos Philemonis;

(Plautus, Poenulus 53); (Ter. Phorm. 25f.) Epidicazomenon quam vocant comoediam / Graeci, Latini Phormionem nominant.

These nomina are sometimes supplemented by apposition, e.g.

(Cicero, Brutus 78), […] cum Thyesten fabulam docuisset,

but they can also be used alone as a matter of course:

(Ter.Andr.9) Menander fecit Andriam et Perinthiam;

(Ter. Haut. 5) sum acturus Hauton timorumenon; (also: Ter.Eun.9);

(Cic. Cato 50) Quam gaudebat bello suo Punico Naevius! Quam Truculento Plautus, quam Pseudolo!

Dialogue names are also used:

(Cic. de orat.3,122) ille in Gorgia Socrates;

or along with the author’s name, e.g.:

(Cicero, De finibus, 2,4) in Phaedro a Platone; [in Plato’s Phaedrus]

(Cicero, De finibus, 2,15) in Timaeo Platonis; [in Plato’s Timaeus]

(Cicero, de orat. 1,47) cuius […] legi Gorgiam.

Nomen is used elsewhere as well, as in Ovid, for example:

(trist. 1,1,109f.) Cetera turba palam titulos ostendet apertos / et sua detecta nomina fronte geret (see below on this) (The rest of the band will display their titles openly, bearing their names on their exposed edges,…)

and later, e.g. Ausonius:

(Technopaegnion, praef., S. 156,15 P.) Libello Technopaegnii nomen dedi.

But mainly nomen is clearly displaced by titulus and inscriptio; for “nomen”, in connection with books, the meaning “name of a work / book title” cannot override the meaning “proper name”, for a title of contents like ‘de titulis’ cannot be a nomen.

Cicero used “scribere de…” to write about a subject, or “liber qui est de…” and so it is not clear whether in each case he refers to the exact title of the work or not:

(Cato 54) Dixi in eo libro, quem de rebus rusticis scripsi; […] Hesiodus […], cum de cultura agri scriberet;

(Tusc. 1,24) evolve diligenter eius eum librum, qui est de animo.

Mention of the title of a work is referenced using inscribitur [it is inscribed] or inscriptioInscribere [to inscribe] is used for name- and content-titles, e.g.

(div.2,1) eo libro, qui est inscriptus Hortensius; [in that book, which is inscribed ‘Hortensius’]

(Tusculan disputations, 1,57) in illo libro, qui inscribitur Menon; [in that book, which is inscribed ‘Menon’]

(de officiis 2,31) Sed de amicitia alio libro dictum est, qui inscribitur Laelius; [But it was written in another book on friendship, which is inscribed ‘Laelius’]

(Cato 59) in eo libro, qui est de tuenda re familiari, qui Oeconomicus inscribitur,

(Letters ad familiares 15,20,1) Oratorem meum (sic enim inscripsi) […]; [my ‘Orator’ (for so I have inscribed it)]

(de natura deorum 1,41) in eo libro, qui inscribitur de Minerva; [in that book, which is inscribed ‘about Minerva’]

(de orat.2,61) deceptus indicibus librorum, quod sunt fere inscripti de rebus notis et inlustribus, de virtute, de iustitia, de honestate, de voluptate.

Inscriptio, with this meaning, is only used rarely by Cicero:

(top. 1) Aristotelis topica […] qua inscriptione commotus […];

(Att. 16,11,4) Quod de inscriptione quaeris [… ] inscriptio plenior de officiis. [If you look for the inscription … the full inscription ‘On duties’]

In comedy vocatur and nominatur are clearly opposite to inscribitur, where the focus is on the written word.325

325 According to LSJ ἐπιγράφω is used for the title of a book in Ath. 11,496; ἐπίγραμμα for the title of a book in Alexis Frg. 135, v.4+10; ἐπιγραγή for the title of a book in Polyb. 3,9,3; Lucian Hist.conscr.30 etc.

The title of the work was written (along with the author’s name, addressee, book number, see above p.20) on a small bit of writing material, in the same way as pages were commonly labelled:

e.g. Cicero Verr. II 2,127 in quibus omnibus <scil. sortibus> esset inscriptum nomen Theomnasti. [(He ordered three lots to be put in), on all of which was written the name of Theomnastus.]

and also the addressee was given above a letter, e.g.:

Att. 6,3,8 Q. Cicero puer legit […] epistulam inscriptam patri suo; (Q. Cicero the younger read … a letter inscribed to his father)

Att. 8,5,2 Tu fasciculum qui est ‘M. Curio’ inscriptus velim eures ad eum perferendum 326.

326 See also Lucian, Parasite, 10 εἴ γε ταῖς ἐπιστολαῖς ἄνωθεν ὥσπερ ἔθος
ἐπιγράφομεν, Σίμωνι παρασίτῳ […]. [What if we should address you in due form at the top of our letters as “Simon the Parasite”?!]

Just as for an artwork or Christmas present, the name of the artist (Verr. II 4,93 signum Apollinis […], cuius in femore litteris minutis argenteis nomen Myronis erat inscriptum), the giver (e.g. Verr.II 2,150 inscriptum esse video quandam ex his statuis aratores dedisse), or the addressee (fam. 12,3,1 in statua […] inscripsit ‘parenti optime merito‘), was written on the item as an (informational or artistic) inscription, so would a literary work bear not only the name of the author (Tusc. 1,34 nostri philosophi nonne in iis libris ipsis quos scribunt de contemnenda gloria, sua nomina inscribunt) and the addressee (see above p.23), but also the title.

Inscriptio is common hereafter, and is not displaced by titulus; that the title by itself was as respectable as the old inscribere was already visible.

Nomen is not used by Cicero for the title of something specific, but only in the naming of a genre: (leg. 2,62 cantus cui nomen neniae), and titulus has not yet acquired that meaning (see below).

Ovid formulated in Rem. 1: Legerat huius Amor titulum nomenque libelli. (Love, read the name and title of this book). Henderson states on titulum nomenque (translating it as “the heading and title; the written words that give the title”) that titulus in connection with books in Ovid is always synonymous with index (but see below) but here is used synonymously with inscriptio.327

327. With reference to Ovid, Metamorphoses 9,793, where, however, the word is not used for books but about a titulus (inscription) over munera for a temple.

Pinotti ad loc. sees a hendiadys, because both titulus and nomen are written in the index: 328 “nomen sará qui tutto ciò che è contenuto nell’ intestazione, compreso il titolo dell’opera” [nomen  will be everything contained in the heading, including the title of the work]

328. With reference to Ovid, Pont. 3,6,50 terrebar titulo nominis ipse mei (I was filled with dread by the superscription of my own name) and Res Gestae divi Augusti 20 basilicam […] sub titulo nominis filiorum meorum incohavi. (basilica … to be inscribed with the names of my sons)

Geisler understood this to mean (cited from Pinotti): ‘Love had read the title and (therein) his name (amoris).’ – Against these interpretations, the passage is easier to understand if one considers that both nomen and titulus are included in the meaning already given: the book receives a nomen and this nomen is positioned (among other places) on the titulus (= index, the slip of paper on the outside of the roll): ‘Love read the information on the titulus / index, which (next to the name of the author) contains the name of the book (nomen libelli).  Titulus still here does not have the meaning of “work- or book-title”.  The following passage should be understood similarly:

trist. 1,1, 109f.: Cetera turba palam titulos ostendet apertos / et sua detecta nomina fronte geret. (The rest of the band will display their titles openly, bearing their names on their exposed edges;)

In Ovid, titulus can also mean “book title”, by pars pro toto, (where the name of part of something is used to refer to the whole):

(ars. 3,343) deve tribus libris, titulo quos signat (i.e. the author) Amorum, elige; (or from the three books marked by the title of ‘Loves’)

(Pont. 1,1,17) rebus idem, titulo differt. (in theme the same, in title different)

titulus becomes quite common (without displacing inscriptio), e.g.

(Plin. nat., praef.24) Inscriptionis apud Graecos mira felicitas […] (There is a marvellous neatness in the titles given to books among the Greeks.); (26) me non paenitet nullum festiviorem excogitasse titulum; (For myself, I am not ashamed of not having invented any livelier title)

(Quint, inst. 2,14,4) cum M. Tullius etiam ipsis librorum quos hac de re primum scripserat titulis Graeco nomine utatur, (since Cicero gave a Greek title to the earlier works which he wrote on this subject,)

(Plin.epist.4,14,8) unum illud praedicendum videtur, cogitare me has meas nugas ita inscribere, hendecasyllabi, qui titulus sola metri lege constringitur (I will only therefore promise farther, that I design to call these trifles of mine Hendecasyllables, a title which will cover any sort of poem composed in that measure).

(Plin. epist. 5,6,42) primum ego officium scriptoris existimo, titulum suum legat atque identidem interroget se quid coeperit scribere;  (I hold it the first duty of an author to read his title, and frequently ask himself what he set out to write).

(Fronto, Laudes fumi et pulveris, p.215,6 v.d.H.) Plerique legentium forsan rem de titulo contemnant.

In Cicero titulus appears only with the meaning of ‘title of office’:

(Pis. 19) sustinere […] titulum consulatus;

(Tusc.5,30) quos si titulus hic (scil. sapientis) delectat insignis et pulcher.

The meaning titulus = index belongs to the group of meanings, ‘written pages’, tables, plates, (‘list’, ‘sign’, ‘table’, ‘table of honours’, ‘inscription’, ‘inscription of honour’, ‘grave inscription’), e.g.:

(Prop.3,4,16) titulis oppida capta legam; (I will read the names of captured cities,)

(Prop.4,5,51) quorum titulus per barbara colla pependit; (on whose barbarian necks the salesman’s bill has hung,)

(Horace.carm.4,14,3-5) virtutes in aevom / per titulos memoresque fastus / aeternet; (with titles and memorial plaques, O greatest of princes, wherever the sun shines)

(Liv. 28,46,16) aram condidit dedicavitque cum ingenti rerum ab se gestarum titulo; (he erected an altar and dedicated it together with a great record of his achievements)

(Mart. 10,71,2) brevem titulum marmoris huius; (on this stone’s brief legend) (also Mart. 1,93,4); titulo quod breviore legis; (you read in the shorter inscription)

(Plin.epist.6,10,3) cinerem sine titulo. (without an [grave-]inscription, or a name)

On the titulus / index there may be the author’s name, addressee, book title, or work title (see above p.20), e.g.:

(Ov.Pont.4,13,7) ipse quoque, ut titulum chartae de fronte revellas, / quod sit opus, videor dicere posse, tuum; (I, too, though you should tear the title from the head of your pages, could tell, I think, what work is yours)

(Plin.nat., praef.26) pendenti titulo inscripsisse ut ‘Apelles faciebat’. (with a provisional title such as “Worked on by Apelles”)

Ovid was not content merely to write the genre of the work on the titulus-slip, but gave his book a characteristic name:

(rem. 1) Legerat huius Amor titulum nomenque libelli; (Love, read the name and title of this book)

(trist. 1,1,109f.) Cetera turba palam titulos ostendet apertos / et sua detecta nomina fronte geret. (The rest of the band will display their titles openly, bearing their names on their exposed edges,…)

But in these passages nomen does not stand alone, but next to titulus; nomen by itself with the meaning of ‘a book-title which is not a proper name’ does not seem to establish itself, but titulus can stand alone, and can refer only to the title of the work:

(ars. 3,343) deve tribus libris, titulo quos signat (scil. the author) Amorum, elige; (or from the three books marked by the title of ‘Loves’) 329

329 See Ov. epist. her. 2,73 hoc tua … titulo signetur imago (following the grave inscription).

from which we infer that, as well as the meaning titulus = index, for a roll it may have held the meaning “honorific title”, “fame”.  This is also a familiar use in Ovid’s time, e.g.

(ars 1,692) tu titulos alia Palladis arte petis; (By another art of Pallas, do you seek fame [= titulos])

(met. 10,602) quid facilem titulum superando quaeris inertis; (Why do you seek an easily won renown by conquering sluggish youth?)

(met. 15,855) sic magnus cedit titulis Agamemnonis Atreus. (So does the great Atreus yield in honour to his son, Agamemnon)

Sometimes index assumes this meaning of “work title”:

(Ov. Pont. 1,1,15) invenies, quamvis non est miserabilis index […] (17) rebus idem, titulo differt; (You will find, though the title implies no sorrow, … in theme the same, in title different)

(Gell. 11,16,2) cum… Plutarchi… libri indicem legissemus, qui erat περὶ πολυπραγμοσύνης;

(Suet. Cal. 49,3) reperti sunt duo libelli diverso titulo, alteri gladius, alteri pugio index erat; (among his private papers were found two notebooks with different titles, one called “the sword”, and the other “the dagger”)

(Suet.Claud.38,3) liber editus […], cui index erat μωρῶν ἐπανάστασις, argumentum autem stultitiam neminem fingere. (a book was published, the title of which was ” The Elevation of Fools” and its thesis, that no one feigned folly.)

‘Table of contents’

The phenomenon of a ‘table of contents’ is first discussed without the use of any particular term for it:330

330. For details of the passages quoted, see part II.

(Scribonius Largus, praef. 15) ad quae vitia compositiones exquisitae et aptae sint, subiecimus et numeris notavimus, quo facilius quod quaeretur inveniatur, (First, then, I have added [a list] below of what problems the recipes are calibrated and fitted to, and have numbered it, so that it is easier to find what one seeks.)

(Plin.nat., praef. 33): quid singulis contineretur libris, huic epistulae subiunxi […] (I have appended to this letter what is contained in the individual books), ut quisque desiderabit aliquid, id tantum quaerat et sciat quo loco inveniat (but need only look for the particular point that each of them wants, and will know where to find it).

Different terms – referring, strictly speaking, to the elements of the table rather than the table as a whole – are then experimented with, but none prevails over the rest.

(Colum. 11,3,65) omnium librorum meorum argumenta subieci, ut cum res exegisset, facile reperiripossit, quid in quoque quaerendum; 331(I have added outlines of all my volumes, and when necessary, it will be easy to find what is to be sought in each one)

(Gell. praef. 25) capita rerum, quae cuique commentario insunt, exposuimus hic universa, ut iam statim declaretur, quid quo in libro quaeri invenirique possit. (Summaries of the material to be found in each book of my commentaries I have here placed all together, in order that it may at once be clear what is to be sought and found in every book)

331. See also Suetonius, Augustus 85,2 liber […] cuius et argumentum et titulus est Sicilia. (of which the subject and the title is ‘Sicily’)

Jerome uses tituli, indices, and argumenta side-by-side, when describing his difficulty in organizing material which he wants to make clear:

( Ezech., Book 4, praef.): Vellem… explanationes in Hiezechiel per singulos libros propriis texere prophetiis, et quod vaticinatione coniunctum est nequaquam expositione dividere, ut facilior esset cursus dictantis pariter et legentis; longumque et immensum interpretationis iter certis spatiis separare, ut quasi titulis et indicibus, et, ut proprius loquar, argumentis ostenderem, quid libri singuli continerent. Sed quid faciam, cum aliae prophetiae breves sint, aliae longae, ut saepe necessitate cogamur et plures in unum librum coartare et unam in multos dividere? (I would like … to construct explanations for each set of prophecies in Ezekiel for individual books, both so that the prophecy is in no way divided from the exposition, and so that it is easier to run through, both for dictating and reading; to separate the long and immense road into fixed sections [spatiis], so that I may show, as if with titles and indexes, and, to be accurate, with argumenta, what individual books contain.  But what shall I do when some prophecies are long, and others short, so that often, by necessity I shall be obliged to pack many into one book, and to divide one into many?)

[RP: The preface to book 5 is also interesting: Ne librorum numerus confundatur, et per longa temporum spatia diuisorum inter se uoluminum ordo uitietur, praefatiunculas singulis libris praeposui, ut ex fronte tituli statim lector agnoscat quotus sibi liber legendus et quae nobis prophetia explananda sit. (Lest the number of the books is confounded and, over a long space of time or division, the order of the books is spoiled, I have prefixed small prefaces to individual books, so that the reader will at once know from the start of the titles the number of the book to be read, and which prophecy is to be explained by us.)]

Augustine writes on this:

(retract.2,52,1) adhibitis ad singula numeris, quibus inspectis quid cui loco responderim facile possit adverti; (by consulting the numbers which I have marked for individual topics, may read in the proceedings themselves at the right place whatever he may wish)

in another case, when handling different “quaestiones”, he sticks with the term “quaestiones” for the table of contents:

(retract. 1,26,1 f.) De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus […], sicut interrogabar a fratribus […] adhibitis numeris […] (2) harum quaestionum prima est […];


(retract.2,12,1) adnumeratis eisdem quaestionibus, ita ut quisque legere quod voluerit numeros secutus satis inveniat.

Palladius goes for tituli:

(vet. med.2,1): Ne quid deesset huic operi, armentorum medicinas omnium pecorumque collegi et sub uno libro titulis unamquamque causam designantibus explicare curavi, ipsis verbis Columellae et auctorum suorum, ut, cum necessitas vocaverit, facile remedia causae cogentis occurrant. (So there should be no omissions in this work, I have collected together the medical treatments for all kinds of livestock and farm animals and taken care to lay them out in a single book, with headings designating each and every medical situation, using the very words of Columella and his sources, so that when need arises the remedies for the pressing situation may easily be found.)

The elements of the table of contents are predominantly begun with “de”, so that in form and function they are very similar to the majority of book titles, and so the word ‘tituli’ is
easily transferred and becomes common for “table of contents”.

Capitula becomes used synonymously with tituli (for caput see above, p.104).332

332. On caput and capitula see also Petitmengin, Pierre, Capitula païens et chrétiens, in: Fredouille (ed.), p.491-509, esp. 493-495.

For capitula, τὰ κεφάλαια and caput are also used in the sense of ‘key points, key questions, the main subject’, e.g.

(Plat. leg. 811 a) ἐκ πάνψων κεφάλαια ἐκλέξαντες; (they collect select summaries [of the poets])

Polybius gives in the first two books a summary of previous history ἐπὶ βραχὺ καὶ κεφαλαιωδῶς (after a brief summary) (1,13,1; notes on the brevity of the presentation are common);

(Diodorus Sic. 1,37,1) […] περὶ ὧν ἐν κεφαλαίοις ἐροῦμεν, ἷνα μήτε μακρὰς ποιώμεθα τὰς παρεκβάσεις […];

(Cic.Att. 16,11,4) ut ad me τὰ κεφάλαια mitteret; (to send me an analysis of it)

(Plin.epist. 6,22,2) carptim et κατὰ κεφάλαιον. (but in a summary way, and keeping closely to the articles of the charge)

(Cic.Mil. 53) videamus nunc id, quod caput est;

(Cic. Phil. 2,77) caput autem litterarum sibi cum illa mima posthac nihil futurum;

(Cic. Brut. 164) quibusdam capitibus expositis nec explicatis […] non est oratio, sed quasi capita rerum et orationis commentarium;

(Sidon.epist. 9,9,8) quaesitum volumen invenio produco lectito excerpo maxima ex magnis capita defrustrans. (discovered the volume I sought, dragged it forth in triumph, and began reading away and dismembering it by making lengthy excerpts from the important chapters.) —

(Plin.nat.2,55) breviter atque capitulatim (Now I will briefly and summarily touch on facts).

Capitulum has the meaning ‘important statement (which must be explained)’, e.g.

(Hier.epist.49,17,1f.) inquit apostolus “[…]” Quod capitulum nos sic interpretati sumus […];

(Hier.epist.49,6,1) interpretamur capitulum apostoli “[…]”;

and is connected to the meaning ‘questions to be discussed’, e.g.

(Julianus Pomerius 1, praef.3) Sed iam ipsa capitula, quae utcumque solvenda proposuistis, attexam. Itaque iubetis ut paucis edisseram quae sit vitae contemplativae proprietas et quid inter ipsam et activam vitam intersit […]. Haec sunt nimirum decem, quae a me voluistis enodari capitula […].  (ACW 4 p.14-15)

Finally the meanings of tituli and capitula are exchanged in the table of contents, e.g.:

( Pasch. 11) Indicia vero mirabilis vitae eius huic epistolae coniuncto praelatis capitulis commemoratorio recensita fient ut rogavi libri vestri magisterio clariora; (The testimonies concerning his marvellous life accompany this letter, arranged as a memoir, with a table of chapters prefixed. Grant my request, and let them gain greater fame through your editorial care.)

(Cassiod. inst. 1,1,10) in principiis librorum […] titulos eis credidimus imprimendos; (I thought that the chapter-headings … should be set down at the beginning of each book)

(Cassiod. inst. 1,5,7) Quibus libris iuvante Domino capitula insignire curavimus, ne in tam necessaria lectione, ut saepe dictum est, confusa tyronis novitas linqueretur. (With the Lord’s aid I have taken care to mark the chapter-headings on these books so that in such indispensable reading, as I have often said, the inexperienced beginner may not be left in confusion.)

(Cassiod. hist. 1, praef. 5) ne quemquam res indistincta turbaret, per universum textum huius operis titulos cognoscat appositos, ut suis locis exigere possit quod sub numero conpetenti praedictum esse cognoscit;

(Greg. Tur. Franc. 1, praef.): ab ipso mundi principio libri primi poniretur initium, cuius capitula deursum subieci; (the first book shall begin with the beginning of the world, and I have given its chapters below.)

(Prisc.gramm.II, praef. 4) titulos etiam universi operis per singulos supposui libros, quo facilius quicquid ex his quaeratur, discretis possit locis inveniri.

Also we find breviculus, brevis in use as names for the table of contents, referring to the appearance of the combined contents:

Augustin (epist.Divj. 1A,3,4): quantum autem collegerit viginti duorum librorum conscriptio missus breviculus indicabit; (but how large the collection of 22 books is, the breviculus enclosed will indicate).

Palladius (,2) Pigmentorum quoque omnium brevem redegi, ut apud se paterfamilias omnia ante necessitatem recondat, ne quid desit in tempore. (I have also made a short summary of all the drugs, so that the master can store them all in his house before they are needed, to avoid anything being unavailable when required)

The reason that this did not displace tituli / capitula may be that tituli / capitula could at the same time mean ‘chapter’ (see below).

‘Element in table of contents’ / ‘chapter’

Titulus can also mean ‘Chapter’:

(Pallad. 11,12,9) hoc mense poma condienda sunt atque servanda eo more quo in singulorum titulis continetur, (This month, or as they come ripe, fruits should be preserved and dried by the method covered in the section on each)

(Cassiod. inst. 2, praef 1) nunc tempus est ut aliis Septem titulis saecularium lectionum praesentis libri textum percurrere debeamus. (Now it is time for us to go through the text of the present book that has been arranged according to another seven headings of secular letters;)

The process starts with the use of tituli to mean table of contents,333 as is shown particularly by the following passage:

333. This does not mean, however, that the entries in the table of contents (tituli) also must have appeared as chapter headings (see above, p.99).

(Cassiod. inst. 1,2,10) in libro civitatis Dei septimo decimo, titulo IIII, (St. Augustine in ‘The City of God’, Book 17, titu1us 4)

‘under the numbered element in the table of contents / = in chapter with the number’


(Cassiod. inst. 2,3,22) Scire autem debemus Ioseppum Hebreorum doctissimum in primo libro Antiquitatum, titulo nono, dicere […]. (Josephus, the most learned of the Hebrews, in the first book of his ‘Antiquities’, chapter nine, says)

Capitulum is also used with the same meaning:

(Anon. de mach. bell., praef. 2) [=De rebus bellicis] unde pro ingenii facultate unum capitulum de largitionum utilitate in hoc libello composui.

Here the meaning ‘section’, ‘chapter’ is added, from caput (see above p.104), e.g.

(Gellius 11,10,1) Quod in capite superiore […] diximus […].

Tituli and capitula are synonymous:

(Cassiod. inst. 1,1,7) Sanctus quoque Prosper sedula cura legendus est, qui tres libros totius auctoritatis divinae in centum quinquaginta tribus titulis comprehendit (We ought also to read St Prosper eagerly for he has dealt with the entire divine authority in three books in 153 chapters,) (i.e. ‘153 entries in the table of contents and the same number of chapters’)


(Cassiod. inst. 1,23,1) <sc.Eugippius> ex operibus sancti Augustini valde altissimas quaestiones ac sententias diversasque res deflorans in uno corpore necessaria nimis dispensatione collegit et in trecentis triginta octo capitulis collocavit. (he excerpted from the works of St Augustine profound problems and opinions on a variety of topics that he collected, compiled, and organized into a collection of 338 chapters)

The words tituli and capitula must be examined in each individual case, not only because they are present in modern languages and therefore seem obvious, but because at the same time and at different times they have different meanings in antiquity, in late
antiquity, and in the middle ages, so that misunderstandings can arise very easily.  For example Alcuin wrote in an introductory poem on the bible,

(MG Poet.Aev.Carol.I, Nr.69, 183-186): Quisque legat huius sacrato in corpore libri / lector in ecclesia verba superna Dei / Distinguens sensus, titulos, cola, commata voce / Dicat, ut accentus ore sonare sciat.

We find the following translation of the last verse:334

“…distinguishing the meanings, titles, cola and commata with his voice.”

334.  Ganz, p.56.

In the bibles there are two Capitula-lists, but no titles in the body of the text, where the reader must particularly look for them.  Rather he must look out for the ‘sections’.  – In the following example the glossator has not properly understood tituli.  On Bede’s text:

(De natura rerum liber, praef.v. 1 f.): Naturas rerum varias, labentis et aevi / Perstrinxi titulis, tempora lata, citis,…

we find the gloss:335

Titulis, id est, praefatiunculis ita inchoantibus: De quadrifario Dei opere, etc.

335. There we also find the following gloss: Titulus autem dicitur a Titane, id est sole, quia sicut sol sua praesentia mundum illuminat, ita et titulus sequentem paginam illustrat; nam si titulum frontis eraseris, muta pagina remanebit, ut ait quidam: Titulum frontis erade, ut muta sit pagina […].

Although we do indeed find such summaries of content, in the text quoted we must understand ‘section’, ‘chapter’; see also the following passage from Alcuin:

(MG Poet. Med. I, S.207, Vita Sancti Willibrordi, pr. 4) percurrens titulis inclyta gesta citis;

this also (as far as can be seen in the edition) precedes a numbered table of contents, and in the poem the chapters are numbered.

‘Heading’ / ‘Poem heading’

The first indication of a heading (the name of an addressee) appears in Vergil in the text of the Bucolica:

(buc.6,11f.) nec Phoebo gratior ulla est / quam sibi quae Vari praescripsit pagina nomen.

In the Xenia or Apophoreta, Martial names the labels for each object written over each epigram as lemmata or, synonymously, tituli:

(Mart. 14,2,3f.) Lemmata si quaeris cur sint adscripta, docebo: / Ut, si malueris, lemmata sola legas.

Lemma also has the meaning of “theme for a poem”:

(Mart. 11,42,1 f.) Vivida cum poscas epigrammata, mortua ponis / Lemmata;

(Mart. 10,59,1 f.) Consumpta est uno si lemmate pagina, transis, / Et breviora tibi, non meliora placent,

(Plin.epist. 4,27,3) lemma sibi sumpsit, quod ego interdum versibus ludo.  Atque adeo iudicii mei te iudicem faciam, si mihi ex hoc ipso lemmate secundus versus occurrerit. (For he has taken for a theme, that I sometimes amuse myself with writing verses. If I can remember the second line of this epigram…)

But the meaning “poem heading” for lemma has no further success.336

336.  It is occasionally used this way in late antique authors:

(Auson. Parentalia, praef.S.28,3 P.): aliquotiens fortasse lectorem solum lemma sollicitat tituli [see apparatus], ut festivitate persuasus et ineptiam ferre contentus sit. hoc opusculum nec materia amoenum est nec appellatione iucundum;

(Sidon.epist. 8,9,3) interim tu videris, quam tibi sit epigrammatis flagitati lemma placiturum.

The information in the relevant article ‘Lemma’ in the “Historischen Wörterbuch zur Philosophie” [Historical dictionary of philosophy] (Ritter/Gründer) gives the impression of frequent use in the sense of ‘heading’ and ‘title’.

Martial’s variant, titulus, appears (as also in Ovid, rem. 1, see above p.321) in conjunction with nomen:

(Mart. 13,3,7) Addita per titulos sua nomina rebus habebis.

Titulus is generally used for heading, e.g.:

(Gaius inst.4,46) ceterae quoque formulae, quae sub titulo De in ius vocando propositae sunt […];

(Suet.Tib. 70,2) composuit et Carmen lyricum, cuius est titulus conquestio de morte L. Caesaris;

(Hier. tract. in psalm. I, p. 19,1, zu Psalm 7): Singulis rebus inponuntur nomina, ut ex nominibus et res cognoscantur: sie et psalmi titulis praenotati sunt, ut ex titulis intellegantur et psalmi;

(Prosper, epigr., praef.3-6) Quosdam ceu prato libuit decerpere flores / distinetisque ipsos texere versiculis, / ut proprias canerent epigrammata singula causas / et pars quaeque suo congrueret titulo;

(Luxur. 287 R.) 13: <scil. versus> discretos titulis quibus tenentur.

Rubrica in antiquity and late antiquity is not a word in competition with titulus.  Only in
connection with laws is there mention of the red colour of headings:

(Quint, inst. 12,3,11) alii se ad album ac rubricas transtulerunt et formularii vel […] legulei quidam esse maluerunt, (Some of these transfer their attention to the praetor’s edicts or the civil law, and have preferred to become specialists in formulae, or legalists, as Cicero calls them)

(Pers. 5,89f.) cur mihi non liceat, iussit quodeumque voluntas, excepto siquid Masuri rubrica vetabit?

See Kissel ad loc.;

(Juv. 14,192f.) causas age, perlege rubras / maiorum leges (mit perlege rubras: rubricas iuris);

(Prud. c. Symm. 2,461 f.) dicant cur condita sit lex I bis sex in tabulis aut cur rubrica minetur […].

On bronze legal tablets (Lex Malacitana and Lex Salpensana) the abbreviation R(ubrica) is used to indicate which portions should be coloured as a heading.  This abbreviation can be found in papyri with legal content (e.g. P.Oxy. 1814, 6th c., Cod.Just.), in the Florence Gaius fragment following the text of a heading (see Nelson, p.27), and rarely in manuscripts containing collections of poetry, especially in the mss. of Tibullus, all descended from a single lost exemplar; I have also seen it in 8212 (Horace, 12th c.).

In the Church Fathers superscriptio is also found for the headings of the Psalms (e.g. Hilarius psalm.instr.3; in psalm.passim); superscriptionum tituli (Hilarius, in psalm. 55,1).


Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 3

Here is a rough English translation of the conclusions for part 2 of Bianca-Jeanette Schröder’s book, Titel und Text.  It was made in haste for my own purposes, so is probably not 100% reliable.  Nevertheless, the material is so important, and is apparently so little known, that it seems well worth placing this here.

Part 2 – Conclusion (p.153)

The briefly examined examples, from Hyginus to Cassiodorus, make it clear that questions about the organisation of a text is not a problem that can be separated from the “real” text.  It is important to know how ancient readers intended to “use” a text, and how other, later needs have interfered in the form of organisation taken.  It is  important to examine this issue carefully, assessing the authors and editors of  individual works.

It may be noted how new ways to make information accessible came into existence and were disseminated.  The (probably) numbered table of contents, as an influential innovation, was made known through Pliny’s Natural History in the 1st century AD, was promptly adopted (by Columella in the later-added book 11) and was increasingly used in other genres (Gellius, Augustine, historical writing); tables of contents for other works were created subsequently.

The adoption of the table of contents had influence on the preface; an important role of the proemion, to provide information on the content to follow, is shifted on to the more precise summaries.  In this way the author can bypass a stylistically unappealing task, and, in addition, getting an overview is much easier and makes lookup and retrieval possible (in connection with numbering).  In a similar way the relatively monotonous formulae for closing a subject and transitioning to the next give way over time to the sub-title. The use of diaeresis, which, in imitation of oral teaching, is used in systematic text books to structure information, is not abandoned but receives a serious competitor in the use of chapter headings.

Mutschmann (p.99-100) accepted the following development, particularly in view of the Didymus papyrus: the first step is the column heading: the second is the collection of column headings into a table of contents (συγκεφαλαίωσις); from the column heading the chapter heading develops. But it has been shown that these phenomena are more complex. In the papyri we see already early headings for lists, and disengaged lemmata in lexica.  There are centred headings, and numbered and marked chapter beginnings in Latin bronze  tablets of laws.  Pliny and Columella do, inter alia, have tables of contents but they certainly did not devise chapter headings.  A two-way exchange may be expected, namely that works with tables of contents (e.g. Columella) acquired chapter headings, while for works with leading lemmas (e.g. Hyginus) tables of contents were then created.

The tendency towards dividing things up extends beyond prose.  Probably because of the influence of articulated textbook prose, didactic poems were provided with helps for orientation:[184] in the manuscripts of Lucretius, Manilius and also Ovid’s Metamorphoses, lists of Capitula may be found and also corresponding chapter headings, as in prose textbooks.[185] Reeve (conclusion, p.507 f.) points out that Ovid’s Fasti is, since R. Merkel’s 2nd edition of 1851, divided into days identified by headings, and content-related sections, and he gives examples of how the interpretation is affected by this classification. That these subtitles are not by the poet is shown by the structure of the text.  The same formulae for transitions and new subjects appear as in textbook prose (see above, p.107); signal words indicate the beginning of a new concept, e.g. in Lucretius: quaeres, inquis, nec me fallit, praecurrere cogor, sed nunc ut repetam, nunc et scrutemur, nunc age quoniam docui, nunc age quod superest cognosce, denique, tum porro quoniam etc.; likewise Manilius introduces new sections thus: nunc vero, iam vero, restat ut, his adice, accipe, percipe nunc, ergo age, nec te praetereat, nunc age, ergo age, forsitan et quaeras etc.  – The headings in Lucretius have been dated by Fischer to the 2nd century AD, after analysing the content of them (so also Diels, p.xii: “neque indoctus fuit ille editor qui primis haud dubie saeculis capitula praefixit”).[“nor unlearned was that editor who first at an unknown date added capitula to the front”]

184. Haye has commented on the types of divisions in medieval didactic poems (p.348-358 ‘Optische Präsentation’); it may be added that this does not merely apply to manuscripts of the 12th century (so Haye, p.352), but also for example in mss. of Ovid and Lucretius of the 9th century.

185.  Vergil’s Georgica are equipped with metrical argumenta (like the books of the Aeneid and the comedies), but, as far as I can see, they were not divided into chapters like other didactic poems. – In the relevant manuscripts for Ovid’s Fasti (A = Vat.Reg. 1709, 10th c.; U = Vat.Lat.3262, 11th c.) there are no calendrical entries as headings, such as are often silently added in editions (an example of their insertion for clarity is Robert Schilling, Ovide, Les fastes, Tome I, Paris 1992, p.LIX), and are found in the younger manuscripts. In Vat.Lat.3265 (12th c.) there are references to the content in the margin (e.g. fol. 9v, de cursu solis, de lirae occasu, de pectore leonis); but I have seen calendrical information in Vat.Ottob. 1464 (13th c.) (e.g. fol. 3v.: VII kl F, III kl F).

Housman gives a list of chapter titles in the appendix to his edition of Manilius (vol. 5, p.55-99); Goold devotes a chapter of the praefatio to his edition of Manilius to the chapter titles (p.xii ff), but does not discuss when they developed. – In the manuscripts of Ovid’s Metamorphoses there are chapter titles (e.g. Chaos in species; terra in varias personas; mundus in saecula quattuor, aureum, argenteum, aereum et ferreum; item annus in tempora quattuor; edited by Magnus), and sometimes prose summaries, which like the chapter titles are inserted before the passage in question. These summaries (by “Lactantius”) must date, on grounds of vocabulary, to late antiquity.

The increasing tendency for labelling and dividing is not limited to didactic poetry, but extends to the whole of the book trade.  The divisions in tragedy and comedy have already been thoroughly researched, so here I will limit myself to only a few notes.  Already, in the oldest mss. (Terence: ‘Bembinus’, 4-5th c.; Plautus: Palimpsest Ambros., 5th c.), the change of scenes is indicated in various ways (names, rolls, notes, Greek sigla),[186] and Donatus refers to comedies with divisions: (Ter. Ad. praef. 3,1f.) primus actus haec continet […]. secundus actus […]; (Ter.Ad.254) in hac scaena gratiarum actio est […]; (Ad.praef. 1,7) […] saepe tamen mutatisper scaenam modis cantata, quod signifi­cat titulus scaenae habens subiectas personis litteras […]. […] secundum persona­rum nomina scriptis in eo loco, ubi incipit scaena.  That the division into acts and scenes, and also the insertion of the names of the speakers, was not provided by the authors, has been shown systematically by Andrieu. — The following information was obtained on the age of these things in the mss.: Bader dates the scene-headings, in Plautus, to the late first / early second century A.D. (p. 150-154) and Tarrant (in: Reynolds, p.306) considers that it is unlikely that the creation of an edition equipped with these things can be later than the 2nd century AD. — Likewise the archetype for Terence (before the Cod. Bembinus) was similarly equipped (Reeve in: Reynolds, p.413). — Zwierlein showed that the archetype for Seneca’s comedies, which should be dated to the 3-4th century, contained a basic set of scene-headings and people-sigla (Prolegomena, p. 52) and that this information was added to or  modified by editors or copyists during the process of transmission (ib., p.249).

186. On the origin and development of the various types of information, see the relevant chapter in Andrieu.

Here again, as with prose textbooks, we observe several phases of philological activity.

In the course of transmission, the “organisation” of texts by means of numbering and tables of contents has not been without drawbacks.  The chapter number, which in early examples (bronze tablets, see above p.116 f., early mss., see above p.119) is under or before the text break of the new chapter, changes position over the course of time, for various reasons:187 the situation of the chapter number in the codex, where usually a page contains one or two columns, is very different from that in the roll, where one column follows another.  If the page has only a single area of text, and the chapter number is in the left margin, there is a risk that on the recto the number will partially or completely disappear in the rebate (in the binding); on the verso, the number may disappear if the pages of the book are trimmed. — If the work is written in two columns, there must be enough space in the middle, between the two columns, for the numerals belonging to the second column.  If instead the numbers, while the numbers for the first column are on the left of it, the numbers for the second column are written on the right hand side, uncertainty is introduced for the reader, just by changing the position in that way, and it has the same risks as before; one part of the numbers may disappear into the fold, while the other is threatened by cutting off the margin.  Another factor with great influence on the chapter number is the rise and expansion of the initial letter.  The more elaborate the design of the letter, the less important will be the – consistently simple – numeral before it (see plate 1), if there is room for it at all. It may be observed that the numeral appears more and more frequently in the Spatium at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter, to the right over the relevant section within the textblock.  There is it safe from the trimmer’s knife and the binding, and leaves room at the start of the chapter for the development of the initial – however, having given up their special place in the margin, the only way to emphasise them is with colour; if the numeral is the same colour as the text, it no longer catches the eye. This general trend may be observed in mss. containing the same text but from different centuries,e.g.188 In Cod.Troyes Bibl.mun. 504 (7th c.; the oldest ms. of the Liber pastoralis of Gregory the Great; fol.48v.)

187. This description of a general tendency does not mean that in some cases the earlier form was not retained.

188. See Glenisson for illustrations of the folios in which this phenomenon may be seen (plates 8, 9, 11, 12 on pp. 47, 49, 52, 53).

the chapter numbers (alternately red and green) stand in the left margin and are accentuated by an ornate frame.  The first line of each chapter, except for the first letter, is written in red. The first letter of the chapter is somewhat enlarged, but does not extend into the margin.  The number XXIII extends into the text block and pushes the first letter more to the right.  In a younger manuscript of this text (12th c., Cod. Troyes Bibl. mun.955, fol.57) the first letter of each chapter is done in different colours, two lines tall, and is positioned half in the margin, half in the text block.  The chapter numbers (in red) stand in the free space at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter: the number is displaced into the text block by the enlarged first letter of the chapter.  – Similarly we may compare the Hincmar bible (9th c. Reims, Bibl. mun. 1, fol.8) with the bible of Saint-Benigne de Dijon (12th c., Cod. Dijon, Bibl. mun. 2, fol.7v.).  Both versions have, at the beginning of the book of Genesis, a decorated first column as far as the words “et facta est lux”, and the second column consists entirely of text.  In the Hincmar bible the chapter numbers stand in the margin before the second column, before the slightly enlarged and decorated chapter initials.  In the bible  of Saint-Benigne there is very little room between the right edge of the decorated first column and the text block of the second column, so that the chapter initials cannot protrube more than slightly into the margin, and the chapters do not always begin a new paragraph. The red chapter numbers stand wherever there is room; at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter, or, when there is no line break, in the right margin.

It need hardly be said that with the change of position came an increased risk of damage to the numbering or omission.  But we must emphasise this:  if the numbering is not complete or consecutive, or that in the text does not correspond to the table of contents, this is no indication that it does not derive from the author; the degree of incompleteness or incorrectness corresponds to the increasing distance from the author (see especially p.146 on Isidore).

Likewise numbered tables of contents are not transmitted without error. The dangers that lists and numbers are exposed to, during the process of coping, are obvious.  However defects are not observed only in the numeration, or lack of numeration, because of the lack of rubrication, and the loss of elements from the tables of contents, but there are also spontaneous and individual errors. There are other sources of errors and changes, which are due to more or less conscious decisions by the copyist.

Particularly influential is the desire to save space, and to create a more unified and compact block of text, whether for pragmatic reasons such as saving materials, or aesthetic ones.  In the table of contents, as in the beginning of chapters and the chapter numbers, the text is squeezed together more tightly.  There is a tendency, as with the beginning of chapters, to only separate the first letter, and often the text is written left-justified, and not always with the first letter of each argument highlighted.

But even if only the number is in the margin, and the text of the table of contents is written as a block without protrusions into the margin, still a lot of space can be lost if one considers that numerals like I or C or even CLXXXIII can be in the margin.  Sometimes there is a block where the text is written directly after the number and under the number.  Another possibility is that the numbers go in the space at the end of the preceding argument (i.e. on the right, above the argument in question), so that there is no longer a vertical list of numbers.  Finally the table of contents can be written as text, abandoning the list format completely and writing it as continuous text, but simply alternating numbers and text.  So long as the numbers are written in red, one need only examine the start of the table to see whether the number belongs to the previous argument, or the next one; but if the numbers are written in the same colour as the text, it becomes a tedious task.

As has already been indicated, a tendency can be observed that clarity diminishes over time, and is never improved.  In three manuscripts of Aulus Gellius, arbitrarily chosen from different centuries (Vat. Reg. 597, 9th c.; Vat.Reg. 1646, 12th c.; Vat.Reg.3452, 13th c.), it seems to be no coincidence that it is easiest to find a specific chapter in the oldest of them.  In Vat.Reg.597 the chapter number is always in the same place, before the (undecorated) chapter initial; in the table of contents, the number always stands before the argument.  – In Vat. Reg. 1646 the chapter number stands at the end of the last line of the preceding chapter, and catch the eye because written in red.  But more striking are the chapter initials (alternately in blue and red), which are two lines of text high.  In the table of contents, the numbers move about.  On the verso they stand on the left before the argument, on the recto to the right of it, because not enough space has been left before the text.  – The Vat. Reg. 3452 is in two quite different parts.  In the first part the chapter numbers (in Greek letters) always stand before the chapter initial, and likewise in the tables of contents.  In the second part (from p.57), the tables of contents are not written as a list but as continuous text, with red numbers between each of the individual arguments.  A new line is not used at the start of each new chapter, but the end of one chapter is immediately followed by the (red) chapter number for the next chapter, and then immediately the text of the next chapter.  While the numbers are written in red, they can be found, but very soon they too are written in the normal ink colour, and so can only be found by reading through the text.

As with the numbering of chapters, no improvement is seen in the numbering of tables of contents in the Middle Ages.  Scribonius Largus, most likely also Pliny and Gellius, and certainly many late antique authors organised their text using numbers and so it may be assumed that the numbering of the chapters and tables of contents was initially congruent and usable.189  But they have been much distorted in the course of transmission, because only actually using the table of contents to find specific chapters, i.e. only from a copyist aware of the needs of the reader, will produce a set of usable numbers.

Now that we have the results of the first two parts, it is possible for us to examine poetry headings.  Both the linguistic form of the book titles, and the relationship between title and text, as well as the (partly retrospective) ‘organisation’ of the text into longer and shorter sections of text, observed in many genres, using tables of contents and headings, and their influence upon the text, should be observed when assessing the headings of poems.

189. Some examples of numbering that became unusable with the passage of time: Columella, see under p. 134; Isidore, see under p. 146; see also the discrepancy between index and chapter headings in Firmicus Maternus, Mathesis, ed. W. Kroll, F.Skutsch, Leipzig 1897 (repr. Stuttgart 1968).


Selections from Schröder’s “Titel und Text” – 2

Continuing from the table of contents of Schröder’s “Titel und Text” here, this is a rough translation of the conclusion to the first part, on the titles of ancient books.

   *     *     *     *     *     *

Part 1 – Conclusion (p.90)

It should not surprise us, if the most ancient book titles seem unimaginative to modern eyes, because they are simply the term for the theme or the genre. It is particularly surprising to modern eyes that the titles of books of poetry are no exception: they are not explicitly given by the authors, but the earliest uses in the secondary tradition are the titles Bucolica, Carmina, Epistulae, Sermones, Epoden.  In some cases we can only say what the work was not called: neither ‘Register’ nor ‘Cynthia’ nor ‘Monobyblos’ can be  detected as the title of a book.  Metaphorical  titles appear only in collections, in those cases where a theme cannot be  concretely identified.

The literal interpretation of a title must not be avoided, but it may indicate the presence of its predecessor, a connection [1] or a difference, for example (Ambrose, De officiis 1:23-25): Dum igitur hunc psalmum considero, successit animo de Officiis scribere; de quibus etiamsi quidam philosophiae studentes scripserint ut Panaetius et filius eius apud Graecos, Tullius apud Latinos […]. videamus utrum res ipsa conveniat scribere de officiis et utrum hoc nomen philosophorum tantummodo scholae aptum sit an etiam in scripturis reperiatur divinis […] (While, therefore, meditating on this psalm, it has come to my mind to write ‘on duties‘; although some philosophers have written on this subject—Panaetius,  for instance, and his son among the Greek, Cicero among the Latin, writers […] let us see whether the subject itself stands on the same ground, and whether this word is suitable only to the schools of the philosophers, or is also to be found in the sacred Scriptures.”); Cicero had already used this as the best translation of the Greek title, see p.31 above.

The number of titles known from the Retractiones of Augustine gives us a good idea of the state of book titles in late Antiquity (see the Capitula at the start of the work, the list of titles).  Only a few titles require explanation, e.g. Soliloquia  (Retract. 1,4,1) De animae quantitate (Retract. 1,8,1), see above p. 13; where the theme is named, e.g. De beata vita, De moribus ecclesiae catholicae et de moribus Manicheorum. Occasionally the addressee is simply named (Ad Simplicianum), otherwise the name is always accompanied by information about him or the content, e.g. Ad Cres­conium grammaticum partis Donati, De spiritu et littera ad Marcellinum, De pec­catorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo parvulorum ad Marcellinum; reference is made to opponents with contra: Contra epistulam Donati heretici, Contra Adimantum Manichei discipulum, De Genesi adversus Manicheos. Genre titles serve as titles also: Quaestionum, Soliloquiorum, Confessionum; Ex­positio quarundam propositionum ex epistula apostoli ad Romanos. The different forms may also be combined: Ad Hieronymum presbyterum libri II unus de origine animae et alius de sententia Iacobi, Contra Pelagium et Caelestium de gratia Christi et de peccato originali ad Albinam Pinianum et Melaniam, De unico baptismo contra Petilianum ad Constantinum. Sometimes the title refers to the state of the work: De Genesi Epistulae ad Romanos inchoata expositio; De Genesi ad litteram liber unus imperfectus — Equally prosaic are the titles of the works of Gregory of Tours (hist. Franc.) and Bede (hist. eccl. 5, 24), likewise the title given in many places by Cassiodorus in the Institutio.

J.C. Scaliger defines the ancient sense (Poetices Libri Septem,Geneva, 1561, book 3, cap. 123, p. 171c): Inscriptio est uno, aut non multo pluribus verbis comprehensio eius partis operis, cuius partis gratia ceterae partes omnes veniunt ad totius constitutionem […]. (i.e. an inscriptio is one or not many more words which summarise the stuff that makes up the work.)

Before we consider the background to poetry book titles in part 3, we must investigate in part 2 the further possibility that short sections of text in tables of contents etc, were designated as chapter titles.

  1. [1][126] On the use (Übernahme) of titles in historical writing (annales, historiae) in order to emphasise the continuity of the content, see Zehnacker, Hubert: Les oeuvres antiques peuvent-elles se passer de titre? L’exemple de l’historiographie romaine, in: Fredouille (ed.), p. 209-221.