Sabbadini on the discovery of Greek and Latin codices in the 14-15th century

Anyone at all interested in manuscripts knows that the definitive account of the rediscovery of classical texts is that of R. Sabbadini, Le scoperte dei codici latini e greci ne’secoli 14 e 15 (1905).[1]  But these volumes have always been hard to obtain; and worse, were in Italian, a language few of us speak with fluency.  Those two problems always stopped me accessing the text.

This evening I was reading an article on Paul the Deacon when it referred to Sabbadini, and I suddenly noted the date of the latter’s publication: 1905.  That means that it is out of copyright in the USA.  That in turn meant that it ought to be in Google Books or  A quick search later revealed copies of both volumes, as well as other works by Sabbadini.

Better was to follow.  By opening the “Full Text” link in Google Chrome, I got a page with a button at the top inviting me to translate the page.  I did so; and suddenly I have an English version of Sabbadini!

Alright, it’s definitely very mangled; but I can definitely get some good out of it, if not everything.  The table of contents emerges, more or less:

  1. The discoverers of Verona (first half of the 14th century)
  2. The Florentine triad (second half of the 14th c.)
  3. The discoveries of Greek codices (15th c.)
  4. Discoveries during the Council of Constance (1415-1417)
  5. Exploration in Italy (1420-30): the Florentine humanists; the humanists of the north.
  6. Exploration outside of Italy (1425-1430)
  7. Discoveries during the Council of Basle (1432-1440)
  8. Anonymous discoveries
  9. Later explorations (second half of the 15th century).  The manuscripts discovered at Bobbio (1498)
  10. Counterfeit discoveries
  11. 15th century collections and libraries.

That by itself gives you an idea of the process of the rediscovery of the classical heritage.

Try it.  Open up Chrome, and start reading bits of Sabbadini.  It works!

  1. [1]Volume 1 and volume 2 are online at