Terence Comedies

October 29, 2008

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Terence Comedies (but manuscript is 9th C, period of the Carolingians):

We don’t have the actual Roman manuscripts, we only have them because some 9th C monks copied them down. They needed an original.
We don’t know the original date, but there is an implication.
Commentaries in the work itself, comments, glosses. Interlinear and marginal glosses. Not only copying it, but commenting on it!
Classically rendered images of the actors. A fair bet that in the pat there were similar texts that appeared before.
However, the original terence was written on a long scroll, rather than a manuscript. Stylistically different.
Images are placed within the text, probably reflecting the original placement in the scroll with columns. Figures are free-floating – no background or frame.

2nd page of Terence Manuscript (835)

Compositionally and strylistically very similar to Roman arts, e.g. House of the Vettii (63-79). A lost Roman model?
In the 4th Roman style.
An author portrait was a traditional motif in Roman scrolls, perhaps copied into the Terence manuscript.

Terence manuscript and the Leiden Aritea both

Terence was probably copied to reveal how to speak and write Latin well – if one wished to be considered a member of the elite, one had to know Latin. This was a linguistic model. Also, the text was not just copied but annotated – thus considered and intellectually thought about.

Link to:

Godescalc Gospel Lectionary

Clear roman style rather than the insular script of Lindisfarne.
One of the first manuscripts created in Charlemagne’s scriptorium.
Another evangelist portrait.
Interesting front piece at the opening of the book. Fountain of Life image.

o Fountain of life is ultimately Christ
o Concept of gaining knowledge at the fountain – metaphorically also the text!
o Another fountain of life image is in the Gospel Book of Saint-Medard de Scissons – the circular structure seems very similar to a dome! Actually this is a rendering of the actual bapitstry of the Lateran Baptistery in Rome.

Shows that this image is meant to also suggest the concept of baptism – transition from old life, rebirth. But also political – reveals a very specific Baptistery in Rome!

Terence manuscripts represents a connection to the ancient views of the world, the above fountain suggests a new world.

Quedlinburg Itala:

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Scenes are no longer interspersed in the columns of text, but four scenes are placed together in “one full-page minature”. They could easily fit within text individually, but have been placed deliberately together.

Background was probably added by the same artist, blending the scenes together, creating a “unifying, panoramic background”.

“Boeckler… argued that these miniatures were the first formulation of the subjects they depict, and he saw a proof of this theory in the precepts for the painter written on the empty parchment before it was painted over. Such precepts, so Boeckler argued, would not have been necessary had the artist used an available model (previous image).”

“In other words, we believe that the illusrator of the Quedlinburg Itala did not invent a new biblical cycle but followed the same pattern as his colleague who illustrated the Milan Iliad…” (104)


“Similar observations were made by Boeckler in connection with the miniatures of the Quedlinburg Itala. He too noticed that Saul was depicted as a Roman emperor, that adlocution, libation, battles, and so on, were rendered in compositional schemes that were borrowed from the iconography of Roman history, and he pointed to the very same monuments as the most suitable parallels, namely the triumphal columns… Furthermore, it had not escaped Boeckler that the compositional schemes as well as the individual types were, indeed, the same as those used in the Vergilius Vaticanus.” (123)

This suggests a common source, not the same artist or the same location at time of production. A common source – available in the scriptorum. They (Vergliius Vaticanus and Itala) are “stylistically so close to each other that the same scriptorium can be assumed, that is a scriptorium which produced illustrated pagan and Christian manuscripts side by side. What was this common source?” (123)

The Quedlinburg Itala (first half of the 5th C)

o An early Latin version of the Bible.
o Quedlinburg is a small town in eastern Germany,
o Shares in some respects characteristics with the Vatican Vergil, but here there are 4 on a page. Framed with a red border, same antique figure styles, similar clothing, atmospheric coloured background.
o Damaged, as it was used to support the bindings of 17th C manuscripts.
o Originally there were lines, which were covered, and now revealed due to the damage. Instructions to the artist! Perhaps less focussed on the text and more related to the owner / commissioner of the manuscript.
o The artist is not the reader of the text – he is a craftsman! We don’t trust him to make decisions
o Pretty good indication that this is an original manuscript as there are instructions to illustrate. If there were a premade book of Samuel, then it could simply be copied! But there apparently isn’t!
o The instructions don’t say much else however – no mention of accurate instructions, just vague. Still leeway. Nothing is said about style, as composition and detail is presumably understood by the artist.
o Theologian / nobility.
o Samuel 1; Chpt. 15. Saul and 3 men.
o Weitzmann was of the opinion that there were also biblical cycles that predated the 5th Century. Evidence for this is Dura-Europos Synagogue (before 256) – extensive OT illustration on the walls. Weitzmann says yes, but most lean towards no.

“In other words, we believe that the illusrator of the Quedlinburg Itala did not invent a new biblical cycle but followed the same pattern as his colleague who illustrated the Milan Iliad…” (104)

Leiden Aratea (850)

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Carolingian Manuscript:

• The Leiden Aratea (850 (816))

o Script is Roman character style, but added spaces as the Carolingians wish to read it more easily.
o Astrological text – portraying Gemini. Two standing male nudes, a rarity in medieval texts. Not Christian text – a pure reflection of polytheistic heritage of Rome.
o Text was rewritten in a contemporary medieval bookhand form below the “original”.

Terence manuscript and the Leiden Aritea both

• Terence was probably copied to reveal how to speak and write Latin well – if one wished to be considered a member of the elite, one had to know Latin. This was a linguistic model. Also, the text was not just copied but annotated – thus considered and intellectually thought about.

It was created for a wealthy patron, possibly Louis the Pious.