Item Details

Call Number: MS Hunter 511 (V.8.14)
Title: Anthology of rhetorical poems
Date of Creation: Between 1214 and 1230
Level of Description: Item
Part of MS Hunter 1-658
Extent and Medium: 1 volume
Content: An anthology of 51 medieval Latin poems written as rhetorical treatises (or illustrating rhetorical devices) by a variety of authors, including Matthew of Vendo^me, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, and Gervase of Melkley, on miscellaneous topics. The manuscript as a whole acts as a handbook of the rhetorical art.
Description revised from Bruce Harbert's published edition (1975):
1 front pastedown and 4 paper flyleaves, unnumbered (supplied in rebinding by Ian Maver, 1985).
4 vellum flyleaves marked in pencil A-D (formerly leaves iii, 1-4).
A (formerly iii, 4) recto: traces of illegible notes in a thirteenth century hand.
A (formerly iii, 4) verso: 1. traces of illegible notes in a thirteenth century hand; 2. in a fifteenth century hand: Iste liber constat Waltero?... [name erased] ffratri Willemo Wolff ex eius dono. 3. under this in an 18th century hand: E: Asbury.
B (formerly iii, 3) recto: 1. traces of illegible notes in a thirteenth century hand; 2. in a 16th century hand: Liber Johannis Goodyer.
B (formerly iii, 3) verso: blank
C (formerly iii, 2) recto: the following table of contents in a nearly contemporary hand: [Paragraph mark] Ista continentur in hoc volumine. | Summa magistri mathei Windocinensis de modo | et arte dictandi et versificandi. | Summa magistri Gaufridi Winesauf de eadem re. |Inter alia summa eiusdem de eadem re. | Item poetria eiusdem. | Lacteus saltus geruasij de eadem re.
C (formerly iii, 2) verso: traces of illegible notes in a thirteenth century hand.
D (formerly iii, 1) recto: blank but shows marks of having been originally attached to the wooden board.
D (formerly iii, 1) verso: blank.
1r-141r: 51 Latin poems (English titles for the minor poems devised by Harbert with opening lines given in Latin)
1. 1r-33r: Matthew of Vendo^me: Ars versificatoria
2. 33r-33v: Epistola cuiusdam scolaris ad matrem de scolis transmissa (Riuulus hec fonti delegat, uirgula trunco)
3. 33v-34v: A seducer's boast (Pauca loquar, sed uera loquar, sed fixa loquar, nam)
4. 34v: On giving gifts (Qui mihi dat quod amat, quod amo sibi uelle uidetur)
5. 34v: The Fall and Redemption of Man (Error, humo dominas - orbem uirtutibus orbat)
6. 34v-35r: Paris of Troy (Quis partus Troie, cuius ruit illa ruina)
7. 35v: An apology for the ascetic life (Alta licet necdum penetrans, tamen infima tangens)
8. 36r-45v: Geoffrey of Vinsauf: Summa de coloribus rhetoricis
9. 45v: The murder of Becket (Mars Cereri, Bacho sociatus tempora pacis)
10. 46r-67r: Geoffrey of Vinsauf: Documentum de modo et arte dictandi et versificandi
11. 67v: In praise of Henry II (1) (Vexillum pacis, sera belli, purpura regum)
12. 67v: In praise of Henry II (2) (Vexillum pacis, sera belli, purpura regum)
13. 68r: In praise of Henry II (3) (Flandria Flandrenses transmisit, Gallia Gallos)
14. 68r-69r: De clericis et de rustico ('Consocii!' 'Quid?' 'Iter rapiamus!' 'Quid placet?' 'Ire)
15. 69r: Io (Iupiter Io rapit; Iuno petit infima: uirgo)
16. 69r: Tiresias (Cum Iunone Iouem lis commouet: hic mulieris)
17. 69r-69v: The snake, the man and the wolf (Anguem silua tenet, funis ligat: aduena soluit)
18. 69v: The infancy of Jupiter (Fomentum nimphe, mel apes, lac capra, tumultum)
19. 69v: Asterie (Latone germana, faces contempta Iouinas)
20. 69v-70r: Arachne (Pluribus insignem reliquis proponit Aragnem)
21. 70r: Myrrha (Forma decens Cynare pariens incendia Mirre)
22. 70r-70v: The Greek army sets out for Troy (Bella minans Asye, bellis obnoxia uirtus)
23. 70v: Description of a fertile valley (Ne pereat nutricis inops infantia florum)
24. 70v-71r: Niobe (1) (Quam stultum, quam uesanum, quam sit sceleratum)
25. 71r-71v: Niobe (2) (Insignis Niobe, fecunda, potens, generosa)
26. 71v: A young lawyer pleads for a hearing (Sis iudex utcumque loquar, succurre cadenti)
27. 71v: An epitaph (Anchora lapsorum, fidei radius, décor or[bis])
28. 71v: Epitaph of a hunter (Clauditur interius uite predo, necis auctor)
29. 72r-98v: Geoffrey of Vinsauf: Poetria nova. Includes on 91r in a 15th/16th century hand: Thomas Swyne
30. 98v-99v: Lament for Troy (Pergama flere uolo, fato Danais data solo)
31. 99v-100v: The behaviour of the French at harvest-time (Sol Cancri per regna means canescere messes)
32. 100v-101r: Descriptio hominis deformis et praui (Nullis se phaleris ornet mea littera: turpem)
33. 101r-101v: Causa magistri Gaufredi Vinesauf: conqueritur de quodam magistro (Si liceat mihi pauca loqui, suspendite uocum)
34. 101v: Epitaph for the empress Matilda (Claruit Henrico triplici, patre, coniuge, nato)
35. 102r-103r:Gervase of Melkley: Treatise on dictamen
36. 103r: Gervase of Melkley: In honorem matris Dei
37. 103r: A letter from 'R de Brueles' to 'A de Pleissets'
38. 103v-133v: Gervase of Melkley: Ars poetica (also known as Ars versificaria)
39. 133v-134r: Gervase of Melkley: A philosopher's prayer (Parmendis rupes, Socratis lira, silua Platonis)
40. 134r-135v: Gervase of Melkley: In praise of John Grey, bishop of Lincoln (Magnus Alexander bellorum sepe procellas)
41. 135v-136r: Gervase of Melkley: The vices of an old man (Gloria felicis olim uiridisque iuuente)
42. 136r: Gervase of Melkley: A family quarrel (Contra cognatum, fateor, cui uincla - quod absit)
43. 136r-138r: Gervase of Melkley: Pyramus and Thisbe (1) (Consulte teneros non claudit tutor amantes)
44. 138r-138v: In prasie of Cecilia (Fama loquax, que uera solet transcendere, muta)
45. 138v: Apollo and the python (1) (Pestiferum populis impertit uipera uirus)
46. 138v: Apollo and the python (2) (Felle tumens, uultu deformis, uiribus ingens)
47. 138v: Apollo and the python (3) (Terribilis uultu, spatiosus corpore, liuens)
48. 138v-139r: Deucalion and Pyrrha (1) (Obsidet ima scelus, facinus deriuat in omnes)
49. 139r-139v: Deucalion and Pyrrha (2) (Supplicium delicta uocant; uindicta scelestos)
50. 139v: Lycaon (1) (Archadis indomiti facinus domitura tyranni)
51. 139v: Lycaon (2) (Marte potens, sed Marte nocens, sed fraudis alumpnus)
52. 139v-140v: Pyramus and Thisbe (2) (A cunis mens una duos, amor unus utrumque)
53. 140v: The giants and jupiter (Turba gygantea quasi quodam turbine turbat)
54. 140v: Phoebus and Daphne (Lesi, Phebe, tuam subit ira Cupidinis iram)
55. 141r: Phaethon (1) (Solis progenies Epaphi liuore, parentis)
56. 141r: Phaethon (2) (Phetonti liour Epaphi, persuasio matris)
57. 141r: Phaethon (3) (Rex Ligurum Phetonta suum sermone retractans)
141v: Blank
4 paper flyleaves and 1 rear pastedown, unnumbered (supplied in rebinding by Ian Maver, 1985)
Arrangement: There are separate item records for some of the main poems. The item numbers are not consecutive as they correspond to the order in which the poems appear in the full list.
List Item Content
Commentary: Dated as post 1215 since it contains both Geoffrey of Vinsauf's Poetria Nova (1208-1213) and Gervase of Melkley's Ars versificaria (ars poetria), which cites Geoffrey's treatise and is usually dated by scholars to ca. 1215-16 (information received from Professor Rita Copeland, 2016; see also Rita Copeland and Ineke Sluiter, 'Medieval Grammar and Rhetoric: Language Arts and Literary Theory AD 300-1475' (OUP, 2009). Harbert argues for a date of production prior to 1230 and localises the manuscript to England: (p. 4): "It must have been put together after 1200, since John Grey's accession to the see of Lincoln, celebrated in [poem number] 40, took place in that year. On palaeographical grounds it can be dated no later than 1230. The interest in English history … and the inclusion of a piece of invective against the French … suggest an English provenance, and the mention by name of Northampton (33) and Norwich (40) encourage a tentative localisation in the East Midlands".
Physical Description: Vellum, 6 5/8 x 4, ff. 141, originally ff. 142, written (?in England) in seven hands as identified by Harbert: A (1-35v, 46r-67r, 68r-71v, 98v-101v, 138v-141r; B (36r-37v); C (37v-45v); D (67r-68r); E (72r-98v); F (102r-133v); G (133v-138v). The scribes begin each treatise with a new quire. "Scribe A appears most frequently, often finishing off a quire when another scribe has copied a treatise. He also occasionally corrects the work of the other scribes, and was probably in charge of the whole operation" (Harbert, p. 5). The writing is small and contracted, but careful and legible, in single cols. Of 40 lines, each 4 3/4 x 2¼, ruled and margined with brown crayon, catchwords, but no signatures or foliation, illuminated initials, blue with red ornament and gestures and vice versā, rubrics (sometimes marginal), initials and paragraph marks touched with vermilion, vellum rather fine, but defective in places, few marginalia, slightly worm-holed at the beginning, not cropped, fairly clean and well preserved.
Bound (1985) in red Oasis goatskin attached to bevelled museum boards by Ian Maver.
Access: Normal conditions
Language: Latin
Material Type: Document
Archival History: William Wolff, friar at London Fransciscan house (15th century): inscription recording his donation of the book to Walter [surname illegible] on leaf Av.
Thomas Swyne (15th/16th century): ms. autograph on leaf 91r
John Goodyer (16th century): ownership inscription on leaf Br
E. Asbury (18th century): ms. autograph on leaf Av.
Notes: Former shelfmarks: Q.8.19; Q.8.157
Correct order of leaves should be 94, 98, 96, 97 (i.e. leaves 95 and 98 have been misbound and transposed): information received from Prof. B. Burgh, Lund University, January 1994. The original front vellum flyleaves have also been misbound back to front since Young and Aitken's original description (1908).
At some point, the book has also been washed possibly resulting in loss of some marginalia e.g. in 1975 Harbert (pp. 23-24, footnote) refers to the scribe having crudely drawn a bird's head in the margin on leaf 69r, possibly to indicate the start of a new group of mythological poems; this crude drawing is now (2016) only faintly visible via UV (2016), although it is debatable whether this possible doodle was the work of the scribe. There is also evidence of some of the blue ink in decorated initials having faded.
Conservation: Restored and rebound in August 1985 by Ian Maver (see Physical Description and Maver's notes tipped in at rear of book). The book was previously in an 18th century binding according to Young and Aitken (1908) (millboards, covered crimson grained Russia, gilt-tooled (lines) edges and sides, sham-panelled back, blue silk ribbon marker, title (gilt) on spine: DE MODO DICTANDI). According to an annotated copy of Young & Aitken (Sp Coll Ref), the volume was repaired with a new morocco back in June 1938.
Bibliography: John Young & P.H. Aitken, A catalogue of the manuscripts in the Library of the Hunterian Museum in the University of Glasgow (Glasgow, 1908), pp 417-419; Edmond Faral in Studi Medievali, XV (1936). pp. 18-119; H.-J. Gräbener, 'Gervais von Melkley: Ars poetica', Forschungen fur romanischen Philologie, 17 (Münster 1965): edits the Ars Poetica and also references the shorter Melkley poems. S. Gallick, 'Medieval rhetorical arts in England and the manuscript tradition', Manuscripta, v, 18 (1974), pp 67-95; B. Harbert, A thirteenth-century anthology of rhetorical poems (Toronto, 1975) - includes full list of contents and transcription of text of all the items not edited by Faral or Gräbener (reference copy shelved at Hunterian Add. 325);Robert Glendinning, 'Pyramus and Thisbe in the medieval classroom', Speculum, vol. 61, no. 1 (Jan. 1986), pp. 51-78; A. G. Rigg, A History of Anglo-Latin Literature 1066-1422 (Cambridge, 1992): references the 'Hunterian anthology' and identifies nos 39-43 as being written by Gervase of Melkley, p. 111; Rita Copeland and Ineke Sluiter, Medieval Grammar and Rhetoric: Language Arts and Literary Theory AD 300-1475 (OUP, 2009), p. 608 (also relevant chapters on Vendome, Vinsauf and Gervase of Melkley.
Accession Number: 2482
See details of how this material was acquired
Cataloguing Note: Catalogue record revised Nov 2016 by Julie Gardham.
Repository Code: GB 0247

Names associated with this item:

author: Geoffrey of Vinsauf fl 1200
No further information found.
author: Matthew of Vendōme fl 1200
Poet. Not to be confused with the 13th century abbot of Saint-Denys.
author: Gervase Melkeleya fl 1200-1219
French scholar and poet. Born c 1185.
provenance: E Asbury fl 1700-1799
No further information found. This name appears in MS Hunter 439 (V.5.9), MS Hunter 450 (V.5.20) and MS Hunter 511 (V.8.14).
provenance: John Goodyer fl 1500-1599
No further information found.
provenance: Thomas Swyne fl 1500
No further information found. This name appears in MS Hunter 511 (V.8.14).
provenance: William Wolff fl 1400-1499
Possibly identified as a friar of the London Franciscan house in the second half of the 15th century.
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