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Commentaries by Domizio Calderini on Works by Juvenal, Statius, Ovid, and Propertius
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
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Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence
Dialogues of the Gods
This manuscript contains ten of the dialogues of Lucianus, a second-century rhetorician and satirist who wrote in Greek, in the Latin version of Livio Guidolotto (also seen as Guidalotto or Guidalotti). Livio, a classical scholar from Urbino, was the apostolic assistant of Pope Leo X, and he dedicated his translation to the pope in an introductory epistle of 1518 ("Romae, Idibus maii MDXVIII"; folio 150v). The latest possible date for the manuscript thus is 1521, the year Leo died. The emblem of Giovanni de' Medici, with the beam accompanied by ...
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Municipal Library Intronati
Geography
Claudius Ptolemaeus (circa 100–circa 170), known as Ptolemy, was an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer of Greek descent who lived and worked in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. In his Geography, Ptolemy gathered all the geographic knowledge possessed by the Greco-Roman world. He used a system of grid lines to plot the latitude and longitude of some 8,000 places on a map that encompassed the known world at the height of the Roman Empire. Ptolemy’s work was lost to Europe in the Middle Ages, but around 1300 Byzantine ...
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University Library of Naples
Of Medical Substances
The precious codex known as the Dioscurides Neapolitanus contains the work of Pedanius Dioscorides, the Greek physician who was born at Anazarbus near Tarsus in Cilicia (present-day Turkey) and lived in the first century AD during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Dioscorides wrote the treatise Perì üles iatrichès, commonly known in Latin as De materia medica (Of medical substances), in five books. It is considered the most important medical manual and pharmacopeia of ancient Greece and Rome and was highly regarded in the Middle Ages in both the Western ...
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National Library of Naples
City of God
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) is generally considered one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. He was born in Thagaste (present-day Souq Ahras, Algeria) in Roman-ruled Africa, the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother (Saint Monica). After studying in Carthage and teaching rhetoric in his native city, he moved to Rome in 383 and to Milan in 384. Under the influence of his mother and Ambrose, bishop of Milan, he converted to Christianity in 387. He was ordained a priest in 391 and rose ...
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John M. Kelly Library, University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto
Letters, Essays, and Sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus
This 18th-century manuscript is a collection of letters, essays, and sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus (died circa 389). The manuscript is thought to be the first Arabic translation from the original Greek and has not yet been edited or published. It is the second volume of a two-volume work. Gregory of Nazianzus, also known as Gregory the Theologian, is recognized as a Father of the Church in both the Eastern and Western traditions. He was born in Cappadocia (eastern Anatolia), where he spent much of his life. He was a ...
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The American University in Cairo Rare Books and Special Collections Library
Letters, Pedagogical Teachings, and Sayings of Saint Anthony of Egypt
This manuscript opens with the 20 letters “to the sons who follow his [Anthony’s] gentle path…and prayers to keep us from Satan’s example.” The letters are for the most part short, many not exceeding five folios. According to an introductory note, they are addressed to both men and women. The work is in a bold but relaxed hand. Each letter or other significant section is set off in red. There are no contemporary marginal glosses, but comments and corrections (some in English) in pencil were made by ...
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The American University in Cairo Rare Books and Special Collections Library
Romance of the Three Kingdoms in Illustrations
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
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National Central Library
Romance of the Three Kingdoms with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
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National Central Library
Armillary Sphere
Zhang Heng (78–139 AD), a native of Xi’e, Nanyang (in present-day Henan Province), was an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, and an accomplished scholar. He began his career as an official during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220). Controversy about his views and political rivalry with other officials led him to retire and return to Nanyang, but in 138 he was recalled to serve in the capital. He died a year later. He received posthumous honors for his scholarship and creativity. Two of his representative works are Hun yi (Armillary ...
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National Central Library
City of God
This codex of Saint Augustine’s De civitate dei (City of God) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The volume is bound in red morocco leather with the Medici coat of arms at the center and on each corner of the front cover. It has an illuminated page (recto of folio 11) and a number of illuminated initial capital letters (e.g., recto of folio 31). Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) wrote more than 100 works, of which his Confessiones (Confessions) and De ...
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Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence
Concerning Virgins and Other Works
This codex of De virginibus seu potius opera varia (Concerning virgins and other works) by Saint Ambrose (circa 340−97) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The book has the distinctive Medici red leather binding and a beautifully illuminated first page (recto of folio 1) executed by Matteo da Milano (active circa 1492−circa 1523). On the last page, the colophon gives the name of the copyist as “Martinus Antonius” and the date of completion as “Ides of October 1489.” Ambrose was born in ...
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Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence
Seven Books of the Saturnalia
This codex from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence contains the complete text of Saturnalia by the fourth−fifth century Latin author Macrobius. The work takes the form of a series of dialogues among learned men at a fictional banquet at which they discuss antiquities, history, literature, mythology, and other topics. The manuscript may have been copied by a scribe belonging to Bernardo Nuzzi’s circle of copyists in Florence. It organizes the seven original books of Macrobius into five books. The inscription on the recto ...
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Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence
On Medicine
Cornelius Aulus Celsius was a first-century Roman medical writer and the author of De medicina (On medicine), considered one of the most important medical treatises of late antiquity. The work’s encyclopedic arrangement follows the tripartite division of medicine at the time as established by Hippocrates and Asclepiades—diet, pharmacology, and surgery—and exhibits a level of medical knowledge remarkable for its time. This codex, from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, changed hands a number of times. It might have belonged first to the library ...
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Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence
The Historical Theater in the Year 400 AD, in Which Both Romans and Barbarians Resided Side by Side in the Eastern Part of the Roman Empire
This map in Latin by the great French mapmaker Guillaume de L’Isle (1675–1726) shows the eastern parts of the Roman Empire circa 400 AD and the territory of adjacent tribes and kingdoms not under Rome’s control. The latter include the Sarmatians and the Scythians, peoples that the Romans regarded as barbarians. Arabia is shown divided into its three traditional divisions, Arabia Petrea, Arabia Felix, and Arabia Deserta. Qatar is indicated as “Catarei.” The eastern part of the map shows the empire of Alexander the Great, including Persia ...
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Library of Congress
The Completion of Mere Ideation
In Japan temples were the center of publishing until the Middle Ages. The Kasuga edition of the Buddhist scriptures was produced at the Kōfuku-ji Temple in Nara. These scrolls, from that edition, contain the text of Jōyuishikiron (The completion of mere ideation), a commentary on the work by the Indian scholar Seshin (Vasubandhu in Sanskrit) known as Yuishiki sanjūju (Triṃśikā-vijñapti-kārikā in Sanskrit, Weishi sanshi song in Chinese). The commentary was translated into Chinese during the Tang dynasty by a Chinese monk named Xuanzang. It was a canon of the ...
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National Diet Library
Merovingian Bees
The tomb of Childéric, king of the Salian Franks from 457 to 481 and the father of Clovis, was discovered by chance in 1653 by construction workers near the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai, in present-day Belgium. The treasure found was given to Archduke Leopold William of Habsburg (1614−62), governor of the southern Netherlands (at that time under Spanish rule). The archduke asked medical doctor and antique specialist Jean-Jacques Chifflet to write a study of the find, which was published in Antwerp in 1655 under the title Anastasis Childerici ...
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National Library of France
Su Ruolan
The portrait is of Su Hui, a gifted fourth-century female scholar and poet who had the courtesy name of Ruolan (“like an orchid”). She is famous for a palindromic poem that she embroidered in several colors of silk to express her love for her husband, who had been exiled to a distant point on the trade routes to Central Asia. Different versions of the poem exist. One has 112 characters arranged in eight rows of 14 characters. They make no sense unless the reader starts with the character "husband" in ...
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National Central Library
Jewish Antiquities
Jean Fouquet (141?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on ...
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National Library of France
The Xiping Stone Classics
These engravings of the seven Confucian classics were set up outside the National University Gate, located on the south side of Loyang, the capital city, in the Eastern Han dynasty. They were created between 175 and 183, after Cai Yong and a group of scholars successfully petitioned the emperor to have the Confucian classics carved in stone in order to prevent their being altered to support particular points of view. They are also called the “Han Stone Classics” and the “Single-Script Stone Classics." The seven classics -- The Book of Changes ...
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National Library of China
Johnson Papyrus
Herbals are directories of plants, their properties, and their medicinal uses. Herbals most likely were at first not illustrated, but in late antiquity they acquired illustrations. This fragment of a leaf from an illustrated herbal from Hellenistic Egypt shows a plant that is possibly Symphytum officinale, or comfrey. The herbal is made of papyrus, a plant that flourished in the valley of the Nile, and the text is in Greek, the language of science throughout the eastern Mediterranean at this time. The fragment is probably from a copy of the ...
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Wellcome Library