Macer Floridus, De viribus herbarum; Johannes de Sancto Paulo, De simplicium medicinarum virtutibus and Flores dietarum
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About this work
A manuscript copy on paper of the Latin poem on medicinal herbs De viribus herbarum, possibly written by the 11th-century French physician Odo de Meung-sur-Loire under the pseudonym Macer Floridus, together with the De simplicium medicinarum virtutibus and the Flores dietarum, two compilations on the healing and nutritional properties of simples and food respectively, attributed to Johannes de Sancto Paulo; produced in Northern Italy and dated 1478, with initials in blue and red with contrasting penwork decoration.
1. ff. 1r-41v: Macer Floridus, De viribus herbarum, a poem in Latin hexameters describing the medical virtues of herbs written in the late 11th century under the pseudonym of Macer (with reference to the Roman poet and naturalist Aemilius Licinius Macer, d. 15 BC). The French physician Odo de Meung-sur-Loire, known as Odo Magdunensis, has been suggested as the real author, as his name is mentioned in a 12th-century copy of the text (Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, Dc. 160, f. 37v, explicit) and a number of later manuscripts. The epithet 'Floridus' was added to the name by scribes from the 13th century onwards.
The text is divided into 77 chapters, each devoted to a different plant, and draws its material from classical and early medieval sources, Pliny (23-79 AD) and Walafrid Strabo (d. 849) in particular. Cited for the first time by Sigebertus Gemblacensis (d. 1112), the poem circulated widely in Europe, both in the Latin form and in vernacular translations, for the following five centuries, first in manuscript form and then in print, with the number of hexameter lines varying greatly in manuscripts and early printed editions.
On the text, its tradition and fortune, see:
L. Choulant, Macer Floridus de viribus herbarum una cum Walafridi Strabonis, Othonis Cremonensis et Ioannis Folcz carminibus similis argumenti secundum codices manuscriptos et veteres editiones recensuit Ludovicus Choulant (Leipzig: Voss, 1832), text edited on pp. 28-123;
E. Wickersheimer, Dictionnaire biographique des médecins en France au moyen âge (Geneva: Droz, 1979; repr. of Paris: Droz, 1936), p. 584;
Bruce P. Flood, 'The Medieval Herbal Tradition of Macer Floridus', Pharmacy in History, 18 (1976), pp. 62-66;
D. Jacquart, Supplément (Geneva: Droz, 1979), p. 218;
Der deutsche 'Macer': Vulgatfassung. Mit einem Abdruck des lateinischen Macer Floridus 'De viribus herbarum', ed. Bernhard Schnell and William Crossgrove (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2003);
U. Jansen, 'Spuria Macri': ein Anhang an das mittellateinische Lehrgedicht 'Macer Floridus, De viribus herbarum' (Berlin: De Gruyter, ), with (incomplete) list of MSS on pp. 17-39;
A new, critical edition of the herbal of Macer Floridus is currently being prepared by Winston Black
Listed in Thorndike and Kibre, no. 610A.
First printed as Macer [Floridus] Philosophus, De viribus herbarum [carmen], by Arnaldus de Bruxella at Naples on 9 May 1477 (ISTC im00001000). The text in the present manuscript differs from the printed edition.
In the present manuscript the text is divided into 78 chapters; their order differs from the usual one and reads as follows (according to Choulant's edition): chapters 1-7, 40-42, 45, 43-44, 8-9, 24, 10-18, 20-23, 25-32, 34, 38, 36-37, 46, 77, 58, 74, 48, 69, 73, 65, 33, 59, 19, 53, 52, 54, 56-57, 70, 72, 61, 63-64, 62, 47, 35, 39, 49-51, 55, 60, 66, 68, 71, 67, 75, 'De spica celtica' (separated from 'De spica nardi'), 76. In addition, the 'vulgago' or 'asarum' [Macer Floridus, no. 66: the Asarum europaeum, i.e. the European wild ginger or Hazelwort] is here called 'bacchara' on ff. 25v-26r.
For other manuscript copies of this treatise in the Wellcome Library, see MSS 457 (early 14th century), 459 (dated 1504), 460 (c. 1550) and 544 (codicological unit 2, pp. 211-237); a copy of an Italian prose version in MS. 531 (codicological unit 4, ff. 9r-51r); an excerpt in MS. 49 (f. 44r-v).
f. 1r, Incipit: De Arthemisia. / [H]erbarum quasdam dicturus carmine vires / herbarum matrem dedit arthemisia nomen ...
f. 41r: end of text: [De incense] Fit cataplasma ualens menbris [sic] que leserit ignis.
f. 41v: Explicit: Explicit liber Macri de insula Sancti Iohannis palermitani: De Viribus herbarum. Deo gratias.///
2. ff. 41v-42r, Table of contents to Macer Floridus, De viribus herbarum: INCIPIT TABVLA / De Artemisia ... De Incenso.
3. ff. 44r-59v, col. 2: Johannes de Sancto Paulo, De simplicium medicinarum virtutibus. This compilation on the virtues and healing properties of simples in medicine was put together in the late 12th or early 13th century by a medical writer associated with the school of Salerno and known as Johannes de Sancto Paulo. See:
'Jean de Saint-Paul', in Wickersheimer, Dictionnaire biographique vol. ii, pp. 480-1;
Jacquart, Supplément, p. 180;
M. H. Green, 'Johannes de Sancto Paulo', in Medieval Science, Technology and Medicine: An Encyclopaedia, ed. T. F. Glick, S. J. Livesey and F. Wallis (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 286-7.
For the text, see G.-H. Kroemer, Johannes von Sancto Paulo: Liber de simplicium medicinarum virtutibus und ein anderer Salernitaner Traktat: Quae medicinae pro quibus morbis donandae sunt; nach dem Breslauer Codex herausgegeben (Borna-Leipzig: Robert Noske, 1920).
The work enjoyed great popularity up to the 16th century, and was first printed under the name of Constantinus Africanus at Lyon in 1515 within the Opera omnia Ysaac in hoc volumine contenta cum quibusdam aliis opusculis, cum tabula [et] repertorio omnium operum et questionum in commentis contentarum.
Listed in Thorndike and Kibre as nos 229E and 230A.
f. 44r: Incipit: [Caption] Adsit spiritus sancti gratia. amen. / [C]ogitanti michi de simplicium medicinarum virtutibus ...
f. 59v, col. 2: Explicit: Ad omnem fluxum uentris ex calore factum Detur mane et meridie cum aqua frigida.
4. ff. 61r-73v: Johannes de Sancto Paulo, Flores dietarum. The text was written by Johannes de Sancto Paulo to complement his work on therapeutic simples. It describes the alimental properties of different foods in relation to the human body and the bodily humours. See:
H. J. Ostermuth, 'Flores Diaetarum': eine salernitanische Nahrungsmitteldiätetik aus dem XII. Jahrhundert, verfaßt vermutlich von Johannes de Sancto Paulo (Borna-Leipzig: Robert Noske, 1919);
Green, 'Johannes de Sancto Paulo', in Medieval Science , p. 286.
Listed in Thorndike and Kibre as no. 269A.
The present copy was dated '1478' by its Italian scribe. See P. R. Robinson in Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts, c. 888-1600, in London Libraries (London: The British Library, 2003), p. 88, no. 245, pl. 204.
For other manuscript copies of this treatise in the Wellcome Library, see MSS 411 (ff. 27r-30r, abridged), 536 (ff. 5r-12v), 547 (ff. 186r-191v).
f. 61r: Incipit: [C]ORPVS hominis in quatuor constat humoribus ...
f. 73v: Explicit: ...Vinum de vuis [sic for 'uvis'] passis confortat stomachum: / Explicit: Laus deo. 1478.
On paper; watermarks: 1. Balance, with straight scales, in quires 1-5, similar but not identical to watermarks produced between 1420 and 1480 in Northern Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Austria (see Briquet no. 2400, and Piccard, no. J 340: Udine, 1429); 2. Trimontium in quire 6, unidentified.
74 leaves, plus single paper flyleaves and conjoint pastedowns at the beginning and the end; ff. 42v, 43, 60 and 74 blank; old pagination '1-73' in black ink on ff. 1r-73, 18th [?] century; modern foliation '1-74' in pencil in upper right corner of rectos. 215 x 141 mm; written space 135 x 89 mm, blind ruled with ruling board on versos for single vertical bounding lines and 28 horizontal/written lines (above top line) to the column.
Collation: 1-612, 72; catchwords at centre of the lower margin on the verso of the last leaf in quires 1-4 and 6, all with penwork decoration; quire signatures 'a1-a6'-'g1' in lower right corner of the recto of leaves in the first half of each quire.
Secundo folio: Dicitur absinthii stomacum.
Written in regular and neat round Gothic bookhand [Textualis rotunda], with some humanistic features, such as tall minuscule 's' at the beginning of words, Italy, dated 1478 on f. 73v.
Marginal notabilia to Macer's text seemingly supplied by a different scribe in cursive Gothic hand and lighter brown ink; the same hand supplied a 2-verse addition at the bottom of f. 7v.
Five-line initial in blue with penwork decoration in red on f. 1r; the blue overpainted and a ground of gold and penwork decoration in red, blue and light blue supplied in the late 19th or early 20th century. Book initials (respectively 6 and 5 lines high) in blue or red at the beginning of texts on ff. 44r and 61r; chapter initial in blue (6 lines high) in foliate design extending into the lower margin on f. 45r; chapter initials (2-3 lines high) in alternating red and blue throughout, with one in red and blue on f. 1v, some with contrasting penwork decoration and all accompanied by small guide letters in black at the left of their allocated space.
Paragraph marks in red for captions and marginal notabilia throughout Macer's text; verse capitals touched in yellow on ff. 1r-12v; capitals touched in red on ff. 41v-42r, 44v-59v; paragraph marks in red and capitals touched in red in captions on ff. 61r-73r.
Binding: Parchment over pasteboards, parchment painted on covers to make it resemble a half parchment binding, wanting spine, showing spineguard on paper from a German newspaper, 20th century.
Purchased from [Ludwig] Rosenthal, [Munich], on 12th October 1910, having been received from Munich on approval in September (see note in pencil on upper flyleaf) together with 49 other manuscripts: see correspondence between Rosenthal and Epworth and Co. (Wellcome's representatives) dated 15th September to 12th October in Wellcome Archive file 'Ludwig Rosenthal's Antiquariat' (shelfmark: WA/HMM/CO/Earl/535); see also Ludwig Rosenthal's Antiquariat, Katalog 120, Manuscripts - Handschriften - Manuscrits (Munich, 1910), no. 191, priced £30, available through University of Pennsylvania Libraries, The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, SDBM_41267 (http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/schoenberg/record.html?q=Wellcome%20ms.%20458&id=SCHOENBERG_41267&; accessed on 18th May 2017).
Database description transcribed from S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973), vol. 1, p. 311. Description enhanced by Laura Nuvoloni in Spring 2017 based on the compiler's own research.
Der deutsche 'Macer': Vulgatfassung. Mit einem Abdruck des lateinischen Macer Floridus 'De viribus herbarum', ed. Bernhard Schnell and William Crossgrove (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2003), p. 32.
P. R. Robinson in Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts, c. 888-1600, in London Libraries (London: The British Library, 2003), p. 88, no. 245, pl. 204.
U. Jansen, 'Spuria Macri': Ein Anhang zu 'Macer Floridus, De viribus herbarum'. Einleitung, Übersetzung, Kommentar (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013), p. 27.
University of Pennsylvania Libraries, The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, SDBM_MS_9770.