Pietro Barozzi, De ratione bene moriendi

  • A. 1471-1487; parchment; mm 230 × 160; ff. III + 99
  • Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lyell 81
  • A work, dedicated to Marco Barbo, patriarch of Aquileia, whose central concept is that the earthly life duration should not be trusted and preparation to a good death should coincide with the moment one begins to give up hope of health recovery.

An exemplary figure of bishop, Pietro Barozzi was also a learned and refined literate and fecund author of oratorical, theological and moral works. Among them, De ratione bene moriendi dates back to the period he spent in Belluno (1471-1487) and is dedicated to Marco Barbo, “patriarca di Aquileia, cardinale di Santa Romana Chiesa e vescovo di Prenestino”. Patriarch of Aquileia from 1471 to 1491, the year of his death, Barbo, who never resided in Friuli, was known and celebrated for his austere manners and moral uprightness; he promoted the humanistic culture, knew Old Greek, owned an extraordinary private library that counted as many as five hundred volumes. The manuscript oxoniense Lyell 81 is most likely the dedicatory copy. On f. 1r, in the middle of the bottom edge, on a vanishing blue background, two putti bear Marco Barbo’s, the work dedicatee’s, coat of arms surmounted by a cross and a cardinal hat. In the eighteenth century the codex was part of the large Venetian book collection of the abbot Matteo Luigi Canonici (1721-1805), and hence got onto the English antiquarian market: purchased by Walter Sneyd in 1835, it was sold at Sotheby’s December 16th, 1903, and was then bought in march 1943, at Maggs Bros, by James P. R. Lyell (1871-1948), who left relevant part of his huge book collection, a good 100 manuscripts, among which the Barozzi codex, to the Bodleian Library of Oxford.

f. 1r, two putti  bearing cardinal Barbo’s coat of arms

f. 1r, two putti bearing cardinal Barbo’s coat of arms

XIV.6_Oxford_Bodleian_Lyell_81, 1v

f. 1v

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