Plutarch, Sylloge of nineteen Vitae parallelae in Latin humanistic translations

  • S. XV med.; parchment; mm 335 × 237; ff. I, 335
  • Vatican City, ‘Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana’, Pal. lat. 918
  • The codex, written and illuminated for Ludovico Trevisan, patriarch of Aquileia and chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, got into the ‘Biblioteca Vaticana’ in the seventeenth century from Heidelberg.

A manuscript of humanistic taste, a little bit worn-out, though. This volume, which could have been written in several phases, acquires uniformity thanks to the beautiful vine-stem decoration made by the same miniature illuminator of the Vat. lat. 436. At the middle of the decoration on f. 1r there is Ludovico Trevisan’s coat of arms with the same elements as in the previous one, surmounted by a cross pattée or and a gaudy cardinal galero. In the cardinal’s library the sylloge contained in this volume represents one of the typically humanistic enterprises: a Latin translation of Plutarch’s Lives. The volume is rich in glosses of an Italian, rather learned, cursive hand that could be of Trevisan himself. The codex got into the Vaticana in the seventeenth century together with the manuscripts coming from the Palatine library of Heidelberg, following the events of religious conflicts in which this precious librarian collection was involved to be then given to the pope and onwards kept in the ‘Biblioteca Apostolica’. Therefore the volume came back to Italy after leaving it quite early, may at the end of the fifteenth century, a possible reason being the dispersion of Trevisan’s book collection following the controversies on his testament will that was first admitted and later contested by pope Paul II.

f. 1r, initial D and decoration on the left side, on the bottom edge Ludovico Trevisan’s coat of arms surmounted by the cardinal galero.

f. 1r, initial D and decoration on the left side, on the bottom edge Ludovico Trevisan’s coat of arms surmounted by the cardinal galero.

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