Martianus Capella


  • MS 330: Martianus Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii ; Glossary on Martianus Capella.
  • Alternative title : Martianus Capella cum Commento
  • Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, Parker Library 
  • De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii ("On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury"), is an influential commentary on the liberal arts written by the fifth-century author Martianus Capella. Due to its form, the prosimetrum, and its framework, an allegorised mythography and cosmology, De nuptiis is an ideal source of complete and reliable information about the seven liberal arts. The exposition of the arts is framed by a ‘plot’ whereby Mercury and Philology are to be united in marriage through the efforts of Apollo, with the gods adopting the latter (Oxfordscholarship).

  • The book was of great importance in defining the standard formula of academic learning from the Christianized Roman Empire of the fifth century until the Renaissance of the 12th century. 

  • MS 330 consists of two parts. Although they are appropriately associated since one contains a gloss on the text found in the other, they were originally separate manuscripts. The first part, written either in Normandy or in England probably in the early twelfth century, contains the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii by the late antique author, Martianus Capella. It has an ex libris inscription of Malmesbury abbey, and contains writing in the hand of William of Malmesbury OSB (c. 1080-1143). It may have been William himself who combined it with the second part, which contains a commentary on Martianus Capella probably either by Dunchad (9th century) or Martin of Laon. The same text is found in CCCC MS 153. This second part was written on the Continent in the late ninth century (although Bischoff does not mention it in his catalogue of ninth-century manuscripts, which may mean he thought it later), but it was probably brought to England relatively early.

  • Material: Vellum

  • Layout: two volumes, 37 and 29-32 lines to a page

  • Height (mm):220

  • Width (mm): 150

  • Writing: Vol. I in a fine minute upright hand. Vol. II in a clear but rather rough and sloping Carolingian minuscule

  • Latin

  • c 1000-1199

  • This work is copyright of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and is licensed under a Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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