Apuleius, sec. II
The history of the manuscript tradition of Apuleius’s texts transmitted in the Middle Ages begins with the prototype from Cassino, a manuscript without illustrations made in the eleventh century (Gaisser, The fortunes of Apuleius, pp. 76-129) preserved today in Florence (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, ms. Plut. 68.02). The fourteenth century instead gave rise to a wide circulation of Apuleius’s works, famous and richly illuminated: ms. Vat. lat. 2193 annotated by Petrarch before 1343 with the texts of Frontinus and Palladius (Rizzo, Un codice veronese, pp. 37-44); ms. Vat. lat. 2194 made for Bruzio Visconti (A. Manfredi, I codici latini di Niccolò V, p. 430). The story of the Metamorphoses is summarized in images, scenes with strong narrative power come one after the other. Within the historiated initials placed at the beginning of each book of Vat. lat. 2194, for book V, for example, the miniaturist follows the contents of the work to the letter: here is Psyche, clothed in red, lying on a flowery meadow next to a lion and a deer near the house of Cupid (Stok, Scheda nr. 51, pp. 267-268). Likewise in the codex owned by Petrarch (ms. Vat. lat. 2193), f. 43r shows the image of the young Lucius and a donkey figure, the result of the young man’s transformation.
The work of Apuleius continues to be produced throughout the humanistic era, but as far as the illuminated apparatus is concerned, the narrative-type illustrations, which were made within the historiated initials, are replaced by another type of decoration given by old-fashioned title frontispieces and ornate phytomorphic initials typical of the new figurative culture, as is the case of the manuscript created for the library of Federico da Montefeltro, ms. Urb. lat. 199.
Vat. lat. 2193, f. 43r - Vat. lat. 2194, f. 24r
Urb. lat. 199, f. 2r