Vatican Palimpsests Digital Recovery of Erased Identities [by A. Németh]


Within a century after the Irish missionary, Saint Columban (c. 561-615), founded a monastery in Bobbio (North Italy) in 614, the scriptorium of the new monastery recycled about half of a two or three-centuries-old parchment codex by gently washing off the ink of Cicero’s De republica. In its place, a scribe copied a highly important work for the community of the monks, namely, a portion of Saint Augustine’s Expositions on the Psalms. We do not know whether or not the other half of the Cicero manuscript was recycled. Perhaps it was already damaged and incomplete at that time. However, the fact that all seventh-century folios of Vat. lat. 5757 derive from the same fourth or fifth-century codex leads to the likely hypothesis that the extensive lost portion of Augustine’s massive commentary – to some extent – derived from the same codex and that the act of rewashing took place in Bobbio, as happened to a number of other old codices very likely in the same monastery. The text of Cicero’s De re publica was copied in Uncial in the late fourth/early fifth century, in two columns with 15 lines each. Soon after the production of the codex, a corrector amended the corrupted text between the lines and in the margin probably collating it with an alternative version.

Vat. lat. 5757, p. 275

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