London. British Library, Add MS 17808

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The British Library, Polonsky Pre-1200 Project
London. British Library
  • British Library, Add MS 17808
Biblissima authority file
  • Latin
  • Scientific treatises on Music, Mathematics, Astronomy and Astrology
  • This manuscript contains a collection of scientific works. It opens with treatises on music by the Italian Benedictine monk Guido of Arezzo (b. c. 995, d. 1050) that were highly influential in the development of polyphonic music and staff notation. The section on music is followed by works on arithmetic and astronomy, particularly concerning the astrolabe, and astrology. The manuscript is an important witness to the fact that Arabic science had already permeated Western European culture before the 12th century. The manuscript includes astronomical terminology drawn from Arabic (e.g. names of constellations) and the Liber Alchandrei (The Book of Alchandreus). The latter is a work on astrology that is attributed Alchandreus, who is introduced as a 'supreme astrologer' although his existence has not been verified. The Liber is thought to have been translated into Latin from the Arabic in the 10 th century. Contents: ff. 1v-11v: Guido of Arezzo, Micrologus , beginning ‘MUSICA GUIDONIS – IN NOMINE SANCTAE ET INDIVIDUAE TRINITATIS INCIPIT MIRCOLOGUS ID EST BREVIS SERMO IN MUSICA . COMPOSUIT A DOMNO [sic] GUIDONE PERITISSIMO MUSICO’. ff. 11v-16v: Guido of Arezzo, Regule Rithmice (Rhythmic Rules), beginning ‘Gliscunt corda meis hominum mellita camenis’. ff. 17r-18r: Guido of Arezzo, Prologus in Antiphonarium (Prologue to the Antiphonary), beginning ‘Temporibus nostris super omnes homines fatui sunt cantores’. ff. 18r-22r: Guido of Arezzo, Epistola ad Michahelem (Letter to Michael), beginning ‘Haec pauca quasi in prologum antiphonarii de modorum et neumarum formulis’. ff. 23r-49v: Musica Encyriadis (Music Handbook), beginning ‘MUSICA ENCHYRIADIS · Sicut vocis articulatae elementariae atque individiae’. ff. 50r-51v: Tractatus de Musica (A Treatise on Music), imperfect, beginning ‘RATIO BREVITER EXCERPTA DE MUSICA’. ff. 52r-55v: De Qualitatibus VIII Troporum (On the Properties of the Eight Modes), beginning ‘Omnis ergo natus huius tropi’. ff. 56r-73r: Bernelinus de Paris, Liber Abaci (Book of the Abacus), beginning ‘[M]IRARI PATER SANCTAE NON desino exactionis tuae instantiam qui me opus aggredi’. f. 73r: Fulbert de Chartres, Versus de Libra et Partibus Eius (A Poem on the Pound and its Parts), ‘Libra vel as ex unciolis constat duodenis’. ff. 73v-79r: A treatise on the uses of the Astrolabe attributed to Ptolemy, De Utilitatibus Astrolabii (On the Uses of the Astrolabe), ‘REGULAE EX LIBRIS PTOLOMEI REGIS · DE COMPOSITIONE ASTROLAPSUS’. f. 79r: A treatise on the astrolabe, beginning ‘DE HOROLOGIO SECUNDUM ALCHORAM ID EST SPHERAM ROTUNDAM’. f. 79r: A treatise on the astrolabe, beginning ‘UT SCIAS QUANDO QUAELIBET STELLA FIXA SIT CUM SOLE’. f. 79r-79v: A treatise on the astrolabe, beginning ‘DE HOR[A]S DIEI ET NOCTIS CUM ASTROLABIO INVENIEND[A]S’. f. 79v: A treatise on the quadrant, beginning ‘AD HORAS CUM QUADRA INVENIENDAS’.ff. 79v-80r: A treatise on the quadrant, ‘DE ALTITUDINE CLIMATIS INVENIENDA’. ff. 80r-81r: A treatise called De Compositione Astrolapsus (On the Making of an Astrolabe), ‘DE COMPOSITIONE ASTROLAPSUS’. ff. 81r-83r: A treatise called De Mensura Astrolabii (On the Measure of the Astrolabe), beginning ‘ITEM DE COMPOSITIONE ASTROLAPSUS’. ff. 83r-84r: A treatise known as De Utilitatibus Astrolabii (On the Uses of the Astrolabe), ‘AD INVENIENDUM CLIMATA’. ff. 84r-85r: Ascelin of Augsburg, Compositio Astrolabii (The Making of the Astrolabe), beginning ‘Componas circulum aequinctalem ad arbitrium’. ff. 85v-97r: Liber Alchandrei (The Book of Alchandreus), beginning ‘INCIPIT MATHEMATICA ALHANDREI · SUMMI ASTROLOGI’ (including the Greek alphabet). ff. 97r-99r: Epistola Argafalau ad Alexandrum (The Letter of Argafalau to Alexander), beginning ‘EPISTOLA ARGAFALAU · AD ALEXANDRUM’. ff. 99r-99v: Breviarium Alhandrei (The Breviary of Alchandreus), I-III ‘BREVIARIUM ALHANDREI SUMMI ASTROLOGI DE DISCENDA QUA CUMQUE IGNOTA RE · NULLO DICENTE’. The manuscript contains a number of additions: f. 14r: contains ?11 th -century additions: ‘Sit nomen Domini benedictum in secula. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini’; ‘Speravi domino et fac bonitatem’; ‘Sancti spiritus ad sit nobis gratia’. f. 100v: 11 th -century notes in Latin. f. 1r: A 15 th -century table of contents. f. 1r: An 18 th - or 19 th -century description of the manuscript. [ff. 14v, [89a] recto, [89a] verso, and 100r are blank]. Decoration: Large and small initials in brown ink throughout the manuscript. Small capitals coloured with red and green only on ff. 94v-95r. Numerous musical bars (some with neumes) and astronomical diagrams in brown ink throughout the manuscript. Marginal texts have been highlighted in green and red on f. 85v and f. 88v (the names of the Zodiac, the four climatic zones and elements); two green stars (?) in the margin of f. 89r; an astronomical diagram in red and green in the margin of f. 95r.
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