Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Pal. lat. 1371

s. XIII1 or possibly XII2 for f. 41-97, with decoration probably added around the middle of the 13th c. (f. 1-40, which form one codicological unit, are posterior to 1217, date of the translation of Alpetragius’s De motibus celorum by Michael Scot). F. 41-97 are dated to the 13th c. by Haskins, to ‘12e/13e siècle’ by Pelzer, to the middle of the 12th c. by Lemay, 464, and to the 13th c. by Schuba (but Schuba was unaware of Lemay’s contribution). One argument towards a 12th-c. dating is that the Arabic numerals used in the tables of the Almagest present, according to Burnett, a ‘striking similarity’ with those used in a psalter written in or shortly before 1153, most probably in Palermo under Roger II (Burnett, ‘Indian Numerals…’, 244; also Burnett, ‘The Use of Arabic…’, 47). If this MS was a later copy, one would expect the numerals to have been adapted, as happened in the other MSS of this text.


Italy, certainly Palermo if the MS is to be dated to the 12th c. (Lemay, 471, suggests that f. 41-97 were copied by or under the supervision of Hermann of Carinthia, whom he believes to be the translator of the Ptolemaic section).


Ulrich Fugger (d. 1584); Heidelberg, Bibliotheca Palatina; Vatican library in 1623.

Parchment, 99 f., several hands. The Ptolemaic section (f. 41-97) is copied by three hands and contains beautifully painted initials at the beginning of each book. Several folia are missing between f. 40-41 and after f. 97.

Astronomy and mathematics: Alpetragius, De motibus celorum (1r-34v); ‘Capitulum de inventione radicum et multiplicatione et divisione et diminutione et agregatione earum inter se et de aliis huismodi. Postquam tractavimus de his que superius dicta sunt…’ (35r-40v, end gone); Ptolemaica (41r-97v); added notes by a 13th-c. hand (98r-98v), including a Greek-Latin astronomical glossary of 21 terms and planetary positions under the title ‘In die illa celum sic se habebat’; 13th-c. (?) fragment of a text unrelated to the rest of the MS (99r-99v).

Bibl. Inventarium manuscriptorum Latinorum Bibliothecae Palatinae (handwritten catalogue), 490; C. H. Haskins, ‘Further Notes on Sicilian Translations of the Twelfth Century’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 23 (1912), 155-166: 156-158; A. Pelzer, ‘Une source inconnue de Roger Bacon, Alfred de Sareshel, commentateur des Météorologiques d’Aristote’, Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 12 (1919), 44-67 (reprinted in A. Pelzer, Etudes d’histoire littéraire sur la scolastique médiévale, eds A. Pattin, E. Van de Vyver, Louvain-Paris, 1964, 241-271: 262n); C. H. Haskins, Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science, Cambridge, 1927 (2nd ed.), 159; R. Lemay, ‘De la scolastique à l’histoire par le truchement de la philologie: Itinéraire d’un médiéviste entre Europe et Islam’, in La diffusione delle scienze islamiche nel Medio Evo europeo. Convegno internazionale, ed. B. Scarcia Amoretti, Roma, 1987, 399-535: 464 and 468-472; L. Schuba, Die Quadriviums-Handschriften der Codices Palatini Latini in der Vatikanischen Bibliothek, Wiesbaden, 1992, 80-81; C. Burnett, ‘Indian Numerals in the Mediterranean Basin in the Twelfth Century, with Special Reference ot the ‘Eastern Forms’’, in From China to Paris: 2000 Years’ Transmission of Mathematical Ideas, eds Y. Dold-Samplonius, J. W. Dauben, M. Folkerts, B. van Dalen, Stuttgart, 2002, 237-288: 244-245 and 248 (reprinted in C. Burnett, Numerals and Arithmetic in the Middle Ages, Farnham-Burlington, 2010, V); C. Burnett, ‘The Use of Arabic Numerals Among the Three Language Cultures of Norman Sicily’, Römisches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca Hertziana 35 (2003-2004), 39-48: 39-40 and 47 (reprinted in C. Burnett, Numerals and Arithmetic in the Middle Ages, Farnham-Burlington, 2010, VI).


‘Incipit liber Claudii Ptolomei mathematicorum qui alias dicitur Megasti et secundum Arabes Meguisti vel Almagesti [add. in the margin by another hand: Translatus in Urbe Panormi tempore regis Roggerii per Hermannum de Greco in Latinum]. Prohemium. Eam pingendi gratias antiqui feruntur habuisse consuetudinem, ut unam quidem vultum aversam, due quibus illa manum porrigeret aspectarent. Cuius misterii non ignarus dudum… Valde bene qui proprie philosophati sunt, o Sire, videntur michi sequestrasse theoricum philosophie a practico — progrediens apparet paulatim ascendens et minus semper preterito…’

= Ptolemy, Almagesti (tr. Sicily c. 1150) (A.1.1)

. Translator’s preface, 41r-41v; I, 41v-49r; II, 49v-61r; III, 61r-67v; IV, 67v-77v; V, 77v-88r; VI, 88r-97v. Abrup end mid-sentence in VI.10 at the bottom of f. 97v. Glosses by at least two hands, one of which is perhaps that of the scribe. The second hand is responsible, among others, for the authorship note left in the margin of f. 41r, next to the title of the work: ‘Translatus in Urbe Panormi tempore regis Roggerii per Hermannum de Greco in Latinum’. This hand was dated 14th-15th c. by Haskins, 13th c. by Pelzer and 13th, or possibly 12th c., by Lemay, 469, but it is from c. 1330, as indicated by the another gloss on f. 50v: ‘hodie vero in annis domini millesimo CCC XXX…’.