BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Mellon MS 1
Ars notoria, sive Flores aurei
France (or North Italy?), about 1225
Parchment codex in Latin, 259 x 165, ff. 18 of 20 originally, the last two
(probably blank) cut away; no signatures, no catchwords. Collation: (1)^^10,
(2)^^10-2. Ff. 1-10, 18, ruled, partly in blind and partly in ink, portions
of remaining leaves also ruled in ink; 2 columns 203 x 133 on ff. 1-10, 18,
and occasionally elsewhere, 46 lines to the full column, no headlines;
pricking fully preserved; neatly written in Gothica Textualis, mostly very
regular and small, sometimes minute, in red and brown inks, with various
additions by similar and later hands; frequent standard abbreviation;
capitals in red, blue, or green at paragraph beginnings, mostly plain, but
some with slight extensions, a large capital in red and blue with green
tracery at beginning; rare correction within the text by the scribe, usually
by dotting beneath an incorrect word, followed by a corrected version; some
additions by early hands in spaces originally blank, some marginal insertions
by later hands; diagrams and drawings in red ink, mostly accompanied by text
in brown, often with the text forming a part of the design, on parts or all
of ff. 10v-17v; parchment of ordinary quality, medium thick, with some holes
or irregular edges, the hair follicles not entirely scraped out and the
surfaces not entirely smoothed.
BINDING: Wrapper, probably modern, consisting of a piece of old parchment,
perhaps cut from the blank portion of a large document with a fold and some
slits, the modern sewing penetrating the back.
PROVENANCE: Early provenance unknown; blue, circular rubber stamp with
numerals inside back cover of wrapper, canceled in red, nineteenth or
twentieth century; was item 2, Catalogue XXVI of Joseph Martini (bookseller),
Lugano, about 1935; reoffered by the same, Catalogue XXIX, 2, and Catalogue
XXX (1942), 5; Mellon MS E=142, acquired from C. A. Stonehill, Inc.
(bookseller), New Haven.
f. 1r1, 1: INcipit prohemium, sive exceptiones quas ma- | gnus appollonius
flores aureos ad eruditionem | et coniunctionem omnium scientiarum... [line
7:]... ab angelo sapientissimo | salomoni.
f. 1r1, 9: Ego artium magister mundo [sic] nuncupatus cui | liberalium natura
quasi specialiter cessisse videtur. | tractaturus de cognitione astronomie
sive astro- | logie. quibus experimentis artium compendiosa compe- | tensque
cognitio possit haberi...
[Fifteen pages of largely diagrammatic drawings, approximately thirty-six in
all, depending on how their relationships are interpreted (the text calls for
thirty-two), are found from f. 10v to f. 17v, most of them accompanied by
labels and the texts of prayers consisting of long series of invented names
with exotic sounds written in a minute hand in brown ink, while the designs
themselves are throughout in red. The text of the manuscript also includes
numerous prayers, some of them consisting of exotic names. A passage in the
text beginning on f. 10r2, 39, and ending on f. 10v1, 3, perhaps by another
contemporary hand and in larger writing, lists the figures, apparently
digesting a longer description of them in the text beginning on f. 12r2, 3.
The passage on f. 10r reads:]
f. 10r2, 39: Quinque sunt generales fi- | gure. Septum sunt phi- | losophie.
Tres gramatice. | Due dialectice. Quattuor re- | thorice. Quinque theologie.
Vna | musice. Vna reprehensionis et taci- | turnitatis. Vna ad exceptivas.
Vna | demirabilibus. Vna iusticie pacis et | [f. 10v1, 1:] timoris. Vna
inexplicabilis ho- | minibus. et ita sunt in | summa .xxx.ij. |
f. 18v2, 15: Hec est nota ineffabilis theologie | cuius oratio est. Deus
totius pietatis. | Vt predictum est capitulo. [Paragraph mark.] Incipit |
septima oratio. et etiam oratio eius est. | Nosel. Vt ibidem paulo post
testa- | tur. [remainder blank.]
[Apollonius, Ars notoria, sive Flores aurei, TK 485, 489, 490.]
SUMMARY: Occasional errors by the scribe, corrected by himself, suggest that
he copied an earlier manuscript of this text, which he had some difficulty in
reading. At foot of folio 1v a contemporary hand has noted: "Ab primo signo
.A. usque Ad .b. totum deficit in alio libro." The signum "A" is present in
the text, but "b" has not been found. The extraordinary diagrammatic drawings
in red ink, executed with considerable precision partly with a compass and
ruler, but also including free elements, complement the puzzling text, in
which a direct approach to knowledge is sought by means of incantation. Also
contributing to the startling effect of the codex is the use of long passages
in brilliant red ink, admirably contrasting with others in brown, and the
simple, well-drawn capitals in red, green, and blue. MS 1 is so unlike
commonly seen manuscripts of its period that it seems reasonable to suggest
that both its text and its drawings have been copied directly from a
considerably older manuscript source which has not been traced in the
literature. It is possible to think of the text of this manuscript as an
ancestor of the mystical or speculative alchemies, for in both types of text
truth is sought through spiritualistic and often cryptic means. Thus, while
it does not describe any alchemical procedure, the work of Apollonius may
have had a profound influence on the creation of the principal early works of
speculative alchemy, which are of later date.