Aristotle Poetics.

Aristotle [Browse]
Uniform title
Manuscript, Book
Ancient Greek (to 1453)
[central Italy]: [producer not identified], approximately 1500.
1 sheet (8 uncut leaves) : paper ; 175 x 120 mm (each leaf)


Library of Congress genre(s)
Summary note
Greek manuscript fragment. One quire of a manuscript of Aristotle's Poetics, an Italian humanistic manuscript of ca 1500.
  • Physical description: 8 folios (ff. 5-8 uncut) on paper, folded in 8°, chain-distance 32 mm; watermark; simple fleur de lis, similar to Briquet, 1966, no. 6893, Pisa, 1499; single unnumbered quire, blind-ruled, (justification 122 x 72 mm.), copied with 23 lines per page; blank space left for a title and a decorated initial 'Π' at the beginning of the text (fol. 2r); leaves slightly frayed and stained at the edges; lower corner of f. 1 torn off. Unbound. Uncut quire of eight leaves, used by a scribe (possibly Bernadino Donato) to copy the beginning of Aristotle's Poetics. It is thus a new addition to the known examples of a manuscript made with imposed sheets. As such, it shows the process of a medieval scribe at work, employing the same system of large uncut sheets used by early printers. Aristotle's original Greek text is known in only forty-five manuscripts, all but two copied in Western Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
  • Text: [fol. 1rv, blank]; ff. 2-3, [Aristotle, Poetics], incipit, "[P]eri poiētikēs autēs te k(ai) tōn eidōn autēs ...", the text breaks off at the bottom of fol. 3 with the words "... Dionysios de homoious eikaze, dēlon hoti k(ai) t(ōn) lechthēsōn"; [ff. 3v-8v are blank]. The watermark dates from ca. 1500 and must pre-date the first printed edition of the POETICS by Aldus Manutius in 1508 (on this edition see Sicherl, 1992, pp. 113-116). For some reason it was not completed and contains just three written pages (the first two pages, and the final eleven pages are blank). We can clearly see that a single large paper sheet was folded into a gathering (an occasional practice for both paper and parchment manuscripts), and that the scribe began to copy the text before the pages were cut open to form individual bifolia, that means that the scribe was working on an imposed sheet.
Provenance: Princeton Ms. 261 was written in central Italy, ca. 1500, based on the evidence of the script and watermark. The handwriting resembles MS ω.I.1 of the Escorial Library, copied in 1523 by 'Donatos Bontourellios', evidently a Hellenized name of Bernardino Donato, who died in 1542 or 1543. This humanist taught grammar and rhetoric in Carpi, Emilia Romagna, during the first decade of the sixteenth century, and this manuscript could have been produced during this early stage of his career.
Source acquisition
Purchase: Acquired with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund. 2019. AM 2020-29.
Cite as
Princeton MS. 261, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
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