Holcot’s Moralitates (notes on the Basel manuscripts)

The Basel University Library houses four manuscripts that contain Holcot’s Moralitates. What follows are a few notes on the texts.

  1. Basel A II 26

Robert Holcot, Moralitates. Folios 138rb–140va. In marg.: Moralizatio ymaginum dearum etc. Incipit: Theodosius de vita Alexandri. Rex sicilie alexandrum ad convivium invitavit.

This manuscript collects 20 of Holcot’s Moralitates. The individual moralizations are numbered in the margin.

  1. Basel A V 33

Robert Holcot, Moralitates. Folios 275r–292v. Incipit: Theodosius de vita Alexandri: Rex cecilie alexandrum… Expliciunt moralitates fratris Roberti holcoch. Deo gracias.

This is a beautiful collection of the Moralitates. The work contains 41 moralizations; the hand is clear and the text is well organized. The moralizations are consistent with those found in the Basel 1586 edition, however the ordering of the work is distinct. A V 33 begins with a list of Holcot’s famous picturae (verbal pictures) and progress to the historia. This is significant because within the text the individual moralizations are listed as pictures (which is distinct from the printed editions). This basic pattern is followed in Basel B VIII 10 (while one cannot make much of such limited information, there is some indication that the manuscript tradition better preserves the nature of the work as a collection of picturae). See, e.g., the following moralizations:

2nd moralization (cf. Bs 1586, Moral. 19): pictura orationis (AV33 275r) 3rd moralization (cf. Bs 1586, Moral. 31): pictura peccati mortalis ((AV33 275v) 4th moralization (cf. Bs 1586, Moral. 38): pictura luxuriae (AV33 276v) 6th moralization (cf. Bs 1586,  Moral. 8): imago amoris (AV33 277r) 7th moralization (cf. Bs 1586, Moral. 9): pictura amoris pro nativitate et passione Christi (AV33 278r) 9th moralization (cf. Bs 1586, Moral. 22): imago poenitentiae (AV33 279r) 10th moralization (cf. Bs 1586, Moral 33): pictura superbiae (AV33 279r) 11th moralization (cf. Bs 1586, Moral. 44): pictura fortunae (AV33 279v)

3. Basel A X 118

This manuscript is unfortunately quite disorganized and difficult to navigate (as well as having an incredibly tight binding that threatens to self destruct). The Moralitates are not preserved in the work (so far as I can tell) as a discrete collection, however a few of the individual moralizations (and pictures) are randomly interspersed with other texts on folios 332–367. Though one should be cautious: on folio 332r begins a collection of exempla the first of which the manuscript catalogue (p. 167 (178)) (incipit: Narrat Ovidius in magno libro…) attributes to Holcot. However, that particular moralization does not seem to be one of Holcot’s moralizations (though several do begin Narrat Ovidius as preserved in other collections). The collection (and the manuscript) seems somewhat random, difficult to read in sections, and highly disorganized. More work would be needed to determine whether there is a significant collection of the moralizations in this manuscript (though with perhaps little reward).

4. Basel B VIII 10

Robert Holcot, Moralitates. Folios 1r–16v. Incipit: Theodosius de vita Alexandri…

This is a great little collection of texts that is similar to the manuscripts described here. The work includes several texts [Holcot, Moralitates (1r–16v); Aenigmata Aristotelis moralizata (16v–18v); Imagines Fulgentii moralizatae (19r–29v); Declamationes senecae moralizatae (29v–39r); and a tabule subsequentis (39r–42va).] The Moralitates collection includes 45 moralizations with a similar organization to A V 33. The manuscript also contains a sermon collection. It is dated to 1347.  The final folio contains the following note (90v): Iste liber est tratrum ordinis praedicatorum conventus Basiliensis et est de libris magistri Petri et fratris Iohannis de lœffen, oretur pro eis.


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