Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017

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Lot no.

40

Cicero, De Divinatione , in Latin, humanist manuscript on parchment [Italy, c

Sold for £600

Est: £500–700

Cicero, De Divinatione , in Latin, humanist manuscript on parchment [Italy, c. 1450]

Fragment from the top of a bifolium, with uppermost 6 lines of one column, and edges of column from corresponding sister-page preserved, in a skilled humanist hand, recovered from reuse in a binding and hence with scuffs, smudges from old water damage, wormholes and yellowing of parchment, reverse scrubbed clean, overall fair and presentable, in total 71 by 258mm.

This is one of Cicero’s rarer works, set as a dialogue between Cicero and his brother Quintus on the pagan art of divination. It was composed around the year of Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC., and is one of our primary sources on the practises of Roman religion. The lines here are from book I, chs. 6-7, and concern forms of divination by nature: “ what nation or what state disregards the prophecies of soothsayers, or of interpreters of prodigies and lightnings, or of augurs, or of astrologers, or of oracles, or (to mention the two kinds which are classed as natural means of divination) the forewarnings of dreams, or of frenzy? … There is a certain natural power, which now, through long-continued observation of signs and now, through some divine excitement and inspiration, makes prophetic announcement of the future”. The speaker includes as an example, the drawing of meaning from the cries of birds and their posture: “Therefore let Carneades cease to press the question, which Panaetius also used to urge, whether Jove had ordered the crow to croak on the left side and the raven on the right”.

Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures

Wednesday 06 December 2017, 2.00pm

Bloomsbury London
Bloomsbury House
24 Maddox Street
London
W1S 1PP

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Saturday 2 December
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Monday 4 December
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Day of Sale from 9.30am

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