The Brotherton Ovid
Incunabula – the first European printed books
The Brotherton Ovid
Condition and binding
Provenance - who owned the books?
Dietrich von Plieningen
Leonhard von Eck
Oswald von Eck
Georg Franz Burkhard Kloss
William Horatio Crawford
Edward Allen Brotherton
Other individuals associated with the books
Samuel Leigh Sotheby
J. Alexander Symington
Ovid the poet
The works of Ovid
Medieval and Renaissance reception
Art of Love and Cures for Love
List of illustrations to the Fasti
[Opera] Volume 1
[Opera] Volume 2
[Opera] Volume 3
The Fasti in volume 3 attracted the most numerous annotations and illustrations.
The annotations are signed by Oswald von Eck and derive from the lectures of Sebastian Linck, Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Ingolstadt.
The notes begin at the start of Lent in 1540 at Tegernsee and end in February 1541 in Ingolstadt. This does not suggest they have been made from a course of lectures. Instead it seems likely that they are copied out by Oswald from the lecture notes of his friend and teacher Linck, being supplemented by his own annotations.
Under the main heading "Annotations on Ovid's Fasti gathered by Oswald von Eck from the lectures of Master Sebastian Linck", Oswald has written out some general introductory remarks under a series of sub-headings: "Uses of the work", "Title of the work", "Summary of the whole work", "Arrangement of the books"; followed by further notes on the motion of celestial bodies and the measurement of time.
This is characteristic of introductions to lecture courses on classical texts and continuities in teaching practices through the centuries can be observed from the similarity of this introduction to prologues ("accessus ad auctores") in medieval manuscripts and even in ancient commentaries.
Under the heading "Uses of the Fasti", Oswald lists the reasons why the Fasti is considered a text worth studying:
(1) for the information it gives about the "rising and setting of stars", about the calendar, and about Roman customs. (2) for an understanding of myths, and natural and moral interpretations of them. (3) for its excellent "sententiae" (quotable phrases). (4) as a stylistic model for Latin.
A very similar list of reasons why the Fasti is worth reading can be found in Philipp Melanchthon's published notes on the work (Basel, 1548).
(1) for information about astronomy and the measurement of time; (2) for historical data; (3) for youths to learn good Latin; (4) for useful vocabulary; (5) for the commonplaces and rhetorical exempla.
The annotations are quite advanced, there are very few of the kinds of interlinear glosses concerned with basic comprehension of the language that usually feature in student annotations.
There are detailed summaries ('argumenta') at the start of each of the six books. The marginal notes largely follow the points of interest set out in the introduction.
As well as providing a commentary on Ovid's rhetorical structure and marking off dates to which the text refers, they give explanations and references relating to: astronomical detail; myth and history, geography and topography; ancient customs - marking points in the text that explain origins ("ratio", "origo", "causa"); and etymologies.
For the myths, the notes make frequent reference to the ancient author Pliny the Elder; the medieval Italian writer Boccaccio, who compiled an influential reference book of mythology; and to Ovid's own Metamorphoses.
For historical details, the references are mostly to the Roman historian Livy, and occasionally others. The antiquarian aspect, though, is certainly less pronounced here than in the printed commentaries on the Fasti that were available at the time, written by Italian humanists with an interest in Roman antiquarianism. The notes pick out poetic and rhetorical figures (e.g. 'apostrophe', 'metaphora', "prosopopoeia", "commendatio") and highlight passages of poetic description considered particularly good.
These excellent "sententiae" (moral sayings) are occasionally copied out in a more careful and elaborate hand e.g. 'what does shameless love not dare to do?' (3.331). Note also the ornate manicule (pointing hand) at sig. H5r highlighting the sententia: "Time slips away, and we grow old with the silent years, / And the days fly by with no bridle to slow them."
It may seem unusual that Oswald was using a 60 year old as his 'reading copy' but it is quite common to find incunabula annotated by much later readers, and sometimes covered with the notes of multiple generations of readers.
At one point, Oswald updates the text with reference to the newer, more reliable Aldine edition of 1516. He would also have found the Aldine edition useful for consulting Ptolemy's almanac Inerrantium stellarum significationes (translated by Nicolas Leonicus), along with a table of dates in the Roman calendar and corresponding passages in the Fasti.