E0014 Leaf from a Bible (Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata)

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ACC Ege14 verso.jpg


E0014 Leaf from a Bible (Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata)




France; Late 13th Century. Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script

This copy of the Latin version by St. Jerome was made during the period when France stood at the height of her medieval glory. A decade or two before, Louis IX (Saint Louis), the strongest monarch of his age, had made France the mightiest power in Europe. This favorable political situation rendered possible the "golden age" of the manuscript, and Paris became the center in which the finest manuscripts were written and sold.

In the quarter century from 1275 to 1300, marked advances were effected in the art. The bar borders came to be executed in rich opaque gouache pigments, with ultramarine made of powdered lapis lazuli predominating. The foliage scroll work inside the initial frame created a style that persisted with little or no change for nearly two hundred years. The script was well executed and was without rigidity or tension. All these elements, together with the sparkle which was created by the casual distribution of the burnished gold accents, give to this leaf a striking atmosphere of joyous freedom.

The vellum is thin, white, and supple, with minimal yellowing. Lining is done in light ink or lead. The bulk of the text is in brown ink, with red, blue, coral, white, and beige for the decorations. This leaf is heavily illuminated and decorated, including scenes from the book of Esther, elaborate initials and foliage, highlighted book names and chapter numbers, and extensive use of gold leaf. While the decoration is exceptional, we can see an unusual number of scribal corrections (especially erasures and strikethroughs).

Text: Judith 16:31; Jerome's prologue to Esther; Esther 1:1-17 (recto); Esther 1:17-2:19 (verso). The translation of the prologue to Esther is by Kevin P. Edgecomb.


Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts


Late 13th century


Item in public domain. Description provided by Dr. Fred Porcheddu-Engel via the Otto F. Ege digital collection. http://ege.denison.edu/denison_leaf_14.php


300 dpi JPEG, 40.5 x 27 cm




Medieval manuscript leaf


Denison University Leaf 14, Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts


Recto Translation:

[Judith 16:31]

...the festivity of this victory is received by the Hebrews in the number of holy days, and is religiously observed by the Jews from that time until this day.

Here begins the prologue of the blessed Presbyter Jerome to the book of Esther.

The Book of Esther stands corrupted by various translators. Which book I, lifting up from the archives of the Hebrews, have translated more accurately word for word. The common edition drags the book by knotted ropes of words hither and yon, adding to it things which may have been said or heard at any time. This is as is usual with instruction in schools, when a subject has been taken up, to figure out from the words which someone may have used, which one either suffered injury, or which one caused injury (to the text). And you, O Paula and Eustochium, since you have both studied to enter the libraries of the Hebrews and also have approved of the battles of the interpreters, holding the Hebrew Book of Esther, look through each word of our translation, so you may be able to understand me also to have augmented nothing by adding, but rather with faithful witness simply to have translated, just as it is found in the Hebrew, the Hebrew history into the Latin language. We are not affected by the praises of men, nor are we afraid of (their) slanders. For to be pleasing to God we do not inwardly fear those caring for the minas of men, “for God has scattered the bones of those desiring to be pleasing to men,” and according to the Apostle, those like this are “not able to be servants of Christ.”

[7 lines of the prologue untranscribed.]

Here ends the prologue. Here begins the book of Esther.

[Esther 1:1-17]

1 In the days of Assuerus, who reigned from India to Ethiopia over a hundred and twenty-seven provinces: 2 When he sat on the throne of his kingdom, the city Susan was the capital of his kingdom. 3 Now in the third year of his reign he made a great feast for all the princes, and for his servants, for the most mighty of the Persians, and the nobles of the Medes, and the governors of the provinces in his sight, 4 That he might shew the riches of the glory of his kingdom, and the greatness, and boasting of his power, for a long time, to wit, for a hundred and fourscore days. 5 And when the days of the feast were expired, he invited all the people that were found in Susan, from the greatest to the least: and commanded a feast to be made seven days in the court of the garden, and of the wood, which was planted by the care and the hand of the king. 6 And there were hung up on every side sky coloured, and green, and violet hangings, fastened with cords of silk, and of purple, which were put into rings of ivory, and were held up with marble pillars. The beds also were of gold and silver, placed in order upon a floor paved with porphyry and white marble: which was embellished with painting of wonderful variety. 7 And they that were invited, drank in golden cups, and the meats were brought in divers vessels one after another. Wine also in abundance and of the best was presented, as was worthy of a king's magnificence. 8 Neither was there any one to compel them to drink that were not willing, but as the king had appointed, who set over every table one of his nobles, that every man might take what he would. 9 Also Vasthi the queen made a feast for the women in the palace, where king Assuerus was used to dwell. 10 Now on the seventh day, when the king was merry, and after very much drinking was well warmed with wine, he commanded Mauman, and Bazatha, and Harbona, and Bagatha, and Abgatha, and Zethar, and Charcas, the seven eunuchs that served in his presence, 11 To bring in queen Vasthi before the king, with the crown set upon her head, to shew her beauty to all the people and the princes: for she was exceeding beautiful. 12 But she refused, and would not come at the king's commandment, which he had signified to her by the eunuchs. Whereupon the king, being angry, and inflamed with a very great fury, 13 Asked the wise men, who according to the custom of the kings, were always near his person, and all he did was by their counsel, who knew the laws, and judgments of their forefathers: 14 (Now the chief and nearest him were, Charsena, and Sethar, and Admatha, and Tharsis, and Mares, and Marsana, and Mamuchan, seven princes of the Persians, and of the Medes, who saw the face of the king, and were used to sit first after him:) 15 What sentence ought to pass upon Vasthi the queen, who had refused to obey the commandment of king Assuerus, which he had sent to her by the eunuchs? 16 And Mamuchan answered, in the hearing of the king and the princes: Queen Vasthi hath not only injured the king, but also all the people and princes that are in all the provinces of king Assuerus. 17 For this deed of the queen will go abroad to all women, so that they will despise their husbands, and will say...

Verso Translation:

[Esther 1:17-2:19]

...will say: King Assuerus commanded that queen Vasthi should come in to him, and she would not. 18 And by this example all the wives of the princes of the Persians and the Medes will slight the commandments of their husbands: wherefore the king's indignation is just. 19 If it please thee, let an edict go out from thy presence, and let it be written according to the law of the Persians and of the Medes, which must not be altered, that Vasthi come in no more to the king, but another, that is better than her, be made queen in her place. 20 And let this be published through all the provinces of thy empire, (which is very wide,) and let all wives, as well of the greater as of the lesser, give honour to their husbands. 21 His counsel pleased the king, and the princes: and the king did according to the counsel of Mamuchan. 22 And he sent letters to all the provinces of his kingdom, as every nation could hear and read, in divers languages and characters, that the husbands should be rulers and masters in their houses: and that this should be published to every people.

1 After this, when the wrath of king Assuerus was appeased, he remembered Vasthi, and what she had done and what she had suffered: 2 And the king's servants and his officers said: Let young women be sought for the king, virgins and beautiful, 3 And let some persons be sent through all the provinces to look for beautiful maidens and virgins: and let them bring them to the city of Susan, and put them into the house of the women under the hand of Egeus the eunuch, who is the overseer and keeper of the king's women: and let them receive women's ornaments, and other things necessary for their use. 4 And whosoever among them all shall please the king's eyes, let her be queen instead of Vasthi. The word pleased the king: and he commanded it should be done as they had suggested. 5 There was a man in the city of Susan, a Jew, named Mardochai, the son of Jair, the son of Semei, the son of Cis, of the race of Jemini, 6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem at the time that Nabuchodonosor king of Babylon carried away Jechonias king of Juda, 7 And he had brought up his brother's daughter Edissa, who by another name was called Esther: now she had lost both her parents: and was exceeding fair and beautiful. And her father and mother being dead, Mardochai adopted her for his daughter. 8 And when the king's ordinance was noised abroad, and according to his commandment many beautiful virgins were brought to Susan, and were delivered to Egeus the eunuch: Esther also among the rest of the maidens was delivered to him to be kept in the number of the women. 9 And she pleased him, and found favour in his sight. And he commanded the eunuch to hasten the women's ornaments, and to deliver to her her part, and seven of the most beautiful maidens of the king's house, and to adorn and deck out both her and her waiting maids. 10 And she would not tell him her people nor her country. For Mardochai had charged her to say nothing at all of that: 11 And he walked every day before the court of the house, in which the chosen virgins were kept, having a care for Esther's welfare, and desiring to know what would befall her. 12 Now when every virgin's turn came to go in to the king, after all had been done for setting them off to advantage, it was the twelfth month: so that for six months they were anointed with oil of myrrh, and for other six months they used certain perfumes and sweet spices. 13 And when they were going in to the king, whatsoever they asked to adorn themselves they received: and being decked out, as it pleased them, they passed from the chamber of the women to the king's chamber. 14 And she that went in at evening, came out in the morning, and from thence she was conducted to the second house, that was under the hand of Susagaz the eunuch, who had the charge over the king's concubines: neither could she return any more to the king, unless the king desired it, and had ordered her by name to come. 15 And as the time came orderly about, the day was at hand, when Esther, the daughter of Abihail the brother of Mardochai, whom he had adopted for his daughter, was to go in to the king. But she sought not women's ornaments, but whatsoever Egeus the eunuch the keeper of the virgins had a mind, he gave her to adorn her. For she was exceeding fair, and her incredible beauty made her appear agreeable and amiable in the eyes of all. 16 So she was brought to the chamber of king Assuerus the tenth month, which is called Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved her more than all the women, and she had favour and kindness before him above all the women, and he set the royal crown on her head, and made her queen instead of Vasthi. 18 And he commanded a magnificent feast to be prepared for all the princes, and for his servants, for the marriage and wedding of Esther. And he gave rest to all the provinces, and bestowed gifts according to princely magnificence. 19 And when the virgins were sought the second time, and gathered together, Mardochai stayed...


Recto Transcription:

[column A]

festivitátis ab Hebrǽis in número sanctórum diérum accípitur, et cólitur a Judǽis ex illo témpore usque in præséntem diem.

Incipit prologus (beati Ieromi presbyteri) in libro Hester.

Librum Hester variis translatoribus constat esse vitiatum. Quem ego de archivis Hebraeorum elevans verbum e verbo pressius transtuli. Quem librum editio vulgata laciniosis hinc inde verborum funibus trahit, addens ea quae ex tempore dici poterant et audiri, sicut solitum est scolaribus disciplinis sumpto themate excogitare, quibus verbis uti potuit qui iniuriam passus est vel ille qui iniuriam fecit. Vos autem, o Paula et Eustochium, quoniam et bibliothecas Hebraeorum studuistis intrare et interpretum certamina conprobastis, tenentes Hester hebraicum librum, per singula verba nostram translalionem aspicite, ut possitis agnoscere me nihil etiam augmentasse addendo, sed fideli testimonio simpliciter, sicut in hebraeo habetur, historiam hebraicam latinae linguae tradidisse. Nec affectamur laudes hominum nec vituperationes expavescimus. Deo enim placere curantes minas hominum penitus non timemus,quoniam dissipat Deus ossa eorum qui hominibus placere desiderant et secundum Apostolum qui huiusmodi sunt servi Christi esse non possunt.

[7 lines of the prologue untranscribed.]

Explicit prologus. Incipit liber Hester.

Cumque impleréntur dies convívii, invitávit omnem pópulum, qui invéntus est in Susan, a máximo usque ad mínimum: et jussit septem diébus convívium præparári in vestíbulo horti, et nemóris quod régio cultu et manu cónsitum erat. Et pendébant ex omni parte tentória ǽrii colóris et carbásini ac hyacínthini, sustentáta fúnibus býssinis atque purpúreis, qui ebúrneis círculis insérti erant, et colúmnis marmóreis fulciebántur. Léctuli quoque áurei et argéntei, super paviméntum smarágdino et pário stratum lápide, dispósiti erant: quod mira varietáte pictúra decorábat. Bibébant autem qui invitáti erant áureis póculis, et áliis atque áliis vasis cibi inferebántur. Vinum quoque, ut magnificéntia régia dignum erat, abúndans, et præcípuum ponebátur. Nec erat qui noléntes cógeret ad bibéndum, sed sicut rex statúerat, præpónens mensis síngulos de princípibus suis ut súmeret unusquísque quod vellet. Vasthi quoque regína fecit convívium feminárum in palátio, ubi rex Assúerus manére consuéverat. Ítaque die séptimo, cum rex esset hilárior, et post nímiam potatiónem incaluísset mero, præcépit Maumam, et Bazátha, et Harbóna, et Bagátha, et Abgátha, et Zethar, et Charchas, septem eunúchis qui in conspéctu ejus ministrábant, ut introdúcerent regínam Vasthi coram rege, pósito super caput ejus diadémate, ut osténderet cunctis pópulis et princípibus pulchritúdinem illíus: erat enim pulchra valde. Quæ rénuit, et ad regis impérium quod per eunúchos mandáverat, veníre contémpsit. Unde irátus rex, et nímio furóre succénsus, interrogávit sapiéntes, qui ex more régio semper ei áderant, et illórum faciébat cuncta consílio, sciéntium leges, ac jura majórum (erant autem primi et próximi, Chársena, et Sethar, et Admátha, et Tharsis, et Mares, et Marsána, et Mámuchan, septem duces Persárum, atque Medórum, qui vidébant fáciem regis, et primi post eum resídere sóliti erant): cui senténtiæ Vasthi regína subjacéret, quæ Assúeri regis impérium, quod per eunúchos mandáverat, fácere noluísset. Respondítque Mámuchan, audiénte rege atque princípibus: Non solum regem læsit regína Vasthi, sed et omnes pópulos et príncipes qui sunt in cunctis provínciis regis Assúeri. Egrediétur enim sermo regínæ ad omnes mulíeres, ut contémnant viros suos, et di-

Verso Transcription:

[column A]

-dicant: Rex Assúerus jussit ut regína Vasthi intráret ad eum, et illa nóluit. Atque hoc exémplo omnes príncipum cónjuges Persárum atque Medórum parvipéndent impéria maritórum: unde regis justa est indignátio. Si tibi placet, egrediátur edíctum a fácie tua, et scribátur juxta legem Persárum atque Medórum, quam præteríri illícitum est, ut nequáquam ultra Vasthi ingrediátur ad regem, sed regnum illíus áltera, quæ mélior est illa, accípiat. Et hoc in omne (quod latíssimum est) provinciárum tuárum divulgétur impérium, et cunctæ uxóres, tam majórum quam minórum, déferant máritis suis honórem. Plácuit consílium ejus regi et princípibus: fecítque rex juxta consílium Mámuchan, et misit epístolas ad univérsas províncias regni sui, ut quæque gens audíre et légere póterat, divérsis linguis et lítteris, esse viros príncipes ac majóres in dómibus suis: et hoc per cunctos pópulos divulgári. II. His ita gestis, postquam regis Assúeri indignátio deferbúerat, recordátus est Vasthi, et quæ fecísset, vel quæ passa esset: dixerúntque púeri regis ac minístri ejus: Quærántur regi puéllæ vírgines ac speciósæ, et mittántur qui consíderent per univérsas províncias puéllas speciósas et vírgines: et addúcant eas ad civitátem Susan, et tradant eas in domum feminárum sub manu Égei eunúchi, qui est præpósitus et custos mulíerum regiárum: et accípiant mundum mulíebrem, et cétera ad usus necessária. Et quæcúmque inter omnes óculis regis placúerit, ipsa regnet pro Vasthi. Plácuit sermo regi: et ita, ut suggésserant, jussit fíeri. Erat vir Judǽus in Susan civitáte, vocábulo Mardochǽus fílius Jair, fílii Sémei, fílii Cis, de stirpe Jémini, qui translátus fúerat de Jerúsalem eo témpore quo Jechoníam regem Juda Nabuchodonósor rex Babylónis transtúlerat, qui fuit nutrítius fíliæ fratris sui Edíssæ, quæ áltero nómine vocabátur Esther, et utrúmque paréntem amíserat: pulchra nimis, et decóra fácie. Mortuísque patre ejus ac matre, Mardochǽus sibi eam adoptávit in fíliam. Cumque percrebruísset regis impérium, et juxta mandátum illíus multæ pulchræ vírgines adduceréntur Susan, et Égeo traderéntur eunúcho, Esther quoque inter céteras puéllas ei trádita est, ut servarétur in número feminárum. Quæ plácuit ei,

[column B]

et invénit grátiam in conspéctu illíus. Et præcépit eunúcho, ut acceleráret mundum mulíebrem, et tráderet ei partes suas, et septem puéllas speciosíssimas de domo regis, et tam ipsam quam pedisséquas ejus ornáret atque excóleret. Quæ nóluit indicáre ei pópulum et pátriam suam: Mardochǽus enim præcéperat ei, ut de hac re omníno retíceret: qui deambulábat quotídie ante vestíbulum domus, in qua eléctæ vírgines servabántur, curam agens salútis Esther, et scire volens quid ei accíderet. Cum autem venísset tempus singulárum per órdinem puellárum ut intrárent ad regem, explétis ómnibus quæ ad cultum mulíebrem pertinébant, mensis duodécimus vertebátur: ita dumtáxat, ut sex ménsibus óleo ungeréntur mýrrhino, et áliis sex quibúsdam pigméntis et aromátibus uteréntur. Ingredientésque ad regem, quidquid postulássent ad ornátum pértinens, accipiébant: et ut eis placúerat, compósitæ de triclínio feminárum ad regis cubículum transíbant. Et quæ intráverat véspere, egrediebátur mane, atque inde in secúndas ædes deducebátur, quæ sub manu Susagázi eunúchi erant, qui concubínis regis præsidébat: nec habébat potestátem ad regem ultra redeúndi, nisi voluísset rex, et eam veníre jussísset ex nómine. Evolúto autem témpore per órdinem, instábat dies quo Esther fília Abíhail fratris Mardochǽi, quam sibi adoptáverat in fíliam, déberet intráre ad regem. Quæ non quæsívit mulíebrem cultum, sed quæcúmque vóluit Égeus eunúchus custos vírginum, hæc ei ad ornátum dedit. Erat enim formósa valde, et incredíbili pulchritúdine: ómnium óculis gratiósa et amábilis videbátur. Ducta est ítaque ad cubículum regis Assúeri mense décimo, qui vocátur Tebeth, séptimo anno regni ejus. Et adamávit eam rex plus quam omnes mulíeres, habuítque grátiam et misericórdiam coram eo super omnes mulíeres: et pósuit diadéma regni in cápite ejus, fecítque eam regnáre in loco Vasthi. Et jussit convívium præparári permagníficum cunctis princípibus et servis suis pro conjunctióne et núptiis Esther. Et dedit réquiem univérsis provínciis, ac dona largítus est juxta magnificéntiam principálem. Cumque secúndo quæreréntur vírgines et congregaréntur, Mardochǽus manébat



“E0014 Leaf from a Bible (Biblia Sacra Latina, Versio Vulgata),” Digital Exhibits | Denison University Archives & Special Collections, accessed April 23, 2019, http://exhibits.denisonarchives.org/items/show/38.