Core Curriculum : Contemporary Civilization

Aristotle > Manuscripts

Nichomachean Ethics, Politics

Portrait of Aristotle

Aristotle's "Ethics, Politics, and Economics" and Boethius' "Consolation of Philosophy;" Columbia RBML Plimpton MS 17

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Plimpton MS 17 contains Latin translations of three works by Aristotle in this order: the Ethics (translated by Robert Grossteste), the Politics (translated by William of Moerbeke), and Economics. The volume ends with Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy with a preface by Nicholas Trevet.  Boethius’ sixth-century translations of Aristotle’s logical treatises into Latin provided Christian Europe’s only access until the twelfth century. Boethius intended to translate all of Aristotle and Plato into Latin but died before he could complete the task.

This is an Italian manuscript on parchment from the second half of the fourteenth century. A single column of text on each page surrounded by generous margins allows plenty of room for marginal annotations. On the first page of the first work by each author, an historiated initial depicts the author.  On the last page of the Aristotelian texts, one of the manuscript’s early owners, the Italian humanist Ermaloa Barbaro, has written that he was pleased to make it through the entirety of the text with his students in 1476 C.E. For more on this volume and other CUL manuscripts holdings search the Digital Scriptorium.

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