Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Literature > 194. Valerius Maximus

194.  Valerius Maximus (fl. 20 CE).  Facta et dicta memorabilia. Manuscript in Castilian, on paper, 292 leaves. Spain, middle of the 15th century. RBML, Lodge MS 13

Rarely in recounting the story of a medieval translation are we allowed a glimpse of its people and its movements, such as we have here. Valerius Maximus composed a gossipy, moralizing book, full of instructive examples, arranged by a particular vice or virtue, such as Anger, Cruelty, Bravery, Gratitude. His Latin was translated twice into Catalan, and, at the end of the fourteenth century, one of the Catalan translations was turned to Castilian. The Catalan writer's name is well known–Antoní de Canals–, but only the present manuscript and one in Seville contain the name of the man who brought the text from Catalan to Castilian: Juan Alfonso de Zamora, a Castilian emissary to the court of Aragon in Barcelona. In the early 1420s Juan Alfonso dispatched his newly finished work to Don Fernando Díaz, archdeacon of Niebla and Algeciras, who apparently corrected the language, but also seems to have been responsible for adding a gloss. The Archdeacon's gloss–based on the Latin commentary of one Brother Lucas–sometimes is written out separately from the text), and sometimes is incorporated into the text. This copy of the Facta et dicta memorabilia is bound with bevelled wooden boards in contemporary blind stamped brown morocco; there are remains of green cloth on the fore edge strap closing to a clasp on the lower board; the spine, however, is repaired.

Purchased with funds bequeathed by Gonzalez Lodge, 1958

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