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Walters Ms. W.21, Collection of texts by Solinus, Orosius, Pseudo-Alexander, Justinus, and Walter of Châtillon

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Collection of texts by Solinus, Orosius, Pseudo-Alexander, Justinus, and Walter of Châtillon

Text title
Collection of texts


Authority name: Solinus, C. Julius, active 3rd century?

As-written name: Iulii Solini


Authority name: Orosius, Paulus


As-written name: Alexandri

Supplied name: Pseudo-Alexander

Known as: Pseudo-Callisthenes

Note: Works by Pseudo-Alexander also ascribed to Pseudo-Callisthenes


Authority name: Justinus, Marcus Junianus

Supplied name: M. Iuniani Iustini


Authority name: Walter, of Châtillon, active 1170-1180

Known as: Galterus, de Castellione, active 1170-1180


Written in northeastern France in the last quarter of the twelfth century, this manuscript contains works by Solinus, Orosius, Pseudo-Alexander, Justinus, and Walter of Châtillon. An excerpt of the "Alexandreis" by Walter of Châtillon (active 1170-1180) provides a close dating for the manuscript. The manuscript represents an interest in classical texts, particularly that of geography and the Alexander legend, during this period, and the continued interest in ensuing centuries. For example, it exhibits heavy use through the rubricated titles in the margins, text corrections, and annotations that date from the twelfth through the sixteenth century. It was possibly owned by Francesco Griffolini Francesco, a humanist who translated classical works in Naples in the fifteenth century, as indicated by his signature (fol. 1r).


Last quarter of the 12th century CE


Northeast France






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin. The secondary languages of this manuscript are Spanish; Castilian, Greek, Ancient (to 1453).

Support material


Medium to thick parchment; signs of frequent use


Foliation: i+60+i

Modern pencil foliation in upper-right corners rectos


Catchwords: Several catchwords throughout text (fol. 25v catchword decorated with fish drawing)

Comments: Fols. 1 and 60 and added in the fifteenth or sixteenth century, both folios contain medicinal recipes


14.0 cm wide by 21.5 cm high

Written surface

9.6 cm wide by 17.1 cm high

fols. 1r - 60v:
  1. Columns: 1-2
  2. Ruled lines: 41
  3. Ruled in lead
fols. 59v - 59v:
  1. Columns: 2

fols. 1r - 60v:
  1. Title: Collection of texts
  2. Contents: A variety of works by Solinus, Orosius, Pseudo-Alexander, Justinus, and Walter of Châtillon
  3. Hand note: Primitive textura, work of several scribes; notable change in ink and hand on fols. 43v and 49r
  4. Decoration note: Initials at major and secondary text divisions; initials flourished and embellished by later additions of sketched human heads; sketch of Alexander with a crown and sceptre under the heading "De Alexandro magno" (fol. 12r); rubrics in red; text in varying shades of brown
fols. 1r - 1v:
  1. Title: Added medical recipes and notation on classical coinage
  2. Contents: Contains Latin and Spanish medical recipes; information on classical Greek and Roman coinage
  3. Hand note: Addition by several hands, ca. fifteenth-sixteenth century
fols. 2r - 36v:
  1. Title: Solinus, Collectanea rerum mirabilium sive Polyhistoria
  2. Author: Solinus, C. Julius, active 3rd century?
  3. Rubric: Iulii Solini grammatici polyhistor ab ipso editus
  4. Incipit: Quoniam quidem impatientius potius quam
  5. Decoration note: Fol. 2r: decorated initial "Q"; fol. 12r: sketch of crowned Alexander with a scepter
fols. 36v - 39v:
  1. Title: Orosius, Historia adversus paganos (excerpt)
  2. Author: Orosius, Paulus
  3. Rubric: Incipit Orosius de situ orbis
  4. Incipit: Maiores nostri orbem totius terre
  5. Contents: This excerpt contains the geographical treatise from the first chapter of the "Historia"
  6. Text note: An addition contemporary to the manuscript is found on fol. 29v: lines 28-41
  7. Hand note: A possible change of hand with the addition on the bottom half of fol. 39v
fols. 40r - 43v:
  1. Title: Pseudo-Alexander, Epistola regis Macedonum ad Dindimum regem Bragmanorum (excerpt)
  2. Author: Alexandri
  3. Rubric: Epistola alexandri Regis macedonum ad dindimum Regem bragmanorum
  4. Incipit: Sepius ad aures meas fando
  5. Hand note: Change in ink, possibly change in hand, on fol. 43v
fols. 43v - 49r:
  1. Title: Pseudo-Alexander, Epistola Alexandri Regis Macedonum ad Aristotilem magistrum (excerpt)
  2. Author: Alexandri
  3. Rubric: Incipit epistola alexandri Regis macedonum
  4. Incipit: Semper memor tui etiam
  5. Contents: Fols. 48v-49r: considerable annotations contemporary to the manuscript
fols. 49r - 57r:
  1. Title: Pseudo-Alexander, Res Gestae Alexandri Macedonis (excerpt)
  2. Author: Alexandri
  3. Rubric: Incipiunt gesta alexandri regis macedonum
  4. Incipit: Egypti sapientes sati divino
  5. Contents: Text encompasses variant readings and omissions; lacks portions of I.7, I.9 and completely without I.12
  6. Hand note: Change in ink, possibly change of hand, on fol. 49r
fols. 57r - 59v:
  1. Title: Justinus, Epitome in libros Pompei Trogi (excerpt)
  2. Author: Justinus, Marcus Junianus
  3. Rubric: Incipiunt gesta alexandri magni. Excepta de trogo pompeio
  4. Incipit: In exercitu philippi sicut uarie
fols. 59v - 59v:
  1. Title: Walter of Châtillon, Alexandreis (excerpt)
  2. Author: Walter, of Châtillon, active 1170-1180
  3. Incipit: Si lis inciderit te iudice dirige libra
  4. Contents: Addition of fourteen lines contemporary to the manuscript
fols. 60r - 60v:
  1. Title: Added medical recipes in Spanish
  2. Contents: Spanish medical recipes for various ailments
  3. Hand note: Addition by one of the hands from fol. 1r-v, ca. fifteenth-sixteenth century


The binding is not original.

Bound in Naples, Italy, second half of the fifteenth century; calfskin over beveled boards; medieval slit straps; central blind tooled panels with repeated striped banded knots encompassing a cross; gilt title on spine: "SOLINUS / MS. MEM. / SEC. XI."; evidence for two straps and clasps previously attached to the lower and upper fore-edge of the covers


Created in northeastern France, ca. 1175; early ownership provenance erased on fols. 2r and 59v

Possibly owned by Francesco Griffolini Francesco (also known as Francesco Aretini, or Francesco of Arezzo), a notable humanist and translator of classical texts, Naples, ca. 1440-1500; evidence for ownership from inscription on fol. 1r: "FRANCISCI. ARRETINI. ET. AMICORUM"; further evidence seen in the binding, which features tooled designs present in Naples ca. 1450

Inscription in ca. fifteenth-sixteenth century humanist script indicates possible change in ownership, fol. 2r: "NUNC VERO GEORGII & AMICORUM SUORUM"

Probable Spanish ownership, ca. 1500; evidence from medical recipes in Spanish on fols. 1 and 60 and Spanish marginal notations throughout text (mostly erased)

Possibly acquired by Abbot Luigi Celotti (1786-1846); evidence for ownership examined in A.N.L Munby, "Phillipps studies," 1951-60, vol. 3, pp. 50-51, 151

Owned by Rev. Henry Drury, ca. 1823, Harrow; provenance indicated by inscription on fol. ir: "H. Drury. 1823"

Thomas Thorpe, London bookseller (1791-1851), London, purchased book on February 21, 1827 from Henry Drury, no. 4022

Sir Thomas Phillipps, ca. late nineteenth-early twentieth century, purchased book, added inscription: "Phillipps MS/3403" on fol. 1v

Bernard Quaritch Ltd., London bookseller, purchased from Phillipps' sale, London, Sotheby's, June 15-18, 1908 (no. 678)

Henry Walters, Baltimore, ca. 1908-1931, probably purchased book from Quaritch


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, S. and W. J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 839, cat. no. 476.

Ross, D. J. A. "The Julius Valerius Epitome, the Epistola ad Aristotelem and the Collatio cum Dindimo." Scriptorium 10 (1956): 129.

Faye, C. U. and W. H. Bond. Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1962, p. 197, cat. no. 476.

Phillipps, Thomas. The Phillipps Manuscripts: Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum in bibliotheca D. Thomae Phillipps.... Edited by A. N. L. Munby. London: Holland Press, 1968, p. 40.

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989, pp. 23–25, cat. no. 10, fig. 19 (fol. 15).

Kristeller, Paul Oskar. Iter Italicum. Vol. 5: (Alia itinera III and Italy III). London: Brill, 1990; p. 212.

Mortensen, Lars Boje. "The Diffusion of Roman Histories in the Middle Ages. A List of Orosius, Eutropius, Paulus Diaconus, and Landolfus Sagax Manuscripts." Filologia Mediolatina: Rivista della Fondazione Ezio Franceschini 6 (1999-2000): 101-200; p. 158.

Munk Olsen, Birger. L'étude des auteurs classiques latins aux XIe et XIIe siècles: Tome 4 - 1re partie, La réception de la littérature classique, travaux philologiques. Paris: Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 2009; p. 245.

Dover, Paul. "Reading 'Pliny's Ape' in the Renaissance: the Polyphister of Caius Julius Solinus in the First Century of Print." In Encyclopaedism from Antiquity to the Renaissance, edited by Jason König and Greg Woolf, 414-443. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013; pp. 442-443.


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Bucca, Lauren

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Schuele, Allyson; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.