DCL MS. C.IV.12Constantinus Africanus, Viaticum, De coitu, etc.
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Manuscript codex containing Constantinus Africanus, Viaticum, De coitu etc. written in England in the earlier 12th century.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t1mj38607137.html

Physical description of manuscript

Parchment: moderate quality with perceptible H/F distinction; occasional edgecuts. Arranged HF, FH.

Extent: i+124 f
Size: 220 mm x 142 mm


Modern pencil foliation, replacing a highly erratic 15th century? foliation.

Secundo folio: unctuose humectatum

I13 (=12 with an early supply part-leaf (f.2) inserted between the original leaves 1 and 2), II-X12, XI3 (structure uncertain)


Written area: 170 x 86 mm. Lines: 32 (space, 5.5 mm; height of minims, 2 mm). Pricking: knife or awl. Ruling: ink, lead and hard point (ink and lead more prominent in quires I-V, hard point in quires VI-XI). Single vertical bounding lines; number of horizontals extended at top and bottom varies (not always symmetrically) between 1 and 3.


Written in Romanesque Caroline Minuscule with proto-Gothic elementsby three hands: 1. f.1v-2v, 16r, 26r ((a) Preface and Capitula lists for Books I, II, III). This hand worked after the other two. 2. f.3r-19r/line 13 (a). 3. f.19r/line 14-124v (a)-(g). Subsequently, late medieval annotating hands, one of which also drew pointing hands and a couple of hares’ heads (f. 22r, 62v0
Homily fragments: late standard English Caroline Minuscule. Bold ink sentence capitals. The same scribe wrote DCL MS A.III.29, f.88v-160r, which these fragments match in size and aspect.


The space (4 lines high) that was reserved at the start of the main text of item (a), f.3r, remained unfilled. All other texts and subdivisions are headed by a plain red initial, 2+ lines high (slightly larger for item (a) Book II, and for the incipits of items (b) and (d)).


Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century)

Manuscript history

Written in England, earlier 12th century.


Inscription: liber Roberti de brakenbery, later 14th century, f.1v, top (Robert of Brackenbury, monk of Durham approximately 1342-1391.
Pressmark: .H, later 14th century; f.3r, top. liber viatici De communi libraria Monachorum dunelmie, beginning of 15th century, f.3r, top, fitted around the “H”.
h | 95 and content list with folio references, 15th/16th century by Thomas Swalwell, monk of Durham approximately 1483-1539, f.1v, bottom. Possibly included in the mid 12th century catalogue; included in Cloister Catalogue.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1v-104v
Original title: Viaticum
Author: Constantine, the African, approximately 1020-1087
Incipit: Capillus ex fumo grosso et calido nascitur
Explicit: horum puluerata superponantur
Language: Latin

No original rubrics. Title, "Viaticus" written on f.1r, 12th century. The Preface and the Capitula list for Books I-III (f.1v-2v, 16r, 26r) were added by a different 12th century hand. Capitula list, on inserted part-leaf (f.2). The entries for Chapters I-XIII (all on the recto) were numbered with a Roman numeral as part of the original rubrication; Chapters 14-25 (all on the verso) were original unnumbered, Arabic numerals being inserted by the hand that added the erratic foliation. Chapter numbering, capitula list numbering, some rubrics, Nota marks, and pointing hands were added, 13th - 14th centuries, by several hands; annotations on f.1v and f.3r by Thomas Swalwell.

Edited: Wack, cites DCL MS C.IV.4 but not C.IV.12
Thorndike and Kibre, col. 187
(b)     f.105r-112v
Original title: Liber maior de coitu
Author: Constantine, the African, approximately 1020-1087
Incipit: Creator uolens animalium genus firmiter ac stabiliter permanere
Explicit: aqua fuerit solutum opium
Language: Latin

No rubrics. Nota marks and pointing hands added 13th - 14th centuries by two hands.

Thorndike and Kibre, col. 273
(c)     f.112v-116r
Modern title: Recipes for Aphrodisiacs
Incipit: Hec uero que subinferunter et ab exemplariis grecis collecta sunt entatica potio
Explicit: mixtam ante iii horas da comedendum
Language: Latin

37 entries, some ascribed to Oribasius, some with first-person comments (e.g. the final sentence of the third entry on f.112v: Ego enim dedi ieiuno et ad mansionem …). Marginalia and Nota marks, 13th - 14th centuries, on f.114v-115v.

(d)     f.116r-120r
Original title: Liber minor de coitu
Author: Pseudo-Constantine, the African, approximately 1020-1087
Incipit: Que mala uenerios subsequuntur usum
Explicit: cum indiguerint diem uel noctem quantum usus fuerit immittentes relinquunt
Language: Latin

Follows (c) after a gap of 5 lines; no title or rubric; comprises 7 sections headed by red capitals, plus subsections on f.119v-120r marked by paraphs.

Thorndike and Kibre, col. 1184
(e)     f.120r-v
Modern title: Remedy for Cough
Incipit: Ad tussem allium elixum iuuat
Explicit: repellit cum melle
Language: Latin

Separated from the end of (d) by one blank line; no rubric; no annotation.

(f)     f.120v-122v
Original title: De oblivione
Author: Constantine, the African, approximately 1020-1087
Incipit: Pervenit ad nos epistola tua manifestans quid tibi acciderit
Explicit: est mel anacardei
Language: Latin

Separated from the end of (e) by four blank lines; no rubric. Three annotations and a little underlining by Thomas Swalwell.

Thorndike and Kibre, col. 1184
(g)     f.122v-124v
Modern title: Tract on intestinal-related ailments and their treatment
Incipit: Hec passus nascitur in .v. intestinorum quem colon appellat
Explicit: cataplasma de iis faciamus
Language: Latin

Starts on the very next line after the end of (f); no rubric; two or three words immediately following the end of the text have been erased. Similar content to Viaticum IV.17-18 (f.51v-55r above).

(h)     after f.124
Modern title: Fragments from a Homiliary
Date: late 11th century
Language: Latin

Content of first strip, recto: //die protulit duos den[arios et dedit stabulario et ait curam] illius habe. [Luke 10.35] Altera die … umbra mortis sedeba//. First strip, verso: //feria deficit, mortuus […] Accidit autem ut sa[cerdos] … uideret eum, pertransiit [Luke 10.31-2]//. Fourth strip, recto: //Et quod cumque super … [supe]rogat stabularius [?quod in duobus denariis non accepit cum dicit apostolus] De uirginibus aute[m]//. Fourth strip, verso: //rere supplicauit … nostrum salute//.
Presumably recovered by Tucketts from the previous binding. Size: up to 30 x 80 mm. Each preserves parts of 3 or 4 lines of writing (typically 3-5 words remain per line). Space between lines: 9 mm. Height of minims: 3 mm.

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS. C.IV.12 - Constantinus Africanus, Viaticum, De coitu, etc.
Digitised November 2019 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Wack, M. F., Lovesickness in the Middle Ages: The "Viaticum" and its commentaries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990)

Thorndike, Lynn and Kibre, P., A catalogue of incipits of mediaeval scientific writings in Latin   OCLC citation (Cambridge, Mass.: Medieval Academy of America, 1963)

Index terms