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Large fragment of a leaf from a copy of Robert Grosseteste's Latin translation of Michael of Ephesus' Greek commentary on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, decorated manuscript on vellum
late thirteenth century or c. 1300]
€1.000 - €1.500

Large fragment, 237 by 168mm, of a single leaf, with top and outermost vertical edges trimmed (with loss of about 10 lines from head, and about single word or so from edge of column), in double column with 45 lines present of a tiny and precise university hand, with frequent abbreviations and ornamental penwork cadels extending into lower margin, Aristotelian quotations marked off with penwork cadels or underlined, one simple red initial with pale green penwork, recovered from reuse in a later binding as a pastedown and hence with scuffs, small losses to text, torn away borders, wormholes and cockling, overall fair condition and mostly legible on both sides

"This is a rare witness to a complex multi-layered text. Somewhere in the fourth century BC. the celebrated polymath Aristotle wrote his Nichomachean Ethics, on the science for the good of human life and its ultimate goal. Then in the first half of the twelfth century, in the circle of Anna Comnena (1083-1153), the Byzantine princess and author of the Alexiad, a small number of Aristotelian scholars set about uniting and completing the previous partial commentaries of Aristotle's extant works. As part of this, the original author here, Michael of Ephesus, produced a commentary in Greek on books V, IX and X on the Nichomachean Ethics. The funeral oration of Anna Comnena records that he became blind through long work on the task by candlelight at night. A copy of the resulting compilation then reached the hands of the English scholastic philosopher Robert Grosseteste (c. 1168-1253, bishop of Lincoln from 1235) in the last two decades of his life. Despite failing health and heavy work commitments to his church offices, he thought the text important enough to translate into Latin in its entirety. It has been partly edited to date by H. Paul F. Mercken, and the present fragment includes the text from p. 451 of the third volume of his edition (The Greek Commentaries on the Nichomeachean Ethics of Aristotle, III, 1991) with ""... sicicet per se sufficiens"" to p. 454 ""... [quae ad bona advo]cant, nedem suaderi""; then after the missing lines at the head of the page, p. 455 ""... [quae a bibire delectati]ones , fugiunt autem eas quae a non bibire tristitias"" to p. 456 ""[tristatur non potientes de]lectabilibus""; then after the missing lines at the head, p. 456/7 ""... [et legum custo]ditoribus agree bona et perseverare ... [here an eyeskip by the scribe takes us to the 'perseverare' in the line below] ... ipsius triste"" to p. 460 "" ... optime conversemur"", omitting the Aristotelian text in the modern edition on pp. 457-9. Mercken notes only twenty-two manuscripts and fragments, all in European institutional collections (pp. 53-4). The Schoenberg database records no manuscript copies of these commentaries ever for sale, but does include a fifteenth-century witness to Grosseteste's translation of the Nichomachean Ethics by Les Enluminures in 2016"