St Albertus Magnus (1)

Aristotle with a pupil and illuminated border
Fitzwilliam Mus. MS CFM 14, f. 1r
Albertus Magnus, Super Ethica Aristotelis, and Aquinas, Super Politicam Aristotelis
Northern France, Paris?, late thirteenth century

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

In the thirteenth century, when the Dominicans contributed much to the study of philosophy and theology in the curriculum of the university, their teaching and scholarly writings included study of the works of Aristotle in their relatively recent Latin translations from Greek and Arabic. His works were little known in Western Europe before the twelfth century, but came to be frequently commented upon in the thirteenth century, most notably by the Dominicans Albertus Magnus (ca 1200–1280) and Thomas Aquinas. It was usual for commentary texts to be inserted into the margins and as interlinear text by the owners of manuscripts of Aristotle texts. This manuscript contains the Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric and Magna Moralia, but the last three sections are additions of the fourteenth century. The Ethics has added in the margins substantial sections of the commentary of Albertus Magnus, and the Politics almost the whole of St Thomas’s commentary. Only the Ethics is decorated with illuminated initials, whereas the others only have penflourish initials. The one historiated initial in the book at the beginning of the Ethics shows Aristotle with a pupil.

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