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Vitae duodecim Caesarum

Maker(s) &

Suetonius, author, Rome, possibly Rome


illuminated manuscript


other; type of text


circa 1450 circa 1460


fifteenth-century, third quarter


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, iii paper flyleaves + 27 fols. + iii paper flyleaves, 260 x 160 mm (165 x 90 mm), 32 long lines, ruled in crayon, catchwords, leaf signatures.

BINDING: Twentieth-century, green morocco with gold tooling and lettering on spine, VITA DE OCTAVIANO AUGUSTO. MS, and AUG. VITA written on fore-edge.

CONTENTS: fols. 1r-27v Suetonius, Vitae duodecim Caesarum, Bk II, Life of Augustus.

ORNAMENTATION: One white vine-scroll initial fol. 1r [G, 5 ll.] in gold on dark red and green ground with white vine-scroll infill and extension, the whole surrounded by blue.


illumination; whole


parchment; support
gold; medium




presented; 1974; Goodison, J. W.


Thomas Thorpe, cat. II (1823), no. 5745 and cat. III (1824), no. 16518; purchased from Thorpe by Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), his MS 2665; his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 10 June 1896, lot 1182 (unsold) and 5 June 1899, lot 1107; Leighton’s, 40 Brewer St, Golden Square, London (label inside upper cover); purchased from Colbeck, Radford and Co. by Eric G. Millar (1887-1966) in 1931; given by Eric Millar to Dorothy Stevens, 27 April 1938 (inscription on fol. i recto: see Turner 1968-1969, 16); her bequest to J.W. Goodison, 1969; presented by him to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1974.


Goodison, J. W.; previous owner
Stevens, Dorothy; previous owner
Millar, Eric; previous owner
Phillipps, Thomas, Sir; previous owner
Thorpe, Thomas; previous owner


The Life of Augustus once formed the third quire in a copy of Suetonius, Vitae duodecim Caesarum. The first ten lines on fol. 1r, probably containing the end of the Life of Julius Caesar, have been erased. The original volume was broken up in 1899 or shortly after, most likely by Leighton. Christopher de Hamel has reconstructed its fate in the nineteenth century (de Hamel 2010, no. 71). He and Xavier van Binnebeke (in correspondence) have identified three other sections from the manuscript. Its first quire survives in the Free Library of Philadelphia (MS Lewis E 195). The other two sections are Harvard, Houghton Library, MS Typ. 486 and Bloomington, Indiana University, Lilly Library (MS Ricketts 225). The style of the surviving initial in Fitzwilliam MS 2-1974 points to an origin in Rome, and the script suggests a date early in the third quarter of the fifteenth century. The coat of arms on fol. 1r in MS Ricketts 225 remains unidentified, but Xavier van Binnebeke has suggested (in correspondence) a Neapolitan provenance. He is also working on the scribe responsible for the passages added in Greek throughout the text. Running titles in brown ink in the form De Vita (verso) and Octauiani Augusti (recto) have been added in the upper margins, in a hand possibly of the seventeenth-century.


secundo folio; num Aricie exercuisse


Wormald, F. and Giles, P. M.. 1982. A descriptive catalogue of the additional illuminated manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): p. 576

De Hamel, Christopher. 2010. Gilding the Lilly. Bloomingtonp. 156

Turner, D. H.. 1968-69. The Development of Maitre Honore.
Source Title: British Museum Quarterly 33 (1968-69) : 53-65

cat. no. 66


Object Number: MS 2-1974
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 176517; input: 2010-04-15; modified: 2012-08-21)


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