The Vice of Dice

Augustine of Hippo, Saint. Sermones de verbis domini [and other works].

[Austria], 1448.

Small folio (235 x 314 mm). Latin ms. (gothic book cursive) on paper. 550 pp. (page numbers added in pencil, c. 1900, written on 547 pp.). Leaf size 210 x 295 mm, written area mainly 140 x 190 mm. 2 cols., mainly 30-31 lines (but final gathering: 41-43 lines), partly rubricated with red chapter headings and ends; numerous red Lombardic initials. Contemporary blindstamped Gothic calf binding over wooden boards. Wants the fittings and clasps.


Fine late mediaeval manuscript, principally comprising sermons of St Augustine (pp. 1-410), but also containing four shorter treatises of his slightly older contemporary, Gregory of Nazianzus (pp. 411-523); dated "1448" at the end. Bound after this are 12 additional leaves, apparently penned slightly later by a different scribe, with theological writings of the early 15th century, namely two treatises by the French mystic Jean Gerson (pp. 527-540) and the treatise on the vice of dice by the Vienna canon Johann Geuss (pp. 541-550).

Contents: A) St Augustine. 1-121: Sermones de verbis domini secundum Mattheum (with a table of contents, followed by "Evangelium audivimus ... agite penitentiam"); 122-181: Sermones de verbis domini secundum Lucam (inc. "Petite et dabitur"); 182-344: Sermones de verbis domini secundum Johannem (inc. "Capitulum Evangelii quod lectum est"); 345-347: Sermo de verbis domini evangelio secundum Lucam de verbis apostoli, omnes nos manifestari oporte ante tribunal Christi (inc. "Omnium Christianorum spes"); 348-410: Liber de spiritu et anima (inc. "Quoniam dictum est mihi", expl. "quem cernere finis est doloris").

B) Gregory of Nazianzus. 411-470: De urbana vita [ad Pronianum; tr. Rufinus] (inc. "Proficiscenti mihi ex urbe magnopere iniungebas Aproniane fili"); 470-487: De nativitate domini [oratio XXXVIII] (inc. "Christus nascitur"); 487-506: De luminibus et secundis epiphaniis [oratio XXXIX] (inc. "Iterum Jesus meus et iterum"); 506-523: De pentecoste [oratio XLI] (inc. "De sollemnitate huius diei pauca dicenda sunt"; expl. "et potestas in spiritu sancto in secula seculorum. Amen"); followed by date: "et finitus est liber anno etc. 1448"; 524-526 vacant. C) Johannes Gerson: 527-537: Tractatus de trepidantibus accedere ad celebrationem misse post pollutionem in sompniis habitum (inc. "Dubitandum est aput me"); 537-540: De duplicii stuatu in dei ecclesia, curatorum et privilegiatorum (inc. "Pax quam omnibus"; expl. "inveniri. Deo gratias. Deo gratias"). D) [Johannes Geuss]. 541-550 [Sermo de ludo alearum] (inc. "Confundatur sorcium distributio scribitur Numeri ultimo. Hec verba possunt intellegi de sortilegio lusorum et confusione ipsorum"; expl. "unam libram et sic posset fieri recompensatio" (lacking the final four columns of text).

Occasional addenda and marginalia by a roughly contemporary hand in the wide blank margin throughout. The 12-leaf quire bound at the end (watermark: type Piccard V [libra], section V, no. 294 ["Vienna 1461"]) must originally have been followed by a now-lost final leaf of text. Binding rubbed and bumped; small crack to upper cover; traces of a pasted grey paper wrapper. Occasional slight browning to manuscript; insignificant waterstain near beginning. Slight tear to first 3 ff. (not touching text), loss of corner to first leaf (loss of page number and a 17th century monastic ownership "Conven[tus] C[...]").