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Manuscript Description, Houghton MS Typ 422

by Marie Richards and William Stoneman

Houghton MS Typ 422, Leon Battista Alberti, Deiphira

Shelf mark:    MS Typ 422
Manuscript:Leon Battista Alberti, Deiphira
Text title:Deiphira
Abstract: This manuscript contains a work by the Renaissance humanist Leon Battista Alberti, in which he discusses the nature of love in the form of a dialogue between two characters, Pallimacro and Filarco. Filarco convinces Pallimacro, who has been smitten with love for Deiphira, that women are fickle and untrustworthy.  The text is cited in Alberti’s Vita Anonyma, written in 1434, and may have been composed as early as 1428, when Alberti was only 24. 1 Marcelli, Nicoletta. “Due note sulla Deifira di Leon Battista Alberti,” Interpres (2004): 182-199.  This manuscript, which is undated, is described by the Houghton Library as containing annotations possibly in Alberti’s own hand, which would mean it was written before Alberti’s death in 1472.  While the manuscript does contain corrections in a hand different from that of the original scribe, however, there is no internal evidence that the corrections were made by Alberti himself.    Cecil Grayson, in his critical edition of Deiphira,2Grayson, Cecil. L.B. Alberti, Opera Volgari, Vol III. Bnoted the difficulty of establishing filiation of the fourteen manuscripts he examined but considered this manuscript most closely related to the Verona Biblioteca Capitolare Cod. CCCCLXXXVI.  The manuscript foliation is distinctive in that it originally began on fol 70, but that numeration was scraped off and replaced, for the first five folios, with new numeration. This would suggest that the manuscript was originally bound with at least one other text, most likely Alberti’s Ecatonfilea, a treatise on love with which the Deiphira was often paired.  
Date:mid- to late-15th century
Genre:Manuscripts, Medieval-Italy-1450-1500
Subjects: Love—Early works to 1800
Support material:Parchment.  Description pending examination of the physical manuscript.
The original foliation of 70-106 was scraped out.  It was overwritten for fols. 2-9 but the new foliation was then abandoned. There are two foliations in modern pencil, one at fols. 2-36, the other at fols. 1-32 with gaps at fol. 3, fols. 7 and 8 (but starts again having gapped only one number), and fol. 13.
Collation:Formula 1: 1 (10), 2 (10, -4, -7), 3 (10), 4 (10, -1, -10)

Formula 2: 1 (10), 2 (10, leaf missing after fol. 13, leaf missing after fol. 15), 3 (10), 4 (10, first leaf is missing, leaf missing after fol. 36)

Catchwords:  There are catchwords at the end of quires on ff. 15v (solazare), 18v (el si), and scraped out but barely visible on 28v (all)
Dimensions:Description pending examination of the physical manuscript.
Layout :Single column, written in orange ink, 15 lines per page.  There are occasional alterations to the text, written in darker red ink in a different hand.  There are a few instances of marginalia or marginal corrections.
Contents:Hand note: humanist script.  Corrections also in humanist script, in a darker color ink.
Fol 2r-36v: “DEIPHIRA INCIPIT. Pallimacro. EH Quanto stimitu sedere dentro ame grave quel dolore ; el quale anchora tanto prema chi da lungi il mira.”
Decoration:Fol. 1: The opening words of the prologue  are in orange and purple letters on black, within a gold frame.  Below this is illustrated a scene in which two men and a woman converse, in front of a castle in the background. There is a border of vines and flowers around the top and sides, the right edge of which was trimmed off when the leaf was detached and re-guarded.
Binding:Modern full black morocco, with vellum doublures.  In a quarter green morocco and cloth tray case, 17 cm.  
Provenance:On inside front cover, ex libris Philip Hofer with note in pencil “£100.” Also has, in pencil, “Alberti, Dei[phira], Italy 15thcent.  Unreadable note in pencil on flyleaf as well as “Ms. Alberti L.B. “Deiphira” ca. 1480?”
Acquisition:Description pending consultation with Houghton Library.
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard University
Record ID:990090067380203941
Hollis Record:https://id.lib.harvard.edu/alma/990090067380203941/catalog
Digital Copy: https://id.lib.harvard.edu/curiosity/medieval-renaissance-manuscripts/34-990090067380203941
License:          Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which allows anyone to share and adapt the material as long as proper attribution is given.  For details and exceptions, see the Harvard Library Copyright Policy copyright 2018 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College.

Recommended citation:

Richards, Marie, and William Stoneman. “Manuscript Description, Houghton MS Typ 422.” A Transcription and Translation of Leon Battista Alberti’s Deiphira, Houghton MS Typ. 422. Georgetown University, September 22, 2021.