Braschi Francesco, priest
Ilias picta: a manuscript of many lives
Braschi Francesco (2020)
"Ilias picta: a manuscript of many lives ",
Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta.
Seriia III : Filologiia
pp. 36-46 (in Russian).
DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII202064.36-46
The manuscript preserved in Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, known as Ilias picta (i.e. Illuminated Iliad, reference number F 205 inf), is unique in its appearance, antiquity and history. Originating from a pagan, anti-Christian Late Antiquity milieu, it was carefully preserved by Christian scholars who appreciated the literary value of the Homeric Ilias and the artistic quality of its illuminations. The article outlines the history of the manuscript, its origin in Alexandria in the 5th century during the last attempts of pagan culture to withstand the rising of Christianity in the Roman Empire; the way it survived the Arab invasion and was largely used from the 7th to 11th centuries; the dramatic changes it underwent when its pictures were cut out from the parchment original manuscript and re-used to enrich a Latin paper manuscript containing an epitome of the Iliad; the way it became part of the rich collection of the famous Italian humanist Gian Vincenzo Pinelli and – after his death – how it was bought by Cardinal Federico Borromeo in order to enrich the maniscript collection of Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. Whereas the attention of the owners fi rstly focused on the pictures which survived after the distruction of the original manuscript, scholars of the 19th century came to be interested in it after the discovery of excerpts of the Homeric text on the backside of the miniatures; this was connected with the so-called Homeric question. The article also describes the emergence of the main facsimile reproductions as well as the most valuable relevant studies. The conclusion underlines how the story of the Ilias picta manuscript perfectly shapes the mission of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, i.e. to preserve and valorise everything that belongs to the Humanities from a genuinely Christian perspective.
Alexandria, pagan culture, Christian culture, Homeric question, illuminated manuscripts, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, text tradition of Iliad, Federico Borromeo, Angelo Mai, Gian Vincenzo Pinelli, Southern Italy, Iliad epitomes
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Information about the author
Braschi Francesco, priest Academic Degree:
Doctor of Theology; Academic Rank:
Professor; Place of work:
Biblioteca Ambrosiana; Piazza Pio XI, 2 — 20123 Milano, Italia; Post:
Doctor of the Ambrosiana Library - Director of the Department for Slavistics of the Accademia Ambrosiana; ORCID: 0000-0002-9480-7205