Liberal Arts and Education
GRO 6 (Florence, Italy, 1300-1400): Cicero, De Iventione (On Argumentation), parchment and paper, 125 fols., 262 x 195 mm, 1-2 col., 29-49 lines.

This manuscript belonged to professor of rhetoric Michael Junta de Santa Croce of Florence. It is therefore no surprise that the five texts included concern the subject of rhetoric. Parts three and four (fols. 56 - 115), written by Michael Junta himself, contain composed practical exercises in Italian and a commentary on the Ad herennium (here wrongly attributed to Cicero, see also BPL 195). Junta probably used these exercises during his lessons. The flyleaves at the front of the manuscript describe the import duties of the city of Prato, near Florence.

The five parts of this manuscript differ strongly from each other in lay-out and wear-and-tear, showing that they circulated individually prior to being bound together. The first part, containing the Ad herennium, has, for example, many more reader-contributed annotations than the other parts. Another sign is that the leaves of part three are damaged by water or mold, but the other parts appear untouched by the damage. Part one, two, three, and five still have empty spaces where an illuminator was supposed to add pen-flourished initials.1

(Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections, n.d.)


  1. This manuscript consists of several parts that where bound together on a later date. How do the parts differ from each other? Look for example at the material that was used, the type of script, the decorations and the addition of reading aids.
  2. Observe all written parts of the book in front of you (main text, rubrics, marginal additions, ownership inscriptions) and make an inventory of the different styles of handwriting. Some differences you observe may result from the fact that they are different script families, while others are a variation within one given script family. Focus on a small selection of letters of your own choice and deduce if they vary and how precisely. This is a difficult task that may require you to analyze individual letters, but that may also be sparked by an intuitive verdict: one style of writing may feel “much better” or “of higher quality” than another. Differentiate between the different writing styles to the best of your abilities and with any available means – quantitative or qualitative.


  1. Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections.