Sonnets by Dante in a Lyric Miscellany (MS Can. Ital. 65)
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Can. Ital. 65 Italy; 15th century, third quarter.
Paper; ff. I+138+I’; mm 282x132; verses copied in a single column; copied by one hand in a cursive humanistic script; some red rubrics and initials. Leather binding with gold decoration.
Italy; Matteo Luigi Canonici, 1727–1805; Giuseppe Canonici, -1807. Purchased by the Bodleian in 1817.
The MS contains: Petrarch’s Canzoniere including additional disperse (i.e., extravagant poems); forty-four poems (mainly sonnets) by different authors, including Boccaccio, Dante, Sennuccio del Bene, and Petrarch (most of these poems are anonymous); alphabetical index of the first lines of the Canzoniere poems; Petrarch’s Triumphs.
In this unadorned manuscript, Petrarch’s Canzoniere is followed by an anthology of poems by various authors, among which only some bear an attribution. There are three sonnets by Dante intermingled with these lyric poems, two of which are anonymous: “Spesse fiate me vien a la mente,” with the rubric “De Dante” (“by Dante,” fol. 103r); “Due donne in cima de la mente mia;” “Tanto gentile et tanto honesta pare.” The oblong shape of this codex is not common, but is not unique: other contemporary copies of Dante’s lyric poetry share the form of MS Can. Ital. 65 (MSS Strasbourg, Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire, 1808 (L. It. 7); Florence, Società Dantesca Italiana, 3). When opened, the page spread of oblong books is squared or almost squared. This shape was common in medieval merchant account-books.