J.H.Waszink & J.C.M.Van Winden, Tertullianus De Idololatria, E.J.Brill, Leiden/New York 1987

(in series Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Volume I.), pp7-8

The Codex Agobardinus is a parchment manuscript dating from the beginning of the ninth century, named after its first owner, Agobard, bishop of Lyons. He lived from 779 to 840/1; in 816 he became a bishop.1 The codex is described in detail by M.Klussman.2

The text of De idololatria is found on folio. 105v up to and including fol. 118v. On that page, at the beginning of the last line but one, after the word evitandum (18,9) an abrupt beginning is made of De anima 6,7 with the words de minutiloquio Aristotelis. A later hand has underline evitandum and added De anima cap. VI in the margin. From this it follows that the latter part of De idololatria and the beginning of the De anima were already absent from the manuscript used by the copyist of the Agobardinus. The same case is found in fol. 171r, where per ecclesias quas<i> (De oratione 21,1) is followed by disposita utensilitas (De cultu feminarum I 5,2); see Diercks, IX-X.

The manuscript has been seriously damaged by damp. However the damage to De idololatria is far less than, for instance, that to Ad nationes: the edges of fol. 105v up to and including fol. 109v have been strongly affected and they havd also been cut off, so that in many cases letters of words have become illegible or have even disappeared entirely. Fol. 110 and following also show traces of damp, but not to the extent of becoming illegible.

The Agobardinus has some features which as far as we can see, have not been noticed until now. There is a difference in the handwriting between the first part (f. 105v-111v = idol. 1,1-10,2) and the second (f. 112r-118v = idol. 10, 2-18, 9). In the second part the size of the letters is somewhat smaller; hence in that part the number of the lines per page is one more than in the first part (23 instead of 22). The different hands manifest themselves inter alia in the way of writing the capital S. In the first part it has a large upper part and a small lower part; in the second the upper part is small, the lower large. Another difference is in the manner of writing the diphtong ae. In both parts there is variation: sometimes it is written in full, sometimes the well-known abbreviation (an e with little stroke underneath) is used. But whereas in the first part this abbreviation is used only ten times, in the second part it is much more frequent; it appears already eight times in the first five lines. These divergencies in the orthography of the ae are not noted in the apparatus. We only mention the cases in which a single e is written instead of ae, or when ae is written instead of e (e.g. grece in 3, 4 and aevitandum in 18, 9).

Also in another respect the second part is different from the first: whereas in the first part the upper margin is empty, from f. 112 r onwards one reads on the recto side of the pages :IDOLATRIA:, on the opposite verso side :DE: (this means that the first :DE: is on f. 111 v, which page still belongs to the first part).

The situation at the end of the text of De idololatria is complex. As was said above, after the word evitandum in idol. 18, 9 - thus in the middle of a sentence - an abrupt beginning is made with the text of De anima 6, 7. (A later hand has written in the margin: De anima cap. VI). This happens in the last line but one of f. 118v. But in the upper margin of 118v-119r one still reads:DE - IDOLATRIA, even though 119r contains the text of De anima. Moreover in the upper margin of 119v-120r the title DE - IDOLATRIA was again written, but there IDOLATRIA has been struck out and ANIMA has been written instead. (Further on the title is: DE CENSU - ANIMAE). Finally we note that the table of contents at the beginning of the Agobardinus says that on f.105 DE IDOLATRIA begins and on f. 119 DE CENSU ANIMAE. It is difficult to explain this situation. It is obvious that the scribe of the Agobardinus was not aware of the fact that in the last but one line of f. 118v he passed over from De idololatria 18, 9 to De anima 6, 7. He must have been copying as example a text in which a fascicle, containing the last six chapters of idol. and the first six of an., was missing. But for the rest the course of events can hardly be traced. Who was responsible for writing the titles in the upper margins? Who corrected the title on f. 120 r and why did he not correct that of f. 119r? Several hypotheses are possible; not one of these can be considered as certain.

The reader will have noticed that in all these titles we find written idolatria, not idololatria. This way of writing does not occur in the treatise itself except at the beginning of the second part. There the situation is as follows: the first time that the term appears in the second part one reads idolatria (10, 6) but lo has been written above; the second time one reads idolatria (11, 1), the third time idololatria (11, 2) and the fourth idolalatria (11 , 2). Further on one finds idololatria, as in the first part, except in 16, 3. It seems that the irregularity at the beginning of the second part is connected with the change of scribe. He may have written the titles in the upper margin in advance and begun by writing idolatria in the text as well, but obviously he adapted himself to the reading of his example later on.

Finally, in the margin of f.112r and the following pages one finds a certain number of indicators with corresponding signs in the text. The indicators are N 2, N 3, N 5, N 6 on f. 112r, 114r, 117r, 118v. The corresponding signs in the text are breaking off signs, located at N 2 between idolis and catechisat (10, 6), at N 3 between habeo and dixit (12, 4), at N 5 between vero and privatarum. (N 6 has no corresponding sign in the text.) These indicators and signs must have been applied by someone who gave the text to a printer or by the printer himself, to mark the end of successive pages. (We thank Prof. P. F. J. Obbema of the Leiden University Library for this suggestion.) In the edition of Mesnart the folia 281-4 have at the bottom of the recto sides: N, N ij, N iij, N iiij. Remarkably the letter N is the same as what was found in the Agobardinus, but the numbers added to this letter do not agree in the two texts. The distances between N 2, N 3, etc. in the Agobardinus disclose that the page size of the intended printing would have been smaller than in the actual printed edition of Mesnart. At any rate these indicators and signs are of no concern for the constitution of the text.


1. See E. Debroise, ‘Agobard’, in Dictionaire d’Archeologie Chretienne et de Liturgie (Paris).(Unchecked)
2. M.Klussman, Curarum Tertullianearum particulae tres (Gotha 1887) (I have read this);
cf. also Borleffs’ preface to the edition of Ad nationes (Leyden 1929), V ff.; (Unchecked).
the preface to CSEL XX by Hartel and Wissowa, VI ff.; (Unchecked).
V.d.Vliet, 64-6 (Unchecked).

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