Certissima signa
A Venice Conference on Greek and Latin Astronomical Texts


Exploring the Relevance of the Star-positions in the Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts of Hyginus’ De Astronomia   

Arnaud Zucker
Université de Nice, France


This paper analyzes the agreement between pictures and text in the 20 extant manuscripts of Hyginus’ Astronomy which are illuminated and marked with stars, the majority of which date from the second half of the 15th century. It focuses on the number and position of the stars on the constellation’s figures, and systematically inventories in each manuscript all discrepancies between picture and text. The existence of independent constellation’s albums and the disconnection of pictor’s and scriptor’s activities could suggest a great mismatch of the two parts of illuminated manuscripts. The results of the investigation on these manuscripts are in fact more ambiguous. It actually appears that in some cases star’s positions precisely match the readings of a manuscript and lead to the conclusion that star-positioning should have sometimes been a secondary process adjusted to the very text of the illustrated manuscript.


Hyginus. Illuminated manuscripts. Ancient constellations. Star iconography. Astrothesy. Ancient astronomy. Medieval astronomy.

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