Tales of the Phillipps Manuscripts #1

Phillipps MS 6551 contains Ptolemy’s Almagest, in the 12th-century Latin translation by Gerard of Cremona, together with several other short astronomical texts. This copy of the translation is particularly interesting because it is derived from two different Arabic versions. It even contains parallel translations of several chapters. The Almagest is the key classical work on astronomy and was originally written in Greek in the 2nd century.

The manuscript was written in Northern Italy in the early 13th century and contains a series of astronomical diagrams. It was probably part of the library of San Marco in Florence by the late 15th century. Phillipps acquired it in 1833 from the booksellers Payne and Foss, and it remained part of the Phillipps library until 1949, when it was sold by the bookseller William H. Robinson to the State Library of Victoria.

It is now one of the treasures of the State Library of Victoria, which has digitized the entire volume and documented it in detail.

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