Bern, Burgerbibliothek, MS 167 Virgil (Bucolica, Georgica, Aeneis) with scholia Bernensia

  • Latin
  • s. ix2
  • Continental manuscripts
  • parchment

9th-century manuscript of the works of Virgil (Bucolica, Georgica and Aeneis), with commentary running in the outer column. On the first six folia, this is prefaced by paratextual material relating to Virgil’s life and works.

Provenance and related aspects
s. ix2
Final third of the 9th century (Bischofff 1998); 2nd half of the 9th century (Munk Olsen).
Origin, provenance
Origin: France, northFrance, north

No description available

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Bernhard Bischoff (1998) suggests, like others before him, that it was written in Brittany during the final third of the 9th century. The Breton hypothesis is encouraged by the presence of Old Breton glosses, which were previously published by Whitley Stokes. Stokes himself, however, pointed out some errors in the glosses, suggesting that they may have been copied from a Breton exemplar by a scribe who was not himself at home with the Breton language.(1)n. 1 In the course of discussing cultural contacts between Ireland and Brittany, Helen McKee suggests that the Old Breton glosses “seem inspired by Irish”. Helen Simpson McKee, ‘Ireland, Tours and Brittany: the case of Cambridge Corpus Christi College, MS. 279’ in Irlande et Bretagne... (1994): 115.
Origin: France, north-centralFrance, north-central

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Fleury, St. Benedict’s monastery
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Saint-Germain d'Auxerre
Saint-Germain d'Auxerre
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The MS is closely related to a manuscript of Fleury provenance containing Virgil’s works along with the scholia Bernensia (Bern MS 172 + BNF MS 7929). Murgia suggested that it was this exemplar from which Bern 167 copied its commentary on the Aeneid and possibly other parts. Although the exact nature of the relationship between these MSS remains debated, it has enabled scholars to localise the production of Bern 167 in the environs of the Loire region (north-central France), conceivably Fleury or Auxerre, where there would have been frequent exchange of manuscripts. A possible, specific background for the use of a Breton exemplar, as mentioned earlier, is the fact that during the 9th century, the threat of Viking incursions would sometimes lead Breton monks to bring their manuscripts in relative safety to Fleury.(2)n. 2 Marco Mostert, The library of Fleury: a provisional list of manuscripts (1989): 24. The Auxerre hypothesis would find some support in Pierre Daniel’s description of the MS as Autissiodorensis. See below.
Later provenance: Fleury
Fleury, St. Benedict’s monastery
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ass. with Pierre Daniel [jurist]Daniel (Pierre) ... jurist
French jurist and scholar of Orléans, who in 1562 managed to rescue a large collection of manuscripts of the library of Fleury (Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire) after it was sacked by the Huguenots. After he died, his library was purchased by the scholars Jacques Bongars and Paul Petau and over time, many of the medieval manuscripts ended up in Bern or the Vatican.
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At the end of the 16th century, when the abbey of Fleury had been sacked by Huguenots, Pierre Daniel purchased and in effect salvaged a collection of manuscripts from its library. Among them was the present MS, which he describes, on the basis of no known authority, as being from Auxerre (Autissiodorensis).
Hands, scribes
Codicological information
32 cm × 23.25 cm
32 x 23-23.5 cm
Foliation / Pagination
214 ff.
Palaeographical information
Category: Caroline minuscule

Caroline minuscule, with Insular abbreviations and traces of Insular orthography. It is unclear to what extent they might have been copied over from an exemplar or were part of scribal habits. Bischoff (1998) has called attention to the Insular abbreviations for idest, postquam (pºq) and sed. Lindsay (1915), who regarded the MS as work of Breton scribes, highlighted the use of dm̅s = dicimus, which is especially frequent in Irish and Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, and n̅o = non, which is more widely attested. Beeson (1932: 90-91) provides a fuller account. Having observed that there are “few abbreviations in the Vergil text and relatively few in the Scholia”, he goes on to offer a list of Insular symbols, which he says “are well represented” and include those for apud, autem, bunt, con, contra (two symbols), dicit, dicunt, dicimus, enim, habet, haec, hoc, huius, homine, etc. He further notes that Insular orthography is in evidence (e.g. agresus). For the use of critical signs in the text, see Lemoine (1994).

Table of contents

Links to texts use a standardised title for the catalogue and so may or may not reflect what is in the manuscript itself, hence the square brackets. Their appearance comes in three basic varieties, which are signalled through colour coding and the use of icons, , and :

  1. - If a catalogue entry is both available and accessible, a direct link will be made. Such links are blue-ish green and marked by a bookmark icon.
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The above method of differentiating between links has not been applied yet to texts or citations from texts which are included in the context of other texts, commonly verses.


While it is not a reality yet, CODECS seeks consistency in formatting references to locations of texts and other items of interest in manuscripts. Our preferences may be best explained with some examples:

  • f. 23ra.34: meaning folio 23 recto, first column, line 34
  • f. 96vb.m: meaning folio 96, verso, second column, middle of the page (s = top, m = middle, i = bottom)
    • Note that marg. = marginalia, while m = middle.
  • p. 67b.23: meaning page 67, second column, line 23
The list below has been collated from the table of contents, if available on this page,Progress in this area is being made piecemeal. Full and partial tables of contents are available for a small number of manuscripts. and incoming annotations for individual texts (again, if available).Whenever catalogue entries about texts are annotated with information about particular manuscript witnesses, these manuscripts can be queried for the texts that are linked to them.



In the course of discussing cultural contacts between Ireland and Brittany, Helen McKee suggests that the Old Breton glosses “seem inspired by Irish”. Helen Simpson McKee, ‘Ireland, Tours and Brittany: the case of Cambridge Corpus Christi College, MS. 279’ in Irlande et Bretagne... (1994): 115.

Primary sources This section typically includes references to diplomatic editions, facsimiles and photographic reproductions, notably digital image archives, of at least a major portion of the manuscript. For editions of individual texts, see their separate entries.

[dig. img.] Flüeler, Christoph [project director], and Urs Baumann [photographer] (et al.), e-codices: virtual manuscript library of Switzerland, Online: University of Freiburg. URL: <>.
[ed.] Hagen, Hermann, Scholia Bernensia ad Vergili Bucolica atque Georgica, Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1867.
Internet Archive: <link>
996–998 Periochae Bernenses II (996-998).

Secondary sources (select)

Ziolkowski, Jan, and Michael C. J. Putnam (eds), The Virgilian tradition: the first fifteen hundred years, New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 2008. xxxix + 1082 pp.  
Divided into five sections: 1. Virgil the poet; 2. Biography: images of Virgil; 3. Virgil's texts and their uses; 4. Commentary tradition; and 5. Virgilian legends.
For direct references, see 237, 249, 250, 251, 674
Bischoff, Bernhard, Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts (mit Ausnahme der wisigotischen), vol. 1: Aachen–Lambach, Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für die Herausgabe der mittelalterlichen Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1998.
114 [id. 542.]
Lemoine, Louis, “Signes de construction syntaxique dans les manuscrits bretons du haut Moyen Âge”, ALMA: Bulletin du Cange 52 (1994): 77–108.
ALMA – PDF: <link>
81, 85 ff On the use of critical signs.
Mostert, Marco, The library of Fleury: a provisional list of manuscripts, Middeleeuwse Studies en Bronnen 3, Hilversum: Verloren, 1989.  
Incl. a list of Breton manuscripts.
[id. 93.]
Deuffic, Jean-Luc, “La production manuscrite des scriptoria bretons (VIIIe-XIe siècle)”, in: Simon, Marc (ed.), Landévennec et le monachisme breton dans le haut Moyen Âge: actes du colloque du 15e centenaire de l’abbaye de Landévennec, 25-26-27 avril 1985, Association Landévennec 485–1985, Landévennec: Association Landévennec, 1986. 289–321.
Lambert, Pierre-Yves, “Les gloses celtiques aux commentaires de Virgile”, Études Celtiques 23 (1986): 81–128.
Journal volume:  Persée – Études Celtiques, vol. 23, 1986: <link>
111–128 Incl. edition of the Breton glosses.
Munk Olsen, Birger, L’étude des auteurs classiques latins aux XIe et XIIe siècles, vol. 2: Catalogue des manuscrits classiques latins copiés du IXe au XIIe siècles. Livius–Vitrivius, Paris: CNRS, 1985.
704 Not seen.
Murgia, Charles E., Prolegomena to Servius 5: the manuscripts, University of California Publications, Classical Studies 11, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
Internet Archive – Available on loan: <link>
Savage, John J., “The manuscripts of the commentary of Servius Danielis on Vergil”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 43 (1932): 77–121.
Beeson, C. H., “Insular symptoms in the commentaries on Vergil”, Studi Medievali, Nuova serie 5 (1932): 81–100.
 : <link>
Savage, John J., “The scholia in the Virgil of Tours, Bernensis 165”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 36 (1925): 91–164.
On p. 94 n. 3, signals an additional gloss: Aeneis 2:340, ‘loer cann’. For his reading piller as a gloss to 5.280, see Lambert (1986: 113) above, who reads Lat. pillei (gen. of pilleus).
Lindsay, W. M., Notae Latinae: an account of abbreviation in Latin mss. of the early minuscule period, c. 700-850, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915.  
comments: For the supplement, see Bains 1936a
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
50, 348, 447
Lindsay, W. M., “Breton scriptoria: their Latin abbreviation symbols”, Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen 29 (1912): 264–272. <link>
Loth, Joseph, Vocabulaire vieux-breton: avec commentaire, contenant toutes les gloses en vieux-breton gallois, cornique, armoricain, Paris: Vieweg, 1884.
Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>, <link>, <link>
Stokes, Whitley, “Old-Breton glosses”, Revue Celtique 4 (1879–1880): 324–348.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Superseded by Lambert (1986).

External links

Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
November 2019, last updated: November 2021