Carolingian Critters III: Munich, BSB, Clm 6253

The pick of today is slightly less Carolingian than the other critters that were paraded here. It is another manuscript from Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich with a shelfmark Clm 6253.

Munich, BSB, Clm 6253, fol. 243r

Munich, BSB, Clm 6253, fol. 243r

Clm 6253, the first volume of a three-volume copy of Expositio Psalmorum of Cassiodorus[1], was produced at Freising in the second quarter of the ninth century, during the times of Hitto (811/812-836) and his nephew Erchenbert (836-854).[2] This period saw copying of as many as forty books identified by Bischoff and thus a significant growth of the scriptorium of the Freising cathedral.[3] Originally, a complete set of three manuscripts was copied at Freising, but of these only the first two volumes survive, now Clm 6253 and Clm 6254.[4]

The manuscripts, as it seems, were stationery as is evidenced by the ownership marks of the Freising cathedral from the twelfth (Clm 6254) and fifteenth century (Clm 6253). Nevertheless, the three volumes of the Expositio were tied to other manuscripts in the area, and it cannot be excluded that they left Freising for short periods of time. According to Bischoff, two surviving volumes of the Expositio Psalmorum from the Abbey of saint Emmeram in Regensburg, Clm 14077 and Clm 14078[5], were copied from the Freising volumes.[6] Bischoff dates their copying to the third quarter of the ninth century, i.e., shortly after the production of the Freising exemplars themselves. This implies movement of books and/or people between the two intellectual centers, particularly since the copyist of the St. Emmeram volumes might have been trained at Tegernsee, a foundation some 80 km south of Freising. The hand of the same scribe can be seen in many other St. Emmeram books from the period, a sign that we should speak not of a casual migration but a transplantation of a particular skilled individual from one center to another.

Cassiodorus in the early Middle Ages

Together with Augustine’s Ennaratio in Psalmos and with somewhat younger Glosa ex traditione seniorum (first half of the 7th century) compiled from Patristic sources, Cassiodorus’ Expositio was the basic reference toolkit for the study of the Psalms up to the times of Lanfranc of Bec (11th century) and of Anselm of Laon (d. 1112).[7] The centrality of Cassiodorus’ exposition, which was the only continuous exposition of the whole Psalter, is best attested by the fact that since the early medieval times, Cassiodorus’ running commentary was appropriated multiple times, including as a marginal commentary, as an epitomized one-book version and as tituli, i.e., short summaries of Psalms, which were attributed to Bede.[8] Younger, derivative commentaries such as the Breviarium of ps-Jerome (mid-seventh century) and the marginal commentary on the Psalms once attributed to Bruno of Würzburg (c. 1005-1045) drew heavily on Cassiodorus, blending his exegesis with that of Augustine and, in case of the latter, of ps-Jerome. It is not surprising then, that, as Stoppacci shows in her overview of the transmission of the text, a copy of the Expositio was present in almost every major Carolingian monastic centre.[9]

Yet, Cassiodorus’ commentary itself did not attract annotators, at least none working very intensely, a fact easy to understand, given that the material from Cassiodorus was rather exported into Psalters and pandect Bibles. Clm 6253, nevertheless, suggests that even the Expositio could have been occasionally annotated.

Annotations in Clm 6253

Many marginalia can be found in Clm 6253, starting from the critical sigla that were integral to the text itself[10] and copied into Clm 6253 by the hand of the main scribe. At least three, and probably more, other hands were active in the margin after the manuscript was produced. Of these those that interests us here belong to scribes writing between the tenth and the eleventh century, whose annotating activity is first visible in fol. 5r as a probation Dominus deus.[11] This same series of hands added Cassiodorian sigla to some passages, e.g. in fol. 262v[12], it also added nota signs, made minor corrections, occasionally glossed the text[13], and most importantly these hands contributed also six larger annotations (A-F).

The transcription below first gives the passage/element from the Expositio to which the annotations are tied by means of their position (A, D, E) or by signes de renvoi[14], and then the text of the excerpts as it is found in the manuscript in italics. The source of the annotation is then given, and further comments are provided as necessary.


A. annotation to two of the Cassiodorian critical signs, Praef. 10-11 (10r)

(chi et rho): Crisimon haec sola ex uoluntate uniuscuiusque ad aliquid notandum ponitur.

(pi et rho): Biatro id est frontis haec ubi aliquid obscuritatis est ob sollicitudinem ponitur.

Source: Isid. Etym. 1.21.22-23; Cassiodorus provides explanation of the signs in Interpretatio notarum in folia 1v-3v of Clm 6253 as hoc in dogmatibus vel de necessariis (chi et rho), and hoc in definitionibus (pi et rho).


B. annotation to Ps. 2, 10 (32r)

Ubi oritur pulcherrimum deliberativum dicendi genus: Genera causarum sunt quattuor, deliberativum, demonstrativum, iudicale. Deliberatiuum genus est in quo de quibuslibet utilitatibus vitae quod aut debeat aut non debeat fieri tractatur. Demonstratiuum est in quo laudabilis persona aut vituperabilis ostenditur Iudicale in quo de eius prius personae facto aut poenae aut praemii sententia datur. Dictum autem iudicale eo quod iudicet hominem et sententiam suam ostendat utrum laudabilis praemio dignus sit, aut certe reus condemnari liberarique supplicio. Deliberativum genus uocatur eo quod de unaquaque re in eo deliberatur. Demonstrativum dictum quod unamquamque rem aut laudando aut uituperando demonstrat.

Source: Isid. Etym. 2.4.1-5; the excerpt in Clm 6253 contains some notable variants/errors with respect to the text of the Etymologies, including quattuor instead of tria (an error of reasoning, or of transcription?), and vituperabilis for reprehensibilis, which have no parallel among manuscripts used by Lindsay for his edition of the Etymologiae[15], nor is to be found it in the digitized manuscripts available online.[16] The corruption in quo de eius prius instead of in quo de ipsius has parallel in two manuscripts. Lindsay’s K (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, MS Weiss. 64, s. 8, ½, Bobbio) reads in quod ei prius and a similar corruption occurs also in Lindsay’s A (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS L 99 sup., s. 8, Bobbio), where one reads in quo ei prius.[17] Presence of the variant might thus imply what was the provenance of the original used in the excerpt, although it does not say much about how the original was used, e.g., whether a florilegium was not consulted. Also, this error strikes me as an error that could have arisen spontaneously from writing, as the graphemes for r and s are to some extent interchangeable, but not from hearing, perhaps an indicator of an alternative emergence.


C. annotation to Ps. 4, divisio Psalmi (37v)

Et ideo sub figura mythopoeia, ecclesiam dicamus loqui: Ethopopeya est, cum sermonem ex aliena persona inducimus, ut hic David sub persona ecclesiae.

Source: Isid. Etym. 2.21.32.


D. annotation to Ps. 4, 3 (38v)

Cum superiori uersu pro nobis orauerit, hic per energiam alloquitur genus humanum: Energia est rerum gestarum aut quasi gestarum sub oculis inductio.

Source: Isid. Etym. 2.21.33.


E. annotation to Ps. 38, 12 (243r)

Hieronimi. tabescit anima cum caro luxuriis et concupiscentiis refrenatur. Tabescere hoc est obstupescere de anterioribus delictis. Et hoc intellegendum est ut ad tantam subtilitatem per abstinentiam decoquatur, ut ad instar filiorum illorum deducatur.

Sources: ps-Jerome, Breviarium to Ps. 38, 12[18]; and Bruno of Würzburg, Expositio Psalmorum to Ps 38, 12.[19] While the two potential sources of the excerpt contain the same text, there are two indicators that rather than from a copy of Breviarium, this excerpt was taken from the Expositio attributed to Bruno of Würzburg. First, E is the only excerpt in Clm 6253 that is tagged with the source name, Hieronimi. Such a tag, a reference to the Breviarium, can be found in the Expositio.[20] Second, the Breviarium differs from Expositio of Bruno by containing caro a luxuriis instead of caro luxuriis.[21]


F. Annotation to Ps. 48, 4 (291v)

Sapientia pertinet ad mysteria diuina declaranda; prudentia uero ad mores probabiles instruendos; sic omnis sermo diuinus duabus his uirtutibus plenissimus indicatur: Hinc enim quae narraturus est inchoauit, quod sint uerba sua mirabili prius complexione describens, ut omnes desideranter quaererent quod promissum sub tali praedicatione sentirent. Sapientia pertinet ad res divinas edocendas, prudentia ad mores probabiles instituendos; sic omnis sermo divinus duabus his virtutibus indicatur.

Source: section Sapientiainstituendos taken from Hraban Maur, De rerum naturis 6.1.[22] The annotator also made a correction of a large lacuna at the end of Ps 48, 4 in the same folio. Such a correction could have been made from another exemplar of Cassiodorus’ running commentary or from Cassiodorian material in a form of a marginal commentary.

Ps-Jerome, (Ps-)Bruno from Würzburg or someone else?

The presence of excerpts A-D and F in Clm 6253 is to some extent explainable by them being derived from encyclopedic texts. The E is distinct from the rest and worth of additional attention. Of the six annotations, this is the only one that comes from a non-encyclopedic source, a commentary even. Such a text can to be expected to turn up in the margin, naturally, but a margin of a different book – a Psalter. A somewhat similar comment on Ps 38, 12 can be, for example, found in the famous annotated Psalter, St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 27 (850-860, St. Gallen).

How come then that we can see a Psalm commentary in the margin of another Psalm commentary?

The history of commentaries on the Psalter is in its nature similar to the history of commentaries on many Classical texts such as that of Martianus Capella, Boethius and Terence.[23] As Margaret Gibson observes, already early after Cassiodorus, commentaries began to emerge which were in effect compilations of earlier material.[24] They were freely assembled from loose capsules of learning and only gradually solidified into traditions, although there was always some room to add or subtract something, and otherwise engage with the little parcels of learning. Already around 800, there were advanced psalteria cum sua expositione, i.e., Psalters with commentaries, which were purposefully inserted into the margin, but which were not associated explicitly with a particular author and differed exemplar per exemplar.[25] The first known individual that can be associated with certainty with a Psalm-commentary after Cassiodorus is Lanfranc of Bec from the late eleventh century. Before him, we have the material, but we know little about when, where, and how was the material assembled and re-assembled in the process of transmission. False attribution was common, as was the case with Jerome in case of Breviarium, which is in fact a compilation of Patristic sources, and with Bede in case of the Psalm tituli.

Around 1060, four splendid, almost identical exemplars of a Psalter with marginal commentary were produced at Tegernsee.[26] One of them, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawl. G 163[27], features a running title Bruno episcopus, which was once thought to refer to the author of the commentary, Bruno, bishop of Würzburg (1005-1045). This is how the commentary can be found in the Patrologia Latina, but thanks to the examination of Margaret Gibson, the attribution was since dropped and it is now believed that the commentary, which falls in line with what was said above about the process of anonymous, flexible compilation, is a house product.[28] This could also explain, why the earliest manuscripts of the commentary come from Tegernsee (c. 1060), and from St. Emmeram, Regensburg (c. 1100)[29], and also why a bit from this commentary-to-be can be found in a manuscript that from Freising, our Clm 6253. As we saw earlier, the three centers had mutual ties that involved exchange of books and people, and of texts as well.[30]

Naturally, we must be very cautious about what we can learn from the excerpt in Clm 6253. One possibility is that E was taken from a Psalm-commentary, perhaps from a manuscript similar to the four manuscripts mentioned above, and gives us thus a micro-glimpse on the prehistory of the commentary ascribed to Bruno of Würzburg. It is, however, likewise possible that what landed in Clm 6253 as an excerpt had separate existence outside a fixed commentary. We must remember that in its most original form, the material presented in E, could be found in the Breviarium of ps-Jerome and is present in encapsulated form akin to that of E already in a Carolingian annotated Psalter, such as St. Gallen 27. Rather than a witness of a particular commentary tradition, that of Tegernsee, the excerpt E should be seen perhaps as symptomatic of the larger and necessarily more vague regional development, a peculiar form of the material from the Breviarium which can be found, among others, also in the Tegernsee commentary. The physical existence of the Tegernsee tradition as we perceive it today rests on four manuscripts, which were copied in a short span of time at a single place, and thus owes more to the incidence of time and place than to an intention, less so to a design of an individual. Or in other words, the Tegernsee manuscripts, as also Gibson points out, are just a peak of the iceberg in a larger, more fluid regional tradition/s, which entailed re-writing and re-assembling of textual resources from the oldest times. Gibson herself hypothesizes that the commentary which emerges in Bavaria with the Tegernsee manuscripts might have had a Carolingian predecessor, and it is perhaps this predecessor, and we can think of a Carolingian annotated Psalter, which supplied Clm 6253.[31]


Clm 6253 provides us with a welcomed probe into the life of a text in the tenth and eleventh century Bavaria. The ninth century manuscript containing Cassiodorus’ commentary on Psalms was clearly still being used and studied in the tenth century and was extended by three other texts, one of which was itself a Psalm-commentary. Although the prototype for this commentary was the Breviarium of ps-Jerome, the annotation derived from it has a particular regional tinge, and is found  in a similar form in the Psalm commentary from the Abbey of Tegernsee available around 1060. The parallelism between the annotation and the Tegernsee commentary may indicate that the commentary was known and used at Freising shortly after the time of its compilation, but it can be equally an independent witness of a more fluid, less consistent tradition with older roots. If the annotations could have been dated more precisely, it would be perhaps possible to assess better what is the relationship between the Breviarium as a proto-source[32], the Tegernsee manuscripts and Clm 6253.

Because of its centrality in the study of the Psalms before the appearance of the early scholastic Psalm-commentaries, Cassiodorus’ Expositio Psalmorum in Clm 6253 seems to have exerted a “gravitational pull” on the material that could have been used in the exposition of the Psalter, whether these were clippings from encyclopedias, or capsules of exegesis on the same text. Yet, the annotation of Clm 6253 never became anything more than a casual enterprise without a clear steer, but in fact, that is what annotations often were at their roots. We will never know why the annotator chose only a single snippet of what was possibly a larger corpus of material to insert into Clm 6253, nor why he chose five other fragments of larger texts to be inserted here and there into the manuscript. Perhaps, we must imagine that his prototype was just a scanty, lightly annotated copy of a Psalter, where capsules of exegesis such as E were most likely to be found. In a long run, the Expositio Psalmorum preserved in Clm 6253 might have been itself a part of the story, as it was a likely source of the marginal annotations for a Carolingian Psalter. Once these eventually coagulated with other annotations into a richer, more fixed corpus, this proto-commentary became the source of the very same annotations by which Clm 6253 was enriched in the tenth century.

[1] This was the original form of Cassiodorian archetype. Majority of the early copies of the Expositio are three-volume. See James W. Halporn, “The Manuscripts of Cassiodorus’ ‘Expositio Pslamorum’,” Traditio 37 (1981): 389.

[2] Dating and localization according to Bernhard Bischoff, Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts (mit Ausnahme der wisigotischen). II: Laon-Paderborn, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für die Herausgabe der Mittelalterlichen Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2004), 234 no. 3008; and Katharina Bierbrauer, Die vorkarolingischen und karolingischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (Munich: Reichert, 1990) nos. 56-57.

[3] Bernhard Bischoff, Die südostdeutschen Schreibschulen und Bibliotheken in der Karolingerzeit: Die vorwiegend Österreichischen Diözesen, vol. 1 (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1940), 65–67.

[4] The three Freising manuscripts are discussed in Ibid., 1:108–09.

[5] Their descriptions in Bischoff, Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts (mit Ausnahme der wisigotischen). II, no. 3129; and Bierbrauer, Die vorkarolingischen und karolingischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, no. 126. These are volumes one and three of the commentary on Psalms. Of volume two, only fragment survives, now Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, MS 1703/81.

[6] Bischoff, Die südostdeutschen Schreibschulen und Bibliotheken in der Karolingerzeit, 1:218.

[7] Margaret Gibson, “Carolingian Glossed Psalters,” in The Early Medieval Bible. Its Production, Decoration and Use (Cambridge, 1994), 96. See also Margaret T. Gibson, “The Place of the Glossa Ordinaria in Medieval Exegesis,” in Ad Litteram: Authoritative Texts and Their Medieval Readers (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992), 5–27.

[8] See Gibson, “Carolingian Glossed Psalters,” 96–97.

[9] Patrizia Stoppacci, “Cassiodorus Senator. Expositio Psalmorum,” in La Trasmissione Dei Testi Latini Del Medioevo, TETRA II (Firenze: SISMEL, 2005), 143–159.

[10] These cues marked certain topics discussed by Cassiodorus and in his words were to be used to more easily access particular passages, e.g. a M-like sign to indicate de musica. See James W. Halporn, “Methods of Reference in Cassiodorus,” The Journal of Library History (1974-1987) 16, no. 1 (1981): 71–91.

[11] My dating is based on the comparison with the Die datierten Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München, Datierte Handschriften in Bibliotheken der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Bd. 4 (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1994), Abb. 2.

[12] This annotator was not the only one to add Cassiodorian sigla. Because of their discreteness and minuteness, it is not possible to distinguish when the tenth-century hand is at work, and when another hand writing in light ink made the signs.

[13] I was able to find the following glosses: 12v, 17b, disciplinis: VII. liberalibus artibus; 14r, 17a, cuius: sanctae scripturae; 16v, 15a, drama: fabula; 16v, 19a, schemata: figurae; 34r, 6a, Abessalon: Hebrei dicunt(?); 51v, 17b, aurei oris: Crysostomus; 52v, 25b, pietate: religione; 149r, 20b, catheristae: expurgatos; 164v, 4a, acti: inspirati; 254r, 20b, sibi: id est Iudeis; 254r, 20b, mihi: id est Christo.

[14] The signs used are: a hybrid symbol combining letter h and asterisk (B), antisigma (C), and a hybrid symbol combining letter h and a cluster of dots (F). The h-like symbols are used in Clm 6253 elsewhere as signes de renvoi for corrections.

[15] Cf. Wallace Martin Lindsay, Etymologiarum Sive Originum Libri XX, vol. 1, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911).

[16] I consulted the following online resources: “Europeana Regia | Bibliotheca Carolina,” accessed May 12, 2013,; “E-codices – Virtuelle Handschriftenbibliothek Der Schweiz,” accessed May 12, 2013,; and “Biblioteca Ambrosiana Digital,” accessed May 12, 2013,

[17] Lindsay, Etymologiarum Sive Originum Libri XX, vol. 1, bk. 2.4.

[18] PL 26, 943b.

[19] PL 142, 168c-d.

[20] At least in the PL edition.

[21] Although there are exemplars of the Breviarium containing the same variant, e.g. Wolfenbüttel, HAB, MS Guelf. 17 Weiss. (first half of the 9th century, Weissenburg), at:

[22] PL 111, 154b; also at:

[23] See Mariken Teeuwen, “The Pursuit of Secular Learning: The Oldest Commentary Tradition on Martianus Capella,” The Journal of Medieval Latin 18 (2008): 36–51.

[24] Gibson, “The Place of the Glossa Ordinaria in Medieval Exegesis,” 6–12.

[25] See for example Frankfurt, Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek, MS Barth. 32 (c. 800), at:

[26] These were: Munich, BSB, MS Clm 18121; Oxford, Bodl., MS Rawl. G 163; Oxford, Bodl., MS Laud. lat. 96; and Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. Ross. 184. Described in Christine Elisabeth Eder, Die Schule des Klosters Tegernsee im frühen Mittelalter im Spiegel der Tegernseer Handschriften (Munich: Arbeo-Ges., 1972), 103–106.

[27] Description in A Summary Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, Which Have Not Hitherto Been Catalogued in the Quarto Series with References to the Oriental and Other Manuscripts [vol. 6: To the Oriental Manuscripts and Papyri] (Oxford: Clarendon, 1895), 3:371-72, at: The manuscript was later at Würzburg, possibly even prepared for this destination; see Eder, Die Schule des Klosters Tegernsee im frühen Mittelalter im Spiegel der Tegernseer Handschriften, 95.

[28] Cf. Gibson, “The Place of the Glossa Ordinaria in Medieval Exegesis,” 12.

[29] This is Munich, BSB, MS Clm 14124, which contains another fragment of the commentary in fol. 152r, see at:

[30] The hand that copied Oxford Laud. lat. 96 and Oxford Rawl. G 163 is the same hand that copied Freising, Dombibliothek, MS 50, a fragment of a sacramentary used at an unknown place; see Eder, Die Schule des Klosters Tegernsee im frühen Mittelalter im Spiegel der Tegernseer Handschriften, 106 and 122. This manuscript fragment might be the link between Tegernsee and Freising.

[31] Gibson, “The Place of the Glossa Ordinaria in Medieval Exegesis,” 12.

[32] Note Clm 29404/3, a ninth-century fragment of the first volume of the Breviarium, which was present at Freising around 1000 at the latest. Unfortunately, the text of Ps 38 does not survive in the fragment, see at:

Suggested Citation: Evina Steinova, Carolingian Critters III: Munich, BSB, Clm 6253, in: Mittelalter. Interdisziplinäre Forschung und Rezeptionsgeschichte, 16. June 2013,

Evina Steinova

I am currently a PhD at Huygens ING/Utrecht University in the Netherlands. My PhD project is concerned with information management strategies in the Carolingian period, or else what techniques the Carolignians developed, had available or improved on when it came to processing texts. My research is part of a project focusing on marginalia in the Carolingian manuscripts. In addition, I am working (as my time allows) on medieval Jewish history and Judeo-Christian dialogue (or conflict), and from time to time on early medieval Christian apocrypha.

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