Vatican Digitizes a 1,600-Year-Old Illuminated Manuscript of the ‘Aeneid’

Vatican Aeneid

Here is a link some of you—JOB(e)s in particular—might find of interest: The Vatican digitizing a manuscript of Vergil’s Aeneid from the year 400 (or thereabouts).

In Rome, around the year 400, a scribe and three painters created an illuminated manuscript of Virgil’s Aeneid, illustrating the ancient hero Aeneas’ journey from Troy to Italy. 1,600 years later, the Vatican has digitized the surviving fragments of this manuscript. Known as the Vergilius Vaticanus, it’s one of the world’s oldest versions of the Latin epic poem, and you can browse it for free online.

The digitization project is part of a years-long effort by Digita Vaticana, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Vatican Library, to convert the library’s manuscripts into digital format. Founded in 1451, the library is home to some 80,000 manuscripts and texts, including drawings and notes by the likes of Michelangelo and Galileo. Digita Vaticana’s goal is to convert these “40 million pages into 45 quadrillion bytes,” according to its website.

That’s old. That’s ancient, to distinguish it from medieval, and specifically those manuscripts transmitted to us by medieval monks.


  1. Rufus McCain says

    Ancient (and opposable) thumbs up (for digitization).

  2. Big Jon Bully says

    The Catholic Church, saving civilization one epic poem at a time. Thanks, Quin.

  3. Big Jon Bully says

    You were reading this, enjoying a Mariner win and a bottle of Tanq to boot.

    • Quin Finnegan says

      Yes, I was. In fact, I was there for that 11th inning walk-off HR against the White Sox. Sweet indeed. Although I was drinking $12 beer, though, not gin.

      You’ve really gone all in for the Tanqueray, haven’t you? Is that a summer thing? I drank a bunch of the stuff years ago and ended up with red welts all over my body. Later learned from the famous band that these were indeed “Gin Blossoms”.

      Good times.

  4. It may also be considered the first Classics Illustrated, no?

    Or maybe even the first blog post… Nothing like graphics to spruce up some poetry, eh, Quin?

    hee hee!

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