Two problems in a glosserd Genesis from southern France. The topic is the double narrative of the Creation of Man. This problem is another siglum / abbreviation using ‘z’. In this case it is not shorthand for ‘-que.’ But what is this cluster of letters near the end of the fifth line and what does it mean, please. [fz?sz?n/v?ot/r?e]

ALCUINus . Quattuor modis operatur deus./ Primo in uerbo .ii. inmateria informi .Vn. . [quunum] e/ternum creavit omnia simul .tertio. per opera .vi. diebus varias distinx creaturas .quarto. ex primordialibus / seminibus, non incognitae oriuntur naturae [fz?sz?n/v?ot/r?e] saepius / ne pereant reformantur.

ALCUIN gloss Genesis

My translation so far: God operates in four modes. First, in the Word. .ii. in unformed material .The One. [quunum] eternal/eternity created all things simultaneously .thirdly. through works in .six. days he distinguished various creatures. .Fourthly. from primordial seeds, there arose natures not unknown [fz?sz?n/v?ot/r?e] quite often are formed again so that they do not perish.

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    Is there any way we could make the title of this question better? As it is, it doesn't help anyone who's searching for this information in the future.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 2:14
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    @Joe The page has been useful to me for the two resources that C.M.Weimer has contributed. I was intending to add another list of earlier sigla, when I could remember the link. The page contains an r siglum, m, it, There are also (not asked) four examples of numerals marked out by full-stop each side. And Cerberus links to a source, which is a good trick to know when transcribing. So what would be useful? " Medieval sigla; 'z' symbol" Would that have been useful?
    – Hugh
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 2:34

2 Answers 2


Here is my transcription. I've edited a couple of words. The semicolon / z-like mark can be used for et/ed as well, as here. Abbreviations in square brackets.

1) Alcuinis . Quattuor modis op[er]atur deus.
2) Primo in u[er]bo .ii. in mat[er]ia informi .Un[de]. qui viv[it] in e-
3) ternum creavit om[n]ia simul .tercio. p[er] op[er]a .vi. dier[um] va-
4) rias distinx[it] creaturas .quarto. ex primordialibus
5) seminib[us], non incognite oriuntur naturae s[ed] note sepius
6) ne p[er]eant reformant[ur].

For comparison, a very similar text can be found in the Sententiae of Petrus Lombardus:

Quatuor enim modis, ut ait Alcuinus super Genesim operatur Deus. Primo in verbo , omnia disponendo : Secundo, in materia informi quatuor elementorum, de nihilo creando : unde, Qui vivit in aeternum creavit omnia simul. Omnia, scilicet, elementa : vel omnia corpora materialiter simul creavit. Tertio , per opera sex dierum varias distinxit creaturas. Quarto, ex primordialibus seminibus non incognitae oriuntur naturae , sed notae saepius reformantur , ne pereant.

— Petrus Lombardus, Sententiae, Book II, Distinctio XII, final paragraph.

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    This agrees substantially with this transcription I found
    – brianpck
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 23:18
  • @brianpck: I'm afraid that page won't show me the transcription.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 2:57
  • Not sure why--it's just a Google Book's reference. The relevant passage is towards the bottom of pg. 67.
    – brianpck
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 13:50
  • @brianpck: I can see no way at all for me to view pages in that book, in neither browser. It may be a geoblock of sorts.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 16:35

It's sed. Search for sed here. Other books I've seen say the same thing (such as this PDF).

  • Two very useful resources. Thanks, also for your solution.
    – Hugh
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 3:36
  • The book I've been using up until now for earlier MSS has been "Notae Latinae" by Lindsay archive.org/details/notaelatinaeacco00lindrich. Have you come across it? Has it been reliable?
    – Hugh
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 4:03
  • @Hugh Lindsay was top notch in the field. Unfortunately, I'm not a palaeographer, and I haven't kept up with advances. Are you looking to get something more recent?
    – cmw
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 4:12
  • I thought the site here ought to have a pit-stop for Siglum hunters. But Lindsay covers the "Athelstan" Evangelia chessgame. And the pdf in your link is more than enough for the 13th C. Arundel 83 and Harley 2253 which link to local history.
    – Hugh
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 14:34
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    @Hugh: I recommend consulting Cappelli here, for Mediaeval and Latin paleography: adfontes.uzh.ch/5231.php When you fill in "vn", you will find unde. Cappelli is the best in the field, so far as I know, and that website has a great search function of the book.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 16:39

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