Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae


Priscian was a Latin grammarian and scholar, active in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) at the beginning of the sixth century. Little is known about the details of his life, but he wrote a number of treatises and teaching aids on grammar, poetry and metre that were widely read throughout the Middle Ages. These include De nomine, pronomine, et verbo (On noun, pronoun, and verb) and an analysis of the 12 books of Virgil’s Aeneid. His most popular work was the Institutiones grammaticae (Institutes of Grammar), an 18-volume handbook of Latin grammar. The text became a standard feature of the medieval school curriculum.  

Copied in France during the 11th century, this decorated volume preserves the first sixteen books of the Institutiones grammaticae, as well as a short poem by the Roman rhetorician Ausonius (d. c. 395). The manuscript’s extensive marginal and interlinear annotations suggest that it was once used as a schoolbook. 

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae
11th century, France
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Harley MS 2763

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The classical past

Article by:
Cillian O’Hogan
History and learning, Science and nature

Cillian O’Hogan offers an introduction to the range of classical works that shaped medieval thought on literature and scientific learning.

The Latin Middle Ages

Article by:
Cillian O’Hogan
History and learning, Christian religion and belief

Why was Latin so important in the Middle Ages? Cillian O’Hogan examines the development of medieval Latin and how it survived the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Related collection items