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St Gall, MS 904, p. 21a (Priscian, Institutiones Grammaticae, book 2)

The St Gall Priscian

St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, ms 904 is a copy, written in ad 850–1, of Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae (Foundations of Grammar), a monumental treatise on Latin grammar completed c. 526/7, in which the author aimed to synthesize much of the Greek and Latin grammatical traditions. The text was edited by Martin Hertz for Heinrich Keil (ed.), Grammatici Latini (6 vols, Leipzig, 1855–80) [vols 2–3].

The manuscript was written in Irish script, probably in Ireland, and contains over 9,400 interlinear and marginal glosses, in addition to c. 4,000 construe marks (symbols to aid reading). More than one-third of these glosses were written in Old Irish, and as such constitute one of our most important corpora for that phase of the Irish language.

About the digital edition

The Old Irish glosses were published in Whitley Stokes and John Strachan (eds), Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus (2 vols, London, 1901–1910), vol. 2, pp. 49–224. More recently, Rijcklof Hofman published roughly the first half of all of the glosses (Irish, Latin and symbols) in The Sankt Gall Priscian Commentary. Part 1 (2 vols, Münster, 1996). The present digital edition presents the first complete transcription of all of the glosses, juxtaposed with the text of Priscian, and with links to images of the manuscript and other resources.

The transcription was very generously supplied by Rijcklof Hofman and the digital edition created by Pádraic Moran. The text of Priscian was made available thanks to the kindness of the Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum project. The edition links to manuscript images at the Codices Electronici Sangallenses (CESG) Virtual Library. Bernhard Bauer of the Dictionary of the Old Irish Priscian Glosses project at the University of Vienna very helpfully supplied Thesaurus references.

The work formed part of a two-year postdoctoral research project (2009–2011) by Pádraic Moran, investigating the cultural contexts of the Priscian glosses. It was funded by the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences and based in Classics (School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures) at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Using the digital edition

The digital edition aims to provide tools both for searching the glosses and for studying the glosses in context:

  • You may select options from the ‘Browse’ panel in the top left to read the glosses in relation to Priscian’s text, beginning at a particular book, or page of Hertz’s edition or manuscript page.
  • You may search the text of the glosses using the ‘Search’ panel on the top right, and optionally narrow your results to a particular gloss type and/or book. Clicking on a lemma will bring you into the text of Priscian at the relevant location. (An option to search Priscian and show related glosses is still in development.)

The glosses are listed with the following references. (You can use your mouse to point to any reference for more information.)

  • Manuscript page, column and line, with link to images at
  • Gloss code for textual glosses (a, b, c... aa, bb, cc... ; restarts for each new column).
  • Hertz’s volume, page and line, with link to an image from his edition.
  • Thesaurus reference, with link to image from the edition.
  • Priscian’s book number.
  • Hofman’s category codes.


  • Editorial practice for the presentation of Old Irish text (e.g. word-spacing, separation of preverbal particles and emphatic suffixes) differs slightly between the first part previously published in print (books 1–5) and the latter section published here only.

Work in progress

As at April 2013:

  • Links to Thesaurus images broken for about 10% (c. 400) of references.
  • Some category codes diverge from the master schema (these are marked [?] pending resolution).
  • On a few pages, the glosses do not all appear under the relevant lines of Priscian, but at the bottom of the page instead.
  • Information on different glossing hands is in the process of being encoded.
  • The sigla < > represent both text illegible and later additions; these are in the process of being distinguished.

Feedback (criticisms, suggestions, bug reports, etc.) are very welcome to:

Further reading

For a description of the manuscript, its sources, and an overview of the Irish Priscian gloss tradition, see the introduction to Hofman, Priscian Commentary, vol. 1. A bibliography to 1996 can be found in vol. 2 of the same work.

Bibliography 1996–2013

A more general bibliography on Priscian is available at the CGL website.