St John's College MS O.83

William Whitaker, Latin translation of Apollinaris of Laodicea's Greek version of the Psalms etc. Latin, with some Greek and English, 1566.


William Whitaker (1547/8-1595), theologian and Master of St John's College, Cambridge (see ODNB). This translation is dedicated by Whitaker to his uncle, Alexander Nowell (c.1516/17-1602) Dean of St Paul's. Nowell supported his nephew's education and career, and Whitaker dedicated various translations to him, including a 1569 Latin rendering of material from the Book of Common Prayer and Greek versions of Nowell's catechism (1573-5). This translation is dated 1566 and thus dates from Whitaker's time as a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1568. The translation appears never to have been published. Apollinaris (d. c.390), Bishop of Laodicea, produced a Homeric and Pindaric version of the Old Testament and a Platonic rendering of the New Testament after the Roman emperor Julian had forbidden Christians to teach the classics.


  1. Verses in Latin and English beginning: Ni castigetur petulans mox clunis habetur except ye buttocks beaten bee. Inscription: James Eliott me tenet Sara Eljot August die 14 1642. (p. iii). In a different hand to that of the main text.
  2. Ad doctissimum virum D. Alexandorum Nowellum, Decanum S. Pauli, avunculum et patronum suum benignissimum, G. Whitacheri in Apolinarium Latinum a se factum praefatio. (pp. vii-xiii).
  3. Apolinarii metaphrasis in psalmos heroicis carminibus graece conscripta, nunc in primum Latinitate donata Guilielmo Whitachero interprete. (pp. 1-227). A note at the end reads: Finitus est hic liber Augusti mensis 28 Anno domini 1566.
  4. Platonis Axiochus, sive de morte contemnenda, interprete eodem. (pp. 231-246). The Axiochus is a pseudo-Platonic dialogue.
  5. Various notes in Latin and English, including 'phrases' and 'Proverbs ex libro Ro: Witham Cler', dated 1 July 1642. (At the end of the volume). These notes are in the same hand as item 1.
Manuscript extra information

210 x 155mm. xiv, 246 pages + blanks. Paper. The main hand is a neat 16th-century italic. Binding: 16th-century limp vellum on four sewing supports; small fragments of 15th?-century vellum manuscript sewn in; remains of six green silk ties; gold-tooled oval central ornament, with the initials A N on either side, on front and back covers; inscription in pen on spine 'Whitakeri versio Apollinarii in Psalm'; ticket on spine bearing the number 7.

The gilt initials A N on the covers clearly indicate the ownership of the dedicatee, Alexander Nowell. The name 'Iohn Foxe' appears at the end but this does not appear to be the autograph of the martyrologist. The manuscript was in the possession of James and Sara Eliott in 1642. A cutting from a bookseller's catalogue indicates that this manuscript was once in the Gurney Collection. It was purchased by George Udny Yule (1871-1951) for £15 15s and was given to St John's by him in 1936 (book label inside front cover and letter to the Librarian dated 7 July 1936).