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The place of a cookbook in a Renaissance public library: study on Apicius’ De re coquinaria from the Laurentian manuscript Plut. 73.20



Some of the first Renaissance manuscripts of the cookbook attributed to Apicius, produced in the second half of the 15th century, were almost certainly made to integrate private libraries of powerful signori of Northern and Central Italy. Nonetheless, the long history of the Apician manuscript Plut. 73.20 - an item that was moved from the Medici’s private collection to the first modern public library in Florence, the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana - allows further considerations about it. The investigation of its material aspects, as well as of its physical and spatial location in the library, will be used in this article as a starting point to discuss how the contents of Apicius’ cookbook were interpreted and classified by the humanists of its time. The working hypothesis is that humanists, particularly those interested in medicine, were fundamental in changing its classification, at least temporarily, from culinary to medical one.

Apicius; Italian Renaissance; Cookbooks; Medicine; Libraries; Circulation of knowledge

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