The incipit or first words of a work, by virtue of its invariability, is the identity card of a text. In medieval European library inventories, where attributions of authorship and title of a work were singularly unstable and where anonymous works abound, the citation of the first words of a text was already seen as one of the surest means to identify it. Enabling one to identify a particular text and at least some of the locations of its manuscript witnesses, In Principio is an ongoing guide to the incipits of Latin texts in all disciplines and from classical antiquity through to the Renaissance. Based on the cataloging of major manuscript repositories, it now (2012) has entries for over a million incipits and adds another 100,000 or so annually. (Updates ongoing)
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