Roman Rustic script was easier to write with a pen than the monumental Roman Square capitals. Examples of this script survive from the 1st century AD. It continued to be used as a high-grade bookhand, even up until the 9th century, and was regularly used as an alternative script for display purposes in earlier medieval manuscripts.

Here is a facsimile of a page of Roman Rustic script. It comes from Vatican Library MS Pal. Lat. 1631: a 6th-century copy of an earlier original. It is known to Virgil scholars as the Codex Palatinus.

If you cannot see it all, use the scroll bar.
Sorry these are in black and white. Colour comes the week after next.

Roman Rustic full page


Transcribe the portion between the red lines, using ‘capital’ letters;
Go to a close-up version of the portion to be transcribed.
  1. Why have I asked you to use capital letters?
  1. Copy out a line, using pen and ink.
    What do you notice about the mechanics of writing?
  1. What is the overall aspect of the script? Measure it.
  1. How are the letters drawn in relation to the baseline and headline?
  1. What do you notice about the forms of the letters, in comparison
    with modern typefaces?
    Are any of them strikingly different from modern letters?
    Which could you get mixed up?
  1. Do you notice anything interesting about the layout?
  1. Is there any punctuation?
  1. Is there any ornamentation?

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