Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Menologion for November

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, probably produced during the 13th or early 14th century, is a <i>Menologion for November</i>, a liturgical book containing the hagiographical texts to be read in church during that month, including Lives of Saints, martyrdom narratives and accounts regarding relics and posthumous miracles.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Most of the texts in this volume are the work of Symeon Metaphrastes, or Symeon the Metaphrast, a 10th-century Byzantine civil official and later a monk. He rewrote numerous existing hagiographical texts in a more accessible style and compiled these into a new <i>menologion</i>. The term Metaphrast refers to this practice of rewriting. Symeon's versions of these stories became the most widely used, superseding those read previously.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The main body of the manuscript, written on Eastern paper, contains texts for the feasts from 20 to 30 November. It evidently lost some folios at the end quite early in its history, as the last original quire is incomplete and the remainder of the last text has been supplied by replacement folios copied by a different hand and written on Western paper, whose watermarks and script place it in the earlier decades of the 14th century.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Further folios of similar date, but written by two different hands on two different papers, have also been added to the beginning of the manuscript. The content of these pertains to the feasts falling on 17 and 18 November, and is therefore appropriately positioned in sequence with the main body. In the standard organisation of the metaphrastic menologion, the fourth volume normally contained the texts for 17-30 November. However, it seems that this these folios were not, as at the other end of the manuscript, replacements for lost originals. The sequence of quire signatures, which appear to be in the hand of the original scribe, begins with the first existing quire of the main body, while the heading to the opening text names the month, whereas those for all subsequent texts merely give the day as "in the same month" ("μηνὶ τῷ αὐτῷ"). This indicates that the text for 20 November was originally the first. It therefore seems that this manuscript and any companion volumes did not follow the typical arrangement, and that the additional folios at the front of the manuscript were not replacements but part of an expansion to bring the manuscript's content into line with what would usually be expected. A number of these additional folios have since been lost.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Another peculiarity is that the current <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(315);return false;'>f. 157</a>, although it appears to be the work of the principal scribe, seems to be a replacement for an original folio which was cut out, pasted onto the residual stub. This was perhaps due to some deficiency or damage sustained at any early stage. Oddly, however, the folio contains less text than normal: the script is larger, the number of lines is smaller and there is a substantial amount of space left blank on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(316);return false;'>the verso</a>. The reason for this can only be a matter of speculation. It could be that the scribe had erroneously copied a passage twice, or reproduced such an error in the exemplar, and this intervention was later made to eliminate the duplicate content, leaving a smaller than usual amount of text to fill the replacement folio, which was therefore stretched to fill more space, but still did not cover the whole of the usual written area.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript retains a binding in the medieval Greek style, which must have been made subsequent to the insertion of the additional and replacement folios. Much of its covering material has been lost, but some of the blind-tooled decoration can still be seen. The motifs include the fleur-de-lys and the imperial double-headed eagle.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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