Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Introduction to Grammar

Gazes, Theodoros, approximately 1400-approximately 1475

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, produced in 1476 or 1479, contains the Greek grammar of Theodore Gaza or Gazes, a 15th-century Byzantine scholar from Thessalonike who had served as secretary to the Emperor John VIII Palaiologos (1392-1448, r. 1425-1448) before travelling to Italy to study Latin language and rhetoric in the 1430s. He became one of the leading figures in Greek studies in Renaissance Italy, working as a teacher and translator. His grammar was one of a number of such works written by Byzantine scholars teaching in Italy in this period. They were useful to western European scholars seeking to refine their understanding of Greek, but since they were typically written entirely in Greek, as this one was, they required a reasonable knowledge of the language to begin with. Gazes served as Professor of Greek at the University of Ferrara in 1440-1449, and wrote this textbook for the use of his students, drawing on a number of works by earlier authors. It became the most highly-regarded Greek grammar of the Renaissance.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Though commonplace in its purpose, the manuscript was a high-quality production, written on parchment in an era when cheaper paper was the norm, especially for secular texts, copied by a skilled calligrapher and ornamented. Its history is relatively well-attested, thanks to its scribal colophon and a number of notes left by its various owners. It was copied in Rome by Ioannes Rhosos, a native of Venetian-ruled Crete who had settled in Italy. There he found steady employment as a professional scribe, moving frequently between the various centres of Greek studies and producing books for some of the most important scholars and dignitaries of the Italian Renaissance. His colophon (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(309);return false;'>f. 159r</a>) dates its completion to 10 November 1479; however, its earliest ownership note (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(310);return false;'>f. 159v</a> ) dates its copying and purchase to 1476.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The purchaser who added this note was John Shirwood, Bishop of Durham, who spent a considerable part of his career in Rome and amassed a substantial library including a collection of Greek books. While Shirwood's Latin books ultimately entered the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, this is one of at most two Greek works identified as having belonged to him (the other is Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Rawlinson G. 93).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Another ownership note (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(311);return false;'>f. 160r</a>), in a 16th-century hand, records the book's ownership by Walter Harton, son of Richard Harton. It may previously have belonged to his father, as another note, which survives only in part (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>f. 1v</a>), may be reconstructed as the name Richard Harton. A subsequent owner, Gabriel Applebie, left two more notes at the front and back of the volume (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>1v</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(311);return false;'>160r</a>), the latter dated to 1614. It subsequently belonged to the classical scholar Meric Casaubon, son of Isaac Casaubon, and was bought for the University Library in the sale of his effects after his death in 1671.</p>


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