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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Greek prayers and hymns

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, copied in the last quarter of the 16th century, is composed mainly of <i>Greek prayers and hymns</i>. Some of these are drawn from the <i>Horologion</i> (Book of Hours) known as the <i>Thekara</i>, whose compiler, known by the same name, is sometimes identified with the Byzantine scholar Thomas Magistros (c. 1275-c. 1346). Other short texts include the eleven Gospel readings of the Resurrection (<i>eothina</i>), instructions on the recitation of hymns, and a brief narrative in which Thekara answers a spiritual query from another monk named Theodoulos.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Most of the manuscript is the work of a single scribe, the monk Gregorios, who shifted between two distinct styles of writing. It appears to have been produced originally as six distinct physical entities, four of which are substantial and distinguished by their own separate sequences of quire signatures. Two of these begin with brief prayers of invocation in the margin of their first folio, such as might be written by a monk beginning a new piece of work (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(241);return false;'>117r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(531);return false;'>261r</a>).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Of the other two, smaller portions, one is a single brief quire at the beginning of the manuscript, perhaps originally intended as endleaves before content was copied into it by other hands, including calendrical tables. The other consists of two quires at the end, of which the last few folios were left blank by Gregorios, perhaps for the same purpose, but were filled in with additional hymns, attributed to the 9th-century hymnographer Joseph, by another hand.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It therefore seems that Gregorios did not originally envisage the different portions becoming part of a single volume. However, whereas he wrote no colophon at the end of any of the four substantial portions of the manuscript, he did add one at the end of his work in the last, which amounted to the copying of a mere twelve folios. This suggests that when he came to produce this, the decision had already been taken to bind all of the parts together into a single manuscript, and that this brief portion was intended as a supplement to the larger body of content to which it was added.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript long retained an early modern Greek binding which may well date from its original production, but due to deterioration and damage to the spine, it has been rebound. The components of the old binding are housed alongside it.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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