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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Menologion for September and October

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, produced probably during the early decades of the 12th century, is a <i>Menologion for September and October</i>, a liturgical book containing the hagiographical texts to be read in church during those months on the appropriate feast-days, including Lives of Saints, martyrdom narratives and accounts regarding relics and posthumous miracles.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The majority of the texts originally found 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;'>Others are the work of various other authors. Some are anonymous. The longest is the Life of St Gregory the Illuminator, the king credited with the conversion of Armenia, by one Agathangelos, originally written in Armenian and later translated into Greek. Another is a text on the acts of St John the Theologian, attributed to Prochoros, who appears in the Acts of the Apostles and was traditionally represented as John's scribe. Two more are the work of the 7th-century Syrian cleric Andrew, Archbishop of Crete, and one is an oration by the great 4th-century theologian Gregory of Nazianzus.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript is of good quality, with painted and gilded ornament, copied by three scribes. At three different points its folios were not assembled in normal quires of folded bifolios but in sets of two or three separate folios joined together with stitching or with strips of parchment pasted onto them. On two of these occasions, two of these small, unconventional gatherings appear in succession, each numbered as a separate quire. Each of these peculiar brief stretches of folios contains within it one or more transitions between the work of the different scribes, which in two cases coincides with the transition between texts. This is presumably the underlying cause of these structural oddities, although exactly how the working process produced the particular structures present is not always clear.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The quires of the manuscript are presently stitched together into a single book-block, but without boards or cover. The present stitching is evidently the product of a rebinding, since the notches cut for the stitching of the original binding can still be seen. Perhaps as part of this or a previous rebinding, or possibly due to a change of plan in the original binding, after the quires were numbered, each of the two pairs of consecutive short quires was joined together into one larger unit, by the same kind of means as the individual folios had been joined. The one short quire appearing on its own was joined to a conventional adjacent quire.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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