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Corpus Christi College : Psalter in Latin and Greek

Corpus Christi College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, copied in the 13th century, is a bilingual <i>Psalter in Latin and Greek</i>, with the Greek written in Latin letters. As was often the case, the Psalms are followed by a series of canticles, hymns excerpted from various Biblical books. These are themselves followed by a few common prayers in Latin. At the beginning of the manuscript there appears a range of brief Latin texts, including verses, notes on astronomy and prognostication, and a list of Greek prepositions and their meanings.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Another text appearing here is the calendar of the Benedictine abbey of Ramsey, in Cambridgeshire. A note on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>f. ii recto</a> indicates that it was the property of a prior named Gregory, who has been identified as Gregory of Huntingdon, prior of Ramsey in the second half of the 13th century. Gregory was a scholar of Greek and Hebrew, whose writings included works on Greek grammar.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript also features a diagram displaying a cipher system for writing numbers from 1-99 ( <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>f. i verso</a>). These would take the form of a vertical line with one stroke added to its left whose position and angle indicate the units from 1 to 9, and another to the right to indicate the tens from 10 to 90. This system was reported by the chronicler Matthew Paris to have been used by Greek scribes and brought to England by John of Basingstoke (d. 1252), archdeacon of Leicester, who translated a Greek grammar into Latin and was associated with the scholarly circle of Robert Grosseteste. According to Matthew's account, John had studied Greek in Athens under Constantina, daughter of the city's archbishop. The cipher system of John of Basingstoke is not found in surviving Greek manuscripts, but could be of Greek origin, as a similar system using such marks to denote letters has been found on an inscription of the 4th century BCE in Athens (see: King, <i>Ciphers</i>, pp. 51-59).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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