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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Treatise on the Astrolabe

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, produced in 1584, contains the <i>Treatise on the Astrolabe</i> of Ioannes Philoponos, a 6th-century Alexandrian writer on philosophy and theology, who had a particular interest in the natural sciences. It was copied by Maximos Margounios (whose name before becoming a monk had been Manuel), a humanist scholar and poet from Venetian-ruled Crete, who taught in Venice and wrote on theology and Aristotelian philosophy, and edited Greek patristic and Byzantine texts for print publication. He also copied numerous manuscripts or portions of them. In late 1583 or early 1584 he was appointed Bishop of Kythera, another island then under Venetian rule. A proponent of rapprochement between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, whose mother came from the noble Italian Colonna family, Margounios was in contact with various western European humanists, including Martin Crusius, as well as leading dignitaries of the Orthodox Church. His pupils included the future Patriarch of Constantinople Cyril Loukaris (1572-1638), who was exceptionally active in advancing intellectual and religious contacts between East and West.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The main text of this manuscript is preceded by a dedicatory letter addressed to one of Margounios's Italian associates, Giacomo Germinino, and was presumably intended for him. In a fashionable scholarly affectation, in dating this text Margounios uses the ancient Athenian civil calendar, giving the day as the 6th of the month of Metageitnion, which fell partly in August and partly in September, though giving the year by the Christian era. The revived usage of these months was highly erratic, so this cannot be used to place the manuscript's completion at a definite point in the year. Margounios still describes himself here as a <i>hieromonachos</i> (a monk and priest), suggesting that the manuscript dates from before his episcopal appointment, placing its completion early in the year and indicating that his elevation occurred in 1584 rather than 1583.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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