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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Greek texts on mathematics, astronomy and geography

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> Manuscript Gg.2.33 is a composite volume comprising various <i>Greek texts on mathematics, astronomy and geography</i> by Ptolemy, Theodore Metochites, Proclus, Archimedes, Euclid, Theon of Alexandria, John Philoponus, Theodore Meliteniotes, Heron of Alexandria, Isaac Argyrus, Agathemerus and Dionysius of Byzantium. It comprises 13 parts, which now appear partly in disorder. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The texts were copied by three scribes. The majority of the texts were copied by Nikolaos Sophianos, a Greek scribe, printer, and editor from Corfu, who was active in Rome, in Venice and in other cities in the second quarter of the 16th century. One of the manuscript's parts (part VIII) was copied by Constantinos Mesobotes, active in Padua, Venice and Bologna in the first half of the 16th century (manuscripts by him are dated 1508-1533). While it does not seem that Nikolaos Sophianos and Konstantinos Mesobotes worked together (there are no traces of Sophianos' hand in the part of the manuscript copied by him), Sophianos and an anonymous contemporary (hand B) do seem to have worked together: for instance, they alternate in the copy of Proclus' <i> Hypotyposis</i> and Metochites' second book of the<i> Introduction to Astronomy</i>. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> Part VI of the manuscript contains the <i> Sketch of Geography</i> by Agathemerus, one of the texts in the corpus of the Minor Greek Geographers. This text was contained in <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''> Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Pal. gr. 398</a> (a 9th century manuscript), but was lost with the first five quires of the codex; it reached Europe in the 16th century by means of this Cambridge manuscript. In the middle of the 16th century, Nikolaos Sophianos, who copied this part of the manuscript, was sent on missions to acquire manuscripts for the Spanish ambassador in Venice Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. It was probably during his travels that he copied Agathemerus' text from MS Athos, Mone Batopediou, 655 (14th century) on Mount Athos. When Sophianos' manuscript was brought to Italy, 15 copies of the text were produced before 1600 (for more detail, see A. Diller, <i> The tradition of the minor Greek geographers</i>, Lancaster 1952, pp. 15, 17-18).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The parts of the manuscript appear to have been preserved for some time unbound, independent from one another, as the condition of their first and last leaves attests: in various cases these leaves are much more damaged than the preceding and following ones, see e.g. the first leaves of part V, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(229);return false;'>f. 112r</a>, or of part VIII, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(285);return false;'>f. 140r</a>. The leaves of part VIII, copied by Konstantinos Mesobotes, seem moreover to have been folded vertically, another proof that this part was kept unbound for some time. Some of the parts by Sophianos are written on a similar or the same paper; nevertheless, their independence is attested, for instance, by the presence of different sequences of signatures written by the scribe. The tradition of the texts, in some cases, attests the independent origin of the parts, which were copied from different exemplars: for instance it is known that part VI was copied from Athos, Mone Batopediou, 655, part V from MS <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, gr. 2360</a>, one text of part VII from MS <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. gr. 184</a>, part XIII from MS <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut.28.10</a>. </p> As has been said, the parts of the manuscript are now bound partly in disorder. Part III, which contains Proclus' <i> Hypotyposis astronomicarum positionum</i>, is formed by ff. 65r-82v and 258r-265v. A quire (quire 31<sup>8</sup>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(521);return false;'>ff. 258r-265v</a>) has been misplaced and bound inside out. The leaves of part XII are not in the right order, due to the loss of the original structure and succession of the quires. The last quire of part XIII (248r-257v, 107r-111) has been misplaced. It is not clear when these changes occurred but it was certainly before the manuscript received its present binding. On the first leaves of the quires survives a numbering from 2°(<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(249);return false;'>f. 122r</a>) to 14° (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(445);return false;'>f. 220r</a>) which attests another order of the quires, different from the original one and from the present one as well. While the details remain to be investigated, this is further evidence of the eventful history of this manuscript.<p style='text-align: justify;'> Dr Erika Elia</p>

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