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Sidney Sussex College : Byzantine canon law

Sidney Sussex College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>The principal content of this manuscript, apparently copied in 1561, is a compilation of selections of <i>Byzantine canon law</i>. The copyist appears to have been the person responsible for assembling the compilation, a hieromonachos (monk and priest) named Theonas. A miscellaneous assortment of brief religious and secular texts and excerpts have been added to the blank leaves left at the end of the manuscript, probably by the same hand.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript opens with a dedication to the Metropolitan of Serres, suggesting that he may have been the work's patron, although the addition of the assorted texts at the end of the volume suggests that it remained in Theonas's possession. The dedication is followed by the opening of a prefatory text on the spiritual motivation of the work undertaken, which breaks off in mid-word after a few lines, followed by a note identifying Theonas himself. On the next page this text is repeated and continued to its conclusion, followed by the date and the name of Theonas in stylised monocondylion form. Since names in monocondylion were usually signatures, this is the principal indication that this man was responsible for both the copying and the content of the manuscript. Another brief prefatory text, again giving the date and Theonas's titles, follows on the next page. This sequence of content suggests that the introductory material was in the process of being drafted here. Combined with the informality of the script, this would suggest a working manuscript, perhaps intended as the basis for a subsequent fair copy, but the adornment of the main text with simple ornamental initials in red ink is more suggestive of an intention for long-term use.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The selections from the canons make up the majority of the manuscript. They are followed by a series of prayers, interspersed with multiple blank folios. In the last few folios appear some very brief texts of classical content, including poetry and brief aphorisms excerpted from a number of ancient authors. The unsystematic distribution and arrangement of these assorted texts suggests that they were added incidentally at various times subsequent to the copying of the main content, rather than forming part of a single plan.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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