Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Symeon of Thessalonike and Michael Glykas, texts on doctrine and liturgy

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, copied on Mount Athos in 1535, contains a collection of works and excerpts of works by two Byzantine authors, <i>Symeon of Thessalonike and Michael Glykas, texts on doctrine and liturgy</i>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Glykas served as an imperial secretary in the reign of the Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1118-1180, r. 1143-1180), but was blinded as punishment for his involvement in a conspiracy. His works include a world-chronicle, poetry and writing on mathematics and astronomy, as well as the collection excerpted here. This consisted of 95 short treatises on religious questions, some in the form of letters, three of which were selected for this manuscript.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Most of the manuscript is taken up by the works of Symeon of Thessalonike, a native of Constantinople who was appointed Archbishop of Thessalonike, the second city of the Byzantine Empire, in 1416/17. He presided over the Orthodox Church in the city through the long Ottoman siege which began in 1422 and resulted in the diminished empire's cession of Thessalonike in 1423 to the Venetian Republic, in the hope that it would be able to provide a better defence. Symeon wrote an account of the events of the siege but died in 1429, a few months before the city fell to the Ottomans. Symeon also wrote numerous religious works, of which a number are copied here. These include a brief exposition of the articles of the Christian faith, a refutation of various heresies, and a range of treatises on matters related to the doctrine and practice of rituals and sacraments, including prayer, the liturgy, marriage, baptism, penance, funerals, the ordination of clergy and the consecration of churches.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript was copied by a hieromonachos (priest and monk) named Theophilos, who identifies himself in a colophon on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1);return false;'>f. 474r</a>, giving the date and place of the work's completion as June 1535 at the Hesychasterion of St Basil, a hermitage belonging to the Monastery of the Pantokrator on Mount Athos. Several other manuscripts are identified by colophons and their script as the work of this scribe, who had been a monk of the Athonite monasteries of Vatopedi and Iveron before entering the Hesychasterion of St Basil. They range in date from 1518 to 1548.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Theophilos structured his work carefully, numbering each text and supplying a contents list, but there are some anomalies in this organisation, perhaps reflecting the state of his source manuscript. Many of the works of Symeon reproduced here form part of a continuous sequence in which the author would preface the question to be addressed in a treatise at the end of the previous one, or refer back to the content of the previous one at the beginning of the next. This creates some ambiguities as to the boundaries of these texts or sections, and on a number of occasions this manuscript places the division between them at a different point from the tradition reflected in modern editions, with a portion of text ranging from a sentence to a chapter appearing on the opposite side of the divide. Such ambiguities are also reflected in the fact that two items appearing in his contents list have been struck out, one of which shares its title with a section in the previous text, suggesting that he had interpreted this as the beginning of a new text but then changed his mind.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>


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