Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Panegyrikon

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, probably copied in the second half of the 11th century, is a <i>Panegyrikon</i>, a collection of texts for reading on particular feast days of the liturgical calendar, mainly homilies, along with some hagiographic works. The selection of feasts covered here runs through the full Byzantine calendar year, from September to August. All the identified authors whose works appear here belong to the patristic era, extending to the early 8th century.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The whole of the original body of the manuscript was copied by a single scribe. The headpieces and initial letters appearing at the beginning of each text are notably varied, some being drawn in red ink alone while others feature painted infill, often in translucent wash. Those in similar materials tend to be grouped together, but no particular logic is apparent in their distribution through the manuscript. Many feature zoomorphic forms, usually snakes, along with the rendering of the letter <i>omicron</i> as a fish. Zoomorphic forms are quite unusual in Greek manuscripts produced in the Byzantine mainstream; still more unusually, human figures occasionally appear as part of the initials (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(90);return false;'>41v</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(751);return false;'>364r</a>) The use of these forms and of translucent wash, especially yellow, in rendering them suggests that the manuscript may have been produced in the Greek-speaking communities of southern Italy, where manuscript production was influenced by Latin practice and such features were more common.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>At some point, probably in the 15th century, additional quires made of paper were inserted into the manuscript, considerably smaller than the original parchment folios (<a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(449);return false;'>ff. [219a]-239</a>). These may have been intended as replacements for original folios which had been lost, but this is not certain, since the feasts selected for inclusion form a very selective set and there is no overlap betwen the individual texts featured here and those surviving in the adjacent parts of the original body of the manuscript. Even if these were replacements for losses, it is unclear whether or not the texts found here were the same as those the manuscript originally contained. The manuscript has subsequently lost further folios, while many others have had parts cut or torn away.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>At some point during the later 13th-15th centuries, the manuscript was owned by a Byzantine aristocrat named Nikolaos Synadenos, a member of a powerful family of the period and holder of the imperial court title of <i>sebastos</i>, as indicated by a note on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(632);return false;'>ff. 304v-305r</a>. This also identifies him as the <i>anepsios</i> (nephew or cousin) of a cleric named Basil and mentions another relative named Azanos or Azeinos, holder of the court office of <i>megas logariastes</i>. These individuals have not been definitely identified with any known from other sources. The purpose of the note is to record the donation of this manuscript to a monastery which Nikolaos had founded called the Nea Mone (New Monastery, a name borne by various convents of the Byzantine period). In calling down the usual curses on those who would deprive the monastery of its property, the note refers also to a list of other books donated to the institution.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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