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Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Byzantine grammatical collection

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript forms the fourth volume of a <i>Byzantine grammatical collection</i> divided into at least four volumes, of which the fourth survives as MS O.1.5. It was probably copied in the second quarter of the 14th century in Thessalonike, the second city of the Byzantine Empire.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The principal component of this volume is a treatise by the 8th-9th-century grammarian Michael, <i>synkellos</i> (chaplain) to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, followed by the alphabetical collection of proverbs compiled by the 13th-century scholar George of Cyprus, who became Patriarch Gregory II of Constantinople. It also contains a series of other brief grammatical texts and linguistic oddments.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The sequential relationship with MS O.1.5 is indicated by notes on the first folio of each manuscript, identifying this as the fourth and that as the third volume, by the appearance of quire signatures from the same sequence in both manuscripts, and by the use of similar parchment strips in the binding. This volume contains the original Quires 25-30, while MS O.1.5 contains Quires 17-24. The implication of the single signature series is that these and the preceding two parts were supposed to form a single large manuscript.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The question is complicated by the fact that the two manuscripts appear to have been copied by different scribes, while their modest ornament is also different in style.However, the fact that both manuscripts were made from paper bearing the same unusual watermark suggests that, although produced separately, they belong to the same context of production and may well have been part of the same project. The style of script of the notes identifying them as the third and fourth parts appears similar in date to the main text, sugesting that the four-part organisation occurred around the time of production or soon after. It is unclear, however, whether these notes were meant to identify the order of a series of separate volumes or to indicate in which order a series of originally separate entities were to be bound together (in which case they would presumably have been written before the quire signatures were added, as these would have rendered such numbering superfluous). It therefore remains uncertain whether they were originally intended to be part of one codex or if this was a plan developed at some point after they had been copied, and it is also unclear whether they were actually bound together and then separated or if the plan was abandoned after the signatures had been marked but before the binding actually occurred.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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