Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Byzantine grammatical collection

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript forms the third volume of a <i>Byzantine grammatical collection</i> divided into at least four volumes, of which the fourth survives as MS O.1.2. It was probably copied in the second quarter of the 14th century in Thessalonike, the second city of the Byzantine Empire. Its content has been identified as being derived directly or indirectly from a copy then owned by the Monastery of the Theotokos in that city.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The bulk of this volume is occupied by the linguistic and historical lexicon of terms from the works of ten orators by Valerius Harpocration, an Alexandrian grammarian who probably worked in the 2nd century CE. It also contains a series of brief excerpts from Byzantine works which were themselves compilations of material from earlier authors: the 10th-century encyclopaedic lexicon known as the Souda, the compendium of excerpts from Plato's dialogues compiled by the late 13th-early 14th century scholar Maximos Planoudes, and the 9th-century lexicon of Patriarch Photios. The excerpt from the latter text was originally drawn from the lost work of Helladius Besantinus, itself a collection of extracts, so that by the time this content was included in the present collection it had been excerpted at least three times in succession by different compilers.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The sequential relationship with MS O.1.2 is indicated by notes on the first folio of each identifying this as the third and that as the fourth 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 17-24, while MS O.1.2 contains Quires 25-30. 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. MS O.1.2 was copied by a single scribe, while one hand was responsible for almost all of this manuscript, but four other hands, perhaps scribes in training, were each given a few lines to copy on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(114);return false;'>f. 52v</a>. 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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