skip to content

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Lexicon

Photios I, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 820-c. 891)

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, probably produced in the 12th century, is the oldest surviving copy of the <i>Lexicon of Photios</i> I, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 820-c. 891), sometimes called the Codex Galeanus. One of the most important figures in Byzantine intellectual and religious history, Photios engaged in serious power-struggles with both the emperor and the papacy, the repercussions of which included a brief schism between the Eastern and Western Churches in the 860s. He played a prominent role in the early stages of the literary revival in 9th and 10th-century Byzantium known as the Macedonian Renaissance, and his erudition in both Christian and pagan literature is reflected in his best-known work, the <i>Bibliotheca</i>, a list of the works he had read, including a considerable number of texts that have since been lost. This wide range of sources available to the Patriarch and his assistants is reflected in the compilation of this lexicon, which synthesises all of the various lexica mentioned in the <i>Bibliotheca</i>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript was copied by several different scribes, who appear to have shared the work as part of a single project. The transitions between the different individuals' work often occur naturally at the break between quires, but on occasion one takes over from another in the middle of a page, or in the transition from recto to verso of the same folio.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>An early owner of the manuscript was one Niketas Lychnos, mentioned in two notes on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>f. 1r</a>. The first of these, referring to the manuscript as his "gift to Christ", presumably records his donation of it to a religious institution. The other is now substantially illegible, but as previously transcribed it records the death of Lychnos, dating this to 1198/9, and identifies him as a holder of the Byzantine court titles of proedros and protonotarios.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>While the manuscript may have formed part of the collection of Cardinal Niccolò Ridolfi in the 16th century, its securely documented modern history begins with its acquisition in Florence in 1598 by the Cambridge theologian Richard Thomson. During the 17th century it passed through the hands of a series of important collectors before being left to Trinity as part of the Gale collection. It was studied by leading scholars including Joseph Scaliger, Isaac Casaubon, Richard Bentley, Johann Reiske and Richard Porson.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Most of the early part of the manuscript is lost: while two folios survive from the first quire, including the first folio of the text, the rest of the first thirteen quires is missing. Nineteen more survive in whole or in part, along with a single folio appended at the end of the manuscript. These losses greatly affected the past study of the text, since until the discovery of a complete copy in the Monastery of Zavorda in Macedonia in the late 19th century, this was the only known copy of the lexicon, forming the basis for editions and numerous modern manuscript copies. On the basis of apparent interpolations in the text by copyists, it has also been identified as the exemplar, through intermediate copies, of the other two known manuscripts of the Byzantine period, the Zavorda manuscript and a copy formerly in Berlin, lost since the Second World War.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

Want to know more?

Under the 'More' menu you can find , and information about sharing this image.

No Contents List Available
No Metadata Available


If you want to share this page with others you can send them a link to this individual page:
Alternatively please share this page on social media

You can also embed the viewer into your own website or blog using the code below: