Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Dioptra, hagiographical texts, hymns and prayers

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript contains a vernacular Greek paraphrase of a long poem of religious instruction called the <i>Dioptra, hagiographical texts, hymns and prayers</i>, copied in 1642-1643 by two different scribes, one of whom claims to have done the work on board ship.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The hagiographical works include saints' Lives and other texts to be read in church on particular days of the liturgical calendar, including orations on Abraham and King David, and a text on the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. These were copied by a priest and monk named Neophytos, at least some of them at St George's church or monastery in a place called Neochori, as he recorded in a colophon on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(212);return false;'>f. 100v</a>, dated 17 November 1643. This place cannot be located with any confidence, as Neochori is a very common name. However, one possibility is the large village of Neochori on the Bosphorus (now called Yeniköy). This hypothesis is suggested by the fact that the parish of St George there was a dependency of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and that Patriarch is mentioned by a later note on the flyleaf <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>f. iv recto</a>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This colophon presumably refers only to the completion of the text at whose end it appears. However, Neophytos evidently continued copying without interruption as part of the same project, since his text continues in the same unfinished quire and the next few quires were copied on the same paper and feature ornament of the same style.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>At the beginning of the first two texts (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>1r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(89);return false;'>39r</a>) there are headpieces and ornamented initial letters drawn in ink and filled with both paint and gold. While the designs of the headpieces at the beginning of subsequent texts (ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(145);return false;'>67r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(213);return false;'>101r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(253);return false;'>121r</a>) are in the same style, gold is no longer used, its place being taken by yellow paint. The headpiece of <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(213);return false;'>f. 101r</a> exists only as an ink outline, without any infill. Similarly, the accompanying initial letters, which on ff. <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>1r</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(89);return false;'>39r</a> are largely in gold, are in ink only for the subsequent texts. This suggests that money may have run short during the production of the manuscript, leading to the abandonment of the use of the expensive material.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The latter part of the manuscript was copied by an unnamed scribe who wrote his own colophon on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(360);return false;'>ff. 174v-175r</a>. This records the completion of the work that accounted for the bulk of his work here, the <i>Dioptra</i>. He then went on to copy two hymns. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The original <i>Dioptra</i> was the work of Philippis Monotropos, an 11th-century monk. The colophon records that the vernacular paraphrase found here was the work of Konstantinos, a <i>krites</i> (judge) in Thessalonike who employed the former Byzantine court title of <i>vestes</i>. He composed it in 1639 in the Thracian port of Ainos at the school of Georgios, <i>rhetor</i> and <i>ekdikos</i> (an advocate responsible for asserting the legal rights of a church institution) of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia. The colophon goes on to say that the present copy of the work was written on board a ship from a place called St Cyril's in 1642, and paid for by an <i>archon</i> (aristocrat) named Armagos.</p>The fact that different parts of the manuscript were copied by different scribes in different places, and that their work does not coincide within any quire or text could be taken to suggest that their work was done entirely separately. However, the paper used by the second scribe appears to be of the same type as the one used in the latter part of the work of Neophytos, while the ornament accompanying their work is of the same style. This suggests that both worked on behalf of the same patron as part of the same project, despite their physical separation.<p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>


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