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Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts : Introduction to Grammar

Gazes, Theodoros, approximately 1400-approximately 1475

Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, produced in 1489, contains the Greek grammar of Theodore Gaza or Gazes, a 15th-century Byzantine scholar from Thessalonike who had served as secretary to the Emperor John VIII Palaiologos (1392-1448, r. 1425-1448) before travelling to Italy to study Latin language and rhetoric in the 1430s. He became one of the leading figures in Greek studies in Renaissance Italy, working as a teacher and translator. His grammar was one of a number of such works written by Byzantine scholars teaching in Italy in this period. They were useful to western European scholars seeking to refine their understanding of Greek, but since they were typically written entirely in Greek, as this one was, they required a reasonable knowledge of the language to begin with. Gazes served as Professor of Greek at the University of Ferrara in 1440-1449, and wrote this textbook for the use of his students, drawing on a number of works by earlier authors. It became the most highly-regarded Greek grammar of the Renaissance.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript was copied in Reading by Ioannes Serbopoulos, a Greek scribe born in Constantinople, who came to work in England and was apparently based at Reading Abbey in the years 1489-1500, as indicated by colophons on his manuscripts. This was one of at least four copies of Gazes's grammar which he produced. Most of his surviving manuscripts are now in the libraries of Oxford, and it is likely that the university there provided the principal market for his work.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>One of the owners of this manuscript, George Etheridge (1519-c. 1588), can be identified by the motto which he wrote on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>f. 1r</a>. Etheridge was appointed Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford by Henry VIII and restored to the post by Mary, but was removed under Edward VI and again under Elizabeth I because of his adherence to Catholicism. The motto and the hand in which it is written match another note in a manuscript owned by Etheridge, Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Antiq. c. GS. 1539/2. A subsequent owner in the early 17th century was the writer and diplomat Henry Wotton, who added extensive notes and glosses in Latin and Greek.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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