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16 May 2015

The Harley Trilingual Psalter

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Harley MS 5786, f 106v. Coloured initials at the beginning of Psalm 80, and marginal annotation in Arabic noting that this is the reading for Fridays.

Sicily in the twelfth century was an island of many languages. The Harley Trilingual Psalter (Harley MS 5786) bears eloquent witness to this multilingual culture. Written in three parallel columns, it presents the text of the Psalms in the Greek of the Septuagint, the Latin of the Vulgate, and the the 11th-century Arabic translation of Abu'l-Fath 'Abdallāh ibn al-Fadl ibn 'Abdallāh al-Mutrān al-Antaki. On the basis of the script and a faded inscription on the verso of the last folio, the manuscript can be dated to between 1130 and 1153, and was almost certainly written in Palermo, at the court of Roger II of Sicily.

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Harley MS 5786, f 173v: faded inscription dated 8 January 1153.

The inscription which helps to date the manuscript marks the date 8 January 1153. This is now very faded, as can be seen from the image above, though it was transcribed in the mid-18th century by Thomas Birch and William Watson. Multi-spectral imaging can make the inscription more legible and confirms the reading of Birch and Watson.

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Harley MS 5786, f 173v, multi-spectral image of the inscription.

The inscription is written in Latin, but the hand does not match any of the scribal hands that contributed to writing the Latin text of the Psalms, so 1153 is best taken as a date before which the manuscript was written. As for the localisation of the manuscript in Palermo, the script of all three columns helps us here: The Greek script is that known as "Reggio-style", which is characteristic not merely of Reggio but of the Sicilian and Calabrian region more generally. Similarly, the Latin script (written by at least six hands) is typical Italian protogothic. The Arabic script is very similar to that of the diwani script introduced into Sicily in c. 1130.

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Beginning of Psalm 68, Harley MS 5786 f 87r.

The Psalms are all numbered in each column, according to the numbering system of each language. Thus Greek numerals (not visible in this image) are used in the Greek column, Roman numerals in the Latin, and Arabic numerals in the Arabic column. The only marginalia to be found in the manuscript (aside from occasional later corrections) are notes in Arabic written in the margins, all of which refer to the Latin liturgy. In the image above, for instance, the Arabic marginal note says “Reading for Thursday night”. These marginal notes have led some to believe that this manuscript was used by Arabic-speaking Christians to follow along with Latin services in Palermo. Yet its status as a trilingual psalter surely also helps to serve the political purposes of Roger II himself, who took pains to present himself as a king of all the people of Sicily: speakers of Greek, of Latin, and of Arabic. In this regard, the Trilingual Psalter is a parallel to architectural works such as the Cappella Palatina, which fused Byzantine, Arab, and Norman forms. Whatever its purpose, the Harley Trilingual Psalter reminds us of the multilingual nature of twelfth-century Sicily, and of the different social groups living in Palermo at that time.

- Cillian O'Hogan

05 May 2015

An Even More Giant List of Manuscript Hyperlinks: Spring Update

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The trees are blossoming and so too is our giant list of manuscript hyperlinks.

Download BL Ancient Medieval and Early Modern Digitised Manuscripts Master List 28.04.15

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Miniature of a group of angels singing and scattering flowers, from Divina commedia, Italy, N. (Emilia or Padua), late 14th century, Egerton MS 943, f. 118r


 

The British Library’s website of Digitised Manuscripts has been flourishing over the last few months. It now features a second illustrated copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Egerton MS 943), an 11th-century Mozarabic liturgy (Add MS 30845) and psalter (Add MS 30851), a treatise in French written by a young Edward VI (Add MS 5464), and the Hours of René of Anjou (Egerton MS 1070).

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Mozarabic Liturgy, Spain, North (Burgos, ?Santo Domingo de Silos), 11th century, Add MS 30845, f. 42r



There was cause for cheer (and the most incredible cake) when we published the long-awaited manuscripts of the Lancelot-Grail cycle (Add MS 10292, Add MS 10293, Add MS 10294 and Add MS 10294/1).

The Greek Digitisation Project also came to a triumphant close with the upload of the final 75 manuscripts, which were featured in a recent blog post.

Some other early highlights from 2015 include three monumental Romanesque Bibles: the Parc Abbey Bible (Add MS 14788, Add MS 14789 and Add MS 14790), the Stavelot Bible (Add MS 28106 and Add MS 28107, find out more here), and the Arnstein Bible (Harley MS 2798 and Harley MS 2799), with its famous depictions of the monstrous races. In addition, we published the British Library’s volumes of the Paris-Oxford-London Bible moralisée (Harley MS 1526 and Harley MS 1527, discussed here) and a rather wonderful Apocalypse manuscript (Yates Thompson MS 10).

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St Luke's ox introduces the final horseman: he emerges from a gaping monster's mouth riding a pale horse and holding a sword (Revelation, 6: 7-8), from Apocalypse, France (Paris), c. 1370–c. 1390, Yates Thompson MS 10, f. 10r

 

And the first batch of Paston letters recently went live too!

But of course our work does not end here. As well as more letters from the Paston volumes, the summer months will bring six manuscripts with French prose romances, two incredible Biblical picture books and the 15th-century illustrations of Sir John Mandeville’s Travels. Watch this space!

- Hannah Morcos

28 March 2015

The Greek Manuscripts of Robert Curzon, Part II

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(For Part I, see this post).

Today we continue our journey through the Greek manuscripts acquired by the 19th-century bibliophile and traveller Robert Curzon.

Add MS 39604. Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 344), with notes of lessons and names of months in Arabic. 12th century, ff 1-24 being added in the 14th century. Illuminated headpieces and initials. 16th-17th century binding of wooden boards covered with black leather, St. Andrew's cross in panel, blind-tooled, with a leather clasp. An image of the fore-edge, including the clasp, can be seen on Digitised Manuscripts as f v recto. Acquired at the Monastery of St Sabba near Jerusalem for 20 pieces of gold, and used by Curzon “for a pillow during 3 nights, when I was wandering on the banks of the Jordan” (f i recto).

Add MS 39605. Sermons on the Gospels of John and Matthew, by the author of the Theognosia (formerly attributed to Gregory of Nyssa), possibly Metrophanes of Smyrna. Early 10th century. Ornamental pen-and-ink head-piece on f 1 recto. 19th century binding of red velvet. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f ii recto).

 

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Add MS 39606, f 1v. Miniature of Gregory of Nazianzus seated on Christ’s right, each with a book.

Add MS 39606. Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes, followed by extracts from Pseudo-Nonnus, Scholia mythologica. 11th century. Illuminated head-pieces and initials, paragraph initials in gold. On f 1v is a full-page miniature, much-rubbed, of Gregory seated on Christ's right, each with a book. 19th century red velvet binding by J. Clarke. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39607. John Chrysostom, In epistulam I ad Corinthios homiliae (TLG 2062.156), imperfect, lacking the end of hom. 26 (expl. ὄνειδος πολλῷ μᾶλ[λον, PG 61.222) and the beginning of hom. 27 (inc. μετὰ ταῦτα κατέβη, PG 61.223), due to the loss of two leaves after f 214. Preceded by a table of contents, ff 1r-v, imperfect at the beginning, and a summary, ff 2r-3v. Hom. 24 (ff 193r-200r) differs from the version in PG. 12th century. Head-pieces tinted yellow, initials slightly tinted. 19th century binding of blue velvet. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39608. John Chrysostom, In Genesim homiliae 1-33 (TLG 2062.112). 13th century. 19th century binding of blue velvet. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39609. Isaiah of Scetis (Isaiah of Gaza), Asceticon (CPG 5555). 11th century, with some 18th-century additions on paper. Illuminated head-pieces and initials, other initials and titles in gold. Hybrid full leather Greek/western binding of goatskin over wooden boards, with blind-tooled central stamp and corner pieces. Two pins on the front board fore-edge, and two pairs of three holes through the back board for straps. Writing on the upper edge, which can be seen on Digitised Manuscripts as f iii recto. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39610. John Climacus, Scala paradisi (TLG 2907.001) and Liber ad Pastorem (CPG 7853). 11th century. Illuminated head-pieces and initials. Drawing of the Ladder of Ascent on f 206r. Binding of blind-tooled leather over birch boards. Writing on the upper edge, which can be seen on Digitised Manuscripts as f iii recto. Acquired at the Simonopetra Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39611. Heirmologion, with musical notation, arranged according to ἤχοι or modes. 17th century. Modern western binding of brown leather. Presented to Curzon by the Vice-Consul at Suez in 1834 (f i recto).

Add MS 39612. Revelation (Gregory-Aland 2041), with brief marginal notes and kephalaia, probably by the original scribe, but less formally written. The quire-numbers on ff 1v and 10v show the manuscript formed part of a larger volume, possibly Athos, Karakallou 121 (268) (Gregory-Aland 1040). 14th century. Modern western binding of dark morocco. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f ii recto).

 

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Add MS 39613, f 30r. Illuminated initial at the beginning of the Greek text of the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom.

Add MS 39613. John Chrysostom, Divine Liturgy, in a Latin translation, ff 2r-29v, followed by the Greek original, ff 30r-59r. The Latin text differs from that in printed editions. Likely created in France, probably Paris, between 1502-1506. Illuminated initials (ff 2r, 30r) and border (f 2r) of late French style. 16th century binding of light brown leather, blind-tooled, the panel formed by fillets alternating with four rows of impressions of a stamp of interlaced arcs of lattice work, five dots within the interlacement. The border is formed of lozenges enclosing roses. Brass clasps (one broken). Gilt and gauffred edges. The boards are from 16th century printed books: a Latin grammar with examples in French, a Latin servicebook, and another book in French. No indication is given of where Curzon acquired the item (either in the MS or in Curzon’s Catalogue), but the manuscript was in Rheims in the 16th and 17th centuries, and was quite possibly acquired there.

Add MS 39614. Xenophon, Hellenica (TLG 0032.001). Early 16th century, written by Damianus Guidotus at Venice, who was also the scribe of the following two manuscripts. Add MSS 39614-39616 were acquired from a priest of the Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice (f i recto). Five more volumes of the same set as in the possession of the Rev. Walter Sneyd of Denton, Oxford (afterwards of Keele Hall), whose library was sold at Sotheby's in December 1903: see lots 48, 52, 379, 380.

Add MS 39615. Hermogenes, De constitutionibus (Περὶ στάσεων) (TLG 0592.002). Early 16th century, of the same origin and provenance as the previous item.

Add MS 39616. [Plutarch], De liberis educandis (TLG 0007.067). Early 16th century, of the same origin and provenance as Add MSS 39614-39615.

Add MS 39617. Demosthenes, Orationes, with the hypotheses of Libanius, and occasional scholia and interlinear glosses. 15th century. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39618. Theological and religious works. 16th century. Acquired at the Great Monastery at Meteora in Thessaly (ff i recto-ii verso).

Add MS 39619 (not digitised). Rhetorical and other works in Greek. Written in 1712 (f 3r). Acquired in Therapia (f i recto). Add MS 39619-39622 bear the 18th-century ownership marks of one Paisius of Amapeia.

Add MS 39620 (not digitised). Theological works of George Koressios. Late 17th century. Acquired in Therapia (f i recto).

Add MS 39621 (not digitised). Commentary on the 4th book of Theodorus Gaza's Introduction to Greek Grammar, based on the commentary of Elias Andreas of Bordeaux. Late 17th century. Decorated headpieces and initials. Acquired in Therapia (f i recto).

Add MS 39622 (not digitised). Rhetorical treatises in Greek by Alexander Mavrocordatos and Anastasios Papavassilopoulos, with interlinear and marginal notes. Early 18th century. Acquired in Therapia (f i recto).

Add MS 39623. Fragments from a Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1742). Late 14th century. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39624 (not digitised) Collection of classical and Christian Greek poems for school use, with interlinear glosses in Modern Greek, possibly a Mathematarion. This manuscript is not listed in Curzon's 1849 Catalogue. Written in 1739 (f 206r). Original binding of brown leather, blind-tooled diagonally. On the front cover is a faded stamp of the Crucifixion, on the back a mitred saint with scroll (possibly Prophet David). Acquired at the Monastery of St Sabba near Jerusalem (f ii recto).

This overview of Curzon’s Greek manuscripts can only go so far in outlining the range of fascinating material to be found within them – not least in Curzon’s own notes on their acquisition, which occasionally extend to several pages. While Curzon himself has been the subject of a number of studies, his manuscripts as a collection have not received as much attention as they deserve – some key items are listed below in the bibliography, but there is much work to be done, particularly on the insights they provide us with into Byzantine and post-Byzantine binding practices.

Bibliography:

Robert Curzon, Catalogue of Materials for Writing, Early Writings on Tablets and Stones, Rolled and Other Manuscripts and Oriental Manuscript Books in the Library of the Honourable Robert Curzon, at Parham in the County of Sussex (London: Nicol, 1849) [Only 50 copies printed. Curzon’s personal annotated copy is now Add MS 64098)].

Robert Curzon, Visits to Monasteries in the Levant (London: John Murray, 1849)

Holland, M., ‘Robert Curzon, Traveller and Book Collector’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 65 (1983), 123–57

Fraser, Ian H. C., The Heir of Parham: Robert Curzon 14th Baron Zouche (Harleston: Paradigm, 1986)

Cormack, Robin, ‘“A Gentleman”s Book’: Attitudes of Robert Curzon’, in Through the Looking Glass: Byzantium through British Eyes, ed. by Robin Cormack and Elizabeth Jeffreys, Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies Publication, 7 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), pp. 147–62

- Cillian O’Hogan

26 March 2015

Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project: The final seventy-five manuscripts go online

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The third phase of the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project has now drawn to a close. In this update, we give details of the last manuscripts to be digitised in this phase. In the coming weeks, a number of additional posts will provide guides to specific themes and topics within the collection, and further outreach projects relating to the Greek manuscripts will be developed over the next year. We are most grateful to the generous benefactors who have supported the project, especially the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and also many others, including the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, and the Friends of the British Library.

We would also like to thank the many colleagues in the Library who contributed to this phase, especially Ann Tomalak, from Conservation; Neil McCowlen, Kristin Phelps, and Alex White, from Imaging Services; and Sarah J. Biggs and James Freeman, from Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Manuscripts. Their hard work (outlined in blogs here, here, and here) was essential to the timely completion of the project.

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Add MS 39613, f 30r. Opening of John Chrysostom, Divine Liturgy. France, probably Paris, between 1502 and 1506.

Add MS 34060, Collections of canons, with theological, liturgical, and historical pieces, and a few letters bearing on the relations between the Eastern and Western Churches. 12th and 15th centuries.

Add MS 39584, Parchment roll containing Ἀκολουθία τῶν Ἐγκαινίων: Office for the dedication of a church, with connected or similar offices. 14th century.

Add MS 39613, John Chrysostom, Divine Liturgy, in a Latin translation, ff 2r-29v, followed by the Greek original, ff 30r-59r. The Latin text differs from that in printed editions. France, probably Paris, between 1502 and 1506. Illuminated initials (ff 2r, 30r) and border (f 2r) of late French style. 16th century binding of light brown leather, blind-tooled, the panel formed by fillets alternating with four rows of impressions of a stamp of interlaced arcs of lattice work, five dots within the interlacement. The border is formed of lozenges enclosing roses. Brass clasps (one broken). Gilt and gauffred edges. The boards are from 16th century printed books: a Latin grammar with examples in French, a Latin servicebook, and another book in French.

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Add MS 40755, f 21r. Miniature of St Basil the Great. Eastern Mediterranean (Demitrash, near Brusa, Anatolia), 1600.

Add MS 40755, The Divine Liturgies. Illuminated headpieces on ff 2r, 21r, and 46r, containing figures of Saints John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Gregory, standing under arches surrounded by a decorative border. An unfinished miniature of St Basil occurs on f 61r. Historiated initials on ff 9v, 14v, 19r, 27v, 28r, 31r, 44r, and numerous initials in gold and colours throughout. Written by the scribe Michael at the request of the patriarch Macarius  in 1600, at the monastery of the Virgin at Demitrash, near Brusa. The former (17th-century) binding of crimson velvet over millboard with striped linen beneath, is kept separately.

Add MS 41660, Works by Ephraem the Syrian. 11th-12th century. A former 17th-18th century binding of yellow-brown blind-stamped leather over wooden boards is preserved separately under Add MS 41660/1.

Add MS 82951, Justin Martyr, Opera. Created in Venice in 1541, probably at the request of Guillaume Pelicier.

Add MS 82952, Maximus the Confessor, Preface to Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite; Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, De caelesti hierarchia and De divinis nominibus; David the Invincible, Prolegomena Philosophiae. Italy, 16th century.

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Add MS 82953, f 1r. Opening of Pseudo-Gregentius, Dialexis. Eastern Mediterranean, 16th century.

Add MS 82953, Pseudo-Gregentius, Dialexis, and a collection of extracts from the Old Testament. 16th century.

Arundel MS 529, Theological extracts and letters, many relating to the Ecumenical Councils. Palimpsest, re-using at least five older manuscripts. Italy, S. (Salento, perhaps Otranto or Gallipoli). Dated 7 June 1111.

Arundel MS 539, Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia Ecclesiastica. Decorated headpieces in red and black ink (ff 2r, 164r). Small simple black initials highlighted in red. 1st half of the 16th century.

Arundel MS 542, Works of St John Chrysostom (some now attributed to Severianus Gabalensis). 10th century. Large foliate, geometric, or decorated headpieces in colours and gold with enclosed titles in red majuscules, and large coloured initials below at the beginning of texts. Simple headpiece with titles in red uncials, and large decorated initials in colour. Simple endpieces. Small initials in brown. Marginal drawing of a cross (f 223r). The old Arundel binding is kept separately as Arundel MS 542/1.

Arundel MS 543, St John Chrysostom, In Matthaeum homiliae. 11th century. 3 pink foliate headpieces and large decorated pink initials (ff 138v, 180v, and 187v) added in the 13th century as replacement folios. Original simple brown headpieces, and small simple pink or brown initials.

Arundel MS 550, Notebook of Johannes Cuno, containing a number of extracts from Greek and Latin authors, notes on grammar and metre, and other items. Italy, N. (Padua), c. 1506-1508.

Burney MS 34, Catena on the Octateuch (Rahlfs 424), and additional theological texts. Italy, N. E. (Veneto?), mid-16th century.

Burney MS 35, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Interpretatio in Psalmos. Italy, Central. Written during Lent 1548.

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Burney MS 44/1, f 1r. Foliage headpiece at the beginning of the life of St Barbara. Eastern Mediterranean, 2nd half of the 11th century-1st half of the 12th century.

Burney MS 44, Lives of martyrs celebrated from 4 to 31 Dec, in two volumes, Burney MS 44/1 and Burney MS 44/2. All except that for St John of Damascus are in the versions attributed to Symeon Metaphrastes. Completed in July 1184. Foliage headpiece, in red and brown (volume I, f 1r). Other simple headpieces. Large red initials, some decorated with foliate shapes. Small red or gold initials.

Burney MS 46, Works of Athanasius of Alexandria, in two volumes, Burney MS 46/1 and Burney MS 46/2. 2nd half of the 11th century-1st half of the 12th century.

Burney MS 47, St John Chrysostom, In Joannem (homiliae 1-45). Illuminated headpieces at the beginning of homilies 1-17. 11th century.

Burney MS 48, Commentaries of St John Chrysostom on the Pauline letters, followed by the Catholic Epistles (Gregory-Aland 643; Scrivener act 225; von Soden α 1402, X40), in two volumes, Burney MS 48/1 and Burney MS 48/2. 11th-12th century.

Burney MS 49, Homilies of St John Chrysostom on selected Pauline Epistles. Eastern Mediterranean (Corfu), 1430.

Burney MS 50, Apophthegmata Patrum (Collectio alphabetica), in two volumes, Burney MS 50/1 and Burney MS 50/2. Eastern Mediterranean (Crete) 1361-1362.

Burney MS 51, Two fragments of the works of St Gregory of Nazianzus, the first dating from the late 10th or 11th century, the second dating from the 14th century. Fragment I possibly from Constantinople.

Burney MS 52, Homilies and sermons of St Gregory of Nyssa. 12th-13th century.

Burney MS 53, Patristic miscellany, containing texts by Origen, Eustathius, Gregory of Nyssa, and the emperor Zeno. Italy, S. (Naples) or Central (Rome), c. 1580.

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Burney MS 54, f 4r. Diagram of the palms of hands relating to the cycles of the sun. Eastern Mediterranean (Ephesus?) 1573.

Burney MS 54, Collection of liturgical readings, prayers, verses, and tables. Includes the Liturgies of John Chrysostom and Basil of Caesarea. Eastern Mediterranean (Ephesus?) 1573. 7 diagrams, including the palms of hands relating to the cycles of the sun and the moon, stylised crosses, and geometric shapes (ff 2v, 4r, 5v, 6r, 49r, 49v, 51r). 6 architectural frames of a rounded arch framing a blank space (ff 16v, 18v, 20v, 24v (unfinished), 29v, 36v). Foliate headpieces in colours with birds and plants on gold grounds (ff 54r, 80r). Other foliate, woven, or geometric headpieces (ff 12r, 16r, 18r, 20r, 24r, 117v, 119r, 133v, 148r) in colours. Large zoomorphic initials, usually of birds in blue and red, or blue, red, and green. Large red or brown initials, many of or with foliate forms, some with other colours. Small red or brown initials. Knotted decorative forms.

Burney MS 73, Demetrius Cydones, Homily on St Lawrence (BHG3 978), followed by notes on the history of Jerusalem in Latin. Italy, N.?, 4th quarter of the 15th century.

Burney MS 76, Theodore Gaza, Introductio grammatica, Book I. Paris, 2nd half of the 15th century.

Burney MS 80, Heraclides Lembus' extracts from Aristotle, Politeia, extracts from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, and Aelian, De natura animalium, and Epictetus, Enchiridion. 2nd half of the 16th century.

Burney MS 81, Heron of Alexandria, Pneumatica, with extensive Latin marginal annotations and many pen diagrams. Italy, mid-16th century.

Burney MS 87, Isocrates, Ad Nicoclem (TLG 0010.013), imperfect, with interlinear Latin translation. Italy, Central (Rome), 4th quarter of the 16th century-1st quarter of the 17th century.

Burney MS 94, Grammatical and medical treatises, including works by Manuel Moschopoulos, Thomas Magister, Rufus of Ephesus, and Oribasius of Pergamon. Italy, N. E. (Venice), 2nd half of the 15th century.

Burney MS 99, Greek compositions by Sir Ralph Winwood (b. 1562/3, d. 1617). England (Oxford), written between 1578 and 1589.

Burney MS 104. Commentary on and introduction to Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos. Written in 1543, possibly in Paris.

Burney MS 105, Pappas of Alexandria, Synagoge, imperfect, including extracts from the Mechanica of Heron of Alexandria. Italy, 2nd half of the 16th century.

Burney MS 112, 113, and 114, Religious texts copied by Matthew, Metropolites of Ephesus, in three volumes. Eastern Mediterranean (Ephesus), 2nd quarter of the 14th century.

Burney MS 127, Nicolas Floyd of Winchester College, Ραψῳδία βιβλικὰ. Passages from the Bible converted into Greek and Latin parallel verses. Winchester, 1652.

Burney MS 402, Collection of Greek and Latin inscriptions copied by Anthony Askew, M.D., in the Levant and Greece, with notes on their situation, size, state of preservation, etc. Completed on 24 January 1748.

Burney MS 408, Palimpsest, the upper (14th-century) text being homilies of St John Chrysostom on Matthew and John, and the lower fragments of a 10th century Gospel lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 338).

Egerton MS 265, Collection of novellae and other legal texts by Emperors Leo VI the Wise, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, Nicephorus II Phocas, Cosmas Magister and Eustathius Romaeus. 15th century.

Egerton MS 266, Michael Attaliates, Πόνημα νομικὸν ἤτοι σύνοψις πραγματική (TLG 3079.002). The text from f 45r onwards differs from that in the TLG. The copyist writes on f 56r that the prototype was imperfect: 'τοῦτο περισσὸν ἦν, ἔλιπε δὲ τὸ τέλος'. Marginal comments (mainly in Greek, and a few in Latin) have been added throughout the text by at least two later hands. 15th century.

Egerton MS 622, Poems by Gregory of Nazianzus with interlinear glosses in the form of a mathematarion, and a dictionary copied and compiled by Basileios Μοσκοβόρρωτος. 16th century, incorporating parts of book printed in 1727.

Egerton MS 2339, Patristic florilegium; Thekaras, Horologion and hymns; prayers, imperfect. 16th century.

Egerton MS 2474, Collection of various texts from Pseudo-Plutarch, Synesius of Cyrene, Amphilochius of Iconium, Gregory of Nazianzus, Nicetas David and John Zonaras, with interlinear glosses and marginal scholia. Italy?, 17th century.

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Egerton MS 2610, f 4r. Canon tables. Eastern Mediterranean, 11th century.

Egerton MS 2610, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 700). Canon tables in architectural frames in gold and colours (ff 3v-4r, 5v-6r, 7v-8r, 9v-10r). 4 miniatures of Evangelist portraits in colours on gold grounds (ff 12v, 91v, 144v, 230v). Large headpieces in colours and gold, with foliate patterns and birds (f 13r), and 4 large initials in colours and gold, at the beginning of the Gospels (ff 13r, 92r, 145r, 231r). Initials in gold. Simple head- and tailpieces in gold. Chrysography. 11th century.

Egerton MS 2626, Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica (TLG 2048.001); Evagrius Scholasticus, Historia ecclesiastica (TLG 2733.001). Italy, Central (Rome), 1524.

Egerton MS 2707, Collection of ecclesiastical canons and other related texts. 13th century.

Egerton MS 2783, Four Gospels, imperfect (Gregory-Aland 714). 12th-13th century. 7 full-page miniatures in colours on gold grounds of the symbols of the Evangelists and Evangelist portraits (lacking a portrait of Luke) (ff 13r, 13v, 106r, 106v, 166v, 264r, 264v). Canon tables in red in frames, with foliate decoration (ff 5r-9v). Large headpieces in red with foliate patterns. Large initials in red with penwork decoration. Small initials in red. Simple headpieces in red. Text and rubrics in red. 18th century binding of brown stamped leather, with blind tooling and gold edges. On the inside of each cover there is a portion of a 13th-century manuscript of the Sententiæ of Peter Lombard.

Egerton MS 3155, Leitourgikon, containing the Liturgies of St John Chrysostom (ff 3r-21r), St Basil the Great (ff 22r-48r), and the Presanctified (ff 49r-58v). Eastern Mediterranean (Constantinople), 1644.

Egerton MS 3157, Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus, Synaxaria; Ephraem the Syrian, Sermo in pulcherrimum Ioseph, imperfect. 4th quarter of the 14th century. 33 drawings in ink and watercolours. Headpieces in brown and red, some with braided decoration. Headpiece and large decorated initial in watercolours (f 96r). Simple endpieces in red or brown. Initials in red, some with penwork decoration. Rubrics in red. The former contemporary binding of wooden boards and tooled leather, with metal bosses on each side kept separately as Egerton MS 3157/1.

Harley MS 5785, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 151), with ecphonetic notation.  12th century. 3 evangelist portraits in colours and gold of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (ff 66v, 143v, 187v). 18 headpieces in colours and gold with animals, birds, and/or floral and foliate motifs (ff 1r, 67r, 104r, 144r, 202v, 234r, 246r, 274r, 281r, 298v, 313r, 320v, 325v, 328v, 332r, 340r, 344r, 353r). 1 very large initial in colours and gold (f 289v). Major initials in colours and gold, some with anthropomorphic designs (e.g. 3v). Titles in gold capitals written over red. Marginal notations in red.

Harley MS 5796, New Testament (Gregory-Aland 444; Scrivener evan. 444, Act. 153, Paul 240; von Soden δ 551). 1st half of the 15th century. Headpieces with geometric and foliate decoration and initials with foliate decoration in gold and/or colours (ff 2r, 44r, 73r, 121r, 163r). Titles in display capitals in gold or red (ff 2r, 44r, 73r, 121r, 163r). Rubrics, decorated initials and scholia in red.

Harley MS 7509, Collection of copies of Greek inscriptions made in Asia Minor by William Sherard (1659-1728), Consul for the Turkey Company at Smyrna. 1st quarter of the 18th century.

Lansdowne MS 355, Miscellaneous letters of Greek patriarchs, metropolitans, etc., together with letters to John Covel, D.D. and his copies and drafts. 1652-1701.

Royal MS 1 B II, Old Testament: Major and Minor Prophets of the Septuagint version (Rahlfs 22). 1st quarter of the 12th century. Headpieces, initials and titles in carmine ink.

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Royal MS 2 A VI, f 154r. Illuminated headpiece at the start of Psalm 77. Eastern Mediterranean, 12th century.

Royal MS 2 A VI, Psalter (Rahlfs 175). 12th century. Illuminated headpieces at the start of Psalms 1 and 77 (ff 22r, 154r).

Royal MS 16 C XI, Galen, De diebus decretoriis libri III. Italy, 1st quarter of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 C XII,Astronomical works. 1544-3rd quarter of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 C XIII, Photius, Bibliotheca Codex 239, and [Andronicus], De Passionibus. 2nd half of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 C XV,  Two works attributed to Gregory of Nyssa, with marginal notes by Isaac Casaubon and Patrick Young. 3rd quarter of the 16th century. Also digitised is the old Royal binding of this manuscript, now held as Royal MS 16 C XV/1.

Royal MS 16 C XVI, Artemidorus Capito, De urinis, and Hippocrates, Prognosticon, preceded by medical notes, mostly in Latin. 1st quarter of the 16th century, Germany?

Royal MS 16 D I, Works by or attributed to St Gregory of Nyssa. 13th century.

Royal MS 16 D III A and B, John Tzetzes, Antehomerica, with an imperfect Latin translation by Petrus Morellus. 4th quarter of the 16th century, France (Loches). Formerly owned by Isaac Casaubon.

Royal MS 16 D IV, Indices to the scholia of Tzetzes on Lycophron. Italy, 4th quarter of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D V, St Gregory of Nazianzus, Contra Julianum imperatorem 1-2 (Orationes 4-5). Italy, Central (Rome), 2nd half of the 16th century.

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Royal MS 16 D VI, f 170r. Opening of St Gregory of Nazianzus, In Aegyptiorum adventum. Italy, Central (Rome), 2nd half of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D VI, St Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes 7, 8, 18, and 34, with the commentary of Elias of Crete. Italy, Central (Rome), 2nd half of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D VIII, Acts of the First Council of Nicaea, compiled by Gelasius of Cyzicus, followed by two works by Athanasius. Italy, 4th quarter of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D XI, St Gregory of Nyssa, selected works. Italy, N. (Venice or Trento), 2nd half of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D XV, Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea. Italy, N. (Venice or Trento), 3rd quarter of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D XVII, Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus, Hymnus Christi servatoris, and an anonymous iambic hymn. 1st half of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D XVIII, Eustathius Macrembolites, Hysmene et Hysmenias; Achilles Tatius, Leucippe et Clitophon; and [Eustathius Antiochenus], Commentarius in hexaemeron. The works are from three separate manuscripts, bound together at some point after 1697. 1st half of the 16th century.

Sloane MS 324, Michael Apostolis, Oratio ad Discipulos Suos, autograph copy. Eastern Mediterranean (Crete), 1460?

Sloane MS 745, Hippiatrica or Horse Medicine. 13th century.

Sloane MS 1835, Extracts from Evagrius Scholasticus, Historia Ecclesiastica (TLG 2733.001; CPG 7500), with Latin translations by Petrus Joannes Olivarius, preceded by his dedication to Henry VIII. England?, 2nd quarter of the 16th century.

 

- Cillian O’Hogan

10 March 2015

The Greek Manuscripts of Robert Curzon, Part I

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Front cover of Add MS 39603 (binding of wooden boards covered with blue velvet, much worn. On both covers is a cross with a patterned border, between corner-ornaments, all gilt)

In Saturday's blog post, we featured Add MS 39591, a manuscript that was ‘improved’ in the 19th century for its owner Robert Curzon, 14th Baron Zouche. Today, we provide the first of a two-part guide to Curzon’s Greek manuscripts. Most of the 42 Greek manuscripts from Curzon’s collection have now been digitised as part of the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project. Curzon’s manuscripts are especially significant for two reasons: first, he almost always leaves detailed notes about his acquisition of individual items in the manuscripts (much material for future #FlyleafFridays here!), and second, a large number of his manuscripts retain Byzantine-style bindings. For these reasons, details are given below of provenance and/or bindings where these are particularly interesting or significant.

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Add MS 39583, f 20r. Miniature of St Mark in the Byzantine style of the ?13th century, probably from a Greek Gospel-book

Add MS 39583. Fragments collected by Robert Curzon to illustrate the history of writing. The volume originally contained both Western and Oriental fragments, but the latter have now been transferred to their appropriate departments (Egyptian Antiquities, British Museum, and Asian and African Studies, British Library). The Greek contents are a fragment of a Greek Gospel lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 182); a leaf from a manuscript containing Ephraem the Syrian, Sermo Compunctorius (CPG 3908); and a miniature of St. Mark in the Byzantine style of the ?13th century, probably from a Greek Gospel-book.

Add MS 39584. Parchment roll containing Ἀκολουθία τῶν Ἐγκαινίων: Office for the dedication of a church, with connected or similar offices. 14th century. This roll has been photographed and will appear on Digitised Manuscripts in the coming weeks.

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Add MS 39585, front cover

Add MS 39585. Octateuch (Rahlfs 426), imperfect. 11th century, possibly written in Constantinople, where it was by the early 15th century. Bound in boards covered with black leather, blind-tooled with a plain double-line border and a saltire cross, fastened by a leathern thong. On the front cover has been fastened a late Byzantine icon (which may be as late as the sixteenth cent.), given to Curzon (according to a note inside the cover, f i) at Jerusalem by his English servant, William Fuller. It is attached to the binding by a silver frame, in the corners of which are set four stones from Mount Sinai, while in each of the upper lower rims are six stones from the bed of the Jordan. The icon is on wood. The faces are raised, perhaps by means of wax, and the whole is varnished. A double row of saints is shown, which are as follows:-Top row, St John the Baptist, St Nicholas, St George, St Demetrios, Bottom row, Prophet Daniel, Holy Barnabas, Holy Sophronios, St Christophoros. The fore-edge image is listed on Digitised Manuscripts as f vi recto. Curzon acquired the manuscript at the Monastery of St Sabba near Jerusalem (f iii recto).

Add MS 39586. Psalter and Canticles (Rahlfs 1090), with later additions on extra leaves, original and inserted, at beginning and end. Much-defaced miniature of the Psalmist, f 1v. Decorated headpiece, f 2r. Initials, headings and points in red. Some scribblings and drawings in the margins. Early 11th century. Bound in boards covered with blind-tooled leather, originally red (17th century), each studded with five brass bosses, most of which are lost, and with traces of a clasp. On the board of the front cover (f i recto) is written Γαβρηλ Βγ. The fore-edge can be viewed on Digitised Manuscripts as f viii recto. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos, according to Curzon’s printed catalogue, though a note in the manuscript (f iv recto) states that the MS was bought from the Monastery of St. Sabba, near Jerusalem.

Add MS 39587. Psalter (Rahlfs 1091). According to Rahlfs, this manuscript and Add MS 39588 (Parham MS VI) were originally a single manuscript. 12th century. Binding is half black, modern English, by Charles Lewis, of black velvet studded on each cover with five silver bosses of open work in silver set with crystals. Acquired at the Monastery of St Sabba near Jerusalem (f i recto).

Add MS 39588. Canticles and other Services, imperfect (Rahlfs 1091), the continuation of the previous manuscript. 12th century. Initials and decorated headpieces in red. Two rough drawings on f 40v. Binding of brown leather. A note by Curzon on f i recto states 'I forget whether I got this MS. at Therapia, of an old woman, who lived at the top of the hill, behind Ld. Ponsonby's stables; from whom I got 4 bad MSS. of the 16th century or whether I got it at Athens, from a certain schoolmaster'. Rahlfs' belief that this manuscript was originally part of Add MS 39587 makes it more probable that Curzon acquired it at St Sabba (the source of Add MS 39587)

Add MS 39589. Psalter (Rahlfs 1092) with introduction and commentary based on that of Euthymius Zigabenus (PG 128), attributed in the manuscript to Nicephorus Blemmydes, imperfect. 2nd half of the 12th century. Initials and headings in red. Ornamental headpieces in red and green before the introduction to the commentary and the Psalter (ff 1r, 12r). On f 11v are the remains of a miniature, representing the Psalmist. Almost all the colour has flaked off, leaving only the outlines; the nimbus was of gold, and Δα(υεί)δ is written in red on the right of the head. Modern binding of blue velvet. Purchased by Robert Curzon in Therapia in 1837 for 1 dollar (f i recto).

Add MS 39590. New Testament, without the book of Revelation (Gregory-Aland 547). Contains Euthalian prefaces to the Epistles and prefatory notes and epigrams to the Gospels. 11th century, the flyleaves are taken from a 10th-century manuscript of sermons by John Chrysostom. In wooden boards covered with brown leather (possibly 15th century), blind-tooled, with ornamental borders and stamped medallions containing dogs, etc., metal bosses in the middle and at the four corners, several of which have been lost and, in two cases, replaced by modern nails. The fore-edge is listed on Digitised Manuscripts as f ix recto. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f ii recto).

Add MS 39591. Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 548). At the end a 14th-century hand has added the oikoi (acrostic "αβγ-ο") from the Office of the Akathist. Mid-12th century. Initials, titloi, and numbers of Ammonian sections in gold and over red. Headpieces illuminated in gold and colours. Before each Gospel is a miniature of the Evangelist. The first of these (f iii verso) is modern, and it is not certain that there was an original miniature of St Matthew. The three original miniatures (ff 44v, 70v and 124v) have in each case a plain gold ground and show the Evangelist seated. These were significantly overpainted at the same time as the miniature of St Matthew was added.The first 8 lines of St. John's Gospel are written in gold over red. Some of the earlier folios (ff 2r-4r, 15v-16r) have been furnished with neums in red, and notes of lessons have been made as far as f 5r, in both cases by a later hand. The manuscript was "improved" for Robert Curzon in the 19th century.

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Add MS 39592, front cover

Add MS 39592. Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 549), with marginal commentary. 11th century. Gospel headings and initials on the first page of each Gospel in gold; other initials in magenta. Bound in a comparatively modern binding of boards covered with red velvet, with a leaf-like plate of silver-gilt at each corner, formerly clasped by cords of red and yellow. Images of the fore-edges can be foudn on Digitised Manuscripts as ff iii-v. Acquired at the Xenophontos Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39593. Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 550), with prefaces taken from the commentary of Theophylact, and synaxaria. 12th century. Decorated headpieces. Initials, lists of chapters, Ammonian section-numbers, and lection notes in red, much-faded. Binding of boards covered with black leather, blind-tooled, with cross on front cover, much rubbed. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f 2v).

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Front cover of Add MS 39594

Add MS 39594. Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 551), with capitula, Ammonian sections, lection notes, and subscriptions. 12th century. Followed by synaxaria, added on paper in the late fifteenth century. Full-page miniatures of the Evangelists. Illuminated headpieces and initials. Other initials, headings, titloi, lection notes, and section numbers in varying tints. Binding is probably 16th century. Boards covered with dark brown leather. The upper cover has a blind-stamped border with a cross in the middle, the spaces left being filled irregularly with stamped designs, rosettes, rings containing birds, etc. The lower cover has a more regular pattern, also blind-stamped, a border enclosing a panel divided by diagonal lines crossing, the spaces being occupied by conventional designs. The fore-edge can be viewed on Digitised Manuscripts as f ii recto. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39595. Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 552). 2nd half of the 12th century. Illuminated headpieces and initials. The first page of each Gospel is written in gold over magenta. Initials and titloi in magenta. In a binding of wooden boards, covered with brown leather, probably 16th-17th century, with a blind-tooled pattern of a saltire in a panel. Acquired at the Monastery of St Sabba (f iii recto).

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Add MS 39596, fore-edge

Add MS 39596. Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 553). 13th century. Illuminated headpieces and Gospel initials. Titloi, chapter-numbers, subscriptions, intials, and capitula in red. Binding of wooden boards covered with dark brown leather, probably 16th century. The fore-edge can be viewed on Digitised Manuscripts as f iv recto. Acquired at the Monastery of St Sabba (f i recto).

Add MS 39597. Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 554). Written in 1272. Illuminated headpieces and Gospel initials, other initials and titloi in red. Binding of blind-panelled black leather over wooden boards, 16th-17th century. Acquired at the Monastery of St Sabba for 10 dollars (f i recto).

Add MS 39598. New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 910), with Euthalian headings, preceded by Dorotheus of Tyre, Index Apostolorum et Discipulorum. Completed in 1009. Decorated headpiece in red and black before Acts. Headings, subscriptions and the first few words of each paragraph in red. Binding of wooden boards, covered with black leather: 16th-17th cent. Acquired at the Monastery of St Sabba (f ii recto).

Add MS 39599. New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 911), with ekphonetic neums, lection notes, and a marginal commentary, being a combination of the commentaries of Theophylact and Oecumenius on Acts, an abbreviated version of the commentary of Oecumenius on the Pauline Epistles, and a selection from the text now in Cramer's Catena (1840) on the Catholic Epistles. Imperfect at the end. The volume also contained Revelation, which was cut out by the Hegoumenos of the Karakallou Monastery, and which is now bound separately as Add MS 39601 (see below). The missing portion of the Catholic Epistles, now lost, may have been cut out at the same time. 11th century. In boards covered with brown leather, blind-tooled with a panel pattern and varnished, perhaps of the 16th century. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (note on the inside front cover).

Add MS 39600. New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 912), with the prefaces of Euthalius and Theodoret. 13th century. Decorated headpiece in red at the beginning of Acts. Initials, subscriptions, titloi, and lection notes in red. The manuscript also contains a line-engraving of the Monastery of Simonopetra, dated 1836, which was included in the volume when it was rebound in red velvet in the 19th century. Acquired at the Simonopetra Monastery on Mount Athos (f i recto).

Add MS 39601. Revelation (Gregory-Aland 911 [=2040]), imperfect at the end, expl. 20:11, καὶ ὁ οὐρανός, καὶ τόπος, with a marginal commentary by Andreas of Caesarea, Commentarii in Apocalypsin (TLG 3004.001). Originally part of Add MS 39599 (see above), but the hand of the text (perhaps not that of the commentary) is different and a good deal smaller. 19th century binding of red velvet. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos (f ii verso).

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Add MS 39602, front cover

Add MS 39602. Gospel lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 181). Written at Ciscissa in Cappadocia for the bishop Stephanos in 980: f 220v.Revised by Michael, a notary, at Ciscissa in 1049: f 221r. There is a note in Georgian on f 1r, discussed in a blog post by Adam McCollum. Decorated head-pieces and initials in red and blue, headings and neumes in red. A number of the initials are of zoomorphic or anthropomorphic form, e.g. O in the form of a fish (ff 6r, 138v, 157v), and E with a human hand for a cross-bar (ff 1r, 7v). Bound in red velvet with a clasp, the front cover studded with five gilt buckles. Acquired at the Karakallou Monastery on Mount Athos, according to Scrivener, Codex Augiensis p. 51.

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Add MS 39603, f 112r, text in the shape of a cross

Add MS 39603. Cruciform Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 233). 12th century. Illuminated initials and finial ornaments at each angle of the cruciform text. Fully illuminated cruciform borders enclose the text on ff 1r, 42r, 112r. Tail-piece on f 196v. Neums in red, headings and rubrics in gold over red. The first two pages of text are also in gold over red. Modern but not recent binding of wooden boards covered with blue velvet, much worn. On both covers is a cross with a patterned border, between corner-ornaments, all gilt. The cross on the front cover has the inscription "IC XC NIKA".

Keep an eye out on the blog for the second part of this journey through the manuscripts of Robert Curzon, which will also include a bibliography.

- Cillian O’Hogan

07 March 2015

Spot the Difference!

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Illuminated manuscripts of the Gospels often have portraits of the Evangelists preceding individual Gospel books. This is because leaves at the beginning and end of manuscripts tend to be the most likely to be lost or damaged, especially if manuscripts are left unbound for some time. You can see many examples of manuscripts with somewhat discoloured first and last leaves on Digitised Manuscripts

What this means for Gospel manuscripts is that St Matthew is on occasion missing from volumes nowadays  - this is the case, for instance, in Add MS 24376 (Gregory-Aland 696), a Greek Gospel book we have looked at previously on the blog. Today, we’re highlighting a rather unusual manuscript – one for which a later owner commissioned a new portrait of St Matthew.

Robert Curzon, 14th Baron Zouche, was a renowned 19th-century traveller and manuscript collector. He journeyed widely in Greece and in the Near East, and amassed a sizeable collection of Greek and Oriental manuscripts. On his death, over two hundred of these manuscripts were placed on loan in the British Museum, and were bequeathed to the Museum in the will of his daughter, Darea Curzon, in 1917. These now constitute Add MSS 39583-39671, along with Oriental MSS 8729-8855, the latter being cared for by our colleagues in Asian and African Collections. Curzon published a catalogue of his collection in 1849. He retained a personal copy, which he annotated in subsequent years. This was presented to the British Museum along with the other manuscripts, and is now held as Add MS 64098. In a future blog post we will go into more detail on all of Curzon’s Greek manuscripts, but today we have space to focus on one.

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Add MS 39591, ff iii verso-1r

Add MS 39591 (Gregory-Aland 548) was created in the mid-12th century, at which time, presumably, portraits of all four evangelists were added. But by the time Curzon acquired the manuscript from the Monastery of St Sabba, near Jerusalem, in 1834, the portrait of Matthew was no longer to be found. As a result, a new portrait was created, to complete the volume, and this is now f iii verso. You can see the clear difference between the quality and condition of the parchment of this leaf and that of f 1r, the beginning of the 12th-century manuscript proper.

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Burney MS 19, f 1v, St Matthew, 2nd quarter of the 12th century
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Burney MS 19, f 63v, St Mark, 2nd quarter of the 12th century

In addition, the colouring is not characteristically Byzantine, and the image of Matthew is rather closer to that of Mark than that more typically associated with Matthew, as in, for example, Burney 19, above.

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Add MS 39591, f 44v, St Mark, 12th century, overpainted in the 19th century



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Add MS 39591, f 74v, St Luke, 12th century, overpainted in the 19th century
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Add MS 39591, f 124v, St John the Evangelist, 12th century, overpainted in the 19th century

The same later artist has also touched up the other portraits in Add MS 39591. Here are Mark, Luke and John.

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Add MS 39591, f 44v, detail of Roman script or type transferred to the red cushion during the 19th-century overpainting

But the artist has left a tiny trace of his work in the portrait of St Mark. On Mark’s red cushion, some letters in Roman script can be seen. Presumably, a page containing these letters was put against the portrait of Mark while it was still damp, and these letters were transferred. The fact that they are in Roman script makes it more likely that this restoration work was done after the manuscript had left the Monastery of St Sabba, rather than before.

- Cillian O’Hogan

19 February 2015

Written on the Edge

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When you think of a bookshelf, an image comes immediately to mind: books in an orderly row, arranged alphabetically, thematically, or perhaps by height or colour, but (usually!) standing upright, with spines facing outward. But it does not necessarily follow that books were always kept in this way. In fact, our earliest visual evidence for bookshelves, or book storage, suggests that books were laid flat, sometimes on individual shelves, and often with fore-edge or lower edge facing outwards, rather than the spine. Some evidence that this continued to be the case, both in the Latin west and in the Byzantine world, is given by the existence of decorations, titles, or other writing, on the edges of manuscripts.

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Egerton MS  2610. Cretan-style decorated fore-edge. Similar decoration can be seen on the edges of Royal MS 1 A XV.

Writing on edges could potentially be of great use to scholars in reconstructing Byzantine libraries, or in assigning provenance. But the barriers to such research are daunting, not least since the details of such writing are not always recorded in catalogue entries.Moreover, the text is often extremely difficult to read, because of the dirt that has accrued on the edges that have faced outwards in a library or study for centuries. And it is a challenge to photograph edges clearly, especially in manuscripts that have been rebound, such that the binding extends beyond the text-block and casts a shadow over the edges. But it would be very interesting to know whether, for instance, the relative brevity or length of titles could give clues as to whether the manuscript was owned by a private individual (who may only have needed one copy of a Nomocanon) or by a monastic or imperial library. In the hopes of making such a study easier, we provide here a brief list of Greek manuscripts in the British Library with writing on the fore-edge or lower edge. Unfortunately, not all of these edges can be seen online at present, but those not online have been transcribed where possible.

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Add MS 39609, containing Isaiah of Scetis, Asceticon. Writing on the upper edge: + ΑΒΒΑ(?) ΗΣΑΙΟΥ. Manuscript of the Asceticon of Isaiah of Scetis. From the Karakalou Monastery, Mount Athos.

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Add MS 39610, containing John Climacus, Scala Paradisi and Liber ad Pastorem. Writing on the upper edge: […K] ΚΛΗΜΑΚΑΣ. From the Monastery of Simonopetra, Mount Athos.

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Burney MS 55, containing Manuel Malaxos, Nomocanon. Writing on the upper edge: ΝΟΜΟΣ. Owned by Parthenius, Metropolites of Silistria.

Burney MS 94, containing grammatical and medical texts. Writing on the lower edge: XVIII.(This manuscript was written at Venice, but appears to have been in the possession of a succession of Greek monks, see the catalogue entry).

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Burney MS 110, containing Zenobius, Epitome collectionum Luculli Tarrhaei et Didymi. Writing on the fore-edge: ΑΙΣΩΠΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΖΗΝΟΒΙΟΣ. Written in central or northern Italy.

Harley MS 5571, a psalter. Writing on the fore-edge: ΨΑΛΤΗΡΙΟΝ. Owned by Santa Maria in Organo at Verona (Greek and Latin ex-libris).

Harley MS 5582, a psalter. Writing on the fore-edge: + ΨΑΛΤΗ[ΡΙΟΝ] (last few letters barely legible). Written by the monk Sophonias for the hieromonk Ioseph of Syria.

Harley MS 5625, Galen, De Pulsibus. Writing on the fore-edge. ΓΑΛΗ-ΝΟΥ ΜΕΓΑΛΗ ΣΦΥ-ΓΜΙΚΗ.

Harley MS 5630, works of Symeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica 1416/7-1429. Writing on the lower edge: + ΣΥΜΕΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΜΕΓ , ΘΕΟΛΟΓΟΥ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ

Harley MS 5693, Homer’s Iliad. Writing on the fore-edge: HOMERUS, and lower edge inscribed '6[6?]’.

-          Cillian O’Hogan

29 January 2015

Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project: Another 30 Manuscripts Go Online!

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In our penultimate Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project update, we are very glad to announce that another 30 manuscripts have been digitised. There are great riches to be found in this month’s update, particularly for those with interests in theological treatises. Pride of place this month must go to a very fine 11th-century copy of the Orationes of Gregory of Nazianzus, which also incorporates some of the scholia on Gregory attributed to Nonnus. Byzantine learning is well represented by a 15th-century copy of Manuel Moschopoulos’ grammatical treatise, the Erotemata, written by the prolific scribe George Baiophoros in Constantinople, which is preserved in a contemporary binding. More of the many classical manuscripts collected by Charles Burney are also included in this month’s group of uploads, with Burney 75 being a particularly important collection of classical and Byzantine epistolography. Additionally, another group of Biblical manuscripts are to be found in the list below. Finally, perhaps the most curious item of the month is Harley MS 952. Titled Ilias in nuce, (“The Iliad in a nutshell”) or Homeri φληάς  (“The Flead”), it is a late 17th-century mock epic poem written in Homeric Greek on the subject of fleas in Glamorgan.

This project has been generously funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and many others, including the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, and the Friends of the British Library.

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Miniature of Gregory of Nazianzus and Christ, Add MS 39606, f 1v

Add MS 27359, John Zonaras, Commentary on the Canons from the Octoechos (in its longer version), imperfect at the beginning and at the end. Completed in 1252, this is one of the earliest dated Greek manuscripts written on Western paper.

Add MS 27865, Sticherarion, imperfect and badly mutilated. 2nd half of the 13th century, Ioannina.

Add MS 32011, Euchologion. 13th century.

Add MS 36589, Lives of Saints for the month of February, and patristic texts. 12th century.

Add MS 39588, Canticles and other Services, imperfect (Rahlfs 1091). According to Rahlfs, this manuscript and Add MS 39587 (Parham MS V) were originally a single manuscript. ff 41-49 are fragments not part of the original manuscript. Initials and decorated headpieces in red. Two rough drawings on f 40v. 12th century.

Add MS 39605, Sermons on the Gospels of John and Matthew, possibly by Metrophanes of Smyrna. Early 10th century.

Add MS 39606, Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes, followed by extracts from Pseudo-Nonnus, Scholia mythologica. Illuminated head-pieces and initials, paragraph initials in gold. On f 1v is a full-page miniature, much-rubbed, of Gregory seated on Christ's right, each with a book. 11th century.

Add MS 39611, Heirmologion, with musical notation, arranged according to ἤχοι or modes. Four quires, containing the first ἤχος and the first ἤχος πλάγιος, are lost.

Add MS 39618, Theological and religious works, including [Athanasius], Quaestiones ad Antiochum ducem (a longer version of Quaestio 1 than that printed in the Patrologia Graeca), John Climacus Scala Paradisi, and other texts. 16th century. Also digitised is the former (19th-century) binding.

Add MS 40726, Manual of Byzantine ecclesiastical painting, similar to that written by Dionysius of Fourna, Ἑρμηνεία τῆς ζωγραφικῆς τέχνης (edited by Papadopoulos-Kerameus 1909). Two distinct manuscripts (the division is at f 68), in different hands and with different original pagination, are bound together to form the present volume. 18th century.

Add MS 41180, Stichera and Canons on the weekdays, followed by two consecutive leaves from an earlier Gospel book (Gregory-Aland 2485). 12th-13th century.

Add MS 43790 A, Fragment of a Menaion for 13-29 November, imperfect. 13th century.

Add MS 43790 B, Fragments of Greek liturgical manuscripts, including Gregory-Aland l 2373, 2374, and 2375. 11th-14th centuries.

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Inner front board of Add MS 64797 (Constantinople, 1st half of the 15th century)

Add MS 64797, Manuel  Moschopoulos, Erotemata. Palimpsest, the undertext dating from 11th-12th cent. and presrving fragments of lives of the saints. f 63r contains fragments from the life of Stephen the Younger by Stephen the Deacon (PG 100:1069-1186), specifically 1108C. 1st half of the 15th century, copied at the Monastery of Prodromos Petra in Constantinople by Georgios Baiophoros. In a contemporary binding of blind-stamped leather over wooden boards with raised spine.

Add MS 82954, Nikolaos Malaxos, Services in Honour of St Luke the Evangelist. Illuminated headpieces and rubricated initials. 16th century.

Arundel MS 527, John Koukouzeles and others, Anagrammatismoi for the principal feasts, and hymns, tropes, and other theological miscellanea. Musical notation (with neumes). 3rd quarter of the 15th century.

Burney MS 21, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 484; Scrivener evan. 571; von Soden ε 322), adapted for liturgical use. Illuminated headpieces and initials (ff 9r, 76r, 121r, 197r). Written in 1291-92 by the scribe Θεόδωρος ῾Αγιοπετρίτης for the monk Gerasimos, grand sceuophylax of the monastery τοῦ Φιλοκάλου in Thessalonica.

Burney MS 22, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 184; Scrivener evst. 259). Written on Cyprus in 1319.

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Headpiece at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, Burney MS 23, f 22r

Burney MS 23, Four Gospels adapted for liturgical use (Gregory-Aland 485; Scrivener evan. 572; von Soden ε 247), imperfect. Coloured headpieces and initials (ff 22r, 99r, 149r, 207r). 12th century.

Burney MS 45, Homilies on the Gospels for each Sunday of the ecclesiastical year collected by Philotheos Kokkinos, Patriarch of Constantinople. Italy, N. E. (Venice) or Eastern Mediterranean (Crete), 3rd quarter of the 16th century.

Burney MS 55, Manuel Malaxos, Nomocanon, and other texts. 2nd half of the 16th century.

Burney MS 60, Apparatus Bellicus. 4th quarter of the 16th century.

Burney MS 72, Manuel Chrysoloras, Erotemata, with Latin interlinear and marginal glosses, followed by a Latin commentary on the work, and other short works. 4th quarter of the 15th century.

Burney MS 75, Letters by or attributed to classical and Byzantine figures, including Libanius, Nicholas Cabasilas, Brutus, Demetrius Cydones, Gregory of Nazianzus, and others. Written in part by the scribe Δημήτριος Ραοὺλ Καβάκης (ff 138r-144v, 177r-178v); formerly erroneously ascribed to Ἰωάσαφ. Greece (Mistra) or Italy, Central (Rome), mid-15th century.

Burney MS 78, Aphthonius and Hermogenes, with prologues and scholia by Maximus Planudes. Italy, N. E. (Venice) or Eastern Mediterranean, 4th quarter of the 14th century-1st quarter of the 15th century.

Burney MS 84, Proclus of Athens, In Platonis Alcibiadem I (TLG 4036.007), imperfect. Italy, N.? 4th quarter of the 16th century.

Burney MS 93, Manuel Moschopoulos, Erotemata, imperfect. Italy, Central or N., 4th quarter of the 15th century.

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Miniature of Christ and the four Evangelists, Egerton MS 2163, f 1v

Egerton MS 2163, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 339; Scrivener evst. 59). 1 full-page miniature of Christ and the four Evangelists in colours on a gold ground (f 1v). 5 headpieces in colours and gold (ff 2r, 32r, 82r, 147r, 200v). Large initials in gold, or in gold and colours. Simple endpieces in gold. Chrysography. Accents in red. 2nd half of the 12th century, possibly produced at Constantinople.

Egerton MS 3046, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 238; Scrivener evst. 254), with extensive notes dated 1875 by John Ruskin mostly relating to the script, imperfect and misbound. Small headpieces in gold. Large initials in colours and gold in decorated forms. Initials in gold over red. Accents in red. Writing in gold. Excised headpiece (f 2r, the offset on f 155v). Late 11th-early 12th century.

Harley MS 952, Ilias in Nuce sive Homeri φληάς vel skipsodia, a parodic epic poem in Homeric Greek about fleas in Glamorgan. Wales (Glamorgan?), c. 1670.

 

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- Cillian O’Hogan