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16 October 2014

Dedicated to You

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What do you get the person who has everything?  A manuscript book of poetry written in his or her honour, naturally!  

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Original binding of gold-tooled parchment with the royal coat of arms and initials ‘E R’ (‘Elizabeth Regina’), from a manuscript of complimentary verses to Elizabeth I, England (Eton), 1563,
Royal MS 12 A XXX, front cover 

A lesser known part of the Royal collection is a set of manuscripts of complimentary verses that were presented to royalty and aristocracy during the 16th and 17th centuries.  They are mostly catalogued under the ‘Royal MS 12 A’ range.  Eleven of these, containing verses or epigrams in Greek, have been digitised as part of our ongoing Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project (a list of these is provided below).  They are now available online, allowing us to take a closer look at these intriguing gifts. 

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Title page with coloured border featuring Tudor roses and coats of arms,
Royal MS 12 A XXX, f. 1r 

The focus of today’s blogpost is upon the earliest dated manuscript of this group: Royal MS 12 A XXX, presented to Elizabeth I when she travelled to Windsor in 1563.  The volume opens with a hand-drawn and coloured title page, the border of which contains Tudor roses and the coats of arms both of Elizabeth and Eton College. 

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Poems in Latin by Giles Fletcher, with an acrostic,
Royal MS 12 A XXX, f. 28v 

The Latin verses were composed by pupils of Eton College.  The most frequent contributor to the volume, with eleven poems, was ‘Fletcher’.  Giles Fletcher (bap. 1546, d. 1611) later served as one of Elizabeth’s diplomats, undertaking a perilous embassy to the court of Tsar Feodor I at Moscow between June 1588 and July/August 1589.  Like several of his fellow-pupils, Fletcher employed elaborate acrostics to encode Elizabeth’s name or encomia into his poems: the first and last letters of each line in the above poem read ‘Vivente te vivimus, te remota moriemur’ (‘We live while you live, we will die when you leave’). 

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Poems in Latin by ‘Frankline’ and ‘Flemmynge’, with acrostics,
Royal MS 12 A XXX, f. 56v 

‘Frankline’ and ‘Flemmynge’ (Samuel Flemming, later prebendary of Southwell) used the same device to bid their monarch ‘Farewell [and] prosper’ (‘Valeto, vivito’ and ‘Vive, Vale’).  ‘Hunt’ went one step further, using his acrostic to declare ‘Vestra secundet Christus Iesus’ (‘May Jesus Christ favour your endeavours’) (ff. 33r-33v). 

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Coat of arms of Eton College, with Latin verse,
Royal MS 12 A XXX, f. 72r

What spurred the composition of such a book?  William Malim (b. 1533, d. 1594), Headmaster of Eton College, prefaced the poems with a dedicatory Greek quatrain.  Perhaps he hoped his and his pupils’ praise would secure the patronage and favour of the new monarch (he may have been involved in producing a similar book – now Royal MS 12 A LXVII – when he became High Master of St Paul’s school ten years later).  The coat of arms of both of Elizabeth and the College were painted in at the end of the volume, and lavishly embellished with silver leaf (now oxidised into a dull grey), with verses on both, providing a reminder of the source of the gift. 

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Opening of a prayer in Latin prose against the plague,
Royal MS 12 A XXX, f. 62r 

Yet there was a serious side to all this flattery.  Elizabeth’s departure from London had been prompted by an outbreak of the plague in the city.  Only five years on the throne, and without either husband or heir, the Queen’s position and the stability of the nation as a whole seemed precarious.  After the political and religious upheavals of previous reigns, such anxieties were sharply felt by Elizabeth’s subjects.  After all the plaudits and praise, the elaborate exercises in Latin composition and inventive word-play, a prayer in Latin prose follows: ‘In order that the contagion of the ravaging plague may be diverted as long as possible from our most fair and noble Queen...’ 

- James Freeman

14 October 2014

Another Greek update: Forty-six more manuscripts online!

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It’s time for a monthly progress report on our Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, 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. There are some very exciting items in this batch, most notably the famous Codex Crippsianus(Burney MS 95), the most important manuscript for the text of the Minor Attic Orators; Egerton MS 942, a very fine copy of Demosthenes; a 19th-century poem and prose narrative on the Greek Revolution (Add MS 35072); a number of collections of 16th- and 17th-century complimentary verses in Greek and Latin dedicated to members of the Royal Family; and an exciting array of classical and patristic texts.

Add MS 24371, John Chrysostom, Fragments of Homiliae in Matthaeum (58, 70-75, 78-79, 81-83) (TLG 2062.152). 11th century.

 

Add MS 24371 f 15v
Detail of Add MS 24371, f 15v, beginning of John Chrysostom’s 72nd Homily on the Gospel of Matthew

Add MS 28824, John Chrysostom, In Genesim homiliae 11-31 (TLG 2062.112), imperfect and mutilated at beginning and end. 12th century.

Add MS 28826, John Climacus, Scala paradisi (TLG 2907.001), imperfect, and Liber ad Pastorem, imperfect. 12th century.

Add MS 28827, Modern Greek paraphrase of Pseudo–Gregentius, Dialexis (TLG 2833.003), imperfect. 16th century.

Add MS 30518, John Chrysostom, In Genesim homiliae 1-11, 21-33 (TLG 2062.112), imperfect. Written about the year 1121.

Add MS 32643, Patristic miscellany, partly palimpsest, with occasional marginal scholia. Includes works by Anastasius of Sinai, Epiphanius of Salamis, Gregory of Nazianzus, Anastasius I of Antioch, John Chrysostom, Hesychius of Jerusalem, and Christopher of Alexandria, as well as Gospel lections (Gregory-Aland l 1234). 12th-14th century.

Add MS 34654, Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes. 11th century.

 

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Detail of Add MS 34654, f 264v, beginning of Gregory of Nazianus, De pauperum amore

Add MS 35072, Prose narrative and poem on the Greek Revolution, by John Laganes of Athens. Wallachia, 1821.

Add MS 36750, John Chrysostom, Ad populum Antiochenum homiliae (TLG 2062.024), imperfect, and Ad illuminandos catecheses 2 (TLG 2062.025), imperfect. 11th century.

Add MS 36753, Florilegium of ancient Greek and patristic authors, entitled Ἀναγνωστικόν. Written in 1198.

 

Add MS 36753 f225v
Add MS 36753, f 225v, colophon of the scribe Χριστοφόρος Κυλαδαῖος

Add MS 40749, Offices for St Demetrius Myroblytes and the Great Earthquake, from the Menaion (October 26th). 15th-18th century.

Burney MS 62, Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, with scholia, vitae, and epigrams. Italy, end of the 15th century, written by the scribe known as the Anonymus Harvardianus.

Burney MS 66, Commentaries on Aristotle by John Philoponus and others. 1st half of the 16th century.

Burney MS 82, Hesiod, Works and Days (TLG 0020.002). Italy, end of the 15th century.

Burney MS 85, Speeches by Isocrates and Lysias, and gnomic literature. Italy, c 1500.

Burney MS 95, Codex Crippsianus, containing speeches by the minor Attic Orators. Constantinople, 1st half of the 14th century.

 

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Burney MS 95 (the Codex Crippisanus) f 34v, beginning of Isaeus, De Pyrrho

Burney MS 276, Fragments of Greek and Latin manuscripts, mostly of classical and patristic authors. 11th-17th century.

Egerton MS 942, Demosthenes, Orationes, preceded by Argumenta of Libanius. Full border in colours and gold, with flowers, green parrots, putti, medallions, cameos, and heraldic arms in the lower border. Headpiece in gold, red, and blue, with braided decoration (f 1r). Large historiated initial in colours and gold. 18 large initials in colours and gold with interlace or foliate decoration. Writing in gold. Initials in red with penwork decoration. Simple headpieces in red. Text and apparatus in red. Florence, made for Alexander Farnese (later Pope Paul III) after 1490.

 

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Egerton MS 942, f 1r, with a portrait of Demosthenes

Egerton MS 2624, Thucydides, Historiae (TLG 0003.001) with numerous scholia and a few glosses added later. Florence, 1st half of the 14th century.

Egerton MS 3154, Geoponica (TLG 4080.001) attributed to Cassianus Bassus Scholasticus, imperfect. 16th century.

Royal MS 1 A IX, The Book of Daniel translated into Greek by Hugh Broughton (1549-1612). England, before 1589.

Royal MS 12 A VI, Complimentary verses to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, on his matriculation at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1605.

Royal MS 12 A XV, Complimentary verses to Henry, Earl of Arundel, on his return from abroad, by Robert Owen. England, 3rd quarter of the 16th century.

Royal MS 12 A XXIII, Complimentary verses and address to Elizabeth I on her visit to Oxford by Geoffrey Lewis, of Christ Church. Oxford, 1566?

Royal MS 12 A XXX, Complimentary verses to Elizabeth I on her coming to Windsor by members of Eton College. Windsor, 1563.

Royal MS 12 A XLI, Complimentary verses to Elizabeth I by boys of Westminster School. London, 1597.

 

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Detail of Royal MS 12 A XLI, f 6v, verses to Elizabeth I in Greek

Royal MS 12 A LV, Complimentary verses to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, by Israel Brimeld, of New College, Oxford. Oxford, 1603-12.

Royal MS 12 A LX, Complimentary verses to Charles I upon a visit to Winchester, entitled 'Musae Tripudiantes'. Winchester, 1636.

Royal MS 12 A LXVII, Complimentary verses to Elizabeth I on the beginning of her reign by the High Master and boys of St Paul's School. London, c 1573.

Royal MS 16 C II, Charms, prayers, and medical recipes. 4th quarter of the 15th century.

Royal MS 16 C III, Dionysius Periegetes, Orbis descriptio (TLG 0084.001), imperfect. Italy, N., end of the 15th century.

Royal MS 16 C VIII, A translation of the first book of Virgil's Aeneid into Greek hexameters by John Harpsfield, D. D. Oxford, c 1530-1550.

 

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Detail of Royal MS 16 C VIII, f 3r, Opening line of the Aeneid translated into Greek by John Harpsfield

Royal MS 16 C XVII, Harpocration, Lexicon in decem oratores Atticos (1389.001), and Heraclitus, Allegoriae (=Quaestiones Homericae) (TLG 1414.001), imperfect. Possibly written in Italy, end of the 15th century.

Royal MS 16 C XVIII, Scholia on the Greek Anthology of Planudes and Paraphrase of Aristotle's Sophistici Elenchi. In two parts, bound together. Italy, N., end of the 16th century (part 1 contains a colophon dated 1580 in Venice).

Royal MS 16 C XXI, Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea (TLG 0086.010), with copious Latin marginal notes, ff 3r-130v. Preceded by Latin and Greek notes, with some quotations from Greek authors, ff 1r-2v, and followed by Greek notes on f 131v.Possibly France, S?, 1st half of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 C XXII, Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea (TLG 0086.010), Books VIII-IX. Italy, Central, end of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 C XXIV, Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae (TLG 0008.001), with glosses. Possibly written at Venice, 1st half of the16th century.

Royal MS 16 C XXV, Aristotle, De Anima (TLG 0086.002); Plato, extracts; [Plato], Definitiones (TLG 0059.037); Diogenes Laertius, Vitae Philosophorum (TLG 0004.001), Life of Epimenides. Possibly written in Messina, in the south of Italy, c 1500.

Royal MS 16 D X, Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae (epitome) (TLG 0008.003), with glosses, imperfect. Italy, Central, 1st half of the16th century.

Royal MS 16 D XII, John Tzetzes, Eusebius, Oppian and Hermogenes. Formerly three separate volumes, now bound together. 2nd half of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D XIII, Sextus Empiricus, with marginal notes by Isaac Casaubon. Italy, N. (Venice?), 2nd half of the 16th century.

 

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Royal MS 16 D XIII, f 17r, Sextus Empiricus, with marginalia by Isaac Casaubon

Royal MS 16 D XIV, Works by Dionysius Thrax, George Choeroboscus, Heliodorus, Ammonius, Herodianus, and Gemistus Pletho. Italy, 2nd quarter of the 16th century.

Royal MS 16 D XVI, Polyaenus, Strategemata (TLG 0616.001), with marginal notes. Venice, mid-16th century.

Sloane MS 1774, Euripides, Hippolytus (TLG 0006.038) with marginal scholia in Greek and Latin. Italy, 16th century.

Sloane MS 4087, Fragments from Kalophonic Sticherarion with compositions mainly by Manuel Chrysaphes and John Kladas (the Lampadarios). Greece, 16th-17th century. A detached binding for this manuscript (Sloane MS 4087/1) is also now online.

Yates Thompson MS 50, Aristophanes, with hypotheses, marginal scholia and interlinear glosses. Decorated headpieces. Large decorated initials. End of the 15th century, possibly Venice.

If you would like to support our Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, please click here to learn how you can make a donation and help to make our manuscripts accessible online.

- Cillian O’Hogan

06 September 2014

Forty-four More Greek Manuscripts Online

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We are delighted to announce another forty-four Greek manuscripts have been digitised. As always, we are most grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, the Friends of the British Library, and our other generous benefactors for contributing to the digitisation project. Happy exploring!

Add MS 31921, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 336), imperfect, 12th century, with some leaves supplied in the 14th century. Formerly in Blenheim Palace Library.

Add MS 34059, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 939), with ekphonetic neumes. 12th century.,

Add MS 36660, Old Testament lectionary with ekphonetic notation, and fragments from a New Testament lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1490). 12th century.

Add MS 37320, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 2290). 10th century, with additions from the 16th-17th century.

Add MS 37486/1, Detached binding from Add MS 37486, 18th century.

Add MS 39585, Octateuch (Rahlfs 426), imperfect. 11th century, written by Georgios, a monk, possibly in Constantinople.

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A much defaced miniature of the Psalmist, from a Psalter and Canticles, Eastern Mediterranean, early 11th century, Add MS 39586, f. 1v

Add MS 39586, Psalter and Canticles (Rahlfs 1090), with later additions on extra leaves, original and inserted, at beginning and end, and a much-defaced miniature of the Psalmist. Early 11th century.

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Detail of an illuminated headpiece, from a Gospel book, Greece (?Mount Athos), 12th century, Add MS 39594, f. 1r

Add MS 39594, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 551), with miniatures of the Evangelists. 12th century, with paper additions from the 15th century.

Add MS 39596, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 553). 13th century.

Add MS 39598, New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 910), with Euthalian headings. Completed in February 1009.

Add MS 39601, Revelation (Gregory-Aland 911), imperfect at the end, with a marginal commentary by Andreas of Caesarea, Commentarii in Apocalypsin (TLG 3004.001). Originally part of Add MS 39599 (cut out by the Hegoumenos of the Karakallou Monastery), but the hand of the text (perhaps not that of the commentary) is different and a good deal smaller. 11th century, possibly written at Mount Athos.

Add MS 39604, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 344), with notes of lessons and names of months in Arabic. 12th-14th century.

Add MS 39614, Xenophon, Hellenica. Early 16th century, Venice.

Add MS 39615, Hermogenes, De constitutionibus (Περὶ στάσεων) (TLG 0592.002). Early 16th century, Venice.

Add MS 39616, [Plutarch], De liberis educandis. Early 16th century, Venice.

Add MS 39617, Demosthenes, Orationes, with the hypotheses of Libanius and occasional scholia and interlinear glosses. 15th century, Greece.

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Miniature of Jonah cast forth by the whale, from a Psalter and Canticles, Palestine/Cyprus, 2nd half of the 12th century, Add MS 40753, f. 159v

Add MS 40753, Psalter and Canticles, with twelve full-page miniatures, a member of the ‘2400 family’ of Byzantine illuminated manuscripts. 2nd half of the 12th century, probably created in Palestine or Cyprus.

Arundel MS 531, Diogenes Laertius, Vitae Philosophorum, with illuminated head- and tailpieces on f 1r. 2nd half of the 15th century, Italy.

Arundel MS 547, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 183; Scrivener evst. 257), imperfect, with full-page evangelist portraits, decorated headpieces, and zoomorphic initials. 4th quarter of the 10th century, perhaps Cappadocia or Southern Italy.

Arundel MS 536, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 187). 12th-13th century.

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Miniature of David, from a Psalter, Italy (Florence), end of the 15th century, Burney MS 14, f. 3r

Burney MS 14, Psalter (Rahlfs 1657), with two Italian miniatures and foliate borders. End of the 15th century, Florence.

Burney MS 15, Bilingual psalter (Rahlfs 1658), in Greek and Latin. 1st half of the 16th century.

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Beginning of the poems of Anacreon, from a collection of works by Greek lyric poets, France, 2nd half of the 16th century, Burney MS 61, f. 3r

Burney MS 61, Collection of works by Greek lyric poets, including Anacreon, Alcaeus, Sappho, Stesichorus, and Ibycus. Occasional marginal notes with variants of Henri Estienne and T. Faber. 2nd half of the 16th century, France.

Burney MS 70, Basil of Caesarea, De legendis libris gentilium (TLG 2040.002), and other works. Large initials in colour and gold, partial foliate border on f 1r similar to that in Burney 14. 4th quarter of the 15th century, written by Ioannes Skoutariotes at Florence.

Burney MS 71,Callimachus, Hymns (TLG 0533.015-020). c 1500.

Burney MS 88, Libanius, Epistulae (TLG 2200.001). End of the 15th century, Italy.

Burney MS 89, Lycophron, Alexandra, with the commentary of Ioannes or Isaac Tzetzes, imperfect. 1st half of the 15th century, Greece.

Burney MS 96, Minor Attic Orators. End of the 15th century, Venice.

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Life of Dionysius Periegetes including a note on the 12 winds, with diagram, from a manuscript of Pindar and geographical texts, Eastern Mediterranean, beginning of the 16th century, Burney MS 98, f. 42r

Burney MS 98, Pindar, Olympia (TLG 0033.001), imperfect, with interlinear and marginal scholia; Dionysius Periegetes, Orbis Descriptio (TLG 0084.001), with interlinear glosses and marginal paraphrase; Eustathius Thessalonicensis, Commentarium in Dionysii periegetae orbis descriptionem (TLG 4083.006); Strabo, Geographica (TLG 0099.001), extracts. Beginning of the 16th century.

Burney MS 106, Sophocles, Ajax, Electra, Oedipus Tyrannus, Antigone; [Aeschylus], Prometheus Vinctus; Pindar, Olympia. End of the 15th century.

Burney MS 108, Aelian, Tactica; Leo VI, Tactica; Heron of Alexandria, Pneumatica, De automatis, with numerous diagrams. 1st quarter of the 16th century, possibly written at Venice.

Burney MS 109, Works by Theocritus, Hesiod, Pindar, Pythagoras and Aratus. 2nd half of the 14th century, Italy.

Burney MS 110, Zenobius, Epitome collectionum Luculli Tarrhaei et Didymi (TLG 0098.001). 4th quarter of the 15th century, Italy.

Egerton MS 2390, Sticherarion for the Immovable Feasts with musical notation, from February until 29 August, and of the Feasts of Triodion and Pentekostarion, attributed to Panagiotes the New Chrysaphes. 18th century, Greece.

Egerton MS 2392, The Divine Liturgies and ordination services. Full-page portraits of John Chrysostom, Basil, and Gregory. The manuscript is worm-eaten throughout. Written in Sopoto, Kalavryta, in 1664.

Egerton MS 3125, Nomocanon fragment, comprising two gatherings. 11th century.

Egerton MS 2625, Thucydides, Historiae (TLG 0003.001), with scholia, formerly forming a single manuscript with Add MS 5110. 15th century, possibly written on Crete.

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Text block in cruciform, from a Gospel Lectionary, Eastern Mediterranean, 995, Harley MS 5598, f. 248v

Harley MS 5598, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 150; Scrivener evst. 150) with Menologion and Gospels for some special services. 995, written by Constantine, the same scribe as Add MS 73525, ff 1-2.

Royal MS 16 C IV Part 1 and Part 2, John Tzetzes, Antehomerica, with a translation into Latin by Petrus Morellus. 1560-1603, France (Tours/Loches), in the hand of Petrus Morellus.

Royal MS 16 C VII, Constantine Manasses, Breviarium Chronicum , imperfect. Mid-15th century, Italy? Probably formerly owned by Sir Robert Cotton.

Royal MS 16 C XIV, Apparatus Bellicus, followed by extracts from Byzantine authors. 1584, probably written in Italy.

Royal MS 16 C XIX, Simplicius, Commentarius in Epicteti Enchiridion. 1st half of the 16th century, Italy (Padua?)

Royal MS 16 C XX, Isaac Argyrus, De Metris Poeticis, imperfect, with marginalia by Isaac Casaubon. End of the 16th century, Italy?

- Cillian O'Hogan

12 August 2014

The Journey of a Greek Manuscript

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One of the most exciting aspects of working with manuscripts is finding signs of former owners, and learning about how they used their manuscripts. Today’s manuscript, a copy of the Gospels in Greek, can only be linked to one certain owner, but there is quite a bit to say about its earlier history nonetheless.

Additional MS 24376, a fine copy of the Four Gospels in Greek (only lacking the last few words of John), can be dated to the fourteenth century on palaeographical grounds. As is often the case, however, the scribe simply wrote the text, and left gaps for illuminated headpieces and initials at the beginning of each Gospel, and for full-page miniatures of each of the Evangelists. For whatever reason, however, this was not done immediately, and even today the manuscript does not have any illuminated headpieces.

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Beginning of Gospel of Matthew, from Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 696; Scrivener evan. 600; von Soden ε 328), 14th century, Eastern Mediterranean (Constantinople),  Add MS 24376, f. 6r

On f 6r, the gap for the headpiece is clear, and a later illuminator would have been expected to add the “B” of βἰβλος, the first word of the Gospel of Matthew.

A number of inscriptions which would doubtless help us to say more about the manuscript’s history on f 1r have sadly been erased. However, one inscription on f 1v remains, which states that the manuscript was purchased in Constantinople in 1528:

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Detail of an ownership inscription, Add MS 24376, f. 1v

It is clear that shortly after this the manuscript moved north, as full-page miniatures were added some time in the late sixteenth century. These were created by a South Slavonic artist, and the figures in the miniatures are named in Slavonic. However, the text of the Gospels being written by the Evangelists remains Greek, as here in this illumination of Mark:

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Miniature of St Mark the Evangelist, Add MS 24376, f. 103v

It’s worth noting that this full-page illumination lacks the traditional border that is more common in Byzantine Gospel manuscripts, and extending the decoration across the entire page is quite unusual. The manuscript likely stayed in the region of Northern Greece and the Southern Balkans after its illumination, as it was acquired by the British Museum along with a number of other manuscripts at the sale of Henry Stanhope Freeman, who had been Vice-Consul at Janina – now in Greece, then in Albania.

Yet there’s one more twist to the tale of this manuscript. At the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, there is a miniature not of Matthew, but of the Annunciation:

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Miniature of the Annuciation, Add MS 24376, f. 5v

At some point, an owner must have noticed this and inserted a picture of Matthew to make up the loss, as f 292r consists of a woodcut on paper, inserted at a late stage. Where, when, and why this happened, however, remains unknown.

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Woodcut of St Matthew the Evangelist, Add MS 24376, f. 292r

- Cillian O'Hogan

07 August 2014

Parallel Lines

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During our work here at the British Library, we have been struck recently by the different arrangement of the text in Psalter manuscripts – especially where the Psalms are written in more than one language. 

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Detail of a historiated initial depicting David as a shepherd, with an illuminated word panel, and the text of Psalm 14 in Latin (‘Dixit insipiens’) with an interlinear Old English gloss, from the Vespasian Psalter, England (?Canterbury), 2nd quarter of the 8th century, Cotton MS Vespasian A I, f. 53r
 

Interlinear glosses were a common way of providing a commentary upon a text.  In the Vespasian Psalter, the Psalms were written out in Insular uncial script during the second quarter of the 8th century.  A century later, a scribe translated many of the words into Old English, writing them between the lines in Insular cursive minuscule.  The wide spacing of the Latin text meant that an almost continuous gloss could be accommodated with ease.  This ‘gloss’ is the oldest surviving translation into English of any Biblical text.  It reconfigured the manuscript into one that could be used to aid comprehension of the Latin text through a vernacular translation. 

Harley MS 5786 f 73r
Detail of the opening of Psalm 51 (‘Miserere mei’) in Greek, Latin and Arabic, from a trilingual Psalter, S. Italy (Palermo), 1130x1153, Harley MS 5786, f. 73r
 

Other Psalters were specifically designed to accommodate a translation.  Harley MS 5786 is a trilingual Psalter, with three parallel vertical columns containing the Psalms in Greek, Latin and Arabic.  The manuscript was made at Palermo, within the court circle of King Roger II, between 1130 and 1153.  The Psalter reflects the multilingual culture of twelfth-century Sicily, which was inhabited by both Arabs and Greeks.  It may have been intended as a homage to Roger’s dominion over southern Italy and parts of northern Africa and Byzantium. 

Add MS 47674 f 58v
The opening of Psalm 69 (‘Salvum me fac’) in Greek and Latin, with a foliate scroll initial C and a historiated initial S of Christ Pantocrator and David in waters, from a bilingual Psalter, France (Paris), c. 1220-c. 1230, Add MS 47674, f. 58v
 

Trilingual psalters are very unusual; it is more common to find bilingual versions.  This example was made around 1220-1230 in Paris – the most important centre for the production of Bible manuscripts in the thirteenth century.  The appeal of a bilingual Psalter in Paris is obvious: a major preoccupation of university study was the understanding of the original meaning of the words of the Bible.  The Latin Vulgate in the right-hand column is accompanied in the left-hand column by the Greek Septuagint (itself a translation from the Hebrew Old Testament).  A reader could thus trace the translation of the Bible text back to an earlier version, and understand how Greek words had been rendered in Latin.  Some university scholars, such as Hugh of St Victor, advocated the study of Hebrew in order to obtain the original and literal meaning of the Bible.   

Harley MS 1770 f 77v
Detail of the opening of Psalm 81 (‘Exultate Deo’), in Latin and Middle French, with puzzle initials, from a bilingual Psalter, England, 1st half of the fourteenth century, Harley MS 1770, f. 77v
 

The translation of the Psalms into vernacular languages reflects the desire for a different kind of comprehension on the part of the reader: not of its ancient, ‘original’ meaning, but of its meaning in his or her own language.  Harley MS 1770 belonged to the Augustinian Priory at Kirkham in Yorkshire.  It is a sort of trilingual Psalter.  The first part of the manuscript contains the Psalms in Latin and French, again in parallel columns.  

Harley MS 1770 f 158r
Detail of the opening of Psalm 1 (‘Beatus vir’), in Middle English with a Latin title and marginal rubric, from a bilingual Psalter, England, 1st half of the fourteenth century, Harley MS 1770, f. 158r
 

In the second part of the manuscript, the Psalms have been translated into Middle English rhyming couplets.  The author used an earlier Middle English interlinear gloss on the Vulgate, which was itself a modernised version of an Old English glossed Psalter.  The opening line of each Psalm is given in Latin: the Psalms were not numbered in medieval Bibles, but were cited using their opening words, so these were essential for navigating the text.  Extracts from the Latin Psalms were written in the margins, showing the reader which verse was being translated into Middle English at that point.  A reader could also compare the two vernacular versions through the Latin text that accompanied both. 

Arundel MS 104 f 364v
Detail of the opening of Psalm 118 (‘Conftemini Domino’) in a Middle English Psalter, with a historiated initial C and marginal Latin rubric, N. England, 1st quarter of the 15th century, Arundel MS 104, f. 364v
 

The need for such Latin prompts is illustrated by Arundel MS 104, a copy of the Wycliffite version of the Psalms.  Its owner cut selected historiated initials from two other manuscripts (one a Psalter commentary of c. 1220, the other a Psalter of c. 1370) and pasted them into the margins.  The subject of an initial rarely corresponds to the content of the Psalm it accompanies.  The letter itself, however, always matches the opening letter of the Psalms in Latin – and the Middle English text is glossed in the margin with the opening words of the Psalm in Latin. 

Harley MS 1896 f 16r
Detail of the opening of Psalm 27 (‘Dominus illuminatio mea’), in Latin and Middle English, with a foliate initial D and border, from a bilingual Psalter, Harley MS 1896, England, mid-15th century, Harley MS 1896, f. 16r
 

An altogether different layout is adopted in this Wycliffite version of the Psalms.  The text is arranged in a single column and alternates between the Latin and the Middle English translation – with elements of presentation rather than layout used to differentiate the two.   The Latin verses are written in red ink, each prefaced by a small blue initial; the vernacular verses in brown ink, each prefaced by a small pink initial.  Incorporating the two versions within a single column meant that the Psalms could be read as a single continuous text.  The Latin and Middle English versions may have functioned as a kind of ‘call and response’, aiding the reader’s comprehension of the Latin through the vernacular, like in the Vespasian Psalter.  Alternatively, the different coloured inks and initials could also have enabled the reader to focus his or her eyes on one version in particular: to skip over the translated passages and concentrate on the Latin – or, more controversially, to do the reverse, and read the Psalms solely in Middle English.

- James Freeman

05 August 2014

Twenty-four More Greek Manuscripts Online

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Work continues on the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, generously funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and others.  In July we uploaded 24 new manuscripts, adding to our previous totals.  We hope you enjoy paging through our newest manuscripts!  Details are of course below:

Add MS 26115, Philostratus, Imagines (TLG 1600.001), imperfect; Constantine Harmenopoulos, Lexicon arranged alphabetically, and some treatises on grammar.  1417? – 1426?.

Add_ms_29714_f004r
Decorated headpiece from a Lectionary of the Acts and the Epistles, Add MS 29714, f. 4r

Add MS 29714, Lectionary of the Acts and the Epistles (Gregory-Aland l 257, Scrivener apost. 69).  1306.

Add MS 31949, Gospel Lectionary, imperfect (Gregory-Aland l 337; Scrivener evst 285).  Mid 13th century.

Add MS 34107, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 1279; Scrivener evan. 321; von Soden ε 1178).  11th or 12th century.

Add_ms_36822_f003r
Fragment of a Gospel lectionary, 12th century, Add MS 36822, f. 3r

Add MS 36822, Fragments of two Gospel Lectionaries (Gregory-Aland l 237, l 2310; Scrivener evst. 237), and an extract from a service-book.  12th-13th century, the last leaf being added in the 17th century.

Add MS 37001, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 2277 [=816]), with canon tables.  11th century, the last leaf having been replaced in the 14th century.

Add MS 37003, New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 2279), with Euthalian apparatus and prefaces attributed to Theodoret (printed in von Soden 1902-1910, vol. 1, pp. 350-354), though the text is not that of the printed commentary in PG 82.  14th century, probably created in  Constantinople.

Add MS 37004, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic neumes (Gregory-Aland l 1492), imperfect.  Late 11th century.

Add MS 37006/1, Detached binding from Add MS 37006, of wooden boards covered with plain red leather.  16th century.

Add_ms_37007_f003ar
Evangelist miniature, from a Gospel Lectionary, Add MS 37007, f. 3r

Add MS 37007, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic neumes (Gregory-Aland l 1495=[l 459]=[l 1205]), with illuminations of the four Evangelists.  13th century, owned by and likely created at the Monastery of St Nicholas in Pentrochonte, north of Berat, Albania.

Portrait of St John the Evangelist, from a Gospel Lectionary, Add MS 37008, f. 1v

Add MS 37008, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1496 =[l 461]=[ l 1206], with a coloured portrait of St John.  Created at the Monastery of St Marina in Berat, Albania, in 1413.

Add MS 37009, Nomocanon of Manuel Malaxos, compiled for Joasaph, Metropolitan of Boeotia, in 1562.

Add MS 37485, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 2291), volume 1, containing Matthew and Mark.  Early 13th century.

Add_ms_37486_f097v
Evangelist miniature, from a Gospel Lectionary, Add MS 37486, f. 97v

Add MS 37486, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 2291), volume 2, containing Luke and John, and additional texts.  Early 14th century.

Add_ms_39587_f001r
Decorated headpiece from a Psalter, Add MS 39587, f. 1r

Add MS 39587, Psalter (Rahlfs 1091). According to Rahlfs (1914), pp. 108-109, this manuscript and Add MS 39588 (Parham MS VI) were originally a single manuscript.  12th century.

Add MS 39592, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 549; Scrivener evan. 536; von Soden A 136), with marginal commentary.  11th century.

Add MS 39595, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 552, Scrivener evan. 539, von Soden ε 252).  2nd half of the 12th century.

Add_ms_39599_f002r
Decorated headpiece and text from a New Testament, Acts and Epistles, Add MS 39599, f. 2r

Add MS 39599, New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 911 [formerly 227ac., 282p.]; Scrivener act. 217 and Paul. 235; von Soden ο29), with ekphonetic neums, lection notes, and a marginal commentary. 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. The missing portion of the Catholic Epistles, now lost, may have been cut out at the same time.  11th century.

Add MS 39600, New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 912 [formerly Gregory 228ac. and 283p.]; Scrivener act. 218, Paul. 236; von Soden α 366, with the prefaces of Euthalius and Theodoret.  13th century, probably created at Mount Athos.

Add MS 40656, Psalter with Canticles (Rahlfs 1650, Gregory-Aland l 932, Scrivener evan. 612).  13th century.

Add MS 40754, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1743).  Written in 1256.

Add_ms_47674_f002r
Opening of the Psalter with parallel Latin text, Add MS 47674, f. 2r

Add MS 47674, Psalter and Canticles (Rahlfs 1062), with parallel Latin text, and 8 pairs of illuminated initials (historiated at the beginning of the Latin text).  1220s, Paris.

Add_ms_47774_f001v
Portrait of the Evangelist John and his eagle, at the beginning of a Gospel lectionary, Add MS 47774, f. 1v

Add MS 47774, Gospel lectionary in Modern Greek in the translation of Maximos Kallioupolites (d.1633), whose New Testament was printed posthumously in 1638. Pen drawings of the four Evangelists, in its original binding.  17th century, possibly created in the Balkans.

Add MS 73525, Collection of fragments.

- Cillian O'Hogan

17 July 2014

This Year's Summer Blockbuster: A Giant List of Digitised Manuscript Hyperlinks!

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Here we go again with the giant list of digitised manuscript hyperlinks, friends!  For our new readers, this is a regular feature of the blog; on a quarterly basis we upload a massive spreadsheet for your persusal.  As always, this list contains all of the manuscripts to date that have been uploaded to our Digitised Manuscripts site by those of us in the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts section.  This does not include the work of our colleagues in other departments, of course - but we're pleased that this quarter's list does include the newest Greek manuscripts digitised as part of our ongoing project on these glorious texts.  And a few more, including the one below.  Happy clicking!  Here is the list: Download BL Medieval and Earlier Digitised Manuscripts Master List 17.07.13

Add_ms_47674_f002r
Decorated initial 'M' and historiated initial 'B'(eatus) with scenes from the life of King David, from a Psalter and Canticles (Rahlfs 1062), with parallel Latin text, Add MS 47674, f. 2r

- Sarah J Biggs

10 July 2014

Thirty-three Greek Biblical manuscripts added to Digitised Manuscripts

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The third phase of the British Library's Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project is now well underway. So far, the following items, all Greek biblical items, have been added to Digitised Manuscripts. We will continue to update the blog with new additions over the course of the year, and will also look at some individual manuscripts in more detail in later posts. We are extremely grateful to the foundations and individuals who have funded this project, especially the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation and the Thriplow Charitable Trust.

Add MS 24112, Four Gospels in Greek (Gregory-Aland 694; Scrivener evan. 598; von Soden ε 502), written throughout with space for a Latin translation, which has been added for a small number of verses. 15th century, possibly Italy.

Add MS 24373, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 695; Scrivener evan. 599; von Soden ε 327), with illuminated Evangelist portraits. 13th century. Also online is an old 19th-century binding for this manuscript.

Add MS 24374, Fragments from a Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 325; Scrivener evst. 273). 13th century.

Add_ms_24376_f103v

Add MS 24376, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 696; Scrivener evan. 600; von Soden ε 328), with illuminated Evangelist portraits (St Mark illustrated above). 14th century (illuminations added in the 16th century), Constantinople.

Add MS 24377, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 326; Scrivener evst. 274), with ekphonetic notation, imperfect. 2nd half of the 12th century, possibly from the Monastery of Patir in southern Italy.

Add MS 24378, Menaion for September, October, November, December, January and February (Gregory-Aland l 927; Scrivener evst. 275). 13th/14th century.

Add MS 24379, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 327; Scrivener evst. 276), imperfect. 14th century.

Add MS 24380, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 328; Scrivener evst. 277), with ekphonetic notation, imperfect. 14th century.

Add MS 27860, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 329; Scrivener evst. 278), imperfect at the beginning, with marginal decorations thruoghout. Late 10th/early 11th century, Southern Italy (possibly Capua). Also online is an old 17th-century binding for this manuscript.

Add MS 27861, Gospels (Gregory-Aland e 698; Scrivener evan 602; von Soden ε 436), imperfect (lacking Matthew). 14th century.

Add MS 28815, New Testament, imperfect (Gregory-Aland 699; Scrivener evst. 603; von Soden δ 104), with Evangelist portraits and a silver-gilt plated cover. Mid-10th century, Constantinople. The subject of a recent blog post along with Egerton 3145.

Add MS 28816, New Testament, from Acts onwards (Gregory-Aland 203; Scrivener act. 232; von Soden α 203), with Euthalian apparatus, and other works. Written between 1108 and 1111 by the monk Andreas in March 1111, in the cell of the monk Meletius in the monastery of the Saviour.

Add MS 28818, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 331; Scrivener evst. 280). 1272, written by the monk Metaxares.

Add MS 29713, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 332; Scrivener evst. 62), imperfect at the beginning. 14th century.

Add MS 31208, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 333; Scrivener evst *281), imperfect. 13th century, possibly Constantinople.

Add MS 31920, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 335; Scrivener evst 283), imperfect and mutilated. 12th century, South Italy (possibly Reggio).

Add MS 32051, Lectionary of the Acts and Epistles, imperfect, with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 169; Scrivener apost. 52). 13th century.

Add MS 32341, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 494; Scrivener evan. 325; von Soden ε 437), imperfect. 14th century.

Add MS 33214, New Testament: Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 1765; von Soden α 486). 14th century.

Add MS 33277, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 892; von Soden ε 1016; Scrivener evan. 892). 9th century, with replacement leaves added in the 13th and 16th centuries.

Add MS 34108, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 1280; Scrivener evan. 322; von Soden ε 1319). 12th century, with some replacement leaves added in the 15th century.

Add_ms_34602_f001r

Add MS 34602, Fragments from two Psalters (Rahlfs-Fraenkel 2017, 1217) (illustrated above). 7th century and 10th century, Egypt.

Add MS 36751, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic neumes, called ἐκλογάδι(ον) (Gregory-Aland l 1491). Completed in 1008 at the Holy Monastery of Iviron, Mount Athos, by the scribe Theophanes.

Add MS 36752, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 2280). 12th century.

Add MS 37005, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1493). 11th century.

Add_ms_37006_f001v

Add MS 37006, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic neumes (Gregory-Aland l 1494 [=l 460]). 12th century, with late 13th-century replacements, including a full-page miniature of Christ and a figure identified as Andronicus II Palaeologus (Byzantine emperor 1282-1328) (illustrated above).

Add MS 38538, New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 2484), with Euthalian apparatus. Written by the scribe John in 1312

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, with ornamental headpieces and the remains of a miniature of the Psalmist. 2nd half of the 12th century.

Add MS 39590, New Testament, without the book of Revelation (Gregory-Aland 547; Scrivener evan. 534; von Soden δ 157). 11th century.

Add MS 39593, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 550; Scrivener evan. 537; von Soden ε 250), with prefaces taken from the commentary of Theophylact, and synaxaria. 12th century.

Add MS 39612, Revelation (Gregory-Aland 2041; Scrivener apoc. 96; von Soden α1475). 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, possibly Mount Athos.

Add MS 39623, Fragments from a Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1742). Late 14th century, possibly Mount Athos.

Egerton MS 3145, Epistles and Revelation (Gregory-Aland 699; Scrivener paul. 266; von Soden δ 104), concluding portion of the manuscript of the entire New Testament of which Add. MS 28815 is the earlier portion. Mid-10th century, Constantinople. Also online is an old (18th century?) binding for this manuscript.

- Cillian O'Hogan