A Paper Presented at the International Congress of Byzantine Studies Moscow, August, 1991

© Robert W. Allison
Bates College
Lewiston, Maine, U.S.A.

| Return to Ms Acquisitions | Return to Front Page on Philotheou History |

Paleographical Description of Phil. cod. 96 (Menaion for December, mid-12th century)

General Paleographical Description of the Set of Menaia

The manuscripts in this set of menaia are written in a medium brown ink, in a characteristic twelfth-century monastic script which, in its verticality and reduction of ascenders and descenders, appears to be a stylistically simplified derivative of the tenth-century "minuscule bouletée," [note 18]. The script is characterized in addition by contrast of thick and thin strokes (horizontal strokes are thin). A steady head- and footline, slight enlargement of round letters characteristic of 12th century scripts (omicron, theta, C-shaped sigma, and the round, 3-shaped zeta) and avoidance of enlarged or exuberant letter forms or accents give the script a regular but rather subdued and plain appearance. The thick vertical strokes (making the letters look squarish and separated) contribute to this impression. This constitutes a rather loose canon, but the several scribes who wrote these volumes do not exhibit rigorous and steady adherance to this model. Their scripts can and do gradually change in the course of their writing of a codex. In general, the simplicity and regularity of this script seems intended for legibility and clarity, and its features are well suited to performance in dimly lit monastic churches

All of the volumes are written on a relatively inexpensive grade of parchment, with folios of varying thickness, occasional original holes and sporadic areas with visible hair follicles. Folios of most volumes have moderately to heavily soiled fore edges attesting to their use in the monastery.

Rubrication is in a faded rose, often discolored to faint light brown, but sometimes discolored with a bluish tinge. Script in rubrics consists of mixed minuscules and uncials in a debased form of Hunger's "Alexandrian Auszeichnungsschrift." [note 19] while marginal initials are in an equally debased form of his "epigraphic" style, mixing stubby beaded forms with taller forms with flared verticals. A repertoire of simple vignettes with some characteristic variations on classic motifs is to some extent shared among these codices, though drawn by various hands.

Specific characteristics of the script are outlined in tabular form below:

Phil. cod. 96 (Lamlbros 31) Menaion for December

upright - slightly right-sloping; strong thick/thin contrast; otherwise as above. Typikai diataxeis written in smaller script, heavily abbreviated with suspensions (e.g., ff. 116v-117r)
Letters: Accents & breathings: Punctuation: Special Traits: Rubricator & rubrics: Inks:
  1. medium brown.
  2. very faded carmine, discolored to a light tan.
  3. bright salmon-colored vermilion overwriting (fols. 1r-19r).
  4. device like a finial (two leaves with crossed stems) in vermilion and yellow wash mark major divisions in the akolouthies (Apodeipnon, others) (added by 16th-century Philotheite scribes).
  5. occasional overwriting in carbon black ink, applied indiscriminantly over red or brown inks (16th c.).

Links to Other Codices in the Set:

  1. Marginal initials closely resemble those in cod. 95
  2. The bluish discoloration of rose ink occurs in Phil. codd. 96, 97, 99, 100.

| Return to Front Page on Philotheou History | Go to List of Tables |

Created and © by Robert W. Allison
Dept. of Philosophy & Religion, Bates College
Lewiston, Maine 04240

Last Updated: October 25, 1995

Responses may be addressed electronically by e-mail to