Article

Greek Codicology/Paleography

Inmaculada Pérez Martín

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online May 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0095
Greek Codicology/Paleography

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Paleography is the study of every written manifestation in its beginnings, distinguishing traits, evolution, and decadence in a historical context. Greek paleography should be, by definition, a discipline covering the whole history of Greek script, from Linear B in the 13th century bce to Monotonic imposed in the 20th century, and all its manifestations. But, in fact, it is not. The term, invented three hundred years ago by the Benedictine Bernard de Montfaucon (Palaeographia Graeca, 1708), was intended to mean the study of Greek manuscripts preserved in European libraries, that is, in addition to the few preserved Late Antique codices, essentially Byzantine and Renaissance books. Montfaucon’s is an approach to Greek script from a Western library perspective that is better understood if we remember that travel during his day was complicated and expensive. Getting reproductions of a manuscript is facilitated today by computers. By the second half of the 20th century the discipline had narrowed, losing space to papyrology. The abandoned space covers the whole of Greek Antiquity, whose book production, mostly in papyrus and parchment scrolls and codices, has not only a recent history completely different from book collections but also has its own methods and instrumenta studiorum. Earlier in the 20th century, there was an attempt to accommodate the name of paleography to its real concern: the codex. But Codicology, a term born with the ambition to be the “global science on codices” (Alphonse Dain 1949 cited under Introductory Works), putting aside only the strict study of script, did not reach a consensus on its meaning and it has less diffusion in English than in French, German, and Italian. This bibliography does not deal with the whole history of Greek script nor with supports other than paper or parchment, but it deals with the Byzantine and Renaissance manuscripts written in this language and with the social and cultural aspects of their production and use.

Article.  23965 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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