More on codex Palatinus graecus 129

A comment by Dr Divna Manolova on my post about some of the Heidelberg manuscripts picked up on a problem; that I could not tell what the 141 folios of ms. Palatinus graecus 129 actually contained.

It seems that it consists of working notes by a Byzantine scholar, Nikephoros Gregoras (d. ca. 1359/1360).  The manuscript contains a hand also found in codd. Vat. gr. 116 and 228, which are filled with letters, editorial notes, etc, by the same scholar.

That is, Pal. gr. 129, together with several other codices, is one of the material witnesses of the circle of scholars/scribes Gregoras was part of, or even presiding over.

She also drew our attention to the catalogue entry for the ms at Pinakes, which indicates that the ms. contains an enormous number of excerpts by some fifty different authors.

An email from George Christodoulou added more information.  With his permission, let me give here (slightly edited) what he tells us:

Well, having just transcribed for my own use a small fraction of the text on fol.1recto, it seems as if what we have here is but a syncopated paraphrasis of random passages from Herodotus.  My transcription points to Bk.I,178.1 sq., 179.4, 204.1.

I can also refer you to Edmund Fryde’s book, Early Palaeologan Renaissance 1261- c.1360 (Brill, 2000).  He speaks of Nikephoros Gregoras, and the well known Byzantine scholar’s habit of using Greek authors “merely as a source of endless citations” (360).  He singles out for especial reference his autograph codex Palatinus gr. 129, into which Gregoras would copy excerpts from a number of rare authors. In a note, Fryde also mentions a scholarly article by A. Biedl, “Der Heidelberger Codex Pal. gr. 129 – die Notizien-sammlung eines byzantinischen Gelehrten”, Würzburger Jahrbücher 3 (1948), 100-106.

He also transcribed some of the opening lines, which he confirms are taken from Herodotus, just as the Pinakes entry indicates, and has kindly allowed this to appear here:

I.178.1 sqq.  ὅτι Νίνου ἀναστάτου γενομένης μεγάλης πόλεως τῶν Ἀσσυρίων τὰ βασιλήια κατεστήκεεν ἐν Βαβυλῶνι, ἣ ἐστὶ τοιαύτη πόλις. νέεται ἐν πεδίῳ μεγάλῳ τῆς Ἀσσυρίης. μέγα-θος ἐοῦσα μέτωπον ἕκαστον ρκ΄ σταδίων ἐούσης τετραγώ-νου. τὸ δὲ τεῖχος αὐτῆς πεντήκοντα πήχεων βασιληΐων τὸ εὖ- ρος, ὕψος δὲ διηκοσίων. δὲ βασιλήϊος πῆχυς τοῦ μετρίου ἐστὶ πήχεως μέζων τρισὶ δακτύλοισιν:

Ι.179.4 sqq.  ὅτι ποταμός τις Ἲς ὄνομα εἰσβάλλει εἰς τὸν Εὐφρά-την ποταμὸν τὸ ῥέεθρον.  ὃς ἅμα τῷ ὕδατι θρόμβους ἀσφάλ-του ἀναδιδοῖ πολλούς.  ἔνθεν ἡ ἄσφαλτος εἰς τὸ ἐν Βαβυλῶ-νι τεῖχος ἐκομίσθη:

Ι.204.1 ὅτι  ἀπὸ τῆς Κασπίης θαλάσσης, τὰ μὲν πρὸς τὴν ἑσπέ-ρην φέροντα ὁ Καύκασος ἀπείργει [γῆς ὄρος readings uncertain] μέγιστον καὶ ὑψηλότατον. τὰ δὲ πρὸς ἠῶ τε καὶ ἥλιον ἀνατέλ-λοντα πεδίον ἐκδέκεται πλῆθος ἄπειρον εἰς ἄποψιν. οὗ μοί-ρην οὐκ ἐλαχίστην μετέχουσιν οἱ Μασσαγέται, ἐπ’ οὓς ὁ Κῦρος ἐστράτευσε πέρην οἰκημένους τοῦ ὄρους καὶ τοῦ ποτα-μοῦ.

Ι.214.3  ὑπὸ τούτων τῶν Μασσαγετῶν  τὸ πολὺ τῆς Περσικῆς στρατιῆς τότε ἐφθάρη ἐκεῖ καὶ αὐτὸς συντετελευτήκει ὁ Κῦρος.  λέγουσι δὲ καὶ σκυθικὸν εἶναι τοῦτο τὸ ἔθνος:

[Herodotus’ original text underlined above in bold letters.]

My thanks to Dr Christodoulou for this!

One further point was made by Dr Manolova, and is also very interesting:

In Pal. gr. 129 Gregoras used two different styles of handwriting. I am not sure how common this is, but I found it intriguing that one could variate one’s handwriting for different purposes; with respect of different content and contexts.

Indeed so, and an interesting subject for research.

5 Responses to “More on codex Palatinus graecus 129”


  1. Alex Poulos

    Just a note on the handwriting: from what I’ve seen, using different hands is quite common, at least in some contexts. For instance, in the recently discovered Origen codex, the scribe reverts to a partial majuscule hand when he realizes he’s writing a scriptural quotation. Another instance occurs in an ms I’ve been looking at (with Charles Sullivan) that contains Gregory’s of Nazianzus’ orations and commentary by Nicetas Heracleensis. There, the text of the oration is copied in a large hand, and the commentary is placed in a smaller, more compact hand beneath. I can’t speak to the purpose here, but it’s not uncommon for Byzantine scribes.

  2. Maureen

    So when we vary typefaces and fonts, we’re probably copying the varied handwriting styles.

  3. Roger Pearse

    Interesting, Alex; thanks!

  4. Roger Pearse

    Possibly so. Originally the “humanist” vs “gothic” styles of typeface, and then italic, and then … anything.

  5. Cassin Matthieu

    The informations in Pinakes come (as almost always) from the catalogue, which is here the catalogue of the Palatini written by Stevenson (1885) ; you can find it on-line at the following address : http://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/stevenson1885/0103. It is the catalogue that indicate the datation end of the 15th century
    We have added some bibliography about the manuscript, but we cannot systematically correct the data for each manuscript : we are only 6 for this database, and it is not our main task…
    Thanks for your comments, I will correct the data on this particular point.



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