Chapter divisions, titles and tables of contents in the BNF Greek mss.

Now that the French National Library has a bunch of Greek manuscripts online, we can use them to find out what proportion have chapter divisions and titles.  It can’t be comprehensive, but this limited exploration will give us some sort of idea.  It will also be interesting to see if I stumble across any tables of contents.

The divisions are identifiable as breaks in the text, often with a red heading in the gap, and an initial on the new line.  Here, for instance, is one that I just found, in Ms. gr. 2971, folio 10v:

On the other hand initials pushing into the margin like this may only be paragraph markers.

So … let’s go!  What can be found in the first few pages of these mss….?

  • Coislin 352, 17th c. Palatine Anthology of Greek verse. — N/A: special layout epigrams.
  • Grec 2971, 16th c. Hermogenes, Progymnasmata.  — Divisions with red headings.
  • Grec 2868, 16th c. Apollinaris Metaphrasis Psalmorum. — Sections in red ink, followed by sections in black starting with red initial. Otherwise undivided.  Special layout.
  • Grec 510, 9th c. Gregory Nazianzen. — Initials at intervals but no text division.
  • Grec 2929, 16th c. grammatical bits and pieces. — Divisions with red headings as for gr. 2971.
  • Grec 2705, 14th c., John Tzetzes on the Iliad. — Red initials protruding into margin.  No other divisions.
  • Grec 2261, 16th c. medical ms. — Not divided.
  • Grec 216, 10th c. Acts of the Apostles, with the catena. — Starts with numbered table of contents of Acts here, f.1r, and also has numbered headings.  Rather catena-ish, tho, in format.

  • Grec 1853, 10th c., Aristotle.  No red ink! Not obvious divisions. Might be capitals in margin occasionally.
  • Coislin 291, 14th c., Simeon the New Theologian.  Very faded red initials in margin.  Last line of end of chapter ends with “:–“, and rest of line blank.
  • Grec 1807, 9th c. Plato.  Not obviously divided, but marginal asterisks and other marks.
  • Grec 1685, 15th c. Ps.Callisthenes, History of Alexander; Aesop’s fables.  Red marginal initials only in Ps.Callisthenes; Aesop has red initials and headings (e.g. f.59r).
  • Grec 1639, 15th c. Xenophon, Cyropedia; expedition; Theophrastus, characters.  — Red initials.  No break in text.   But by f.193v (probably Theophrastus), divisions, red headings and initials.
  • Grec 1759, 13th c. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the philosophers.  — Black initial, break, red heading (probably later, on f.2r), chapter ends with “:–“.  Only when new philosopher introduced (e.g f.107v).  So perhaps special format.
  • Grec 2465, 14th c. Michael Psellus.  — None that I can see.
  • Grec 1407, 15th c. Arrian, Anabasis (f.11v); on India; Ptolemy’s geography, epitome.  — Red letters.  Ms. starts with several pages of what may be indices; red and black text, much faded.
  • Grec 1122, 14th c. John Damascene. — Red letter, break, red heading (e.g. f.4r).
  • Grec 2795, 15th c. Sophocles, Electra, Orestes, etc, with scholia. — Drama has special format.
  • Grec 2850, 1475 AD, Sybilline oracles. — None that I can see.
  • Grec 2902, 16th c. Aesop, Aristophanes, Euripides. — Red initials, heading, breaks in Aesop.
  • Grec 2999, 16th c. Demosthenes. — Not divided that I can see.
  • Coislin 1, 7th c. Greek Old Testament — initials in margin, but much too often.  Some special format.
  • Coislin 79, 11th c. Chrysostom. — table of contents (f.3r-4v), then “logos a'”.  Divided by space in middle of line, then initial in margin at start of next line.  No chapter titles.
  • Grec 2809, 15th c. Euripides. — (Not examined)
  • Grec 2036, 10th c.  (f. 1r-v) Πίναξ, then (ff. 2-178v) Ps.-Aristotle, Problemata physica, then Longinus (Dionysius).  — There is a numbered table of contents starting, “Ἀριστοτέλους προβλήματα καὶ Διονυσίου Λογγίνου περὶ ὕψους λόγου.” (i.e. Aristotle’s Problems and Dionysius Longinus’ περὶ ὕψους λόγου”.  The toc. is in the hand of Matthieu Devaris, according to the notes.  Divisions by initials in margin.  No red.  Numerals in margin look to me like Devaris’ work.
  • Grec 2706, 1500. Aristarchus, summaries and scholia on the Iliad. — red initials, headings, and line break.
  • Grec 1535, 11th c. Martyrdoms. — red initials in margin. No headings or line-break.
  • Grec 1671, 1296. Plutarch, parallel lives. — marginal initials, but too frequent to be chapters, and in same ink colour.  No headings or line breaks.  F.10r has a break for new “life”.
  • Grec 107, 7th c. Bilingual Greek/Latin Paul’s letters. uncials. — f6v-7r shows an initial in the margin; a later hand has marked this as “chapter 2”.
  • Grec 1128, 14th c. Barlaam and Joasaph. — red initial in margin. Heading in red, followed by picture (!).
  • Grec 1767, 15th c. George Cedrenus, Narratio of meeting of Pope Silvester with some Jews. — red initial pushing into margin, or sometimes in body of text.  Some red writing, not sure if for that purpose.
  • Grec 1909, 15th c. Simplicius on Aristotle’s Physica. — Divided, red initial, black heading, new line.
  • Grec 2179, 9th c. Dioscorides. — Hard to see, but looks like newline, red title, and numeral (and picture) for new chapter.
  • Grec 2442, 11th c. Aelian, Tactica; Onasander, etc.  Aelian has “:–“, new line initial in same ink pushing into margin, and marginal numeral.
  • Grec 2389, 9th c. Ptolemy. — initials pushing into margin, but appear to be paragraphs. f.3v shows start of chapter 2 with heading, newline, numeral, and the initial, all in black ink.
  • Grec 3094, 17th c. Chrysostom, 4 homilies to Antiochenes. — no divisions.
  • Grec 923, 9th c. John Damascene, Sacra Parallela. — a numbered table of contents in alternating red and black (2r – 8v).  Chapter division – heading in gold box, with numeral.  Marginal initials in black must be paragraph divisions.
  • Grec 451, 914 AD. Division on f.96v consisting of ~~~—, new line, black title, new line and initial in margin.  A numeral seems to be a later addition.  f.213v has the table of contents to book 2 of Eusebius PE.  In the PE there are no divisions except paragraph initials.
  • Grec 781, 939 AD. Chrysostom.  f1r-v is a numbered table of contents for the various items in the book.  There seem to be no internal divisions, tho; not even paragraph initials.
  • Grec 945, 15th c. Origen.  — Contra Celsum (from f.48r) seems to have no internal divisions.
  • Grec 414, 16th c. Gelasius of Cyzicus (from c.4 to end), Eusebius Vita Constantini (siglum=D), HE, etc. — the beginning of Gelasius is lost.  But on f.1v he shows chapter divisions:

And on f.65 Eusebius’ Vita Constantini book 1 begins with an unnumbered table of contents to book 1 thus.  The first item is chapter 1, Προοίμιον περὶ τῆς Κωνσταντίνου τελευτῆς.

and f.81v shows the end of the table for book 2, a blank line, and then the start of the book.  The PE here is noticeably devoid of book titles, although it does feature colophons.  There is likewise a table of contents for Constantine’s Ad sanctorum coetum (f.134).
  • Coislin 202, 6th c. Euthalian chapters, New Testament, note saying it was copied from Pamphilus’ exemplar (f.14r, v). — this one I can’t make much of.

Now that was an interesting way to spend an afternoon!  Thank you, BNF, for making it possible to see all these things “in the wild”, as it were.  This is precisely what a major library should be doing.  And making it possible to download PDF’s helped as well, at various points when I was skimming around the pages looking for things.  Again – thank you.

I suspect that most of these mss. never even get looked at.  Well, today they did!

UPDATE: That was 42 manuscripts, and even at the press of a mouse-button, that took all afternoon.  Useful, tho!

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