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. μέγαθος ἐοῦσα μέτωπον ἕκαστον ρκ΄ σταδίων ἐούσης τετραγώνου. 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.


Another Heidelberg Palatinus graecus manuscript appears online

Judging from their RSS feed, the university library at Heidelberg are actively digitising their manuscripts.  Another one popped up today, in addition to those that I mentioned last week:

  • Palatinus graecus 40 (14th c.) — Sophocles, Ajax, Electra, Oedipus; Pindar; Dionysius Periegetes; Lycophron; Oppian, Halieutica; Aratus, Phaenomena; Homer, Catalogue of the ships &c; George Cheroboscus, on poetical subjects and forms, plus a page on poetic meters.

A useful  volume!