Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzos , Constantinople, gr. 510 , 880–86. 91
464 folios + introduction (fols. A–C) containing five miniatures, parchment, dimensions: about 410 × 300 mm. The codex was trimmed; some of the folios are now lost, and others were replaced by fourteenth-century scribes. The text is written in uncials by several different hands; scribes and illuminators are unknown. Unlike the ‘liturgical edition’ with only sixteen homilies, this is the most ancient and most luxurious version comprising the integral corpus of forty-four orations and additional texts by Gregory of Nazianzos, augmented by the Significatio in Execheliem, and the ‘Metaphrase of Ecclesiastes’, now attributed to Saint Gregory Thaumaturgos (c. 213–270/275). The manuscript contains forty-six full-page miniatures of more than two hundred scenes framed by gold borders and decorated with gold and painted initials, gilded marginal signs and painted headpieces. All the frontispiece miniatures are badly damaged. There are stylistic affinities between this manuscript and the apse mosaics of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (c. 876), and between the manuscript and the illustrations in the ninth-century Chludov Psalter (Moscow, Hist. Mus., cod. 129). At least three illuminators and several miniaturists were responsible for the lavishly decorated manuscript, which was produced in Constantinople between 879 and 882, and was most certainly commissioned by the patriarch Photios for Emperor Basil I and his family.
The Paris Gregory remained in Constantinople and was in at least occasional use until the late fourteenth century; in the late fifteenth century, the book was acquired by John Laskaris, a Greek composer and musical theorist, as well as a diplomat and librarian to Lorenzo de’Medici (c. 1445–1535). It became part of the Royal Library collection in 1594.
Select Bibliography: Leslie Brubaker, Vision and Meaning in Ninth-Century Byzantium: Image as Exegesis in the Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Sirarpie der Nersessian, ‘The Illustrations of the Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus. Paris Gr. 510 ’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 16 (1962): 197–228; Byzance et la France médiévale: manuscrits à peintures du IIè au XVIè siècle, exhibition catalog, Bibliothèque nationale de France, 24 June 1958–31 January 1959, ed. Jean Porcher and Marie-Louise Concasty (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1959), 5–7, XXVI–XXVII.
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana , gr. Reg. 1B, Bible, Constantinople, c. 940. 92
565 folios, parchment, dimensions: 410 × 270 mm, tempera and gold. This is the earliest surviving illustrated Byzantine Bible, probably produced in Constantinople. Only the first volume (Genesis through Psalms) of this two-volume work survives, with eighteen full-page miniatures, five prefatory miniatures and thirteen frontispieces. Each frontispiece miniature is framed by an epigram authored by the commissioner of the book, known as Leo, a Byzantine official, patrikios, praepositos (grand chamberlain and highest ranking eunuch) and imperial sakellarios (treasurer), as identified in a metrical preface. Leo Sakellarios was responsible for the production of the manuscript together with a painter, a poet and at least one scribe (all unknown). Leo’s identity has not been established beyond doubt.
Leo donated the volume to a monastery named for Saint Nicholas that had been founded by his deceased brother, Constantine the protospatharios. The abbot of the monastery was named Makar. Although the manuscript was most probably produced in Constantinople, it may not have remained there; we have no knowledge of a monastery dedicated to Saint Nicholas in that city. The manuscript became part of the collection of Queen Christina (of Sweden; ruled 1626–1689), from whose collection it passed to the Vatican Library.
Select Bibliography: Paul Canart, ‘Notice Codicologique et paleographique’, in La Bible du Patrice Leon: Codex Reginensis Graecus 1. Commentaire codicologique, paléographique, philologique et artistique, ed. Paul Canart, Studi e testi 463 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 2011), 9–13; Suzy Dufrenne, ‘Les miniatures’, in La Bible du Patrice Leon, 81–184; Paul Canart, ‘Le Vaticanus Reginensis graecus 1 ou la province à Constantinople’, in Études de paléographie et de codicologie, ed. Paul Canart, Maria Luisa Agati, and Marco D’Agostino, Studi e testi 451, 2 vols. (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 2008), 2: 901–06; Suzy Dufrenne and Paul Canart, Die Bibel des Patricius Leo: Codex Reginensis Graecus I B, 2 vols. (Zürich: Belser, 1988); Thomas F. Mathews, ‘The Epigrams of Leo Sacellarios and an Exegetical Approach to the Miniatures of Vat. Reg. Gr. 1’, Orientalia Christiana Periodica 43.1 (1977): 111–18; Cyril Mango: ‘The date of Cod. Vat. Regin. Gr. 1 and the “Macedonian Renaissance”’, Acta ad Archaeologiam et Artium Historian Pertinentia 4 (1969): 121–26.
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Sacra Parallela, gr. 923 , Rome (?), after 843 (?). 93
394 folios (originally 424), parchment, dimensions: 356 × 265 mm. The text contains a theological and ascetic florilegium composed in Palestine by John of Damascus, which combines biblical and patristic citations, all conventionally labelled Sacra Parallela. The biblical and exegetical citations are arranged in alphabetical order, by στοιχεῖα (alphabetical letters) and τίτλοι (titles). The text is written above the line in sloping uncials arranged in two columns. The letters, titles, and books’ and authors’ names are written in uncials on a gold background. The numbered titles relate to the table of contents. There is no single manuscript comprising the entire text. The existing versions may be related to a now lost model, entitled Hiera, also composed in Palestine by John Damascene. The text contains three treatises—one on God and the Trinity, second on man and a third one on vices and virtues. The manuscript contains 1658 marginal illuminations, portraits and narrative scenes. The figures are painted in gold with black contour lines, and red was used for faces and other details. The codex is well preserved.
The manuscript was most probably produced in a Greek monastery in Rome in the first or second half of the ninth century. Its whereabouts until 1654 are unknown; at that time, it was mentioned as being preserved in one of the monasteries on Mount Athos. The manuscript was brought to Paris and entered the Royal Library as a gift to the French king Louis XV in 1729. Abbot François Sevin, who brought it to Paris, received the book from Nicholas (Nicolae) Mavrocordatos, the prince of Wallachia (1719–1730), who was a well-known bibliophile. Mavrocordatos acquired the volume along with other Byzantine books from monasteries in Asia Minor, Palestine and Egypt, including Greece and Mount Athos. It is also possible that as Mavrocordatos’s library comprised several other, older libraries that he had inherited, the Sacra Parallela may have been acquired from the Athonian monastery by one of the owners of these libraries. 94
Select Bibliography: Irina Oretskaia, ‘A Stylistic Tendency in Ninth-century Art of the Byzantine World’, Zograf 29 (2002–3): 5–18; Maria Evangelatou, ‘Word and Image in the Sacra Parallela (Codex Parisinus Graecus 923)’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 62 (2008): 113–98; Massimo Bernabò, ‘L’illustrazione del salmo 105 a Bisanzio ed una nota sui Sacra Parallela di Parigi’, Medioevo e rinascimento XIV/n.s. XI (2000): 85–109; Kurt Weitzmann, The Miniatures of the Sacra Parallela: Parisinus Graecus 923, Studies in Manuscript Illumination 8 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979); Byzance et la France médiévale: manuscrits à peintures du IIè au XVIè siècle, exhibition catalog, Bibliothèque nationale de France, 24 June 1958–31 January 1959, ed. Jean Porcher and Marie-Louise Concasty (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1959), XV, 34–37.
Radu G. Păun, ‘Réseaux de livres et réseaux de pouvoirs dans le sud-est de l’Europe: le monde des drogmans (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles)’, in Contribution à l’histoire intellectuelle de l’Europe: réseaux du livre, réseaux des lecteurs, ed. Frédéric Barbier and István Monok (Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, 2008), 82–85. Also, email communication from Radu Păun, 14.5.2017.