2. FORM AND MATTER OF THE MANUSCRIPT BOOK
What is codicology
The manuscript book is a unique and complex object, which has two fundamental aspects:
- first of all the book contains a text, or several texts (and this is the reason why it was normally produced);
- but it is also a material object, which represents a specific culture and precise techniques, and is comparable to an archaeological monument. It offers physical signs not only of the time and place in which it was made, but also, possibly, of the events that surrounded its history and its whereabouts over the centuries.
The first aspect involves various disciplines, such as philology and textual tradition; the second aspect involves codicology, which some also define as “book archeology.”
The manuscript is the main object of paleography, a discipline that examines every aspect, both those concerning the text and those related to the execution of the writing of that text from a material perspective. For this reason it is important to provide some information of the codicological type.
Vat.lat.1202, f. IIr, Abbot Desiderius delivery to st. Benedict the codes of the "reborn" abbey of Monte Cassino