10. SCRIPTS FROM THE BYZANTINE PERIPHERY (TWELFTH – FOURTEENTH CENTURIES)
A. Salentine Scripts
Besides the Italo-Greek scripts from the tenth to the twelfth centuries which we saw earlier, there are a few more recent scripts which are associated with particular regions of the Byzantine world. Two of these are likewise localized in southern Italy, and more particularly in the eastern part of the peninsula (the "heel" of the boot, known as Salento or as "Terra d'Otranto"), where a considerable number of secular and especially of poetical works were copied (for example, one of the most important witnesses to the text of Sophocles, Laur. Conv. Soppr. 152 [referred to as "G" in the editions], a palimpsest with Sophocles in the upper script and patristic works in the lower script, which unfortunately is not yet digitized), whereas in the earlier period they were concentrated in the western part (the "toe") and in Sicily and consisted almost exclusively of manuscripts of religious texts. The fundamental contribution to the study of these texts is due to A Jacob, in his contribution to the proceedings of the 1974 Paleography Conference in Paris, pp. 269-281.
The first style which we need to consider here belongs primarily to the twelfth century; it is included here rather than in section six because of if its geographical origin. This is the script which Jacob called "Rectangular Salentine style"; though more or less strongly characterized in different manuscripts, it may be recognized by its generally "flattened" appearance, which, as Jabob noted, is due mostly to the lengthened shapes of the letters mu, pi and omega; all of the letters generally tend to geometrical shapes and in particular to fit into low rectangles. The axis is upright, the letter-shapes are simple and the strokes are generally thick, with little or no stroke contrast. A fine example of this script is provided by the Ott. gr. 344, a liturgical manuscript copied in 1177 CE by a scribe named Galaktion (RGK 3,83) which you may admire below.
Ott. gr. 344 (initial view: f. 33v)
For practice reading this script, please see Ott. gr. 344.
The style which Salentine scribes began to use in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries was as different as can be imagined from the sober script we have just seen; Jacob accordingly named "Baroque Salentine Style". This is a very cursive script with various flourishes and ligatures, which is easily recognizable despite the unpredictable nature of these many graphic embellishments; among the most characteristic ones are the alpha with a loop descending well below the baseline; ligatures which directly connect loops belonging to different letters; and an abbreviation for -ον which tends to combine with a concomitant grave accent in a horizontal position, so that the two together look like an "equals" sign (=). A good example of this script is provided by the Vat. gr. 1276 (seen below), a poetical anthology copied by an anonymous scribe in the early fourteenth century.
Vat. gr. 1276 (initial view: f. 33v)
For practice reading this script, please see Vat. gr. 1276.
B. Cypriot Scripts
Another area of the Byzantine world which developed writing styles which may be considered geographically distinctive is the island of Cyprus (though the styles which are considered Cypriot seem also to have been used in the coastal areas nearest the island and in particular in Palestine). These styles were identified primarily by P. Canart in a number of articles, including his contribution to the 1974 Paleography Conference in Paris, pp. 303-321, and others which are now gathered in his Études de paléographie et de codicologie, vol. 1, pp. 677-747 and vol. 2, pp. 853-879. Going back once again to the twelfth century, Canart noted a style associated with Cyprus which he called "Style 'epsilon' a pseudo-ligatures basses" (seen below in Barb. gr. 449), whose most notable characteristic is the "pseudo-ligature" between epsilon and a following letter, whereby the middle horizontal stroke of epsilon descends to (or nearly to) the baseline to join the following letter. The script generally has a "flattened" appearance, not unlike that of the "Rectangular Salentine Style" seen above, and the axis is upright, with the notable exception of the gamma, which tends to be twisted to the left. Another notable characteristic of manuscripts written in this style (and of other Cypriot manuscripts) is the color of the ink, which is generally a very intense black.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Cypriot scribes primarily used two different styles, the first of which ("Chypriote carrée" in Canart's nomenclature) is a formal script found primarily in liturgical and Biblical manuscripts; it has an upright axis and rectangular letter-shapes not unlike those of the "Rectangular Salentine"style we saw above, but is a much more refined script, with carefully executed serifs and occasionally embellished with enlarged letters, including a beta which recalls that of the (otherwise very different) "Beta-Gamma style". The other is again a cursive script full of flourishes and embellishments; among its most notable characteristics are the majuscule beta whose bottom loop swoops up to join the vertical stroke well above the baseline; the vertical grave accent shaped like an "equals" sign (like in the "Baroque Salentine Style"), and a majuscule pi with parallel descenders noticeably slanted to the right. Both of these scripts may be seen in a single manuscript, the Pal gr. 367 (seen below).
Pal. gr. 367 (initial view: f. 158r)
The page which is initially shown in this viewer includes "chypriote carrée" script in its top part and "chypriote bouclée" script in its bottom part. You can see more of both types of script by scrolling backwards and forwards in the manuscript.
For practice reading and transcribing both of these scripts, please see Pal. gr. 367.