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Intellectual Circles in Byzantium in the Tenth Century

Myriam Hecquet-Devienne, Université de Lille 3 (CNRS), Fellow 2008–2009

Thanks to the wonderful resources of Dumbarton Oaks, I completed the bibliographical materials I had started to gather before my arrival, in particular about the intellectual circles in Byzantium in the tenth century and the epistolary documents.

I precisely described the features of the hands that copied Aristotle's manuscript, the Parisinus 1853, and the Venetus A of Homer. I gathered the codicological characteristics of these manuscripts in order to show their relationship with some other manuscripts that were probably copied by the same team of scribes. I also analyzed the work of textual criticism made on the text by the main scribe of each manuscript.

I examined the two epigrams the scribes copied on free pages of these manuscripts, which belong to the Palatine Anthology (Ⅸ 387, composed by Adrian, and 577, by Ptolemaeus). Both present interesting variant readings, not known otherwise.

I translated some very difficult letters of the corpus of an anonymous professor from the tenth century, who was in relation with the monk Ephrem, a scribe belonging, I believe, to this team of scribes. These letters show the criteria of this professor for "editing" the texts he had to copy (he also was an occasional scribe). They reveal how these texts were given to him, and how he tried to find positions for his students. He wanted to be distinguished from the mere scribes who only worry about their handwriting, without intellectual concerns, and lamented that advanced high training was so little appreciated.