Monacensis Graecus 101: A collection of historiographical and rhetorical texts

Making research materials available online has become even more important in times of lockdown and reduced service from and access to public research institutions.

The Bavarian State Library, a long-time forerunner in making their valuable collections available online, recently uploaded another batch of digital images from their treasury of Greek manuscripts. One of them preserves some rare historiographical and rhetorical Greek texts and can now, through a digitisal copy of its black-and-white microfilm reproduction, studied from the comfort of your home.

Cod. Gr. 101, written around 1555 in Northern Italy, was described in detail by M. Molin Pradel, Katalog der griechischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, vol. 2 (Wiesbaden 2013) 279–286. Information about its age, scribes, possessors and textual contens can also be found in the Pinakes database (Diktyon no. 44545).

My interest in this manuscript is due to the fact that it is one of only five extant manuscripts transmitting Paeanius’ Metaphrasis (Translation) of Eutropius’ Roman History. The Munich witness of this text was studied extensively by Ernst Schulze (1870), and later by Spyridon Lambros (1912) who both (indepent of one another) proved it to be a copy from an older manuscript, Laur. Plut. 70.5 (Firenze, Biblioteca Media Laurenziana, Diktyon no. 16570also available online). The Munich ms. thus has value not as an original textual witness but as a possible source of scholarly conjectures to the text.

So far, checking the first 51 folios of the ms. has proved fruitful as it has yielded half a dozen corrections to the text – granted, all are easy corrections and have no ground-shaking consequences, but they are testiment to the critical acumen of its scribe or his supervisors. And they predate the first printed edition by more than 30 years.

Of course, a black-and-white microfilm can only take us so far. I have not been able, for example, to ascertain or even locate two notes in the ms. reported by Lambros (1912) 114–115 saying that the manuscript had been lent to Gotha librarian August Beck in 1868 (who requested it on Schulze’s behalf) and to Theodor Mommsen in 1872 (who used it to prepare an edition of Paeanius). To this end one must consult the object itself, not a copy from a copy.