Vat. gr. 1070 features one of the best known biblical texts, i.e. the Psalter (Book of Psalms), and luckily did not get lost over the centuries. I nevertheless decided to open this blog with a brief presentation of this codex for its peculiarities which are of particular uniqueness in Manuscript Studies: Vat. gr. 1070 presents the calligraphic as well as the cursive Greek script, and the calligraphic as well as the cursive Latin script of one and the same copyist. This is quite exceptional in the world of manuscripts!

Thanks to the subscription in the manuscript on fol. 195v (note that all folio indications I give refer to the small Arabic numbers printed in black and located in the lower outer corner of the recto pages – this is the only regular foliation in the manuscript) we even know the copyist’s name as well as many other precious details about him and the manuscript. The codex was copied by Romanos, abbot of the Monastery of Saint Benedict of Ullano, a castle in Calabria. When Romanos accomplished the copy of the manuscript on 5th August 1291 – i.e. exactly in the same period when the Swiss Confederation was founded! –, he was in another monastery, the Monastery Saint Sisinnius which had close relations to the Monastery of the Patir (= Father) near the Calabrian city of Rossano. Romanos had found refuge there after being persecuted by pirates (maybe Saracens) who were a frequent danger for the people in Calabria.

Vat. gr. 1070 is a bilingual (Greek-Latin) manuscript copied in Southern Italy. The presence of Greek in Southern Italy, including Calabria, is due to the centuries-long Byzantine rule in these areas until the eleventh century. The Greek language and culture continued to flourish in the ex-Byzantine Italian regions far beyond this time, and characteristic styles of Greek script evolved on these territories.

Vat. gr. 1070 consists of 200 parchment folios (203 × 153 mm) and presents the Psalter in Greek and Latin (fol. 6r-193r). The text is arranged in two columns, the left one for the Greek version of the Psalter, the right one for the Latin version. This is the calligraphic part of the manuscript, with a Greek minuscule similar to the script called Reggio style. On the remaining folios at the very beginning and end of the codex, Romanos wrote different short texts of theological character (e.g. poems) in his cursive hand. It is not excluded that the very beautiful title vignettes and initials were also accomplished by Romanos.
For an impression of Romanos’ script I recommend to consult A. Turyn, Codices graeci Vaticani saeculis XIII et XIV scripti annorumque notis instructi (In civitate Vaticana: Ex bybliotheca apostolica Vaticana, 1964). Turyn gives a (Latin) description of the codex on pp. 76-78, an example of Romanos’ calligraphic Greek and Latin script as well as of initials on plate 45 (fol. 114r), an example of Romanos’ cursive Greek and Latin script on plate 46 (fol. 192r), and a reproduction of the subscription on plate 174a (fol. 195v, col. 2). The plates are in black and white. On Turyn’s plates the foliation I refer to (see above) is not visible or did not exist yet. Those interested in the wider palaeographical context of the manuscript and especially in the Latin script should read C. Scagliarini, “Romano di Ullano: l’apprendimento grafico latino di un copista greco”, Scrittura e civiltà 12 (1983), pp. 187-197. To the best of my knowledge, I am preparing the first thorough description of Vat. gr. 1070 in a modern language in the frame of my project “In the Name of the Rose: Searching for Unknown, Lost, and Forgotten Greek Manuscripts and Texts”.