Photius: the Manuscripts of the "Bibliotheca"

Written between 820-827AD, the Bibliotheca or Library of the Patriarch Photius consists of a series of book-reviews ('codices') of works he has read.  Much of what he read is no longer extant, and his review often comprises all that we know of the work.

All the witnesses to the text were minutely studied and described by E. Martini, Textgeschichte.



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /


Venice, San Marco Codex Marcianus 450.  Beautiful parchment folio Ms.  537 folios of 25.5 x 32.5 cms.  Written well in two columns.  Dates from the second half of the 10th century.  The first folio, which has been badly damaged by time, has lost the top right corner, but been repaired in the 15th century with a new bit of parchment.

Fol. 1 r has the subscription: Fwti/ou a)rxiepisko&pou Kwnstantinoupo&lewj kai\ oi0koumenikou~ patria&rxou.  This is followed by the dedicatory letter to Tarasius, the text of which is very hard to read.  Foll. 1v-4v contain a table of chapters. On fol. 5r is a title; then the text up to 527 b 34, where it stops in the middle of a phrase.  This indicates an accidental loss. 

The Ms. was written by a careful scribe who corrected his work, at least the first quarter of it, but was ill-educated, and so allowed gross faults to remain in his text.  In consequence, A is a careful copy of the exemplar.  He used brown ink for both text and corrections.  There are also annotations in majuscules, usually just summaries of the text, apart from a few such as the long scholium on codex 94.  Four other correctors also worked on the Ms.  The first did so in the 11th.  The second, in the 13th century, can be identified from the hand as Theodore Skutarios, who owned the manuscript.  He corrected it twice, in different coloured inks. In the 15th century, an annotater added summaries in a very black ink in the margin.  Finally one final set of small corrections turns out to be in the hand of Cardinal Bessarion, who owned both A and M and gave them to the republic of Venice in 1469.



Venice, San Marco Codex Marcianus 451.  Also a very beautiful parchment folio Ms.  26.5 x 37 cms.  441 folios, 39 lines per page.  Made by three copyists of the same era who did respectively; ff. 1-120 and 227-441; 121-160; 161-226.  These all date to the first part of the 12th century.

Fol. 1r-4r contain a table of chapters which doesn't start until codex 44.  As fol. 1r contains no subscription or place for one, it seems that the start of the manuscript has been lost.  Martini demonstrated by comparison with A that only one folio has been lost, which would have exactly the right space for the first 43 titles and the letter to Tarasius.  At the end of fol. 4v the same title found in A is found.  The text again follows this.  The order of codices is like that of the editions, except that 88 and 89 are united, and codex 202 is omitted. 

There are 5 different correctors hands visible.  The first was a 12th century hand who modified the text and filled lacunae, probably from the exemplar.  The second was 13th century, who added extracts from Aelius Aristides in the margins, and interlinearly against codices 246-248.  The Ms. is hard to read in this area.  Some of these additions found their way into the text of Mss. copied from M.  The next two correctors added scholia in the 14th century, while the final corrector made minor alterations in the 15th century.



Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Codex Parisinus Graecus 1266.  Bombacin paper.  537 folios, quarto.  A direct copy of A made before Skutarios' corrections were made to that Ms, and before A lost the last two quaternions.  However it too has lost some pages towards the end.  It has suffered badly from moisture, which has penetrated deep into the volume and rendered it unreadable on many pages.  It includes other works of Photius, and the Bibliotheca 272 a 16 - 540 b 7, in the same order of chapters and with the same omissions as A.  It was the work of two copyists, but only one worked on the Bibliotheca.  He was an intelligent scribe who must have read the text before copying, and fixes some of the mistakes in numerous places. 



Munich Codex Monacensis Graecus 30.  Direct copy of M.  Used for the editio princeps of David Hoeschel at Augsburg in 1601.



Rome, Vatican Codex Vaticanus Palatinus 421-422.   A copy of Cod. Vat. Ott. gr. 19-20, so a hybrid text.  Schott's Ms. Used for the editio princeps of David Hoeschel at Augsburg in 1601.



Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Codex Parisinus Suppl. graecus 471.  Direct copy of M. Used for the editio princeps of David Hoeschel at Augsburg in 1601.



Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Codex Parisinus Harleianus graecus 5591-5593.   Used for the editio princeps of David Hoeschel at Augsburg in 1601.  Belonged to the scholar Henri Etienne, who found it incomplete.  Two scribes copied it, one codd.1-128, the other 129-222 and 228-229.  Both give the text of M.  Etienne completed the Ms. in his own hand using A, and collated it against M.


  Rome, Vatican Codex Vaticanus Ottobonianus graecus 19-20.  A hybrid Ms, mostly based on M but supplemented from A.



Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Codex Parisinus Graecus 1226.  A hybrid Ms.



Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale Codex Parisinus Graecus 1227. A copy of C.


A and M are absolutely independent of each other.  They have a different order of 'codices', lacunae which are not common, and readings unique to each. 

All the other Mss. depend on either one or the other of A and M.  However the last two quaternions of A are lost, but the loss can be repaired from the copy Cod. Par. Gr. 1266, made before the pages were lost.

Possibly other late copies also exist, but Henry does not mention these if so.


René HENRY, Photius: Bibliothèque. Tome 1 ('Codices' 1-84).  Paris: Les Belles Lettres (1959).  Checked.  The source of these notes.

E. MARTINI, Textgeschichte der Bibliotheke des Patriarchen Photios von Konstantinopel; Erster Teil: Die Handschriften, Ausgaben und Ueberträgungen, Leipzig (1911). (Abhandl. der Philol.-hist. Klasse der Königl. Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Bd XXVIII, 6).  Not checked.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse. Corrections and additions are very welcome.

This page has been online since 27th October 2003

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