This paper analyses the ways the Late Antique and Early Mediaeval scribes tried to fill in the rectangular text field with text which did not always easily fit. Between the 1st and 6th centuries, there seems to be a shift from scriptio continua and dividing the words whenever the end of line and thus the outer edge was reached, later on, contractions appear or the letters were just squeezed in.
In recent years, the concept of paratexts, borrowed from literary theory, has offered interesting contributions to the study of medieval manuscripts, where the study of paratextual features of a manuscript can offer new insights on the composition of the text. Particularly interesting from this perspective are composite texts such as cartulary chronicles which incorporate documentary material to form a chronological narrative. In this paper, I will discuss how the analysis of paratextual features of a cartulary chronicle can contribute to the understanding of the textual layers of its composition, leading to new interpretations of its aims.
Aristotelian logic played a pivotal role with regard to the secular learning (θύραθεν or ἔξω σοφία) in Byzantium. The dissemination of codices which transmit the whole or parts of the Organon, that is to say Aristotle’s six logical treatises (Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Topics, Sophistical Refutations), highlights the interest taken by Byzantine scholars in the study and the interpretation of these texts. There are aproximately 850 Greek manuscripts which transmit the Aristotelian treatises on logic and/or respective commentaries. A peculiar ‘editorial’ feature of most of these books is that they contain marginal or interlinear paratextual elements which are meant to either explain, or summarize, or amend, or stress, or refer to a particular passage in or outside the main text. This sort of visual, as well as learning aid often displays different phases of successive filling up of paratextual material and is usually not taken into consideration in modern editions. However, the wording of logical diagrams may confirm the correct readings of the main text, whereas the drawing of figures reveals specifics on scientific or literary interests of well known Byzantine bookmen. Mnemonics may provide input concerning the ‘editorial’ appropriation of new educational methods, as well as historical and political backround concerning the latter. Reference marks may disclose information on the cultural and historical aspects regarding the transmission of the Aristotelian text (e.g. favored educational curricula, networks of collaborating scholars, hints to lost parts of the manuscript or to the content of other codices etc.). For reasons, nonetheless, that seem to be attributable to discontinuities or to the rather occasional institutionalisation of the higher education in Byzantium, these paratexts are not always free of a certain ambiguity and favor arbitrary representation.