In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Greek Codicology/Paleography

  • Introduction
  • Journals and Serials
  • Handbooks
  • Introductory Works
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Books on Collections
  • Early Greek Typography
  • Book and Society

Classics Greek Codicology/Paleography
Inmaculada Pérez Martín
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 February 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0095


Paleography is the study of every written manifestation in its beginnings, distinguishing traits, evolution, and decadence in a historical context. Greek paleography should be, by definition, a discipline covering the whole history of Greek script, from Linear B in the 13th century BCE to Monotonic imposed in the 20th century, and all its manifestations. But, in fact, it is not. The term, invented three hundred years ago by the Benedictine Bernard de Montfaucon (Palaeographia Graeca, 1708), was intended to mean the study of Greek manuscripts preserved in European libraries, that is, in addition to the few preserved Late Antique codices, essentially Byzantine and Renaissance books. Montfaucon’s is an approach to Greek script from a Western library perspective that is better understood if we remember that travel during his day was complicated and expensive. Getting reproductions of a manuscript is facilitated today by computers. By the second half of the 20th century the discipline had narrowed, losing space to papyrology. The abandoned space covers the whole of Greek Antiquity, whose book production, mostly in papyrus and parchment scrolls and codices, has not only a recent history completely different from book collections, but also has its own methods and instrumenta studiorum. Earlier in the 20th century, an attempt was made to accommodate the name of paleography to its real concern: the codex. But Codicology, a term born with the ambition to be the “global science on codices” (Dain 1949 cited under Introductory Works), putting aside only the strict study of script, did not reach a consensus on its meaning and it has less diffusion in English than in French, German, and Italian. This article does not deal with the whole history of Greek script nor with supports other than paper or parchment, but it deals with the Byzantine and Renaissance manuscripts written in this language and with the social and cultural aspects of their production and use.


The best and most complete bibliography is Canart 1991, conceived as a help for students in the Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica. Bravo García 1984 and Maniaci 2002 can be useful for the nonspecialist reader. Irigoin 1962 is already outdated but can serve as an introduction to that period as well as Harlfinger 1980 to German bibliography, also on textual transmission. Journals and Serials such as Byzantinische Zeitschrift and Scriptorium are the best place to find updated bibliographies.

  • Bravo García, Antonio. 1984. La Paleografía griega hoy and “Una ojeada a la Codicología griega.” In Actualización científica en filología griega. Edited by Alfonso Martínez Díez, 1–79. Madrid: Universidad Complutense.

    A review of a complete list of publications, divided in two parts (paleographical and codicological) and organized by subject. It offers a history of recent advances in the field and sums up the contribution of each work mentioned.

  • Canart, Paul. 1991. Paleografia e codicologia greca: Una rassegna bibliografica. Vatican City: Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica.

    It gathers 932 publications and an index of their authors. In addition to the Introduction (with general and methodological works), it is classified in three sections 1. History of the library script (paleography); 2. Analytical study of the manuscript (codicology); 3. Synthetic study of the manuscript (scribes, scriptoria, and libraries).

  • Halton, Thomas P., and Stella O’Leary. 1986. Greek paleography. In Classical scholarship: An annotated bibliography, 111–118. White Plains, NY: Kraus International.

    A brief but accurate bibliography.

  • Harlfinger, Dieter. 1980. Ausgewählte bibliographische Hinweise. In Griechische Kodikologie und Textüberlieferung. Edited by Dieter Harlfinger, 657–678. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

    A short and selected bibliography.

  • Irigoin, Jean. 1962. Les manuscrits grecs, 1931–1960. Lustrum 7:5–93.

    An annotated list of 334 publications, organized in a canonical way: General Books, Codicology, Scripts, Copying, Dating, and Libraries.

  • Irigoin, Jean. 1972–1973. Les manuscrits grecs I. Quelques catalogues recents. Revue d’Études grecques 83:500–529.

    DOI: 10.3406/reg.1970.1147

    An interesting collection of reviews. Part 2 is in II. Nouveaux recueils de fac-similés. Revue d’Études grecques 84:543–571.

  • Litsas, Evthymios K. 2003. Βιβλιογραφία Ελληνικής Παλαιογραφίας. Δημοσιεύματα Ελλήνων της 50ετίας 1951–2000. Πρώτη καταγραφή. Thessalonica, Greece: Hellenike Palaiographike Hetaireia.

    It collects the works of Greek paleographers published outside and inside Greece. It is organized by authors in alphabetical order and indexed by year.

  • Maniaci, Marilena. 2002. Archeologia del manoscritto: Metodi, problemi, bibliografia recente. Rome: Viella.

    A conceptual and methodological reflection on codicology particularly useful to an advanced beginner, it points to an annotated bibliography. Includes contributions by Carlo Federici and Ezio Ornato.

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