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In A.D. 888 we find him purchasing a copy of Euclid;1 and seven years later the famous manuscript of Plato, formerly at Patmos, and now one of the treasures of the Bodleian Library, was written expressly for him.2 Students of early Christianity owe him a particular debt for preserving apologetic writings which would otherwise have been lost.3
It is notorious that the Byzantine world, which produced many men of wide and varied learning, or of subtle intellect, such as Photius, Psellos, and Eustathios-to name three of the best-known names,- -never gave birth to an original and creative genius. Its science can boast of no new discovery, its philosophy of no novel system or explanation of the universe. Age after age, innumerable pens moved, lakes of ink were exhausted, but no literary work remains which can claim a place among the memorable books of the world. To the mass of mankind Byzantine literature is a dead thing; it has not left a single immortal book to instruct and delight posterity.
While the unquestioned authority of religious dogma, and the tyranny of orthodoxy, confined the mind by invisible fetters which repressed the instinct of speculation and intellectual adventure, there was another authority no less fatal to that freedom which is an indispensable condition of literary excellence as of scientific progress, the authority of the ancients. We have seen the superiority of the Eastern Empire to the contemporary European states in the higher education which it provided. In this educational system, which enabled and encouraged studious youths to become acquainted with the great pagan writers of Greece, we might have looked to find an outlet of escape from the theories of the universe and the views of life dogmatically imposed by religion, or at least a stimulus to seek in the broad field of human nature material for literary art. But the influence of the great Greek thinkers proved powerless to unchain willing
1 Subscription in the MS. in the Bodleian (D'Orville, xi. inf. 2, 30), where the price he paid is stated, 4 nomismata = £2: 8s. (equivalent in value to about £12).
2 Clarkianus, 39. Arethas paid the scribe Stephen 13 nom. or £7:16s., a sum equal in purchasing value to not
much less than £40.
3 Harnack, ib. 46.
4 Cp. Gibbon vi. 108, "The minds of the Greeks were bound in the fetters of a base and imperious superstition, which extends her dominion round the circle of profane science."
slaves, who studied the letter and did not understand the meaning. And so the effect of this education was to submit the mind to another yoke, the literary authority of the ancients. Classical tradition was an incubus rather than a stimulant; classical literature was an idol, not an inspiration. The higher education was civilizing, but not quickening; it was liberal, but it did not liberate.
The later Greeks wrote in a style and manner which appealed to the highly educated among their own contemporaries, and the taste of such readers appreciated and demanded an artificial and laboured style, indirect, periphrastic, and often allusive, which to us is excessively tedious and frigid. The vocabulary and grammar of this literature were different from the vocabulary and grammar of everyday life, and had painfully to be acquired at school. Written thus in a language which was purely conventional, and preserving the tradition of rhetoric which had descended from the Hellenistic age, the literature of Byzantium was tied hand and foot by unnatural restraints. It was much as if the Italians had always used Latin as their literary medium, and were unable to emancipate themselves from the control of Cicero, Livy, and Seneca. The power of this stylistic tradition is one of the traits of the conservative spirit of Byzantine society.
These facts bear upon the failure of Byzantine men of letters to produce anything that makes an universal appeal. Yet if the literature of the world is not indebted to the Byzantines for contributions of enduring value, we owe to them and to their tenacity of educational traditions an inestimable debt for preserving the monuments of Greek literature which we possess to-day. We take our inheritance for granted, and seldom stop to remember that the manuscripts of the great poets and prose-writers of ancient Greece were not written for the sake of a remote and unknown posterity, but to supply the demand of contemporary readers.
THE LETTERS OF THEODORE OF STUDION
THEODORE OF STUDION carried on an extensive correspondence, especially during the three periods in which he was living in banishment. After his death his letters were collected by his disciples at Studion. The total number of letters thus collected was at least 1124, of which over 550 are extant, in several MSS., none of which contains them all or preserves the same order. They have been edited partly (1) by Sirmond, whose posthumous ed. was reprinted in Migne, P.G. 99, and partly (2) by Cozza Luzi (see Bibliography).
The Sirmond-Migne collection is derived from Vaticanus 1432 (V), a MS. of the first half of the twelfth century. The letters which it contains are divided into two Books, and the division professes to represent a chronological principle, Book I. comprising letters written before A.D. 815, Book II. from A.D. 815 to the writer's death. There are 54 letters in Book I. (nominally 57, but in three cases, 45-47, there are only the titles of the correspondents); and 219 in Book II. (No. 3 consists only of a heading, but No. 183 represents parts of two distinct letters). Two additional letters were added to Book II. by Migne (as Nos. 220, 221) from another MS., Vat. 633; so that this edition contains in all 275 letters.
The letters printed for the first time by Cozza Luzi are taken from a MS. of the fifteenth century, Coislinianus 94. This book contains 545 letters, including all but six of those contained in V. The titles of the others had been published in Migne's ed. (Index, nn. 272-548). Cozza Luzi proposed to print only the unpublished letters, but he worked so carelessly that (in his total of 284) he included 8 already printed (namely, Migne, ii. 2, 9, 21, 24, 29, 56, 183b, 211). For his text he also compared another MS., Coislinianus 269.
The relations of these various MSS., and of another, Paris 894 (P)-which was consulted for Sirmond's edition,-have been carefully investigated in a most important study by the late B. Melioranski (see Bibliography), of which I may summarize the chief results.
Coisl. 269 was written in the ninth century and is itself the first volume of the original collection of Theodore's Epistles made in the monastery of Studion. It contains 507 letters and is divided into three Sections. Sect. 2 is written in a different hand from that of Sects. 1 and 3; and Melioranski, on the ground of a palaeographical comparison with the script of a copy of the Gospels dated A.D. 835 and signed by a Studite named Nicolaus, makes it probable that the copyist is no other than Theodore's disciple Nicolaus, who had been his amanuensis and shared his persecution. Melioranski also seeks to establish that the writer of Sects. 1 and 3 was the monk Athanasios who became abbot of Studion towards the close of the ninth century. The letters of Sect. 2 belong entirely to the years A.D. 815-819 and include all those published by Cozza Luzi.
In the ninth century a copy was made of this Studite collection, but the letters were rearranged in a new order. They were divided into five Books. Books 1-4 contained at least 849, and Book 5 275 letters. This MS. is not preserved, but it is undoubtedly the collection which is referred to in Michael's Vita Theodori (246 D) as consisting of five Books. We have an incomplete copy derived from it in P, which contains a selection from Books 1-4. The importance of P lies in the circumstance that the copyist has noted the numeration of each letter in the archetype. Thus the letter numbered 170 in P (= ii. 146, Migne) was 726 in the archetype. The highest number in the archetype is 849.
V, like P, is an anthology; it differs from P not in contents but only in form;1 like P, it contains none of the letters of Book 5. The two Books into which V is divided on a chronological principle do not correspond to any of the Books of the Five-Book arrangement. But from Book II. Ep. 37 onward the letters follow in the same order as that of the older non-chronological collection, and therefore the order in V has no chronological value; the date of each letter must be determined, if it can be determined, by its contents. Obviously the anthologies V and P cannot be independent of each other.
Coisl. 94 is also an anthology (non-chronological). It contains more letters than any of the other MSS., and the last 275 are Book 5 of the tenth-century collection.
A new edition of the Epistles of Theodore is desirable, and it seems evident that it should be based on Coisl. 269.
1 The arrangement in P was based on two principles: (1) subject-forty dogmatic epistles, on image - worship, were grouped together and placed at the beginning; (2) chronology-the remaining epistles were divided into two groups, (a) those of the first and second exiles,
(b) those of the third exile. The arrangement of V was purely chronological. The tenth-century collection from which both these anthologies were derived was not based on chronological order.