In December 2009 a group of scholars met in Vienna to present and discuss their research on Greek authors, manuscripts and texts of the Byzantine period, focusing on editorial issues and practices. Part of the proceedings of this International Workshop on Textual Criticism and Editorial Practice for Byzantine Texts, organised jointly by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Cyprus , was devoted to the editing of autographs and to electronic editions of Greek texts. At the closing session of this Workshop Dr Charalambos Dendrinos and Professor Caroline Macé undertook, on behalf of the group, to produce an electronic edition of an unpublished Greek autograph text in an attempt to explore its possibilities and limitations. Soon, a team of postgraduate students, scholars and technical advisors was formed at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), to put this project into practice in close collaboration with the British Library.
Although our team was aware of existing work in the field, notably The Codex Sinaiticus Project of the British Library, we decided to adopt an ex nihilo approach so as to give ourselves the necessary freedom to explore the possibilities without the constraints that would have been imposed by an attempt to replicate and perhaps even improve existing work. Developing new ideas and techniques, our team has since been preparing the present online edition of George Etheridge’s autograph Encomium on King Henry VIII addressed to Queen Elizabeth I, aiming at offering a useful tool not only to students and scholars but also to the general public. In the process numerous scholarly, educational and technical questions have been raised by members of the team as well as students and colleagues who have been invited to comment and offer suggestions on preliminary versions of the edition. Given the technical, time and funding limitations, not all of these questions have found a satisfactory answer nor have all ideas and suggestions been fully explored or applied so far. It is the aim of this project to continue inviting, developing, testing, applying and sharing new approaches and practices concerning both conventional and electronic editing of texts, Greek in particular.
In this respect, this is an on-going exploratory, interactive editorial project which has a life of its own. Our hope is that in the future it will keep growing, developing and maturing, hopefully with the help of experts and non-experts who would be willing to share their thoughts and work with us in order to improve it. It is just as important for us that members of the public are externally involved in this project, offering their comments, ideas and suggestions on how to make this and similar editions more accessible, readable, useful and indeed enjoyable, without at the same time compromising its quality in terms of scholarship. For this reason we have supplied this web site with a Feedback option.
So, our door is open to all and we would like to ask our visitors to explore our work and, time permitting, leave their impressions and, more importantly, their corrections and suggestions.
George Etheridge was a classical scholar and physician in Tudor Oxford, whose fortunes ebbed and flowed with the tides of the English Reformation. His Catholic convictions left him without regular employment and under governmental pressure in the reign of Elizabeth I, leading him to compose this encomium addressed to the Queen in the hope of improving his condition.
Born in Thame in Oxfordshire in 1519, at the age of fifteen he was admitted to Corpus Christi College in the University of Oxford, where he studied under the conservative scholar John Shepreve. Having received his BA in 1539 he was appointed a probationary Fellow, a position which was made permanent two years later.  Already in 1538 religious controversy had impinged on his career, in a manner which is rather surprising in the light of his later conduct. A number of junior members of Corpus Christi denounced their seniors to the royal authorities for resisting the removal of acknowledgements of the Pope from the ritual observances of the college. Such changes had been required following Henry VIII’s abolition of papal authority over England and establishment of royal control of the Church in 1534. It has been argued that the accusers were motivated by the desire to advance their own careers by establishing their credentials as supporters of the new orthodoxy and displacing those who stood above them in the college hierarchy.  Whether his involvement is regarded in these terms or as the product of sincere support for the institution of the Royal Supremacy, the episode is rather incongruous with Etheridge’s later life. He must in any case have sworn to uphold the Royal Supremacy to secure his university posts, but in this he would have been typical of other scholars who were willing to compromise with Henry’s break with Rome but hardened their position as Protestant reform took hold in the new national Church. Such men would refuse to countenance the later return of the Royal Supremacy under Elizabeth, to the severe detriment of their careers, and Etheridge would be among them. 
For the time being, however, he flourished. Having graduated MA in 1543 he was appointed as a lecturer in Greek. While teaching the subject he was also pursuing further studies in one of his other great interests, medicine.  These led to his graduation as a BM in 1545, at which point he was licensed to practice as a physician and resigned his Greek lectureship. However, within two years he had returned to the subject, as he was appointed Regius Professor of Greek, a post endowed by Henry in 1546.  He also became a Fellow of Christ Church College, which Henry had refounded and charged with paying the salaries of the new Regius Professors.  By his own account Etheridge had had personal dealings with the King, who had welcomed poems and other brief writings presented to him.  This acquaintance had evidently favourably impressed Henry and helped Etheridge to secure his post.
However, this preferment came at the very end of Henry’s life, and Etheridge’s fortunes took a turn for the worse with the advent of systematic Protestant reform in the reign of the young Edward VI. He retained his position under the regime of the Duke of Somerset, who governed as Lord Protector for Edward until 1549, but after a royal visitation of the university in 1550 Etheridge was expelled from his post by the government of Somerset’s successor the Duke of Northumberland. It was probably his religious views that had made him unpalatable to a Protestant regime, along with other academics removed from their positions at the same time.  Whatever his early inclinations towards reform, or willingness to go along with it for reasons of self-interest, by this time he had presumably taken up the position of forthright adherence to Catholicism that would dictate the course of his future career. Such attitudes were commonplace in Oxford, which throughout the period remained on balance more conservative than Cambridge, the university which supplied the intellectual backbone of English Protestantism.  Etheridge’s views were apparently shared by members of his family: his home parish in Thame was particularly persistent in resisting the removal of the altar from its church, and when it finally succumbed the altar was purchased, presumably for safe-keeping, by one William Etheridge. 
When Catholic rule was restored with the accession of Mary in 1552 Etheridge was promptly reinstated as Professor of Greek.  His delight at this reversal, and his view of the outgoing Protestant ascendancy, can be seen in the preface to his Greek translation of the second book of Virgil’s Aeneid, a work published in 1553 and dedicated to Oxford’s new Chancellor, Richard Mason. Here he exulted in the restoration of correct doctrine and the rout of the Protestants in the university, an event he likened to the cleansing of the Augean stables.  Oxford became the scene for the most notorious episode of the ensuing persecution of Protestants, the condemnation and execution in 1555 of the Protestant prelates Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley, all Cambridge men. Etheridge took part in the trial and was mentioned in Foxe’s Acts and Monuments as recommending that Ridley be gagged to silence his protests during the ceremony expelling him from the priesthood. 
The accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 brought another turn of the wheel, and Etheridge’s refusal to swear to uphold the Royal Supremacy in the Church, compounded by his role in the repression of Protestants in Mary’s reign, led to his removal from office the following year, along with about a hundred other Oxford Fellows.  His replacement was Giles Lawrence, who had previously been installed in his place during Edward's reign and then supplanted by him under Mary.  Deprived of his university position, he again supported himself by practicing in Oxford as a physician. He also provided private tuition to the sons of Catholic gentlemen, and his home in Catte Street is said to have become a haven for young Catholic scholars. These students included William Giffard, the future Bishop of Reims, whom he instructed in grammar, logic and music. His religious stance is said to have led to repeated imprisonment in Oxford and London during the course of Elizabeth’s reign. Specifically, he is known to have been arrested and questioned in 1561.  It was under these difficult circumstances, deprived of his former status and regular income and apparently subject to sustained governmental harassment, that Etheridge was moved to compose this encomium on the occasion of Elizabeth’s visit to Oxford in 1566, in an attempt to win her favour. There is no evidence as to whether he gained any relief as a result, but in any event he did not regain office in the university.
Etheridge’s accomplishments stretched beyond the talents in Greek and medicine which were the foundation of his career. He mastered the three ancient languages central to humanist scholarship, and as well translating the second book of the Aeneid from Latin into Greek he translated in the opposite direction the works of the Church Father Justin Martyr and a devotional text on Saint Demetrius, as well as composing Hebrew poems based on the Psalms. These works reflected a love of poetry and music that was also expressed in other compositions, now lost, presumably including the verses which he mentions presenting to Henry VIII.  Before his encomium for Elizabeth, he had used his skills to produce another literary work perhaps aimed at winning royal favour, though one surely more to his own taste, a poem in Greek hexameters on Thomas Wyatt’s thwarted Protestant conspiracy and revolt against Mary I.  He was also said to be a gifted singer and player of stringed instruments, and capable in mathematics.  Towards the end of his life he published, in 1588, the work most fully encapsulating his abilities and interests, a Latin medical textbook based on the ancient Greek works of Paul of Aegina. This was accompanied by prefatory verses in Latin and Greek and an introduction in Greek. Here he recalled the kindness shown to him by the physicians of Oxford when he began to study medicine, praising their grasp of Greek learning, and expressed his desire to emulate the help he had been given by passing on the benefit of what he had learned to others. 
- Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses: an exact history of all the writers and bishops who have had their education in the University of Oxford, from the fifteenth year of King Henry the Seventh, Dom. 1500, to the end of the year 1690 (London 1691), p. 191; Alfred B. Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford, A.D. 1501 to 1540 (Oxford 1974), p. 194.
- J. S. Brewer, James Gairdner and R. H. Brodie (eds.), Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII: preserved in the Public Record Office, the British Museum, and elsewhere in England, 22 vols. (London 1862-1932), vol. 13/2, pp. 218-9 (no. 561); Joseph G. Milne, The Early History of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (Oxford 1946), pp. 29-33.
- James Kelsey McConica, English Humanists and Reformation Politics under Henry VIII and Edward VI (Oxford 1965), pp. 265-70.
- George Etheridge, In libros aliquot Pauli Aeginetae, hypomnemata quaedam, seu observations medicamentorum, quae hac aetate in usu sunt per Georgium Edrychum medicum pro iuvenum studiis ad praxim medicam, collecta (London 1588), p. vii.
- Emden, op. cit., p. 194.
- Maria Dowling, Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII (Beckenham 1986), p. 106.
- Encomium, f. 37r.
- Emden, op. cit., p. 194.
- Christopher Haigh, English Reformations: religion, politics and society under the Tudors (Oxford 1993), pp. 175, 188, 253-4, 270.
- Haigh, op. cit., p. 177; Frederick George Lee, The History, Description and Antiquities of the Prebendal Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Thame, in the County and Diocese of Oxford (London 1883), col. 527.
- John Roche Dasent (ed.), Acts of the Privy Council of England, new series: 1542-1631, 46 vols. (London 1890-1964), vol. 4, p. 333.
- George Etheridge, Publii Vergili Maronis Aeneidos liber secundus Graecis versibus redditus (London 1553), ff. ivr-vr.
- John Foxe, The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, ed. Stephen Reed Cattley, 8 vols. (London 1837-41), vol. 7, p. 544.
- J. M. Rigg (ed.), Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs: preserved principally at Rome in the Vatican archives and library, 2 vols. (London 1916-26), vol. 1, p. 68, no. 3; Wood, op. cit., pp. 191-2; Thomas Fowler, The History of Corpus Christi College, with lists of its members (Oxford 1893), p. 104; Haigh, op. cit., pp. 253-4.
- G. D. Duncan, ‘Public lectures and professorial chairs’, The History of the University of Oxford, Vol. 3: The Collegiate University, ed. James McConica (Oxford 1986), pp. 335-61 at p. 355.
- John Pits, Relationum historicarum de rebus Anglicis, ed. William Bishop (Farnborough 1969), pp. 784-5; Wood, op. cit., p. 192.
- Robert Lemon (ed.), Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, of the reigns of Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth, 1547-1580 (London 1856), p. 171, no. 14.
- Pits, op. cit., p. 785.
- Montague Rhodes James, Catalogue of the MSS in the Library of Eton College(Cambridge 1895), p. 80.
- Pits, op. cit., pp. 784-5.
- Etheridge, In libros Pauli Aeginetae, pp. vii-xv.
The Encomium was composed for the purpose of presentation to Elizabeth I on the occasion of her visit to Oxford in 1566. In the course of her arrival a series of orations were delivered in her honour by representatives of the city and the university, including one in Greek by Giles Lawrence, the Regius Professor of Greek, to which the Queen made a brief response in the same language.  As a former holder of that position, it would once have been George Etheridge's place to give such an address, but he had been expelled from the post in 1559.  Instead he composed this text for presentation to the Queen. Many other Oxford scholars also wrote poems or orations, generally much shorter, on the occasion of her visit, mostly in Latin but occasionally in Greek. 
The author’s explicitly stated aim was to ingratiate himself with the Queen with an eye to improving his own diminished circumstances, and, ostensibly at least, to gain favour for the university as a whole.  It is not known for certain whether the work was intended to be delivered orally, but given Etheridge’s lack of a university post and the official disfavour under which he suffered it is unlikely that he would have had any opportunity to recite it.  It was probably always meant only to be presented in the form of the manuscript in Etheridge’s own hand which is edited here. Certainly a reference to the Queen perusing it at moments of leisure, and his declared decision to conclude the work even though he had other things to write, rather than other things to say, indicate that he considered it essentially as a written text.  It retains nonetheless the tenor of formal oratory, structured in the manner of blank verse and characterised by frequent rhetorical questions, emotional exclamations and direct address to the recipient. It culminates in a crescendo of invocations to an imagined national audience, which Etheridge likens to an oratorical address. 
The choice of Greek as the language of the Encomium was probably influenced by the fact that his former academic posts had been in Greek studies and his hopes for future preferment were presumably focused on the same field, although with his reputation as a physician an appointment to teach medicine might also have been a possibility.  It must also have been in part a compliment to the Queen’s education, as Etheridge makes clear in the work’s preface.  It is accompanied by a summary of its content in Latin, following the Greek preface, presumably for the benefit of the less learned.
The linguistic character of the work seems to reflect a conscious effort to impress by displaying the author’s erudition. It exhibits his knowledge of obscure words, and makes use of the archaic Attic grammatical peculiarity of the dual number, while also being laced with word forms drawn from other ancient dialects and manners, primarily the Homeric. This eclecticism was clearly preferred to any effort at writing in one harmonious ‘pure’ style, though the prominence of epic terminology is evidently intended to reflect the heroic character of its subject matter.
A more awkward issue in the context in which Etheridge was working was the question of pronunciation, a matter of controversy in sixteenth-century England. It is likely that Etheridge himself favoured the modern pronunciation of Greek over the reconstruction of ancient pronunciation proposed by Erasmus. In the dispute over pronunciation among English Hellenists, the traditional practice of employing the modern pronunciation was associated with intellectual and religious conservatism, the new Erasmian system with humanist and Protestant reform.  The firm conservatism of Etheridge's mature opinions would seem more consistent with the rejection of Erasmianism, while his tutor John Shepreve had been a staunch opponent of the 'new learning'. There is also evidence in the oration itself that it was the modern pronunciation that came naturally to him. He repeatedly made spelling mistakes of the itacism type, in which the correct vowel is replaced by another whose pronunciation is effectively identical in modern Greek, such as eta for iota.  In the Erasmian scheme, however, the sound of these vowels is clearly distinguished, reducing the likelihood of this kind of confusion. However, with Elizabeth's accession the Protestant scholarly circle strongly linked with Erasmian pronunciation had come to power in the nation and in academia, and in a work intended to win the Queen's favour the employment of that system would have been politic.  The fact that the work was probably not delivered orally would have enabled Etheridge to avoid directly confronting the dilemma.
In making use of other texts, its linguistic frame of reference is somewhat more restricted. The direct quotation of ancient texts is restricted almost exclusively to the early books of the Iliad, together with the odd expression from the Odyssey. In this and in more general reference to the heroes of the Trojan War, as in the choice of language, Homer is the predominant element in the work’s cultural background. Etheridge otherwise quotes only when presenting in support of his appeal a story from Plutarch’s Life of Artaxerxes about a ruler’s magnanimous generosity in response to a subject’s humble gift.  This restricted literary palette may reflect doubts as to the extent of the Queen’s own familiarity with classical literature.  Whereas citations recognised by the reader could be gratifying and establish shared ground between writer and recipient, those that went over the reader’s head would at best be wasted and at worst might irritate. Etheridge may thus have been playing on the safe side by keeping largely to the opening sections of the most prestigious work of classical literature. The choice may also reflect a particular fondness for poetry, suggested by accounts of the author’s own compositions. The Life of Artaxerxes was clearly a favourite of his, as he cited another story from that text, again with apologetic intent, in the preface to another of his works, his Greek translation of the second book of the Aeneid.  Personal interest, and perhaps also personal vanity, presumably lie behind another textual reference, an allusion to the Greek theological works of Justin Martyr, which Etheridge himself translated into Latin.  Other textual references are less individual: the Bible is cited repeatedly, while Etheridge also alludes to the philosopher-king of Plato’s Republic, a thoroughly conventional feature for a text in praise of a monarch drawing on the classical tradition.  Apart from Justin Martyr, his references to the post-Biblical Christian tradition in Greek are restricted to a list of some of the Fathers of the Church. 
The chief obstacle Etheridge faced in composing the text was the same stumbling-block which had benighted his career: his adherence to Catholicism in a country now under Protestant rule. Given that public affairs in England had been dominated by religious controversy for the past four decades, finding ways to glorify a monarch who had recently restored the country to Protestantism inevitably presented difficulties for a committed Catholic. This awkwardness was compounded by the fact that he was lobbying for a return to the favoured position which he had held under the preceding Catholic regime, notorious for the persecution of Protestants in whose most prominent episode Etheridge had himself played an active part. 
This fundamental problem must underlie the most striking feature of the work: the fact that, although addressed to Elizabeth and aimed at winning her goodwill, the principal subject of its praise is not the Queen but her father Henry VIII. Even where Elizabeth’s own virtues are discussed, the example of Henry’s excellence remains a prominent reference point. Elizabeth’s generally positive attitude to her father, despite his instigation of her mother’s execution and the declaration of her own bastardy during her early childhood, supplied the necessary conditions for this method of flattery to be effective.  The use of Henry as an exemplar helped Etheridge to avoid confronting the issue of the religious reforms which had dominated Elizabeth’s reign to date. The complexities of Henry’s own oscillating religious policy presented ample opportunities for constructive ambiguity. As long as he avoided specifics, Etheridge could square the circle by commending as a pious exemplar a king whose rule had remained closer to the author’s favoured religious stance than the present regime, while not offending Protestant sentiment. 
The second great advantage of focusing on Henry was his patronage of academia, and most importantly of Etheridge himself, the causes whose betterment lay at the heart of the Encomium’s purpose. In practice, the King’s establishment of chairs and colleges had been offset by the damage inflicted on the universities by his dissolution of monastic institutions, while the new colleges he founded were endowed out of the properties of existing ones which had been seized and dissolved.  However, it enabled Etheridge to hold him up as an exemplar of the conduct he wished Elizabeth to emulate, underpinning this exhortation to promote scholarship by expounding at some length on the value of education and the merits of rulers who favoured it.  He naturally bolsters his argument by appeal to classical authorities and comparisons: Plato’s philosopher-king, Alexander the Great’s relationship with Aristotle, and Ptolemy I’s assemblage of books and scholars in the great library and Museum of Alexandria.  Calling upon Elizabeth to emulate her father in all things, Etheridge could have found no better template for his more particular personal purposes than the man who had raised the author himself to a position of rich distinction and profit, a point he did not blush at spelling out, even to the extent of quoting his former salary. Hoping for a favourable reception for the present work, he was also able to point to the King’s kindness in welcoming earlier compositions which Etheridge had presented to him. 
While the King’s promotion of learning in general and of the author’s career in particular was clearly the most important component of Etheridge’s acclamations, the greatest prominence is given to Henry’s military activities. His generalship (‘στρατηγημάτων’) is cited in the title of the main body of the work and the two campaigns he commanded in person against the French, the first leading to the capture of Tournai and Therouanne and the second to that of Boulogne, dominate its early passages.  This focus may be a further reflection of Etheridge’s efforts to negotiate the religious issue: victory over traditional foreign enemies, in wars unconnected with Europe’s religious struggles, offered a unifying patriotic theme transcending the sectarian divide. Although ruinously expensive and bringing prizes that proved to be hefty liabilities rather than assets, Henry’s escapades on the continent carried a sufficient aura of success to be the basis for panegyric, and could be cast in a favourable light by comparison with the military mishaps of his successors.  It has also been suggested that the Boulogne campaign may have made a particular impression on the young Elizabeth.  Etheridge contrasts Henry’s conquests with the allegedly harmful cession of Boulogne that followed, enacted, though he does not spell this out, by Edward VI’s regency under the firmly Protestant Duke of Northumberland.  Thus glorifying Henry’s deeds also offered a means of discreetly criticising a Protestant regime which had acted against Etheridge himself, sublimated through patriotic sentiment. In his lamentation of the decline of English fortunes against the French, Etheridge is silent regarding the more serious loss of Calais under Mary.
Martial virtue was in any case a crucial component of any traditional eulogy of a king. A further advantage of Etheridge’s concentration on Henry was that it enabled him to sidestep the difficulty presented by the unsuitability of a female monarch for fulfilling the conventional image of the warrior king. The martial theme had particular value for a panegyrist wishing to highlight classical learning, as it afforded ample scope to introduce conventional comparisons between the work’s subject and the heroes of antiquity, inevitably to the former’s advantage. Here Etheridge naturally concentrated his attention on the ancient Greek tradition, adhering to the standard comparators for such flattery: Alexander and the heroes of the Trojan War. Henry is presented as the synthesis of all virtues, matching particular individuals in the areas in which they excelled while surpassing them in other respects. The emphasis here is on his possession of pacific qualities that complemented his martial excellence. Etheridge makes a virtue of the limited scope of Henry’s military career, attributing it to clemency and moderation, and turns to his rule at home.  Together with piety and the promotion of scholarship, Henry is praised in particular for his wisdom and justice, in particular in defence of the poor.  One noteworthy assertion here is the claim that Henry secured obedience through persuasion rather than fear.  However starkly at odds with the reality of the King’s reign, the author’s injunction to the reader to remember this point is a further expression of his particular concerns as a harried Catholic under Protestant rule.
Besides holding up this image of Henry as an exemplar for Elizabeth to imitate, in the latter part of the text Etheridge appeals to her directly, firstly on the delicate issue of the succession.  Along with religious reform, the question of the Queen’s marriage and provision of an heir had dominated the early years of her reign, and by the time of the work’s composition her advancing age had introduced a rising note of urgency to the pleas of her advisors and parliaments that she should marry without delay.  This issue formed part of a thematic continuum with Etheridge’s emphasis on Elizabeth’s inheritance of her crown and virtues from her father, one which he also extended backwards in an allusion to Henry’s analogous inheritance from his own father Henry VII.  In urging Elizabeth to supply an heir, Etheridge was raising a potentially touchy subject, but was also safely aligning himself with the consensus of national opinion. As with the glorification of Henry’s military deeds, stressing the benefits to the kingdom’s security of a clear line of succession provided a patriotic theme that sublimated sectarian divisions. Particular dynastic circumstances may have given it an added appeal as a means of furthering Etheridge’s pursuit of rehabilitation. In the absence of a direct heir, the line of succession at the time ran most naturally to the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, who became the focus for Catholic hopes of regaining control in England.  By urging forcefully that the Tudor succession should be secured, Etheridge may have hoped to dissociate himself from any such aspirations and give an assurance of his own loyalty. 
At the climax of the work, Etheridge focuses his attention squarely on exhorting Elizabeth to excel in two areas in particular: the promotion of learning and the virtue of mercy, the qualities that would be most vital in underpinning the response that the author sought. Their central importance in his agenda may account for Etheridge’s one departure from his otherwise exclusive employment of the Greek tradition when enlisting classical examples: his reference to Julius Caesar’s reputation for clemency. Presumably the closeness of Caesar’s traditional identification with that virtue made the allusion too apt to omit. With regard to patronage for scholarship there was no need for such a divergence, as the ancient Greek world offered in Ptolemy the ideal historical exemplar to set beside the image Etheridge had painted of the work’s presiding figure, Henry VIII.
- Penry Williams, ‘Elizabethan Oxford: State, Church and University’, The History of the University of Oxford, Vol. 3: The Collegiate University (Oxford 1986), ed. James McConica, pp. 397-440 at pp. 397-9; Charles Plummer, Elizabethan Oxford: reprints of rare tracts (Oxford 1887), pp. 119, 176-7, 199.
- The Author.
- Plummer, op. cit., pp. 207-44.
- Encomium, ff. 2r-v, 3v-4r, 36v-37v.
- The Author.
- Encomium, ff. 2v-3r, 37r.
- Encomium, ff. 38r-v.
- The Author.
- Encomium, ff. 1r-v.
- Winthrop S. Hudson, The Cambridge Connection and the Elizabethan Settlement of 1559 (Durham 1980), pp. 43-6; Maria Dowling, Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII(Beckenham 1986), p. 101; John Guy, Tudor England (Oxford 1988), p. 224.
- Encomium, e.g. ff. 1r, 2v, 9v, 12r.
- Guy, op. cit., pp. 253-4.
- Encomium, ff. 4r, 36v-37r.
- Elizabeth’s education is known to have included the works of Sophocles and Isocrates as well as the New Testament in Greek: David Starkey, Elizabeth: Apprenticeship(London 2000), p. 80.
- George Etheridge, Publii Vergili Maronis Aeneidos liber secundus Graecis versibus redditus (London 1553), f. ivr.
- Encomium, f. 31r; The Author.
- Encomium, ff. 16v-17v, 20r-22r, 30v-31r, 34r.
- Encomium, f. 19v.
- The Author.
- Encomium, ff. 35r-36v.
- Starkey, op. cit., pp. 23, 30-2, 51-2.
- By contrast, Etheridge avoids making more than the briefest direct mention of the intervening reigns of Edward VI and Mary I, the one thoroughly Protestant and the other vehemently Catholic, discussion of which would have precluded any such artful circumlocution.
- Dowling, op. cit., pp. 101-7; Joan Simon, Education and Society in Tudor England(Cambridge 1966), pp. 202-4, 210-4.
- Encomium, ff. 18r-21r, 24r, 25r, 35v-37r.
- Encomium, ff. 20v, 24r, 35v.
- Encomium, ff. 1v, 19r.
- Encomium, ff. 37r-v.
- Encomium, ff. 7r, 8v-11v.
- Guy, op. cit., pp. 84, 99, 190-2.
- Starkey, op. cit., p. 34.
- Encomium, ff. 9v-11r; Guy, op. cit., pp. 218-9.
- Encomium, ff. 8r-v, 22v-27r.
- Encomium, ff. 11v-12r, 14v-16v, 21r-22r, 26v-27r.
- Encomium, f. 15r.
- Encomium, ff. 28v-30r
- David Loades, Elizabeth I (London 2003), pp. 138-45, 171-2; Guy, op. cit., pp. 270-1.
- Encomium, ff. 15r-v.
- Guy, op. cit., pp. 268-70.
- It was even possible for him to do so without entirely betraying hopes for an improvement of the Catholic position in England. At the time of writing, the leading candidate for the Queen’s hand was the Hapsburg Archduke Charles (Loades, op. cit., pp. 171-3). This prospective match had the potential to increase Catholic influence and colour the upbringing of any offspring, perhaps easing any qualms Etheridge had about pursuing this line of argument.
The British Library’s Collection of Greek Manuscripts
The collections of the British Library constitute one of the largest and most important resources outside Greece for the study of Hellenic culture. Within the Library’s vast holdings of around 150 million items manuscripts of Greek texts form a relatively small, but significant part. Ranging in date from the third century BC to the present century and in format from papyrus rolls and codices to ostraca, wooden and metal tablets, parchment and paper documents and codices, they bear eloquent testimony to the rich culture of Greek-speaking people from the time of the creation of the Iliad and Odyssey through the classical, Hellenistic, early Christian, Byzantine and Ottoman eras and beyond the creation of the Greek nation state. They also exemplify the passionate interest of successive generations of British scholars and collectors in Hellenic culture.
The British Library’s collection of Greek manuscript codices is one of the most substantial in the world, comprising around 1,000 items. It is moreover a collection of considerable depth, including, for example, two of the three oldest Greek Bibles, the remains of some 227 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, and around 50 Greek codices dating from the first millennium.
The history of the British Library’s collection of Greek manuscripts is inextricably linked to that of the British Museum. The Department of Manuscripts was created at the foundation of the British Museum in 1753. Its collections and staff remained part of that institution until 1973 when they transferred to the newly constituted British Library. In 1998 they moved to the Library’s headquarters at St Pancras. The British Library’s collection of Greek manuscripts is therefore a mature collection, built up over several centuries through purchase and donation. Its development reflects the opportunism and discrimination of successive Keepers of Manuscripts, as well as past trends in scholarship and collecting within Britain.
Foundation Collections (1753)
At its foundation the British Museum held approximately 265 Greek codices. These came from the three founding collections: Cotton, Sloane and Harley.
The Cotton manuscripts were collected by the antiquary Sir Robert Cotton (d.1631) and acquired for the British nation together with Cotton’s charters and rolls, coins and medals and antiquities in the early 1700s. Although his collection of 1400 manuscript volumes includes only four Greek manuscripts, one of them (Cotton Otho B. vi) is particularly remarkable. Prized by Cotton above all his possessions – these included the Lindisfarne Gospels and two copies of Magna Carta – the Cotton Genesis remains one of the most celebrated codices to survive from the early Christian period. Tragically, this ancient copy of the Greek text of Genesis, which had survived virtually intact for around 1200 years, was ravaged by fire in 1731. Most of its approximately 300 refined illustrations of the story of Genesis are now barely comprehensible. In addition to the Genesis the Cotton collection includes four leaves (Cotton Titus C. xv) of the Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus, a sixth-century deluxe copy of the Gospels, of which the major part remains in the National Library of Russia, St Petersburg. It also preserves a much lesser known volume, a somewhat battered Byzantine Gospel Lectionary with an early Armenian provenance (Cotton Vespasian B. xviii) and one of the few surviving copies of the bilingual papal bull of Eugenius IV that was issued on 5 July 1439 to confirm the union of the Greek and Latin Churches (Cotton Cleopatra E. iii, ff. 80v-81). The Greek text of the bull is signed in red by the Emperor John VIII Palaeologus. Other Greek manuscripts formerly owned by Cotton were dispersed as a result of his practice of lending and exchanging manuscripts with other collectors and scholars. Three manuscripts that now form part of the Royal collection in the British Library (Royal 16 C. vii, 16 C. xxiii, 16 C. xxv) formed part of an exchange between Cotton and the then Royal librarian Patrick Young in c. 1616. One of these Royal manuscripts (Royal 16 C. xiii), which includes an extract from Photius’s Bibliotheca, had formerly belonged to Richard ‘Dutch’ Thomson (d. 1613). In addition Cotton also once owned the important copy of Photius’s Lexicon that ‘Dutch’ Thomson (d. 1613) had brought to England after its discovery in Florence in 1598 and is now preserved in Trinity College, Cambridge (MS O.3.9).
The second foundation collection is that purchased after the death in 1753 of the fashionable London physician and man of letters Sir Hans Sloane, Bart. Within Sloane’s vast collection of plants, fossils, minerals, zoological, anatomical and pathological specimens, antiquities, drawings, prints, coins, medals, manuscripts, charters and printed books, Greek codices formed a very tiny part: of the 4,200 Sloane manuscripts only 11 contain Greek texts. Appropriately, given Sloane’s medical interests, the best-known Sloane Greek manuscript is the thirteenth-century London Hippiatrica (Sloane 745). In addition to its valuable textual contents this volume boasts a distinguished earlier provenance, starting with Ioannes Chalkeopoulos in southern Italy in the fifteenth century and continuing with Cardinal Girolamo Seripandi and the Augustinian Canons of San Giovanni di Carbonara, Naples, in the sixteenth century. Both this volume and a copy of the Liber de simplicibus attributed to Dioscorides copied by Johannes Honorius (Sloane 804) formerly belonged to Jan de Witt, son of the Grand Pensionary of Holland, and were sold at the sale of his library in 1701. Other Greek manuscripts owned by Sloane include part of an autograph manuscript of Michael Apostoles (Sloane 324) and a copy of the Hippolytus of Euripides (Sloane 1774), both of which had once belonged to another English physician Francis Bernard (d. 1698).
The third foundation collection, the Harleian, is by far the richest in Greek codices. No fewer than 250 Greek manuscripts came to the Museum in 1753 within the 7,660 manuscript volumes that had been accumulated in the early part of the eighteenth century by Robert and Edward Harley, successive Earls of Oxford. (Their remarkable collection of printed books and works of art was widely dispersed.) The Harleian collection was highly influential for the future development of the manuscript collections of the British Museum, not least because of the presence of many manuscripts of great antiquity and scholarly value. Critical to the development of the collection had been the wealth and discrimination of the Harleys; the availability of manuscripts, either from British travellers in the Levant or through the dispersal of Continental collections; and Humfrey Wanley as first agent (from c. 1703), then librarian (from 1708) to the Harleys until his death in 1726.
The Harleian collection of Greek manuscripts was built up from various sources. In part it derived from collections assembled by other Britons. Dr John Covel, for example, sold his whole collection, including 39 Greek manuscripts, to Harley in 1716. This collection had been assembled largely during Covel’s tenure as chaplain to the Levant Company at Constantinople in 1670-76. Several of his manuscripts retain records of their acquisition in the Levant as either gifts or purchases. Covel’s collecting of Greek manuscripts informed the authoritative account of the Greek Church that he had published in 1722. As early as 1699 Harley’s librarian, Humfrey Wanley, had examined Covel’s manuscripts with great interest: at that point he had singled out, borrowed and copied a specimen page from what Wanley described as the noblest book of the kind that I ever saw’ (the original is now Harley 5598; the specimen is at Longleat). In 1711 Wanley’s specimen of Covel’s tenth-century Greek Gospel lectionary was chosen by him to feature in his portrait by Thomas Hill. It was Wanley who brokered the purchase of Covel’s collection for the Harleian Library.
Harley also purchased Greek manuscripts from British book dealers. From John Gibson, ‘Scots gentleman buyer of books’, he acquired large tranches of manuscripts in 1720-26. These included several owned and partly written by Zomino da Pistoia (1387-1458), who had bequeathed his collection to his home town. ‘Lately come from Florence’ in 1722, Gibson also supplied Harley with a Menaion (Harley 5581), a lavish copy of the Iliad (Harley 5600) and a more modest copy of the Odyssey (Harley 6325), all of which had been owned by members of the Tornabuoni family of Florence. Another British book dealer, Nathaniel Noel, acted as Harley’s agent in 1716-24. Through him came in 1722 an illuminated Four Gospels produced in 1478 for Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga (Harley 5790), and in 1724 a large group of manuscripts, including sixteen in Greek, that had formerly been part of the Farnese Library kept successively at Rome, Parma and Naples.
Parts of other Continental collections came directly to Harley from Continental agents. From Giovanni Giacomo Zamboni, for example, Resident in London for the Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, came manuscripts formerly owned by the scholar Johann Georg Graevius. Amongst these were eighteen Greek manuscripts, at least three of which had formerly been part of volumes held at El Escorial (Harley 5610, 5795, 6316). It is yet to be determined how Harley obtained another large group of manuscripts, including 24 of Greek texts, which had once belonged to the Jesuit College at Agen in the south-west of France.
In 1757, very soon after the foundation of the British Museum and its incorporation of the Cotton, Sloane and Harleian manuscripts, George II presented to the British nation the Old Royal library. Included in his gift were nearly 2,000 manuscripts that he had inherited from his royal predecessors. Several previous monarchs, including Edward IV, Henry VIII and Charles II, had contributed to the growth of this collection over the previous three centuries. The jewel of the entire Royal Library was without question the fifth-century Greek Bible,Codex Alexandrinus (Royal 1 D v-viii), which the Oecumenical Patriarch Cyril Lucar had intended for James I, but which after various delays was presented to Charles I in 1627. George II’s gift included 49 other Greek MSS. Most prominent amongst these are 29 volumes, mainly produced in the sixteenth century, which the then Royal Librarian, Patrick Young, acquired after the death in 1614 of the scholar Isaac Causabon. (Other Greek Casaubon manuscripts that Young acquired for himself are now at Trinity College, Cambridge.) As noted earlier, Young was also responsible for the acquisition for the Royal Library of three Greek MSS from Sir Robert Cotton. Other manuscripts came into English royal possession as gifts to the monarch. Elizabeth I, for example, who was renowned for her knowledge of languages, including Greek, received both verse and prose texts in Greek addressed to her. One of these manuscripts is Royal 16 C. x preserving George Etheridge’s autograph Encomium on Henry VIII addressed to Elizabeth I, which is edited here online for the first time as part of a joint project between the British Library and the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, University of London.
When, in 1831, the British Museum purchased the Arundel manuscripts, it acquired a further 35 Greek manuscripts that, like those of the Cottonian and Royal libraries, had already been in England for some considerable time. Together with the rest of the Western Arundel manuscripts, these volumes had been presented to the Royal Society as long ago as 1667 by Henry Howard, later 6th Duke of Norfolk. In common with the origins of much of that collection, their acquisition was the achievement of Norfolk’s grandfather, the renowned collector Thomas Howard (d. 1646), 2nd Earl of Arundel. Also a beneficiary of the assistance of the Patriarch Cyril Lucar, Arundel acquired in the Levant in 1626 22 volumes, at least six of which came from the Monastery of the Holy Trinity on the island of Chalce which had been founded by one of Lucar’s predecessors, Metrophanes III, and was a patriarchal perquisite. (In the same year the King’s Ambassador to the Porte, Sir Thomas Roe, acquired manuscripts from the same source that are now in the Bodleian Library.) As part of his significant acquisitions from German collections, Arundel obtained several other Greek volumes. Within the Pirckheimer collection that he purchased at Nuremberg in 1636 he secured at least six manuscripts with Greek texts, two of which include the signature (Arundel 526) and armorial bookplate (Arundel 530) of Willibald Pirckheimer (d. 1530). Unnoticed to date are also manuscripts formerly owned by the humanist Bishop of Worms, Johann von Dalberg (d. 1503). A copy of Diogenes Laertius Arundel 531), for example, bears the arms of von Dalberg and is cited in the correspondence of his fellow humanist Konrad Celtis (d. 1508).
A very different, but important early addition to the Library’s collections was the library of Charles Burney, D.D. (d. 1817), purchased in 1818. In essence this was the collection of a gentleman scholar of the period, based on purchases at sales in London, and built on earlier collections already assembled in Britain and large dispersals from the Continent during the late eighteenth century. Perhaps the most famous Burney manuscript is the Townley Homer, an eleventh-century copy of the Iliad with extensive accompanying scholia. This volume had belonged to the Salviati family since the fifteenth century until its purchase at Rome in 1773 by Charles Townley (d.1805), the renowned collector of classical antiquities. Together with three other Greek manuscripts formerly owned by the Salviati family (Burney 75, 109, 408), the Homer was purchased by Burney at the sale held by Townley’s uncle John in 1814. For it he outbid the Bodleian Library with the huge sum of £620. Another important source for Burney was the manuscripts accumulated by the London physicians Richard Mead (d. 1754) and Anthony Askew (d. 1774). At Askew’s sale in London in 1785 both Cambridge University Library and the British Museum had acquired several important Greek manuscripts. Others were acquired by English private collectors, contributing significantly to the number of Greek manuscripts in circulation within Britain. Although he had to wait until late in his life when he had sufficient wealth to purchase them, Burney secured thirteen Greek Askew manuscripts. Other Burney manuscripts were fresh to the market and recently imported from the Levant. In 1810 Burney purchased a copy of Greek military treatises, dated 1545, that had formerly been owned by the Monastery of St Catherine, Mount Sinai (Burney 69). At its sale the volume was said to have been recently been collected in the Levant by a British diplomat. Three years earlier, in 1807, Burney presented to the British Museum five stray leaves from a highly fragmentary Harleian manuscript of the Iliad (Harley 5672).
Additional and Egerton manuscripts
The two collections that form the principal ongoing series of manuscripts in the British Library are called Additional and Egerton. Additional MSS have been made by purchase and gift from the earliest days of the Museum until the present, and are literally additions to the foundation collections. Egerton MSS began with a small bequest of manuscripts (none in Greek) in 1831 from Frances Henry Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater (d. 1829) and, more importantly, with an endowment for further purchases of MSS, which continues to this day. Over half of the British Library’s Greek codices are to be found in the Additional and Egerton series. The Museum’s collecting in this field was greatly assisted by the funds at its disposal, significant dispersals of manuscripts on the Continent, a buoyant London market for such manuscripts, and the high expertise of successive members of staff in the Department of Manuscripts. Within the Additional and Egerton collections are many hidden British collections of manuscripts that were acquired en bloc or in part. These collections were formed by British scholars and bibliophiles, as well as British travellers and residents in the Levant. The same collections also include groups of manuscripts from old, mainly Western European, collections.
The first major acquisitions of Greek manuscripts for the Additional collection were made at the sale in 1776 of the library of César de Missy, French Chaplain at the Savoy (Add. 4949, 4950, 4951, 4952). Nine years later, in 1785, ten further volumes (Add. 5107, 5108, 5110, 5111, 5112, 5113, 5115, 5116, 5117, 5118) were bought at the sale of the library of the London physician Anthony Askew. Included in a twelfth-century Gospels acquired then were the Golden Canon Tables from sixth- or seventh-century Constantinople (Add. 5111, ff. 10-11), which have been described by one modern authority as the preserving the finest example of early Christian book painting. In 1792 Charles Townley donated to the Museum three of the Greek manuscripts (Add. 5422, 5423, 5424) that he had purchased at Rome in 1773, and as we have seen earlier, descended from the Salviati family.
Yet probably the single most influential dispersal of Greek manuscripts in Britain was that of the sale of the manuscripts collected by Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford. Both philhellene and bibliophile, Guilford had amassed a huge library that he transferred to Corfu and intended to form a basis for the intellectual revival of Greece as part of the Ionian Academy. On his death, however, his heirs sought to recoup some of the family fortune that had been expended by Guilford by having his entire library returned to London and put up for auction. Corfu’s loss was Britain’s gain. At the principal sale of Guilford’s manuscripts in 1830 the British Museum purchased over 600 volumes. Amongst these were 23 Greek volumes of particular interest for their contribution to the continuation of Greek learning and literature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Add. 8221, 8222, 8223, 8224, 8225,8226, 8227, 8228, 8229, 8230, 8231, 8232, 8233, 8234, 8235, 8236, 8237, 8238, 8239, 8240, 8241, 8242, 8243). Like many other Guilford manuscripts, nine of these volumes had previously belonged to and been annotated by Nikolaos Karatzas (fl.1730-84), logothete of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Subsequent acquisitions continued to draw on the dispersal of Guilford’s collections. Of the 21 Greek manuscripts purchased at the sale in 1836 of the library of Richard Heber, a founder of the Athenæum (Add. 10057, 10058, 10060, 10061, 10062, 10063, 10064, 10065, 10066, 10067, 10068, 10069, 10070, 10071, 10072, 10073, 10074, 10075, 10076, 10077, 10078), almost all had once belonged to Guilford. The same was true of the purchase in 1841 of the manuscript collection of Samuel Butler, Bishop of Lichfield, which included 26 Greek codices (Add. 11835, 11836,11837,11838,11839,11840,11841, 11859, 11860, 11861, 11868A, 11868B, 11869, 11870, 11871, 11884,11885, 11886, 11887, 11888, 11889, 11890, 11891, 11892, 11893, 11894, 11895), many of Guilford provenance. Since then Guilford manuscripts have continued to be acquired, to the extent that the British Library has by far the largest single holding of his Greek manuscripts. To date 50 Greek manuscripts from Guilford’s library have been identified in its collections. The Library also retains the collection of Greek printed books that Guilford assembled and was unrivalled in its time for the completeness of its coverage of Greek printing.
Further manuscripts emerged directly from the Middle East. Of these some of the most ancient that came to the Museum in the middle of the nineteenth century are several Greek palimpsests that formed part of a huge cache of Syriac manuscripts removed from the Monastery of the Syrians, in the Wadi Natrun. Most famous amongst these are the Cureton Homer, the remains of an earlier deluxe copy of the Iliad (Add. 17210), and the Codex Nitriensis, the remains of a sixth-century deluxe copy of Luke’s Gospel (Add. 17211). Both manuscripts were recycled by a monk of the Monastery of St Simeon at Kartamin, near Mardin in south-eastern Turkey. Other manuscripts newly obtained from the Levant came from foreign agents such as Constantine Simonides in 1853 (Add. 19386, 19387, 19388, 19389, 19390, 19391, 19392A, 19392B), Constantin Tischendorf in 1853 and 1868 (Add. 20002, 20003, 20004, 26112-26115) and Spyridion Lambros in 1858 (Add. 22732, 22733, 22734, 22735, 22736, 22737, 22738, 22739, 22740, 22741, 22742, 22743, 22744, 22745, 22746, 22747, 22748, 22749, 22750). From Simonides the Museum purchased 21 leaves (Add. 19391) that have subsequently been shown to be part of the Vatopedi Ptolemy and from Tischendorf it obtained an important minuscule copy of the Book of Acts dated 1044 that had once formed part of a volume in the Patriarchal Library at Alexandria(Add. 20003). The astute judgement and discriminating eye of the then Keeper of Manuscripts, Sir Frederic Madden, also ensured the purchase at the London sale of the numismatist H.P. Borrell in 1853 of no less a manuscript than the famous Theodore Psalter (Add. 19352). According to Madden this volume had been obtained by Borrell from the library of the Archbishop of Chios.
The London auction houses and the booksellers Rodd, Payne and Boone also provided opportunities for the purchase of manuscripts from important Continental collections. In 1883 the British Museum purchased from Payne and Foss three Greek manuscripts of Italian provenance (Add. 9347, 9348, 9349), of which one came from Grottaferrata and another from San Marco in Florence. From the same dealers it purchased in 1835 and 1843 five further Greek manuscripts from San Marco, most of which bear the annotations of the scholar Niccolò Niccoli (d. 1437) (Add. 9824, 14770, 14771, 14773, 14774). (Another San Marco volume [Add. 11837] came with Butler’s collection in 1841.) Several Greek manuscripts were also acquired that had once belonged to the Collège de Clermont in Paris, having been secured in 1764 by Gerard Meerman (d. 1771) and dispersed in 1824.
During the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, several important collections of Greek manuscripts were acquired for the Library. Amongst the most notable were those of:
- Henry Stanhope Freeman, British consul at Janina – 14 MSS purchased in 1862 (Add. 24369, -24382)
- Sir Ivor Bertie Guest, Welsh industrialist – 16 MSS purchased in 1871 (Add. 28815-28830)
- J. W. Burgon, dean of Chichester – 7 New Testament MSS purchased in 1880, 1882, 1893 (Add. 31208; Eg. 2610, 2783-2787)
- Samuel Dawes, chaplain at Corfu – 12 MSS acquired in 1904 (Add. 37001-37012)
- The Hon. Robert Curzon – 42 MSS bequeathed by his daughter Darea, Baroness Zouche, in 1917 (Add. 39583-39624); all had been acquired by Curzon during his travels in the Levant, including Jerusalem in 1834 and Mount Athos in 1837.
After the acquisition of the Curzon manuscripts in 1917 the pace of acquisition slackened significantly. Only five of the numerous Greek manuscripts that had been presented by the Victorian philanthropist Baroness Burdett-Coutts to Highgate School were purchased when they came up for sale in the 1920s and 1930s (Add. 40655, 40656, Eg. 3145, 3154, 3157). Other purchases were similarly choice: the so-called Bristol Psalter, from Western College, Bristol, in 1923 (Add. 40731), a Gospel Lectionary, with extensive annotations by John Ruskin, in 1930 (Eg. 3046), and of course the Codex Sinaiticus, purchased partly by public subscription in 1934 (Add. 43725). In 1962 the Museum bought back four leaves that had been removed from the Cotton Genesis by one of its former Assistant Keepers, Andrew Gifford (d. 1784) and presented by him to the Baptist College, Bristol. In 1955 a tenth-century copy of the orations of St Gregory of Nazianzus with forged illuminations was purchased at auction (Add. 49060) and in 1974 a mid fifteenth-century copy of Appian’s Historia Romana was acquired by private sale (Add. 58224). More recently, in 2006-7, the British Library acquired three Greek manuscripts all of which had once been part of the monumental collection formed by the English bibliomane Sir Thomas Phillipps (Add. 82952-82954) and two of which had previously been owned by Lord Guilford. Most notable among these is a magnificent Gospel Lectionary copied and illuminated in the middle of the eleventh century at the Studios Monastery (Add. 82953). It is a worthy final item with which to end this brief history of the remarkable collection of Greek manuscripts held at the British Library.
A significant number of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts are now accessible online. As a result of the Library’s Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, which began in 2008 and is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, full digital coverage and new catalogue descriptions of 548 Greek manuscripts are currently available to researchers. Included are some of the earliest acquisitions made within the Additional series, as well as manuscripts from the Arundel and Harley collections. It is anticipated that within the next five years the Project will have made accessible online all the Greek manuscript codices in the British Library’s collections.
- Marcel Richard, Inventaire des manuscrits grecs du British Museum, I: Fonds Sloane, Additional, Egerton, Cottonian et Stowe (Paris, 1952)
- The British Library Summary Catalogue of Greek Manuscripts, I (London, 1999)
Greek in Tudor England
eorge Etheridge presented his Encomium in 1566 to a queen whose Greek accomplishments had long been praised. ‘With me as her teacher she has spent two years on Latin and Greek,’ wrote Roger Ascham, the influential Cambridge humanist, in 1550, when Elizabeth was sixteen; ‘she speaks French and Italian as well as English, fluent and accurate Latin, and intermediate Greek.’ By this time anyone with the resources to retain a private tutor could gain a command of the language. Visiting Lady Jane Grey in the same year, for example, Ascham was astonished to find her reading Plato’s Phaedo in Greek ‘with as much delight as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccace.’ Throughout the sixteenth century, Elizabeth was one of several individuals in England renowned for their exceptional Greek, including university men such as John Cheke, the first Regius Professor of Greek, his Cambridge colleague John Christopherson, who composed the only original Greek play in Tudor England, and John Rainolds, the great Oxford lecturer of the 1580s; translators such as Laurence Humphrey of Magdalen College, and Thomas Wilson, who translated Demosthenes into English; and privately-educated women such as Margaret Clements, daughter of Sir Thomas More, Jane, Lady Lumley, and the remarkable Cooke sisters, educated alongside their brothers.
But the exceptional erudition of these individuals is just that: exceptional. How much Greek did the average educated sixteenth-century English reader know? The majority of Tudor subjects were educated not by private tutors, but at grammar schools and university colleges which themselves experienced rapid expansion and change over the course of the century. A survey of Greek teaching at these institutions enables us to estimate the level reached by a much wider (though still small) segment of Tudor society. It falls into three broad periods: individual enthusiasts and Erasmian humanists from the 1490s to the 1530s; Reformation Greek at the universities, from the 1530s to the 1560s; and Greek at Elizabethan universities and schools, from the 1560s to around 1600.
I. Enthusiasts and Erasmians, 1490s-1530s
England’s early steps towards Greek led through Italy. From the mid-fifteenth century, Oxford and Cambridge men travelled south to study with tutors in Italy – whether émigrés from Constantinople and Venice-controlled Crete, or native-born Italians such as Guarino da Verona, who taught several English students at his school in Ferrara. By the 1460s, a few Englishmen at both universities were capable of teaching Greek, and a decade later at least three Byzantine scribes were working in England, copying texts on commission from their specialist patrons. The first generation of truly capable Hellenists, however, emerged from Oxford in the 1480s, a decade that began with Thomas Linacre’s arrival in Oxford. Soon elected a fellow of All Souls College, in 1485 he and William Grocyn began to study the rudiments of Greek with Cornelio Vitelli, an Italian based at New College. There was no question, however, where mastery was to be gained. Linacre and Grocyn travelled to Italy in the late 1480s, where they studied under the leading lights of Italian humanism, Angelo Poliziano and Demetrius Chalcondyles.
Their paths parted during the 1490s. Grocyn returned to Oxford to teach Greek, delivering the first public lectures on the language in England, while Linacre remained in Italy and gained increasing renown as a classical scholar. He took a medical degree at Padua in 1496, and moved in the circle of the learned scholar-printer Aldus Manutius. In these years Aldus was transforming the face of classical literacy in Europe through the ‘divine undertaking’, as Grocyn called it, of printing Greek texts in unprecedented numbers. Linacre had a hand in producing Aldus’s epochal edition of the Greek Aristotle in 1495-1498, and a year later his own edition and translation of a Greek meteorological work by Proclus issued from the Aldine press, bearing Aldus’s declaration that from now on, ‘our [Italian] philosophers should imitate Britons.’ Linacre returned to England in 1499 gilt with such scholarly renown that a generation of younger Oxford men were inspired to follow his itinerary. William Latimer, Richard Pace, and Cuthbert Tunstall all studied Greek at Padua; they were followed still later by Richard Croke, Edward Wotton, Thomas Lupset, and Thomas Starkey. All returned to illustrious careers in diplomacy, medicine, the universities, and the church. The French classical scholar Guillaume Budé’s correspondence, a monument of scholarly community printed in 1520, places English scholars – Linacre, Pace, Croke, More – alongside the giants of the continent, Vives of Spain, Bembo of Italy, and the leading international humanist of the day: Erasmus.
Erasmus’s influence on Greek learning in England was just then bearing fruit. Friendships he had developed at the turn of the century with Grocyn, More, and John Colet, brought him north for a five year period between 1509 and 1514, during which he lent robust support to Greek studies. He composed a humanist pedagogical manifesto for Colet’s new school at St Paul’s, among whose early students was one John Clement, demanding that the headmaster be competent in Greek. While lecturing on Greek at Cambridge in 1511 without charge, he trained up undergraduates such as John Bryan and Thomas Lupset. Under Erasmus’s direct or indirect influence, these young men would soon become England’s first official teachers of Greek at the universities.
Erected on Erasmian foundations at home and fed by a stream of English scholars educated abroad, Greek studies entered the official curriculum of the universities with the foundation of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1517. Corpus was a milestone, England’s first institution dedicated to the ‘new learning’, providing humanist linguistic training which compared favourably to continental institutions such as Jérôme de Busleiden’s Collegium trilingue, founded in Louvain in the same year. Between Corpus’s daily public lecture in Greek and a university position founded shortly thereafter by Cardinal Wolsey, Greek was taught at Oxford with great success first by the old Pauline John Clement, then by Erasmus’s undergraduate trainee Thomas Lupset, by the Italian-trained Edward Wotton, and finally by the distinguished Spaniard Vives himself. At Cambridge, meanwhile, another Erasmian, John Bryan, taught Aristotle from the Greek; the university’s first Greek lectureship, founded in 1518, was filled by Grocyn’s old pupil Richard Croke, wooed home from a Greek professorship at Leipzig; and St John’s College introduced its own undergraduate Greek lectures in 1524, modelled on those at Corpus. Croke’s inaugural address of 1519 offers a glimpse of the competitive pride with which the challenge of Greek was met: he urges his Cambridge students to keep up with their Oxonian foes, who now ‘keep vigil, fast, sweat, and freeze to defect to Greek letters.’
Budé’s English correspondents, therefore, were by 1520 already valued members of the growing circle of new learning across Europe. Greek was being taught at both universities, and the first books in England to use Greek type issued from a Cambridge press in 1521. Hints of this changing intellectual geography emerge in a letter from Erasmus to William Latimer in February 1517: with Linacre, Tunstall, or Latimer as a teacher, Erasmus ‘should not feel the need for Italy.’ The same reconfiguration was woven into the institutional make-up of Corpus Christi, where the Greek lectureship was open to candidates born in England, Greece, or Italy beyond the Po. By the 1520s, the English could be considered competitive with Italians – competitive, even, with Greeks themselves.
II. Reformation Greek, 1530s-1560s
Greek continued to thrive at the universities throughout the 1520s. A steady march of teachers filled Wolsey’s university and Corpus’s college lectureships, and a similar position was founded at Gonville Hall (Cambridge) in 1528. In 1529, Cuthbert Tunstall bequeathed a rich collection of classical and neo-classical Greek texts to Cambridge which would form the seed of its Greek holdings.
Decisive change, however, followed the appointment of Henry VIII’s reformist right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell, as Chancellor of Cambridge in 1535. Tasked with remoulding the country’s institutions in the king’s reformed image, Cromwell sent injunctions to the universities demanding widespread investment in Greek from the wealthier colleges. Under this new management, Magdalen, New, and All Souls Colleges at Oxford were required to provide daily public lectures in Greek at Oxford, while fourteen colleges had a similar mandate at Cambridge. Cromwell also established a central public readership in either Greek or Hebrew at university level, known initially as ‘King Henry VIII his lecture’, which became the Regius professorships, established in 1540 in Divinity, Hebrew, Law, Medicine, and Greek, and soon attached to the new royal foundations of Trinity and Christ Church.
The first occupant of the Regius chair at Cambridge was John Cheke, but in truth he had been cultivating the humanist centre of the English Reformation for almost a decade already. After proceeding BA in 1529, Cheke taught Greek at St John’s College, Cambridge, to a generation of English scholars – William Cecil, Roger Ascham, William Bill – who would ascend to high educational and civic office. In Sir Thomas Smith he had a powerful and politic colleague. In the course of the decade Smith occupied the Greek lectureship once held by Richard Croke and lectured at Queens’ College on Aristotle and Homer. By the late 1530s, Cheke and Smith had begun to popularise the ‘new’ or ‘reformed’ pronunciation of Greek, as urged by Erasmus and progressive Byzantine scholars in Italy, which – whatever its scholarly justification – had the pedagogical virtue of distinguishing vowels from one another more clearly in lectures. On the strength of this new system and Cheke’s charismatic lecturing, Roger Ascham could write in 1542 that ‘Aristotle and Plato are now read in their own language by the boys, just as we have done for some five years now… what once you would have heard about Cicero, you now hear about Demosthenes.’ Up to two hundred students reportedly attended Cheke’s Greek lectures, and even at their lowest ebb, under attack from conservative university governance, they attracted no fewer than forty. The movement begun by individual enthusiasts travelling from Oxford to Italy in the 1480s had, by the 1540s, been firmly transplanted to Cambridge, and Greek was infiltrating every branch of the curriculum.
Yet the universities were about to enter a period of great instability. Henry had managed to embody a unified government among England’s religious factions, but after his death the country was pitched into an intellectual recession. The two decades straddling the middle of the century were an anxious and turbulent time, undermining institutional stability and by extension the education those institutions offered: ‘the two fair groves of learning in England were either cut up by the root,’ wrote Ascham of the 1550s, ‘or trodden down to the ground, and wholly went to wrack.’ High turnover of academic personnel and the complicity of post-holders first in suppressing Catholic, then Protestant, then again Catholic scholars attenuated the bonds of intellectual community and were unfavourable to long-term projects. Nonetheless, thanks to the enduring force of Cromwell’s injunctions, Greek studies continued to increase. At Cambridge, King’s, Queens’, and St John’s colleges maintained Greek lecturers after 1546, Clare after 1551. At Oxford, Trinity laid plans for Greek teaching in 1555, and St John’s was founded in the same year with support for college lectureship in Greek language and literature; Greek lectureships were introduced at Queen’s College from 1564, at Merton from 1565, Balliol from 1571, and Brasenose from 1572.  England may not have competed with continental Greek scholarship in the middle decades of the century, but its Greek teaching continued unabated.
III. Elizabethan Greek, 1560s-1600
As the tumult calmed after Elizabeth’s accession in 1558, Greek learning in England went from strength to strength. Pedagogy in particular was given new consideration, reflecting the fact that Greek was being taught to an ever broader population of students, who might arrive at university with various levels of preparation. By the 1570s, St John’s College, Cambridge – still the powerhouse of English Hellenism long after John Cheke’s death – was offering three Greek classes, catering to beginners, intermediate, and advanced students: at the lower end the class would cover grammar and easy authors, while at the higher a student could receive a rigorous training in Greek over a course of three years. Greek lectures across the university were increasingly made mandatory; punishment for truants could range from flogging to denial of dining rights, and a set of revised Elizabethan statutes at Oxford levied a fine of fourpence for every day a bachelor of the university failed to hear the Greek reader. 
Records of book ownership in this period testify that these statutory requirements were widely obeyed. About one hundred and fifty inventories of the possessions of Cambridge scholars at their deaths show common ownership of several Greek books: a Greek grammar (usually that of the Swiss humanist Ceporinus), an edition of Ambrogio Calepino’s polyglot Dictionarium, a Greek-Latin lexicon, and a Greek New Testament, accompanied by Lucian’s dialogues, Aesop’s fables, something by Homer and something by Euripides. Similar patterns of ownership hold for Oxford. Booksellers at both universities kept these volumes in stock to meet the consistent demand of undergraduates as they came up to the university and bought textbooks during the four years of their arts course. This common set of books approximates the bookshelf of foundational Greek as it was taught in England throughout the sixteenth-century.
Most of these books were printed on the continent and imported cheaply into England, but by the 1570s and 1580s, demand for Greek materials among an increasingly literate readership was making polyglot dictionaries a good investment even for English printers. John Baret’s Alvearie appeared in 1574, covering Greek, Latin, French, and English; Abraham Fleming introduced English glosses into his edition of Guillaume Morel’s Greek-Latin dictionary (1583), and John Higgins translated the Dutch scholar Hadrianus Junius’s Nomenclator (1585), which like Baret’s Alvearie surveyed Greek, Latin, French, and English. And by the 1590s, English printers had become still more comfortable printing and marketing longer texts entirely in Greek for an English readership. English editions of Isocrates and Demosthenes, which accounted for more than half of Greek publications in England, both matched Elizabethan taste for classical rhetoric, and supplied a domestic market with the orators most studied on university courses for their masterful Attic style and usage.
Such wide demand indicates that Greek was no longer just a university acquisition. Greek learning in England had always been led from the top. Through the medium of Greek mastery, Linacre, More, and their Erasmian circle had presented aspirational examples of scholarly celebrity; Cheke and Ascham had made St John’s College, Cambridge, the gleaming figurehead of a new, reformed English academy. But though individual schoolmasters can be found teaching Greek before the 1560s – Alexander Nowell, for example, taught Greek to his boys at Westminster in the 1540s – it took longer for Greek to filter down to the standard school curriculum. From the 1560s onwards a training in Greek was an obvious advantage for a schoolboy, and began to be assessed for scholarships in the 1570s at colleges such as Pembroke (Cambridge) and St John’s (Oxford). By this time two decades of consistent Greek teaching at the universities had provided a pool of graduate schoolmasters competent to teach the language. Eton and Westminster incorporated Greek into the top two forms of their curriculum in 1560; Shrewsbury followed a year later (1561-62), as did St Saviour’s (1562), Norwich (1566), Bangor (1569), Rivington (around 1570), Merchant Taylors’ (1572), Thame (1574), Ruthin (1574), and others.
The unfortunate career of Thomas Freeman indicates just how rapidly Greek caught on in the schools. Freeman had been appointed to the headmastership of St Paul’s in 1549, when no Greek featured on the curriculum. Ten years later, however, he was barely keeping his head above the rising tide of expectations that Elizabeth’s accession inspired. In April 1559 official inspectors found the boys less than impressive, and Freeman himself was challenged to defend his own skills of Latin composition. When these, too, were found wanting, Freeman was challenged ‘whether he was seen or learned in the Greek tongue or no, to the which he solemnly answered No and that was well known at his first entrance and beginning.’ His plea fell on deaf ears, and Freeman was fired in July ‘for insufficiency of learning and lack of the Greek tongue.’ It is especially telling that the authorities chose to cite Freeman’s weakness in Greek as grounds for termination, when even his Latin was apparently sub-par; much as Croke’s inaugural oration had implied forty years before, Greek in Freeman’s case was a shorthand for a large-scale restructuring of the syllabus around humanist learning. Between Edward’s reign and Elizabeth’s the place of Greek in the grammar schools, and consequently the qualifications demanded of schoolteachers, had changed beyond recognition.
Schoolchildren at these grammar schools received a rigorous drilling in the language. Every weekday at Westminster, for example, the master would read a passage from a Greek text – the New Testament, Cebes, Aesop, Isocrates, Demosthenes, or Homer were standard – and painstakingly unpack its grammar and syntax. Armed with this analysis, the boys would then learn the passage by heart, to be tested on their recall the same afternoon. Older boys in the top forms would be set a second passage in the afternoon, and be examined on their ability to recite it, translate it out and then back into Greek, and translate it from prose to verse. The approximate total of Greek reading, memorization, and daily drilling that a student would cover in the course of his grammar-school career has been calculated from syllabi such as Westminster’s to be around 135-165 pages of Greek, at twenty-five lines per page – over and above, of course, a standard 750 pages or so of Latin.
IV. Tudor Greek and its Uses
If Greek was so widespread in the latter half of the century, it must have had broader application than the rarefied and technical scholarship with which we now associate it. When Croke advertised Greek studies to the audience of his Cambridge oration, he nodded towards the fact that its leading lights – Pace, Tunstall, More – were at that moment holding high office in state and church. As early as the 1520s, it would seem, Greek was doing double-duty as a language of scholarship and a wide-ranging professional qualification. How were these qualifications valued in Tudor England? What was Greek for?
The primary use of Greek was ecclesiastical. Erasmus’s model of Christian humanism, which England embraced so fully, was shaped from the first in the interests of reformed theology. The only reason a man would wish to learn more Greek, Erasmus wrote, ‘is to be able to spend his time with more profit and more sure judgement on the Scriptures.’ His followers agreed. Thomas More, for example, a powerful proponent of Greek learning, reminded the university of Oxford that in 1312 the Church had decreed that Greek should be taught in all universities; in another letter, defending Erasmus’s new Greek edition of the New Testament, he recommends Greek as the language of the Church Fathers, ‘who have been badly translated or not at all’. This line of argument was only strengthened by the Reformation. With Greek a man would have no need for the Vulgate, the official Latin bible of the Catholic Church. He could draw directly from the source of scripture in the original Greek; he would be armed with learning to rebut the Latinate perversions of the papacy. This reasoning was so common in England that in 1551 Petruccio Ubaldini, an Italian soldier in England, wrote that ‘the rich cause their sons and daughters to learn Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, for since this storm of heresy has invaded the land they hold it useful to read the Scriptures in the original tongue.’ The results were never more astonishing than when Alexander Nowell’s school Catechism was translated in 1576: a translation into Greek of an document by an English clergyman for use by English schoolchildren.
Law, too, was a potential destination for Greek readers, pioneered by Sir Thomas Smith, who in the 1530s and ’40s combined serious Greek learning with his appointment as the first Regius Professor of Civil Law before entering parliament. But outside the church, Greek was perhaps prized most highly in medicine. Thomas Linacre was the first Englishman to exploit this connection, simultaneously gaining a medical degree and applying his Greek scholarship at the Aldine Press, then returning to England to found the Royal College of Physicians and the Linacre Professorship of Medicine. The first occupant of the Linacre Professorship was George Day, who moved no less easily between Greek and medicine: appointed in 1525, a year later Day became Greek praelector at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he taught John Cheke. These careers in medical humanism were possible because, prior to the revolution in medicine occasioned by Andreas Vesalius’s dissections at Padua in the 1540s, the discipline’s fundamental texts were those of Greek physicians, foremost among them Galen. And indeed the ripest fruit of the medical humanist tradition was the Aldine first edition of the works of Galen (1525): among its editors were no fewer than four of Linacre’s Oxonian followers and prominent Greek scholars, John Clement, Thomas Lupset, Edward Wotton, and William Rose. Second only to the accomplishment of Aldus’s English editors was that of John Caius, a disciple of Padua, London physician, and later Master of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, who published four volumes of editions and translations of Galenic works in the 1540s and ’50s.
George Etheridge’s career exemplifies the broad intellectual and professional scope Greek could offer. Etheridge moved smoothly between Greek, medicine, and other university posts for which Greek qualified him. Appointed to a collegiate Greek lectureship in 1543, he then took a bachelor’s degree in medicine; resigned his college post to practice as a physician in 1545; briefly held the King Henry VIII Praelector in philosophy in 1546; and was appointed Regius Professor of Greek in 1547, before returning to medical practice under Mary. Etheridge’s Greek expertise would have furnished his medical career as much as his progress towards the university’s most prestigious Greek chair.
Greek, in short, was at once itself a discipline and also an auxiliary to other disciplines whose texts and concerns were Greek, and Englishmen in the Tudor period increasingly enjoyed a rigorous foundation in the language from the higher forms of the better schools to the various and interdisciplinary lecture courses offered at university. It is true that sixteenth-century England did not produce individual philologists to compare with, for example, the great triumvirate of French scholars, Casaubon, Estienne, and Scaliger. But if the question is pointed towards literacy, rather than scholarship, it becomes clear that the fundamentals of Greek education in England were strong, and only gained in strength over the long, stable forty-five years of Elizabethan rule. Of course individuals’ educations and talents varied in practice, but as a broad estimate we can expect the average educated Elizabethan to have had good working Greek if he attended university after about 1540: after this date Cromwell’s injunctions took effect, the Regius professorships were on the horizon, and Greek was becoming ever more a subject of ordinary collegiate instruction. And twenty years later, from about 1560, as school foundations were refounded, new Elizabethan statutes were promulgated, and enough graduates had amassed who could teach it, Greek spread downwards into the better grammar schools; in subsequent decades, a schoolboy would emerge into a lifetime of opportunity founded on a command of Greek that could well be envied by ages before and since.
- Roger Ascham, The Whole Works, ed. J. A. Giles, 4 vols. (London 1864), vol. I, p. 191. All translations are mine unless otherwise indicated.
- Ascham, op. cit., vol. I, p. 227; vol. III, p. 118.
- Binns, op. cit., pp. 215-40.
- For further details throughout see Lazarus, op. cit.
- For this period see in general Tilley, op. cit.; Woolfson, op. cit.
- Leader, op. cit., pp. 237-8; Weiss, op. cit.; James, op. cit.
- Cecil H. Clough, ‘Thomas Linacre, Cornelio Vitelli, and Humanistic Studies at Oxford’, Essays on the Life and Work of Thomas Linacre (Oxford 1977), pp. 1-23.
- Aldus Manutius, The Greek Classics, ed. and trans. N. G. Wilson (Cambridge, MA 2016), Appendix IV, pp. 284-87.
- Manutius, op. cit., no. XVI, pp. 78-81.
- Guillaume Budé, Epistolae (Paris 1520).
- Erasmus, Collected Works (Toronto 1972-), vol. VI, p. 215 (letter 907); vol. VII, p. 254 (letter 1087).
- Richard Croke, Orationes Richardi Croci duae (Paris 1520), sig. c.iij.v.
- Tilley, op. cit., pp. 237-9.
- Erasmus, op. cit., vol. IV, p. 259 (letter 540).
- Leader, op. cit., pp. 299, 338.
- F. D. Logan, ‘The Origins of the So-Called Regius Professorships: An Aspect of the Renaissance in Oxford and Cambridge’, Renaissance and Renewal in Christian History, ed. Derek Baker (Oxford 1977), pp. 271-278; ‘The First Royal Visitation of the English Universities, 1535’, English Historical Review 106 (1991), pp. 861-88.
- The Text.
- Ascham, op. cit., vol. I, p. 26.
- John Cheke, De pronuntiatione Graecae potissimum linguae disputationes (Basel 1555), p. 306.
- Ascham, op. cit., vol. I, p. 236.
- Lazarus, op. cit., pp. 445-6.
- Clarke, op. cit., p. 33.
- McConica, op. cit., p. 655.
- Lisa Jardine, ‘Humanism and the Sixteenth Century Cambridge Arts Course’, History of Education 4.1 (1975), pp. 16-31.
- Lazarus, op. cit., p. 450.
- Milne, op. cit.
- Baldwin, op. cit., pp. 171-9; Lazarus, op. cit., pp. 453-4.
- Joan Simon, Education and Society in Tudor England (Cambridge 1966), p. 306.
- Clarke, op. cit., pp. 180-81.
- Michael McDonnell, The Annals of St Paul’s School (Cambridge 1959), pp. 76-80.
- Bolgar, op. cit.
- Erasmus, op. cit., vol. IV, p. 260 (letter 540).
- Thomas More, The Complete Works, 15 vols. (New Haven, 1963-1997), vol. XV, p. 145 (‘Letter to the University of Oxford’), pp. 97-105 (‘Letter to Martin Dorp’).
- Quoted in Baldwin, op. cit., p. 617.
- Nowell, Catechismus, siue prima institutio (London 1573).
- Leader, op. cit., p. 313.
- Woolfson, op. cit., pp. 78-86.
- Vivian Nutton, ‘John Caius and the Linacre Tradition’, Medical History 23 (1979), pp. 373-391.
- The Author.
- For an overview, see U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, History of Classical Scholarship, ed. Hugh Lloyd-Jones, trans. Alan Harris (London 1982), pp. 46-55.
T. W. Baldwin, William Shakspere’s Small Latine & Lesse Greeke (Urbana 1944).
J. W. Binns, Intellectual Culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean England: The Latin Writings of the Age (Leeds 1990).
R. R. Bolgar, ‘Classical Reading in Renaissance Schools’, Durham Research Review 6 (1955), 18-26.
Paul Botley, Learning Greek in Western Europe, 1396-1529: Grammars, Lexica, and Classroom Texts (Philadelphia 2010).
Federica Ciccolella, Donati Graeci: Learning Greek in the Renaissance (Leiden 2008).
M. L. Clarke, Classical Education in Britain, 1500-1900 (Cambridge 1959).
M. R. James, ‘Greek Manuscripts in England Before the Renaissance’, The Library series 4, 7.4 (1927), 337-53.
Micha Lazarus, ‘Greek Literacy in Sixteenth-century England’, Renaissance Studies 29.3 (2015), 433-58.
Damian Leader, A History of the University of Cambridge, vol. I: The University to 1546 (Cambridge 1988).
James McConica, ed., The History of the University of Oxford, vol. III: The Collegiate University (Oxford 1986).
Kirsty Milne, ‘The Forgotten Greek Books of Elizabethan England’, Literature Compass 4.3 (2007), 677-87.
Arthur Tilley, ‘Greek Studies in England in the Early Sixteenth Century’, English Historical Review 53.210-211 (1938), 221-239, 438-456.
Roberto Weiss, ‘The Private Collector and the Revival of Greek Learning’, The English Library before 1700: Studies in its History, ed. Francis Wormald and C. E. Wright (London 1958), 112-35.
Jonathan Woolfson, Padua and the Tudors: English Students in Italy, 1485-1603 (Cambridge 1998).
Description of the Manuscript
- Royal MS 16 C X (bound with Royal MS 16 C IX)
- British Library modern binding.
- <I>, <II>, 1-38 <III>, <IV>.
- 208 x 182 (198 x 155) mm, full page.
- This autograph codex was presumably written in Oxfordshire, where the author, George Etheridge, lived.
- Encomium to Henry VIII in elegiac verse (ff. 7-38v), preceded by a prose dedication to Queen Elizabeth I (ff. 1-4) and by an Argumentum huius opusculi, in Latin (ff. 5-6). Ff. 4v and 6v are blank.
- Title of the dedication (f. 1): Τῆ τιμιωτάτη καὶ ἐμφανέστατη Ἐλισάβετ – καὶ εὐδαιμονεῖν, inc. (f. 1): Ἀμφοτέρων ἕνεκα ..., expl. (f. 4): ... σὲ καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν σου ταύτην φυλασσέτω ἡμῖν. Ἀμήν.
- Title of the Argumentum (ff. 5-6): Argumentum huius opusculi, inc. (f. 5): Quandoquidem admonent nos sacrae literae ..., expl. (f. 6): ... et perpetuam ei in posterum conferat felicitatem.
- Title of the Encomium (f. 7): Ἐγκώμιον τῶν πράξεων καὶ τῶν στρατηγημάτων τοῦ Ἑνρίκου – βασιλέως, inc. (f. 7): Οὐ κατ᾽ἐμὴν τέχνην βασιλῆος ..., expl. (f. 38v): ... τὴν βασίλισσαν δὴ, ὦ θεὲ, σῶσον ἀεί.
- The two first folios of the first quire <I>, <II>, and the two last folios of the last quire <III>, <IV>, are not numbered and are blank.
- 1 x 4 (<I>, <II>, 1, 2); 1 x 4 (6); 1 x 4 (10); 1 x 4 (14); 1 x 4 (18); 1 x 4 (22); 1 x 4 (26); 1 x 4 (30); 1 x 4 (34); 1 x 8-2 (38, <III>, <IV>). The codex is formed of ten quires, binions except the last quire, a quaternion lacking the two last folios. There are no signatures. Every quire is usually marked by a short horizontal catchword written by the scribe on the eighth folio verso (10v, 14v, 18v, 22v, 26v).
- (ff. 1-30): A type of hand with five open fingers, surmounted by a flower with five petals, measuring ca.100mm in all: ‘Main’ with very similar to Briquet 10745 (Gênes, 1501–1506. Var. sim. Naples, 1507; Castellane, 1509; Gênes, 1515/17. Var. plus grande: Gênes 1575/77). Very similar to Briquet 10746 (Gênes 1522/23, Var. sim. Lucques 1527, Valence (Espagne) 1536, Messine, 1559). The watermark of the Hand, with five open fingers, surmounted by a flower with five petals was popular, so that several paper makers placed their initials in the palm of the hand in order to distinguish their product. In the exemplar used in this codex the letters are clearly ‘M’; the second letter is probably ‘F’. (Ff. 31-38): A different type of hand, shorter with five fingers not open but one next to the other, surmounted by a five petal flower, vaguely similar to Briquet types ‘Main’ 11089-11091; 11201 (but the lower part of the watermark is different); 11344-11348 (from 1531 to 1546); 11353-11358  (but the lower part of the watermark is difficult to identify). Briquet (p. 573) notes about types 11341-11398: (‘Class III: Main généralement lacée au poignet, aux quatre doigts serrés, le pouce très écarté’) that the paper with these watermarks was used in the North of France, in Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of Germany.
- The whole codex bears a simple ruling, formed of vertical lines to delimit the written surface and two horizontal lines, one in each of the upper and lower margins (Leroy 12C1).
- Written surface:
- ca. 125 x 120 mm; 10 lines to the page in the Greek text (except f. 4r with 12 lines), written with double spacing. Large upper (30 mm) and lower (47 mm) margins, while the internal and external margins are smaller.
- The codex is indicated as ‘autograph’. George Etheridge's hand shows the typical Renaissance, Western ‘scholarly hand’, influenced by contemporary scribes, as Constantinos Palaiocappa (manuscripts dated in 1539–54), Andreas Darmarios (1540–last quarter of 16th c.), Angelos Bergikios (first quarter of 16th c.–1569). As this was probably meant to be a presentation copy, both the page layout of the codex and his writing are regular and tidy. George Etheridge uses brown ink, with letters inclined to the right, long descending hastes for gamma, mu, rho and long ascending hastes for delta and tau. Majuscules re-inserted in the minuscule are eta (often written as a Latin majuscule ‘h’), theta, lambda and pi. Peculiar, characteristic letters are: gamma, always minuscule, strongly inclined to the right with an elongated descending part; delta, minuscule, upright and pointed at the top; rho, with a hook at the end of the descending leg; tau, in form of a seven. There are some ligatures with inclusions of letters, as in f. 1, omicron-sigma, twice in line 1: βασιλῆος; line 5: ἀντάξιος. For the type of minuscule used in the MS see N. Barker, Aldus Manutius and the Development of Greek Script and Type in the Fifteenth Century (New York, 1992). Breathings and accents are boldly marked. The page layout of the text of the Encomium is carefully planned; the beginnings of the verses are always marked by an enlarged capital letter in ‘epigraphic majuscule’ and an indentation underlines throughout the difference between hexameters and pentameters.
G. F. Warner and J. P. Gilson, British Museum. Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Old Royal and King's Collections, vol. II (London, 1921), p. 183.
Catalogue description of MS Royal 16 C IX (with which MS Royal 16 C X is bound together): “Beati Maximi ASKHTIKOS Summa Christianae Vitae De Graeco conuersus. Greek and Latin translation by John Cheke, tutor to Prince Edward [afterwards Sir John Cheke, Regius Professor of Greek and later Provost of King's College, Cambridge, 1548–1553], of the Liber asceticus of S. Maximus Abbas, PG 90, 912. Preceded by a Latin dedication to Henry VIII as a new year's gift, dated Hertford, 31 Dec. [1544, 1545 or 1546]. Beg. Ἀδελφὸς ἐρώτησε γέροντα λέγων, παρακαλῶ σε. Not autograph. A few notes on the Greek text are in Patrick Young's hand. Paper. ff. 72. 8 in. x 5. in., A. D. 1544–1546. Old Royal pressmark ‘n° 1414’ and seal (a ship); cat. of 1666, f. 19 b; CMA. 8589”.
Cat. description of MS Royal 16 C X: “Panegyric upon Henry VIII, Ἐγκώμιον τῶν πράξεων καὶ τῶν στρατηγημάτων τοῦ Ἑνρίκου ὀγδόου ἐμφανεστάτου βασιλέως, in Greek elegiac verse (316 couplets) by Γεώργιος Αἰθριγαῖος, sc. George Etherege, M. B., who had been (1547–1550, 1554–1559) Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, but was deprived under Elizabeth. Preceded by a Greek prose dedication to Queen Elizabeth, on the occasion of her visit to Oxford [1566?], and by a Latin prose argument. Paper, ff. 38. 8 in. x 6 in., A. D. 1566. Not identified in the old catalogues. Bound with 16 C. IX”.
Annaclara Cataldi Palau