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Research topics

Research topics

The University of London Seminar on editing Byzantine texts was established in 1984 through the co-operation of Dr Joseph A. Munitiz, SJ, the Late Julian Chrysostomides and Dr Athanasios Angelou, initially with the aim of studying Byzantine literary works, the first of which was Nicephorus Blemmydes' Autobiography. It later developed into a working Seminar on editing Byzantine texts, joined by graduate students and visiting scholars who happened to be in London.

The Seminar, the only of its kind in London, has been the focus of Byzantinists specializing in various areas, such as textual criticism, language and literature, palaeography, history and historiography, theology and art history. The Seminar always tries to reach its decisions by common consent, in a spirit of friendly co-operation and discussion, each member contributing his/her own expertise and experience. More importantly, graduate students have the opportunity to learn and practise the editorial process, from the transcription of manuscripts to the final stages of publication of critical editions and annotated translations of Byzantine texts.

The Seminar has produced an annotated critical edition and translation of The Letter of the Three Patriarchs to Emperor Theophilos and Related Texts (eds. J.A. Munitiz, J. Chrysostomides, E. Harvalia-Crook and Ch. Dendrinos [Porphyrogenitus: Camberley, 1997]) and has edited a number of texts, including two unpublished religious works by the 15th-century scholar Manuel Calecas.

At present, an annotated critical edition and translation of the extensive Correspondence of George of Cyprus (Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory II, 1283-89) is under preparation. Members are asked to prepare a transcription of a letter or a group of letters from the principal manuscripts (Mutinensis graecus 82 and Vaticanus graecus 1085), followed by an edition with an apparatus criticus and an apparatus fontium, together with a translation and notes to the text. Their work is then presented and discussed at the Seminar. So far over fifty letters have been edited, translated and annotated. Further information is available in the Seminar Handbook.

The Seminar holds its meetings during the second term on Fridays in February and March between 15:00-17:00 in Room 103, 1st Floor, Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.

Scholars and graduate students who are interested in Byzantine texts are most welcome to participate.

For further information please contact Dr Charalambos Dendrinos.


The Hellenic Institute acts as a forum to encourage and co-ordinate research into the history of the Greek presence in London across the centuries, from the few, rather obscure individuals of the Tudor and Stuart periods, to the wealthy and influential community of Victorian times and beyond.


The Greek presence in London dates back to at least the early fifteenth century, when Andronikos and Alexios Effomatos, two craftsmen from Constantinople, were granted permission by King Henry VI to remain in the city and pursue their trade. In the centuries which followed Greeks were not uncommon visitors, whether as merchants, mariners, soldiers, diplomats or refugees. Most passed on after a short stay, but some settled permanently. Individual Greeks came to play an prominent role in London's economic and social life. A tailor from Crete, Peter de Mellan, supplied gowns to the Lord Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540), and Constantine Rhodocanaces (Konstantinos Rodokanakis) of Chios became a physician in the service of King Charles II (1660-85). In the 1700s, the Grecian Coffee House, founded and owned by George Constantine from the island of Scopelos in the Northern Sporades, became a noted meeting place for scholars and politicians, numbering among its patrons two presidents of the Royal Society, Sir Isaac Newton and Dr Hans Sloane.

Most of the Greeks of London, however, were of humble origin, mainly sailors who served on the merchant ships that plied between England and the eastern Mediterranean. In 1677 a church was opened for their use on the edge of the city in Soho, the site still being remembered in the name Greek Street. This proved to be short-lived and from 1716 the only Orthodox places of worship in London were the successive Russian embassy chapels which were located at a number of different locations until moving to Welbeck Street in 1813.

During the 1820s, the situation changed rapidly. The outbreak of the Greek War of Independence triggered savage reprisals against the Greek population of the Ottoman Empire by the Turkish authorities, forcing wealthy merchants from Constantinople and Chios to flee abroad. Many went to London where they re-established their businesses and came to dominate Baltic trade. Foremost amongst these new arrivals was Pandias Stephen Ralli (1793-1865), who emerged as the leader of the now burgeoning community. In 1837 a Greek Orthodox chapel was established in a house in Finsbury Circus, followed in 1850 by a small but elegant church in London Wall (the image to the right shows its interior). Finally in 1879, a splendid new church dedicated to Saint Sophia, the Holy Wisdom, was opened on Moscow Road in Bayswater. In 1922, Saint Sophia became the cathedral of the newly-created Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. A second Greek Orthodox place of worship in London, All Saints, was opened in a converted Anglican church in Camden Town in 1948. Today there are more than two dozen Greek Orthodox churches and chapels across the greater London area.

In the years after the inauguration of Saint Sophia, some of the wealthier members of the Greek community were assimilated into the British upper middle classes. Many been born in Britain and educated at public schools, particularly Harrow and Westminster. Some played a prominent role in philanthropy and public life. Constantine Ionides (1833-1900) bequeathed his substantial art collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where most of the paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Degas, Delacroix, are now on public display. Pandeli Thomas Ralli (1845-1928) was MP for Bridport from 1875 to 1880, Lucas Ralli (1846-1931) was created a Baronet in 1912, and Emmanuel Rodocanachi (1855-1932) was a director of the Midland Bank. Helena Schilizzi (1873-1959), who belonged to a prominent Anglo-Greek family, married the Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos in London in 1921. The history of the Greek community in London during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, therefore, presents a picture of steady progress from an obscure minority to a position of considerable wealth and influence.


To date, the Hellenic Institute has supported five research projects related to the Greek presence in London:

Leoni Thanasoula (British School at Athens Centenary Bursary Holder 2015-16) is currently investigating the life and times of Anastasios Agathidis (c. 1818-1881), a scholar from Prousos in Evrytania, who arrived in England in 1843. After working as a private tutor for the Trikoupis and Ralli families and as Anagnostes (Reader) for the Church of Saint Sophia in London, he devoted his energies to encouraging educational initiatives in his native town in Greece.

Nil Palabiyik-Pektas (The John Rylands Research Institute, Manchester) examined the life and work of Nikodemos Metaxas, a monk from the Venetian-controlled island of Cephalonia who learned the art of printing in Fleet Street and transported a printing press from London to Constantinople in 1627. She was awarded a PhD by Royal Holloway in 2014 for her doctoral thesis entitled The First Greek Printing Press in Constantinople, 1627-1628.

Quentin Russell studied the Greek presence in London during the period 1830-1914, with particular reference to the Anglo-Greek art patrons of the later nineteenth century. He was awarded a PhD by Royal Holloway in 2011 for his doctoral thesis entitled The Greek Community in Victorian London: Identity, Community and Assimilation.

Evangelia Georgitsoyanni (Harokopian University, Athens) investigated the life of Leonidas Arniotis (1862-1939), an Athenian theatre director. Arniotis spent the latter part of his life in London, where he owned a bookshop and cafe in St. Giles's High Street.

Jonathan Harris (Department of History, RHUL) investigated the little-known history of the Greek community in London between 1500 and 1800 and published a series of works on the subject.

Further Reading

Evangelia Georgitsoyanni, 'An unknown verse newspaper of the Greek diaspora', Analele Universitstii "Stefan Cel Mare" Suceava: Serie Filologie B. Literatura 11 (2005), 45-64

Jonathan Harris, 'Silent Minority: the Greek Community of Eighteenth-Century London', in Greek Diaspora and Migration since 1700, ed. Dimitris Tziovas (Aldershot, 2009), pp. 31-43

Jonathan Harris, 'The Grecian Coffee House and political debate in London, 1688-1714', The London Journal 25 (2000), 1-13

Jonathan Harris, Greek Emigres in the West, 1400-1520 (Camberley, 1995)

Scholastic thought in Late Byzantium is an area which remains largely unexplored. The influence of Thomas Aquinas' (1225-74) writings on Byzantine intellectual circles, both Latinophile and Orthodox, has recently attracted revived interest among scholars. The project aims to contribute to the scholarly discussion by producing the source material for the study of this important subject, namely critical editions of Greek translations of, and commentaries on, various works by Thomas Aquinas composed by Byzantine scholars and theologians between the late thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. The majority of these texts remain hitherto unpublished, or partially edited, or published on the basis of a limited number of manuscripts, often lacking information on sources cited therein. Following standard modern methodology, the critical editions, prepared by doctoral students and scholars participating in our project, are based on all extant manuscripts; they comprise a short introduction on the text and the manuscript tradition, while the text is accompanied by an apparatus fontium identifying sources and an apparatus criticus recording all palaeographical and textual phenomena. An index verborum, an index locorum and facsimiles of selected folios of the extant manuscripts are also included. The editions of these texts will shed more light on the philosophical and theological dialogue among distinguished scholars and theologians in the Greek East and the Latin West in a period of intensive intellectual creativity. In this sense, the publication of these texts, in both printed and electronic form, will become an indispensable tool for scholars and students of Byzantine and Western European history and thought.

Host Institutes

Collaborating Research Institutes


  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation (2016-2018)


  • Hellenic Ministry of Culture (2008-2009)
  • Hellenic Ministry of Economy (2006-2007)

Senior Academics

  • Professor Linos G. Benakis (Athens)
  • Professor Andreas Speer (Cologne)

Advisory Board

  • Professor Sten Ebbesen (Copenhagen)
  • Professor Edward G. Farrugia S.J. (Rome)
  • Professor Georgi Kapriev (Sofia)
  • + Professor Juan Nadal-Cañellas
  • + Professor Stylianos G. Papadopoulos
  • + Professor Gerhard Podskalsky
  • Professor Rosario Scognamiglio O.P. (Bari)
  • Professor Franz Tinnefeld (Munich, 2006-13)


  • Assistant Professor John A. Demetracopoulos (Patras)
  • Dr Charalambos Dendrinos (London)

Research team

  • Dr Panagiotis Athanasopoulos (Patras, 2013-16; Venice, 2016-18)
  • Ms Irini Balcoyiannopoulou (PhD student, Patras, 2014-18)
  • Dr Marie-Hélène Blanchet (Paris/CNRS, 2010-)
  • Dr Dimitrios K. Chatzimichael (Thessaloniki, 2016-)
  • Professor Antonis Fyrigos (Rome, 2007-10)
  • Dr Christiaan W. Kappes (Pittsburg, 2016-)
  • Mr Ioannis Kassidis (PhD student, Corfu, 2013-)
  • Mr Michael Konstantinou-Rizos (PhD student, London, 2013-2018)
  • Ms Maria-Panagia Miola (Rome, 2016-)
  • Distinguished Professor John Monfasani (New York, 2012-)
  • Dr Konstantinos Palaiologos ( Patras, 2016-2018)
  • Dr Vasos Pasiourtides (London, 2009-2011, Patras, 2012-2018)
  • Professor Denis Searby (Stockholm, 2010-)
  • Dr Christos Triantafyllopoulos (Athens, 2009-10)
  • Dr Christopher Wright (London, 2012-)


T/B = Repertorium edierter Texte des Mittelalters aus dem Bereich der Philosophie und angrenzender Gebiete. Band I-III. 2., völlig überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Herausgegeben von R. Schönberger, A. Quero Sánchez, B. Berges und L. Jiang unter Mitarbeit von A. Schönfeld SJ, Berlin 2011

PLP = Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit. Erstellt von E. Trapp unter Mitarbeit von H.-V. Beyer, R. Walther und anderen, 1976-1996. Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Byzantinistik. Vol. 1-12, Add. 1-2. Bearbeitet von Ch. Gastgeber, Vienna 2001

Series prima: Thomas de Aquino Graecus

Vol. I: Summa contra Gentiles (T1450-600) cum Bernardi Guidonis Vita S. Thomae Aquinatis (B1740-70), capp. 53-54; versio Demetrii Cydonis (PLP 13876)

  • Pars 1: Liber I
  • Pars 2: Liber II
  • Pars 3: Liber III
  • Pars 4: Liber IV

Vol. II: Summa theologiae (T1450-540); versio Demetrii Cydonis (PLP 13876) ac Prochori Cydonis (PLP 13883)

  • Pars 1: Pars Ia (ed. Ch. Wright)
  • Pars 2: Pars Ia IIae (ed. P.C. Athanasopoulos)
  • Pars 3: Pars IIa IIae
  • Pars 4: Pars IIIa (qq. 45, 49, 54, 55)
  • Pars 5: Supplementum (76 qq.)

Vol. III: Quaestiones

  • Pars 1: De potentia (T1450-420); versio Prochori Cydonis (PLP 13883) (ed. M. Konstantinou-Rizos)
  • Pars 2: De spiritualibus creaturis (T1450-430); versio Prochori Cydonis (PLP 13883) (ed. M. Konstantinou-Rizos)

Vol. IV: Opuscula apologetica et polemica

  • Pars 1: De rationibus fidei ad cantorem Antiochenum (T1450-640); versio Demetrii Cydonis (PLP 13876); versio Atoumis (ed. M.-H. Blanchet)
  • Pars 2: De articulis fidei et Ecclesiae sacramentis (T1450-600) (ed. M.-H. Blanchet); versio anonyma (ed. M.-H. Blanchet)
  • Pars 3: De aeternitate mundi (T1450-550); versio Prochori Cydonis (PLP 13883) (ed. Maria-Panagia Miola)

Vol. V: Opuscula philosophica

  • Pars 1: De ente et essentia (T1450-560) cum Commentario Armandi de Bellovisu (A9620-30); versio Georgii Scholarii (PLP 27304)
  • Pars 2: De fallaciis (dub.) (T1450-1030) a Georgio Scholario (PLP 27304) translatum cum Compendio versionis Scholarii a Matthaeo Camariota (PLP 10776) peracto (ed. D. Chatzimichael)

Vol. VI: Commentaria in Aristotelem

  • Pars 1: In Aristotelis De Interpretatione (T1450-210) cum Continuatione auctoris latini hactenus ignoti; versio Georgii Scholarii (PLP 27304) (ed. Ir. Balcoyiannopoulou)
  • Pars 2: In Aristotelis Physicam (T1450-230) lib. I.1,3-15; II.1-12; versio Georgii Scholarii (PLP 27304)
  • Pars 3: In Aristotelis De anima (T1450-270); versio Georgii Scholarii (PLP 27304)
  • Pars 4: In Aristotelis Metaphysicam, prooemium (T1450-290). A: prooemium operis a Prochoro Cydone (PLP 13883) translatum. B: testimonia translationis totius operis a Georgio Scholario (PLP 27304) deperditae

Vol. VII: Opuscula symbolica et liturgica

  • Pars 1: Expositio super Symbolum Apostolorum (T1450-8420); versio Demetrii Cydonis (PLP 13876); Confessio (sp.); versio Demetrii Cydonis (PLP 13876) (ed. K. Palaiologos)
  • Pars 2: Sermo de festo corporis Christi (T1450-1050); versio Demetrii Cydonis (PLP 13876)
  • Pange lingua (T1450-960); versio anonymi (ed. K. Palaiologos)

Vol. VIII: Compendia, florilegia, extracta

  • Pars 1: Compendia Scholarii (PLP 27304). Compendium Summae contra GentilesCompendium Iae Partis Summae theologiaeCompendium Iae Partis IIae Partis Summae theologiae (ed. P.C. Athanasopoulos); Compendium IIae Partis IIae Partis Summae theologiae
  • Pars 2: Bessarionis (PLP 2707) Compendium quaestionum 1-7 Iae IIae Summae theologiae (ed. P.C. Athanasopoulos)
  • Pars 3: Florilegia tria Scholarii (PLP 27304) ex Summa contra Gentiles necnon ex Summa theologiae contracta (ed. J.A. Demetracopoulos)
  • Pars 4: Extracta Plethonis (PLP 3630) ex Summa contra Gentiles necnon ex Summa theologiae (ed. J.A. Demetracopoulos)
  • Pars 5: Hervaei Natalis ex Summa contra Gentiles necnon ex Summa theologiae in Commentario in libros quattuor Petri Lombardi Sententiarum reperta (ed. Ch.W. Kappes)

Series altera: Thomas de Aquino a Byzantinis receptus

Vol. I: Demetrii Cydonis (PLP 13876) Defensio Sancti Thomae Aquinatis adversus Nilum Cabasilam. In Appendice: Nili Cabasilae De processione Spiritus sancti, Pars III: Quod impossibile est Latinos syllogismis utentes Spiritum sanctum ex Filio procedere demonstrare (ed. D. Searby)

Vol. II: Demetrii Chrysolorae (PLP 31156) Refutatio operis Demetrii Cydonis “Contra Nilum Cabasilam” sub forma dialogi, in quo auctor ipse cum personis Thomae Aquinatis, Nili Cabasilae et Demetrii Cydonis loquitur (ed. V. Pasiourtides)

Vol. III: Prochori Cydonis (PLP 13883) De essentia et operatione Dei (ed. Ch. Triantafyllopoulos / V. Pasiourtides)

Vol. IV: Matthaei Angeli Panareti (PLP 21649) Contra Thomae, auctoris Latini, de processione Spiritus sancti argumenta; De loco ignis purgatorii contra Thomam Aquinatem (ed. M.-H. Blanchet)

Vol. V: Callisti Angelicoudis (PLP 145) seu Meleniciotae Contra Thomae, auctoris Latini, librum sub praetextu “Contra Gentiles” scriptum (ed. J.A. Demetracopoulos)

Vol. VI: Andreae Chrysobergae (PLP 31106) Apologia ad Bessarionem pro Thomae Aquinatis scriptis de divina essentia et operatione (ed. J. Monfasani)

Vol. VII: Marci Eugenici (PLP 6193) De resurrectione

Vol. VIII: Georgii Scholarii - Gennadii II (PLP 27304) De divina providentia et praedestinatione tractatus I-II (ed. I. Kassidis)

Vol. IX: Ioannis Gatti Notata in librum secundum Georgii Trapezuntii ‘Comparationis Philosophorum’ (ed. J. Monfasani). In appendice: Loci diversi ex Thomae de Aquino scriptis apud Bessarionis opera (ed. P.C. Athanasopoulos)

Vol. X: Loci diversi ex Thomae de Aquino scriptis graece translatis a nonnullis auctoribus Byzantinis aut explicite aut implicite laudati (Simon Constantinopolitanus; Manuel Moschopoulos; Nilus Cabasilas; Nicolaus Cabasilas; Manuel Corinthius; Prochorus Cydones; Demetrius Cydones; Manuel Calecas; Joseph Bryennius; Marcus Eugenicus; Macarius Macres; Manuel II Palaiologus; Georgius Scholarius - Gennadius II; Georgius Gemistus cognomine Pletho; Bessarion; Matthaeus Camariotes et al.)

Further Information

For further information on the project please contact Assist. Prof. John A. Demetracopoulos, Editor, "Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus", Laboratory of Humanities, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Primary Education, University of Patras, Archimedes Street, Building 7, Rion 26504, Patras, Greece, tel: +30 2610 969776; or Dr Charalambos Dendrinos, Director, The Hellenic Institute, History Department, Royal Holloway, University of London.

The role of grammar, fundamental in teaching a language, was stressed by Byzantine scholars and teachers on every possible occasion. The principal method used in the Byzantine school for the teaching of grammar between 11th-15th c. was what came to be known as schedography. It involved the application, through short compositions (schedē), of grammatical rules at the same time enriching the vocabulary of students. The schedography of the teacher and scholar Manuel Moschopoulos (ca. 1265-ca. 1316) became the standard method of teaching grammar, replacing its more elaborate predecessors. Known in its printed version as Peri schedōn, this work contains 22 short schedē of both secular and religious content, accompanied by brief commentaries on lexicography, orthography, grammar, morphology, syntax and etymology.

Moschopoulos’ schedography prevailed not only in his own time, but also in the centuries that followed. It was widely used by teachers and students two centuries or more after Moschopoulos’ death. Its wide-spread dissemination is testified by the large number of manuscripts, preserved in major libraries in Europe. The Peri schedōn, along with the other Moschopoulean manual of grammar, the Erōtēmata Grammatica (Milan, 1493) ― both set out in the popular form of questions and answers ― became the basis for the teaching of orthography, grammar and syntax not only in Byzantine schools but also among Western humanists for example, the Italian scholar and humanist Giovanni Tortelli (1400-1466), who contributed substantially to the foundation of the Vatican Library. Tortelli’s Grammar contains sections of the Moschopoulean schedography and Erōtēmata, and in his De orthographia, following Moschopoulos’ example, he examined the etymology and meaning of words using passages from ancient authors. Moreover, a number of codices preserving Moschopoulos’ schedography, are linked with schools in the West. Explanations, glosses and scholia added by Western humanists, teachers or students show the way Moschopoulos’ schedography was used and adjusted to their needs.

The editio princeps of a version of the Peri schedōn by Robert Stephanus, under the title Manuelis Moschopuli, De ratione examinandae orationis libellusEx bibliotheca regia (Paris, 1545), was based on a single, so far unidentified codex of the National Library of France in Paris. However, more versions of the text, in terms of structure order and number of the schedē, survive in a large number of manuscripts. This on-going research project aims at producing the first complete critical edition of this important text, exploring its manuscript tradition in an attempt to reconstruct the stemma codicum.It will further explore, through the quotations Moschopoulos used as examples to explain grammatical rules, the use of the classical, post-classical and Byzantine grammatical traditions adapted to the contemporary needs of the students as well as the reception of pagan and Christian authors, including Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, Theokritos, Philostratos, Synesios, Lucian, John Chrysostom, Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus.

The resulting critical edition will enable scholars to assess more fully Moschopoulos’ work and its place in Byzantine education, shedding more light on the Byzantine educational system, and on the influence and use of this important text by Western humanists.

Funded by the Hellenic Institute, the research is conducted by Dr Fevronia Nousia, Lecturer in Byzantine Philology at the University of Patras, under the guidance of Dr Charalambos Dendrinos.

For further information on the project please contact Dr Fevronia Nousia, Department of Philology, University of Patras, Patras, Greece; or Dr Charalambos Dendrinos, Director, The Hellenic Institute.

This project was conceived at the International Workshop Workshop From Manuscripts to Books. Vom Codex zur Edition, co-organised by the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, University of Cyprus, and the Institut für Byzanzforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, in Vienna (10-11 December 2009). Its aim is to produce a list of all extant autograph manuscripts and documents written by Byzantine authors. By 'autograph' we mean a text written by the author in his/her own hand. Additional information on manuscripts containing samples of the author's hand which are not autographs in the strict sense of the term, will also be included in order to facilitate research into the idiosyncracies of these authors' hands. It is hoped that this list will become a useful tool to students and scholars in the field of Greek palaeography.

The research project, funded by RHUL Hellenic Institute, is conducted by Dr Christopher Wright under the guidance of Dr Charalambos Dendrinos. Philip Taylor is currently developing the webpage which will give external users access to the database.

For further information please contact Dr Charalambos Dendrinos and Dr Christopher Wright.

The aim of the project is to produce a Lexicon which will become a useful aid to students and scholars in the field of Greek and Latin palaeography, codicology and diplomatics. This project, conceived by Professor Nikolaos Moschonas, the Late Julian Chrysostomides and Dr Charalambos Dendrinos in 2005, is conducted by Dr Fevronia Nousia and Mr Michael Konstantinou-Rizos in collaboration with the Institute for Byzantine Research, National Hellenic Research Foundation. Compiled in Greek, the Lexicon will comprise over 500 lemmata and tables with facsimiles of codices, useful tables and reproductions of various types and styles of script. The project is funded by the Hellenic Institute.

For further information please contact Dr Charalambos Dendrinos.


Greek palaeography has never had its Cappelli (Dizionario di Abbreviature latine ed italiane), making it difficult and often impossible for most classicists, philologists, theologians, and medievalists to understand the content of manuscripts. Acquisition of the specialised palaeographic skills required is similarly rendered more laborious by the absence of any general reference guide to the ligatures, abbreviations, symbols, ciphers, and tachygraphs (hereafter: glyphs) encountered in manuscripts (MSS). The Porphyrogenitus Project, conceived by the late Julian Chrysostomides and Dr Charalambos Dendrinos, with the assistance and expert guidance of Professor Pat E. Easterling, involves the compilation of a Lexicon of Abbreviations & Ligatures in Greek Minuscule Hands (ca. 8th century A.D. to ca. 1600) (hereafter: Lexicon). The aim of this project is to make good this deficiency, incorporating as full a number of abbreviations and ligatures as possible to produce a useful aid to students and scholars, who wish to study texts preserved in handwritten Greek manuscripts. 

The material of the Lexicon comes from MSS housed in major libraries around the world, including the British Library, the Vatican Library, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France,  and covers a variety of subjects from literature, law and notarial documents to mathematics, geography, physics & alchemy, astronomy & astrology, weights & measures, and medicine among others, as well as tachygraphy, cryptography, and the abbreviations and ligatures of early printed books.

It was initially envisaged that the results would be published as a printed handbook similar to Cappelli's Dizionario. In the initial stages of the project, following a procedure devised by Royal Holloway’s then webmaster, Philip Taylor, the glyphs were originally scanned from printed facsimiles of MSS on a flat-bed scanner, edited, and converted to outline Postscript form. They were then incorporated as graphic elements into a TeX document on a desktop PC; this was then converted to Postscript (latterly, PDF) and finally printed on a laser printer. The completed Lexicon was intended for publication in printed form and/or CD-ROM by Porphyrogenitus Publishers Ltd, directed by the late Julian Chrysostomides and presently by Mr John Chrysostomides, who remains supportive of the project and has kindly given permission to use the name “Porphyrogenitus Project” in its next phase.

In the printed version, the material is presented in two columns in lexicographic order of abbreviation. Each entry consists of four parts: a reproduction of the glyph, a transcription of the letters contained in the glyph, the complete word, and finally the manuscript’s date. The date is replaced and/or augmented by provenance in case of rare or unique abbreviations. In the case of ligatures, the third component is omitted, while reproductions of symbols are followed only by the third and fourth components (Fig. 1).


Fig. 1

New Approaches

Since the inception of the Project, there has been considerable change in information technology. For instance, optical disks have risen and fallen as a storage solution; even CD-ROM publication now appears anachronistic. Such rapid technological advances pose some difficulties but also create new opportunities.

First, manuscript digitisation projects have made considerably more MSS publicly available. It is therefore much easier to identify and collect novel glyphs for inclusion in the Lexicon but, concomitantly, it is not unreasonable for users to expect that a greater number of glyphs should be included. While a lexicon can never be exhaustive, it should aim to be comprehensive.

Second, the web has become a much more integral part of daily life and bandwidth has greatly increased. This reduces the attraction of a static printed reference volume but opens new possibilities for the Lexicon as a more dynamic resource. Online presentation can facilitate non-linear access and searching, as well as ordering of search output by user-defined criteria (e.g., MS date, provenance). Greater contextual information could be displayed, such as a photograph of the glyph in its original context, which would be unfeasible in a printed handbook. An online Lexicon would also permit continuous updating: newly identified glyphs could be submitted by palaeographers throughout the world, who would always be able to access the current version of the Lexicon, rather than awaiting publication of a new edition.

Third, recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques open up the possibility of searching the Lexicon by submitting an image – either as a photograph or drawn on a touchscreen – of an unknown glyph to be automatically matched to a Lexicon entry or, more probably, a number of entries ranked by descending ‘similarity’. To understand the value of this, a palaeographer encountering a previously unseen glyph like that below (Fig. 2) may lack any obvious clues regarding its semantic value, since it does not at first sight correspond to any Greek letter, and is faced with the long and frustrating task of systematically searching through the Lexicon to locate a sufficiently similar image.

Fig. 2

In contrast, an AI process could rapidly search through the entire Lexicon and report all ‘similar’ symbols. The constant improvement of image recognition technology, and the fact that the universe of discourse is constrained, should permit a specialist to devise custom software to achieve this goal without fundamental difficulty. Successful implementation would overcome the inescapable limitation of the paper Lexicon: how to find a match for a specific glyph if the user has no clues regarding its semantic value.

Beyond the obvious value as a reference work, the availability of such a database and its comprehensive search facilities will open new areas of scholarly inquiry regarding the evolution of Greek script and its various styles and scribal hands. The methodology and software will be formulated in accordance with the scholarly values of openness and collaboration; it is intended that the approach pioneered will be easily adapted for use with diverse and less widely studied scripts and languages.

This interdisciplinary project, to be conducted in collaboration with the British Library,  draws upon traditional scholarship and cutting-edge digital technology, combining tradition and innovation in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. We believe that it will provide an invaluable research and educational tool, which will have a major impact in various fields and disciplines in the Humanities, especially Classics, Ancient and Medieval History and Literature, Philosophy and Theology, Palaeography, Codicology, and History of Science.

Our culture is coloured by two seeming extremes: impersonalisation and egocentricity. The dialectic of the 'internal'-'external' relationship, which characterizes the language of modernity, often finds expression in the severance of the part from the whole and, consequently, the opposition between the individual and society.

Within this context, certain pioneering theologians following and expanding assumptions of philosophy, in an attempt to meet the existential demands of modern man, have built up a personalist view based on a specific understanding of the Divine personhood, according to which everything comes from a person, and that person within the Trinity is the Person of the Father. This view is supposedly ratified by patristic triadological teaching, particularly the teaching on the 'monarchy of the Father'. In the forefront of this trend, the Revd Professor John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon, attributes everything to the person of the Father: the cause of the Trinity is the person of the Father, love is identified with the Father; God's immortality, indeed His very essence, derives from the person of the Father. The ontological 'principle' or 'cause' of being is not seen as either essence or nature but invertedly as that which makes up the person. On these grounds the person is detached from nature, aggrandizing the imbalance between the two.

The most challenging aspect of this view is its application in the fields of ecclesiology and anthropology. This 'monarchy' of the person of the Father, accommodated in the 'Eucharistic ecclesiology', invests the 'primus' in the Church (either local or universal) with supreme authority, and in the long run becomes the fulcrum for totalitarian patterns and behaviours. Its anthropological corollary is that the esoteric and creative dimension of man, which springs from the spiritual capacity of the 'inner man', tends to be eclipsed by structure and relations; furthermore, that 'inner man' goes unacknowledged because of fear and distrust of what is seen to be either esotericism or the influence of modern psychology. Prof. Zizioulas is neither the sole nor the first theologian espousing a personalist understanding of the Trinity. The reason that this study focus on him is that he presents this view as being part of the Cappadocian Tradition and is credited with bringing the Greek patristic tradition into contemporary discourse on personhood.

How far can this interpretation, together with its ecclesiological implications, find justification in patristic writings? Taking as point of departure the thought and experience of the Fathers of the Church, this study pursues a thorough understanding of the patristic notion of person and essence, and traces its ecclesiological and anthropological implications, with special reference to the monastic paradigm. In the process it provides a full account of how the Greek Fathers as well as the theologians of the pre-Norman Irish tradition perceived and interpreted the theological term 'monarchy', and explores their notion of person and nature, at the same time tracing the implications of Trinitarian doctrine on anthropology, Church structure and spiritual life, with special reference to the monastic paradigm. Sources examined from the Eastern tradition include the Cappadocian Fathers, Athanasius of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus, and from the Irish tradition Columbanus, Eriugena, early Lives of Saints and the ascetical writings of the Celi de tradition. This study has attempted to grasp the 'soul' of the Holy Fathers, offering a synthetic account of their Trinitarian theology and its perennial meaning for man and society.

Part One exposes the incompatibility between personalistic theo-ontology and patristic theology by exploring the theological notion of 'monarchy' in the writings of the Greek Fathers of the early Byzantine era (3rd-8th c) as well as in the early Irish tradition (5th-10th c). It explores key patristic concepts that form the background to the patristic understanding of the Trinity, namely the perception of the Trinitarian doctrine as the Aristotelian principle of mean; the incomprehensibility of the mode of existence; the understanding of identity and otherness, or nature and hypostasis, within God and in the human being; and the concept of perichoresis (inter-penetration) of the Divine Persons with regard to the essential unity of Divine Being.

Part Two explores the substantiation of patristic Trinitarian doctrine in the philosophy and life of the monastic world of the Greek East and the Irish West, and raises the question of the relation of subjectivity and catholicity within the Church as a model of the Trinity. It investigates the place of the individual in society, the esoteric dimension of the Self, the relation and dialectic of impersonal institutions and personal charisma, specific monastic virtues as ways to the fulfilment of authentic personhood, and the source and locus of unity. It also traces 'oneness' and 'otherness' in the mystery of the world’s transfiguration in God’s grace and human virtue. The human being has to mirror God’s ecstatic perfection through the salvific experience of divine life and the 'science' of the unifying virtues, revealing one essence, one will and energy, one class and glory in unconfounded persons participating in the divine life – revealing the unity of the Trinity in the simplicity of love, and fulfilling the abundance of natural potential.

This study was completed thanks to a Visiting Fellowship at the Hellenic Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London, and was published under the title The One and the Three: Nature, Person and Triadic Monarchy in the Greek and Irish Patristic Tradition (James Clarke and Co Ltd: Cambridge, 2015).

Revd. Dr Chrysostom Koutloumousianos is a priest-monk at the Holy Monastery of Koutloumous, Mount Athos. Having read English Literature at the University of Athens (1986) he pursued BA, MA and PhD studies in Theology at the Aristotle University of Thessalonica (1994-2007). His research interests focus on the history and spirituality of early monasticism, and on the theory and practice of counselling. Since 1986 he lives in the monastery, while visiting other places for lectures.

Publications and Papers: The World and the Desert. A Study of the Ascetic Literature of the Sixth Century (Koutloumous Monastery, Mount Athos, 2002) (in Greek). God of Mysteries: Celtic Theology in the Light of the Greek East (Mount Athos, 2008) (in Greek). Lovers of the Kingdom: the Spirit and Life of Celtic and Byzantine Monasticism (Mount Athos, 2009) (in Greek), pp. 337-47. Il Mondo e il Deserto (Citta Nuova: Rome, 2007) (in Italian). 'Stabilitas and Peregrinatio in Celtic and Byzantine Monasticism', Bulletin of the Department of Theology, Aristotle University of Thessalonica (2007) (in Greek), pp. 147-58. 'La Paternita Spirituale', Italia Ortodossa, XXXI (2007), pp. 27-32 (in Italian). 'Il Volto del Silenzio', Festival Biblico I Volti delle Scritture, Schio 2009. 'Praxis and Theoria in Celtic and Byzantine Monasticism', in Monastic Life and Tradition Conference (Convent of Chrysopege: Chania, 2010) (in Greek), pp. 113-31. 'Natural and Supernatural Revelation in Early Irish and Greek Monastic Thought', in Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration, eds. J. Chryssavgis and B.V. Foltz (Fordham University Press: New York 2013), pp. 137-47. 'The Meaning of Work and Liturgical Office in the Monastic Coenobium', International Conference on Monasticism, St Sergius Lavra, Moscow 2013 (in Russian). 'The Baptism of the Poets: Faith and Poetry in Early Irish Society', Nea Euthene 21 (2014) (in Greek), pp. 12-15. 'Which Beauty will save the World? The ideal of beauty in Irish and Byzantine Monasticism', Nea Euthene 27 (forthcoming, 2015). 'Greek Orthodox Monasticism', Oxford Handbook of Christian Monasticism (forthcoming, 2016).

For further information on the project please contact Revd. Dr Chrysostom, at The Holy Monastery of Koutloumous, Mount Athos, Greece, Tel. +30 23770 22532, or c/o The Hellenic Institute.

This research project, originally undertaken by the late Julian Chrysostomides, Dr Kara Hattersley-Smith, Dr Anthony T. Luttrell, Mr Michael Heslop and Dr Gregory O'Malley, investigates the administrative, social and economic structures of the island of Rhodes in the first century of the Knights Hospitaller rule. The mainly unpublished source material comes from the archives of the Order housed in the National Library of Malta. The results of this project contribute to our knowledge about the island under the Order and also illuminate the Byzantine structures on which the Hospitallers based their own rule.

The volume is now published as a printed volume and ebook and can be ordered online:

Anthony T. Luttrell and Gregory O'Malley eds., The Countryside of Hospitaller Rhodes 1306-1423. Original Texts and English Summaries, The Military Religious Orders (Oxon/New York: Routledge 2019), 324 pages, ISBN 9781138732629

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