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Illuminated Manuscripts
5.3 The Homilies of Gregory the Theologian
11th-12th c.
Dionysiou Cod. 61
Parchment, 21 x 15.5 cm, ff. 180


The Original New Testament

This codex is considered to be one of the most beautiful manuscripts of the 'Homilies' of Gregory Nazianzene (the Theologian), which are numerous. It is illuminated with fourteen miniatures, one of which, at the beginning, is a full-page dedicatory portrait of its owner, a young nobleman or official receiving the codex from St Gregory, who is dressed in episcopal vestments (fol. 1v); in this miniature the flat decorative bodies of the figures are combined with vivid expressive faces, a synthesis which is unique in this type of manuscript. All the other miniatures are headpieces, i.e. they are placed, like headpieces, at the head of the text of each homily, from which derives the subject they represent. There are also initials with flora decoration and iconographical elements (human figures, animals, birds) related to the text, while some iconographical themes extend into the margin; an example of this is the small, rare representation of an artist painting the portrait of a saint, which lends the codex especial value. It contains, in an extremely small and well-executed script, the sixteen liturgical homilies of Gregory the Theologian, the last of which lacks its ending. In addition, the texts are acephalous on folios 92r, 116r and 159r, which means that three more miniatures are missing, as it is very likely that there were originally occupying the head of each respective homily. The overall quality of the manuscript, the fine colours of the miniatures and certain other iconographical features lead us to the conclusion that it was executed in Constantinople. The binding is of later date and consists of green leather on the spine and black cloth on the covers, without decoration. The manuscript is in good condition.

Bibliography: Lambros 1895, p. 323. Lazarev 1967, p. 252 n. 35. Galavaris 1969, pp. 205-7, figs. 355-76. Thesauroi 1973, pp. 415-18, figs. 104-17; Spatharakis 1976, pp. 118-21, 123, 245, fig. 77. Galavaris 1995 (2), pp. 26, 238, figs. 122-3.

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