Venetus B (Marciana 453 = 821)

The manuscript Marcianus Graecus Z. 453 [= 821], known to Homeric scholars as the Venetus B, was produced in the 11th century CE. Like the Venetus A, it was acquired by the Greek Cardinal Basileus Bessarion in the 15th century CE and donated together with his entire collection of Greek manuscripts to the Republic of Venice, thereby forming the Marciana Library’s initial collection. It is one of the oldest surviving manuscripts of the Iliad and contains an important body of marginal scholia. The manuscript consists of 338 folios (40.5 x 31.5 cm). The 11th-century text and scholia were written by two contemporary scribes. A typical folio in the Venetus B contains between twelve and twenty-four lines of the Homeric text surround by a large body of scholia on three sides. On many folios the space around the scholia that surrounds the text of the Iliad is surrounded by additional layers of scholia in a later (13th-century) hand. According to Erbse (1969), these are generally mythological scholia and glosses taken from lexica or from the Epimerismi Homerici. The far margins contain material from Porphyry’s Homeric Questions and from Pseudo-Heraclitus’ Ἀλληγορίαι Ὁμηρικαί. Where space was left by earlier scribes, a scribe of a still later period added material from the Etymologicum Magnum, the Suda, and the Epimerismi Homerici. The Venetus B has a different method of coordinating text with the commentary in the margins from that of the Venetus A. (It also has different content in its commentary.) Numbers are used, comparable to footnote numbers, to link the commentary to the text.

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