Palimpsests in the Vatican Library and the Discovery of the Preface to Dexippus’ Scythica
In my paper, I will give a glimpse of the rich body of the once erased and then recycled manuscripts, the so called palimpsests of the Vatican Library. Since 1772, scholars have studied and discovered many of them including a high number of early and unique texts such as Cicero’s Republic, fragments from one of Menander’s lost plays, unique fragments from historical, philosophical, hagiographical, rhetorical, patristic works. However, most of the ca. 450 manuscripts with recycled parchment leaves are still waiting for accurate study. I will present the digitalization and publication principles of the palimpsests in the Vatican Library and the digital instruments that enable interested scholars to study these unique and precious materials even from the comfort of their homes. As a case study, I will show my recent discovery of the preface to Dexippus’ Scythica (3rd century) made last year in Vat. gr. 73, a manuscript produced for Constantine VII’s project for systematizing historical texts. My monograph on this project ‘The Excerpta Constantiniana and the Byzantine Appropriation of the Past’ (Cambridge University Press, 2018) will be presented jointly with this event.
András Németh is one of the two curators of Greek manuscripts at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. He coordinates various activities concerning palimpsests at the Vatican Library and is preparing the catalogue of a select group of Greek manuscripts of this library. His recent monograph ‘The Excerpta Constantiniana and the Byzantine Appropriation of the Past’ (Cambridge University Press, 2018) has developed from his doctoral project, defended at CEU in 2010.