Undoubtedly the library of the Monastery of Vatopaidi is one of the most important collections of manuscripts, documents and early printed books on Greek territory. In spite of this, the historical development and struc¬ture of the library, the history of its formation and of its losses have not yet been systematically investigated. A study of this kind is difficult, not only because there is no earlier work on the subject but also because of two other factors: the paucity of historical sources before the 19th century and the loss of much indicative evidence by reason of the mutilation of the manuscripts and the new binding of the books which took place in the nineteenth century1. For these reasons the present essay can only constitute an initial approach to the subject, one which must be extended and completed in the context of future studies, particularly after further progress in the compilation of the new catalogue2.
The Organisation of the Library: Past and Present
For the Byzantine period, the sole sources for the location of the library and the arrangement of the books are notes in the manuscripts themselves. There are two types of such notes in the Vatopaidi manuscripts. In the notes of the first type we are informed by a librarian, probably of the 15th century, that a particular book “ñ¿Ú¯ÂÈ ÙÉ˜ ^O‰Ë¬ÁË¬ÙÚ›·˜ ÙÔÜ B·ÙÔÂ‰›Ô˘” (is of the Hodeghetria’ of Vatopaidi). Notes to this effect are to be found in the Vatopaidi codices 53, 294, 892, 1126 and in the former Vatopaidi manuscript 185 Vladimir of the State Historical Museum, Moscow3. It is likely that the note “of the Hode¬ghe¬tria” refers to the ‘àÚÌ¿ÚÈÔÓ’ (book cupboard)4 in the church near the icon of Our Lady Hodeghetria5. The second type of note is connected with the arrangement of these books6 (or probably more generally with the arrangement of the library of the Monastery). In these notes, which are in various hands of the 14th and 15th centuries, mention is made of the “ı€ÛÈ˜” (position) (that is, the “shelf”?) and, in the majority of cases, the number of the book in this position ( for example, in Ms 157, f. Ir: “Book 17 of the first position”)7. The same system of classification is well known in the case of the library of the Lavra8. From the dating of the notes and of the manuscripts in which they occur, it is to be concluded that neither the indication “of the Hodeghetria”, nor the system of classification by “positions” was still in use at Vatopaidi after the fifteenth century.
Unlike the case of the Lavra, there is no information at Vatopaidi for the Byzantine period about a library in the ‘catechumena’*, that is, above the narthex. We can, however, assume that there was one, even though there is evidence for it only at a later date.
The first historical source to provide information on the location of the library is the Proskynetarion* (Pilgrim’s Guide) of Ioannis Komninos, who visited the Monastery in the late 17th century. Komninos actually mentions two libraries9 : “Above the narthex there is an extremely rich library. There is also another library of many most useful books in the sacristy”. It seems that this latter library was housed on the upper storey of the ‘docheion’ (oil store) which was erected in the courtyard of the Monastery10 in 1637, and in which the sacristy is still located today. From the words of Komninos it is probably to be understood that the library in the sacristy was smaller than that in the catechumena*. These conditions changed about 1700 when today’s exonarthex was built, and the area above the narthex was opened up towards the west11. The majority of the books were at that time moved, as it would seem, to the sacristy. One may reach this conclusion from the description of Barskij (pp. 210-211 and 214), who writes in 1725/6 of a large library of around 2,000 manuscripts in the “¶·Ï¿ÙÈ” (he means, apparently, the sacristy) and a small library of around 200 “or more” manuscripts above the narthex.
The allocation of the books must have changed again by the beginning of the 19th century, because visitors of that time are unanimous about the fact that the library of manuscripts and of printed books was to be found in two small, dark rooms above the narthex, next to the Chapel of the Holy Apostles12, while they know nothing of a library in the sacristy13. The condition of the library and of its books at that time was deplorable14. Of particular interest is the account of the Vatopaidi monk Sophronios, which deserves to be quoted here15: “…hence, the original of the present book16 was damaged and almost rendered useless; it had been thrown with a great number of decaying books outside our library. However, many of the brothers of our Monastery made a selection from among them and took them to their cells in order to read them. Thus, on one occasion, I, too, after we had attended the Liturgy in the Chapel of the Holy Archangels in the catechumena, went to the place by the clock, where the decaying and half-rotting books had been cast, and took up two or three of my choice and then departed from there…”. The situation, however, had already improved before 184017 and even more so in about 1867 with the transfer of the library to the tower of Our Lady, where it is still located today18.
From that time, the manuscripts (and a smaller part of the printed books) have been kept on the second floor of the tower, where the small library of manuscripts from the Skete of St Demetrius19 has also recently found a home. The greater part of the printed books20 was housed on the first floor, while the ground floor was given over to the archive21 and the liturgical scrolls22. On the ground floor today there is also an exhibition of several notable manuscripts and documents. A small number of manuscripts was kept until recently in the old library above the narthex23, in the sanctuary of the church, and in various chapels within the Monastery24, obviously for liturgical use. Apart from these, 21 precious man¬u-scripts, the majority of which are illuminated and which until very recently had remained unknown to the academic community, continue to be kept in the sacristy of the Monastery25.
Almost at the same time as the library was transferred to the tower in c. 1867, the greater part of the books were provided with new, half-leather bindings. This task was undertaken in the case of the manuscripts by the monks Anthimos the deacon-monk and Savvas of the Skete of St Demetrius on the basis of a written agreement dated 22 April 186926, and subsequently by Anthimos the deacon-monk in the case of the printed books by virtue of a contract of 4 October 187027.
The catalogue of Arkadios of Vatopaidi, which was published in 1924 by Sophronios Eustratiadis28, describes 1,536 manuscripts. In the manuscript copy of this catalogue, which is kept in the library, the number of manuscripts comes to 1,688. But in fact there are a further 250 or so uncatalogued manuscripts, so that the total number (including the 26 liturgical scrolls, the 21 manuscripts of the sacristy, and the 73 manuscripts of the Skete of St Demetrius) comes to around 2,05029.
The Formation of the Manuscript Collection
Unfortunately, the formation and the historical evolution of the library are no longer apparent in the current classification of the manuscripts. For this reason, what is required is an effort to re-arrange the manuscripts into groups which have the same origin. A detailed account of this subject would far exceed the limits of this essay. I shall therefore confine myself to a brief sketch of the formation of the collection. To begin with, and to elucidate the subject more clearly, it will be useful to distinguish between two categories of manuscripts. In the first category I include manuscripts which were written inside the Monastery (or at least by commission of an Abbot or monk of Vat¬o¬paidi). In the second I place those manuscripts that found their way to the library by virtue of donations and legacies.
With respect to the first category, the importance and the extent of manuscript production at the monasteries of the Holy Mountain have probably been underestimated, particularly for the Byzantine period30. Indeed, at the Monastery of Vatopaidi, books were written in all periods. In the Byzantine era book production flourished particularly in the 14th and 15th centuries. This is not to say that documentation is lacking for earlier centuries, but the quantity of these manuscripts remains limited, at least for the present.
The two oldest manuscripts written as the result of a commission by an Abbot or monk of Vatopaidi are preserved today in Russian libraries The first, in the Historical Museum of Moscow (No. 299 Vlad.), contains the “Canon of the Most Venerable Theotokos for the services of compline at the Monastery of Vatopaidi” and was written in 1021/2 by the monk Ioannes of the Monastery of St John the Evangelist “Î·Ù’ âÈÙ·Á‹Ó” (by command) of Athanasius, Abbot of Vatopaidi31. The second is in the Public Library of St Petersburg (collection of the Russian Archaeological Society, No. 1). It is an important sticherarion dated 31 May 1106 and written by the priest Anthes for Laurentius, Domesticus* of Vatopaidi32. The oldest Vatopaidi manuscript at present in the library of the Monastery is most probably the Four Gospels No. 896 (Fig. 508), dated 16 February 1263 and written by an anonymous scribe who informs us that he completed his task “during the abbacy of our holy father Arsenius”33. Another Vatopaidi manuscript of the 13th century is the Typikon in the Historical Museum of Moscow (No. 272 Vlad.): the archimandrite of the Monastery of Auxentiou, Athanasius, completed and dedicated this manuscript to the Monastery of Vatopaidi on 2 October 129734. Certainly, these four will not have been the only manuscripts of the 11th-13th centuries written in or for Vatopaidi, but we do not know, at least for the present, any other examples.
With respect to the 14th and 15th centuries, we are better informed. At the beginning of the 14th century we encounter the first scribe from Vatopaidi whose activity was extensive – the monk Callistus. From his hand we have not only the signed and dated manuscripts Vatop. 186 (works of Ephraim the Syrian, a manuscript completed on 16 January 1322 “during the abbacy of our most reverend father and abbot of the venerable, great and royal Monastery of Vatopaidi, kyr Niphon the priest-monk”; Fig. 509) and 56 (homilies of Basil the Great, a codex dated 21 September 1330)35, but also several other, undated and unsigned, manuscripts in the library. I refer to the Vatopaidi manuscripts 117, 337 (ff. 264-352), 455, 486-487 and 492-49336. While Callistus engaged in copying patristic works and menologia, the Vatopaidi monks Gregorius and Philotheus devoted themselves in the early 15th century to the creation of panegyrika, menaia, and other liturgical books. One could say that these two Vatopaidi monks, apparently working under the direction of the known Abbot Gennadius37, constituted a kind of scriptorium. Their manuscripts (Gregorius wrote codd. 631-637, 1008 and 1186-1187; Philotheus wrote codd. 1101, 1116, 1137, 1138, 1153, and Lavra £ 44) date from the years 1417-142638. To the same circle also belongs the anonymous scribe of codex 1183 of the year 1426/739.
Throughout the post-Byzantine period the copying activity in the Monastery is continued and at times expanded. Below I have made a choice of the more important scribes of this period40.
Scribes worthy of note from the 15th and 16th centuries are the priest-monk Nikiphoros (codex 1033, of the year 1499; codex 1250 ff. 247-365, of the year 1502)41, Kyrillos the monk (codex 362, of the year 1556/7; 1112, of the year 1549; 1123, of the year 1563; 1139, of the year 1563/4)42, and Anthimos Leovaditis (codex 846, ff. 24-616v, December 1591; 1154, 18 May 1593; 1167, 2 November 1591; 1568, ff. 5-229, March 1592).
In the case of the 17th and 18th centuries, we should mention Grigorios of Laodicea (codex 1081, of the year 1669; 1091, of the year 1668; 1560, of the year 1669; No. 21 of the sacristy, of the year 1668)43, priest-monk Theoklitos (codex 573, f. 1-157, of the year 1685; codex 795, 1 December 1689), Grigorios (Georgios) Kallergis (Kalliergis) (codex 47, of the year 1763; codex 257, of the year 1756; codex 1149, December 1763)44, Damaskinos Vatopaidinos (codex 843, May 1770; codex 1007, 7 May 1765)45, and Daniil Smyrnaios (codex 153, 10 February 1783; codex 446, 15 August 1782; codex 467, undated).
The copying activity of the Monastery continued even into the 19th century. For example, there are the manuscripts of the priest-monk Ioasaph of Paros (codex 1551, undated; codex 1613, June 1799; No. 25 of the Skete of St Demetrius, 30 August 1815; see also the possesion note in codex 395)46, and above all those of Iakovos of Vato¬paidi. The indefatigable hand of Iakovos has left us at least 50 books, and perhaps many more, since many codices from his hand are to be found in the uncatalogued section of the library47.
I believe that this brief presentation of Vato¬paidi scribes suffices to demonstrate the importance and the extent of copying activity in the Mon¬¬astery. The manuscripts of this category owe their existence to the needs of liturgy and readings or to the the spiritual interests of the monks, and since they were written by Athonite monks, they remain within the limits of the simplicity and the humility of the Athonite life.
However, this means that the sumptuously-produced books, which have always captured the interest of visitors, historians of art, and other scholars, that is,the ornamented and illuminated manuscripts, the manuscripts of classical texts, and more generally the manuscripts of non-theological or liturgical content, came from outside, from legacies and from donations They reveal the honour and the respect in which not only the Byzantine, but also other Orthodox rulers and nobles held the Monastery. Despite the fact that along with the old bindings, many dedicatory notes and other indications of the origin of the books have been lost48, there is still evidence which permits us to re-construct some collections of manuscripts which were incorporated at different times into the library.
The richest donation of books which probably was ever made to a monastery of the Holy Mountain was that of the Emperor John VI Cantecuzenus to the Monastery of Vatopaidi. Cantecuzenus, who, according to Vatopaidi tradition, is numbered among the founders of the Mon¬astery, desired from an early time to settle as a monk at the Monastery. He visited it in 1340 and from that moment he prepared for his arrival by financing buildings and by other kinds of grants49. To his donation of books, an event which should probably be dated to the years 1347 to 1354 (certainly after 1341, as can be concluded from the inscription which I refer to below), belong at least 26 sumptuous codices which were written and decorated most likely for Cantecuzenus himself and came from his personal library. These are Vatopaidi Mss 5-6
, 65, 105, 128
132, 179, 180, 299, 306, 310, 320-322, 325-328, 335, 390-392, 661, 908 and Nos 16 and 17 of the sacristy. These books constitute splendid examples of the acme of Byzantine calligraphy and art in the second quarter of the 14th century50. The most sumptuous of these books is most assuredly Ms. No. 16 of the sacristy.
This manuscript, which was written in the year 1340/1 by the celebrated scribe of the Monastery of Hodegon Chariton, contains – apart from miniatures of the Evangelists and a decoration of exceptional quality51 – on folio 5v an illuminated inscription, in which Cantecuzenus is spoken of as King and Emperor of the Romans.
Other kings and princes as well dedicated precious manuscripts to the Monastery. Among them were the Emperor Andronicus Palaeologus52 (No. 3 of the sacristy), the Despot Manuel Palaeologus (No. 7 of the sacristy), the Despot Andronicus Palaeologus (Nos 5 and 14 of the sacristy), John Uglesha (No. 6 of the sacristy), King Stephen (most likely Stefan V Uros [1355-1371]) and his wife Anna (Nos 1 and 10 of the sacristy)53.
Finally, a large number of important manuscripts ended up in the library of the Monastery as inheritances from various persons who either brought their books when they settled in the Monastery or created their own libraries there in the then idiorrhythmic Monastery. I cite below three instances from different periods.
On 12 April 1546 the former Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Makarios Papageorgopoulos of Co¬rinth died at Vatopaidi. He had become a monk of the Monastery around 153054, and his books were added to the library of the Monastery after his death. Makarios’s collection, which had in it several important older codices, included the following manuscripts: Vatopedi 29, 240, 245, 247, 476, 483,
76155, 981, 1161, 1201, as well as codex 22 of the Skete of St Demetrius and the former Vatopaidi manuscript Mosqu. 485; possibly also Vatopaidi 600 and perhaps Vatopaidi 53056.
Less well known is Synesios Symeon Hellan¬i¬kon (or ‘Hellanikou’), who was active in the first half of the 17th century57. Synesios, at least at the end of his life a Vatopaidi monk, was also an author and scribe. As far as I know at this time, he left behind the manuscripts Vatopaidi 24, 133, 199, 240 (ff. 1-10), 248, 254 and 797 (of the year 1616, ff. 1-48v and 84-96v are autographs).
The former Metropolitan of Tiverioupolis and later of Adrianople Grigorios, who was a monk at Vatopaidi from 1829 until his death in 186058, bequeathed to the Monastery a larger collection, at least 27 manuscripts, the majority of which, however, are of recent date59.
At any rate, a great number of manuscripts in the library come from the Monastery’s dependencies in Moldo-Wallachia60. Since this subject requires further research, I shall confine myself here to singling out as an example the sumptuous codex No. 19 of the sacristy, a gift of the voivode Vasileios Lupu to the Monastery of the Ascension in Jassy of the year 164861.
Losses of Manuscripts
It is impossible to calculate the number of books that have been lost or removed from the library of the Monastery over the past centuries, since we have only in a few instances specific information (which, in the majority of cases, relate to manuscripts of classical texts).
The first visitor to the Monastery about whom we know that he had an interest in the library and its manuscripts was Cyriacus of Ancona, who visited the Monastery on 19 November 144462. Cyriacus mentions two manuscripts in the library, one a codex of the Iliad of Homer and the other a codex of Ovid in Greek translation63. No evidence has so far come to light of purchase or removal of manuscripts from Vatopaidi on his part.
Fifty years later he was followed by Ianos Laskaris64 in the context of his mission (1490-1492) for the Medici. We know that he took with him at least one manuscript, which is now Laur. IV 11, a copy of the then Vatopaidi Ms. Burney 9565. In the 16th century, Nikolaos Sophianos, in his mission for Mendoza (1543) copied the famous ‘Ptolemy’ (Ms. 655) at Vatopaidi66. We do not know, up to now, how many and which books he took with him67.
We are better informed about the mission of Arsenij Suchanov (1653-1655)68. Suchanov took 64 Vatopaidi manuscripts to Moscow, of which 59 are today in the Historical Museum in Mos¬cow, two in the library of the Russian Academy in St Petersburg, two in Dresden, and one in Char¬kow69. The most noteworthy of these are the manuscripts in the Historical Museum, Moscow, Nos 9 (a gospel of the 9th century in majuscule script)70, 117 (the ascetical writings of St Basil the Great, of the year 880), 147 (Homilies of St Gregory the Theologian)71, 164 (works of St John Chrysostom), 185 (The Ladder of Divine Ascent by John Climacus, of the year 992), 200 (the works of St Maximus the Confessor), 448 (an auto¬graph of Gennadius Scholarius), 502 (the Ethics of Plutarch)72, and several manuscripts (though of a later date) of Aristotle and his commentators, in St Petersburg a valuable manuscript of Philo of Alexandria (Academy of Sciences XX Aa1 = Q 1, of the thirteenth century)73, and one of the homilies of St Gregory the Theologian (XX Aa 9 = Q 9, of the end of the 10th century/beginning of the 11th)74. It would appear that Athanasios Rhetor, who bought books on behalf of Séguier and Mazarin at the monasteries of the Holy Mountain during the same period (1647/8), left the library of Vatopaidi unscath¬ed75.
While there are no clear indications as to the 18th century, the information that we have about nineteenth-century visitors permits us to trace the fate of a larger number of manuscripts, especially of classical texts76. The losses from the library in this field are significant, though in several cases only isolated folios or small sections of the books were removed.
A little after 1802, as a result of the successful efforts of Edward Daniel Clarke, the celebrated Codex Crippsianus of the Attic Orators (Burney 95)77 was taken to London. On the evidence of the still existing possession marks78, the manuscript came from the library of Vatopaidi. It was, most probably, part of the gift of Cantecuzenus79.
In the 19th century the worst role was played by the notorious Minoïde Mynas80. The manuscripts which he carried off during his visits to the Monastery (1841-1843) included the following former Vatopaidi manuscripts or parts of manuscripts: Paris suppl. gr. 443 A (seven folios from Vatopaidi Ms. 655)81, suppl. gr. 607 (an important manuscript of the Taktika), suppl. gr. 474, 689 (ff. 4-5) and 1156 (ff. 5-10) (from Ms. Vatopaidi 191)82, suppl. gr. 682, ff. 15-22 (from Ms. Vatopaidi 290)83, suppl. gr. 630-632 and 1240 (an important Ms. of Aetius of Amidas)84. A little later, Constantine Simeonidis managed to gain possession of 21 folios of the celebrated ‘Ptolemy’ (Ms. 655), which he sold in 1853 to the British Museum (Addit. 19391)85.
Finally, neither Sevastijanov nor Uspenskij hesi¬tated to remove folios from the manu¬¬scripts of the library86. The losses ceased, so it would seem, after the transfer of the library to the Tower of the Virgin; and certainly at all events after the publication of the catalogue of Arkadios87.
Noteworthy Manuscripts of the Library88
The most renowned codices of the library, mentioned by nearly all visitors as well as in the published descriptions of the Monastery, are the codex of Ptolemy and Strabo (cod. 655)89 and the illustrated Octateuch (cod. 602). But also the other illustrated manuscripts and the codices of classical texts have always attracted the attention of visitors and of the academic world90. Less well known is the wealth of the library in precious manuscripts which transmit unpublished texts or occupy a significant place in the tradition of the relevant texts. It would be impossible here to deal in detail with all these manuscripts. For this reason I shall confine myself to a selection of the most important of them91.
The library is extremely rich in the field of the Fathers of the Church. Codex 290 (a part of which is now in cod. 1213) is the only manuscript that transmits in its entirety the text of the commentary on the prophet Daniel by Hippolytus of Rome92. Codd. 5-6
and 7 are of the greatest importance in the transmission of the works of Athanasius the Great. Also of great interest are codd. 50-72 and 129-130 (works of St Basil the Great) and 103-124 (works of St Gregory the Theologian)93. A real treasury of (in part otherwise unknown) texts of the ascetic and other Fathers is to be found in cod. 57 of the late 13th century
94. Other important manuscripts of the Fathers are codd. 128
129 and 132 (works of St Gregory of Nyssa), 179-180 (works of Eusebius of Caesarea), 390-393 (works of St Cyril of Alexandria), 36, 38
474 and 475 (works of St Maximus the Confessor), as well as a host of codices (for example the series of manuscripts Nos 294 to 339) containing works of St John Chrysostom. Codex 38 (10th century; ) contains, amongst other texts, an important variant of the Apophthegmata Patrum. With respect to the dogmatic anthologies, special mention should be made of cod. 236 of the late 11th century, which contains extremely rare and in part unpublished texts95. Important codices of canon law include codd. 555, 620 and 688.
From the field of Byzantine literature we could mention the ‘Panegyric’ of Leo the Wise (cod. 408 of the 10th century;),
which is one of the most precious manuscripts of the library96, and codd. 588 (the unique manuscript of the epistles of Ignatius the Deacon)97, 346-347 (works of the Emperor John Cantecuzenus) and 32 (the unique manuscript of the unpublished works of Constantine Asanes.
Of the host of manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures and their exegesis, I will confine myself to cod. 1221 (1219), which includes, inter alia, fragments from two manuscripts of the Gospel according to Luke in majuscule script98, to cod. 191 (of the ninth century), which is the most ancient manuscript of the Commentary on the Psalms by Theodoret of Cyrrhus99, and to cod. 660 (a catena on the Psalms of the 10th / 11th centuries)100.
The library of the Monastery also has an extremely rich collection of hagiographic manuscripts. Chief among them is the ‘Codex venerabilis’, as Halkin called it, Vatopaidi 84
of the late 9th century; but we should also mention codd. 80 (Cyril of Skythopolis, 11th century), 93 (the Life of Irene of the Chrysovalanton Nunnery, 14th century), 97 (a basic manuscript of the Life of St Sabbas of Vatopaidi, 14th century), the Menologia 201 (a palimpsest of the 8th-9th centuries), 456 and 497; the Panegyrics 631-637 of Grigorios of Vatopaidi101, and the important copies of the History of Barlaam and Joasaph codd. 288 and 384 (11th century)102.
In the field of medical manuscripts the following codices may be singled out: 621 (10th century, Paul Aeginetes) and 29 (15th century, Aetius Amidas), in the field of history and geography, other than the manuscript of Strabo and Ptolemy (cod. 655) mentioned above, the important, but as yet uninvestigated cod. 386 (13th century) of Flavius Josephus103.
Of the manuscripts of classical authors, I shall mention only cod. 36 (late 11th – early 12th century; excerpts from the works of Homer, Sophocles, and Euripides), a manuscript which has attracted the special interest of classical scholars in recent decades104, and cod. 685 (late 13th – early 14th century; works of Synesius of Cyrene)105.
Finally, the manuscripts which contain works from the post-Byzantine period should not be overlooked. Particularly noteworthy are codd. 99-102 (unique manuscripts of the unpublished Great Dogmatics of Vikentios Damodos)106 and codd. 691- 707 (unpublished works of Stephanos Doungas)107.
Many of the manuscripts which I have referred to above are distinctive both for their antiquity and for their palaeographic value, especially codd. 84, 191, 408 and 1221. I might also add here cod. 949, written in 948/9 by the famous scribe Ephraim the monk108. Furthermore, I should mention at this point the completely or partially palimpsest codd. 18, 19, 77, 79, 107, 126, 201, 373, 425, 677, 924, 925, 1175 and 1489. Quite a number of manuscripts are of special interest because of notes of historical content. I could cite as an example cod. 2 of the sacristy (of the year 1090), which in its lengthy scribal note provides information on the capture of Edessa in Syria by the Seljuks in 1087109.