John: ...especially compared to contemporary types in similar style by Jenson and others...
Could you post an example?
John: ...they do not come from the same scribal tradition.
If not the long tradition, surely Petrarch and those humanist scholars who followed him (whose handwriting was so influential on the development of the roman typographic letter), with their interest in the texts of both Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, were writing both Greek and Latin scripts in the century before the Incunabula? If they used the Carolinian as the ideal of Latin lettera antica, what was their corresponding ideal for an authentic Ancient Greek, and how did they write it? Italian scholars had acquired manuscripts of Ancient Greek authors from Constantinople prior to the influx of refugee scholars following its fall in 1453 -- but were these manuscripts very old, and what was the Italians' understanding and interpretation of the writing style, and was it immediately displaced by the Byzantine style of the immigrants?
(My knowledge of the writing of this era comes mainly from Donald M. Anderson's "The Art of Written Forms", which is skimpy on non-Latin scripts.)
> That ignores the major involvement of emigré Greeks in the
> development of Greek typography in Italy and elsewhere
Maybe downplays, admitted, but not ignores. Also, many non-Greeks
designed Greek fonts, while very few non-Westerners designed Latin
fonts (or really any fonts at all), and that's mostly still true.
> (My knowledge of the writing of this era comes mainly from
> Donald M. Anderson’s “The Art of Written Forms”, which is
> skimpy on non-Latin scripts.)
I'm not familiar with Anderson's work, but typically this means
it's also chauvinistic and "assimilative" about non-Latins too! :-/
But UCLA has it, so I will check it out.
Nick, I'll try to find some time tomorrow to photograph some samples of incunabula Greek types in the non-ligated style, and also some samples of the formal, upright manuscript hand from which it at least in part derives. [I say at least in part, because the earliest examples of Greek type are really bad, and one wonders whether the punchcutters even saw actual Greek examples.]
In the meantime, here is an unrelated image from the Estienne Homer (1566), currently for sale on eBay, which deserves to be preserved on Typophile. A piece of typographic virtuosity of remarkable skill given the technology of the day:
...surely Petrarch and those humanist scholars who followed him ... with their interest in the texts of both Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, were writing both Greek and Latin scripts in the century before the Incunabula?
I'm not sure to what extent Petrarch, Boccaccio, Salutati, Poggio (Bracciolini) and others might have had occasion to write Greek. The interest in Greek literature followed from their interest in Roman, and most of the manuscript hunting for which they are famous involved searching for Roman texts (especially those of Cicero); unsurprisingly, considering that they were searching in the west. But it is this interest in Greek texts in the original languages that distinguishes the Italian renaissance from the earlier classical revivals of the Middle Ages (e.g. the 'Burgundian renaissance').
What was the source of these texts? Constantinople, of course, from whence they were introduced to Italy largely through the teaching of Manuel Chrysoloras, a Byzantine scholar who was brought to Florence by Salutati. Chrysoloras would certainly have known the Byzantine cursive hand, probably wrote it on a daily basis, and presumably taught it as the basic Greek hand of the day.
The Italian humanist scholars were entirely dependent on Byzantine knowledge to satisfy their interest in classical Greek literature, since very little survived in western manuscripts. During the Middle Ages, the knowledge of Greek language declined so far in the west that scribes didn't bother to even attempt to include Greek text when copying manuscripts, substituting the formula graeca sunt, ergo non legenda: this is Greek, therefore unreadable. Beginning with Chrysoloras' teaching at Florence, and then the expeditions of manuscript hunters like Guarino da Verona to Constantinople, the Italian scholars began to piece back together a knowledge of Greek language and literature. But they did so entirely from Byzantine sources, so there is no reason to suppose that their Greek writing was significantly different from that of the manuscripts that they were collecting and copying.
By the time Greek printing in Italy began in earnest, there were large numbers of Greek emigrés involved at every level, from editing to typesetting texts. Yes, much of the actual punchcutting was likely done by Italians, but the exemplars were Greek. There would be no need for a punchcutter to go looking at the Greek writing of someone like Petrarch when there were hundreds of native Greeks, most of them from the educated classes, some doubtless former chancery scribes, arriving on one's doorstep.
Top: GFS Complutum
Bottom: GFS Neohellenic
Complutum is based on the Polyglot Bible (1512), edited by the Greek scholar, Demetrios Doukas, type cut by Arnaldo Guillén de Brocar.
Jenson: Roman and Greek
John: ...there is no reason to suppose that their Greek writing was significantly different from that of the manuscripts that they were collecting and copying.
I wouldn't draw that conclusion. IMO, the typographic model for the reductive, upright greek of Western typefounders (see above) would have derived from German, Spanish and Italian scholar-scribes, which is how they developed the Roman letter. And it looks like even in 1512, Doukas didn't carry enough clout to point de Brocar in a more "correct" interpretation of Greek writing.
Or perhaps there was so little call for Greek typography during the Incunabula that expediency got the better of authenticity.
But of course, I haven't seen the Greek manuscripts of the Renaissance.
At any rate, it seems that it wasn't till after the Incunabula that typefounders attempted to transpose the complex ligatures of Byzantine writing into metal. Aldus was at the centre of that, and wouldn't there be a connection between his creation of Italic type and and his calligraphic Greek? A "swan-song" theory would describe how the scribes responded to printing by upping their game with more ornate (quite literally Byzantine) craftsmanship, and the type founders followed suit.
It could also be argued that the reductive quality of Incunabula Greek was not much different than the attitude the type founders took towards the Latin Roman script: the banishing of the curved right stem of the "h" being an example of that.
Nick, you seem to be missing several of the points I have made.
I didn't say that the Byzantine cursive style is not more authentic or correct than the upright formal style. They are both found in the Greek manuscript tradition. The latter is older, and the former is more popular by the time of the advent of Greek printing, but they exist side-by-side for a few hundred years, just as the humanist roman hand exists side-by-side with the cursive italic and both are reflected in type.
IMO, the typographic model for the reductive, upright greek of Western typefounders (see above) would have derived from German, Spanish and Italian scholar-scribes, which is how they developed the Roman letter.
But those scholars were entirely dependent on Byzantine sources for the texts they were studying. The whole point of the renaissance rediscovery of Greek literature is that there were no 'German, Spanish or Italian scholar scribes' working with Greek text prior to this time and almost no Greek manuscripts in the west. As Petrarch himself said, prior to Chrysoloras' arrival in Florence the Italian scholars knew almost nothing about classical Greek literature (although they assumed it to be inferior to Roman). They had some Homer and Aristotle in translation, but not much else.
At any rate, it seems that it wasn’t till after the Incunabula that typefounders attempted to transpose the complex ligatures of Byzantine writing into metal.
Not after the incunabula period, but toward the end of it, in the second half of the 1490s.
Aldus was at the centre of that, and wouldn’t there be a connection between his creation of Italic type and and his calligraphic Greek?
Yes, and I explained above what the connection was. In this as in his Latin and Italian publications, Aldus was following the conventions set by the copying of small format manuscript books, using cursive styles of writing: italic for the Latin and Byzantine cursive for the Greek. As I've said on Typophile before, there is a tendency of print historians to give Aldus credit for all sorts of innovations and inventions, but such historians are usually only looking at printed books, not at contemporary manuscripts, in which we see many of these apparent innovations as well-established convention. Aldus' genius was similar to that of Gutenberg's: to recreate in type the textual world with which readers were familiar in manuscript.
Aldus employed Cretan emigrés to edit and typeset his Greek publications. There's a lovely document in the Vatican libraries in which Aldus specifies that these Cretans should only speak classical Attic Greek while in the shop, and anyone caught speaking the Cretan dialect will be fined and the proceeds put toward funding an Athenian style symposium. It isn't known whether this was actually enforced, or if it is a joke.
From the horse's mouth:
'The knowledge of Greek was revived, after an interval of seven centuries. Chrysoloras of Byzantium... brought us Greek learning. ... I gave myself to his teaching with such ardour, that my dreams at night were filled with what I had learned from him by day.'
-- Lionardo Bruni, quoted in Leo Deuel's Testaments of Time: the search for lost manuscripts and records.
There's a good little introduction to Chrysoloras on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_Chrysoloras
But those scholars were entirely dependent on Byzantine sources for the texts they were studying.
John, you seem to be missing the distinction I'm making.
Chysoloras arrived in Italy around 1400, and for the next 50 years, immediately prior to the invention of printing, there was a growing interest in Greek manuscripts there, and not many Greek scribes. It seems reasonable to assume that the same impulse to clarity and simplicity which at that time drove scholar-scribes such as Poggio to develop their own antica Latin writing styles would also have informed their handling of Greek, leading them to adopt the older, more formal genre of Greek writing -- and this would thus have been the style that was first taken up by type founders. The printers follow the scribes, as you say.
Subsequently, the boom in scholarship created by printing, coupled with the influx of emigrés following the fall of Constantinople, would have moved Western Greek writing and type in a more ornate direction. At the same time, printing put the scriptoria (copying houses) out of business and drove scribal work towards the flowing, cursive style.
> you seem to be missing several of the points I have made.
> you seem to be missing the distinction I’m making.
Tea and crumpets anyone?
Toujours la politesse, old chap.
I beg to differ on your terminologieses, ol' buddy ol' chum.
Nick, me old china, I think there were a number of factors influencing the design of Greek types of the incunabula period. As you say, there were presumably few native Greek scribes in the west during the period of approximately fifty years between Chrysolorus' teaching and the invention of printing, and during this time western scholars may have developed their own conventional hand, derived from what they had learned at first hand from Chrysoloras and at second hand from the copying of Byzantine manuscripts. We must also consider that at least some scholar interested in Greek literature travelled to Constantinople to study and to hunt for manuscripts.
Looking at the earliest Greek types, which seem to have been used only to print fairly short pieces of Greek text quoted in Latin works, what they mainly seem is crude and tentative, lacking the confidence that is very evident in the contemporary Latin types. The obvious reason for this is that the punchcutters themselves probably did not know the script, had few exemplars except possibly degraded written forms, and may well have been working for printers who were themselves ignorant of script and language. Looking at the progression of incunabula Greek types in Scholderer's book, what is clear is that there is a gradual improvement within the context of a single style, albeit with some variation of particular letters. Where does this style come from? In part from the formal Greek book hand, but yes, probably as filtered through early renaissance Hellenic scholarship. The fifty years between the fall of Constantinople and the first types in the Byzantine cursive style represent the period of establishment of the Greek community in Italy, from refugees to a confident emigré community. They also represent the development of a market for books in the Greek language significant enough to a) express a preference for works printed in a particular style (as it had earlier expressed a preference for the humanist book hand against the blackletter) and b) encourage the production of large numbers of relatively cheap small format books.