The Byzantine poet Manuel Philes (c. 1275–c. 1345) is best known now for his work De Animalium Proprietate (‘On the Nature of Animals’), a long poem dealing with various beasts of land, sea, and air. The survival of this work owes a great deal to the 16th-century Cretan scribe Angelos Bergikios, who made something of a career out of producing lavishly-illustrated copies of this poem for French aristocrats. Burney 97, made in the middle of the 16th century, is one of these copies. Combining Bergikios’ distinctive hand with coloured illustrations of the animals Philes mentions, it is an important witness to the ongoing demand for luxury manuscripts a century after the introduction of the printing press.
By the late 17th century it was in the possession of the Abbey of Moutier-St-Jean, in the diocese of Langres. It was acquired by Charles Burney (1757–1817) at the sale of the library of the bookseller James Edwards (1757–1816). Burney’s vast collection of manuscripts, theatrical ephemera, and newspapers was acquired by the British Museum after his death in 1818.
- Full title:
- Greek bestiary
- 2nd quarter of the 16th century–3rd quarter of the 16th century
- Manuel Philes (author), Angelos Bergikios (scribe)
- Usage terms
Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.
- Held by
- British Library
- Burney MS 97
- Article by:
- Eugenia Russell
- Scholarship, The Greek World, The makers of Greek manuscripts
The development of printing in the 15th century signalled huge changes for the spread of Greek knowledge in Western Europe. Here, Eugenia Russell describes the key events in the early years of Greek printed books.
- Article by:
- Cillian O’Hogan
- The Greek World, The makers of Greek manuscripts
Greek manuscripts continued to be produced in substantial quantities long after the introduction of print. Here, Cillian O’Hogan surveys some of the features of Greek manuscripts from the 16th century.