This website, which was not a part of my original Carson Grant proposal, has become the natural outgrowth of such an undertaking— the creation of illuminated manuscripts using medieval methods and techniques so far as possible— in the contemporary world. From the moment I first conceived of taking photographs as a form of documenting my progress, the site grew in my mind alongside the physical manuscripts. It fostered itself upon longstanding tradition— scribes documenting their own contributions to a manuscript by inserting a self-portrait or colophon— but sought the use of new territories created by the Internet, as well.

This project began as a fairly straightforward proposal: "Through my study of ancient, medieval, and modern views of the written word, I will use the medium of illuminated manuscripts to test the literary arts for their capacity to represent [visual, auditory, and spatial arts], particularly in view of the rapidly changing world of literature and publishing." I chose ancient texts in Latin and Greek to illuminate, and studied medieval and modern methods of making illuminated manuscripts; and for twelve weeks, I immersed myself in the process of becoming illuminated myself. The beginning of the design process, in which I chose texts, studied manuscript facsimiles, and read medieval books on technique, was very much founded in the scholarly and literary arts. Once I had read enough, I planned out how I would set my words to pictures. Here began the collaboration with visual art that continued throughout the project. Letters and images were carefully juxtaposed and integrated with one another on the page. Calligraphy with quill and crowquill followed, and for me, it was this part of making the manuscripts that most connected with the auditory arts. Though the sound of nib against vellum made only the slightest whisper, it set up a rhythm and flow that my whole body fell into. Each movement of the fingers and wrists must be smooth and regular or risk asymmetrical letterforms; each word and letter must be restated aloud or risk thoughtless spelling errors. With gilding and painting came the connection with the spatial arts. The gesso, gums, and each color of paint were all made by hand, procedures often requiring great physical endurance, delicacy, and patience. Gesso was built up on the surface area of the vellum; gold leaf retained the facets from gum application and burnishing. Binding medium and pigment size caused a varying consistency and temperament for each color of paint, some smooth and luminous, others gritty or uneven. Although the layers added up to no more than fractions of a millimeter in total thickness, the process of glazing shades one over another— dark underpaintings, pale backgrounds, progressively darkening details, and finally white highlights— gave me a sense of physical construction. I finished up at the end of each day with aching fingers, tired back, and exhausted mind. It was a remarkable experience.

I chose to document my progress with photographs, working out the details of the future website with each shot, but I also documented my progress with a written journal. This was mostly for my own benefit: a catalog of what was working and what was not, ideas for future implementation, and accounts of my purchases. I had intended to write in it every day, but because of the natural flow set up by my project— depending on weather, drying times, and other unexpected delays and victories— this was not feasible. The journal is included here for your edification.

I made these two manuscripts according to traditions preserved in writing hundreds of years ago. Many of the original illuminations that resulted from these techniques have survived to the present day, and with care, I hope that my manuscripts will last equally as long. However, there is currently a movement among libraries and universities to further preserve such literary and artistic treasures for future generations through the means of digital media. Such works are photographed in detail, saved in multiple resolutions and formats, and placed onto CD-ROMs and websites, often with supplementary material— transliterations, translations, art historical information and the like— that not only prevents wear and tear on the originals, but informs the viewer of the very existence of such manuscripts and provides him or her with enough knowledge to appreciate them for what they are. Willamette University is one such institution that has begun that effort; please look at the Digital Mimesis Project [], a cooperative effort of Hatfield Library and WITS, to learn more. My website, then, looks to the burgeoning tradition of twenty-first century digital preservation as well as to the venerated literary practices of the past thousand years.

Greek Manuscript: Art historical sources and symbolism

This manuscript is based upon the very common format of author portraiture in European manuscripts. Such author portraits typically involved a self-portrait of the seated scribe (or illuminator) at his desk, working on the manuscript in which the image is contained. In many cases, the scribe was surrounded by an entire scribal building or even a city, which formed a highly foreshortened and flattened border around him. I have used this template for the basis of my Greek manuscript, drawing from two principal originals. The first is a Greek author portrait of Gregory of Nazianzus, found in The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai, which depicts the author of the text seated at his desk in the heart of a city, in the process of writing. Perspective is highly skewed to make more surface area visible in two-dimensional space, and objects are not sized in proportion to one another, but rather in proportion to importance in the image---clearly, Gregory is enormous in comparison with the size of the buildings around him, while plants and gardens are miniaturized to fit into the leftover spaces. Another common feature to be found here is the stylization of much of the artwork. Byzantine art was influenced more by Middle Eastern trends than the equivalents in Western Europe, and we see very little in the way of realism here. Details, for instance, are converted to eye-pleasing patterns, such as the tiles on the roof and the very arrangement of buildings. The more realistic painting of the scribe himself is flattened by association with a patterned halo and a smooth gold backdrop. From this portrait I drew the arrangement of the architectural frame, the color scheme (as near as possible), and the stylized patterning of the piece. 

I should point out the relationship of this author portrait with the Byzantine Orthodox tradition of icons (Greek, eikones), an artform that continues to this day. Such icons combined the naturalistic painting perfected by the Greeks, bound by proportion and physical comprehensibility, with the more abstract style that became increasingly popular with the wane of the Roman empire. This latter style distorted anatomy, imposed geometric order on its compositions, allowing nothing to appear casual or purposeless. It also preferred frontality for its figures, so that even side views presented a figure's full face, arresting their movement and making them seem aware of the viewer. Because icons were a venerated part of the church, they were made with precious materials, especially gold, which was used for the background of the figures. My images relate to the tradition of gospel icons. For comparison, an icon of St. Luke, who was also reportedly an artist who painted portraits of Mary and Jesus, shows him in his aspect as author of the Gospel of Luke.

The second model used in the making of my Greek manuscript, the Canterbury Psalter, contains a full-page author portrait of the scribe, Eadwine of Canterbury, at the end. This book was written about 1150 AD at Canterbury in England, and is an example of Romanesque illumination. I used the shape of this seated scribe for both of my human figures, adapting them as necessary for my message. For instance, I made a mirror image of the male scribe to create the female scribe, changing details so that it became my own author portrait. One scribe does the calligraphy, while the other does illuminations; a table centered between them contains art materials for each. The male scribe writes the words mousikos chroma on his otherwise blank page. These words come from Plato's Republic (601b), and refer specifically to poetic language; I consider it to be a fitting description of language that takes into account the visual and aural nature of language, both of which poets regularly tap into. These words also echo a Romanesque manuscript illumination called "Boethius, Pythagoras, Plato, and Nichomachus" from ca. 1130 (Cambridge, University Lib. Ii.3.12, fol. 61v). This miniature shows Plato holding an open book on which the word "musica" is written.

The female scribe's painting seems to come alive with plants. I have used quite a bit of plant imagery in this manuscript. In addition to the stylized plants and miniature gardens that appear around the edges of the main illumination, plants fill the central triangular panel, erupting from the book of the female scribe. This image comes partly from an illustration in The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg, which shows a sleeping girl with an open book on her chest, from which has begun to sprout a plant. The foliage sprouting from my scribe's book is also intertwined with musical staff lines, which support it; the plant's fruit doubles as musical notes along the staff lines. All of this is to uphold the idea that verbal and written language rely upon one another, and bear one another up. 

The base of the main illumination is fraught with the roots of plants. These begin as a stylization, fitting to the stylized plants to which they seem attached. However, as they pass beneath the miniature into the world of the written text, they become more natural in style, branching and winding about the large versal 'omega' that introduces the written text of the manuscript. Additionally, roots appear in the lower illumination of the cave. A passage from Plato's Phaedrus was in part the inspiration for this imagery: 

The gardens of letters he will, it seems, plant for amusement, and will write, when he writes, to treasure up reminders for himself, when he comes to the forgetfulness of old age, and for others who follow the same path, and he will be pleased when he sees them putting forth tender leaves. When others engage in other amusements, refreshing themselves with banquets and kindred entertainments, he will pass the time in such pleasures as I have suggested (276d). 

This passage compares the "living and breathing word of him who knows" with the written word---which "may justly be called the image" (276a)---in terms of a sensible husbandman versus one who seeks the temporary pleasure and beauty of a garden of Adonis. Such gardens were planted on the rooftops of Adonis' devotees---they planted fast-sprouting lettuce, barley, wheat and fennel in baskets and small pots when the sun was at its hottest. The plants quickly sent up shoots and just as quickly withered, lacking strong root systems to nourish them in the heat. Adonis gardens typically lasted only eight days, after which Adonis' worshipers threw the withering sprouts into the sea with great mourning. Saying the written word is like a garden of Adonis, Plato also claims that writing should only be used for temporary amusement and reminders, while the spoken word alone will bear fruit, having been planted by the original thinker directly into the minds of his followers. I disagreed with this sentiment, which ranks writing only slightly higher than drinking-parties, and consequently showed my manuscript to be deep-rooted and bearing the potential to last thousands of years, even as the text from Plato endured in writing to the present day. 

Letters are not the only inhabitants of the textblock in this manuscript. In addition to the naturalistic roots described above, there is a tunnel connecting the right side of the main, stylized miniature with a much smaller depiction of a subterranean cave. I should point out the tunnel's inhabitant, a tiny ferret, follows in the tradition of drolleries, often taking the shape of animals, that sometimes occupy the margins of illuminated manuscripts. A closer look reveals that the ferret, true to its mischievous nature, has stolen some of the illuminator's brushes and brought them to its stash. This ferret's coloring is based on that of my chocolate roan point girl, Pandora, but the deed is something more likely to be pulled off by her younger 'sister,' Loki. Ferrets have been domesticated for thousands of years, and images of them have appeared in many medieval works of art, most commonly in hunting scenes. 

Finally, the textblock contains a naturalistic cave in its bottom right corner. Roots from the plants above seem to protrude through the roof of the cavern. Significant here is a detail that may not be visible to the casual viewer. The Greek letters of the word pharmakon---remedy, medicine, drug, poison---are hidden in the structure of the cave, in stones, stalagmites, and roots. This word appears on the sixth line of the left-hand column in my manuscript, where it refers to the colors of paint, and is an important word for understanding Plato's view of writing. For more background into pharmaka, please see my textual discussion for this manuscript. By hiding the letters inside this naturalistic artwork, I wished to imply the inseparable amalgam of image and language, illusion and reality, that make up the arts. Language is always just beneath the surface of visual art, as the pharmakon cave of my manuscript is beneath the stylized surface of the text.

Greek Manuscript: Limited Palette

Illuminated manuscripts commonly used a very limited color palette for their miniatures. The staples were vermilion, ultramarine, and gold leaf, but unique color palettes were favored in each separate style of illumination, varying according to time period, region, and value, which had an effect on the available pigments. I was mainly not limited in this sense, but by a desire to be historically accurate. I used as many historical pigments as possible, but made substitutions for two main reasons. First, some pigments, many vegetable-based, have been proved to be unstable over time under certain conditions. These I substituted for more stable but artificial pigments. Other pigments are now known to be highly toxic, and these I either substituted for less toxic equivalents or used with extraordinary caution.   When choosing the colors for the main miniature, I based my palette on those of the original English and Greek manuscripts, using for the latter a description of the colors due to the black-and-white photograph I had to work with.

Greek Manuscript: Other Materials

For the Greek manuscript, I intended to make the artwork as flat on the surface as possible. To this end, I used glair as a binder for my paints-- beaten egg white that gives the paint a very flat look similar to modern watercolor or gouache. 

For the gilding, I made my own size from gum ammoniac, a gum resin that leaves only a slightly raised surface for the gold to adhere to. Because gum ammoniac is a resin, it never becomes entirely hard; this is a good quality for gilding in books, but bad for burnishing, as the gold could easily smudge. As a result, ammoniac flat gilding never looks quite as bright as raised gilding with gesso.

Greek Manuscript: Palaeography and Translation Notes

Knowing nothing about Greek letterforms when I came into this project, I did a little research into Greek palaeography. For the headings, I chose what seemed to be the most common majuscule in the Greek manuscript facsimiles I found, looking at a good number of these until I had a basic exemplar of the hand and some of its ligatures and variations. I formed these letters using a crowquill pen, as I was unsure of the writing implement used. It certainly did not seem to have been a square-tip nib. The large versal omega comes from other manuscripts in the same book; it was outlined with the crowquill and filled in with paints at the same time as the illumination. 

The minuscule hand that makes up the body of the Greek text comes from the book Greek Literary Hands, A.D. 400-1600, by Ruth Barbour. It appears in a letter dating to January 7, 992 AD, by Dionysius the Areopagite. I followed the same procedure in making an exemplar for this hand, picking out individual letters and ligatures, and in a few cases, substituting what I deemed an appropriate letterform when I could not find a letter. For the minuscule I chose, it became invaluable to use the transliteration provided for the facsimile, as the alphabet has changed somewhat. I wrote these letters using the crowquill pen, for lack of a better instrument.  

I added spaces between the words of the Greek text, in both the majuscule and minuscule hands. This was not common practice during the period these hands are from, but it makes the text slightly more legible. In contrast, for the interlinear English translation I provided, I chose to make the letters fairly uniform in size and shape, and evenly spaced with no word or sentence breaks. This was done in the hopes of placing both languages on closer ground, while providing a key for those who do not know how to read ancient Greek. 

I should also note that the translation is my own, and attempts to follow the original text as closely as possible, sometimes at the expense of grammar and ease of pronunciation; each English line represents no more nor less than what is presented on the Greek line just above it.

Greek Manuscript: Text Discussion (Plato's Cratylus)

"Just as painters, when they wish to produce an imitation, sometimes use only red, sometimes some other color, and sometimes mix many colors, as when they are making a picture of a man or something of that sort, employing each color, I suppose, as they think the particular picture demands it. In just this way we, too, shall apply letters to things, using one letter for one thing, when that seems to be required, or many letters together, forming syllables, as they are called, and in turn combining syllables, and by their combination forming nouns and verbs. And from nouns and verbs again we shall finally construct something great and fair and complete. Just as in our comparison we made the picture by the art of painting, so now we shall make language by the art of naming, or of rhetoric, or whatever it be" (Cratylus, 424d-425a).

Plato's Cratylus is a Socratic dialogue which discusses the origin, derivation, and meaning of words. The passage I illuminated, in which authors are actively compared with painters, emphasizes the inseparably visual element of writing, both literally on the page and in the imagination. Plato is not the first to make this sort of comparison: the sixth century Greek poet Simonides is attributed with saying, "Painting is silent poetry; poetry is painting that speaks." This, however, is a fairly straightforward equation. Plato's take on the subject is admittedly more complex, and while I am no Platonic scholar, perhaps I can shed a bit of light on my focuses in illuminating this passage, by looking at his recurring choice of a single word on the subject from his dialogues.

The word pharmakon, appearing in Plato's corpus in around sixty separate instances, is an important one to understand for a proper reading of this text. The word itself has a dual connotation of medicine and drug, remedy and poison. It may refer to magic spells or chemical preparations such as paints or dyes, as well, the latter of which appears in my chosen passage from the Cratylus. Plato refers to pharmaka mainly in their relationship with words:

The story goes that Thamus said many things to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts. . . but when they came to the letters, "This invention, O king," said Theuth, "will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories; for it is an elixir [pharmakon] of memory and wisdom that I have discovered." But Thamus replied, "Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise (Phaedrus 274e-275b).

This passage exemplifies not only the dual aspect of pharmakon, but also Plato's view of written language, that it is a harmful drug. The potential for damage here is not in words themselves, but in the fact that writing can offer no more than the "appearace of wisdom." As long as the person reading the text has "knowledge of what it is really like, as an antidote to counteract it" (Republic, 595b), this is not a problem. The Phaedrus even suggests that the written word "always needs its father to help it" (275e), the father, or author, being like a husbandman who cultivates true knowledge. Here, I believe, is a connection between Plato's pharmakon of written words and that of visual art; for if "the written word may justly be called an image" (276a), certainly artistic imitation falls into the same dangerous category of "mere appearance."

I originally chose to illuminate the above passage from the Cratylus because it seemed an appropriate quote for this project. The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words seems to be turned on end here. As I began to design the manuscript and translate the passage for myself, I liked the way Plato almost turns letters into brushstrokes in what might be viewed as a reverse form of ekphrasis (the verbal representation of a visual representation, usually applicable only to works of art today, but in antiquity referring to any object of description). Since I was attempting to make an artistic description of these literary passages— in contrast to the normal ekphrastic literary descriptions of art— this passage from the Cratylus has become, in a way, the heartbeat of my project.

Latin Manuscript: Art historical sources and symbolism

This manuscript is based upon the common Gothic format of the bar-and-ivy border. For my particular design, I followed "Henry I; death of his sons in the White Ship" (England, prob. London, ca. 1321. Cotton MS Claudius D.ii, fol. 45b) as presented in The Illuminated Page by Janet Backhouse. From it I borrowed the basic shape of the bar, and adapted the versal capital and surrounding foliage with leaf shapes from other bar-and-ivy manuscripts. Note that the versal capital 'E' is draped with a laurel crown, a reference to the poem's end.  I should point out that it was common practice for medieval monks to copy designs, particularly figures in miniatures. Examples of pattern books have been preserved, as well as manuscripts from different origins containing almost exactly the same images. 

I adjusted the grotesque underneath the versal into a peacock, and also added a few naturalistic birds and insects from a bar-and-ivy antiphonal called "The Resurrection" (NE France/Flanders, ca. early 14th century, Yates Thompson MS 25, fol. 1; Backhouse). These are in homage to the whimsical and realistic figures that regularly invaded the borders and margins of Gothic manuscripts. The final drollery, a small monk working on the illumination down in the bottom left corner, was adapted from "Florus on St. Paul's Epistles" (ca. 1164, Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, Latin 11575, fol. 1). He serves a similar purpose to the author portraits of my Greek manuscript, showing work actually being done on the manuscript of which he is a part. There are a great many images of scribes and illuminators in the process of writing or painting on a given page, working either alone or in groups.

In the bottom right margin, I added a simple marble pillar, entwined with branches from the bar-and-ivy design, and which I attempted to model realistically with shadowing. Because the Horace poem I was illuminating has so many references to three-dimensional monuments, I chose to include this pillar as a reminder of architectural artworks. The Romans loved trompe-l'oeil artwork, and their surviving wall paintings are reknowned for the illusionistic effects of depth they achieve. The First Pompeiian style of wall paintings, as it is called, consisted of decorating molded plaster panels to appear as though they were made of expensive marble or porphyry. The Second Pompeiian style, which I kept in mind for the illusionistic portions of this manuscript, abandoned the three-dimensional plaster modeling for deceptively substantial paintings. Also called the Architectural style, it involved the realistic reproduction of columns, ledges, and porticoes opening onto imaginary scenes. The Third Pompeiian style, called the Ornamental, also bears some relationship to the bar-and-ivy designs of Gothic manuscript illumination in its flat colored backgrounds, delicate, fanciful archtecture, and jewel-like miniature portraits.

The final illumination, in the middle right-hand column, shows us another monumental image. The 'rip' in the vellum bears a function similar to the naturalized cave and roots beneath the miniature of my Greek manuscript: it seeks to tear away the stylized appearance of an illuminated manuscript, revealing layers and depth of meaning below the surface which may not be apparent in a cursory glance. The theme of three-dimensionally ripping through a two-dimensional image is one that I first found in "Hair Shirt and Madonna Seen Through Torn Curtain" (Hours of the Virgin: Matins, France, Tours or Bourges, ca. 1510-20, Walters 446, fol. 15v). Inside the window formed by the vellum, we see an image of the Colossal Head of Constantine, which only exists today in fragments of head and hand, but which is nevertheless enormous. Next to it a woman stands (another self-portrait) holding a tiny volume which can just be made out as Horace's Odes, in which my illuminated poem can be found. I chose to use the Colossal Constantine for several reasons. First, it is a well-known Roman statue and therefore appropriate in origin to my Latin poem. Second, it was created during a period in Roman art where figures were being returned toward the stylization and simplification of antiquity. Constantine has virtually been turned into an icon, transcending his physical humanity. This plays with the idea of crossing the lines between artwork and real life---it shows us that real people could become symbols, and also makes a two-dimensional artwork seem to have depth. Finally, I chose the Colossal Head of Constantine because it resonates with the poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelly, another poem that favors the lasting nature of the written word over visual artwork.

Latin Manuscript: Limited Palette

Illuminated manuscripts commonly used a very limited color palette for their miniatures. The staples were vermilion, ultramarine, and gold leaf, but unique color palettes were favored in each separate style of illumination, varying according to time period, region, and value, which had an effect on the available pigments. I was mainly not limited in this sense, but by a desire to be historically accurate. I used as many historical pigments as possible, but made substitutions for two main reasons. First, some pigments, many vegetable-based, have been proved to be unstable over time under certain conditions. These I substituted for more stable but artificial pigments. Other pigments are now known to be highly toxic, and these I either substituted for less toxic equivalents or used with extraordinary caution. 

Latin Manuscript: Choice of Other Materials

For the Latin illumination, I chose to use egg tempera paint, a very luminous medium that was typically used for panel painting rather than book illumination, as it is somewhat softer and thicker than glair and would not hold up well under the stress of being in a book. I felt that it would not be a problem for my manuscript because even though it was made on vellum, it was intended primarily for display. As mentioned above, egg tempera has a denser texture than glair paints, due to the oil emulsion of the yolk, and takes on a light shine with time. It was therefore especially appropriate to the emphasis of the Latin manuscript. Additionally, the technique of egg tempera painting, while very simple in many places on the bar-and-ivy (involving unmixed colors), involved innumerable layers of thin glazing on the modeled portions, adding to the sense that I was building the image on the vellum. 

When gilding, I chose gesso as size for the leaf, using a raised gilding technique that makes the gold literally three-dimensional on the page. While it still did not form a significant thickness, reflections off the gold (which could be fully burnished to a mirror shine) multiplied the appearance of depth.

 Latin Manuscript: Palaeography and Translation Notes 

For the main body of text in my Latin manuscript, I chose the Early Gothic bookhand, as in the exemplar and facsimiles of Marc Drogin's book. This hand was popular in the 11th and 12th centuries, so a bit early for the style of illumination I did, but it seemed to have a more lyrical quality and a higher degree of readability to it than Gothic Textura Quadrata, which would have been current. The capitals are also based on Drogin's examples and facsimiles, and are done using the same quill pen that I used for the minuscules. Rubricated words were made using the quill and a bit of glair paint, which flows more readily and dries slower than egg tempera paints. It was sometimes necessary to use abbreviations so that the lines would fit into their designated spaces; for these, I used the system I found in Praeces Piae, a French/Flemish book of hours from the second quarter of the 15th century. This involved leaving out letters, usually at the end of the word, and adding a symbol that acted as a placeholder (much like the modern apostrophe). When there was extra space at the end of a line, I used a decorative filler, or line ending. Other notes about the hand include the use of the long 's' in the middle of words, and the substitution of a simple 'e' for 'ae,' also to be found in Praeces Piae.

In the lower right-hand corner of the textblock, there is a section that emulates an antiphonary. Musical staff lines were ruled in walnut ink and square notation was added in simulation of a musical text. The "lyrics" of the song are taken from the beginning of Shakespeare's Sonnet #55: "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments/ Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme" (1-2). This poem, which dates hundreds of years after Horace's poem, nevertheless embodies some of the same ideas, primarily the notion that the beauty preserved in the words will endure longer than visual artwork. The hand is Early Gothic here as well, and both it and the notation were written with a quill pen I cut.

I wrote my translation of the Horace poem in the margins of the manuscript in the form of marginalia. This was often the form taken for notes written by students in scholarly texts. I chose Gothic Littera Bastarda for this portion of the manuscript, a minuscule cursive hand popular from the 13th century onward. I used the crowquill to write it because it needed to be very small.

My translation of the Horace poem is not meant to be taken word by word, one of the reasons that I transcribed it on the sides of the Latin textblock instead of doing interlinear notation like for the Plato text. Rather, I did a verse translation, attempting to convey both the sense of the words and the flow of the poem while using a set rhyme scheme to underscore the technical aspects of Horace's piece. My rhyme scheme of choice was abbacca. In the translation, I try to bring out something of the agricultural tone of the first part of the poem, connected with very Italian images: the cultivation, or growth, of the poet's renown; the Capitoline hill in Rome; the roaring Aufidus River contrasting with the barren land of Daunus; and the poet springing up like a plant from his native soil. These images contrast with the more elevated descriptions of Greek culture which sweep the end of the poem: Greek poetry, of course; the muse Melpomene; and the laurel crown of Delphi. Finally, I have tried to bring forward the artistic aspects of the poem, monumental, aural, and verbal. For more on this, please see my text discussion on Horace.

Latin Manuscript: Text Discussion: Horace, Odes

A monument, more durable than brass
And higher than the pyramids that stand
Laid out for kings, Iíve built with pen in hand,
Which neither greedy rain nor frantic thrash
Of wind can overthrow, nor flights of years
Unnumbered, nor the seasonsí gyring gears.
I shall not wholly die, but cheat the lash
Of Death in greater part: for future tongues
Shall cultivate my praise, as long as vestal
Maid and priest ascend the Capitol
In silence. Iíll be heard, my praises sung,
Both where the rapid Aufid river roars,
And where king Daunus, from his sapless shores,
Once ruled a rustic tribe: though I am sprung
From Apulian clay, yet I command
Great power in my prime: I was the first
To bend to Roman measure Grecian verse.
With conscious pride and honor, take upon
Yourself, Melpomene, the glory thine
That I have earned, and graciously entwine
My brow with verdant Delphiís laurel strands.

This famous poem is the epilogue to the first three books of Horace's Odes, which were published in 23 B.C. Its meter is known as the First Asclepiadean (——— u u —|| — u u — X), named for Asclepiades, an ancient Greek poet of ca. 290 B.C. This is worth pointing out as it is Horace's claim to fame in the poem: he "bent to Roman measure Grecian verse" (line 17). I chose it for the foundation of my Latin manuscript for several reasons, the most obvious of which being its message about the enduring nature of the written word. It describes the author's poetry as being more solid and lasting than a physical monument, a great claim for the citizen of a nation known for its monumental accomplishments. In fact, Horace's hubristic claims are well-founded: while the marvels of Roman architecture are in many cases still in existence, their crumbling opus incertum facades make it difficult to imagine what such buildings would have looked like new. Horace's poems, on the other hand, sound as fresh as the day they were penned. This particular poem has become one of the cornerstones for the literary theme of the immortal word, and has been widely translated and quoted through the centuries.

Horace uses a great deal of monumental language, but this is not the only artistic genre to which he appeals. The first line, "Exegi monumentum aere perennius" ("I have built a monument more durable than brass/bronze") may refer to the bronze equestrian statues that proliferated in ancient Rome, monuments to the emperors and great military leaders of the empire. These statues were largely melted down in the Middle Ages, condemned for their pagan topics and bronze make-up, which was much coveted at that time for making weapons. I understand that we have only one such statue left intact, and a few deteriorated fragments of others. Horace goes on to mention the pyramids and the eroding powers of nature, wind and rain. I should point out here that the height comparison in lines 2-3 emphasizes the monumental quality of words: they take up space in the real world.

From here through line 17, Horace draws on very earthy images of Italy, tying him solidly to his homeland. Flowing out of the images of nature in lines 4-6, he describes his renown as growing almost organically ("crescam laude") and himself as rising "ex humili" from the earth of his homeland, almost like a plant nourished by its surroundings. Further reference to the Capitoline hill, symbol of Rome's eternal existence; the river Aufidus and mythical King Daunus, both of Apuleia, Horace's homeland; and Libitina, the Roman goddess of death, firmly attach the poet to the glory that was Rome. I found it particularly interesting that as soon as the Greek source for the meter is mentioned, the remainder of the poem uses only Greek references: to Melpomene, the muse of song and tragedy, and to the laurel of Delphi. Musical and poetical contests were held at Delphi among singers and composers, and prizes were offered to the best hymn to the god. A crown of laurel was the prize for a victory there because of the love of Delphic Apollo for Daphne, who turned into a laurel tree. I am not sure what the reference to Melpomene suggests specifically, but she was the patron of tragic poetry, one of Apollo's handmaidens, and sometimes wore a garland herself.

A Note on Hypertext

Since the advent of the Internet's popularity explosion, scholars have begun to look at the written word in entirely new ways. Electronic publication has made purveyors of traditional forms of the written word— librarians, book and magazine publishers, and the like— rather uncomfortable with the threat of replacing all physical written media with their digital counterparts. Despite what the doomsayers may predict, the invention of the printing press did not devalue or send to extinction the practice of creating illuminated manuscripts: in fact, this art form is still alive today, as I myself, as well as the modern scribes that gave me informal advice, are here to prove. If anything, this recent movement toward digital methods of publication will only serve to perpetuate the literary world in both its ancient and modern incarnations.

I believe that the format of the Internet contains inherently the seeds for returning us to an active awareness of the relationship between word and image, sound and space. Where illuminated manuscripts did this in a subtle way, noticeable only to those with long training and unbelievable discipline, the Internet has the potential to bring those relationships to the forefront. Hypertext, for instance, increasingly combines the temporal aspects of the literary and auditory arts, which must necessarily move forward in time along a two-dimensional plane, with the visual and spatial arts, through icons and transitions from one plane to the next. The Web has created a virtually realistic three-dimensional space in which the written word can— dare I say literally?— overcome its ambitions to conquer visual reality, and exist in harmony with its imagistic and auditory counterparts.