If I were to sum up impressions from my first week at DO in one word, it would probably be one of the marginal notes I’ve encountered in the manuscripts: θαυμασιώτατον. Not only that I am surrounded by wonderful people in an idyllic environment but, risking that I may sound too nerdy, cataloging microfilms is incredibly exciting!
One of my favorites so far was finding a marginal inscription in a secret Greek alphabet called φήλτικον (and the key for it too); other two secret alphabets were called τζάτικον and ἰνδικόν (pictures to follow soon). Another jewel was a 19th century copy of Dionysius of Phourna’s Ἑρμηνεία τῆς ζωγραφικῆς ἐπιστήμης handwritten by Gennadios, a Russian monk from Athos, whose shaky knowledge of Greek orthography was compensated with his carefully shaped letters and a touching personal story in the introduction. Both MSS are kept in the National Library in Athens.
The real excitement, however, came when a manuscript appeared with mistaken numbers or without notes at all, and with a fragment of a (hardly legible) text from unspecified source. Thus I met my new Dutch best friend—apart from Saskia—the 17th century humanist Isaac Vossius, to whose collection at Rijksuniversiteit in Leiden I traced some of the manuscripts, mistakenly held to be from Athens. But I can’t tell you how😉.