Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Byzantine Fonts (Beta)

Click on this image to enlarge. This quotation is from Aristotle as quoted in a 1724 edition of Erasmus' Colloquies. The font is from Vernon Kooy. Translation help is requested. I can't find the original text. I can get the gist of this but haven't been able to come up with a word of mouth translation that would be acceptable to the good grammarian.

After looking at the charts of all 650 characters in this beautiful font many Byzantine manuscripts have become less opaque. This is simply the best resource for Byzantine ligatures that I have ever seen. I can spread out all the ligatures in front of me for comparison, and there are even some tachygraphy characters included. More about these later.

Here is a description from its creator.

    The name of this font is Rgreekl, which stands for Renaissance Greek with Ligatures. It is a large font with approximately 650 characters and uses Unicode WGL4 numbering to accommodate the number of characters. However, It is not a Unicode font. It is beta encoded similar to other Greek fonts which use beta encoding.
    This font is freeware and may be used and distributed freely. I retain the copyright, however, in order to make improvements, expand it, or otherwise come out with an improved version. It is not an imitation of any particular font such as those of Robert Estienne, Holbein or Aldus Manutius. It is rather a composite font which incorporates many glyphs (sorts) from each of the many early printers.

    It is hoped that this font gains a modest distribution and not be a mere curiosity. The font is meant to imitate early printed Greek from the age of incunabula to the end of the 18th century. It is not the intention of this font to make Greek any more difficult or obscure than it already is for beginning students. The font is essentially a font for scholars.
    This font is organized in such a way that it can be used either as a standard Greek font or a font with Ligatures. The basic Latin section contains control codes and keyboard characters for standard Greek with ligatures for kai\, ou and ou=. The Latin supplement section contains Unicode control codes, prepositional prefixes, alternate letter forms and essential diacriticals. These two sections are all that is necessary to write Greek in a Renaissance style. The Latin extended A section is used for two or three letter combinations which more adequately imitate the style of Renaissance typesetters. The Latin extended B section contains characters which are variants of those given in the previous section as well as some characters from earlier minuscule forms (used in some Renaissance fonts), entire words found in most Renaissance printed books and a number of combining characters used to make up other ligatures not previously included.
    The main source I used for this font was initially the Portus edition of Proclus Diadochus' Platonic Theology published in Frankfurt in 1618. In addition I have used and consulted various internet sources and the articles by Coleman, Ingram and Wallace as well as a number of books printed by Stephanus, Holbein, Manutius and Sheldon Theater.
    I cannot say that this font is complete in the sense that every Renaissance Ligature is represented; many early printers had at least 500 sorts in their boxes and some had more than a thousand. The Renaissance printers imitated the minuscule current at their time, and the glyphs they used were determined by the minuscule. Thus this font can also be used as a late minuscule font.
    If there is any sort (Glyph) conspicuously missing which the user finds essential, I would appreciate hearing from him/her in that regard, since I think a font of this type is never fully finished and is of necessity a work in progress.
I use Babelmap to input this font. In my opinion Babelmap is an essential Unicode Input Utility tool which handles any font easily. It is easy to view and manipulate fonts visually with Babelmap. Download Babelmap here. Please email me, my email is in my profile, and I will give you Vernon Kooy's email address.

Update: Here is the text from the image above. . However, there are a couple of words and forms I cannot identify.

οτι μανθανουσιν Επισταμενοι τα γαρ αποστοματιζομενα μανθανουσιν οι Γραμματικοι το γαρ μανθανειν ομωνυμον το τε ξυνιεναι χρωμενον τη επιστημη και το λαμβανειν την επιστημην

PS: I am going to come back to the Left to Right Marker LRM tomorrow.

Update: I have corrected some of my rather careless errors. Next, I am posting Simon's Unicode text for this and a link for the original text. Thanks, Simon.

Ὅτι μανθανουσιν οἱ ἘπιϚάμενοι· τἀ γαρ ἀποϚοματιζόμενα μανθάνουσιν οἱ Γραμματικοί· τό γαρ μανθάνειν ὁμώνυμον, τό τε ξυνιέναι χρώμενον τῇ ἘπιϚήμῃ, ϰ τό λαμβάνειν τ ἘπιϚήμην.


Blogger Simon said...

In Unicode, the text should something like

Ὅτι μανθανουσιν οἱ ἘπιϚάμενοι· τἀ γαρ ἀποϚοματιζόμενα μανθάνουσιν οἱ Γραμματικοί· τό γαρ μανθάνειν ὁμώνυμον, τό τε ξυνιέναι χρώμενον τῇ ἘπιϚήμῃ, ϰ τό λαμβάνειν τ ἘπιϚήμην.

I think most characters exist already in Unicode.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

The full text found at

Therefore, the text becomes (Ϛ converted to στ, ϰ to καὶ)

τὰ γὰρ ἀποστοματιζόμενα μανθάνουσιν οἱ γραμματικοί. τό γὰρ
μανθάνειν ὁμώνυμον, τό τε ξυνιέναι χρώμενον τῇ ἐπιστήμῃ
καὶ τό λαμβάνειν ἐπιστήμην

9:10 PM  
Blogger Suzanne E. McCarthy said...

Thanks so much Simon,

It feels great to be part of a community. Some of the spacing through me off. And I had never used some of these characters in Unicode. But I still don't recognize χρώμενον. BTW How did you input the stigma? Is it available from the polytonic Greek keyboard? Do you have a translation for this?

11:00 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

The Unicode code for stigma is U+03DA.
Therefore, if your OS provides a way to type characters by their Unicode code, you can input in this way.
For Linux, it's Ctr-Shift-3DA.
Something similar is available for WinXP.

We try to get stigma and other archaic letters on the polytonic keyboard, as described at

For χρώμενον, have a look at

5:07 AM  
Blogger Suzanne E. McCarthy said...

The info on stigma is here at

So, yes it can be input by code in Windows. I am just getting used to this method.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Alexander said...

Can anyone please tell me where I can download this font from ?

12:03 PM  
Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Vernon Kooy's email is

My email is posted in my profile if you have further questions or comments. I intend to psot on these fonts again soon.

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