times. But, in addition, the Greek scribe also separated paragraphs by inserting a short horizontal stroke, παράγραφος, between them at the commencement of the lines of writing. It should be noted that this stroke indicated the close of a passage, and therefore belonged to the paragraph just concluded, and did not stand for an initial sign for the new paragraph which followed. The dividing stroke was also used to mark off the different speeches of a play. Besides the stroke, a wedge-shaped sign or tick might be used. But to make every paragraph stand distinctly by itself would have entailed a certain loss of space. If the concluding line were short, there would remain a long space unfilled. Therefore, when this occurred, it became customary to leave only a short space blank to mark the termination of the paragraph, and then to proceed with the new paragraph in the same line, the παράγραφος at the same time preventing possible ambiguity. The next step was to project the first letter of the first full line of the new paragraph slightly into the margin, as a still further distinction; and lastly to enlarge it. The enlargement of the letter gave it so much prominence that the dividing stroke could then be dispensed with, and in this form the new paragraph was henceforward indicated in Greek MSS., it being immaterial whether the enlarged letter was the initial or a medial letter of a word. As early as the 5th century there is evidence that the παράγραφος was losing its meaning with the scribes, for in the Codex Alexandrinus of the Bible it is not infrequently found in anomalous positions, particularly above the initial letters of different books, as if it were a mere ornament.
In Latin MSS. there was no such fixed system of marking off paragraphs as that just described. A new paragraph began with a new line, or a brief space in a line separated the conclusion of a paragraph from the beginning of the next one. It was only by the ultimate introduction of large letters, as the initial letters of the several sentences and paragraphs, and by the establishment of a system of punctuation, in the modern sense of the word, that a complete arrangement of the text was possible into sentences and paragraphs in accordance with its sense.
From the earliest times an elementary system of punctuation by points is found in papyri. Thus the papyrus of the Curse of Artemisia, at Vienna, which is at least as early as the 3rd century B.C., and in one or two other Punctuation. ancient examples, a double point, resembling the modern colon, separates sentences. But more commonly a single point, placed high in the line of writing, is employed. This single punctuation was reduced to a system by the Alexandrian grammarians, its invention being ascribed to Aristophanes of Byzantium, 260 B.C. The point placed high on a level with the top of the letters had the value of a full-stop; in the middle of the line of writing, of a comma; and low down on the line, of a semicolon. But these distinctions were not observed in the MSS. In the early vellum codices both the high and the middle point are found. In medieval MSS. other signs, coming nearer to our modern system, make their appearance. In Latin MSS. by the 7th century the high point has the value of the modern comma, the semicolon appears with its present value, and a point emphasized with additional signs, such as a second point or point and dash, marks a full-stop. In the Carolingian period the comma appears, as well as the inverted semicolon holding a position between our comma and semicolon.
Another detail which required the scribe’s attention in writing
his text was the division of the last word in a line, when for
want of room a portion of it had to be carried over
into the next line. It was preferable, indeed, to
Division of Words at the End of
a Line. avoid such division, and in the papyri as well as in the codices letters might be reduced in size and huddled together at the end of the line with this view. In the early codices too it was a common practice to link letters together in monogrammatic form, such as the common verbal terminations ur, unt, and thus save space. But when the division of a word was necessary, it was subject to certain rules. According to the Greek practice the division was ordinarily made after a vowel, as ἔτυ (even monosyllables might be so treated, as οὐ). But in the case of double consonants the division fell after the first of them, as ἵπ: and, when the first of two or more consonants was a liquid or nasal the division followed it, as ὀφθαλ, μαν. When a word was compounded with a preposition, the division usually followed the preposition, as προς, but not infrequently the normal practice of dividing after a vowel prevailed, as προ. In Latin the true syllabic division was followed, but occasionally the scribes adopted the Greek system and divided after a vowel.
A modification of the practice of writing the text continuously was allowed in the case of certain works. Rhetorical texts, such as the orations of Demosthenes and Cicero, and the text of the Bible, might be broken up into Colometry. short clauses or sense-lines, apparently with the view of assisting reading aloud. Instances of MSS. so written are still extant. This system, to which the name of “colometry” has been given, is the arrangement by cola and commata referred to by St Jerome in his preface to Isaiah. It will be found more fully explained under the heading of Stichometry; where also is described the mechanical computation of the length of a text by measured lines, for the purpose calculating the pay of the scribe.
The title of a MS., both in roll-form and in codex-form, was frequently written at the end of the text, but even at an early date it stood in some instances at the beginning; and the latter practice in course of time prevailed, Titles and Colophons. although even in the 15th century the title was sometimes reserved for the close of the MS. In this latter position it might stand alone or be accompanied by other particulars concerning the MS., such as the length of the work, the date of writing, the name of the scribe, &c., all combined in a final paragraph called the colophon. For distinction, title and colophon might be written in red, as might also the first few lines of the text. This method of rubrication was a very early practice, appearing even in ancient Egyptian papyri. Such rubrics and titles and colophons were at first written in the same character as the text; afterwards, when the admixture of different kinds of writing was allowed, capitals and uncials were used at discretion. Running titles or head-lines are found in some of the earliest Latin MSS. in the same characters as the text, but of a small size. Quotations were usually indicated Quotations. by ticks or arrow-heads in the margin, serving the purpose of the modern inverted commas. Sometimes the quoted words were arranged as a sub-paragraph or indented passage. In commentaries of later date, the quotations from the work commented upon were often written in a different style from the text of the commentary itself.
Accentuation, &c.—Accentuation was not systematically applied to Greek MSS. before the 7th century, but even in the literary papyri it appears occasionally. In the latter instances accents were applied specially to assist the reader, and they seem to have been used more frequently in texts which may have presented greater difficulties than usual. For example, they are found fairly plentifully in the papyrus of Bacchylides of the 1st century B.C. In the less well-written papyri they are fewer in number; and papyri written in non-literary hands are practically devoid of them. Accents have been frequently added to the ancient texts of Homer, as in the Harris and Bankes papyri, but apparently long after the date of the writing. They were not used in the early uncial MSS. Breathings also appear occasionally in the papyri. The rough and the smooth breathings are found in the form of the two halves of the H (ͰͰ) in the Bacchylides papyrus; in other papyri they are in rectangular form, never rounded like an apostrophe; in fact rounded breathings do not come into general use until the 12th century. Other signs resembling accents are used occasionally in Greek MSS. For example, a short accent or horizontal stroke was employed to indicate a single-letter word, and an apostrophe was sometimes used to separate words in order to prevent ambiguity and was placed after words ending in κ, χ, ξ, ρ, and after proper names not having a Greek termination.
Accents were seldom employed by Latin scribes. In early Irish and English MSS., in particular, an acute accent is occasionally found over a monosyllabic word or one consisting of a single letter. In the 9th and 10th centuries a curious occasional practice obtained among the correctors of the texts of expressing the aspirate by the Greek half-eta symbol Ͱ, instead of writing the letter h in the ordinary way—perhaps only an affectation.