JavaScript is disabled
Our website requires JavaScript to function properly. For a better experience, please enable JavaScript in your browser settings before proceeding.
Codex Mutinensis graecus 122 is a 15th-century codex written in Greek, today stored in the Biblioteca Estense in Modena, Italy. The designation Mutinensis gr. 122 is modern and the codex itself bears the title Epitome of Histories (Greek: Ἐπιτομὴ Ἱστοριῶν) as the bulk of its content is made up of a copy of large parts of the 12th-century Byzantine historian Joannes Zonaras's Epitome of Histories.
In addition to Zonaras's work (a chronicle of the history of the Roman Empire from its foundation to the end of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos in the early 12th century), the codex also features an original introduction, content extending it to cover history up until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, as well as various shorter lists and accounts, for instance pertaining to court officials, church officials and imperial tombs. The codex was first created c. 1425 as a copy of Zonaras's work, and then expanded, with the new content added, by a second scribe working at some point after 1453. It is possible that the Fall of Constantinople was the event that motivated the second scribe to preserve and expand the work, as an effort to preserve the memory of the lost empire.
The most notable feature of the codex are the portraits featured throughout the manuscript. Mutinensis gr. 122 contains miniature portraits of nearly every Roman emperor from Augustus in 27 BC to Constantine XI Palaiologos in 1453 and is the only preserved manuscript to do so. While portraits of early emperors are likely to be entirely imaginary, portraits of emperors from the 7th century onwards are more reliable (though not naturalistic) and accord well with other sources depicting the same emperors, probably being based on surviving contemporary portraits, descriptions and coins. Some emperors, such as Michael IX Palaiologos (r. 1294–1320) and Andronikos IV Palaiologos (r. 1376–1379) have no known surviving portraits outside of the codex. Throughout the text containing Zonaras's historical account, the portraits are placed on the margins next to where the respective emperors are first mentioned as taking power in the text, serving as visual markings of transitions of power. The portraits of emperors after Alexios I Komnenos, who are not mentioned in Zonaras's 12th-century work, are grouped together in their own section near the end of the manuscript.

View More On
Back Top