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Initial, manuscriptlocked

  • Robert G. Calkins


Enlarged or otherwise accentuated letter that introduces sentences, paragraphs or major divisions of a text. The use of initials, accentuated by size, placement or decoration, evolved in the Late Antique or Early Christian period in conjunction with the growing prevalence of texts written in the codex format. Perhaps as a result of an increased dependence on the authority of the written word occasioned by the growing needs of the Christian Church, combined with a developing sense of the aesthetic and practical requirements of the codex, various devices were invented to mark significant divisions of the text. In the late 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus (London, BL, Add. MS. 43725) the divisions between books are marked by explicit (ending) inscriptions; in the 5th-century Codex Alexandrinus (London, BL, Royal MS. 1. D. V–VIII) sentences are introduced by larger letters moved into the margins, and the explicit is accompanied by penned decoration. At about the same time a ...

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