Last updated: September 8, 2019
Topic: ReligionChristianity
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The Codex Petropolitanus Latinus Q.v.I.40 is a manuscript of
Tertullian, from the 8th–9th century written on 61 folios of parchment,
originating in the Abbey of Corbie. The Abbey of Corbie was the center where
the old manuscripts were used before the Carolingian minuscule was introduced,
and the influence can be seen on this codex. The Codex Petropolitanus Latinus
contains the Apologeticum, Tertullian’s most famous work, made of apologetic
and polemic. Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus) was an early
Christian author and the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus
of Latin Christian literature and a polemicist against heresy. He defends
Christianity, demanding legal equality for Christians, so that they could have
the same treatment as all other sects of the Roman Empire. The original
manuscript was written in Carthage in 197 AD, during the reign of Septimius
Severus, and it was reproduced a lot in the Middle Ages, one of them being this
one Carolingian minuscule was probably commissioned for the monastery itself,
which was not untypical for these times.

The main characteristic about Caroline Minuscule, which
makes it different from older texts, is the spaces between the words and it is
one of the first scripts that has spacing between the words. There are also
ascenders and descenders, meaning that parts of some of the letters either
extend above the median line or descend below the baseline, making the letters
vary in height. And the Carolingian minuscule also used a number of small lines
that were actually punctuation marks.

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 Clear capital
letters and spaces between words, which became a standard in Carolingian
minuscule, are also seen here in this codex. That was the result of a campaign
to achieve a culturally unifying standardization of the letter through the
whole Carolingian Empire. The capital letters are derived form the previous
influence, especially the influence of the Merovingian letters from the
Abbey of Corbie, which was founded during Merovingian reign and produced
manuscripts at that time. The letters here are also clear, rounded and
legible, showing the characteristics of the Carolingian minuscule. The letter a
here becomes a more curvaceous version of the Uncial a, which was seen in older
texts The letter g developed a closed bow and a curved tail, while the letter r
has lost its descender and shortened its loop. The letters lack ligatures, but
the punctuation exists in form of small lines and dots. The letters t and
e sometimes merge with each other, emphasizing the cursive style. The lowercase
n that can be seen here is new in the alphabet, rarely used before. The
height of the letters varied, from 3 to 5 pen widths, breaking the
baseline.  The pen strokes are vertical, but the angle of the brush provided
thinner lines and created and oval effect on the letters and punctuation.

 The cursive is even more enhanced by the fluency of the
writing.  The pen’s angle of writing was 45 degrees which also gave
the letters a more rounded and cursive look.