Monday, March 06, 2006

Byzantine Greek Fonts


The text is from Proclus Diadochus' Platonic Theology published by Portus in Frankfurt in 1618 and reprinted by Minerva in 1960.

The font is from Vernon Kooy. 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. 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.

6 comments:

andreasfmpro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andreasfmpro said...

A download link for the font would be appreciated.
:)

DarkAngeL said...

Can we have a link for this font please?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is the webpage for Vernon Kooy's Renaissance Greek font.

It wasn't available when I originally wrote this post.

Dr. Raymond A. Blacketer said...

Suzanne, can you provide a source that helps in deciphering these ligatures? I am a reformation scholar who majored in Greek in college; but I can't figure out a lot of the Greek in 16th century printed books. Thanks!
Dr. Raymond A. (Randy) Blacketer

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Raymond,

I have been away for a bit. Let me get back to you on this.

Suzanne