Ligatures in Graeco-Latin cursive script of 4th–6th centuries A.D.: independent development and interaction
Ligatures arose gradually both in Latin and in Greek cursive writing. This paper seeks to investigate the development of ligatures in Greek and Latin cursive before the third century A.D. and their modification in the 4th–6th centuries A.D.
When cursive script became calligraphic the ligatures became fixed in their form. In trying to investigate the development of ligatures in the period of their formation it is important to establish the classification of ligatures in the period of their maturity. In this paper I shall offer such a classification.
When two consecutive letters merely join without undergoing any change of form, we have what we may call united letters or unios (or pseudo-ligatures, or simple ligatures). When two consecutive letters are combined in such a manner that one or both lose their normal form, we have what we can call true ligatures (or complex ligatures). One principle on which the construction of ligatures is based is that two consecutive letters share a common element (such ligatures are found in inscriptions, e.g. NT, ET with a common hasta). Another principle is that one or both letters of the ligature suffers modification and changes its shape. In systematizing the ligatures of New Roman Cursive it is convenient to use the same terminology that was used by E. A. Lowe in his analysis of the Beneventan script. The ligature can be called enclitic when the second letter changes its form; and proclitic when the chief modification is undergone by the first letter.
In New Roman Cursive of the 4th–6th centuries A.D. we can distinguish proclitic ligatures (e.g. ligatures with the first ‘a’ modified: am, as, ar, ap, ac; with the first ‘e’ modified: em, es, er, ep) and enclitic ligatures (e.g. with the second ‘i’ modified: di, ci, ti; with the second ‘t’ modified: et, rt). Ligatures can combine two or more modified letters (e.g. eri, ett, eti, esc; ari, ati; rta, rtu).
We can observe both of these principles of combining the letters in Greek and Latin cursive writing before the third century A.D. On the other hand, some tendencies of Greek cursive script have influenced the New Roman Cursive (e.g. proclitic ligatures with the first ‘a’ modified (such as: ap, ar) seem to be formed in Latin cursive under Greek influence). Roman minuscule in its turn became the base of the Greek minuscule.
In the paper we will try to examine the genesis of the complex ligatures in Graeco-Latin graphical koinê.