Commissioned by the emperor Vasilios II (976-1025), the “Menologion” is considered the most prominent masterpiece of illustrated Greek MSS to survive. It represents a culmination of the artistic trends of the Constantinople court c. 1000.
The manuscript contains in its present form the first six months of the Byzantine liturgical year, from September through February. It is essentially a Book of Saints, a liturgical book of the Orthodox Church containing abridged information on the Saint of the feast day commemorated, read in the morning during matins. In this exquisite luxurious edition that was made for the last great emperor of the Maddedon dynasty, the short texts dedicated to the Saint or the feast of that day are accompanied by a miniature (430 in all), portraying the respective commemoration. We see in front of our eyes the unfoldig series of Saints, Martyrs, Confessors, Hierarchs and Ascetics, all illustrated standing in dignified solemnity, along with architectural monuments, landscapes, etc.
One unique aspect of the Manuscript is that one can discern next to every illustration the name of the hagiographer that painted it, allowing us access to the artistic trends of the era, as well as to the personal characteristics of each of the eight artists that are involved in this work: Pantoleon, Georgios, Michael the Younger, Michael of Vlachernae, Simeon, Simeon of Vlachernae, Menas and Nestor.