As late as August 2013, in a comment written to Elmar Vogt’s blog, Ellie Velinska made clear that she knew of no-one save the present writer who ascribed the origin of the Voynich ‘nymphs’ to the Hellenistic period.
Thus, she wrote:
Hi Diane – yes, it [her proposition] is just imagination, but the 16th century European bathing disaster teaches us one thing: when considering scholar’s opinion – always make sure it passes the smell test! Sometimes it is wiser to trust your own nose rather than scholar’s training 🙂
My nose says – Western Europe, your academic training says – Hellenistic something… it is a tough call…
Even re-reading this, I find the metaphor, the absence of evidence adduced, and that curious modifier odd. The intention is plain enough.
The more important point, though, is that until even later than this – until twelve months ago or less -no effort had been made to use correctly any of the evidence or argument which I’d been providing for other researchers since 2010. Koen Gheuens is the exception: he not only read a fair bit of the work, but happily acknowledged his source before setting about exploring the same topic in his own way.
Now, suddenly, a little “Hellenistic gold rush” is in progress – apropos of which -JKP- has brought to notice a very nice example of early medieval Christian hand, in an interlinear text: Greek and Latin.
Of course the Carolingian ‘helios’ diagram to which Rene Zandbergen has often drawn attention is now recalled as gained by the Carolingian west from elsewhere. In passing, I’d note that “Hellenistic” may be seen used as if it meant something vaguely “Greek-ish” but strictly it applies to the pre-Christian period, where the 1stC BC sees the end of the Hellenistic period in a political sense, while a distinctively Hellenistic culture survived in some regions to at least the 3rdC AD.
This sudden emphasis on “Greek” in Voynich forums may owe much to Koen but also something to comments made occasionally by non-Voynicheros. Seeing the sudden use of the word iatrosophia by Voynicheros in 2015, I left a question at Stephen Bax’ site under his post “My 2012 paper” :
February 6, 2015 – 12:00 pm
I’ve read on Ellie Velinska’s blog that some un-named expert at the Folger library says the work is Greek. They describe it as a dispensatory (the Greek term for the genre is used: iatrosophia). Have you seen anything in the text to suggest that it’s just badly written Greek?
Other comments to that post by Bax are on the theme of “badly written Greek”. Ellie had only named Rene Zandbergen as source: the expert was left anonymous.
The date of Bax’ paper – 2012 – is again rather late, and while only one or two scholars still have access to the blog where I presented first the evidence and comparative matter from which my conclusions had been drawn, it may be of interest now to return to the source: Findings. For later developments just search voynichimagery – or to get the general level of analysis and explanation see my recent posts here about folio 5v.
These brief extracts are just tid-bits from the longer posts in Findings.
May 3rd., 2010
It appears to me – so far – that the critical period for the compilation of the material in Beinecke ms 408 is that between the later Macedonian period and early centuries of the common era.
The wide geographic range which is implied by the specific motifs present in the ms persuades me that the material was not intended for a particular locality, or even a particular language-group, but rather to serve a profession and caste whose purposes required broader knowledge, and transits over regions formerly the preserve of the Phoenicians, and their associates ..
~ from D.N. O’Donovan, “Faces III: fol.67v(i): The whorl – points of Orientation”, Findings (blogger)
May 7, 2010
[concerning scripts attested in the Hellenistic period]
.. Recently, tablets have been found at Tell Fisna written in a form of late cuneiform, though they appear to date from the Hellenistic period. Their use of cuneiform appears to have been meant as a form of code, and the finders were unable to explain neither its use, nor the atypical astronomy apparently recorded on these tablets …
citing Jeremy Black, ‘Hellenistic Cuneiform writing from Assyria: the tablet from Tell Fisna’ Al-Rafidan Vol.XVII (1997) pp.229-238 and plates following.
~ from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘Bull and Lotus: comparing Barhut [Madhya] and the Beinecke manuscript’, Findings (blogger)
May 11th., 2010
The content of the Beinecke manuscript appears to be less a compilation from standard academic texts than a corpus of information, collected first in the late Hellenistic or Roman period, and then preserved without alteration* until the time of the crusaders, whose style informs (for example) the architectural details set upon the map, but not the style of its basic plan and ornament.
For similar iconographic style, and details, we must turn to the materials of the artisan, the merchant, and traditional designs. These also make clear the direct lines of connection which formerly existed across the Arabian shield, between east and west.
*by 2011 I was already qualifying this to “without substantial alteration”
That post also includes note that for illustrations from Crusader manuscripts one might consult Hugo Buchthal, Miniature Painting in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Oxford, (1957) pp. 68-87.
~ from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘The Mediterranean and India – patterns in Ivory and Stone’, Findings (blogger)
May 12th., 2010
… I am reasonably certain, in any case, that no Christian image existed – certainly not before 1438 – in which an unclothed female figure holds a cross at arm’s length, so I would say with some confidence that the chief figure in this picture does not belong within the traditions of medieval imagery of the Latin sphere.
That means, of course, that I do not believe it represents any conscious distortions or subversions of that tradition, either. Indeed, as far as I can see, the work’s original stratum probably belongs to the classical period, and more likely to the Hellenistic than to the Roman. While it might contain religious matter, that matter – so far as it relates to the imagery – could be expected to refer to some religion appropriate to the period in which the pictures were first composed. This, however, is an hypothesis which is not yet proven, where the date of the manuscript is.
A bibliographic reference was added to that post on August 29th., 2011, viz. M. C. Miller, “The Parasol: An Oriental Status-Symbol in Late Archaic and Classical Athens”,The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 112, (1992), pp. 91-105. (JSTOR).
from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘Excursus: “Christian imagery in the Voynich’, Findings (blogger).
also from May 12th., 2010
this a note on a type of simple cylindrical container known in the older Mediterranean and by the Romans called a ‘capsa’. We find scant evidence of the type there after the 3rdC AD.
An example of the hooped ‘Iberian’ style, dated to the 4th-5thC bce, and discussed further below, moves our record of that type backward by about seven centuries from the previously recorded instances, which are Byzantine c.2ndC ce. A bracelet which, though found in Rome, appears to have originated in the Hellenistic world, shows this ‘Iberian’ type attached to the columns of a building.
That date then enables us to suggest an explanation for an item that is very frequent in the “traders sequence” at Barhut [Madhya] 2ndC bce…
from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘Updated: Red containers and esparto’, Findings (blogger)
May 14th., 2010
It appears possible, though presently no more than that, [to me] that the ‘botanical’ section at least may belong within an Arabian– Hellenistic tradition..
from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘Pause for breath: emerging patterns’, Findings (blogger).
May 25th., 2010
I posted this image which I still consider important for Voynich studies by reason of certain motifs which appear here. The detail is from a work of the Hellenistic period (4thC BC) and the Aegean.
from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘Plants, Litanies and Mantras – east’, Findings (Blogger).
June 8th., 2010
At least one sun-face of this type suggests its date. That seen in 69v-iii, where the sun-face is set within a vegetative border (again with a palm-branch edging), displays closely waved cropped hair of a type seen in portraits of some Roman women from about the 2ndC bce. More roughly cropped hair for women continues to appear in Roman works until at least the third century when it is seen (for example) in a portrait of a Palmyrean ruler named Zenobia, captured and forced to live in Rome for the rest of her life, just as the Roman emperor Valerian had been confined by Shapur, king of her Sassanian allies.
That this [second example of the] sun is supposed female is evident, by the combined depiction of this hair-style with a type of flat hairband [fol.68r-i] termed a ‘ribbon’ to distinguish it from the ordinary fillet, and which is reserved for priestesses during the time of Hellenistic Egypt and earlier Rome. In Rome itself, a priest wore such band as a matter of custom during rituals, but the blue ribbon was worn only during a specific ceremony: one of pre-Roman origin and which was intended to avert drought.
from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘The Sun – Part I – (fols 68r-i and 68r-ii; 69v-iii)’, Findings, (blogger).Note that the current Beinecke foliation for these images is “folio 68r” and for the sun with the blue hairband “folio 67v“. The holding library’s foliation should be used.
There are twenty-two more posts to Findings in which I explored and demonstrated Hellenistic origins for the vast majority of images in the Voynich manuscript – all before 2011.
Of importance, too are these:
Theophrastus and Aristotle
To quote from another of those posts, this referring to Theophrastus:
July 13, 2010
Next … a class of root-cutters centred around the seaboard in the north-east corner of the Mediterranean: Antioch, Cos, and the Carian coast. The only individual about whom we know much, though, is Theophrastus of Eresus (372 bce to 286 bce), who studied first with Plato, and then with Aristotle, and who then succeeded Aristotle as head of the Peripatetic school.
Theophrastus set down his knowledge of Mediterranean and of exotic plants, of medicinal stones and perfumes in written form. The usual order, and structure, for those written works is echoed by the organisation of the VMs’ [sections]…
Theophrastus mentions cinnamon, and two different types of pepper plant, so it is clear that items of eastern materia medica (which include “spices” used in incense and perfumes) were already known to some Greeks at least in the Mediterranean,and no later than the third century bce. Theophrastus’ committing all he knew to writing was considered a little unusual, and among some sectors of the medical fraternity, there seems to have been some resentment felt. Our own times are not so different.
We are told by later commentators that Theophratus included portraits of plants in his text, and that the images were coloured, but not much more than that…
Theophrastus’ knowledge of plants, and his approach to the subject of plants, shows some influence from the Indian works which by this time were at least five hundred years older. (The Ayurvedic corpus was settled by c.800bce. The dates for Siddha medicine are somewhat less sure).
That influence in Theophrastus’ work may be due to the fact that he lived at the same time that Alexander the Great (356bce –323bce), following known roads eastward, reached the Indus, and that region from which we hear that the great medical sage of Siddha medicine, Agastya, had spread medical knowledge in India.
from D.N. O’Donovan, ‘Theophrastus, Canopus and such’, Findings (blogger).
A post of December 29th. 2011 which was written for students of mine includes a reference to the Tyche’s turreted crowns (Tuche) in relation to f.75.
To analyse the whole section would take about twelve months or more, I think – partly .. the quires are believed to be bound out of order, and partly that the narrative of the journey: the chart or map-like sections are interspersed with others, whose nature, character and reference would need a separate study.
The imagery in the additional folios within this section appears to me to refer to meteorology, or more exactly to astrometeorology, since discussion of times, stars, annual weather and wind-cycles and so on are all integrated in many texts, even the Periplus, which spends time describing harbour entrances and the time of year when the journey may be accomplished..
One might at least hope that the basis for the text in this section were the Meteorologies of Aristotle, or of Theophrastus or at very least of a well known Indian classic, such as that by Varahamihira, known as the Brihat Samhita.
However, if the material in these other folios is drawn from navigational lore, then it may be near impossible to translate. That its, it might be written with such brevity that even if we could attribute phonemes to the characters, it would make little more sense [without specialist input]
A detailed study of the tyche types in the same section might be worthwhile, but in my opinion would require a couple of years’ work, since it would involve comparing each crown-like head-dress in the manuscript to hundreds of coins, charts, mosaics and written works .. no shoo-in. I will put up some few tyche-figures soon.
Kauz, Ralph, Aspects of the Maritime Silk Road: From the Persian Gulf to the East China Sea (2010) pp.141-2.
So here’s the really big question: what inhibits all but a very few Voynicheros from correctly crediting and adopting work already done on this manuscript, regardless of whether it does, or doesn’t, agree with the older notion of an ‘all Latin Christian author’? Since I’ve been demonstrating the clear evidence of Hellenistic character and reference in this manuscript – continually- since I began publishing parts of my research online in 2010, and the readership is not small, nor the amount of solid evidence. Perhaps the answer is to be found in the comments offered me over the same length of time by such persons as Ellie, Rene, Helmut Winkler or in recent days, Nick Pelling. I’ll take another look at them.
 JKP posting to thread begun by Davidsch, ‘The Grecofile experience’ – forum voynich.ninja.com