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The ancient Greek alphabet evolved during the millenium of the Byzantine era from majuscule to minuscule form and gradually incorporated a wide array of ligatures, flourishes and other decorative nuances which defined its extravagant cursive character. Until the late 15th century, typographers who had to deal with Greek text avoided emulating this complicated hand; instead they would use only the twenty four letters of the alphabet separately, often without accents and other diacritics.

A celebrated example is the type cut and cast for the typesetting of the New Testament in the so-called Complutensian Polyglot Bible (1512), edited by the Greek scholar, Demetrios Doukas. The type was cut by Arnaldo Guillén de Brocar and the whole edition was a commision by cardinal Francisco Ximénez, in the University of Alcalá (Complutum), Spain. It is one of the best and most representative models of this early tradition in Greek typography which was revived in the early 20th century by the eminent bibliographer of the British Library, Richard Proctor. A font named Otter Greek was cut in 1903 and a book was printed using the new type. The original type had no capitals so Proctor added his own, which were rather large and ill-fitted. The early death of Proctor, the big size of the font and the different aesthetic notions of the time were the reasons that Otter Greek was destined to oblivion, as a curiosity.

Greek Font Society incorporated Brocar's famous and distinctive type in the commemorative edition of Pindar's Odes for the Athens Olympics (2004) and the type with a new set of capitals, revived digitaly by George D. Matthiopoulos, is now available for general use.


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Page last modified on July 20, 2012, at 12:16 AM