On Origins and Originality

"The publication of [a full-color facsimile of the Leiden Aratea in 1974] is simply another stage in the history of copying the manuscript of the Aratea, which is a ninth-century copy of a fourth- or fifth-century codex, derived in all probability from an original in the court of imperial Rome, copying a manuscript from ancient Greece. Most modern published reproduction of the Aratea are now no longer taken directly from the precious manuscript in Leiden, but instead from the Swiss facsimile or from the on-line digitized version. Therefore, those, in their due turn, have become exemplars. The process [of copying manuscripts] is going on still. Owners of facsimiles often tell you that they possess a numbered 'original,' but the definition of originality has always been complex when dealing with medieval manuscripts" (de Hamel 186-187).