Book 1. xxi. 2-5 the Critical marks (cont.)

Isidore had the ‘obol…’ fairly right.  For the Egyptians, the obelisk represented the piercing rays of the sun, but the Greek’s ‘obol’ was at first an iron spit, far closer to the form of the javelin (the throwing spear) than to an arrow. That’s why Longinus and his spear are shown above. The image is adapted from the  initial ‘B’ in Brit.Lib Additional MS 22310, ff. 1-9 f.7v.

for link to this ms, see the sidebar.



An entire post about the asterisk:

Not mentioned by Isidore, but useful for study of the medieval texts:

  • McGurk Patrick. ‘Citation marks in early Latin manuscripts. (With a list of citation marks in manuscripts earlier than A. D. 800 in
    English and Irish libraries)’, Scriptorium, Tome 15 n°1, 1961. pp. 3-13. Can be downloaded from Pesee [PDF]

Absolutely the best book on the subject of punctuation and its history had gone out of print, but now there’s a current American edition.


  • M. B. Parkes, Pause and Effect: Punctuation in the West.





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