Constantine Lascaris’ division of vowels and consonants
This is the first page of the first European printed Greek grammar and as such is a fundamental text of both the Renaissance and the Reformation. This page is from the 1476 edition printed in Milan. The author, Constantine Lascaris came to Italy after the fall of Constantinople and became a teacher of Greek. He wrote this grammar for his student, the young Ippolita Szforza. Ippolita later married the son of Ferdinand I and became a patron of humanist scholars, but died young at the age of 38.
For years, I had wondered about the history of arranging the Greek alphabet according to distinctive features. For example, consonants are organized by voiceless stops, voiced stops, aspirates, liquids, and so on.
Although the fundamental principle of presenting vowels and consonants by their classification is found in each, the latter text is far more organized. This raises a lot of questions for me, as to whethe the Greek alphabet was always conceived of in this way, and how much its presentation shifted over time.
This is the first book printed in Greek and so determines the style of font. The first Greek fonts involved ligatures, abbreviations, and variant forms of the same letter. The font was created in order to imitate manuscript Greek handwriting.