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That is, the facsimile of the Venetus A allows for both reading and re-reading by many more people than would otherwise have that chance. Mr. Sijthoff was thus disappointed that the sales of these reproductions were not better, and he expressed particular dismay that more American libraries had not acquired them (Sijthoff 1908:54–62). As we saw with the early days of the codex, technological opportunities are not always immediately embraced, as much promise as they may hold for those who do use them.
The production of papyrus in Egypt already had a long history before the Greeks and Romans began using it, so that we can suppose that an efficient system for its production had been developed. Manufacture of parchment was more difficult technically, and so getting the scale of the production of parchment to match that of papyrus took many years, even centuries (Roberts & Skeat 1987:8–10). A shortage of papyrus may have affected not only the choice of materials, but the script used as well. Reynolds and Wilson attribute the change from majuscule script (characterized by large, uppercase letters written without breaks) to minuscule Text & Technologies 37 38 Text & Technologies script (lowercase, with word breaks)—a change which occurred by the ninth century—to the papyrus shortage in Byzantium.
It is marked with a sign called a diplē periestigmenē (>:), which Aristarchus used to indicate his disagreement with a reading by Zenodotus on that line (Pfeiffer 1968:218; McNamee 1981:247n3). The scribe of the Venetus A did not have direct access to Aristarchus’ commentary—these signs had been copied into many intermediary copies—but we see that it has been carefully maintained along with the corresponding different reading about which the two scholars disagreed. When we go to the marginal note (it is the second paragraph seen above on the left), it too uses this sign.