Byzantine Greek Reading List

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lusomenos
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Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:56 pm

Does anyone have a reasonably extensive Byzantine Greek reading list they would be happy to put up?

I am looking for the sort of list a PhD student in the field of Byzantine Literature would have to read for examinations. But it can be a list someone has made up from their own reading or knowledge of the area.

Thanks!

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by Qimmik » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:35 am

Harvard University offers a graduate program in Byzantine Greek.

http://classics.fas.harvard.edu/book/byzantine-greek

The linked page mentions a reading list, but it isn't posted on-line. You might write or e-mail Panagiotis Roilos and request him to send you the Byzantine Greek reading list:

http://classics.fas.harvard.edu/people/ ... tis-roilos

Or Saskia Dirkse--apparently the only student enrolled in the Byzantine Greek program:

http://classics.fas.harvard.edu/people/byzantine-greek

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:02 pm

I don't have a reading list per se (or PhD level extensive reading experience :lol: ), but let me make some personal suggestions.

To read a text free of Imperial ideology, I would suggest Procopius, Secret History. For the epitomy of imperial ideology, the Alexiad of Anna Comnena.

For some witnesses to the development of the language, I think, the early chronicler John Malalas, the heroic poem Digenis Akritas, and the epic Erotokritos are useful. [I have a small introductory thing on the Erotocritus on B-Greek, which while amateurish, was meant to be as much entertaining as informative.]

For an example of Byzantine scholarship, something from the Bibliotheca by Photius (the scholar and patriarch), and for the worst of Byzantine scholasticism try Hermoniakos' paraphrase of the Iliad.

For truly distinctive Byzantine ecclesiastical texts (one's in which a truly distinctive Byzantine outlook emerges or crystalises), Maximus the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas would be the best.
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lusomenos
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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:25 pm

Qimmik wrote:Harvard University offers a graduate program in Byzantine Greek.

http://classics.fas.harvard.edu/book/byzantine-greek

The linked page mentions a reading list, but it isn't posted on-line. You might write or e-mail Panagiotis Roilos and request him to send you the Byzantine Greek reading list:

http://classics.fas.harvard.edu/people/ ... tis-roilos

Or Saskia Dirkse--apparently the only student enrolled in the Byzantine Greek program:

http://classics.fas.harvard.edu/people/byzantine-greek
Thanks so much! Yes I was actually looking at the Harvard website yesterday. I thought it was a pity they don't post the list up. But thanks heaps for your contact suggestions. :)

lusomenos
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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:49 pm

ἑκηβόλος wrote:I don't have a reading list per se (or PhD level extensive reading experience :lol: ), but let me make some personal suggestions.

To read a text free of Imperial ideology, I would suggest Procopius, Secret History. For the epitomy of imperial ideology, the Alexiad of Anna Comnena.

For some witnesses to the development of the language, I think, the early chronicler John Malalas, the heroic poem Digenis Akritas, and the epic Erotokritos are useful. [I have a small introductory thing on the Erotocritus on B-Greek, which while amateurish, was meant to be as much entertaining as informative.]

For an example of Byzantine scholarship, something from the Bibliotheca by Photius (the scholar and patriarch), and for the worst of Byzantine scholasticism try Hermoniakos' paraphrase of the Iliad.

For truly distinctive Byzantine ecclesiastical texts (one's in which a truly distinctive Byzantine outlook emerges or crystalises), Maximus the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas would be the best.
Cheers. Good point, I'll try to read a balance between the two, so that I don't get a skewed idea of the era. I really appreciate the suggestions. Will add them to my list :)

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by cb » Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:24 am

hi lusomenos, if ever you get the list and find copies of the books online, could you please post your findings here? thanks! cheers, chad

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Sun Jan 11, 2015 12:52 am

cb wrote:hi lusomenos, if ever you get the list and find copies of the books online, could you please post your findings here? thanks! cheers, chad
Yes of course! Maybe some of us can read the texts together at a later stage and post progress.

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by GJCaesar » Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:56 pm

The 48-book Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis should keep you busy for at least a couple of days!

I'm actually reading the first book as we speak. It's a shame that there isn't a good English commentary available.
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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Mon Jan 12, 2015 10:02 pm

GJCaesar wrote:The 48-book Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis should keep you busy for at least a couple of days!

I'm actually reading the first book as we speak. It's a shame that there isn't a good English commentary available.
Thanks, I will add it to the list. The Dionysiaca looks really great. I always feel like such works are ignored far too much simply because they come from 'Late Antiquity'.

But have you seen this link? It has quite a few articles on Nonnus. Take what you can get?:

http://www.nonnus.adelaide.edu.au

Note the discussion bit on the website. Apparently an Italian commentary was published 2003-2004 (although it doesn't say who the authors are...annoying). The author of that website, who has published numerous articles, as you will see, also says that people are free to contact him about info on Nonnus (see the bottom of the page on the website) or to ask for pdf files of his papers.

Are you reading the Loeb edition? How do you find the translation?

Hmm at this rate it will take about a decade to read even the small number of works I have compiled so far and to know them well in the original...

For now, anyway, I'm still compiling my list! I think I will keep doing it until Feb or March in my spare moments, and then post the results up here.

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Mon Jan 12, 2015 11:42 pm

In the meantime, anyone interested should have a look at this document, which is a long summary of a large amount of Byzantine literature.

https://library.nd.edu/byzantine_studie ... bacher.pdf

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by GJCaesar » Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:59 am

The commentary is from Gigli-Piccardi. I can read Italian, so I'm using it as primary commentary next to the Budé, because my French is not that good.

I think the translation is okay. I don't really use it that much, except for a quick glance to look up a word. Nonnus is difficult to translate.

I actually bumped into that website the other day, but haven't really looked into it yet. Thanks for the heads up though!
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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by Markos » Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:12 pm

GJCaesar wrote:The 48-book Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis should keep you busy for at least a couple of days!
On what basis would you call this Byzantine? The date (circa 500) seems a little early and the style is neo-Epic.

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by GJCaesar » Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:44 pm

Markos wrote:
GJCaesar wrote:The 48-book Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis should keep you busy for at least a couple of days!
On what basis would you call this Byzantine? The date (circa 500) seems a little early and the style is neo-Epic.
Early Byzantine, yes, you're right. It's a borderline case, I admit, but if I'm not mistaken, Nonnus and Byzantine are linked together by most scholars. It probably has something to do with Nonnus' style and the content of the work.

The genre doesn't necessarily say something about the time in which a work was written. So the fact that the style is neo-Epic doens't mean per se that it can't be Byzantine. There are a lot of epics written in Late Antiquity, the post-Homeric works for example.
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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by GJCaesar » Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:46 pm

GJCaesar wrote:
Markos wrote:
GJCaesar wrote:The 48-book Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis should keep you busy for at least a couple of days!
On what basis would you call this Byzantine? The date (circa 500) seems a little early and the style is neo-Epic.
Early Byzantine, yes, you're right. It's a borderline case, I admit, but if I'm not mistaken, Nonnus and Byzantine are linked together by most scholars. It probably has something to do with Nonnus' style and the content of the work. It might be a reflex, though, just to mark the beginning of the Byzantine era.

The genre doesn't necessarily say something about the time in which a work was written. So the fact that the style is neo-Epic doens't mean per se that it can't be Byzantine. There are a lot of epics written in Late Antiquity, the post-Homeric works for example.
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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:37 pm

GJCaesar wrote:
GJCaesar wrote:The 48-book Dionysiaca of Nonnus of Panopolis should keep you busy for at least a couple of days!
On what basis would you call this Byzantine? The date (circa 500) seems a little early and the style is neo-Epic.

Early Byzantine, yes, you're right. It's a borderline case, I admit, but if I'm not mistaken, Nonnus and Byzantine are linked together by most scholars. It probably has something to do with Nonnus' style and the content of the work. It might be a reflex, though, just to mark the beginning of the Byzantine era.

The genre doesn't necessarily say something about the time in which a work was written. So the fact that the style is neo-Epic doens't mean per se that it can't be Byzantine. There are a lot of epics written in Late Antiquity, the post-Homeric works for example.
I don't really mind if it is strictly Byzantine or not. If it is an important work written in Greek close to the dates of the Byzantine Empire, then it is going in the list, even if only because it provides some context or background to Byzantine literature :)

The Dionysiaca might be relevant to early Byzantine literature (or, more specifically, epic), but it probably isn't so relevant to late Byzantine literature. It's not like the Byzantine empire began and suddenly they were writing in an entirely different way with entirely new content from the get go. Procopius, for example, isn't very different to Dio Chrysostom in style; but in content, they are probably very different. Procopius doesn't have the heavy Platonic influence that is seen in DioChrys. . I haven't read the Dionysiaca, but I wonder if the Homeric influences (mainly in style) contained within slowly died out in later literature. Could this question be answered by one of the papers on that site above? I'll have to have a look.

This sort of thing is covered by Peter Brown in some of his books/papers. I remember reading a line from one of his papers somewhere about how scholars of late antiquity usually see the gradually declining influence of the classical world and its values, styles, and aspirations, and that this shift is not sudden but is rather a slow and perhaps painful death. This is a paraphrase, since I really can't remember if this is exactly what he wrote or where he wrote it. Really fascinating stuff, though, especially when you start delving deeper.

I can, however, make a note on the list if a work is not strictly Byzantine. This will clarify the list a great deal.

Thanks for the discussion all.
Last edited by lusomenos on Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by Qimmik » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:58 pm

"I wonder if the Homeric influences (mainly in style) contained within slowly died out in later literature."

I think it's not a question of Homeric influence. Nonnus simply wrote in the dialect of the Homeric poems, as did anyone writing an epic poem in Greek throughout antiquity (and maybe some were written in Homeric dialect in the Byzantine era, too), just as Procopius wrote history in something like 5th century BCE Attic prose. Dialect and genre were inextricably linked.

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Re: Byzantine Greek Reading List

Post by lusomenos » Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:50 am

Qimmik wrote:"I wonder if the Homeric influences (mainly in style) contained within slowly died out in later literature."

I think it's not a question of Homeric influence. Nonnus simply wrote in the dialect of the Homeric poems, as did anyone writing an epic poem in Greek throughout antiquity (and maybe some were written in Homeric dialect in the Byzantine era, too), just as Procopius wrote history in something like 5th century BCE Attic prose. Dialect and genre were inextricably linked.
Yes I'm not really sure about it, so thanks for your response. I have to read more about it.

Just looking at the first sentence of Procopius' de Bellis, the similarity to Thucydides' opening is startling (almost word for word!). (Of the works of Procopius, I've only ever read The Secret History, and in English too...).

As you say, any epic in antiquity was greatly influenced by Homer., i.e even the mere fact of writing epic. Nonnus is a bit earlier than what I was referring to. I meant something more like Digenis Akritis' later 'Greek nationalist' epic poem (I think it's 11th century?). As far as I know it wasn't written in a Homeric dialect, and yet it still was distinctly Homeric.

I found more discussion in J.B Bury:

" The holy war with the Saracens produced among the Greek their second popular epic cycle-that of Digenis Akritas (sic). After Homer it stands out in the history of Greek literature as the only national epic and in the comprehensiveness of its picture of life in Byzantine Asia Minor it has Homeric qualities. Behind both the French and Greek romances there lies the common background of the Hellenistic novelists and of an epic tradition...[these works] are not exotics nor second hand imitations...they are in all essential features, in spirit and matter, as well as in form, an outcome of indigenous development, the legitimate progeny of a literature which was always accustomed to take little and give much...the Eastern Empire never enjoyed a real literary renascence" (P33-34 'A Bibliography of the Works of J.B Bury')

I think I left out a few sentences (it was a long paragraph). But essentially he views Greek literature as one continuous indigenous/autochthonous development. I'm not exactly sure what he means by 'was always accustomed to take little and give much', though. I'm sure I'm overlooking something obvious!

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