Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Are you learning Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament and most other post-classical Greek texts? Whatever your level, use this forum to discuss all things Koine, Biblical or otherwise, including grammar, textbook talk, difficult passages, and more.
Post Reply
AbuZenobia
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:39 pm

Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by AbuZenobia » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:55 am

Greetings all,

I was hoping to ask you guys about what works one can use to begin to read Byzantine/Medieval Greek, specifically with the goal of reading chronicles, philosophical texts, and religious material -- specifically liturgical and dogmatic. I'm not sure what the nature of the Greek was in this period, I know that authors would try to emulate good classical Greek style but I figure there must've been those influenced by vernaculars. What is there in the way of textbooks and readers one could look at? I'll be looking at it after more experience with Attic and Koine Greek and was hoping to check out textbooks. Couldn't find any previous threads recommending books and resources either.

Thanks and best regards to everyone,

AbuZenobia

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1873
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by Hylander » Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:02 pm

As a starting point, you should definitely take a look at Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers by Geoffrey Horrocks, which surveys the entire sweep of the history of Greek, from Mycenaean to modern, in the whole range of spoken and written registers.

https://www.amazon.com/Greek-History-La ... 664&sr=8-1

User avatar
Scribo
Global Moderator
Posts: 886
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia (ok sometimes Athens).

Re: Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by Scribo » Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:17 pm

The kind of texts you are looking for probably require a highly Atticising style. Attic is good practice (obviously), but the Greek of the second sophistic (Lucian, Libanios etc) is perhaps even more so.

Baldwin's "An Anthology of Byzantine Poetry" is a useful if not always inspiring starting point.
(Occasionally) Working on the following tutorials:

(P)Aristotle, Theophrastus and Peripatetic Greek
Intro Greek Poetry
Latin Historical Prose

AbuZenobia
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:39 pm

Re: Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by AbuZenobia » Thu Nov 28, 2019 6:41 pm

Hylander wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:02 pm
As a starting point, you should definitely take a look at Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers by Geoffrey Horrocks, which surveys the entire sweep of the history of Greek, from Mycenaean to modern, in the whole range of spoken and written registers.
Thanks, I was skimming through a PDF and this seems like an excellent resource. I'll ask a question addressed to you both below.
Scribo wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 7:17 pm
The kind of texts you are looking for probably require a highly Atticising style. Attic is good practice (obviously), but the Greek of the second sophistic (Lucian, Libanios etc) is perhaps even more so.

Baldwin's "An Anthology of Byzantine Poetry" is a useful if not always inspiring starting point.
Thanks. I know I have a lot more work to do with Attic, I'm using the Athenaze books in class and I'll get to the first few lessons from book 2 by the end of second semester. I'll finish the remainder of the book on my own in the summer, I perhaps might follow up with Hansen and Quinn or some other grammar for consolidation and learning things absent in Athenaze and use a reader with that. Byzantine Greek is at least a year away -- and that's if I'm being ambitious -- but I think it would be nice to at least look at what it's like.


Do you both, Scribo and Hylander, suppose if I read the History of Greek book and have a sufficient background in Attic and reading capability it might be worth it to just jump into Byzantine? Perhaps using the book you've recommended, Scribo -- I found a PDF of it and it seems fantastic.

Thank you and best regards,

AbuZenobia

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1873
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by Hylander » Fri Nov 29, 2019 4:45 pm

if I read the History of Greek book and have a sufficient background in Attic and reading capability it might be worth it to just jump into Byzantine?
I would suggest reading Horrocks' book to get an idea of the many varieties of medieval/Byzantine Greek. Some varieties attempt to hew more closely to Attic; others don't. It depends to a large extent on where your interests lie.

But I think learning Attic Greek would be your starting point.

AbuZenobia
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Nov 19, 2019 8:39 pm

Re: Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by AbuZenobia » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:40 am

Hylander wrote:
Fri Nov 29, 2019 4:45 pm
if I read the History of Greek book and have a sufficient background in Attic and reading capability it might be worth it to just jump into Byzantine?
I would suggest reading Horrocks' book to get an idea of the many varieties of medieval/Byzantine Greek. Some varieties attempt to hew more closely to Attic; others don't. It depends to a large extent on where your interests lie.

But I think learning Attic Greek would be your starting point.
Thanks, no doubt you have to walk before you can run and completing my course this year is my primary goal. I'll look at it when the time comes then, thank you very much for the recommendation.

Best regards,

AbuZenobia

User avatar
Scribo
Global Moderator
Posts: 886
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:28 pm
Location: Between Ilias and Odysseia (ok sometimes Athens).

Re: Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by Scribo » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:19 pm

Hylander has, as usual, put it wonderfully. That said sometimes it is very fun - and inspiring! - to try and run a little now and then before you have to. So why not?

You might find Beaton's "Medieval and Modern Greek" helpful too. As said above the Byzantines were consciously Atticising (a really bad term tbth) and this details more with the vernacular (as found in the various chronica and the akritic songs etc), but still sometimes illuminating.

Also, definitely try reaching out to actual Byzantologists. It's a small club and from my experience people in niche hobbies are often happy to help/proselytize.
(Occasionally) Working on the following tutorials:

(P)Aristotle, Theophrastus and Peripatetic Greek
Intro Greek Poetry
Latin Historical Prose

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1873
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Getting Started in Medieval/Byzantine Greek

Post by Hylander » Sun Dec 01, 2019 2:16 am

If you want to consolidate after finishing Athenaze, you could do worse than working your way through Eleanor Dickey's Introduction to the Composition and Analysis of Greek Prose.

The Cambridge Grammar of Medieval and Early Modern Greek, which I just found on Amazon, is a large-scale reference work apparently targeted at your interests. It consists of four hardbound volumes, and it's very expensive. You might want to take a look at it if you have access to, and can find it in, a good reference library. It's probably not the sort of work you'd want to buy, though -- at least not unless and until you become a specialist in Byzantine Greek.

https://www.amazon.com/Cambridge-Gramma ... 138&sr=8-1

Post Reply