Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, 55, no. 1 (2015)
The Repetitive Verse: A Comparative Study in Homeric, South Slavic, and Ugaritic Poetry
Trojan Politics and the Assemblies of Iliad 7
Joel P. Christensen
Learning the Alphabet: Abecedaria and the Early Schools in Greece
William C. West, III
The Iconography of Dionysiac Choroi: Dithyramb, Tragedy, and the Basel Krater
Matthew C Wellenbach
The opsis of Helen: Performative Intertextuality in Euripides
Aspasia Skouroumouni Stavrinou
γρίφους παίζειν: Playing at Riddles in Greek
The Eranistai of Classical Athens
Christian Ammitzbøll Thomsen
Reading the Arrivals of Harpalus
Linguistic Variation in Greek Papyri: Towards a New Tool for Quantitative Study
Mark Depauw, Joanne Stolk
The Quaestor Proclus
Charles F. Pazdernik
Protective Iambic Incantations on Two Inscribed Octagonal Rings
Reading Diodorus through Photius: The Case of the Sicilian Slave Revolts
Michael Choniates at the Christian Parthenon and the Bendideia Festival of Republic 1
Byron David MacDougall
Life Is Short, Art Long: The Art of Healing in Byzantium. Exhibition catalogue. Pera Museum, 2015.
Exhibition catalogue for Life Is Short, Art Long: The Art of Healing in Byzantium, on view at the Pera Museum February 11–April 26, 2015.
From Pera Museum
The famous aphorism of Hippocrates—“life is short, art long”— stands at the heart of this exhibition, which examines the art and practice of healing in Byzantium from Roman times to the late Byzantine period. It traces the concurrent methods of healing—faith, magic, and rational medicine—from the foundations laid by Apollo and Asklepios, healers of antiquity, as well as Hippocrates and Dioscorides, the founders of rational medicine. The fascinating coexistence of a belief in demons as the primary cause of illness and a rational perception of disease, grounded in Hippocratic teachings, come together in the protagonists of the “art of healing”—the physicians, druggists, saints, holy men, and magicians who healed the sick. The daily rituals involved in maintaining and pursuing well-being, protecting against demons, purifying the body and soul offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Byzantines.
The exhibition catalogue illustrates the influence of Byzantium’s ancient cultural heritage on religious and rational thought as well as contemporary scientific developments and innovations from around the Mediterranean. The catalogue is one of the most updated and extensive publication on the history and art of healing in Byzantium with essays written by the acclaimed academics and with various works, some of them being published for the first time.
Byzantinoslavica - Revue internationale des Etudes Byzantines, LXXII, no. 1–2, 2014
Empress Verina and the Events of 475-476
Unique Byzantine Architecture in Southern Levant near Jordan River
Mohammad Waheeb and Eyad Almasri
Oats in Ancient Greek and Byzantine Medical Treatises, V century BC – XI century AD
Zofia Rzeźnicka,Maciej Kokoszko, and Krzysztof Jagusiak
Числа в трудах Прокопия Кесарийского (Numeral data of Procopius)
Vadim V. Serov
The Concept of Al-takbi-r in the Byzantine Theological Writings
Tarek M. Muhammad
In vino veritas…Is there truth in wine? Drinking and intemperance in Great Moravian and Early Czech legislation
Description de l’Ukraine in light of De Administrando Imperio: Two Accounts of a Journey along the Dnieper
О времени заложения Успенского собора Киево-Печерской лавры (About the date of the Dormition cathedral of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra foundation)
Mariana M. Nikitenko
Bogomils on Via Egnatia and in the Valley of Pelagonia: The Geography of a Dualist Belief
Achilles at the battle of Ostrovo - George Maniakes and the reception of the Iliad
The daughter of a Byzantine Emperor – the wife of a Galician-Volhynian Prince
Alexander V. Maiorov
Eusebius’ of Caesarea image in 14th century Byzantium and its sources
The Moveable Canopy. The Performative Space of the Major Sakkos of Metropolitan Photios
Hagia Sophia and Ottoman architecture
Два ранее не издававшихся греческих текста "Сказания о 12-ти пятницах" и славянская традиция (Two previously unedited Greek texts of “The Tale of the 12 Fridays” and the Slavic tradition)
S.V. Ivanov and M.L. Kisilier
Ramenta carminum byzantinorum
St. John the Baptist in Dayr al-Suryan, in the Wadi Natrun: A Crusader era Deesis icon from the Byzantine periphery Re-vivified
Anthony Kaldellis. The Byzantine Republic: People and Power in New Rome. Harvard University Press, 2015.
From Harvard University Press
Although Byzantium is known to history as the Eastern Roman Empire, scholars have long claimed that this Greek Christian theocracy bore little resemblance to Rome. Here, in a revolutionary model of Byzantine politics and society, Anthony Kaldellis reconnects Byzantium to its Roman roots, arguing that from the fifth to the twelfth centuries CE the Eastern Roman Empire was essentially a republic, with power exercised on behalf of the people and sometimes by them too. The Byzantine Republic recovers for the historical record a less autocratic, more populist Byzantium whose Greek-speaking citizens considered themselves as fully Roman as their Latin-speaking “ancestors.”
Kaldellis shows that the idea of Byzantium as a rigid imperial theocracy is a misleading construct of Western historians since the Enlightenment. With court proclamations often draped in Christian rhetoric, the notion of divine kingship emerged as a way to disguise the inherent vulnerability of each regime. The legitimacy of the emperors was not predicated on an absolute right to the throne but on the popularity of individual emperors, whose grip on power was tenuous despite the stability of the imperial institution itself. Kaldellis examines the overlooked Byzantine concept of the polity, along with the complex relationship of emperors to the law and the ways they bolstered their popular acceptance and avoided challenges. The rebellions that periodically rocked the empire were not aberrations, he shows, but an essential part of the functioning of the republican monarchy.
Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, ed. Languages and Cultures of Eastern Christianity: Greek. Ashgate, 2015.
This volume brings together a set of fundamental contributions, many translated into English for this publication, along with an important introduction. Together these explore the role of Greek among Christian communities in the late antique and Byzantine East (late Roman Oriens), specifically in the areas outside of the immediate sway of Constantinople and imperial Asia Minor.
The local identities based around indigenous eastern Christian languages (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, etc.) and post-Chalcedonian doctrinal confessions (Miaphysite, Church of the East, Melkite, Maronite) were solidifying precisely as the Byzantine polity in the East was extinguished by the Arab conquests of the seventh century. In this multilayered cultural environment, Greek was a common social touchstone for all of these Christian communities, not only because of the shared Greek heritage of the early Church, but also because of the continued value of Greek theological, hagiographical, and liturgical writings. However, these interactions were dynamic and living, so that the Greek of the medieval Near East was itself transformed by such engagement with eastern Christian literature, appropriating new ideas and new texts into the Byzantine repertoire in the process.
David M. Perry. Sacred Plunder: Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade. Penn State University Press, 2015
From Penn State University Press
In Sacred Plunder, David Perry argues that plundered relics, and narratives about them, played a central role in shaping the memorial legacy of the Fourth Crusade and the development of Venice’s civic identity in the thirteenth century. After the Fourth Crusade ended in 1204, the disputes over the memory and meaning of the conquest began. Many crusaders faced accusations of impiety, sacrilege, violence, and theft. In their own defense, they produced hagiographical narratives about the movement of relics—a medieval genre called translatio—that restated their own versions of events and shaped the memory of the crusade. The recipients of relics commissioned these unique texts in order to exempt both the objects and the people involved with their theft from broader scrutiny or criticism. Perry further demonstrates how these narratives became a focal point for cultural transformation and an argument for the creation of the new Venetian empire as the city moved from an era of mercantile expansion to one of imperial conquest in the thirteenth century.
The latest post from the British Library’s Medieval manuscripts blog discusses decoration and writing on the edges of medieval manuscripts and provides a list of Greek manuscripts in the British Library with writing on the edges.
Speculum, 90, no. 1 (January 2015)
Translations from Greek into Latin and Arabic during the Middle Ages: Searching for the Classical Tradition
Byzantium's relationship with what we call “the classical tradition” is central to the development of its civilization and has been extensively discussed by Byzantinists for a number of reasons: since the fifteenth-century Renaissance, European interest in Byzantium was spurred by research on classical antiquity, and Byzantine literary culture was generally treated as a warehouse from which to retrieve information on ancient texts. In addition, Byzantine studies as a modern academic discipline was formed around the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, when the classical tradition was understood as a constituent part of modern Western culture, while ancient Greece and Rome served as political and aesthetic paradigms for the world's industrialized nations.
Peter Frankopan reviews
Michael Attaleiates, The History, trans. Anthony Kaldellis and Dimitris Krallis. (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 16.) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.
Paul Magdalino reviws
Averil Cameron, Byzantine Matters. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. Paul Magdalino
Dimitris Krallis reviews
Warren Treadgold, The Middle Byzantine Historians. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 107, no. 2 (December 2014)
Ditches of destruction – Cyril of Alexandria and the rhetoric of public security
Eine Exkommunikationsandrohung des Johannes Kalekas an den Metropoliten von Trapezunt und ihre Hintergründe
Psellos and Plotinos
Üçayak: a forgotten Byzantine church
Du recueil à l’invention du texte: le cas des Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai
Açıksaray “Open Palace”: a Byzantine rock-cut settlement in Cappadocia
Fatma Gül Öztürk
Romanos Melodos on the Raising of Lazarus
Barbara Saylor Rodgers
Die Hunnen bei Malalas
Eine Schmähschrift des Michael Apostoles
Rudolf S. Stefec
Zu Iustinians dies imperii und zum Problem von Datierungen in der Osterzeit. Überlegungen zur antiken Überlieferung, besonders zu Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae 1,95
Miniature diptych from Jerusalem
Panagiotis Roilos ed. Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014.
From Harrassowitz Verlag
Written by eminent scholars in the field of Byzantine studies, the majority of the chapters included in Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium are revised versions of the papers that were presented at an international conference that Panagiotis Roilos organized at Harvard University in December 2009. The topics explored in the book cover an extensive chronological range of postclassical Greek culture(s) and literature, from early Christianity to early modern Greek literature, with a pronounced focus on the Byzantine period, as well as a variety of genres: hagiography, historiography, chronicles, “patriographic literature,” the novel, the epic, and philological commentary. One of the main aims of the book is to shift the focus of current scholarship on fictionality from those genres that are traditionally identified as “fictional,” such as the novel and the epic, to other literary discourses that lay claim to historical objectivity and veracity. By doing so, this volume as a whole sheds new light on the interpenetration of different, often apparently antithetical discursive categories and strategies and on the ensuing problematization of established demarcations between “historicity” and fictionality, as well as “objectivity” and imaginary arbitrariness, in diverse Byzantine literary and broader cultural contexts.
Tasha Vorderstrasse and Tanya Treptow, eds. A Cosmopolitan City: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Old Cairo. The Oriental Institute, 2015.
From The Oriental Institute
This companion volume to the exhibit of the same name examines the multicultural city of Fustat, capital of medieval Egypt and predecessor to modern Cairo. It explores the interactions of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities within urban city life. These three communities practiced their own beliefs and enacted communal self-government, but they also intermingled on a daily basis and practiced shared traditions of life. Essays by leading scholars examine the different religions and languages found at Fustat, as well as cultural aspects of daily life such as food, industry, and education. The lavishly illustrated catalog presents a new analysis of the Oriental Institute’s collection of artifacts and textual materials from 7th through 12th-century Egypt. Highlights include documents from the Cairo Genizah (a document repository) of the Ben Ezra Synagogue as well as never-before-published artifacts from archaeological excavations conducted at Fustat by George Scanlon on behalf of the American Research Center in Egypt. The volume encourages discussion on the challenges of understanding religion through objects of daily life.
Alessandro Bausi et al., eds. Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction. Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies, 2015.
From Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies
The present volume is the main achievement of the Research
Networking Programme ‘Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies’, funded by the European Science Foundation in the years 2009–2014.
It is the first attempt to introduce a wide audience to the entirety of the manuscript cultures of the Mediterranean East. The chapters reflect the state of the art in such fields as codicology, palaeography, textual criticism and text editing, cataloguing, and manuscript conservation as applied to a wide array of language traditions including Arabic, Armenian, Avestan, Caucasian Albanian, Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Slavonic, Syriac, and Turkish.
Seventy-seven scholars from twenty-one countries joined their efforts to produce the handbook. The resulting reference work can be recommended both to scholars and students of classical and oriental studies and to all those involved in manuscript research, digital humanities, and preservation of cultural heritage.
The volume includes maps, illustrations, indexes, and an extensive bibliography.
A. Asa Eger. The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier: Interaction and Exchange Among Muslim and Christian Communities. I. B. Tauris, 2014.
From I. B. Tauris
The retreat of the Byzantine army from Syria in around 650 CE, in advance of the approaching Arab armies, is one that has resounded emphatically in the works of both Islamic and Christian writers, and created an enduring motif: that of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier. For centuries, Byzantine and Islamic scholars have evocatively sketched a contested border: the annual raids between the two, the line of fortified fortresses defending Islamic lands, the no-man's land in between and the birth of jihad. In their early representations of a Muslim-Christian encounter, accounts of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier are charged with significance for a future 'clash of civilizations' that often envisions a polarised world. A. Asa Eger examines the two aspects of this frontier: its physical and ideological ones. By highlighting the archaeological study of the real and material frontier, as well as acknowledging its ideological military and religious implications, he offers a more complex vision of this dividing line than has been traditionally disseminated.
With analysis grounded in archaeological evidence as well the relevant historical texts, Eger brings together a nuanced exploration of this vital element of medieval history.
Mary Harlow and Marie-Louise Nosch, eds. Greek and Roman Textiles and Dress: An Interdisciplinary Anthology. Oxbow, 2015
Twenty chapters present the range of current research into the study of textiles and dress in classical antiquity, stressing the need for cross and inter-disciplinarity study in order to gain the fullest picture of surviving material. Issues addressed include: the importance of studying textiles to understand economy and landscape in the past; different types of embellishments of dress from weaving techniques to the (late introduction) of embroidery; the close links between the language of ancient mathematics and weaving; the relationships of iconography to the realities of clothed bodies including a paper on the ground breaking research on the polychromy of ancient statuary; dye recipes and methods of analysis; case studies of garments in Spanish, Viennese and Greek collections which discuss methods of analysis and conservation; analyses of textile tools from across the Mediterranean; discussions of trade and ethnicity to the workshop relations in Roman fulleries. Multiple aspects of the production of textiles and the social meaning of dress are included here to offer the reader an up-to-date account of the state of current research. The volume opens up the range of questions that can now be answered when looking at fragments of textiles and examining written and iconographic images of dressed individuals in a range of media.
Holger Gzella. A Cultural History of Aramaic: From the Beginnings to the Advent of Islam. Brill, 2015
Aramaic is a constant thread running through the various civilizations of the Near East, ancient and modern, from 1000 BCE to the present, and has been the language of small principalities, world empires, and a fair share of the Jewish-Christian tradition. Holger Gzella describes its cultural and linguistic history as a continuous evolution from its beginnings to the advent of Islam. For the first time the individual phases of the language, their socio-historical underpinnings, and the textual sources are discussed comprehensively in light of the latest linguistic and historical research and with ample attention to scribal traditions, multilingualism, and language as a marker of cultural self-awareness. Many new observations on Aramaic are thereby integrated into a coherent historical framework.
The latest post on the British Library’s Medieval manuscripts blog takes a look at Egerton MS 3046 and the annotations made by a former owner, John Ruskin. Ruskin’s comments on both form and content are preserved throughout the manuscript. On folio 34r, for instance, he writes, “φ. how little they play with this letter.”
Nickiphoros I. Tsougarakis and Peter Lock, eds. A Companion to Latin Greece. Brill, 2015
The conquest of the Byzantine Empire by the armies of the Fourth Crusade resulted in the foundation of several Latin political entities in the lands of Greece. The Companion to Latin Greece offers thematic overviews of the history of the mixed societies that emerged as a result of the conquest.
With dedicated chapters on the art, literature, architecture, numismatics, economy, social and religious organisation and the crusading involvement of these Latin states, the volume offers an introduction to the study of Latin Greece and a sampler of the directions in which the field of research is moving.
Contributors: Nikolaos Chrissis, Charalambos Gasparis, Anastasia Papadia-Lala, Nicholas Coureas, David Jaccoby, Julian Baker, Gill Page, Maria Georgopoulou and Sophia Kalopissi-Verti.
Porphyra, XXII (December 2014)
The First Byzantine Emperor? Leo I, Aspar and Challenges of Power and Romanitas in Fifth-century Byzantium
Michael Edward Stewart
Padri, figli e principi di autorità spirituale: spunti e suggestioni dall’ epistola 88 (28 settembre 865) di Papa Nicola I e Michele III l’ Amorita
Symbiosis: the survival of Greek Christianity in the Norman Kingdom of Sicily
Sereno di Antiopoli e la cupola di Haghia Sophia a Constantinopli. Nuove ipotesi per le fonti Anthemio e Isidoro
Maria Caroline Campone
“The heavy mode (Echoes Barys) on the fret Arak” Orthodox chant in Istanbul and the various influences during the Ottoman Empire
Spatial humanities: an agenda for pre-modern research
David Joseph Wrisley
James Howard-Johnston. Historical Writing in Byzantium. Kieler Felix-Jacoby -Vorlesungen, Bd 1. Heidelberg: Verlag Antike, 2014.
From Verlag Antike
James Howard-Johnston, one of the best experts on East Roman-Byzantine historiography, gives and explains in the study submitted here, the revised and expanded Kiel Felix Jacoby Lecture of 2012, his view of the foundations, evolutionary conditions, historical contexts and characteristics as well as the reception of Byzantine historical texts from their beginnings to the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Based on most recent historical and literary research, to which he himself has contributed considerably, the author is able to elucidate the diversity and uniqueness, but also the similarities and (internal) dependencies of the Byzantine historical tradition.
Sita Steckel, Niels Gaul, Michael Grünbart, eds. Networks of Learning: Perspectives on Scholars in Byzantine East and Latin West, c. 1000–1200. Byzantinistische Studien und Texte, Bd 6. Münster; Berlin; Wien; Zürich; London: Lit Verlag, 2014.
From Lit Verlag
Cultures of learning and practices of education in the Middle Ages are drawing renewed attention, and recent approaches are questioning the traditional boundaries of institutional and intellectual history. The volume assembles contributions on both Byzantine and Latin learned culture, and aims to locate medieval scholars in their religious and political contexts instead of studying them in a framework of 'schools'. Eleven contributions on eastern and western scholars offer complementary perspectives on scholars and their work, discussing the symbolic and discursive construction of religious and intellectual authority, practices of networking and adaptations of knowledge formations.
Journal of Late Antiquity, volume 7, no. 2 (Fall 2014)
Estudios bizantinos, 2 (2014)
El incensario bizantino “de Almería”. Consideraciones acerca de la importación de bronces “coptos” en la Hispania meridional durante la Antigüedad Tardía
Jaime Vizcaíno Sánchez
This paper studies an incense burner (thuribulum) preserved at the Museo Arqueológico Nacional of Madrid (MAN). This bronze censer joined the collection in the sixties of the 20th century, being its archaeological context unknown. The spanish archaeologist M. Almagro Gorbea published a complete study of this object, suggesting that it might have been discovered in the western part of Andalusia, probably in Almería, and proposing its Coptic origin (6th-7th centuries). The contribution explores the origin, date and cultural adscription of this important element of the Christian church furnishing (instrumenta liturgica or utensilia ecclesiae, following the texts). Moreover, it compares and contrasts the Madrid censer and other similar objects produced in Early Byzantium. It also analyses its liturgical function and reviews some methodological aspects regarding its role as archaeological prototype. It finally highlights the need to discuss further wrong certainties built up according to frequent uncritical repetitions.
El monasterio de Apa Sabino en Antinópolis: su organización administrativa interna
María Jesús Albarrán Martínez
The Monastery of Apa Sabinos, situated in Antinopolis, in Middle Egypt, offers a bilingual archive containing more than thirty Greek and Coptic papyri, mostly unpublished. The study of these papyri as a whole sheds light on various aspects of the administrative apparatus of this monastic centre, from the end of the 5th up to the 7th century AD. This article focuses on the administrative internal organization of the monastery, based on a hierarchy leaded by the superior, seconded by one or several assistants and a steward. Over the time, an increasingly diversified documentation reveals that the monastery developed an ever more complex administrative structure and acquired a legal personality.
L'immagine della città di Roma nel mondo arabo-islamico: tradizione del classico e periferie della memoria
The Rome of the Arabs is, in part, the result of a literary misunderstanding, a city imagined as real but in fact imaginary; such a representation did not come from the “wilder imaginations” of the Arabs, nor from a philological misunderstanding, that is, a presumed Arabic confluence of the names of the two great capitals – Rome and Constantinople – whose names and representations always remain, in any case, entirely distinct and separate. Arabic Rome is a real city that buried its historical, topographical and cultural meaning with a single idea, the renovatio or rather translatio Romae, in other words, the political ideology that wanted Constantinople as the New, and sometimes only, Rome. The present study analyses the use of the lemma “Rome” in the Awḍaḥ al-masālik ilà ma‘rifat al-buldān wa-l-mamālik (The clearer itinerary for the understanding of places and countries), a geographical dictionary compiled by Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Būrsawī, better known as Ibn Sibāhī-zāde (m. 997 H./1589 A.D.). The analysis of this later description allows for unknown details to be retreived and moreover permits one to see how, in the specific field of Arabo-Islamic geography, the authority of tradition is passed down through the centuries, prevailing over every possible direct knowledge.
Tres piezas bizantinas con funciones apotropaicas conservadas en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional: dos enkolpia y un “sello” bivalvo inédito
Sergio Vidal Álvarez
This paper focuses on two byzantine enkolpia and an unpublished byzantine “seal” from the Numismatics Department of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid. Both enkolpia (n.º inv. 61742 and 1973/84/1-3) and the bivalbe “seal” (n.º inv. 55152) seem to have been produced in Constantinople and Eastern Anatolia in the Macedonian period. All of them show interesting Greek inscriptions and in the case of the enkolpia the usual representations of the Crucifixion.
Byzantium and the First Crusade: Three Avenues of Approach
A recurring theme in the historiography of the First Crusade is that of the Byzantine emperor asking Pope Urban to send a small contingent against the Turks and receiving instead vast armies over which he had no control. The crusade was thus completely unexpected and the emperor played no part in its genesis. Recent work has challenged that thesis and further approaches have emerged. A second theory argues that this was a novel departure in foreign policy. The emperor was in fact deeply involved in the origins of the First Crusade and played a leading role in shaping its ideals and goals. The third approach is more modest in scope: it argues that he was certainly involved but this was no unprecedented innovation, simply the extension of a tried and tested response to crisis. This response involved seeking outside allies, providing them with a financial incentive and even bringing a spiritual element into the agreement. It was the use of the last of these standard tactics that was to lead to misunderstandings between the Byzantine emperor and the crusaders.
Anna Komnene and her Sources for Military Affairs in the Alexiad
With the intensive focus on military affairs in the Alexiad provoking contentious theories and much debate, this article investigates more closely the sources of information available to Anna Komnene for her coverage of war during the reign of Alexios Komnenos. Though Anna discloses more about her sources than most Byzantine historians, it is argued that some of these claims, particularly those regarding her own capacity to witness events and converse with veteran participants, are somewhat disingenuous, intended to illustrate her adherence to traditional modes of inquiry and thus gain credence for her history. Without discounting the contribution of oral traditions of storytelling to the Alexiad, the study favours the growing consensus that Anna was more reliant on written material, especially campaign dispatches and military memoirs.
‘A living portrait of Cato’: Self-fashioning and the classical past in John Tzetzes’ Chiliads
The aim of this article is to examine the creative ways in which John Tzetzes (c.1110 – after 1160) uses the figure of Cato the Elder within his Chiliads. In appropriating Cato’s care for his son’s education to his own pedagogical relationship with his father, Tzetzes departs significantly from Plutarch’s original (Life of Cato Maior). This recreation leads him, as I argue, to engage with notions of Hellenism in twelfth-century Byzantium, to uncover his anxieties stemming from the oppressive feeling of poverty, and to castigate current social conditions that irritated him, for instance the corruption of the ecclesiastical establishment. I additionally cast light on Tzetzes’ scholarly inventiveness; that is manifested in the way he infuses his own self-portrait with Cato’s qualities in an attempt to exonerate it from public censure.
De Oriente a Occidente. La leyenda bizantina de la Passio Imaginis en el siglo XV en la Corona de Aragón
Carlos Espí Forcén
The Passio Imaginis legend played an important role during the II Council of Nicaea in 787 to defend the miraculous status of images against iconoclasts. The conclusions of Nicaea were rejected by pope Hadrian I and by the intellectuals of the Carolingian court. Nonetheless, by the 12th century the work of John of Damascus was translated in Western Europe and Christian images gradually assumed the theory of transitus, i. e. an image could be invaded by its prototype and behave like if it were the person depicted on it. The assumption of this concept caused a renewed interest in the Passio Imaginis legend and it was therefore represented on some 15th-century altarpieces in the Crown of Aragon. On the one hand, it helped to reinforce the status of the crucifix as a container of the real presence of Jesus similarly to the Eucharist; but, on the other hand, it had fatal consequences for the communities of conversos in 15th century Spain.
La Geografía de Tolomeo en un impreso anotado por Nicolás Múrmuris propiedad de Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
Paula Caballero Sánchez
Among other volumes of the same work, the Spanish humanist Diego Hurtado de Mendoza possessed the editio princeps of Ptolemy’s Geography, printed in Basilea by Froben (1533) and now preserved with the rest of his library at the Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de El Escorial with the signature 117.VII.19. This printed book is singular for containing many scholia and corrections on the text added by Nikolaos Murmuris, a Greek scribe that copied completely or partially twelve manuscripts for Mendoza between 1451 and 1453. The analysis and the collatio of the scholia and the corrections added by Murmuris to the printed volume have allowed to identify its source: a Vatican codex (Vat. gr. 176) containing the commentary composed by Nikephoros Gregoras and Isaak Argyros on Ptolemy’s Geography.
Norman D. Cowell. "Cyrenaican Church Floor Mosaics of the Justinianic Period: Decoration or Meaning?" Libyan Studies 45 (November 2014): pp. 85–96.
The well-preserved church floor mosaics of the Justinianic period discovered at Qasr Libya have been dismissed as a haphazard collection of motifs, most of which are purely decorative. The author presents arguments to question this statement and carries out a re-examination to see if a symbolic programme can be recovered from them. In this task two principal sources of imagery are drawn on; bible passages and, in view of the wide variety of fauna represented, the stories in early bestiaries where the alleged behaviour of animals is given a theological interpretation. This analysis was extended to cover a selection of other church floor mosaics of similar age. In each case it has been found possible to construct a coherent programme of symbolism and to link this to rites which would have been celebrated in those locations.
Felipe Rojas and Valeria Sergueenkova. “Traces of Tarhuntas: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Interaction with Hittite Monuments.” Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27 no. 2 (2014).
This article examines what people in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Anatolia thought about and did with Hittite and Neo-Hittite rock-cut reliefs and inscriptions. It brings together archaeological and textual evidence that demonstrates the intensity, variety, and sophistication of interactions with Bronze and Iron Age material remains between the classical and early Byzantine periods. It also calls attention to the ways in which indigenous inhabitants and foreign visitors alike used such remains to construct or verify narratives about local and universal history. The evidence analyzed here should be of interest to those studying social memory as well as cross-cultural interaction within and beyond the Mediterranean.
Aygül Ağır. "From Constantinople to Istanbul: The Residences of the Venetian Bailo (Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries)." European Journal of Archaeology (2014).
Medieval Italian city-states with access to the sea, most notably the Venetian and Genoese, were in need of safe ‘stopovers’ that would allow their inhabitants to travel to distant places across the territories in which they conducted commerce. As the most important ‘stopover’ and centre of consumption, Constantinople became a point of attraction for Italian merchant colonies, particularly after the eleventh century. Among these, the most powerful one with the largest settlement was the Venetian colony. Following a decree dated 1082 (Chrysoboullos) that granted them certain privileges, the Venetians settled across the southern shores of the Golden Horn. In terms of administration, it appears that, until the Latin period (1204–1261), no formal officers were appointed to the Venetian Merchant Colony. ‘The bailo’ was first instituted in Constantinople only after the treaty of 18 June 1265. The mention of a house owned by the bailo dates as late as 1277. Documents on the residence of the bailo remain silent until the early fifteenth century. It is unclear if the palace of the bailo mentioned in fifteenth-century documents and the house allocated to the bailo in 1277 are the same building. Despite the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Venetians, albeit with interruptions, continued to live on the historic peninsula. However, it is no longer possible to speak of a Venetian settlement similar to the one that had existed in Byzantine times. Per the agreement signed on 16 August 1454, the Venetians were granted a house and a church that ‘once’ belonged to Anconitans. The possible location and architectural features of the residences of the bailo, which have left behind no archaeological data, are discussed here through written sources including Ottoman documents.
Alexander T. Schubert and Petra M. Sijpesteijn, eds. Documents and the History of the Early Islamic World. Brill, 2014.
Historians have long lamented the lack of contemporary documentary sources for the Islamic middle ages and the inhibiting effect this has had on our understanding of this critically important period. Although the field is richly served by surviving evidence, much of it is hard to locate, difficult to access, and philologically intractable. Presenting a mixture of historical studies and new editions of Greek, Arabic and Coptic material from the seventh to the fifteenth century C.E. from Egypt and Palestine, Documents and the History of the Early Islamic World explores the untapped wealth of documentary sources available in collections around the world and shows how this exciting material can be used for historical analysis.
Béatrice Caseau. “Les marqueurs de pain, objets rituels dans le christianisme antique et byzantin.” Revue de l’histoire des religions 4 (2014): 599–617.
The category of ritual objects is large but does not include all objects bearing religious iconography, unless they are actively involved in a ritual. Can be defined as ritual objects those kept in shrines or homes and used in religious rituals, whether they are carried out by a person, a family or a community. This article focuses specifically on breadstamps used to mark the loaves offered in eulogy to churches by the faithful or to the faithful by the clergy of sanctuaries in the late antique and Byzantine periods. They are not cultic objects but rather household items that give the bread a religious value. The category of ritual object is useful for making sense of a class of objects linking the two worlds of the sanctuary and the home, opening a space between sacred objects and domestic items bearing religious iconography.
Anthony Kaldellis. A New Herodotos. Laonikos Chalkokondyles on the Ottoman Empire, the Fall of Byzantium, and the Emergence of the West. Supplements to the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. Harvard University Press, 2014.
From Harvard University Press
This companion to the two-volume Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library edition and translation of The Histories by Laonikos Chalkokondyles is the first book-length investigation of an author who has been poorly studied. Providing biographical and intellectual context for Laonikos, Anthony Kaldellis shows how the author synthesized his classical models to fashion his own distinctive voice and persona as a historian. Indebted to his teacher Plethon for his global outlook, Laonikos was one of the first historians to write with a pluralist’s sympathy for non-Greek ethnic groups, including Islamic ones. His was the first secular and neutral account of Islam written in Greek. Kaldellis deeply explores the ethnic dynamics that explicitly and implicitly undergird the Histories, which recount the rise of the Ottoman empire and the decline of the Byzantine empire, all in the context of expanding western power. Writing at once in antique and contemporary modes, Laonikos transformed “barbarian” oral traditions into a classicizing historiography that was both Greek and Ottoman in outlook. Showing that he was instrumental in shifting the self-definition of his people from Roman to the Western category of “Greek,” Kaldellis provides a stimulating account of the momentous transformations of the mid-fifteenth century.
Ana de Francisco Heredero, David Hernández de la Fuente, Susana Torres Prieto, eds. New Perspectives on Late Antiquity in the Eastern Roman Empire. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014.
From Cambridge Scholars Publishing
The present volume presents some of the latest research trends in the study of Late Antiquity in the Eastern Roman Empire from a multi-disciplinary perspective, encompassing not only social, economic and political history, but also philology, philosophy and legal history. The volume focuses on the interaction between the periphery and the core of the Eastern Empire, and the relations between Eastern Romans and Barbarians in various geographic areas, during the approximate millennium that elapsed between the Fall of Rome and the Fall of Constantinople, paying special attention to the earliest period. By introducing the reader to some innovative and ground-breaking recent theories, the contributors to the present volume, an attractive combination of leading scholars in their respective fields and promising young researchers, offer a fresh and thought-provoking examination of Byzantium during Late Antiquity and beyond.
Danijel Dzino and Ken Parry, eds. Byzantium, Its Neighbours and Its Cultures. Byzantina Australiensia vol. 20. Brisbane 2014.
From the Australian Association for Byzantine Studies
Byzantium was one of the longest-lasting empires in history. Throughout the millennium of its existence, the empire showed its capability to change and develop under very different historical circumstances. This remarkable resilience would have been impossible to achieve without the formation of a lasting imperial culture and a strong imperial ideological infrastructure. Imperial culture and ideology required, among other things, to sort out who was ʻinsiderʼ and who was ʻoutsiderʼ and develop ways to define and describe ones neighbours and interact with them.
There is an indefinite number of possibilities for the exploration of relationships between Byzantium and its neighbours. The essays in this collection focus on several interconnected clusters of topics and shared research interests, such as the place of neighbours in the context of the empire and imperial ideology, the transfer of knowledge with neighbours, the Byzantine perception of their neighbours and the political relationship and/or the conflict with neighbours.
Journal of Roman Archaeology, 27 (2014)
The life and afterlife of Constantine’s Column
The Justinianic plague: evidence from the dated Greek epitaphs of Byzantine Palestine and Arabia
‘Atiqot, 79 (2014)
New Archaeological Finds from Kursi-Gergesa
Vassilios Tzaferis with a contribution by Gabriela Bijovsky
Two areas were opened (Areas C, D), exposing a stepped tunnel, a bathhouse and a cemetery. The stepped tunnel, which was unearthed in the 1970–1971 season of excavations, was found to end in a narrow leveled space, above which was a vaulted entrance leading to a spacious underground room. A compact Roman–Byzantine bathhouse was exposed, comprising five distinct units: a water-supply unit, a heating installation (praefurnium), heated-water pools, a hot room (caldarium) and a cool room (frigidarium). It is evident that the bathhouse was connected to the hostel building excavated in 1970–1971. The pottery from the bathhouse was similar to that of the adjacent hostel building, including fragments of bowls, cooking pots and oil lamps. Based on the stratigraphic and ceramic evidence, the bathhouse operated in the second quarter of the seventh century CE. The discovery of the bathhouse sheds light on the secular functions of the monastery at Kursi-Gergesa. Behind the apse wall of the church at Kursi were uncovered three tombs and a cist tomb. The tombs contained the disarticulated bones of several dozen humans (studied by Yossi Nagar). Mixed with the skeletal remains were ceramic-bowl and lamp fragments; glass vessels and beads (studied by Natalia Katsnelson); engraved iron rings and bronze jewelry; buckles, bells and chain fragments; iron weapons and tools; incised bone plaques; and four coins, three of them perforated (studied by Gabriela Bijovsky). The burials seem to represent a communal tomb (of pilgrims?), buried at the site in the late Byzantine period (late sixth–early seventh centuries CE), possibly following a tragic historical event (epidemic? massacre?).
Glass Finds and Assorted Beads from Three Tombs at Kursi-Gergesa
Three glass vessels and 45 pieces of jewelry were retrieved from the tombs discovered behind the apse wall of the church at Kursi. Among the vessels is a mold-blown, hexagonal jug with a rare symbolic motif, hitherto unknown from an excavated context. The finds also included two glass pendants, a ribbed bracelet and many beads of varied shapes and sizes, made of glass, carnelian, resin, bone and coral. Two of the beads were decorated: a mosaic-glass bead and a carnelian bead with a drawn pattern. The entire assemblage is typical of the sixth–early seventh centuries CE.
Human Skeletal Remains from Tombs at Kursi-Gergesa
Human remains were found in three burial chambers and one cist tomb at Kursi, dated to the Byzantine period. Based on anthropological analysis, at least 69 individuals, including infants, children and adults of both sexes, were identified. The finds at Kursi might suggest that the people buried at the site were of foreign origin (pilgrims?).
Excavations at the Dar el-Gharbiya Neighborhood of Kafr Yasif: A Crusader Estate in the Territory of ‘Akko
Danny Syon and Edna J. Stern with a contribution by Yael Gorin-Rosen
Six excavation squares and three test trenches were opened. In Square A, a building was unearthed, probably first constructed in the Byzantine period and reused, probably as a stable, in the Crusader period (twelfth century); the last phase of the building (also a stable?) dates to the Mamluk period (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries). The earliest architectural stratum in Squares B and D dates to the late Byzantine or Early Islamic period, followed by an architectural phase from the Crusader period (the twelfth century); the last phase, including a water system, dates to the Mamluk period. Square C contained a large quantity of pottery, mostly from the Crusader period, but also from the Byzantine and Late Roman periods. Square E yielded fragmentary remains, and Square F yielded massive walls, closely aligned with the Crusader walls in Square A. The finds included pottery dating to the Persian, Hellenistic, Byzantine, Umayyad and Abbasid periods, as well as from the Mamluk and early Ottoman periods. Most of the pottery dates to the main Crusader-period phase (twelfth–early thirteenth centuries) and is domestic in character, including mostly local ware and a few imported wares from Greece and the Aegean region. The glass finds, including dismantled glass furnaces (studied by Yael Gorin-Rosen), date primarily to the late Byzantine and early Umayyad periods.
The November 25 post on the British Library’s Medieval manuscripts blog explores the illumination of the Phillipps Lectionary (Additional MS 82957), one of five Greek manuscripts acquired by the library in 2006 and 2007.
Crusades, volume 13 (2014)
The ‘schism’ of 1054 and the First Crusade
The Gesta Francorum Iherusalem expugnantium of ‘Bartolf of Nangis’
The Jerusalem conquest of 492/1099 in the medieval Arabic historiography of the Crusades: from regional plurality to Islamic narrative
Geoffrey, prior of the Templum Domini on the seven books of Josephus
Irish involvement in the Crusades? A reconsideration of the eleventh- and twelfth-century chronicle and annalistic evidence
The German Crusade of 1197-98
Burchard of Mount Zion’s Descriptio Terrae Sanctae: a newly discovered extended version
A templar’s belt: the oral and sartorial transmission of memory and myth in the Order of the Temple
Nuove pergamene messinesi due-trecentesche relative ad Acri e Famagosta
Humbert of Viennois and the Crusade of Smyrna: a reconsideration
Nadine Schibille. Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience. Ashgate, 2014.
Paramount in the shaping of early Byzantine identity was the construction of the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (532–537 CE). This book examines the edifice from the perspective of aesthetics to define the concept of beauty and the meaning of art in early Byzantium. Byzantine aesthetic thought is re-evaluated against late antique Neoplatonism and the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius that offer fundamental paradigms for the late antique attitude towards art and beauty. These metaphysical concepts of aesthetics are ultimately grounded in experiences of sensation and perception, and reflect the ways in which the world and reality were perceived and grasped, signifying the cultural identity of early Byzantium.
There are different types of aesthetic data, those present in the aesthetic object and those found in aesthetic responses to the object. This study looks at the aesthetic data embodied in the sixth-century architectural structure and interior decoration of Hagia Sophia as well as in literary responses (ekphrasis) to the building. The purpose of the Byzantine ekphrasis was to convey by verbal means the same effects that the artefact itself would have caused. A literary analysis of these rhetorical descriptions recaptures the Byzantine perception and expectations, and at the same time reveals the cognitive processes triggered by the Great Church.
The central aesthetic feature that emerges from sixth-century ekphraseis of Hagia Sophia is that of light. Light is described as the decisive element in the experience of the sacred space and light is simultaneously associated with the notion of wisdom. It is argued that the concepts of light and wisdom are interwoven programmatic elements that underlie the unique architecture and non-figurative decoration of Hagia Sophia. A similar concern for the phenomenon of light and its epistemological dimension is reflected in other contemporary monuments, testifying to the pervasiveness of these aesthetic values in early Byzantium.