Translating Byzantium and Byzantium Translating

Translating Byzantium and Byzantium Translating lead image

Translating Byzantium and Byzantium Translating, 1st International Late Antique and Byzantine Studies Graduate Conference, Central European University and University of Vienna, June 2–3, 2023

Translation - the process of rendering a text from one language into another - is a well-observed feature of the Byzantine world. At the same time, reflecting on translation raises issues related to the interpretation, adaptation, and re-contextualization of texts, ideas, as weil as of images and material culture.

The first aim of this conference is to explore translation proper. The translation of letters, commentaries, and homilies into Armenian, Arabic, Coptic, Georgian, Latin, Church Slavonic, and Syriac points to an intense interest in the Greek literature produced inside and outside of the Byzantine Empire. In addition, the existing array of material copied from other languages into Greek demonstrates that translating in Byzantium was a multi-directional process. Whilst translations can help us to understand the transmission and dissemination of different textual traditions, they are also witnesses to the social, trans-cultural, and political environments in which they were produced.

The second aim is to treat translation in broader terms, using it to explore issues relating to multilingualism, the mobility of ideas and objects, as weil as how we as scholars treat, categorize, and prioritize language in our respective disciplines. How did the Byzantines themselves deal with and reflect on the presence of multiple languages? How has the dominance of classical Greek in the curricula of 'Western' universities or the equation of Byzantium with Greek Orthodoxy impacted the way Byzantine history is told and conceptualized?