Constantine of Rhodes, On Constantinople and the Church of the Holy Apostles
With a new edition of the Greek text by Ioannis Vassis
Constantine of Rhodes's tenth-century poem is an account of public monuments in Constantinople and of the Church of the Holy Apostles. In the opening section of the work, Constantine describes columns and sculptures within the city, seven of which he calls 'wonders'. In the second part of the poem, he portrays the Church of the Holy Apostles, offering an account of its architecture and internal decoration, notably the mosaics, seven of which are also depicted as 'wonders'. On one level, the poem offers an account of what was visible, a sense of city topography and, in the case of the Apostoleion, a vital description of a now-lost building. But it cannot be read as a straightforward description. Rather, Constantine's work offers insights into Byzantine perceptions of works of art. The monuments Constantine decided to portray and the ways in which he chose to describe them say as much, if not more, about the social and cultural milieu in which he operated as about the actual physical appearance of the monuments themselves. Further, the poem itself, as it survives in one fifteenth-century manuscript, raises questions: is it, in its current form, a single poem or is it made up of a compilation of Constantine's writings? This book supersedes the two previous editions of the poem, both dating to 1896, and provides the first full translation of the text. It consists of a new Greek edition of Constantine's poem, with an introductory essay, prepared by Ioannis Vassis, and a translation and commentary by a group of scholars headed by Liz James. Liz James also contributes an extensive discussion of the two distinct parts of the poem, the city monuments and the Church of the Holy Apostles.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Section I The Poem: Introduction to the Greek edition, Ioannis Vassis; Text and Translation: Edition by Ioannis Vassis; Translation by Vassiliki Dimitropoulou, Liz James and Robert Jordan; Indexes; Commentary on the translation, Liz James. Section II Constantine of Rhodes’s Poem and Art History, by Liz James: The poet and the poem; ’A partial account of the statues of the city and its high and very great columns’: Constantine; account of Constantinople; The church of the Holy Apostles: fact and fantasy, descriptions and reconstructions; In conclusion; Bibliography; General index.
Liz James is Professor of Art History, University of Sussex, UK.
'This is the first English translation of the entire text of Constantine of Rhodes' tenth-century poem(s) about Constantinople and the church of the Holy Apostles. ... There are copious footnotes and two indices, as well as a commentary by Liz James on the translation, all of which should be useful for anyone engaging with the contents of the poem.' The Medieval Review