From Byzantium to Modern Greece: Medieval Texts and their Modern Reception, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

From Byzantium to Modern Greece

Medieval Texts and their Modern Reception, 1st Edition

By Roderick Beaton


320 pages

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Hardback: 9780754659693
pub: 2008-09-28
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The twelfth century was a time of cultural renewal and innovation in Byzantium, just as it was in the west. In literature, the long disused genres of epic, satire and the novel (or 'romance') took new forms during that century; at the same time, in language, the vernacular made its first tentative literary appearances. These developments continued uninterruptedly through the late Byzantine and early modern periods. Scholarship since the nineteenth century has been sharply divided over these texts: do they represent the first 'breakthrough' of an emergent 'Modern Greek' literature, or merely a footnote to the Byzantine learned tradition? What, in particular, do they have to tell us about the collective self-definition of the Greek-speakers who wrote them (roughly during the period 1100-1600)? And how has their subsequent reception contributed to defining and consolidating the national identity of the Modern Greeks, since the nation state was established in the 1820s? The papers collected in this book explore the relation between literary texts and collective consciousness, scrutinizing the evidence of the texts themselves in their late- or post-Byzantine context, and assessing how their reception both influenced and was influenced by the processes of nation-building in Modern Greece.


’Variorum compilations are long familiar to medievalists. This volume is notable among them for the effectiveness with which its nineteen articles create a coherent whole, responsive to their assembly between two covers in a given order.’ Annemarie Weyl Carr in Arthuriana

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part 1 Literature and Identity: 'De vulgari eloquentia' in 12th-century Byzantium; Antique nation? 'Hellenes' on the eve of Greek independence and in 12th-century Byzantium. Part 2 Byzantine Epic and the Oral Tradition: Balladry in the medieval Greek world; Byzantine historiography and modern Greek oral poetry: the case of Rapsomatis; Was Digenes Akrites an oral poem?; Digenes Akrites and modern Greek folk song: a reassessment; An epic in the making? The early versions of Digenes Akrites. Part 3 The Revival of Satire: Cappadocians at court: Digenes and Timarion; The rhetoric of poverty: the lives and opinions of Theodore Prodromos; Ptochoprodromos III: the ethopoeia of the unruly monk. Part 4 The Byzantine Novel or 'Romance': The Byzantine revival of the ancient novel; The world of fiction and the world 'out there': the case of the Byzantine novel; The poetics of the vernacular Greek romances and the 'chronotope' according to Bakhtin; Courtly romances in Byzantium: a case study in reception; Erotokritos and the history of the novel. Part 5 Byzantine Literature and the Making of a Modern Greek National Consciousness: Koraes, Toynbee and the modern Greek heritage; Romanticism in Greece; La fortune de Digénis Akritis: de l'épopée médiévale au symbole du nationalisme grec; 'Our glorious Byzantinism': Papatzonis, Seferis, and the rehabilitation of Byzantium in postwar Greek poetry; Index.

About the Author

Roderick Beaton is Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King's College London, UK

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General