From Byzantium to Modern Greece
Medieval Texts and their Modern Reception
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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.
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.
Roderick Beaton is Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King's College London, UK
’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