1st Edition

The Late Byzantine Romance in Context Narrativity and Identities in the Mediterranean (13th–16th Centuries)

Edited By Ioannis Smarnakis, Zissis D. Ainalis Copyright 2024

    This book investigates issues of identity and narrativity in late Byzantine romances in a Mediterranean context, covering the chronological span from the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 to the 16th century. It includes chapters not only on romances that were written and read in the broader Byzantine world but also on literary texts from regions around the Mediterranean Sea.

    The volume offers new insights and covers a variety of interrelated subjects concerning the narrative representations of self-identities, gender, and communities, the perception of political and cultural otherness, and the interaction of space and time with identity formation. The chapters focus on texts from the Byzantine, western European, and Ottoman worlds, thus promoting a cross-cultural approach that highlights the role of the Mediterranean as a shared environment that facilitated communications, cultural interaction, and the trading and reconfiguration of identities.

    The volume will appeal to a wide audience of researchers and students alike, specializing in or simply interested in cultural studies, Byzantine, western medieval, and Ottoman history and literature.

    1. Introduction: a) Identities and narrativity in a Mediterranean context (13th–16th centuries): a brief introduction

    Yannis Smarnakis

    b) The Late Byzantine romance in context

    Zissis D. Ainalis

    2. The narrator’s voice: narrative and representation of the self in the Late Byzantine romances

    Zissis D. Ainalis

    3. Western cultural ways and their perception in Palaiologan narratives: some cases from historiography and vernacular romances

    Nafsika Vassilopoulou

    4. The Forty Viziers and the Ottoman sultans: offering advice and expressing critique in the 1440s

    Eleni Gara

    5. East and the eastern other in the imaginary of Byzantine romance

    Zoi Kokka

    6. An “emperor” under the guise of a Moses: narrative representations of the East in Philippe de Mézières’ Songe du viel pelerin

    Eleni Tounta

    7. Narrative representations of space in the tale of Imperios and Margarona: constructing the image of a “global” mediterranean for a popular audience

    Yannis Smarnakis

    8. Fathers, sons and brothers: the succession to the throne and the construction of masculinities in Velthandros and Chrysantza and Kallimachos and Chrysorrhoe

    Konstantinos Karatolios

    9. The virgin and the soldier, the monk and the whore: gendered metonymy and confessional resistance in the post-Byzantine world

    Yorgos Tzedopoulos


    Yannis Smarnakis is a lecturer in the Social and Cultural History of Byzantium at the University of the Aegean, Greece. He specializes in the social and cultural history of the Late Byzantine era, focusing on issues related to the construction of identities and otherness, the history of political thought, perceptions of the past, urban revolts, and the historiography of Byzantium. His most recent monograph is Byzantine Renaissance and Utopia: Plethon and the Despotate of Morea, published in Greek in 2017.

    Zissis D. Ainalis studied medieval and modern Greek philology at the University of Ioannina and holds a PhD in history from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. He is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Social Anthropology and History of the University of the Aegean, Greece, and is a PI of the research program “The World of the Palaiologan Romance: Representations of Self and Society in the Greek Narrative Works of the Late Medieval Period.” His research focuses on Greek-language narrative works from late antiquity to the end of the Byzantine period.