Composed in 1095 as a dialogue between the body and the soul in more than 7000 verses by the otherwise unknown Philippos Monotropos, the Dioptra is an important text both because of its popularity in Byzantium and beyond, and its place within Byzantine literature. Its straightforward language, its format of questions and answers and the fact that it was written in verse appealed to those Byzantines who, without being scholars, had some formal education and a lively interest in the visible and invisible world that surrounded them. Thus, the Dioptra is a first-rate source for the mentality of a segment of the Byzantine society which has only recently attracted scholarly attention. It is also an important source for the literary language known as ‘Schriftkoine.’ Moreover, its literary character, manifested, among other, in the creation of the fictitious personas of the body and the soul, place the Dioptra at the beginnings of the revival of fictionality of the 12th century. The Dioptra’s popularity continued among Greek and Slavonic speakers beyond the Middle Ages.
The aim of the project was to make the Dioptra accessible to modern scholars through a critical edition. It continued the FWF-funded project “Die Dioptra des Philippos Monotropos” (P 18245 Einzelprojekte), the aim of which was to carry out preliminary research for the edition of both the Greek text and its Slavonic translation.
The funding through FWF expired on 31.07.2015. The publication of the critical edition of the Dioptra is in preparation.
Wolfram Hörandner (project leader)
Eirini Afentoulidou (collaborator)