Byzantine Poetry in the ‘Long’ Twelfth Century (1081–1204): Texts and Contexts

(FWF project: P28959 01.10.2016–31.01.2020)

Panagia of Krina, Chios, 18th c. painted verses of Theodore Prodromos’ ‘On a depiction of Bios’
(© Anneliese Paul)

Byzantine poetry up to the year 1081 has been comprehensively studied over the last ten years thanks to the studies “Byzantine Poetry from Pisides to Geometres” and “Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry, 1025–1081” by Marc Lauxtermann and Floris Bernard, respectively. By contrast, the poetry produced in the Komnenian period is deprived of a similar study. The project “Byzantine Poetry in the ‘Long’ Twelfth Century (1081–1204): Texts and Contexts” aims to take the first steps towards filling this gap in the study and appreciation of poetry written during this period.

Court poetry, didactic poetry, satire and schedography in verse, poems concerned with the “rhetoric of poverty” are but some popular twelfth-century genres which stand for the use of verse for heterogeneous purposes and various addressees or commissioners during the twelfth century. Although many of these genres were not new, their production during this period is significantly larger in comparison with that of the immediately preceding and succeeding centuries.

The main aim of the project is to investigate Komnenian poetry in conjunction with its various contexts of production and delivery (court, classroom, theatron, church etc.) and on the basis of heterogeneous discursive forms and genres (e.g., epos, satire, and didactic, occasional and epistolary poetry). It will focus on the meticulous examination of various aspects associated with Komnenian poetry (e.g. patronage, authorship, circulation and mobility of texts, education system, and performance) and will describe its prominent place in the literary production and socio-cultural context that spans the entire twelfth-century. It will also take into consideration the poetic production in the periphery of the empire (e.g. Sicily and Athens) and the works of lesser known or anonymous poets.


Images of the conference, June 13-15, 2018 ((c) A. Rhoby)

Cooperation partners

• Dr. Eirini Afentoulidou-Leitgeb–Austrian Academy of Sciences (project “The Dioptra of Philippos Monotropos”) • Prof. Theodora Antonopoulou–Athens University (Byzantine literature and philology) • Prof. Floris Bernard–Central European University, Budapest (11th-century poetry) • Prof. Kristoffel Demoen–Ghent University (project “Database of Byzantine Book Epigrams”) • Prof. Ivan Drpić–University of Washington (Art History and epigrams) • Prof. Wolfram Hörandner–Austrian Academy of Sciences (Byzantine literature and philology) • Prof. Elizabeth Jeffreys–University of Oxford (project “Manganeios Prodromos”) • Prof. Michael Jeffreys–University of Oxford (project “Manganeios Prodromos”) • Prof. Marc Lauxtermann–University of Oxford (Byzantine Poetry 'Text and Context') • Prof. Przemyslaw Marciniak–University of Silesia, Katowice (project “An Intellectual History of Twelfth-Century Byzantium–Appropriation and Transformation of Ancient Literature”) • Dr. Georgi Parpulov–University of Oxford (Art History and manuscripts) • Prof. Claudia Rapp–University of Vienna/Austrian Academy of Sciences (Social History) • Prof. Juan Signes Codoñer–University of Valladolid (project “El autor bizantino”) • Dr. Foteini Spingou–University of Toronto, Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies (project “Anthologizing the Occasion: Medieval Poetic Anthologies and Cultural Memory”) • Dr. Alexandra Wassiliou-Seibt–Austrian Academy of Sciences (project “Metrical Legends on Byzantine Lead Seals”)


I. Nilsson - N. Zagklas, “Hurry up, reap every flower of the logoi!” The Use of Greek Novels in Byzantium. Greek, Roman & Byzantine Studies 57 (2017) 1120-1148

A. Rhoby, The Poetry of Theodore Balsamon. Form and Function, in: A. Rhoby - N. Zagklas (eds.), Middle and Late Byzantine Poetry. Texts and Contexts (Brepols 2018)

N. Zagklas, Metrical Polyeideia and Generic Innovation in the Twelfth Century: The Multimetric Cycles of Occasional Poetry, in: A. Rhoby - N. Zagklas (eds.), Middle and Late Byzantine Poetry. Texts and Contexts (Brepols, 2018)

N. Zagklas, Experimenting with Prose and Verse in Twelfth-Century Byzantium: A Preliminary Study. Dumbarton Oaks Papers 71 (2017) 229-248