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CML videoseminar. Julián Bértola, "Reactions, reflections, paraphrases: functions and contexts of Byzantine verse scholia on historiography"

CML videoseminar on 2 March 2020 (SDU and York) at 2:30 - 3:30 PM CET

CML videoseminar by Julián Bértola (Ghent University)


The Byzantine practice of writing commentaries in verse in the margins of manuscripts can be studied from different perspectives. Verse scholia are part of the larger genre of book epigrams, the instantiation of the Byzantine epigrammatic habit in book culture. They also occupy a rather marginal place in the history of Byzantine scholarship. My talk, however, will avoid studying these commentaries merely as a means to access the content of the main text. I will present a corpus of unedited verse scholia on Herodotus and Niketas Choniates and investigate which attitudes they adopt towards the text they comment on and from which backgrounds they do it. These spontaneous and emotional reactions to the main text usually belong to more or less self-aware intellectual programmes and reflect on contemporary affairs. Moreover, while analyzing these examples of the reception and Nachleben of these historians in Byzantium, I will try to address the issue of the literariness of these texts. The use of verse already invites the reader to consider them as literature in their own right. However, it is hardly ever a matter of ancillary versification. A number of formal procedures regarding the passages they comment on may reveal higher ambitions. To conclude, I will present some problems I have encountered while working with this material.

Editing was completed: 02.03.2020