To the memory of my father Andreas Roilos (1928–1999)
For my mother Ioanna Roilou


Systematic work on this book started in 1996; it was completed in early 2003 and since then only minor, mainly bibliographical and editorial, revisions have been made. I have profited from discussions with a considerable number of colleagues, students, and friends, who contributed valuable help and suggestions at various stages in the development of this project. Thanks I owe especially to Jacques Bouchard, Guglielmo Cavallo, John Chioles, Kathleen Coleman, Chris Dadian, Marcel Detienne, Mary Ebbott, Marina Falla-Castelfranchi, Ryan Hackney, Albert Henrichs, Michael Herzfeld, Elizabeth Jeffreys, Christopher Jones, Ioli Kalavrezou, the late Alexander Kazhdan, Evro Layton, Leonard Muellner, Joyce C. Nevis, Ryan Preston, Diether Reinsch, Eirene and the late Yiannis Savvopoulos, Ihor Šev
enko, Dina and Yiannis Thanopoulos, Richard Thomas, Helen Vendler, the late Kalliopi Xerotagarou, Jan Ziolkowski.
A Fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks in the summer of 1996 gave me the opportunity to conduct research in a most inspiring academic environment. I want to acknowledge here Alice-Mary Talbot’s valuable help and suggestions. The late Alexander Kazhdan offered inspiring directions and decisive bibliographical advice.
Thanks I owe to Panagiotis Agapitos and Diether Reinsch who invited me to present aspects of my research at a Symposium on the Komnenian novel at Freie Universität, Berlin, in April 1998. An earlier version of pages 253–257 and 260–274 of this book appeared in the Proceedings of the Symposium on the Komnenian novel edited by the two organizers (see Roilos 2000).
I am grateful to Elizabeth and Michael Jeffreys for allowing me to use their forthcoming edition of Manganeios Prodromos. I am deeply indebted to Elizabeth Jeffreys who generously offered me her time and expertise during my study with her at Oxford in Hilary and Trinity terms in 1997. Her insightful comments on a draft of this book have been very helpful.
At different stages my project has been financed by subventions from the Loeb Classical Library Foundation and the Joseph H. Clark Fund, Harvard University. My special thanks go to Richard Thomas for his generous support.
Dimitrios Yatromanolakis contributed his unparalleled scholarly acuity and intellectual brilliance at all phases of the writing of this book. I owe him deepest gratitude. Gregory Nagy has been throughout an unstinting source of encouragement and support. John Duffy has shared with me his scholarly sagacity and penetrating understanding of medieval Greek literary matters, and provided incisive suggestions.
Margaret Alexiou has inspired generations of scholars in the humanities and social sciences. I am fortunate to have been one of them. I am grateful to her for always sharing with me her scholarly erudition and insights, to which this book owes much more than what I can here acknowledge.
Almost all the texts I discuss in this book are not available in English. The translations are mine unless otherwise indicated. Archaizing medieval Greek tends to be notoriously convoluted and abstract or intriguingly metaphoric. In my renditions I have tried to convey the stylistic and linguistic idiosyncrasies of the original works.