Amphoteroglossia: A Poetics of the Twelfth-Century Medieval Greek Novel

  Roilos, Panagiotis. 2006. Amphoteroglossia: A Poetics of the Twelfth Century Medieval Greek Novel. Hellenic Studies Series 10. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 2. Rhetorical Modulations in the Komnenian Novel

… You pick a fragment
Of grenade which pierced the body of a song
On Daphnis and Chloe. And you long,
Ruefully, to have a talk with her,
As if it were what life prepared you for.
—How is it, Chloe, that your pretty skirt
Is torn so badly by the winds that hurt
Real people, you who, in eternity, sing
The hours, sun in your hair appearing
And disappearing? How is it that your breasts
Are pierced by shrapnel, and the oak groves burn,
While you, charmed, not caring at all, turn
To run through forests of machinery and concrete
And haunt us with the echoes of your feet?
If there is such an eternity, lush
Though short-lived, that’s enough. But how … hush!
We were predestined to live when the scene
Grows dim and the outline of a Greek ruin
Blackens the sky …

Czeslaw Milosz, from A Book in the Ruins

Rhetoric and the novel

Rhetoric has invested Byzantine literature with a dialogic potentiality the aesthetic appeal of which should be estimated not on the basis of our own modern criteria but according to the horizon of expectations of its original public—to the extent, of course, that these horizons can be reconstructed. Circumscribed by the strict and sometimes monolithic conventions of a long-established tradition, rhetoric in Byzantium nonetheless always remained a potentially “double-tongued” art that allowed its practitioners to exploit the potential ambivalence of language and, sometimes, to undermine the authority of sanctioned models.

The close affinities of Byzantine literature with traditional rhetoric have often been approached with condescension if not with explicit disdain. Jenkins’s influential article “The Hellenistic Origins of Byzantine Literature” exemplifies this attitude in the bluntest possible way. Ignoring the broader aesthetic and ideological parameters of medieval Greek literature, Jenkins does not hesitate to express the following sweeping and ideologically charged verdict about Byzantine rhetoric: “we have been compelled,” he says, “to pass an unfavorable judgement on Byzantine rhetoric, since it colored nearly every department of Byzantine literature and since honesty forbids us to regard its influence as anything but disastrous.” [1] If, however, appreciation of the complex originality of Byzantine belles lettres demands considerable intellectual agility on the part of the general reader or even the specialized scholar, this by no means should be considered as a flaw inherent in Byzantine literature itself. [2]

In this Chapter, I wish to explore the importance of rhetoric for the composition and reception of the twelfth-century Greek novel. My main focus is on the creative manipulation of traditional rhetorical conventions by the medieval Greek novelists for their specific narrative purposes. The complex and occasionally esoteric poetics of the medieval Greek novel cannot be adequately explored and appreciated without a systematic study of the role of rhetoric in the resurgence and development of this genre in twelfth-century Byzantium. Both the narrative strategies of the texts themselves and their reception by their Byzantine audience indicate that such a study is of crucial importance for the reconstruction of the aesthetic and broader cultural conditions that defined the production and “consumption” of these texts.

Rhetoric in the twelfth century

In addition to the ethical and practical values of rhetoric, Byzantine authors of the era underline also the creative discursive flexibility of this art. In a letter to Theodoros Prodromos (one of the four Komnenian novelists), which is composed in a language replete with rhetorical antitheses and paradoxa, Michael Italikos expresses his admiration for the discursive possibilities that rhetoric offers to writers:

The rhetors, who have established the rules of the art of speech, sometimes multiply single things and picture the one as many while other times they also express many things in terms of one. For they inflate and contract things by means of such devices to the effect that they expound small subjects with grandiosity and declare big things in minimal terms, thus transforming and recreating, so to speak, these things with their words.

Rhetoric, in other words, undermines established ways of viewing and recording reality. Italikos’ insistence on this art’s power to recreate things beyond rational expectations is expressed in a manner that, surprisingly, seems to defy conventional Christian ideas about truth. His admiration for rhetoric could be justified nonetheless if viewed in the context of the renewed fascination among the twelfth-century Byzantine intellectual elite with their ancient Greek cultural heritage.

Tzetzes illustrates here the nature of rhetoric as “double-tonguedness” (amphoteroglōssia) by referring to the protean character of psogos (invective) and egkōmion (praise), two of the most influential rhetorical exercises (progumnasmata) in Byzantine literary tradition. The ability of a rhetor to adapt the same words and ideas to different literary contexts and, correspondingly, to invest them with totally opposite functions points to the potentially playful discursive character not only of rhetoric but of literature in general.

This brief epigram exemplifies what Tzetzes would call rhetoric’s amphoteroglōssia: is Rhetoric considered here as a Vice or a Virtue?

All of the Iambic Poem is structured as a series of couplets in which a Virtue is juxtaposed to a Vice, except for the beginning where we have one Virtue and two Vices, and the end, where we have two Virtues, Philosophy and Grammar, separated by the ambivalent Rhetoric. Symmetry would force us to view Rhetoric as a Vice, but in the couplet devoted to her, nothing compels such a characterization. Even the word diploē, which is crucial for deciphering the meaning of the epigram, remains an obscure and potentially “double-tongued” signifier: among other things, diploē can mean both “hollow sting” and “concealed sense.” [13] The first meaning could be interpreted as an allusion to the occasionally sharp character of rhetoric, to Pungency (drimutēs) and Sharpness (oxutēs), which in Hermogenes’ On Ideas constitute subdivisions of the Idea of Ēthos. [14] The latter meaning, “concealed sense,” could be viewed as a reference to obscurity (asapheia), which, despite its condemnation by Aristotle, was often recognized as a stylistic virtue by the Byzantines. [15] In another idiosyncratic poem of dramatic structure entitled Love in Exile (’Απόδημoς Φιλία), Prodromos employs the same term (diploē) in its second meaning of obscurity or ambiguity. [16] It seems that similar is also the use of the word in Sikeliotes’ treatise on Hermogenes. [17] Be that as it may, Prodromos’ short epigram on the personified Rhetoric can no doubt be read as an intriguing glorification of the double-tonguedness of rhetorical discourse.

Practicing the art: rhetorical exercises (progumnasmata)

It has been suggested that Basilakes’ indulgence in such “immoral” topics exemplifies the ways in which rhetoric allowed Byzantine intellectuals to touch upon issues normally considered ethical and religious taboos. [34] This is the reason—the same argument continues—that in his treatment of Pasiphae’s story, Basilakes defies the constraints dictated by Christian ethics. [35] It is true that what, following Tzetzes, I prefer to call the amphoteroglōssia of rhetoric could be treated by the Byzantines as a kind of literary alibi, and perhaps this is what Basilakes’ case also indicates. However, Basilakes neglects neither the negative aspects of love nor the relevant moral admonitions of the Church. In his progumnasmata, even in the extreme cases of Pasiphae and Myrrha, predominant is the antithesis between love and nature (phusis). Love violates the laws of nature and Eros becomes ultimately a tyrant. [36] In a diction echoing the description of the opposing personified feelings of Eros and Sophrosyne (Temperance) experienced by Hysmine and Hysminias in Makrembolites’ novel, Pasiphae admits that she finds herself oscillating between Aphrodite or Eros and phusis (nature):

But now, I find myself in the middle between Aphrodite and phusis. The one forces [me] to unite with the bull but the other does not let me. The one is like a tyrant and draws me toward an unnatural desire but the other drags me back and takes away more violently what Eros grants me. Nature does not want [this to happen] and Eros, on the other hand, does not permit nature to win.

Basilakes’ characterization of Daidalos as a sophistēs is charged with intricate allusions to Eros’ similar stereotypical attributes. [39] Both “sophists,” however, cannot surpass nature: Daidalos’ son does not escape Helios’ just revenge, while Pasiphaes’ unnatural “union” with the bull results in the birth of a monster. In an ēthopoiia spoken by a sailor who sees Ikaros flying with the waxen wings that Daidalos had invented, Basilakes invests the same story with more explicit moral dimensions: Ikaros will fall, and his father Daidalos, who “invented Pasiphae’s illegal union (gamos)” with the bull will be punished after his death:

But what are you going to do in the underworld, you, who contrive everything? Again you will find Minos in Hades who judges the dead with his eyes. He will identify you as the man who prepared the marriage of the bull and he will inflict the proper punishment on you. Helios will be thus revenged on you even if you escape and again Minos, in his turn, will receive you after your death.

Given the fact that, no doubt, Basilakes—a clergyman by profession—espoused the Church’s teachings about life after death, this passage could be also viewed as an allusive moral about proper behavior: all evil or unethical deeds committed in this world find retribution in the other. Clearly, Basilakes’ treatment of Daidalos’ and Pasiphae’s story is not devoid of specific Christian moralizing connotations. The transgression of natural—and moral—laws is portrayed as hubris, causing Dike’s just revenge. Daidalos, the crafty sophistēs whose art proves more inventive even than that of Eros, is ultimately defeated by nature—and justice is eventually restored.

The analysis of Basilakes’ treatment of love in his progumnasmata shows that he shared important ideas with his contemporary Komnenian novelists. More specifically, the antitheses between erōs and phusis, on the one hand, and erōs and sōphrosunē, on the other, contribute to the promotion of pure love, which constitutes also the pivotal subject matter of the Komnenian novels. The exploration of the negative aspects of love in the stories of Pasiphae and the seduced woman from Edessa or of Sampson and Herakles invests Basilakes’ rhetorical compositions with clear moralistic overtones. These ethical dimensions bring Basilakes’ rhetorical exercises even closer to the ethical substratum of the Komnenian novels. If in Daidalos’ story art proves inferior to natural and ethical laws, similarly in Basilakes’ case art (that is, rhetoric) cannot entirely defy the established moral prescriptions, although it can play with them.

Aphēgēmatikai rhētorikai ennoiai: the reception of the novel in Byzantium

Photios does not discern any important differences between Leukippe and Kleitophon and the Aithiopika, at least as far as their overall composition is concerned. In general, though, the Aithiopika seems to be his favorite novel for both its moral content and its stylistic features. Heliodoros, Photios claims, has adopted a rhetorical style appropriate for his story. Simplicity and sweetness are the main characteristics of this style: Heliodoros’ diction is clear and pure, even when he uses figures of speech. His sentences are in general symmetrical, although with some tendency toward brevity:

He employs diction that is appropriate for the story; for simplicity and sweetness are used abundantly indeed …; the narration is variegated with pure and limpid words. And if, as expected, at some points he uses words tending toward figurative expression, these are clear and depict the subject matter with no obscurity. The periods are symmetrical and reduced, so to speak, to brevity.

Photios’ terminology here recalls again Hermogenes’ Ideas. The stylistic qualities of apheleia (simplicity) and glukutēs (sweetness, pleasantness) constitute subdivisions of the Hermogenean Idea of Ēthos. [
76] In Byzantine literature, apheleia is sometimes invested with particular Christian connotations as well and, therefore, promoted to a stylistic virtue pertinent to the “simplicity” of the Christian teaching. Although in Hermogenes’ system apheleia is generally opposed to the Idea of Dignity (semnotēs), the Christian authors employ it exactly as a supplement to Dignity itself. [77] I would contend that Photios’ repeated references to the importance of temperance in the Aithiopika [78] and his explicit preference for the content of this novel, as compared with the other examples of the genre, indicate that apheleia here might have retained some of its Christian associations as well, especially its affinities with s emnotēs. This possibility is also suggested by the significant detail with which Photios concludes his summary: it is said, he notes, that at some point after the composition of his novel, Heliodoros became a bishop. [79]

Michael Psellos offers a more detailed and substantiated literary criticism of the two most popular ancient Greek novels in Byzantium, that is, Leukippe and Kleitophon and the Aithiopika. His treatise on the diakrisis between the two works is a unique piece of evidence for the reception of the ancient Greek novel in eleventh-century Byzantium. His reference at the beginning of his essay to contemporary philological debates about the aesthetic values of Heliodoros and Achilleus Tatios indicates the popularity of this genre in his time. Some readers, Psellos informs us, preferred the Aithiopika, others Leukippe and Kleitophon. As for his own opinion, Psellos confesses that, after a careful study of the language and the content of both novels, he has come to the conclusion that they are equal. This does not prevent him, though, from admitting that “Charikleia [sc. the Aithiopika] wins in most points.”

Psellos’ discussion of the two novels, which should have proceeded as a double encomium, results, therefore, in an unequivocal praise of the Aithiopika. [80] He praises the language of this work because it is elevated and graceful rather than excessively embellished and high-flown. [81] The whole novel is largely based on the art of Demosthenes and Isokrates and “ornamented” with episodic narratives. [82] It contains fine maxims (gnōmotupiai) and well-constructed speeches (dēmēgoriai) comparable to those of Demosthenes. Psellos pays special attention to the ways in which Heliodoros delineates the ēthos of his protagonists. He does not share the opinion of those who criticize Heliodoros’ delineation of Charikleia’s character. Apparently those critics contended that Charikleia’s ēthopoiiai violated the rule of prepon (proper, appropriate), the most important stylistic convention of this rhetorical genre. [83] In their view, these ēthopoiiai presented the character of the heroine in a way that was incompatible with one’s expectations of a female character’s ēthos. On the contrary, Psellos, a skilful and innovative author of ēthopoiia himself, [84] considers Heliodoros’ handling of the matter a masterful example of literary art. Charikleia, he argues, is not a simple or ordinary woman but someone who possesses elevated knowledge (tetelesmenē), and her way of speaking is right in being more refined (sophistikōteron). [85] In general, the ancient Greek novelist’s delineations of the ēthos of his characters, Psellos concludes, adhere successfully to the rhetorical rule of the eikos (proper). Psellos underlines his overall appreciation of Heliodoros’ rhetorical skills by referring to him twice as a rhētōr. [86]

A thirteenth-century manuscript provides an interesting catalogue of authors who were meant to be studied by young pupils. The texts of Heliodoros and Achilleus Tatios, among others, are recommended. Their novels are assessed in a way reminiscent of Photios’ and Psellos’ criticism. The Aithiopika is praised for “its very beautiful diction” as well as its subject matter that, according to the anonymous author of the catalogue, is not bad, despite its erotic character. As for Leukippe and Kleitophon, it is inferior to the former in respect to both style and content: “After Rhetoric there are the rhetoricians whom these young people read … Charikleia [i.e. the Athiopika] is both admirable in its style and shapely in its content … but Leukippe is both inferior in its diction and repulsive in its content.” [95] According to the author of this list, both the Aithiopika and Leukippe and Kleitophon belong to a category of texts considered relatively clear and therefore suggested for preliminary study before a second group of more elevated texts. [96] This instructional prescription recalls Psellos’ view that these novels should be used as rhetorical models not alone but accompanied by the study of more forceful texts. It differs from Psellos’ approach regarding the recommended order of the study of the novels in the curriculum. In contrast to Psellos, the author of the thirteenth-century catalogue suggests that these works be dealt with at the beginning, not the end of one’s academic career. Although this thirteenth-century catalogue does not offer any further analysis of the novels, it forcefully illustrates the rhetorical and educational value attributed to them by Byzantine men of letters. [97]

The aesthetic appreciation of the ancient Greek novels by the Byzantine literati indicates that throughout Byzantium the genre of the ancient Greek novel was received and judged in rhetorical terms. This attitude defined both the literary experimentations of the authors of the Komnenian novels and the literary expectations of their audience. Furthermore, intellectuals like Photios and Psellos manifested an appreciation of the symmetrical homology between the stylistic properties of these texts and their thematic or moral content. Unfortunately, we lack any concrete evidence regarding the aesthetic reception of the Komnenian novels by their Byzantine audience. It is only by means of a close study of the indications provided by the manuscript tradition, notably the annotations in the margins of the manuscripts, that one may reconstruct the conditions of the reception of these novels in the Middle Ages.

In Vaticanus Graecus 1390 (13th c.), which preserves Hysmine and Hysminias, the annotations in the margins indicate that this novel could have perhaps been received by some of its readers as a text consisting of several potentially self-contained parts. Most of these passages are described according to a terminology that recalls corresponding terms used for the progumnasmata: ἔκφρασις τοῦ κήπου, ἔκφρασις φρέατος, ἔκφρασις Ὑσμίνης κιρνούσης, ἔκφρασις τῶν ἀρετῶν, ἔκφρασις μηνῶν, διήγημα, and so on. Some of these episodes are described with exactly the same titles in other manuscripts of the text too, as, for example, in Vaticanus Graecus 114 (13th c.). Cases also occur where particular passages are singled out as gnōmai (maxims), a term that again refers us to progumnasmata but most relevantly to Psellos’ appreciation of the gnōmotupiai in the Aithiopika. For instance, the phrase τροφὴ γὰρ πολυτελεστέρα ζητεῖ καὶ πόσιν ἀνάλογον from the second book of the novel (2.13.2) is characterized as a gnōmē in Vaticanus Graecus 1390, 140v and in Vaticanus Graecus 114, 9v.

Some other passages are assessed as particularly beautiful, as is indicated by the abbreviation for the Greek word ὡραῖον in the margins. For example, in Vaticanus Graecus 1390 as such is characterized, among others, one passage that describes the storm that eventually sank the ship that carried the two lovers:

καὶ ὅλην τὴν ναῦν φιλονεικεῖ καταδῦσαι τοῖς κύμασι καὶ ὅλην εἰς βυθὸν ἀγαγεῖν σὺν αὐτοῖς πλωτῆρσι, σὺν αὐτῶ φόρτῳ, σὺν αὐτοῖς σίμβλοις ῎Ερωτος, ἃ μεστὰ μέλιτος ἐρωτικοῦ τὴν καλὴν εἶχεν ῾Υσμίνην καὶ τὸν ῾Υσμινίαν ἐμέ, κἂν Ποσειδῶν ἀντὶ μέλιτος ἀψινθίου πληροῦν ἀντεμάχετο.

(Hysmine and Hysminias 7.8.2)

And [Poseidon] was struggling to sink the ship into the waves and to take her completely down to the bottom of the sea along with the sailors, all the cargo, and even the beehives of Eros, which were full of erotic honey and contained Hysmine and Hysminias, myself, although Poseidon was striving to fill them with bitter wormwood instead of honey.

The reason that the scribe has drawn the attention of the reader to this specific paragraph might have been that the narration of Hysminias here is structured around two main rhetorical axes, epanalepsis (σὺν αὐτοῖς, σὺν αὐτῷ) and antithesis (ἀντὶ μέλιτος ἀψινθίου). Predominant is the figure of anaphora (καὶ ὅλην), the rhetorical effect of which is amplified by the use of homoioteleuta (κύμασι, πλωτῆρσι, αὐτοῖς, σίμβλοις).

Self-referential discourse in the Komnenian novels

Hermes appears in Rhodanthe’s dream and promises to unite her with her beloved (3.69–75)— a promise recalled three times throughout the novel. The first time it is in the context of the conventional motif of the hero’s lament for his impending separation from his beloved: Dosikles, afraid that Rhodanthe will be forced to marry Gobryas, the satrap of their barbarian master Mistylos, expresses an ironic complaint about Hermes’ unfulfilled prophesy (3.433). The second time, in his thrēnos (lament) for the apparent death of Rhodanthe, Dosikles explicitly accuses Hermes of lying. The god’s lies, the hero says, make him question the trustworthiness of all men too. Kratandros, Dosikles’ friend, in his attempt to alleviate the pain of Dosikles, appeals exactly to Hermes’ promise: as a god and a servant to the other gods, Hermes cannot lie (6.471–472). Obviously Prodromos plays here with the legendary mendacity of this god but also with the conventional narratological schema of his own novel that is based on the alternation between adventurous separations and reunions. The third reference to Hermes’ prophesy appears at the end of book eight and could be read as a subtle metanarrative allusion to the development of the story. Dosikles “resurrects” Rhodanthe from an apparent death and then invokes Hermes and asks him to recall and fulfill his promise:

῾Ερμῆ Λόγιε, μνημόνευε τοῦ λόγου
καὶ τοὺς ὑποσχεθέντας ἐκτέλει γάμους


Hermes Logios, remember your word [logos]
and fulfill the marriage that you have promised.

The word logos is ambivalent here since it can refer not only to the specific prophesy of the god but also to discourse in general and—one may add—to Prodromos’ own eloquent fictional discourse. The use in this context of the marked epithet Logios, which underlines Hermes’ traditional role as the god of rhetoric, corroborates this interpretation. Indeed, the god’s promise is realized at the end of the next—and last—book of the novel, when the two young lovers are reunited and married in his temple.

In his astrological poem dedicated to the Sebastokratorissa Eirene, Konstantinos Manasses describes the qualities of the personified planets and their relationships to each other. Hermes is described as philologōtatos [108] and “responsible for many things, for education/and speech and learning and every discipline” (παραίτιος πραγμάτων καὶ παιδείας καὶ λόγου καὶ μαθήσεως, καὶ πάσης ἐπιστήμης). [109] Hermes dictates the rules of symmetrical literary composition and acts as a personification of the author’s literary self-consciousness:

When associated with Aphrodite, Hermes rejoices:

Hermes’ eloquence and Aphrodite’s playful adventures constitute a powerful combination that is creatively exploited in Prodromos’ novel where the topic is exactly Aphrodite’s power—the love between two young people—while the form is governed by Hermes—the god of rhetoric. Hermes’ activity could be construed as a self-referential metaphor for the act of writing. Clearly, behind Hermes’ prophesy one could detect Prodromos’ own narrative plan. In his discussion of romance, Northrop Frye aptly observes that the figures of the divine protectors encountered in the ancient Greek examples of the genre are projections of the author himself. [
112] This is precisely what happens in Rhodanthe and Dosikles: Prodromos’ manipulation of the “sacred” discourse of Hermes, the god of rhetoric, foregrounds the rhetoricity and consequently the self-referentiality of his own narrative discourse. After all, as a sensitive medieval Greek rhetorician puts it, the art of Hermes, rhetoric, is the metadiscursive discipline par excellence, “discourse about discourse.” [113]

Prodromos’ self-awareness as fiction writer manifests itself in a series of metanarrative comments that occasionally recall Hermes’ proleptic censorious role in Manasses’ astrological poem. In book six of the novel, after a long digression recounting the war between the two barbarian armies, the narrator intervenes and comments on the development of his narrative:

τούτοις μὲν οὖν τοιοῦτο τοῦ βίου τέλος·
τοῦ γάρ λόγου τὸ σῶμα συνεχιστέον,
οἷον διχασθὲν τῇ παρεμπτώσει μέσον …


This is how the life of these men ended;
but the main corpus of the narrative should continue
since it has been divided in the middle, so to speak, by the digression.

In book eight, after an extended asyndeton describing the symptoms of Rhodanthe’s apparent death, the narrator resumes the thread of his main narrative by rhetorically questioning the advisability of his own loquacity:

… τί μοι τὰ πολλὰ καὶ τὰ πρὸς μέρος λέγειν;
ἁπλῶς γὰρ εἰπεῖν καὶ συνεκτικῷ λόγῳ,
ἐνεργὸν οὐδὲν τῶν μελῶν τῇ παρθένῳ


But why should I recount all these details one by one?
To say it with just one word and in summary,
no part of the maiden’s body was active.

In book nine, when the narrator recounts the reunion of Rhodanthe and Dosikles with their fathers, an intriguing metaphor is employed to convey the emotional intensity of the moment. All four, says the narrator, were embraced in an unbreakable four-fold unit comparable to actual works of art. This description has been seen as a manifestation of the antithesis between art and nature in this novel. [114] I prefer to read this scene not as a vague allusion to such a contrast, but as a subtle self-referential comment specifically on the creative potential of literature:

οὕτως ἀνακραγόντες οἱ γηραλέοι
ἄμφω προσεπλέκοντο τοῖς νεανίαις,
καὶ σχηματισμὸν καινὸν ἐξεζωγράφουν·
ᾡρῶντο γὰρ τέτταρες ἄνθρωποι κάτω
ὡς εἰς κεφαλὴν προσπεφυκότες μίαν.
Εἶδον κἀγὼ πολλάκις ἐν πολλοῖς πέπλοις
(οὓς δημιουργεῖ Σηρικὴ μιτουργία,
μία μὲν οὖσα τῷ λόγῳ τῆς οὐσίας,
πολυχρόοις δὲ ταῖς βαφαῖς κεχρωσμένη)
τοιοῦτον εἰκόνισμα καινοῦ ζωγράφου,
ὑφαντικῆς εὕρημα δηλαδὴ τέχνης·
μίαν κεφαλὴν εἰς τετρακτὺν σωμάτων
διαιρεθεῖσαν, ἢ τετρακτὺν σωμάτων
οἷον συνιζηκυῖαν εἰς κάραν μίαν·
ζῷόν τι τετράσωμον, ἢ τοὐναντίον
μονοπρόσωπον τεττάρων ζῴων πλάσιν,
λέοντα καὶ λέοντας· οἱ γὰρ αὐχένες
ἅπαν τὸ λοιπὸν σῶμα τῆς οὐρᾶς μέχρι
τοῦ θηρὸς ἐπλήθυνον τῇ διαστάσει·
τῷ δὲ προσώπῳ πάντες ἦσαν εἷς λέων.
Τούτοις ὁμοιόσχημον ἤθελε γράφειν
ἡ τῆς χαρᾶς χείρ, ἡ σοφὴ γεωμέτρις,
τῶν πατέρων τὸ σχῆμα καὶ τῶν παιδίων,
ὅτε προσεπλάκησαν ἀλλήλοις ἅμα.


Shouting such words, the old men
embraced the two youths
thus painting an innovative picture;
for at the lower part there were to see four men
joined, so to speak, into one head.
Many times I myself have seen in many veils
—which the art of weaving silk creates
(the material is just one
but dyed in various colors)—
such a picture of an innovative painter,
an innovation, that is, of the art of weaving:
one head divided into four bodies
or four bodies as though united into one head;
a four-bodied animal, or the reverse,
a single-faced creation of four animals,
one lion and many lions; for the necks
multiplied all the rest of the body of the beast
down to the tail by separating it;
but as to the face, they all were one lion.
It is similar to such works of art
that the hand of joy, the wise geometer,
would depict the image that the fathers and the children
presented when they embraced each other all together.

It is in these terms that the inverted relation between art and reality should be understood here. In a fashion reminiscent of Heliodoros’ exploitation of this relation in the story of Charikleia’s conception [117] —and Oscar Wilde’s much later but comparable aestheticist indulgence in a similar topos [118] Prodromos makes real life, as depicted in his literary art, imitate pictorial art. The emphasis on the simultaneous multiplicity and unity of the depicted figures recalls the passage from Italikos’ letter to Prodromos discussed earlier, in which the power of rhetoric to divide unities and unify multiplicities is celebrated. The purported distance of the narrator from his story underscores the artificiality of his narrative and foregrounds his creative power that is ultimately identified with that of Fate. The passage in 9.335–338 in particular may be viewed as an indirect metanarrative comment on the metaphor that had been used by the narrator himself a few lines earlier: “the hand of joy, the wise geometer that would depict the image that the fathers and the children presented when they embraced each other all together” is actually the hand of the narrator himself, who has already depicted the joy of the protagonists and their fathers in this way. The specific reference to the art of mitourgia (weaving) recalls a metanarrative metaphor that the narrator had used in a prior book of the novel in order to describe the “wicked thread” of Tyche and the convoluted net of the heroes’ adventures that she had “woven”:

τί δὲ Κράτανδρος καὶ Δοσικλῆς οἱ ξένοι;
ἆρ’ ἵλεων ἐνεῖδεν αὐτοῖς ἡ Τύχη,
καὶ καθυφῆκεν ὁ Φθόνος τῶν μαστίγων;
οὐκ ἔστιν εἰπεῖν, ἀλλ’ ὁ βάσκανος μίτος
πολλὰς ἐπεκλώσατο κακῶν ἰδέας


What about Kratandros and Dosikles, the two friends?
Did perhaps Tyche [Fortune] cast a benevolent eye upon them
and did Phthonos [Envy] withdraw his scourge?
It is not possible to say, but the malicious thread [mitos] of destiny
wove many forms of misfortunes.

The fact that this is the only other case where the word mitos is used in Prodromos’ novel corroborates the interpretation of this metaphor as a self-referential allusion to the intricacy of the narrative process. [

In book five, Hysminias describes his triumphal departure from the city of Aulikomis. In a detailed asyndeton, he enumerates all the relevant celebrations but soon decides to refrain from dwelling further on this description:

καὶ ἵνα μὴ δοκῶ σοι δοξομανεῖν κατὰ μέρος καταρρητορεύων τῷ λόγῳ τὴν προπομπήν, οὕτω τὴν καλὴν ἐξῆλθον Αὐλίκωμιν … καί, ἵνα τἀν μέσῳ παρῶ, περὶ τὴν ἐμὴν ἧκον Εὐρύκωμιν.


And lest I give you the impression that I am bragging excessively by giving a detailed eloquent account of the procession that escorted me in my departure, [let me just say that] I thus left Aulikomis … and I arrived in my Eurykomis.

Here the verb καταρρητορεύω refers directly to the narrator himself and his act of storytelling. A similar case occurs in the first chapter of the novel where the narrator relates his arrival in Aulikomis. This time the self-referential comment marks not the end but the beginning of an asyndeton, and the verb καταρρητορεύω has been replaced by the verb φιλοσοφῶ: τί γὰρ δεῖ τἀν μέσῳ φιλοσοφεῖν; (1.3.1; “Why should I expatiate on what happened in the meantime?”). The close similarities between these two passages allow a reading of the second one in book five as a reversed intertextual parallel to the first excerpt in book one.

The concluding part of the novel has the form of a series of rhetorical questions and antitheses that celebrate the art of rhetoric. Employing a traditional rhetorical topos, the narrator asks himself who could possess such an elevated “atticized language” adequate to the depiction of his ineffable happy union with his beloved Hysmine:

τίς οὖν οὕτω καὶ τὴν μοῦσαν ἡδὺς καὶ τὴν φωνὴν μεγαλόφωνος καὶ τὴν γλῶσσαν ἀττικευομένην ἔχων ὡς τὰ πολλὰ καὶ κομψευομένην ὑπόσεμνα, ὡς καταζωγραφεῖν τῷ λόγῳ τοὺς γάμους; … Οὕτω μὲν οὖν μοι τὰ τῶν γάμων ὑπὲρ τὴν ῾Ομήρου μεγαλοφωνίαν, ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μοῦσαν, ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν γλῶσσαν κατεστομωμένην ῥητορικῶς.

(11.19.2; 20.1)

Who could be so mellifluous in his poetic art and have such a powerful voice and be possessed of such a greatly atticized and mildly dignified language, so that he might adequately depict my wedding in words? … So much my wedding surpassed Homer’s powerful eloquence, every poetic art, and every tongue well-versed in rhetoric.

The function of this question is obviously only rhetorical: Hysminias’ own narrative has already provided the answer.

After this subtle allusion to his own rhetorical art, Hysminias invokes all the gods that were involved in some way in his story—that is, Zeus, Poseidon, and Eros—and asks them to immortalize his erotic adventures. [122] In his attempt to justify his request, he adduces a number of well-known mythological examples of mortals whose memory escaped oblivion thanks to the intervention of a divinity: Dioskouroi, Herakles, Ikaros, Daphne, Hyakinthos. It may not be fortuitous that almost all these mythological figures have inspired several authors of rhetorical exercises (progumnasmata). [123] In the end, though, Hysminias realizes that none of these divinities can fulfill his wish, and resorts to Hermes, the god of rhetoric, who, however, has played no role in the development of the main corpus of the story. Hermes’ stilus, ink, and tongue become the instruments for the immortalization of Hysminias’ adventures:

ὡς ἐν ἀμαράντοις ξύλοις καὶ λίθοις ἀδάμασιν ῾Ερμοῦ γραφίδι καὶ μέλανι καὶ γλώσσῃ πῦρ πνεούσῃ ῥητορικὸν τὰ καθ’ ἡμᾶς στηλογραφηθήσεται καί τις τῶν ὀψιγόνων καταρρητορεύσει ταῦτα καὶ ὡς ἀθανάτῳ στήλῃ τοῖς λόγοις ἀνδριάντα χαλκουργήσει κατάχρυσον.


As though on unfading wood and diamonds our story will be inscribed by means of Hermes’ stilus and ink and a tongue breathing rhetorical fire, and one of the men of the future generations will eloquently write about all these and will forge an all-golden statue based on words as though on an immortal pedestal.

Hysminias’ reference to a future transcriber of his story purports to invest in retrospect his present narrative with additional intricacy in a way that would recall, for instance, the multilayered narrative in Antonios Diogenes’ The Wonders beyond Thoule. [
124] It is presumably by means of the god’s “rhetorical fire”—a conventional image recalling, for example, Theodoros Prodromos’ brief epigram on the personified Rhetoric—that Hysminias’ narrative material will be eventually forged into an everlasting literary monument.

Ēthopoiia proper

My discussion so far has focused on four basic issues: (1) the importance of rhetoric for the composition of Byzantine literature as a whole; (2) the production of progumnasmata and theoretical discourses on rhetoric specifically in twelfth-century Constantinople; (3) the reception of both the ancient and the Komnenian novels by their medieval audiences, with an emphasis on the evaluation of the former by medieval critics and the margin annotations on the latter in the manuscript tradition; (4) the rhetorically invested metanarrative discourse of the Komnenian novels. The aim of my analysis of these contextual and textual dimensions of the Komnenian novels has been to establish the view that these texts were composed and received predominantly but not exclusively as examples of rhetorical art. The response of the Komnenian novelists to their ancient Greek models (or, for that matter, to other examples of contemporary or earlier Greek literature) was articulated in primarily rhetorical terms. And it is precisely in such terms that the position of the novels within the broader Greek, ancient or medieval, literary canon may be evaluated.

An illuminating idea of the expected attitude of average Byzantine literati to literary works in general may be gleaned from some interesting methodological suggestions about “the way one should read rhetorical ‘books’” that Ioseph Rhakendytes offers in his Rhetorical Synopsis:

As expected from a medieval rhetorical treatise, in Rhakendytes’ proposed “reader response” method, memory plays a considerable role. It might be apposite to recall here the similar emphasis that Eugeneianos, in the letter to his learned female admirer discussed in the first Chapter, places on the significance of memorization for the reception of his novel. In Rhakendytes, however, it is actual writing that is given priority. The rhetorically inclined reader, he suggests, should not remain a passive receiver of the written discourse. Instead, he must attempt to anticipate, or actually complete, the writing (rather than the reading!) of the story himself. As described by Rhakendytes, the ideal response of creative readers to literature is almost equal to the composition of rhetorical exercises. The terms in which this process is prescribed recall the aims and the conventions of ēthopoiia (character study), to which I now turn.

Ēthopoiia was one of the most influential rhetorical genres in medieval Greek literature. [127] In the earliest preserved collection of progumnasmata, Theon describes ēthopoiia as an overarching genre covering the categories of panegyric and hortatory speeches as well as letters. [128] Theon provides detailed directions for the composition of ēthopoiia, underlining especially the importance of the rule of prepon (proper, appropriate). [129] Prepon is defined on the basis of the features of the speaking person, the addressee, and the specific situation. [130] A composer of an ēthopoiia, explains Theon, should take into account the age of the person whose ēthos (character) is imitated, his emotional situation, his social status, his occupation, and the particular circumstances of the enunciation of his speech. Theon is the only theoretician of the genre of ēthopoiia who dwells on its specific communicative effects. His discussion of the issue may be seen as an inchoate theory of pragmatics. Different performative functions of ēthopoiia, he stresses, require different verbal strategies. [131] Similar is the attitude of Theodoros Prodromos to literature, especially to the dramatic speeches in tragedy. In Admirer of Plato or Tanner, one of his satires, Prodromos points to the importance of attributing the right words to the right person according to the specific occasion and circumstances. For instance, a young woman, he stresses, should use different words from those employed by an old man. [132]

My analysis focuses on the two most important examples of ēthopoiia proper in the Komnenian novels—one comes from Rhodanthe and Dosikles, the other from Drosilla and Dosikles. Both these ēthopoiiai adhere to the established conventions of their genre to a great extent and yet, by assuming a subtle metanarrative role, they also undermine them. Their structure as well as their role in the overall composition of the narrative bespeak a playful handling of rhetorical conventions.

Narcissistic Monologues and Subversive Narratives

As noted above, the most important prerequisite for a successful ēthopoiia is the observance of the principle of prepon. Prodromos adheres to this rule but, again, with substantial originality. Dosikles gives vent to his distress in a comparison between himself and his desired beloved, which takes the form of what Aphthonios would call a double encomium (diplon egkōmion). [142] Dosikles praises both Rhodanthe and himself at the same time. These two encomia revolve around the genos (pedigree) and the praxeis (virtues and achievements) of the self-praised speaker. In the case of Rhodanthe it is the sōma, her beauty, that is given priority, whereas in the case of Dosikles himself it is his psuchē (manly virtue) that is exalted. [143] His valor is highlighted as the most important constituent of his own manly “beauty.” Dosikles indulges in a pompous and detailed enumeration of his heroic achievements in a manner recalling Daphnis’ naive self-acclamation in Longos’ novel. [144] Seen, though, in retrospect from the narrator’s point of view, Dosikles’ self-praise appears as a proleptic ironic delineation of his ēthos. In fact, later in the novel Dosikles is characterized by his friends as a pompous orator, a dēmēgoros, who indulges in words but not in deeds (praxeis):

παύου, Δοσίκλεις, ὧν μάτην λέγεις λόγων
… μὴ γίνου δημηγόρος
(ἀπρόσφορος γὰρ ἄρτι φιλοσοφία)
ἀλλὰ σκωπῶμεν ἐμφρόνως τὸ πρακτέον


As the development of the story indicates, this is an ironic comment on Dosikles’ self-asserted valor and rhetorical skills. Indeed, Dosikles’ future actions prove him unworthy of his self-encomium. In book six, when Artapes separates the two lovers, Dosikles’ heroism is reduced to a timorous threat of suicide, which is responded to with a strong strike by a giant barbarian (6.182–186). This incident constructs a real and therefore conclusive anaskeuē (refutation) of Dosikles’ verbose rhetorical self-presentation.

In Prodromos’ novel, the ironic juxtaposition of Dosikles’ rhetorically structured reported monologue in book two and the development of the overall story had been already signaled by the metaphors that framed his ēthopoiia in book two. The emphasis of these metaphors on the image of Dosikles’ figurative battle against himself in the absence of any real enemies points to the emptiness of his self-praise in his reported ēthopoiia. If the exaggerations of his self-encomium are legitimized in the context of his single monologue since they contribute to the proper (prepon) depiction of his intense feelings as a lovelorn young man, on the level of the overall narrative they are exposed as bombastic folly undermining his self-proclaimed heroism.

Flirting in the provinces: rhetoric and sociocultural stereotypes

νῦν δ’ ἀλλὰ δοῦλος ἄθλιος κατεσχέθην,
ὁλοσχερῶς ῎Ερωτι θητεύων βίᾳ·
ἄνθος δὲ τὸ πρὶν τὴν παρειὰν φυγγάνει,
τοῦ βλέμματος δὲ σβέννυταί μοι τὸ φλέγον
ἐκ δακρύων ῥύακος ὡς ἐξ ὑδάτων.


As for the future, Kallidemos’ speech is rather ambivalent. Everything depends on Drosilla’s reaction. If she is persuaded, then they will get married and lead a happy life (6.544–554). If she is indifferent to his proposal, life will be unbearable for Kallidemos (6.492–496).

In his speech, Kallidemos draws from the epic, the ancient Greek novel, bucolic poetry, and epigrams with a self-awareness unprecedented in the tradition of the genre. He explicitly compares his love for Drosilla with that of Achaimenes for Charikleia in the Aithiopika, of Daphnis for Chloe in Longos’ novel, of Leandros for Hero, of Polyphemos for Galateia. These literary paradigms would be appropriate for the ēthopoiia of a sophisticated young lover, but not for a villager like Kallidemos. His self-asserted eloquence may represent, in my view, an exaggerated version of the old Euripidean theme of the uncultured man who turns into a poet through the power of Eros—a theme that may be also alluded to in Theokritos’ Idyll on the Kyklops. [154] Kallidemos’ preference, however, for literary idyllic motifs [155] pertinent to the delineation of naive ēthos invests his speech with a playful self-contradiction. The literary exempla that he adduces are framed by two literary cases that, despite his intentions, have an ultimate self-derogatory effect: the love of Achaimenes for Charikleia and of Arsake for Theagenes, on the one hand, and the Kyklops’ love for Galateia, on the other. These examples reflect Kallidemos’ real intentions. The first case, that is, Achaimenes’ and Arsake’s passion for the protagonists of the Aithiopika, represents a well-known convention in the Greek novel: the motif of a barbarian’s love for the hero or the heroine of the story. The second example, Polyphemos’ love for Galateia, appears in the context of Kallidemos’ speech as a travesty of idyllic love modeled upon the poetry of Theokritos—a poetry, which, in the established rhetorical tradition, was employed as a paradigmatic case of apheles (simple) literary discourse. [156] Kallidemos seems to be aware of the vulgarity of his first example, which he then tries to understate by referring to the power of temperate love:

συνεννόει μοι τοῖς προλοίποις τῶν πάλαι
τὸν ᾿Αρσάκης ἔρωτα πρὸς Θεαγένην,
τὸν ᾿Αχαιμένους πρὸς Χαρίκλειαν πόθον·
κἂν ὡς ἀσέμνους οὐ λαβεῖν πρὸς νοῦν θέλεις,
τοὺς εἰς ἔρωτας σωφρονήσαντας σκόπει,
οὓς ὅρκος αὐτὸς ὁ προβαίνων ὡς δέον
ἀπεῖργεν αἰσχροῦ καὶ προῆγεν ἐνδίκως
εἰς ἀσφαλῆ σύζευξιν ἐννόμου γάμου.


Of the people of the past, please, consider
Arsake’s love for Theagenes,
Achaimenes’ desire for Charikleia;
if these cases seem vulgar,
look at those people who were temperate in love affairs,
the ones whom, as appropriate, the superior oath of loyalty
kept from obscenity and rightfully led
to the safe union of legitimate marriage.

The development of the story shows that Kallidemos may have assumed the conventional function of the “barbarian lover” if a sudden illness had not prevented him from abducting Drosilla and killing Charikles (7.50–72). The narrator describes Kallidemos’ evil intentions in terms that echo analogous characterizations of barbarian lovers in other examples of the ancient and Byzantine novel:

ἀπαυθαδίσας ἐξ ἐρωτομανίας
πρὸς ἁρπαγὴν ὥρμησε λῃστρικωτέραν·
οὐκ αἰσχύνην γὰρ οἶδε πολλάκις ἔρως.


Contrary to the conventional idyllic image of villagers as innocent and, at least according to such an influential rhetorician as Libanios, as temperate fellows, [
158] Kallidemos appears here as a lecherous and potentially dangerous young man.

The use of bucolic elements in Kallidemos’ speech develops an antithesis between urban sophistication and rural crudity that had been introduced in this scene in a dialogue between Drosilla and Kallidemos himself just before his ēthopoiia. In that dialogue, Kallidemos attempted to console and entice the distressed heroine. In his village, he told her, she could find other young men superior to Charikles. Drosilla smiled and retorted with a rhetorical question that introduced in their interaction a discursive and ideological polarity between the “rural” and the “urban”:

συμπατριωτῶν ἀστικῶν καλῶν νέων
πῶς ἄρα, Καλλίδημε, παῖ Ξενοκράτους,
χωριτικοὶ γένοιντο κρείττονες ξένοι;


Tell me, Kallidemos, son of Xenokrates,
how could strangers from the countryside ever
be better than my young, handsome, urbane compatriots?

No doubt, the contrast “urban versus rural” alludes to a well-known traditional comic topos encountered already in Aristophanes, developed later in New Comedy—notably in Menandros—and employed also in a more bucolic manner by Theokritos. [
159] The interaction between Drosilla and Kallidemos could be read as a reenactment of Theokritos’ Idyll 20. In Theokritos’ poem, the speaking subject, rather ironically described by the poet with the diminutive βουκολίσκος (“little cowboy”), relates his painful love story: Eunike, an apparently sophisticated lady of loose morals from the city, rejected his love because he is a countryman; she is used to kissing urban, not rustic, lips, she tells him scornfully, and, like Drosilla in Eugeneianos’ novel, underlines her reply with ironic smiles.

On a superficial level and from Kallidemos’ point of view, his eloquent ēthopoiia undertakes to refute Drosilla’s dismissive view of villagers. His anxiety to differentiate himself from Drosilla’s stereotypical preconceptions about peasants is indicated by his consistent preference for bucolic literary examples and his rhetorical manipulation of the theme of agroikos (unrefined rustic) in his second speech (6.566–643). In this speech, Kallidemos employs the traditional theme of Niobe to express his painful feelings caused by Drosilla’s scornful stance:

τὴν Νιόβην κλαίουσαν ἀγροῖκος βλέπων
ὢ πῶς ῥέει δάκρυον, εἶπε, καὶ λίθος.


The image of Niobe as the quintessential exemplum of pain and mourning is a recurrent motif in ancient Greek tragedy and rhetoric. Aphthonios used it as the only example of ēthopoiia in his progumnasmata. [
161] Later, Nikolaos, too, employed it to illustrate the genres of anaskeuē and kataskeuē in his own rhetorical exercises. [162] Byzantine authors exploited the same motif abundantly. In the twelfth century, Tzetzes provides sufficient evidence of the fascination of his contemporary literati with this topic. In his Chiliads, he refers three times to Niobe’s story, to which he applies his favorite method of literary interpretation, that is, allegorization. Niobe’s myth, Tzetzes argues at some length, is to be understood allegorically. Her children were not killed by Artemis and Apollo but died of an epidemic. As a matter of fact, Tzetzes explains, both Apollo and Artemis represent the physiological origins of the fatal disease. Plague, Tzetzes continues, is always caused by some unnatural mixture of cold and warm elements. In Niobe’s story, Apollo represents the sun, the source of warmth, and Artemis the moon, the source of coldness. As for Niobe’s petrification, this is a metaphor for her excessive grief that surpassed any other feeling she may have had. [163]

Another twelfth-century novelist, Konstantinos Manasses, in his intriguing autobiographical Hodoiporikon, relates his impressions from a long trip he took in the Near East. His narrative is interspersed throughout with desperate addresses to his native city of Byzantium, which he misses terribly. Constantinople, he says, is “the most prosperous city,/the eye of the earth, the ornament of the world/the brightest star,” far from which life is totally unworthy. His visit to Cyprus is described in the darkest possible colors and from the perspective of a snobbish Constantinopolitan intellectual. How can someone compare, he asks rhetorically, “the obscurity of the faint … little stars/to the flame of the sun that nurtures everything?” [177] To the eyes of the homesick Manasses, total lack of culture and sophistication seem to be the main characteristics of life on the island of Cyprus. [178] An accomplished rhetor himself, he laments:

Manasses concludes his dark depiction of the alleged Cypriot boorishness with a comic description of an uncouth islander with some of the most distinctive features of a stereotypical agroikos: he is insipid, apparently slow in his reactions, and stinks of garlic and wine. In a word, he is, to use Manasses’ own blatant diction, “a shit-eater.” [

Kallidemos appropriates, therefore, the traditional rhetorical topoi in order to live up to the alleged expectations of the sophisticated Drosilla. Very significantly, his urbanite addressee had entered his village with an elaborate lament for her apparently lost courteous lover. This lament is the only threnodic piece in the Komnenian novels composed in dactylic hexameter. The dexterous use of this archaic, and therefore exceptionally prestigious, metrical form by Drosilla contributes to the value of the symbolic capital that the urbanite heroine carries with her to Kallidemos’ poor village.

Pathētikai ēthopoiiai-laments

In the twelfth century, the inventive Nikephoros Basilakes composed a version of the Virgin’s lament as an example of pathētikē ēthopoiia, [197] while Eugeneianos was most probably the author of a threnodic text possibly intended as a rhetorical exercise, as its overall structure and its similarities with an ēthopoiia by Nikolaos indicates: Δεητήριον ὡς ἀπό τινος γυναικὸς ἐφ’ ᾧ παραχωρηθῆναι μετακομίσαι τὸν νεκρὸν τοῦ ἰδίου ἀνδρὸς ἐν ἀλλοδαπῇ θανόντος περὶ τὰ πάτρια (Petition Composed as though Spoken by Some Woman Asking for Permission to Have the Body of her Husband Who Died in Foreign Parts Transported to the Fatherland). [198] This text is especially interesting mainly for two reasons. First, if actually written by Eugeneianos, it is the only composition of this kind by a Komnenian novelist that has come down to us. The author’s development of this tragic topic corroborates my argument for a close interrelationship between traditional rhetorical practice, and especially progumnasmata, on the one hand, and the ēthopoiiai, especially the pathetic ones, in the Komnenian novels, on the other. Second, the subject matter of this brief composition recalls some aspects of the laments in the novels. The speaker, a young widow who lost her husband only a few days after their wedding, describes her present lamentable situation that, as she says, constitutes the culmination of all her past misfortunes. Her husband died in foreign parts before she even had the opportunity to experience the joys of his company. His demise occurred almost immediately after their wedding, thus leaving his wife desolate—a miserable bride and widow at the same time. In comparable terms, in the novels, the hero or the heroine, usually while away from home, deplore Fate that separates them before they manage to consummate their love. [199]

Subcategories and the manuscript tradition

The laments in the Komnenian novels can be classified into three main categories according to their subject matter. The first includes laments of the characters for their present situation, which does not involve a death (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.88–131; 3.409–485; 7.17–160; Hysmine and Hysminias 6.6.1–7.2; 6.8.1–4; 7.9; Drosilla and Charikles 1.226–257; 1.289–352). The threnodic texts of this category can be described as pathētikai ēthopoiiai since they are closer to this genre than to ritual laments for the dead. The second consists of laments for a “dead” person whose death, however, is not real but apparent, assumed, or anticipated (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 6.264–413; Hysmine and Hysminias 6.10.3–6; 7.17.1–11; 10.10.4–14; 10.11.1–11; 10.12.1–6; Drosilla and Charikles 6.34–94; 6.205–235). The third category includes laments for persons who are really dead (Rhodanthe and Dosiikles 1.212–269; 1.277–310; Drosilla and Charikles 5.183–193; 8.197–239; 9.37–107; 9.235–256).

The thrēnoi (laments) of the last two categories may be characterized as laments proper since they share many features with ritual laments for the dead. All the thrēnoi of the last category, with the exception of the one in Drosilla and Charikles 5.183–193, are instigated by the death of the male friend of the protagonists or his beloved. Occasionally the laments of the first two categories are followed by some consolatory speeches, usually spoken by a friend of the lamenting person. The absence of a consolatory part from the main text of the laments is due to the excessive emotional and personal character of these threnodic passages; furthermore, it indicates the similarity of these texts with both progymnasmatic laments and those of the funerary orations that follow Menandros’ prescriptions for monody. In the only case where a lament is accompanied by some kind of consolation spoken by the lamenter herself (Drosilla and Charikles 5.183–237), this practice has a particular function since it parodies rather than exemplifies the rhetorical conventions of funerary oration.

In the following pages of this Chapter I focus on two subjects. First, I discuss the formal characteristics of all three categories of the pathetic ēthopoiiai of the Komnenian novels, their motifs, and the imagery they employ. Special emphasis will be given to the ritualistic narrative frame. The analysis of this ritualistic discursive context will illustrate how in the Komnenian novels even a minor rhetorical topos undertakes complex narrative, intertextual, and extratextual functions. On the one hand, this topos alludes to the actual context of ritual lamentation and to examples of the rhetorical genre of epitaphios, especially those epitaphioi composed in the twelfth century; on the other hand, it contributes to the narrative complexity of the specific novel. Second, I examine the role of laments for the overall development of the story as well as their metanarrative functions and their importance as evidence for an intertextual dialogue among the Komnenian novels.

The vocabulary employed in the Komnenian novels for describing the laments in all three categories and the act of lamenting is extensive. All terms, however, highlight the pathos of the specific situation. The following nouns denote the laments themselves or the act of lamenting: στεναγμός-στέναγμα (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.137; 3.407; Drosilla and Charikles 2.36; Hysmine and Hysminias 6.11.2), τραγῳδία (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.211; 3.489; 6.476; 7.163; Drosilla and Charikles 1.259; 8.196), θρηνῳδία (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 3.84; 7.13; 9.178; Drosilla and Charikles 9.140; 9.255), θρῆνος (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 6.165; 6.462; Drosilla and Charikles 6.203; Hysmine and Hysminias 6.11.1; 6.11.4; 10.10.1), γόος (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 6.462; 7.167; Drosilla and Charikles 1.265; 9.10; 9.110), κωκυτός (Hysmine and Hysminias 6.11.1; 6.11.4; 10.10.1), κοπετός (Hysmine and Hysminias 6.11.5), and so on.

The manuscript tradition provides additional indications of the potential genre individuality of these passages. In the manuscripts, these laments are often singled out by means of margin annotations that characterize them as thrēnoi. This practice—a manifestation of the general habit of the scribes (or even of the authors themselves?) to distinguish specific sections of the novels discussed earlier in this Chapter—calls for a more detailed analysis. My discussion here focuses on the novels by Prodromos and Eugeneianos. The demarcation of the threnodic passages of these novels is already attested in the oldest manuscripts of Rhodanthe and Dosikles and Drosilla and Charikles. Vaticanus Graecus 121 (13th c.), which preserves Rhodanthe and Dosikles, contains two margin indications for two laments in the first book of the novel (1.212: Θρῆνος ᾿Ανδροκλέος ἐπὶ Χρυσοχρόῃ “Androkles’ lament for Chrysochroe”; 1.277: Θρῆνος Κρατάνδου ἐπὶ Χρυσοχρόῃ ͅ “Kratandros’ lament for Chrysochroe”). The same margin indications for the same passages are also encountered in the other three manuscripts of the novel. [202] As for Eugeneianos’ novel, the oldest manuscript that preserves it, Venetus Marcianus Graecus 412 (13th c.), contains a margin characterization of Drosilla’s pathētikē ēthopoiia in 1.289 as “Drosilla’s Thrēnos” (Θρῆνος Δροσίλλας). The other three manuscripts of the novel preserve the same margin annotation. [203] The practice has been generalized in the later manuscript tradition. The three later manuscripts of Rhodanthe and Dosikles contain margin indications both for all the pathētikai ēthopoiiai in the novel (1.88: Θρῆνος Δοσικλέος “Dosikles’ lament”; 3.405: Θρῆνος Δοσικλέος “Dosikles’ lament”; 7.16: Θρῆνος ῾Ροδάνθης ἐπὶ Δοσικλεῖ “Rhodanthe’s lament for Dosikles”) and for the only lament of the second category found in this novel (6.264: Θρῆνος Δοσικλέος ἐπὶ τῷ ναυαγίῳ ῾Ροδάνθης “Dosikles’ lament for Rhodanthe’s shipwreck” H, L; Θρῆνος Δοσικλέος εἰς ῾Ροδάνθην “Dosikles’ lament for Rhodanthe” U). As for Eugeneianos’ novel, all the three later manuscripts contain margin indications for two laments of the second category (6.34: Θρῆνος Χαρικλέος ἐπὶ Δροσίλλ(ῃ) [πρὸς Δροσίλλ(ην) P] P, U, L; 6.205: Θρῆνος Δροσίλλης ἐπὶ τῷ Χαρικλεῖ δι’ ἡρώων [L, U; L adds also: ἡδονήν τινα ἐμποιούσης τῆς τῶν μέτρων ἐναλλαγῆς]). Two manuscripts (U, L) have margin indications for one pathētikē ēthopoiia and three laments proper in Drosilla and Charikles (1.230: Θρῆνος Χαρικλέος ἐπὶ Δροσίλλῃ; 8.197: Θρῆνος Κλεάνδρου ἐπὶ Καλλιγόνῃ; 9.36: Θρῆνος Δροσίλλ(ης) ἐπὶ Κλεάνδρῳ (U adds: τῷ καλῷ); 9.235: Θρῆνος Δροσίλλ(ης) εἰς Καλλιγόνην).

Earlier in this Chapter I showed how indications in the margins in the manuscripts of the Komnenian novels function as paratextual signs that direct the reader’s attention to specific subgenre unities incorporated into the main narrative as well as to crucial or stylistically interesting sections of the text. In the case of the genre of lament, too, in Rhodanthe and Dosikles and Drosilla and Charikles, the oldest manuscripts manifest a tendency to indicate such a function only at the beginning of the novel without repeating the respective margin annotations later. The manuscript tradition of the Komnenian novels, documented as early as the thirteenth century, suggests, therefore, that the laments in these works were perceived by the scribes, and most likely by the broader audience and the authors of the novels as well, as particular subgenre unities incorporated into the broader structure of the specific fictional narrative.

Codifying the pain: ritual aspects and formulaic frames

From this discussion of the genre individuality of the pathētikai ēthopoiiai in the Komnenian novels, I now turn to the narratological and extrareferential functions of specific formal conventions of these marked passages. I have already noted that more often than not the laments in the Komnenian novels are introduced and conclude with verbs and participles conveying the passion of the specific situation. Now and again the narrator supplements these formulaic frames with specific references to the ritual act of lamentation. This is especially true for the laments of the last two categories. I find three main possible functions of this emphasis on the ritual aspects of the laments in the novels. First, this emphasis reinforces the role of laments as individual (sub)genre unities integrated into the main narrative. The delineation of their ritual performance and context demarcates their function as particular genre sections of the novels, thus supplementing, in a sense, the corresponding paratextual signs, whenever these are present in the manuscripts. Second, the ritualistic narrative frame of the laments in the novels corresponds, I believe, to the rhetorical topos of reference to the performative context of lamentation. Menandros had already pointed to the emotional effectiveness of this convention. [207] Third, this function enhances also the extrareferentiality of the laments since it refers the audience of the novels to the performance of traditional ritual or rhetorical laments, monōdiai or epitaphioi logoi such as those composed by the novelists themselves for several occasions of actual lamentation.

Later in the same book, Drosilla laments the dead Kalligone, Kratandros’ beloved. The narrator mentions again Drosilla’s ritual gestures but avoids extensive details:

ἔκραζε κυπτάζουσα πρὸς Καλλιγόνην,
ἔτυπτεν εἰς τὸ στέρνον, ἀνεκεκράγει
μετὰ στεναγμῶν καὶ μετ’ ὄμβρου δακρύων.


She stooped toward [the tomb of] Kalligone and began to call her up loudly,
beating her breast and shouting
with moans and downpour of tears.

The understatement of the ritual dimensions of this lament may be attributed to the fact that it is performed by the heroine in solitude, not in the context of a wider audience. Analogous understatements of the ritual aspect of laments proper in the novels are encountered in the cases of Kratandros’ lament for his beloved Chrysochroe in Prodromos’ novel, and Kleandros’ lament for his beloved Kalligone in that of Eugeneianos. The former is again a solitary lament, while the latter is spoken by Kleandros in the presence of his friends.

Even in these cases, certain codified gestures of ritual lamentation have been preserved, albeit with some interesting modifications. Prodromos describes how Kratandros threw himself on the bed and begun to lament:

ῥίψας ἐμαυτὸν κύμβαχον κατὰ κλίνης
καὶ πικρὸν οἷον ἀλαλάξας ἐκ βάθους,
ἀντετραγῴδουν τῷ τεκόντι τὴν κόρην.


Throwing myself and tumbling into bed
and ululating bitterly from deep inside,
I responded to the lament of the young woman’s father.

The detail ῥίψας ἐμαυτὸν κύμβαχον κατὰ κλίνης recalls another scene later in the novel where Kratandros himself tries to console Dosikles. In that passage, Dosikles thinks that Rhodanthe is dead and tries to throw himself into the sea but Kratandros averts his suicide. He suggests to him that, instead of committing suicide, he, Dosikles, should channel his extreme grief into a ritual demonstration of it:

εἰ δ’ ἄρα καὶ τέθνηκεν ἡ σὴ παρθένος
(κείσθω γὰρ οὕτω καὶ διδόσθω τῷ λόγῳ),
τὶ δὴ παρ’ αὐτὸ τὴν τελευτὴν ἀσπάσῃ;
ἔκκοψον ἄκραν τῇ θανούσῃ τὴν κόμην,
σπεῖσον πικρὸν δάκρυον ἐκ βλεφαρίδων,
ῥῆξον τὸ χιτώνιον, οἴμωξον μέγα,
ῥίψον σεαυτὸν κατὰ γῆς ἐπὶ στόμα,
θὲς εἰς κορυφήν, ἢν δοκῇ σοι, καὶ κόνιν.


So, if your girl has died
(let’s suppose this and accept it just for the sake of the argument),
why do you wish your death because of this?
Cut completely your hair for the dead woman,
pour bitter tears, as libations, from your eyelashes,
tear your tunic, wail in a loud voice,
throw yourself onto the ground
and, if it seems appropriate to you, sprinkle even ashes on your head.

The enumeration of all these manifestations of ritual mourning by Kratandros can be read as an allusion to his own experience of lamentation in the first book of the novel (1.270–310) and consequently as an analeptic narrative restoration of the omission of a detailed description of the ritual expressions of his own mourning at the proper place. [
214] In the case of Kleandros, ritual lamentation has undergone a dramatic transformation: his unbearable pain causes his death (8.311–316). This scene, which at first may seem a symptom of graceless inflated melodramatism, is not totally unrealistic, as evinced by a number of Byzantine sources that report similar fatal consequences of actual lamentation. [215]

The pathētikai ēthopoiiai in the novels are not placed in a ritual context. Nevertheless, the emphasis that the narrators occasionally place on the amount of tears that the lamenting characters shed might be reminiscent of the ritual act of weeping. [221] As a matter of fact, at the end of Prodromos’ novel, when Rhodanthe relates her adventures to Dosikles, a highly ritualized and rhetorical vocabulary is employed for the description of her frequent solitary pathētikai ēthopoiiai in the past:

ὡς δ’ ἐν βαθείαις νυξὶν ἐθρήνησά σε,
… ὡς ἔκλαυσά σε,
ὡς τῆς κεφαλῆς ἐσπάραξα τὴν κόμην,
ὡς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐξεδρύφθην πολλάκις,
ὡς τὰς παρειὰς …
ἐμῶν ἐκοκκίνησα βαφαῖς αἱμάτων,
ὡς πικρόν, ὡς μέγιστον ὠλόλυξά σε …


How much I lamented you late many nights,
… How much I wept for you,
how did I pull out my hair,
how many times I lacerated my face,
how my cheeks …
I dyed red with the color of my blood,
how bitterly, how loudly I wailed for you …

The appropriation of the imagery of ritualistic narrative formulae by Rhodanthe in her description of her previous laments recalls the function of Kratandros’ subtle self-referential manipulation of similar formulae in 6.436–443: this marked imagery analeptically invests Rhodanthe’s previous pathētikai ēthopoiiai with intense ritualistic connotations.

Old conventions—new contexts

In the laments of the Komnenian novels the antithesis between present and past is more often than not integrated into a tripartite chronological structure that adheres to the corresponding rhetorical rule of progumnasmata and monody. Drosilla’s lament for Kleandros, for example (9.37–107), begins with a description of the deplorable present condition—the death of her friend Kleandros (9.37–49). This is followed by a short encomiastic reference to Kleandros’ past:

ὦ κλὼν φανεὶς ὅρπηκος ἁδροῦ Λεσβίου,
ἔφυς μὲν ἁδρὸς καὶ καλὸς καὶ γλυκίων.


Oh, branch of a fine Lesbian sprout,
you grew fine and beautiful and sweet.

This encomiastic reference is further intensified by the conventional antithesis between the past and the present, “yesterday” (χθές) and “now” (νῦν) or “today” (σήμερον; 9.54–57). [
231] The chronological contrast is succeeded by an extensive reference to the future that is depicted in dark colors. The last part is also constructed around a series of conventional antitheses. Kallistias, Kleandros’ father, will not celebrate his son’s wedding; instead, he will lament his death. [232] His son, whom Kallistias expected to be his support in his old age, is now dead. Drosilla and Charikles will miss terribly the company of their friend who in the past used to be their invaluable comforter. Drosilla’s reference to the reaction of Kleandros’ bereaved father in the form of a direct address to him recalls Menandros’ suggestion that the orator of monody use apostrophes to the deceased’s family and share their grief by placing special emphasis on their destroyed hopes. [233]

The direct address to the deceased and to Tyche is also a recurrent stylistic motif in the laments of the Komnenian novels. In the example just mentioned, in addition to her addresses to the dead (9.37; 44; 81) and his father, Drosilla addresses Tyche and blames her (9.42)—once more, not unlike Menandros’ prescriptions for monody. [234] Rhetorical question is another device through which the mourners underline the intensity of their pain. [235] In Drosilla’s lament, the apostrophe to Tyche has the form of such a question:

τί ταῦτα, Τύχη; Ποῖ ποτε σταῖεν τάδε;
Τίς τῶν καθ’ ἡμᾶς λῆξίς ἐστι δακρύων;


Tyche, why all these? Where are they going to stop?
What is going to be the end of our tears?

Similar examples are numerous in the laments of the Komnenian novels. Charikles’ lament for Drosilla’s apparent death in Drosilla and Charikles 6.34f is one of the most characteristic cases. At the beginning of his monologue, Charikles addresses the personified Tyche in a long rhetorical question containing a condensed summary of the misfortunes he has already experienced due to her relentless nature (6.36–44). His first rhetorical question is followed by two more that also address Tyche (6.45–47; 53–54). Rhodanthe’s pathētikē ēthopoiia in 6.17f makes an extreme use of this technique. Her rhetorical questions, which are addressed to Dosikles, occupy no less than thirty-three lines at the beginning of her lament (6.19–51). These questions follow an antithetical structure, the rhetorical effect of which is intensified by means of alliterations and homoioteleuta (6.38–40; 41–42; 45–46).

In Hysmine and Hysminias, the latter metaphor introduces into the text an intriguing complexity of allusive connotations, as it is employed in antithetical but structurally complementary narrative contexts. First it is employed in the context of the attempt of Kratisthenes, Hysminias’ friend, to dissuade Hysminias from his decision to stay with his beloved Hysmine in Aulikomis. Kratisthenes employs a diction conventionally associated with laments. Hysminias, Kratisthenes says, is the only hope of his parents; they expect him to take care of them in their old age; but if he decides to yield to the power of Eros, then they will lose him and will be lamenting him. Kratishenes’ reference to the groups of people whom Hysminias should think of before he succumbs to his passion recalls Menandros’ corresponding instructions for the composition of monody:

φεῖσαι πατρὸς πολιᾶς· φεῖσαι δακρύων μητρός· φεῖσαι πατρίδος ἡμῶν, ἡλικιωτῶν, φίλων· φεῖσαι θιάσου λαμπροῦ· φεῖσαι λαμπρᾶς ἀγορᾶς.


Kratisthenes’ description of the envisaged pain that Hysminias’ decision to stay with his beloved would cause to his mother culminates in a dramatic metaphor; Hysminias’ mother will be crying like a bird that laments for her dead nestlings:

ἀναλόγισαι τὴν μητέρα οἷον κόψεται, οἷον θρηνήσει, ὄντως ἐλεεινόν, ὄντως ἄγριον καὶ οἷον τρυγὼν ἐπὶ νεοττοῖς ὀλλυμένοις.


Think of your mother, how she will be beating herself, how she will be lamenting, really pitifully, really wildly and like a turtledove lamenting her lost nestlings.

Kratisthenes’ discourse here may be construed as a prolepsis of the dirges of the heroes’ parents later in the story. As a matter of fact, Hysmine’s mother, Panthia, will refer to her supposedly dead daughter with a similar metaphor. Hysmine, laments Panthia, was a “swift-winged bird” (ornis eupteros) that has flown away out of her hands (10.11.2). At another point in the narrative, Hysmine underlines her loyalty to Hysminias by describing herself as a bird that Eros handed over to her beloved (5.19.3). Hysminias will employ later the same metaphor in his solitary lament for Hysmine whom he thinks dead. She was a bird, he says, who has flown away from his hands (7.17.1). By being used in these antithetical narrative contexts, this metaphor contributes to the dialogue between the themes of love and death/separation on which the whole novel is constructed. This dialogue, already alluded to in Kratisthenes’ words discussed above, determines the overall composition not only of Makrembolites’ work but of all the ancient and medieval Greek novels.

It would be tempting to associate Makrembolites’ handling of the potential ambivalence of this imagery with popular modes of poetic manipulation of the antithetical but parallel structures of wedding and funeral rituals documented in different cultures. [241] Modern Greek folk songs offer interesting cases of the double-tongued connotations of this metaphor. One example will suffice to illustrate its dynamic adaptability to antithetical performative occasions. In a dirge that may be also performed as a wedding-lament, the child of the mourner is described as a small bird that has flown away:

In the absence, though, of any specific evidence of contemporary Byzantine oral literature of this sort, the association of this metaphor in Makrembolites’ novel with popular tradition can be proposed only with caution. Nevertheless, the comparison of a child with a bird is not unattested in other examples of medieval Greek literature. [

Narrative and metanarrative functions

In Rhodanthe and Dosikles, Dosikles’ three laments in the first six books of the novel could be viewed as a unity where each threnodic passage is based on the previous one by means of a climactic anticipatory process. In his first lament, a pathētikē ēthopoiia (1.88–131), Dosikles, alluding to a conventional topos in the Greek novel, expresses his fear that the barbarian leader who has arrested him and Rhodanthe will fall in love with the young heroine. After two books, Dosikles’ suspicion is validated: Gobryas, not exactly the barbarian leader himself but, at any rate, his most important dignitary, falls in love with Rhodanthe and tries to entice her. What follows is a new pathētikē ēthopoiia by Dosikles, in which he expresses his grief for his imminent separation from his beloved. Being in great distress, Dosikles wishes that Rhodanthe had drowned in the sea after they left their home and before they were captured by Gobryas. [251] In such a case, Dosikles would have at least thrown himself into the sea or would have killed himself with his sword. But now, Rhodanthe will marry Gobryas and will forget her first lover (3.435–477). After three books, in the third lament of the unity (6.264–413), Dosikles mourns Rhodanthe, whom he believes dead. Ironically, Rhodanthe’s apparent death lamented here fulfils the wish that Dosikles had expressed in his second pathētikē ēthopoiia: Rhodanthe’s ship sinks and Dosikles thinks that his beloved has drowned. In a scene that reenacts in reality what he had experienced in his fantasy in his second lament, Dosikles concludes his last pathētikē ēthopoiia with an attempt to throw himself into the sea, but his friend Kratandros saves him.

The next book of Rhodanthe and Dosikles begins with an extended pathētikē ēthopoiia by Rhodanthe that is constructed as an antiphonic response to Dosikles’ preceding laments. The heroine is alive in Cyprus at the service of Kratandros’ parents. She was sold to them by the sailors who had saved her from the shipwreck but despite her survival, she is deeply distressed. She misses Dosikles and now and again gives vent to her grief in solitary laments. Her ēthopoiia in this book is addressed to Dosikles and, in a sense, voices her pathētikē ēthopoiia that Dosikles had imagined in his own pathetikē ēthopoiia in the previous book. There is, though, an important difference: her ēthopoiia in this book is actual and spoken after her survival; the other was an imagined ēthopoiia during her imagined drowning that had been incorporated into Dosikles’ own lament.

With Rhodanthe’s self-praise the narrator’s point of view intervenes in the novel once more, this time in order to depict his heroine as an exemplum of proper behavior based on the established model of female chastity and loyalty propagated throughout the tradition of the Greek novel. Clearly, Rhodanthe’s pathētikē ēthopoiia demonstrates a complex play of self-referentiality and innovative exploitation of the established rules of the genres of ēthopoiia and the novel by Theodoros Prodromos. In addition to such genre conventions, Rhodanthe’s self-presentation as the paragon of female loyalty and temperance may also allude specifically to the moral expectations of the contemporary Byzantine female audience of the novel.

In addition to these metanarrative allusions, Drosilla’ pathētikē ēthopoiia points to another case of subtle intertextual references of Niketas Eugeneianos to Theodoros Prodromos. Drosilla concludes her lament with an invocation of Hypnos. She asks him to come and bring Charikles in her dreams:

ὦ δεῦρο, μικρόν, ῞Υπνε, συγκάτασχέ με,
εἴ που φανεὶς ὄνειρος ἐγκαθηδύνει,
ἐμοὶ παριστῶν τὸν φίλον Χαρικλέα.


Sleep, come here and take me a little a bit,
so that a dream may come and please me
by showing me my beloved Charikles.

Similarly, in Rhodanthe and Dosikles, Dosikles ends his pathētikē ēthopoiia in the first book of the novel with an address to the sleeping Rhodanthe whose inner world he tries to envisage. In his imagination, Dosikles hears Rhodanthe impatiently asking her dreams to bring her the image of her beloved:

καλεῖς δὲ πυκνὰ τῇ καθ’ ὕπνους ἐμφάσει
καὶ τοὺς ὀνείρους ἀξιοῖς ὄψιν μίαν
φέρειν ἐν ὕπνοις, τὴν θέαν Δοσικλέος.


Many times you call in the vision of your sleep
and you ask the dreams to bring you just one single image
in your sleep, a view of Dosikles.

In her attempt to convey the intensity of her passion, Chrysilla draws some parallels between her own emotional state and the natural world. However, the efficacy of her argumentation is undermined by the ironic intrusion of the narrator’s point of view into her speech. Some of the examples she adduces have an ultimately self-derogatory effect:

Ζητεῖ τὸν ἄρνα λύκος, αἲξ χλωρὰν πόαν,
λαγὼν δὲ κύνες, ἀμνὸν ἄρκτος ἀγρία,
στρουθοῦ νεοσσοὺς ἀγκυλῶνυξ ἱέραξ·
ἐγὼ δέ σοι τὸ φίλτρον αὐξάνω μόνω.


The wolf searches for a lamb, the goat for fresh grass,
the dogs for a hare, the wild bear for a kid,
and the hawk that has crooked talons for nestlings;
but I foster my love only for you.

As in Kallidemos’ case, the pseudo-pastoral imagery inscribed in Chrysilla’s speech is invested with ominous and, ultimately, self-parodic connotations. Instead of evoking an idyllic atmosphere, these images delineate the threatening topos of a barbaric desire. [264] The pastoral topoi are inverted to underline Chrysilla’s narrative function as a rival of the female protagonist. The example of the wolf recalls, I suggest, both the enticing role of Lykainion—the “She-Wolf”—in Daphnis and Chloe as the initiator of the male protagonist into the mysteries of love, [265] and the more dangerous function of Dorkon in the same novel. Disguised exactly as a wolf, Dorkon attempts to violate the virginity of Chloe, the naive (aphelēs) shepherdess. The image of the wolf may well be also viewed as an allusion to Theokritos’ eleventh Idyll, the same Idyll that, as I argued above, was employed by Eugeneianos as a model for the construction of Kallidemos’ ēthopoiia in book six. [266] The original Theokritean metaphoric description of the relation between the crude Kyklops (the chaser “wolf”) and the beautiful Galateia (the “tender lamb” and object of his desire) has been reversed here to fit Chrysilla’s ludicrous rhetoric. In Eugeneianos, it is Chrysilla, the barbarian lady, who assumes the role of the active wooer, whereas the male hero, Charikles, that of the vulnerable desired victim. An earlier possible intertextual layer that may be discerned here, a twisted allusion to the Platonic metaphor of the “wolf”-lover and his innocent beloved “lamb,” also invests Chrysilla’s imagery with clear sinister connotations. [267]

Clearly, in the case of the “bereft” Chrysilla’s romantic overtures toward Charikles, Eugeneianos makes parodic use of pastoral conventions in a way recalling Kallidemos’ ēthopoiia. The parodic manipulation of Chrysilla’s rhetorical eloquence presents a complex interdiscursivity too since it is embedded in an already inverted threnodic discourse. And exactly like the ēthopoiia of Kallidemos, the only thing that Chrysilla’s self-undermining eloquence manages to attain is the manifestation of the insipidity of her own ēthos.

• • •

The production of the novel in twelfth-century Byzantium may be viewed in its broader contemporary literary context, especially in relation to the flourishing of rhetoric in the era. The aesthetic reception of the ancient Greek novel by the Byzantines, the evidence of the manuscript tradition of the Komnenian novels, and the texts of these novels themselves indicate a deep awareness of the rhetorical character of the genre of the novel by both the Komnenian novelists and their medieval Greek audience. In this respect, Nikephoros Basilakes’ progumnasmata offer the closest twelfth-century rhetorical parallel to the Komnenian novels.

The ways in which the Komnenian novelists construct the speeches of their characters bespeak a careful reworking of the established conventions of progumnasmata, and specifically of the genre of ēthopoiia (character study). Both kinds of ēthopoiia examined in this Chapter—ēthopoiia proper and pathētikē ēthopoiia—attest to a creative manipulation of the conventions of the genre by the novelists in accordance with their specific narrative needs. The analysis of concrete examples of these rhetorical modulations in the Komnenian novels shows that their authors interact not only with established literary conventions of the past but also with their contemporary broader sociocultural reality. For instance, in Eugeneianos, the creative reappropriation of rhetorical conventions and especially of the Idea of apheleia allows the incorporation into his novel of dominant sociocultural discourses such as the conflict between urbanity and rusticity.

It is by means of an innovative appropriation of rhetorical tradition that the Komnenian novels incorporate elements from a wide range of textual and contextual, diachronic and synchronic cultural domains, thus advancing the amphoteroglōssia of their often allusive narratives. By manipulating inherited modes of rhetorical expression the Komnenian novelists articulate highly self-referential fictional discourses that respond creatively first to their ancient literary models, second to one another, and, finally, to the horizon of expectations of the rhetorically trained members of their audience.


[ back ] 1. Jenkins 1963:46.

[ back ] 2. For a brief review of negative assessments of medieval Greek rhetoric, see Hunger 1972a:6–7. Hunger proposes a systematic model for contextualizing the literary and broader cultural functions of Byzantine rhetoric. For a comprehensive aesthetic and ideological approach to medieval Greek rhetoric, see also Beck 1969, whose overall attitude is actually more positive than what Hunger lets his readers think in his aforementioned article (Hunger 1972a:7n5). For the importance of rhetoric in Byzantium, cf. also Hunger 1981 and Kustas 1970. Cf. also Conley 1986, which provides useful information but occasionally must be read with caution; Conley’s criticism of Kustas’s emphasis on the importance of Neoplatonism for Byzantine rhetoric is not well-substantiated. An interesting contribution to the study of aspects of Byzantine rhetoric offers the volume Rhetoric in Byzantium (E. Jeffreys 2003), which came to my attention just after the completion of the manuscript of this book. Especially Mullett 2003 seems to point to the right direction.

[ back ] 3. Vickers 1988 may offer useful comparative directions for a systematic reevaluation of medieval Greek rhetoric.

[ back ] 4. Garzya 1973:12.

[ back ] 5. ᾿Επιστήμην πρὸς ἐπιστήμην ἀντεξετάζων, εὑρίσκω φιλοσοφίαν παρὰ πολὺ λειπομένην ῥητορικῆς. ῎Αμφω μὲν γὰρ ψυχῆς λογικῆς καθεστήκατον ἔκγονα, ἀλλ’ ἡ μὲν πολιτικωτέρας καὶ διακοσμεῖν ἐθελούσης τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον, ἡ δὲ ἀνακεχωρηκυίας καὶ συστελλομένης εἰς ἑαυτήν· ὅσον τοίνυν εἰς λόγον φιλανθρωπίας αἱ προαγαγοῦσαι τὰς τέχνας ἀμφοτέρας ἀλλήλων διήνεγκαν, τοσοῦτον ῥητορικὴ φιλοσοφίας ὑπερανέστηκε (Gautier 1972:139–140).

[ back ] 6. Original text in Walz 6.56.

[ back ] 7. Doxopatres finds proof for the lofty moral character of rhetoric in the mythological attribution of the invention of rhetoric to Hermes (Walz 2.90–91; cf. Walz 6.7–8) and in an allegedly Christian theological, but ultimately rather circular, argument for the association of this art with God, “the origin of all good things” (Walz 2.92).

[ back ] 8. Original text in Walz 2.118.

[ back ] 9. Gautier 1972:63. See also Browning’s notes on this text in Browning 1962:288–294. Browning also publishes a letter of Theodoros Prodromos to Italikos, which, although copied together with Italikos’ letter, is not a response to it (Browning 1962:280; text in 287–288). Italikos’ letter seems to be more closely related to another letter by Prodromos adressed to him: some allusions to Aristotle common in both the Prodromic Περὶ τοῦ μεγάλου καὶ τοῦ μικροῦ (Tannery 1887:111–119) and Italikos’ letter suggest, I believe, a close interrelationship between these two texts, although the issue of their chronological sequence should be left open. In this letter, Prodromos addresses Italikos as ῥητορείας ἄγαλμα without failing to refer to the authority of his addressee on philosophy as well (Tannery 1887:111).

[ back ] 10. “Serblias” was the name of an aristocratic Byzantine family. There has been also preserved a letter by Tzetzes addressed to one of the members of this family (Leone 1972:31–34). On this family in general, see The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium s.v.

[ back ] 11. Leone 1968:7.295–301.

[ back ] 12. Piccolos 1853:224. Cf. Prodromos’ reference to himself in his speech about Pronoia (PG 133.1297–1298); on this poem, see below Chapter Three.

[ back ] 13. LSJ s.v.

[ back ] 14. Rabe 1913:339–345.

[ back ] 15. For this aspect of obscurity in Byzantine rhetoric, see Kustas 1973:12 and the detailed discussion in Chapter Three. Diploē may have also negative connotations since in the hands of dexterous rhetors obscure discourse can become a deceitful discursive instrument.

[ back ] 16. Dübner 1846:89.285.

[ back ] 17. Walz 6.380.

[ back ] 18. The text can be found in Criscuolo 1975/6. Karantenos’ personifications are discussed also in Chapter Three.

[ back ] 19. ᾿Εγώγε, εἴ μοι βούλει τὸ οὖς ὑπέχειν ὁποσονοῦν, συμβουλευσαίμην ἄν σοι πινάκιον ἀνὰ χεῖρας λαβόντι, καὶ ἐς γραμματιστοῦ ἀπίοντι, τοῖς πρώτοις μὲν τὰ πρῶτα στοιχείοις προσβιβασθῆναι· εἶτα κλιμακηδὸν τοῖς τελεωτέροις ἐπαναβαίνειν, ἄχρις ἂν τὴν τῆς γραμματικῆς καταλάβῃς ἀκρόπολιν (Podestà 1947:245).

[ back ] 20. Καὶ ἦν δὴ λεγόμενον τὸ βασιλακίζειν ἐν σχεδοπλόκοις ὡς πάλαι τὸ γοργιάζειν ἐν σοφισταῖς (Garzya 1971:58). For some interesting comments elucidating polemical allusions of the Basilakes’ Prologue, cf. Polemis 2001; on Byzantine schedographia, see also Browning 1973.

[ back ] 21. Garzya 1969:59–63; Garzya 1973:5.

[ back ] 22. Garzya 1971:58.

[ back ] 23. Leone 1972:60–63.

[ back ] 24. It is appropriate to note here that the theme of ignorance in rhetorical matters appears in the satirical discourse of Byzantine authors in earlier periods too. Characteristic is the example of Michael Psellos, who, in his poem Against a Sabbaita Monk, accuses the target of his satire of total unfamiliarity with Hermogenes’ rhetorical theories of staseis, Ideas, heureseis (Westerink 1992: ll.160–170).

[ back ] 25. Hunger 1978:1.92–120; on progumnasmata in general, see also Kennedy 1983:54–70.

[ back ] 26. This is a slight divergence from Hermogenes, who proposes twelve categories. In Aphthonios, ἀνασκευή and κατασκευή, ἐγκώμιον and ψόγος do not constitute two pairs, as in Hermogenes, but four different categories (Rabe 1926:10–16, 21–31).

[ back ] 27. In his commentary on Aphthonios, Doxopatres clearly states that Aphthonios’ discussion of progumnasmata is preferred to that of Hermogenes and of any other rhetorician because it is clear and offers well-presented examples (Walz 2.131; on the impact of Aphthonios on Byzantine rhetoric, cf. also Kustas 1973:22 and Schissel 1934:3–4).

[ back ] 28. Leone 1972:17.10–12.

[ back ] 29. I have adopted the English translation of the Greek terms that Kustas proposes in his study on Byzantine rhetoric (Kustas 1973:22n1). As for χρεία and γνώμη in Basilakes, the manuscript tradition points to a certain confusion, as the two terms are used interchangeably (see Pignani 1983:23n35).

[ back ] 30. ῾Ο μῦθος οὗτος ἐστι μὲν Αἰσώπειος, τὴν δὲ μελέτην ἐκ τῶν ῾Ερμογένους προγυμνασματικῶν μεθόδων ἠρανίσατο, πλατύτερον ἐξειργασμένος, ὡς ἐκεῖνος μεθοδεύει ἐν τοῖς περὶ μύθου (Pignani 1983:73–75; see also Pignani 1983:18).

[ back ] 31. For his themes and sources in general, see Pignani 1983:33–49; especially for his affinities with the Old and the New Testament, see Pignani 1983:43f.

[ back ] 32. On this, cf. Hunger 1969/70:21.

[ back ] 33. Pignani 1983:94–95, 99–100, 207–210, 221–224. In his reference to Basilakes, Beaton describes the ēthopoiia based on the Myrrha myth as a “ludicrous extension of Aphthonios’ tale of Adonis” (Beaton 1996a:26; my emphasis), whereas he does not comment on the bold character of the story; on the contrary, he singles out as most daring the ēthopoiiai of Danae and Pasiphae (Beaton 1996a:26).

[ back ] 34. Beck 1974:22.

[ back ] 35. “Wie immer der Mythos religionsgeschichtlich bedeutet werden mag und bedeutet wurde, nichts davon in dieser Prosopopoiia eines orthodoxen Klerikers; dafür ein Liebesgestammel der Pasiphae, das fast wie eine völlig sympathisierende psychologische Analyse einer perversen Neigung anmutet. Nicht die mindeste Mental Reservation wird eingelegt oder auch nur angedeutet, auch nicht in Parenthese. Der Autor wählt von tausend möglichen προσωποποιίαι gerade diese, und sozusagen ohne mit der orthodoxe Wimper zu zucken” (Beck 1974:22; cf. also Beck 1986a:140–141; Awerinzew 1981). However, my analysis shows that, in the end, Basilakes did not subvert the moral prescriptions of his religion.

[ back ] 36. Pignani 1983:34.

[ back ] 37. Pignani 1983:224. The main contrast of this passage vividly recalls the following passage from Makrembolites: Καὶ ἦν ἔρις παρ’ ἡμῖν Σωφροσύνης καὶ ῎Ερωτος, εἰ μή τις Αἰδὼ τὴν Σωφροσύνην ἐκείνην ἐθέλει καλεῖν· ὁ μὲν γὰρ ὡς ἀπὸ γῆς μοι κρατῆρας ἀνῆπτε πυρός, ἡ δ’ ὡς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ τὴν κόρην ἐψέκαζεν (4.23.1). This similarity escaped Pignani’s attention. Cf. also the diēgēma about Pasiphae in Pignani 1983:94–95.

[ back ] 38. Καὶ δικαίως ἄρα Δαίδαλον εἰς παῖδα ἐζημίωσεν ῞Ηλιος, οἷς ταύρῳ τὴν ῾Ηλίου παῖδα Πασιφάην ἐζεύξατο, ἐντεῦθεν καὶ Δαίδαλος μὴ πάντη τέχνῃ θαρρεῖν ἐδιδάσκετο (diēgēma about Daidalos, Pignani 1983:94). Οὐ φέρει περιφρονούμενος ῞Ηλιος, ἐπιβάλλει τῷ κηρῷ τὰς ἀκτῖνας, ἀπελέγχει τὸν σοφιστήν, λύει τὸ σόφισμα καὶ ῥίπτει κατὰ πελάγους τὸν ῎Ικαρον (diēgēma about Ikaros, Pignani 1983:96).

[ back ] 39. Eros is memorably described as a sophistēs in the Platonic Symposium (203d). The same image appears also in Achilleus Tatios (1.10.1).

[ back ] 40. Pignani 1983:202.

[ back ] 41. See also the discussion of sōphrosunē in Chapter Three.

[ back ] 42. Pignani 1983:48.13.

[ back ] 43. The closure of Makrembolites’ novel is discussed later in this Chapter.

[ back ] 44. Pignani 1983:139–141.

[ back ] 45. Genesis 39.12.

[ back ] 46. For a discussion of Romanos’ reworking of the story, see Conca 1990. For the use of the same motif in hagiography, cf. Kazhdan 1990b. However, neither Conca nor Kazhdan mention the later cases of the theme discussed here. On this theme, see also below p. 184.

[ back ] 47. His epigrams on biblical topics have been recently most carefully edited by Papagiannis (the specific epigrams in Papagiannis 1997 nos. 33a and 33b); Rhodanthe and Dosikles 3.284–288.

[ back ] 48. Horna 1903:178.

[ back ] 49. Treu 1893:38.

[ back ] 50. Pignani 1983:144–147. Balsamon has also written an epigram on the same topic (Horna 1903:179).

[ back ] 51. Pignani 1983:228–232. On the possible dependence of this story on hagiographic sources, see Hunger 1969/70:21n24.

[ back ] 52. The diction the young woman employs to describe her adventure recalls Eumathios Makrembolites: τὰ μὲν οὖν δὴ πρῶτα, ῎Ερωτι συμμάχῳ χρησάμενος καὶ τὴν γλῶσσαν ἔχων ἐλέπολιν, κατ’ αὐτῆς δὴ σωφροσύνης κατεπεστράτευσε, πολιορκῆσαι θέλων τῆς παρθενίας μου τὴν ἀκρόπολιν καὶ καταστρατηγῆσαι τῆς σωφροσύνης αὐτῆς (Pignani 1983:229); cf. Hysmine and Hysminias 3.2.5: ὁ δ’ [sc. ῎Ερως] ὡς ἀπὸ γῆς ὅλας ἑλεπόλεις κινεῖ καὶ κατασείει μου τὴν ἀκρόπολιν.

[ back ] 53. Basilakes’ approach to these themes could be compared to the ambivalent attitude of the Western medieval intellectuals to aesthetics; on this, see Eco 1988:6–15, especially 9–10.

[ back ] 54. Pignani 1983:37–38.

[ back ] 55. For a discussion of the use of theatrical vocabulary in the novel, see the old but still very elucidating article by Walden 1894; cf. also Hunger 1980:10.

[ back ] 56. Pignani 1983:223.

[ back ] 57. Pignani 1983:208.

[ back ] 58. Cf. footnote 63 of Chapter One.

[ back ] 59. The hypothesis of Basilakes’ conscious allusion to these connotations of the word drama is also corroborated by the fact that the use of this term and other etymologically or semantically related words is not so common in traditional progumnasmata.

[ back ] 60. Polyakova believes that Basilakes draws from Makrembolites (Polyakova 1969;1971). I agree with Beaton that her arguments are not conclusive (Beaton 1996a:80). It may be safer, I suggest, to assume that Makrembolites and Basilakes were working within the same literary milieu; cf. my discussion in Chapter Three.

[ back ] 61. Giangrande 1962:152–153.

[ back ] 62. Reardon 1991:84.

[ back ] 63. Reardon 1991:87–89. Reardon rightly avoids the one-sided analysis of the influence of rhetoric on the novel criticized by Perry 1967:19n7; cf. also Hägg 1983:107–108. For the role of rhetoric in the ancient Greek novel, see also Hock, who notes that “despite the widespread acknowledgement of the important relation between rhetoric and the romances, little has been done to clarify this relation” (Hock 1997:450). Unfortunately, Hock’s article is also too general to address this problem in detail, but it offers a useful overview of the issue. For rhetoric in Chariton, for instance, cf. more recently Doulamis 2002; Hernandez Lara 1990 offers an overly technical approach to the same novel. Rohde was, of course, the first to study the impact of rhetoric on the ancient Greek novel (Rohde 1914:336–360).

[ back ] 64. For example, Beck, in his Byzantinisches Erotikon, does not study the aesthetic reception of the ancient novel by the Byzantines, while Gärtner, in his “Charikleia in Byzanz” (Gärtner 1969), deals with this issue very briefly. Despite its affinity with Gärtner and its special emphasis on Heliodoros, Agapitos 1998 is a noteworthy exception. However, no study has systematically explored the reception of the ancient Greek novels by their Byzantine audience in rhetorical terms.

[ back ] 65. Cf. Van Hook 1909:183–185; Hartmann 1929:43–46. Hartmann overemphasizes Photios’ insistence on the moral dimensions of these works. His view that in Photios “von dem künstlerischen Wert oder Unwert dieser Rhetoren-machwerke ist … keine Rede” is, of course, an exaggeration (Hartmann 1929:43).

[ back ] 66. ῞Οσον αὐτῆς ὑπόκροτον, οὐ πρὸς τόνον τινὰ ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τὸ γαργαλίζον παρακεκίνηται (Henry 1959–1977: cod. 94.73b.33–35).

[ back ] 67. ῞Οσα γε εἰς λέξεως ἀρετὴν καὶ συνθήκης καὶ τῆς ἐν τοῖς διηγήμασι τάξεως, καὶ τοῖς σπουδαιοτάτοις τῶν πραγμάτων ἀλλ’ οὐχὶ παιγνίοις καὶ πλάσμασι ἄξιος τὴν τῶν λόγων τέχνην καὶ ἰσχὺν ἐπιδείκνυσθαι; Henry 1959–1977: cod. 94.73b.36–74a.3. This sentence is rather obscure, especially as far as the term συνθήκη is concerned. Photios’ editor, Henry, and Sandy, who has produced the English translation of the summary in Reardon’s volume (Reardon 1989), understand this term in the sense of ‘construction’, and seem to take it as a reference to the overall composition of the work. Similar is the interpretation of Borgogno (Borgogno 1975:103). Wilson also translates συνθήκη as ‘composition’ (Wilson 1994:104). However, συνθήκη is a term that belongs to the Hermogenean terminology employed by the Patriarch (cf. Hartmann 1929:9; Kustas 1962:188). In Hermogenes, it means ‘composition’ in the specific sense of the rhythmical effect ensuing from the relation of the last syllable of one word to the beginning of the next (cf. Kustas 1973:14n2). Dyck interprets this term as ‘sentence-structure’ (Dyck 1986:82). I contend that Photios’ use of this word reflects its meaning in Hermogenes; cf. Gärtner 1969:51.

[ back ] 68. Σαφὴς ἡ φράσις καὶ οὕτω καθαρὰ ὡς ἐπ’ ἔλαττον εὐκρινείας δεῖσθαι, καὶ τότε κατὰ τὰς ἐκτροπὰς τῶν διηγημάτων; Henry 1959–1977: cod. 166.109a.8–10.

[ back ] 69. Ταῖς δὲ διανοίαις πλεῖστον ἔχει τοῦ ἡδέος, ἅτε μύθων ἐγγὺς καὶ ἀπίστων ἐν πιθανωτάτῃ πλάσει καὶ διασκευῇ ὕλην ἑαυτῇ διηγημάτων ποιουμένῃ (Henry 1959–1977:cod. 166.109a.10–12).

[ back ] 70. Kustas 1973:142; 28.

[ back ] 71. For Photios’ general views on σαφήνεια, see Kustas 1962:165.

[ back ] 72. On these associations of καθαρότης in rhetoric, see Kustas 1973:81–82.

[ back ] 73. Καὶ λέξει μὲν καὶ συνθήκῃ δοκεῖ διαπρέπειν· εὐσήμῳ τε γὰρ καὶ ἐπὶ τροπὴν οἰκείως τετραμμένῃ, ὅτε καὶ ταύτῃ χρῷτο· ἀφοριστικαί τε καὶ σαφεῖς καὶ τὸ ἡδὺ φέρουσαι αἱ πλεῖσται περίοδοι, καὶ τὴν ἀκοὴν τῷ ἤχῳ λεαίνουσαι (Henry 1959–1977: cod. 87.66a.17–20).

[ back ] 74. On this term in Photios’ work in general, see Kustas 1962:142.

[ back ] 75. Henry 1959–1977: cod. 73.50a.7–15.

[ back ] 76. For these subdivisions of Hermogenean Ēthos, see Lindberg 1977:222–225, 229–231.

[ back ] 77. Kustas 1973:34–38. However, it is noteworthy that Hermogenes uses Plato’s writings as an exceptional example for both Ideas (Kustas 1973:35); see also the detailed discussion in Chapter Three.

[ back ] 78. It is not without importance that in Photios’ epitome, the concept of σωφροσύνη is repeated three times within only five lines in Henry’s edition: ῎Ερωτα μὲν ἀνδρὸς ὑφαίνει καὶ γυναικός, σωφροσύνης δὲ δείκνυσι πόθον καὶ φυλακὴν ἀκριβῆ. Καί ἔστιν αὐτῷ ἡ τοῦ δράματος ὑπόθεσις Χαρίκλεια καὶ Θεαγένης σώφρονες ἀλλήλων ἐρασταί, καὶ πλάνη τούτων καὶ αἰχμαλωσία παντοδαπὴ καὶ φυλακὴ τῆς σωφροσύνης (Henry 1959–1977: cod. 73.50a.17–21).

[ back ] 79. Perhaps this reflects Photios’ habit of associating the style of a text with the character of its author; for this general tendency of Photios, see Kustas 1962:152–153. On the “christianization” of Heliodoros, cf. Dörrie 1938:274–275; Beck 1986a:115.

[ back ] 80. On this issue, cf. the observations in Dyck 1986:84–85, 100.

[ back ] 81. Psellos refers to the novel’s grandeur with a term that seems to have been taken from Aristotle or Demetrios rather than Hermogenes: μεγαλοπρεπής. This word is related to Hermogenes’ Idea of περιβολή (Amplitude) (cf. Kustas 1973:76, 140). Eustathios of Thessalonike employs the same term as equivalent to the Idea of Grandeur and its subdivisions (Lindberg 1977:158).

[ back ] 82. His remark that the Aithiopika κεκαλλώπισται δὲ καὶ ἐπεισοδίοις διηγήμασι (Dyck 1986:92.31–32) may reflect a tendency to read the novels as narrative wholes consisting of potentially self-contained sections. At least such a tendency is attested in the manuscripts, as I argue later in this Chapter.

[ back ] 83. On the rhetorical principle of prepon, see below pp. 62–63.

[ back ] 84. In his analysis of Psellos’ ēthopoiia of the Empress Zoe in the Chronographia, Schissel examines the ways in which Psellos departs from Hermogenes’ prescriptions for the genre (Schissel 1927). Psellos’ attitude to Hermogenes is in general ambivalent. Despite his debts to the ancient rhetorician, Psellos does not hesitate to criticize him (for a discussion of this issue, see Dyck 1986:31–33; Dyck’s discussion would have profited considerably from Schissel’s useful article). For Psellos’ familiarity with Hermogenes, see also above n24.

[ back ] 85. Dyck 1986:92.37–42.

[ back ] 86. Dyck 1986:92.30, 37.

[ back ] 87. Dyck 1986:94.66–96.95.

[ back ] 88. Μὴ γάρ τοι φροντίσας μεγαλοπρεπείας σαφέστερος μὲν διὰ τὴν ἔκπτωσιν γέγονεν (Dyck 1986:94.69–96.70).

[ back ] 89. Cf. my discussion of the possible meaning of this term in Photios’ analysis of the novel above in this Chapter.

[ back ] 90. Boissonade 1838:48–52.

[ back ] 91. Psellos’ view on the use of these novels as literary models is not as simple as Dyck seems to assume when he says that for Psellos “these novelists should form, not the beginning, but the culmination of one’s literary studies” (Dyck 1986:84). As culmination of one’s literary studies, Psellos suggests rather Gregorios of Nazianzos “ὃν δὴ καὶ κεφάλαιον τίθεμαι τῶν ὅσα σπουδῆς καὶ χαρίτων προέστηκε” (Boissonade 1838:50; on Psellos’ general admiration for Gregorios of Nazianzos, cf. also Benakis 1980/1:401). Of course, Psellos also stresses that the study of these novels as rhetorical examples is fruitless and precarious, if not based on more stable foundations. It is in this sense that the study of the novels should follow the study of other more important texts; see footnote 92.

[ back ] 92. Οἱ τὸ τῆς Λευκίππης βιβλίον καὶ τὸ τῆς Χαρικλείας, καὶ εἴ τι ἄλλο ἐπιτερπὲς καὶ χάριτας ἔχον, ἀναγιγνώσκοντες … δοκοῦσι μοι οἰκίαν μὲν ἐπιβεβλῆσθαι οἰκοδομεῖν, πρὸ δὲ τῆς τῶν κρηπίδων καταβολῆς καὶ τῆς τῶν τοίχων καὶ τῶν κιόνων ἀναστάσεώς τε καὶ τάξεως, τῆς τε τοῦ ὀρόφου συγκορυφώσεως, βούλεσθαι περιανθίζειν ταύτην γραφαῖς καὶ ψηφῖσι καὶ ταῖς λοιπαῖς χάρισι. Καὶ τοῖς μὲν πολλοῖς δοκοῦσι τι κατωρθωκέναι οἱ οὕτως ἐπιχειρήσαντες· ἔνιοι γοῦν μοι καὶ συγγραμμάτια ἄττα γράφειν ἐγκεχειρήκασι φλεγμαίνοντα μὲν τοῖς ὀνόμασι καὶ εὐθὺς ἀπὸ πρώτης γραμμῆς βροντῶντα καὶ ἐνάλλοντα σύντονον, εἶτα δή, ὥσπερ τὸ τῆς ἀστραπῆς σέλας, ἀθρόως ἀποσβεννύμενα … Οὐ γὰρ πᾶσα ἰδέα χαρίτων ἐστίν … καὶ ποικίλον τι χρῆμα ἡ τοῦ λόγου ἀκριβὴς μεταχείρισις. ῎Εχει δὲ ἀνάπαλιν ἢ ἐπὶ τῶν τελετῶν. ᾿Εκεῖ μὲν γὰρ τὰ προτέλεια καὶ τὰ περιραντιστήρια πρότερον, εἶτα τὸ ἐς τὰ ἄδυτα διαβῆναι … ἐνταῦθα δέ, εἴ γέ τις βούλοιτο τελεώτατος ἀγωνιστὴς εἶναι τεχνικοῦ λόγου καὶ ἀκριβοῦς, τὸ σίμβλον πρότερον καὶ εἶθ’ οὕτως περὶ τὰ ἄνθη πραγματευέσθω (Boissonade 1838:48–49). This extensive quotation suggests that the ancient Greek novels may have been used as models for brief and, according to Psellos at least, rather trivial compositions (ἐπιστολίδια καὶ προσφωνήσεις, Boissonade 1838:50), which must not have been considerably different from rhetorical exercises such as progumnasmata. As a matter of fact, Theon considered ἐπιστολή to be a kind of ēthopoiia (Patillon 1997:70.20–22).

[ back ] 93. Donnet 1967:321.34.

[ back ] 94. ᾿Εντεῦθεν ἡ Σιδὼν καὶ ὁ ἐν αὐτῇ λιμὴν ᾀδόμενος Δίδυμος, οὗ τῆς θέσεως τὴν διαγραφὴν ὁ τὴν Λευκίππην συγγράψας ἀρίστως ἐξέφρασεν (PG 133, 932D).

[ back ] 95. Μετὰ τὴν Τέχνην τὴν ῾Ρητορικήν εἰσιν οἱ ῥήτορες οὓς ἀναγινώσκουσιν οἱ νέοι οὗτοι … Χαρίκλειαν καὶ κατὰ φράσιν πάνυ καλὴ καὶ κατὰ τὴν ἔννοιαν εὔσχημος … ἡ δὲ Λευκίππη καὶ κατὰ τὴν φράσιν ὑποδεεστέρα καὶ κατὰ τὴν ἔννοιαν ἄσχημος (Jerusalem Taphos 106, 6v-7r). I owe this information to John Duffy, who has kindly provided me with a copy of the original.

[ back ] 96. Εἶτα τοὺς παλαιοτέρους καὶ δεινοτέρους, ὡς ἵνα μὴ εἰθίσωσιν ἑαυτοὺς οἱ νέοι μόνον εἰς τοὺς σαφεῖς νοεῖν, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰς τοὺς δεινούς; Jerusalem Taphos 106, 7r.

[ back ] 97. The possible use of the ancient Greek novels as rhetorical models at school recalls a similar practice indicated by papyrological evidence already in late antiquity (Giangrande 1962:155). The recommended authors in this thirteenth-century manuscript include Manasses, Basilakes, Libanios (his meletai and progumnasmata), Aristeides, Lysias, Demosthenes, Aischines. The brief comments accompanying the suggested texts indicate that the criteria of selection are basically rhetorical. One wonders whether “Basilakes” here refers to the whole work of the writer or mainly to his rhetorical exercises, which, as Basilakes himself says in his Prologue, had made him famous; intriguing is also the reference to Manasses; cf. Beck 1986a:156.

[ back ] 98. Walz 3.521.21–22.

[ back ] 99. Walz 3.526.20.

[ back ] 100. Walz 3.526.24.

[ back ] 101. Genette employs the concept of “paratext” in the sense of “all the verbal or other productions such as an author’s name, a title, a preface, illustrations” that accompany a text (see Genette 1997).

[ back ] 102. For Theodoros Prodromos and Niketas Eugeneianos, see the evidence collected in the editions of Marcovich and Conca, respectively; on Niketas Eugeneianos in particular, see also the elucidating observations in Conca 1989. A detailed analysis of such marginal annotations in the manuscript tradition of the Komnenian novels and their relation to similar indications in other texts is undertaken in a separate study I am currently preparing.

[ back ] 103. On Psellos’ ēthopoiia, see above p. 45n84; on his praise of Heliodoros’ epeisodia diēgēmata, see p. 44n 82.

[ back ] 104. We know that three of the four Komnenian novelists were successful composers of rhetorical genres. Prodromos, the most prolific author of the group, wrote many monodies, letters, and ritual court poems. The rhetorical character of Prodromos’ novel attracted scholarly attention as early as the late nineteenth century, when Grossschupf wrote a brief study on the technical aspects of Prodromos’ rhetoric (Grossschupf 1897). Eugeneianos was also the author of several monodies. Manasses was also very prolific. Among other works, he composed monodies and ekphraseis. As for Makrembolites’ connections with rhetoric, see the discussion that follows in this Chapter.

[ back ] 105. Μόνος τῶν ἄλλων θεῶν ὁ ῾Ερμῆς κοινωνικός ἐστιν· ῾Ερμῆς γὰρ λέγεται ὁ λόγος· κοινωνοῦμεν γὰρ ἀλλήλοις διὰ τοῦ λόγου (Rabe 1896:11.149). In his capacities as the god of the art of speech but also of commerce, Hermes is the protagonist in Theodoros Prodromos’ satire Sale of Poetic and Political Lives (du Theil 1810:129–150).

[ back ] 106. 2.41–44; I use the edition and translation of E. and M. Jeffreys (forth.).

[ back ] 107. E. and M. Jeffreys forth.:2.45–49. It is worth noting that a comparable association of Ares with Hermes is encountered in Makrembolites too, albeit in a different context (2.3). Chapter Three presents a detailed discussion of the idiosyncratic connection between these two gods in Makrembolites’ novel.

[ back ] 108. The original Greek text in Miller 1872:119. This poem had been attributed to Theodoros Prodromos, but Lampsidis has convincingly suggested that most probably it was written by Manasses (Lampsidis 1969); see also Hörandner 1974:48–49.

[ back ] 109. Miller 1872:315–316.

[ back ] 110. Miller 1872:342–344.

[ back ] 111. Miller 1872:301–302.

[ back ] 112. Frye 1976:107.

[ back ] 113. Walz 2.104.

[ back ] 114. Beaton 1996a:68.

[ back ] 115. For a similar example of real art, cf. Cupane 1996:100. Maguire, too, points to some rare parallels in illuminated Byzantine manuscripts, but he prefers to connect Prodromos’ description with examples of Western European art, especially Italian sculpture and textiles (Maguire 1999:196–197).

[ back ] 116. The bibliography on this subject is extensive. Carson 1992 focuses on Simonides, the intriguing origin, that is, of this topos; see also Bell 1978; on the history of this topos and the debates about its semantic and aesthetic connotations in later European traditions, cf. Markiewicz 1987 and Buch 1972.

[ back ] 117. Heliodoros 4.8.3–5.

[ back ] 118. Wilde develops his idea of life as imitation of art in several of his works; see especially his fascinating The Decay of Lying (first published in 1889; Wilde 1989:970–992).

[ back ] 119. The same image is used also in Eugeneianos 3.350. Here the reference is again to the πονηρὸς μίτος of destructive Tyche.

[ back ] 120. On this narrative technique in Makrembolites, largely based on Leukippe and Kleitophon, see Alexiou 1977:30–32. Despite its debts to Achilleus Tatios’ novel, Makrembolites’ work introduces a significant innovation in the history of the genre by omitting the narrative frame of its ancient Greek model.

[ back ] 121. Psalms 17.13; in the original, this image is used in the context of an epiphany of God.

[ back ] 122. Zeus, Poseidon, Eros, Gaia; only Gaia does not play any notable role in the story.

[ back ] 123. For Daphne, see e.g. Aphthonios in Rabe 1926:10–13; 14–16; cf. also Nikolaos’ sugkrisis in Walz 1.372–371; for Hyakinthos, see Seueros’ diēgēma in Walz 1.356–357; for Herakles, Nikolaos’ ēthopoiia in Walz 1.391; also his ekphrasis in Walz 1.410–411; on Herakles and Ikaros, see above the discussion of Basilakes’ progumnasmata.

[ back ] 124. In his epitome of Antonios Diogenes’ The Wonders beyond Thoule, Photios gives particular emphasis to the author’s extremely intricate narrative technique (cod. 166, 111a.20–111b). Diogenes’ story is supposed to have been written on wooden tablets that were much later discovered by a soldier who transcribed the story and sent it to his wife. The original story itself is narrated by another person, Deinias, to someone else. Despite the alleged projection of its transcription into the future, Hysminias’ narrative remains, of course, linear.

[ back ] 125. This sort of ostensible openendedness that Makrembolites’ epilogue implies is unparalleled in the history of the Greek novel. On “patterns of closure” in the ancient novels, see Fusillo 1997; specifically for the Aithiopika, cf. Morgan 1989.

[ back ] 126. The original text in Walz 3.562.16–563.20.

[ back ] 127. Cf. Hunger 1978:1.108. Hermogenes defines this progumnasma as μίμησις ἤθους ὑποκειμένου προσώπου (Rabe 1913:20). Apththonios gives the same definition (Rabe 1926:34.2–3).

[ back ] 128. ῾Υπὸ δὲ τοῦτο τὸ γένος τῆς γυμνασίας πίπτει καὶ τὸ τῶν πανηγυρικῶν λόγων εἶδος καὶ τὸ τῶν προτρεπτικῶν, καὶ τὸ τῶν ἐπιστολικῶν (Patillon 1997:70.115.20–22).

[ back ] 129. It should be noted that instead of the term ēthopoiia, Theon employs the term prosōpopoiia (Patillon 1997:70–73). In later theoreticians of progumnasmata, prosōpopoiia signifies only a special kind of ēthopoiia, that is, the personification of an inanimate object: προσωποποιία δέ, ὅταν πράγματι περιτιθῶμεν πρόσωπον, ὥσπερ ὁ ἔλεγχος παρὰ Μενάνδρῳ, καὶ ὥσπερ παρὰ τῷ ᾿Αριστείδῃ ἡ θάλασσα (Hermogenes, Rabe 1913:20, 9–11; cf. Nikolaos’ definition: προσωποποιίαν δέ, ἐν ᾗ καὶ πρόσωπα πλάττομεν καὶ περιτίθεμεν αὐτοῖς λόγους· ταύτην δὲ μάλιστα τοῖς ποιηταῖς ἀνατιθέασιν, οἷς ἐστι καὶ τὰ ἄψυχα μεταπλάττειν εἰς πρόσωπα ἐξουσία καὶ περιποιεῖν αὐτοῖς ῥήματα; Felten 1913:65.6–10). In Aphthonios, prosōpopoiia is defined in more general terms, as the invention of both the ēthos and the prosōpon of the speaking person (Rabe 1926:34.13–15). However, the qualifications that they add make it clear, I think, that they both had in mind Hermogenes’ more precise definition since they use the Hermogenean example of Menandros’ ῎Ελεγχος in order to illustrate their own definition: ὁ γὰρ ἔλεγχος πρᾶγμα μέν, οὐ μὴν ἔτι καὶ πρόσωπον. Butts’s discussion of the term is helpful, in general, but occasionally rather unconvincing, especially when it examines Theon’s view on the use of an unspecified character such as a general or a woman’s husband, as a possible prosōpon of a prosōpopoiia. Butts believes that here Theon’s prosōpopoiia differs from Hermogenes’ and Aphthonios’ ēthopoiia since, as he contends, an unspecified prosōpon requires the invention of both the prosōpon and the ēthos (Butts 1987:458). However, we have seen that the other theoreticians of the genre, especially Hermogenes, employ the term prosōpopoiia when they refer to inanimate objects that are presented as speaking subjects. On the contrary, Theon’s unspecified prosōpon recalls, I suggest, what Hermogenes calls ἠθοποιίαι ἀορίστων προσώπων (Rabe 1913:20.20–21) as well as the so-called ἠθικαὶ ἠθοποιίαι (Rabe 1913:21.10–13

[ back ] 130. As a prerequisite of the effective expression of ēthos, prepon should take into account three main factors: the subject matter, the audience, and the speaker (Hagen 1966:30–33). The first theoretician of progymnasmatic ēthopoiia, Theon, underlines this distinction: Πρῶτον μὲν τοίνυν ἁπάντων ἐνθυμηθῆναι δεῖ τό τε τοῦ λέγοντος πρόσωπον ὁποῖόν ἐστι, καὶ τὸ πρὸς ὃν ὁ λόγος, τήν τε παροῦσαν ἡλικίαν, καὶ τὸν καιρόν, καὶ τὸν τόπον, καὶ τὴν τύχην, καὶ τὴν ὑποκειμένην ὕλην (Patillon 1997:70.115.23–26). Hermogenes does not take into account the aspect of the audience, whereas he puts special emphasis on the speaker: Πανταχοῦ δὲ σώσεις τὸ οἰκεῖον πρέπον τοῖς ὑποκειμένοις προσώποις τε καὶ καιροῖς. ἄλλος μὲν γὰρ νέου λόγος, ἄλλος δὲ πρεσβύτου, ἄλλος δὲ γεγηθότος, ἄλλος ἀνιωμένου (Rabe 1913:21). On the Byzantine side, see the interesting comments of Rhakendytes on the prepon in his Rhetorical Synopsis (Walz 3.530–534). Drawing on the ancient Greek rhetoricians, Rhakendytes defines prepon in terms of “style pertinent to the specific subject matter.” I find it noteworthy that a considerable part of his discussion, which is also illustrated with examples from the Christian tradition, is dedicated to ways in which figures may contribute to stylistic flexibility.

[ back ] 131. Patillon 1997:71.22–73.32.

[ back ] 132. Podestá 1947:9.

[ back ] 133. All these genres constitute what Agapitos, in his discussion of the vernacular Byzantine romances, aptly describes as the “discursive mode” (Agapitos 1991:161). Agapitos, who does not take into account Theon’s definition, prefers to explore the construction of the monologues and dialogues that he studies by drawing on rhetorical terminology, without contextualizing the manipulation of established rhetorical practices in the vernacular romances.

[ back ] 134. Here I am employing the distinction proposed by Hermogenes between simple (ἁπλαῖ) and double/dialogic (διπλαῖ) ēthopoiiai: τῶν δὲ ἠθοποιιῶν αἱ μέν εἰσιν ἁπλαῖ, ὅταν τις αὐτὸς καθ’ αὑτὸν ὑποκέηται λόγους διατιθέμενος, αἱ δὲ διπλαῖ, ὅταν πρὸς ἄλλον. Καθ’ ἑαυτὸν μέν, οἷον τίνας ἂν εἴποι λόγους στρατηγὸς ἀπὸ τῆς νίκης ἀναστρέφων· πρὸς ἄλλους δέ, οἷον τίνας ἂν εἴποι λόγους στρατηγὸς πρὸς τὸ στρατόπεδον μετὰ τὴν νίκην (Rabe 1913:20.24–21.1).

[ back ] 135. Such a criterion is necessary because otherwise all the speeches—dialogic or monologic, epistolary, epideictic, and so on—could fall within this genre; for Hermogenes, see Rabe 1913:21, 20–22, 3; for Aphthonios, Rabe 1926:35:13–14, and for Nikolaos, Felten 1913:65.11–66.8.

[ back ] 136. On these margin annotations, see Marcovich’s edition.

[ back ] 137. ᾿Αλλὰ λογισμῶν ἐμβολαῖς ἀντιρρόπων/αὐτὸς καθ’ αὑτὸν ἐμμανῶς ἀνθιστάμην,/καὶ μὴ προσόντων δυσμενῶν στρατευμάτων/εἰς γοῦν ἑαυτὸν τὴν μάχην ἀντεκρότουν (2.202–205).

[ back ] 138. Τοιαῖσδε πολλαῖς ἐνθυμημάτων ζάλαις/ἐγὼ ταραχθεὶς καὶ πνοαῖς ἀντιπνόοις/(ὡς ναῦς ἀνερμάτιστος ἐν κλυδωνίῳ),/τοιοῖσδε πολλοῖς ἀντιπαλαίσας λόγοις … (2.316–319). Cf. the similar image in Makrembolites 6.17.1.

[ back ] 139. 218–220; 226–232; 282–287; 296–302; 206; 210–212; 213–214, which is also a chiasmus; 223, a prosapodosis; 270, a prosapodosis; 271–272, an epiphora and an alliteration; 274–275, an anaphora; 296–297, an anaphora. Cf. Apsines’ view that διπλασιασμοί contribute to the escalation of the πάθη (Martin 1974:302).

[ back ] 140. Rabe 1913:21.

[ back ] 141. Rabe 1913:22.

[ back ] 142. Rabe 1926:31.11–12.

[ back ] 143. Here I am using the terms that Aphthonios employs in his description of the progymnasmatic genre of encomium: genos includes nationality, fatherland, family; praxeis constitute the most important part of an encomium (μέγιστον τῶν ἐγκωμίων κεφάλαιον) and refer to the praised person’s psuchē (virtues), sōma (physical qualities), tuchē (e.g. power, friends, fortune). See Rabe 1926:22.2–9.

[ back ] 144. Longos 3.29.

[ back ] 145. MacAlister speculates that this reference to philosophy is a polemic allusion to contemporary Byzantine reality (MacAlister 1991:206). This is a tempting interpretation that, unfortunately, MacAlister does not explore or explain convincingly.

[ back ] 146. Tatios 8.1.3–5.

[ back ] 147. Thanks to Kallidemos’ ēthopoiia, this book is the longest in the novel (668 verses), that is, 217 verses longer than the second biggest one (book 5, 451 verses).

[ back ] 148. See, for instance, Ephesiaka 1.1.5–6; cf. Leukippe and Kleitophon 1.5.7; 1.7.2; Aithiopika 3.17.

[ back ] 149. For analogous symptoms of love in the Greek novel, see e.g. Leukippe and Kleitophon 1.6; Aithiopika 3.7; 3.10; 4.7; cf. Hysmine and Hysminias 3.7.6–7.

[ back ] 150. Rabe 1913:322–329.

[ back ] 151. On these characteristics of apheleia, see Lindberg 1977:222.

[ back ] 152. Λέγω δὲ ὅτι τῶν καθαρῶν τούτων καὶ ἀφελῶν ἐννοιῶν αἱ μὲν μᾶλλον ἁρμόττουσι τῷ πολιτικῷ λόγῳ αἱ δὲ ἧττον, αἱ δὲ οὐδ’ ὅλως, ἃς καὶ μᾶλλον εἴποι τις ἂν ἰδίας εἶναι τῆς ἀφελείας, ὡς προείρηται, καίπερ οὐδὲν ἧττον οὔσας καθαράς, λέγω δὲ ταύτας. αἳ καὶ παίδων γένοιντο ἂν νηπίων, ὡς ἔλεγον, καὶ ἀνδρῶν ἐγγὺς ἡκόντων φρενῶν γε ἕνεκα τοῦ νηπίου καὶ γυναίων ὡσαύτως καὶ γεωργῶν ἀγροίκων καὶ ὅλως ἀληθὲς εἰπεῖν ἀφελῶν καὶ ἀκάκων ἀνθρώπων … παρὰ … τῷ Μενάνδρῳ μυρία ἂν εὕροις τοιαῦτα καὶ γυναῖκας λεγούσας καὶ νεανίσκους ἐρῶντας (Rabe 1913:323–324).

[ back ] 153. Alkiphron II.26 (Schepers 1969); cf. also Ailianos XX (Domingo-Forasté 1994).

[ back ] 154. See Hunter 1999:221.

[ back ] 155. His speeches are interspersed with allusions to Theokritos most of which have been collected, but not fruitfully or systematically discussed, by Milazzo (1985). It is worth noting that, in his reference to Longos, Kallidemos speaks about Daphnis’ capacity as a shepherd (6.441, 447). His characterization of Chloe as an ἄπλαστος παρθένος underlines, I believe, the apheleia of Longos’ heroine as well: τῇ παρθένῳ Χλόῃ γὰρ ἐκ τῶν σπαργάνων/ἐρωτικὸν συνῆπτο συμποίμην βρέφος./Ταύτης ἐρῶν ἦν τῆς καλῆς Χλόης πάλαι,/Χλόης ἐκείνης τῆς ἀπλάστου παρθένου (6.446–449). I find it also noteworthy that in his definition of apheleia, Hermogenes uses precisely this adjective (ἄπλαστος) to illustrate his perception of “naive character” (ἰδίως ἂν λέγοιντο ἀφελεῖς αἱ τῶν ἀπλάστων ἠθῶν [sc. ἒννοιαι]; Rabe 1913:322).

[ back ] 156. Already in Hermogenes Theokritos’ poetry is mentioned as a paradigmatic case of the rhetorical Idea of apheleia (Rabe 1913:322–323). The same view was later repeated, among others, by Ioannes Sikeliotes (Walz 6.379).

[ back ] 157. Cf. Chaireas and Kalirrhoe 5.2.6; Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.110.

[ back ] 158. In his encomium of agriculture (Förster 1909–1927:8.261–267), Libanios praises the farmers for being modest. No prostitutes, procurers, or erotic revelries can mislead them, he says (καὶ μὴν καὶ σωφροσύνην παρὰ τοῖς γεωργοῦσι μάλιστα ἂν εὕροιμεν. οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἑταῖραι καὶ κῶμοι καὶ προαγωγοὶ καὶ μέθαι πρὸς ᾿Αφροδίτην αὐτοὺς ἐρεθίζουσιν; Förster 1909–1927:8.263.13–16).

[ back ] 159. On this antithesis in the ancient world, see Ramage 1973, especially 8–19; 153–160; Ribbeck 1893 (where a particular emphasis on Aristophanes); for Theokritos, see Hunter 1999:217.

[ back ] 160. Despite the fact that Eugeneianos here draws specifically from an epigram by Makedonios (AP 5.229, 1–2), the rhetorical overtones of the motif remain powerful.

[ back ] 161. Rabe 1926:35–36.

[ back ] 162. Walz 1.304–305; 310–312; see also his ēthopoiia (Walz 1.382).

[ back ] 163. Leone 1968:4.141.

[ back ] 164. Walz 2.508.

[ back ] 165. For a systematic discussion of ἀγροῖκος in Aristophanes, see Ribbeck 1893. For a general outline of the dynamics of the antithesis between the popular and the sophisticated in the ancient Greek novel, cf. Anderson 1996.

[ back ] 166. For a discussion of Eugeneianos’ reference to his ancient Greek predecessors, see Juanno 1989.

[ back ] 167. I have borrowed the term “function” from Propp’s model of morphological analysis of the folktale (see Propp 1968:21). More specifically, Kallidemos’ role could be classified under function 24 in Propp’s model: “a false hero presents unfounded claims” (Propp 1968:60). My use of Propp’s helpful terminology does not mean that I am applying his model to the Komnenian novels, which present a narratological complexity that cannot be accommodated by Propp’s schema. For a discussion of the value of Propp’s model for the study of later Byzantine vernacular fictional literature, see Kechagioglou 1982; the same scholar has carefully applied Propp’s theory in his analysis of Ptocholeon (Kechagioglou 1978).

[ back ] 168. These are the only cases in which the example of Polyphemos is used in this novel. This corroborates my interpretation of Kallidemos’ speech as a distorted reflection of Dosikles’ monologue in book four and his narration to Kleandros in book three.

[ back ] 169. See especially Theokritos’ Idyll 11; cf. also the discussion of this motif in Hunter 1999:220; 223–224; also Burton 2003, which came to my attention at the very final stage of the preparation of this book.

[ back ] 170. … ἐξελιπάρει/εἰς ἄντρον ἐλθεῖν τὴν Γαλάτειαν Κύκλωψ,/ὅπου νέους ἔφασκε νεβροὺς ἐκτρέφειν/γαύρους τε μόσχους, ἄρνας, ἄλλας ἀγέλας/κύνας τε πολλάς, ἀγρίας, λυκοκτόνους·/καὶ γλυκερὰς ἔφασκεν ἀμπέλους ἔχειν,/καὶ τυρὸν ἐν χειμῶνι καὶ καιρῷ θέρους/γαυλούς τε τοῦ γάλακτος ἐκκεχυμένους,/σμήνη μελιττῶν ὑπὲρ ἑξηκοντάδα/καὶ κισσύβια τεχνικῶς γεγλυμμένα/καὶ δορκάδων ἄμετρα δερμάτων σκύτη (6.517–527).

[ back ] 171. In Hermogenes, euteles (the ordinary) is associated with apheles, and refers to very simple, trivial, and ordinary matters, as Hermogenes’ examples indicate (Rabe 1913:324–325). It is noteworthy that Hermogenes uses euteles in his definition of apheleia: ῎Ετι ἀφελεῖς ἔννοιαι καὶ αἱ πλησιάζειν πως δοκοῦσαι τῷ εὐτελεῖ· γίνονται δὲ αὗται, ὅταν περὶ εὐτελῶν καὶ τῶν τυχόντων πραγμάτων λέγῃ τις, ὡς ἐν τῷ Κατὰ Στεφάνου ψευδομαρτυριῶν “ἣ τὰ καταχύσματα” φησὶ “κατέχεε” καὶ πάλιν ἑτέρωθι “τὴν ῥοδωνιὰν ἐκτίλλειν” (Rabe 1913:324.11–16). Demetrios associates euteles with comedy (Peri Hermeneias 128): τῶν δὲ χαρίτων αἱ μέν εἰσι μείζονες καὶ σεμνότεραι, αἱ τῶν ποιητῶν, αἱ δὲ εὐτελεῖς μᾶλλον καὶ κωμικώτεραι (cf. Lausberg 1960:521).

[ back ] 172. On urbanity and rusticity in the ancient Greek novel, see Saïd 1999; cf. also Saïd 1994.

[ back ] 173. See, for example, Stathern 1982 and Williams 1985.

[ back ] 174. For a similar attitude toward provinces and their inhabitants in medieval Western Europe, see Cherubini 1990, especially 132. For an account of the typical life and manners of Western European medieval city dwellers, cf. Rossiaud 1990. Curiously, and in a rather self-contradictory manner, Le Goff argues that the opposition between city and country “was generally not relevant to the medieval West” (Le Goff 1988:169; but cf. Le Goff 1988:154).

[ back ] 175. Magdalino 1991:185. For the arrogance of the Constantinopolitans toward the people of the provinces, see Galatariotou 1993; Kazhdan 1997:70; Magdalino 2000. For a study of the dominating administrative position of Constantinople in Byzantium, cf. Ševčenko 1979/1980, where some discussion of the cultural differences between the capital and the provinces may also be found.

[ back ] 176. Vasilevskii 1886:41.

[ back ] 177. The original text in Horna 1904:2.87–88; cf. Horna 1904:2.153–156; 3.102–106.

[ back ] 178. Manasses’ negative comments here have been overread as attacks specifically against Cyprus (Mango 1976:9–11; Egglezakes 1979/80:31). More appropriate I find Galatariotou’s interpretation of Manasses’ biased description as indicative of his general Constantinopolitan snobbery (Galatariotou 1993).

[ back ] 179. Horna 1904:2.98–101. In one of his letters, Ioannes Tzetzes offers a noteworthy version of this topos (Leone 1972:216–219).

[ back ] 180. Horna 1904:4.100–130; 129.

[ back ] 181. On the cultural associations of Constantinopolitan ἀστειότης, see also Beck 1965:20; Magdalino 1984, especially 70–71.

[ back ] 182. Walsh 1982:222, quoted in Freedman 1999:160. Freedman offers an interesting analysis of the image of the peasant in Western medieval Europe (especially in Freedman 1999:133–173).

[ back ] 183. On these probable similarities, see my discussion below in this Chapter and, more generally, in Chapter Four.

[ back ] 184. Sideras 1994:48.

[ back ] 185. See Sideras 1994:74–75 ns. 193, 194. For the meaning of monōdia, which is the dominant term in Byzantine literature, see in general Soffel 1974:155–157. For the Byzantine monōdia in particular, see Hadzis 1964. Hadzis points out that in Byzantine literature this term denotes any text of threnodic character (“Schrift im Charakter einer Klage”; Hadzis 1964:181). Hadzis traces the first occurrence of this word with the specific meaning of a threnodic song back to Aristophanes (Hadzis 1964:177). Panagopoulos locates the first appearance of the word in Kratinos (Panagopoulos 1981:2).

[ back ] 186. Curiously, Hadzis emphasizes the importance of Dionysios of Halikarnassos for Byzantine monody (Hadzis 1964:181) while ignoring Menandros. However, Dionysios could not have been particularly influential since in his discussion of epitaphios he explicitly suggests the avoidance of thrēnos (II 1.281.3f, Usener-Radermacher; cf. Sideras 1994:74n190)—a prescription that was not usually adopted by the Byzantine authors.

[ back ] 187. Cf. Sideras 1994:75n193.

[ back ] 188. Russell and Wilson 1981:435, 14–30.

[ back ] 189. Homer is used by Menandros as a model for other rhetorical genres as well. See Soffel 1974:157–160.

[ back ] 190. Sideras 1994:75–79.

[ back ] 191. Here I have in mind examples such as Prodromos’ monodies for Andronikos Komnenos, Gregorios Kamateros, and Konstantinos Hagiotheodorites (Majuri 1908:521–540), the monodies of Basilakes for his brother and an anonymous friend of his (Pignani 1983:235–260), and Eugeneianos’ monody for his son (Sideras 1990:203–210; Eugeneianos’ authorship of this text is not certain since the speech has been transmitted anonymously, but Sideras has convincingly put forward this possibility; see his 1987 article). These speeches do not contain the last two parts of Sideras’ model. In my view, as long as their structure is concerned, they are closer to the Menandrian monody and the laments composed as pathētikai ēthopoiiai, such as the ones used in the novel. Sideras allows some flexibility for the use of the last part of his schema, the prayer (Sideras 1994:76), but not for the element of consolation.

[ back ] 192. Rabe 1913:21.

[ back ] 193. Walz 2.495.

[ back ] 194. Rabe 1913:21.

[ back ] 195. Rabe 1926:35.2–3.

[ back ] 196. Libanios offers two variations of the same theme, a fact that indicates its popularity among rhetoricians (Förster 1909–1927:8.391–396). Libanios has included other laments in his progumnasmata as well: Andromache’s lament for Hektor, which recalls Menandros’ Homeric examples and Hermogenes’ paradigmatic model; the meiktē ēthopoiia of Achilleus’ lament for Patroklos, which again realizes in practice Hermogenes’ theoretical model of this kind of ēthopoiia, that is, Menelaos’ lament for Agamemnon. The theme of Menelaos’ lament for his brother was exploited by Nikolaos as well (Walz 1.391–392). In addition to these ēthopoiiai, which can be described as laments, both Libanios and Nikolaos give several examples of pathētikai ēthopoiiai, the emotional character of which is not considerably different from the emotional tension of similar ēthopoiiai in the Komnenian novels. In this respect, especially interesting are ēthopoiiai ιβ´, ιγ´, ιε´, ιστ´, ιζ´ by Libanios (in Förster’s edition) and ēthopoiiai 11, 14 by Nikolaos (in Walz’s edition).

[ back ] 197. This text has been also attributed to Symeon Metaphrastes. See, however, Pignani 1971; cf. also Maguire 1981:98–99.

[ back ] 198. Chrestides 1984:50; the text in Chrestides 1984:305–306. Eugeneianos’ authorship is problematic since this text has been preserved anonymously. Chrestides’ attribution of it to Eugeneianos is, however, convincing enough (Chrestides 1984:89–92). To my mind, some of the motifs of Eugeneianos’ composition recall Nikolaos’ ēthopoiia of Laodameia lamenting her husband Protesilaos (Walz 1.392–394). Both lamented men, who left their homes soon after they got married, died in foreign parts. In addition to this similarity, the female speaker in Eugeneianos’ work explicitly compares herself to Protesilaos’ wife. The only difference she underlines is that, at least, in her own case there is still hope that she will be lucky enough to see the coffin of her husband (δότε μοι τοῦ ξυλίνου κιβωτίου ἐφάψασθαι, ὅ μοι χεὶρ παλαμναία ἡ τοῦ ἀφαψαμένη πρὶν ἐτεκτόνησεν, ἵν’ ἐν τούτῳ καὶ μόνῳ τῆς τοῦ Πρωτεσιλάου διενέγκοιμι δάμαρτος; Chrestides 1984:306). A conscious reworking of Nikolaos’ ēthopoiia by Eugeneianos, therefore, should not be excluded. Indicative, I believe, of the possible familiarity [ back ] of twelfth-century writers with Nikolaos’ progumnasmata is also an ēthopoiia by Basilakes, in which Adrastos speaks νικησάντων Θηβαίων καὶ μὴ ἐώντων ταφῆναι τοὺς πεσόντας ᾿Αργείους (Pignani 1983:210–216); this ēthopoiia seems to elaborate upon an ēthopoiia by Nikolaos (Τίνας ἂν εἴποι λόγους ῎Αδραστος τοὺς στρατηγοῦντας ἐν Θήβαις ἀποβαλών; Walz 1.385). Eugeneianos’ progumnasma is characteristically close to ritual Byzantine funerary orations. It recalls especially another epitaphios by Eugeneianos himself on Stephanos Komnenos, edited by Helfer (see in particular Helfer 1972:67–72, where the reaction of the wife of the deceased is described). It is also worth noting that this is the only speech of this specific kind to have a female speaker (cf. Sideras 1994:65n112). However, the element of the female speaker is not totally unprecedented in the corpus of Byzantine Trauerliteratur as a whole. It is found, for instance, in a long verse monody by Theodoros Prodromos ἐκ προσώπου τῆς σεβαστοκρατορίσσης ἐπὶ τῷ ταύτης ὁμόζυγι (Hörandner 1974:413–430; the text in 414–426). For the expression ὡς ἐκ (ἀπὸ) προσώπου τινός and its function in Byzantine literature, see in general Tomadakis 1960.

[ back ] 199. E.g. Rhodanthe and Dosikles 3.412; 7.18; Drosilla and Charikles 1.290.

[ back ] 200. See, for example, Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.238; 240; 263; 7.42; 44; Drosilla and Charikles 1.234; 253; 298; 321–322; 341–342; 344; 6.71; 207; 8.218; 231; 9.43; 74–76; 244; 255; Hysmine and Hysminias 6.6.7; 6.10.5; 7.17.2–3; 7.17.11; 10.10.11; 10.11.9.

[ back ] 201. Theodoros Prodromos: Hörandner 1974:39.6,9; 45.111,117,194,202,212; 54.1,16,18,88,89,112,143,157; Majuri 1908:521,11; 522,8–9; 523,13; 524,26–28; 525,16–20; 528,17–20; 534,24–25; 540,1,16,19,22; Eugeneianos: Petit 1902:453,13–18,25–26; 454,7–8,11; 458.17–18.

[ back ] 202. In manuscript U the first margin indication preserves a slightly different version of the first margin annotation in Vaticanus Graecus 121: Θρῆνος ᾿Ανδροκλέος πατρὸς ἐπὶ Χρυσοχρόης ἐπὶ θανάτῳ αὐτῆς.

[ back ] 203. Again in slightly different versions: Θρῆνος Δροσίλλης πρὸς Χαρικλέα (P; ἐπὶ Χαρικλεῖ, U, L).

[ back ] 204. See the discussion of this passage later in this Chapter.

[ back ] 205. It must be noted, though, that this manuscript has a big lacuna which leaves out book seven and the first twenty-seven verses of book eight (see Marcovich, vi). Book seven contains a pathētikē ēthopoiia by Rhodanthe (17–160), which is the longest in the Komnenian novels.

[ back ] 206. Cf. the Byzantines’ habit to refer to the most popular ancient Greek novels by the names of their female protagonists: Charikleia, Leukippe.

[ back ] 207. In his chapter on monody, Menandros suggests that the speaker should begin from the present referring, among other things, to his audience: μᾶλλον γὰρ ὁ λόγος κινητικώτερος εἰ ἀπὸ τῶν ἐπ’ ὄψιν καὶ τῶν νῦν συμβάντων οἰκτίζοι τις, … ἢ ἀπὸ τῆς συνόδου τῶν παρόντων, ὅτι συνεληλύθασιν οὐκ εἰς θέατρον εὔδαιμον, οὐκ εἰς θέαν εὐκταίαν (Russel and Wilson 1981:435.19–23). The narrative ritual frame of laments in the novels assumes a function similar to a rhetor’s reference to the performative context of his oration in real funerary speeches, where he often comments on the ritual manifestation of his audience’s pain. See my discussion on this issue later in this Chapter.

[ back ] 208. Καὶ γοῦν ὁ πατὴρ τὴν στολὴν ἐρρηγμένος/καὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς τὴν κόμην κεκαρμένος/καὶ τὴν κορυφὴν τῇ κόνει πεπασμένος/καὶ τὴν παρειὰν ἐγκατεσπαραγμένος/καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον πενθίμως ἐσταλμένος,/οἰκτρᾶς κατῆρχεν ἄθλιος τραγῳδίας; 1.206–211.

[ back ] 209. Kαὶ τῶν γυναικῶν πᾶσα τληπαθεστέρα,/μεθ’ ὧν Βαρυλλὶς καὶ προῆρχε τοῦ γόου; 9.10. For a comparable role of old women in other traditional performative contexts, see the discussion below in Chapter Four, especially p. 294.

[ back ] 210. Agapitos 1991:210.

[ back ] 211. Eugeneianos’ insistence on this rhetorical style is further underscored by his reference to the number of shepherds and farmers who participated into the ritual: ᾿Εκεῖ συνῆλθε πᾶς νομεύς, πᾶς ἀγρότης,/πᾶς συμπαθὴς ἄνθρωπος εἰς ξένου τάφον (9.7–8).

[ back ] 212. See, for instance, the penetrating discussion of this phenomenon in Seremetakis 1991:101–105.

[ back ] 213. For a discussion of Eugeneianos’ creative manipulation of the motif of the secondary couple and the relationship between realism and rhetoric in his novel, see Chapter Four.

[ back ] 214. As a matter of fact, this passage is indeed followed by Kratandros’ explicit reference to his own lamentation for Chrysochroe: Ταὐτὸν κἀγὼ πέπονθα ταύταις ταῖς πάθαις·/κόρης ἑάλων εὐγενοῦς καὶ παρθένου/(ἔχεις ἐγνωκὼς ἐξ ἐμοῦ Χρυσοχρόην)·/… ἔκλαυσα τὴν θανοῦσαν ὡς ἔχρην κλάειν (6.446–450).

[ back ] 215. In Byzantine times, violent lamentation was objected to by the Church; see Spyridakes 1950:121; Loukatos 1940:57–58; Alexiou 2002a:34. For cases of actual death due to excessive ritual lamentation in Byzantium, see Loukatos 1940:58; Koukoules 1948–1955:4.164.

[ back ] 216. Tatios 2.12; Heliodoros 4.14.

[ back ] 217. ῎Αμφω διαρρήσουσαι τὰς ἐσθῆτας, ἄμφω τὰς παρειὰς αὐλακίζουσαι, ἄμφω καταδαπανῶσαι τὰ στέρνα, ἄμφω τὸν τῆς κεφαλῆς ἀποκειρόμεναι βόστρυχον πενθίμῳ κουρᾷ καὶ ἄμφω κόνιν καταπαττόμεναι (10.10.3). As for the other lament for an apparent death in Makrembolites, that is, Hysminias’ lament for Hysmine in 7.17, its ritual dimensions are greatly understated. In his brief reference to the laments in the Komnenian novels, Agapitos uses this case, along with Androkles’ (Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.206–211) and Drosilla’s (Drosilla and Charikles 9.232–234) laments, as examples of the Komnenian novelists’ reference to funerary rites (Agapitos 1991:210). However, it seems that in this context the phrase χοὰς ἐπιτυμβίους τῇ κόρῃ κατασπενδόμενος, which Agapitos specifically quotes, does not necessarily describe an actual funerary rite. It rather has a metaphoric meaning: it refers to the tears of the hero or to his lamentation in general; cf. for example Eugeneianos’ monody on Theodoros Prodromos, Petit 1902:458.28: δάκρυα ἐπισπένδειν; also Drosilla and Charikles 9.255–256: σὺ δ’ ἀλλὰ δέξαι τὴν ἐμὴν θρηνῳδίαν,/ἣν ὡς χοὰς νῦν πενθικὰς ἔσπεισά σοι.

[ back ] 218. ᾿Αηδόνος θρηνητικώτεραι, αὐτῆς Νιόβης μιμούμεναι τὸ πολύδακρυ (10.10.2).

[ back ] 219. On this motif in tragedy, see Loraux 1998:57–65; on the myth of Niobe, see above p. 73. The myth of Prokne had been also exploited twice by Libanios in his progymnasmatic diēgēmata (Förster 1909–1927:45–46).

[ back ] 220. Cf. Rhodanthe and Dosikles 6.444; Drosilla and Charikles 9.220–227. Eugeneianos’ passage reflects a locus communis of Greek literature, in particular in tragedy: women are more prone to lamentation than men. Cf. e.g. Euripides’ Andromache 93–95; Medeia 928; for a discussion of women’s special proclivity to tears in Greek antiquity, see Segal 1993:62–67.

[ back ] 221. Makrembolites tends to describe his characters’ tears through metaphoric imagery: tears as a spring (6.8.4), sea (7.9.1), or waves (7.10.1). These metaphors appear also in rhetorical funerary speeches. See e.g. Basilakes’ monody on his brother, where the tears of the deceased’s friends are compared to a river (Pignani 1983:236). For the ritual importance of tears in Greek funeral in general, see Alexiou 2002a:203–204.

[ back ] 222. Anna Komnene describes scenes of ritual mourning where comparable manifestations of pain are mentioned (Leib 1937–1945:11.2; 15.11; it is worth noting that the former case refers to a fake funeral contrived by the “barbarian” leader Bohemond). For similar ritual manifestations of grief at funerals in Byzantium, see Koukoules 1948–1955:4.162–165; Loukatos 1940:56–58; Spyridakes 1950:118–125. For death rituals in Byzantium in general, see also Kyriakakis 1974; Abrahamse 1984; also Fedwick 1976 and Velkovska 2002, where emphasis is placed on official funeral rite. For the depiction of gestures of lamentation in Byzantine art, see Maguire 1977. For a discussion of the Byzantines’ views of afterlife, see Beck 1979; cf. Angold 1995:441–457, where an emphasis on the twelfth century. Angold’s critique of Beck’s analysis is helpful. However, Angold appears too ready to understate the importance of the survival in Byzantium of pagan attitudes to death.

[ back ] 223. Sideras 1994:204.

[ back ] 224. Sideras 1990:57.

[ back ] 225. Λαμβάνει λίθον καὶ πλήττει τὸ στέρνον καὶ πικρὸν ἀνακωκύει καὶ γοερὸν φήνης ἐλεεινότερον, ἀλκυόνος πολυπενθέστερον … αὐλακίζει καὶ ὄνυξι τὰς παρειάς, τῶν σῶν αἱμάτων ἀντιδιδοῦσα κρουνοὺς … τίλλει καὶ πολιὰς … καὶ ἀποψιλοῖ τὴν κεφαλὴν πενθίμῳ κουρᾷ (Pignani 1983:241). Cf. Hysmine and Hysminias 6.11.1; 10.10.2–3. In the last passage, Makrembolites uses exactly the same metaphor of the lamenting women as kingfishers: ἀλκυόνος πολυπενθέστεραι (10.10.2). The image of the lamenting mother who beats her chest with stones is also found in a more religious context, in a contemporary homily on the Widow of Nain by Philagathos Kerameus: γενομένη γὰρ ὑπὸ τοῦ πάθους παράφορος καὶ οἷον έκβαχευθεῖσα τῷ παρ’ ἐλπίδας κακῷ, περιενόστει τὰς ἀγυιάς, κατέξαινε τὰς πολιάς, ἐσπάρασσε τὰς παρειάς, λίθοις παίουσα καὶ στέρνα καὶ κεφαλήν, μαστοὺς ὑπεδείκνυ τοὺς θρέψαντας (Rossi Taibi 1969:41.10; cf. the use of this image in a homily attributed to Ioannes Chrysostomos: PG 61.792).

[ back ] 226. According to Sideras, Eugeneianos’ monody was performed on some commemorative occasion soon after the death of his son (Sideras 1994:404).

[ back ] 227. Οἷον γὰρ θρῆνον ἐπλέξατο καὶ κωκυτὸν ἡ μήτηρ ἐν σοί, τὰς παρειὰς τοῖς ὄνυξιν αὐλακίζουσα, δάκρυα θερμὰ καρδίας ἐκ ζεούσης προχέουσα, στερνοτυποῦσα, τὰς τῆς κεφαλῆς κόμας ἐκτίλλουσα καὶ κόνιν οἰκτρὰν αὐτῇ καταπάττουσα (Sideras 1990:207). Prodromos also employs the same imagery in his verse and prose monodies. In his monody on the Sebastokrator Andronikos Komnenos, son of Alexios I who died in 1122, he describes the funerary procession that accompanied the reception of his coffin at Constantinople as follows: πάντες σκυθρωποί, πάντες δεδακρυμένοι, πάντες κυπτάζοντες πρὸς τὸ ἔδαφος … ὢ τίς ἐκείνους ἰδὼν ὡς ἐτίλλοντο τὰς τρίχας, ὡς τὰς παρειὰς ἐσπαράττοντο, ὡς ἐδάκρυον, ὡς ἐπένθουν, … οὐκ ἂν τῶν θρήνων αὐτοῖς ἐκοινώνησε; (Majuri 1908:524.27–525.16–20). In his verse epitaphios on Theodora, daughter-in-law of Nikephoros Bryennios, Prodromos imagines her husband’s reaction at her death-bed: ἔπλησεν ἐμφὺς δακρύων τὸν αὐχένα,/τιλμῷ κατεσπάραξε τὴν χρυσῆν κόμην/καὶ τὴν παρειὰν τὴν καλὴν ἤμυξέ σοι (Hörandner 1974:39.132–134). Cf. Hörandner 1974:45.54–58.234; this is a verse monody on the death of the Sebastokrator Andronikos, composed as if spoken by his wife Eirene: ᾿Απὸ προσώπου τῆς σεβαστοκρατορίσσης ἐπὶ τῷ ταύτης ὁμόζυγι. This example illustrates the way in which the rhetorical tradition of ēthopoiia had influenced the composition of formal orations and especially funerary speeches. Prodromos’ composition could have had the progymnasmatic title: Τίνας ἂν εἴποι λόγους ἡ σεβαστοκρατόρισσα ἐπὶ τῷ θανάτῳ τοῦ ὁμοζύγου αὐτῆς.

[ back ] 228. Οὔτε ἰσχυρότερον οὔτε ἀναγκαιότερον εὑρίσκεται σχῆμα τοῦ ἀντιθέτου παρὰ τοῖς ἀρχαίοις ῥαδίως οὐδέν (Rabe 1913:174).

[ back ] 229. For a comprehensive discussion of antithesis in Byzantine literature, and particularly in rhetoric, see Hunger 1984.

[ back ] 230. Alexiou 2002a:150–160, 165–177.

[ back ] 231. Χθὲς ἦς παρ’ ἡμῖν, ἀλλὰ νῦν ἐν νερτέροις·/χθὲς ἦς λαλῶν μοι, σήμερον δὲ μὴ κλύων·/συνωμίλεις χθὲς εἰς ἐμὴν εὐθυμίαν,/ἄφωνος εἶ νῦν εἰς ἐμὴν ἀθυμίαν. The rhetorical effect of this passage is intensified by the use of alliteration and homoioteleuton. For the combination of these figures in lament in general, see Alexiou 2002a:151. For the particular formula of the juxtaposition of “before”/”then” and “now,” see Alexiou 2002a:165–168.

[ back ] 232. ῏Ω δυστυχὲς σύ, δυστυχὲς Καλλιστία/… ὢ ποῦ τρέφεις, δείλαιε, χρηστὰς ἐλπίδας/εὑρεῖν τὸν υἱὸν καὶ λαβεῖν ἀπὸ πλάνης/καὶ πῦρ ἀνάψαι καὶ δᾷδας γαμηλίους/στῆσαί τε λαμπρὰ καὶ χοροὺς καὶ παστάδα (9.60–67).

[ back ] 233. ᾿Απὸ δὲ τοῦ μέλλοντος, οἵας εἶχεν ἐλπίδας ἐπ’ αὐτῷ τὸ γένος, εἶτα ἀποστροφῇ χρήσῃ … συνοδύρου οὖν καὶ πατρὶ καὶ μητρί, καὶ αὐξήσεις τὸν οἶκτον· οἵων ἐλπίδων ἐστέρηνται (Russell and Wilson 1981:204).

[ back ] 234. Drosilla blames divine powers and Tyche at the very beginning of her lament (9.37–42) in a way recalling Menandros’ prescriptions: χρὴ τοίνυν ἐν τούτοις τοῖς λόγοις εὐθὺς μὲν σχετλιάζειν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς δαίμονας καὶ πρὸς μοῖραν ἄδικον, πρὸς πεπρωμένην νόμον ὁρίσασαν ἄδικον (Russell and Wilson 1981:202).

[ back ] 235. For the use of rhetorical questions for the amplification of pathos, see Lausberg 1960:379f.

[ back ] 236. The lamented person as ὀφθαλμός and φῶς in Prodromos 6.322; Eugeneianos 6.58; λύχνος e.g. Prodromos 3.409 (Dosikles’ for Rhodanthe); Makrembolites 6.10.4; φῶς, Makrembolites 7.17.1; 10.10,9; Eugeneianos 8.208; 9.106; ἥλιος, pathētikē ēthopoiia Makrembolites 10.10.8; ἀστήρ, Makrembolites 10.10.9; for imagery of light in Greek ritual laments in general, see Alexiou 2002a:187–189.

[ back ] 237. Πλάτανος, Eugeneianos 6.64 (χρυσῆ πλάτανος, a common rhetorical topos; see also Basilakes’ diēgēma on platanos, Pignani 1983:86; cf. the anonymous kataskeuē and anaskeuē on platanos in Walz 1.609–614). The same motif is encountered also in the Achilleis, Hesseling 1919:740; for this image, see also in general Psychari 1930:993–1001. Δένδρον, Prodromos 1.224; κυπάριττος, Prodromos 6.292; Makrembolites 10.11.3; λειμών, Makrembolites 10.10.5; ῥοδωνιά, Makrembolites 10.11.4; flowers Prodromos 6.293;296–300; στάχυς, Eugeneianos 8.219; 9.47; Makrembolites 6.10.4; 10.11.4; βότρυς, Eugeneianos 8.19; Makrembolites 10.11.4. For this kind of metaphor in Greek ritual lament, see Roilos 1998; also Alexiou 2002a:195–201.

[ back ] 238. Πηγὴ μέλιτος, Makrembolites 10.10.6; πηγὴ γλυκάζουσα, Makrembolites 10.11.8.

[ back ] 239. Hysmine and Hysminias 7.17.1; 10.11.2; Drosilla and Charikles 9.62.

[ back ] 240. Cf. Menandros in Russell and Wilson 1981:204.

[ back ] 241. On this, see e.g. Alexiou 2002a:120–122; Danforth 1982:71–115; Kligman 1988 (an insightful anthropological study of ritual lament in contemporary Romania); Roilos 1998; cf. also Rehm’s discussion of the same topic in connection with ancient Greek tragedy (Rehm 1994).

[ back ] 242. Polites 1914:204; cf. Polites 1914:203 (lament) 144 (wedding song); Detorakes 1976:100; 118a,b; 121 (wedding songs; the last two songs include clear references to death not different from those encountered in laments for the dead). There is a similar metaphor in the Achilleis (Hesseling 1919:1290–1293; cf. 935). For different general parallelisms between laments in the Komnenian novels and later folk dirges, cf. Alexiou 2002a:156, 196; 1977:39. On a different kind of medieval Greek ritual song (“swallow songs”), cf. Alexiou 2002b:87–94 and Alexiou 2005:100–102.

[ back ] 243. Cf. the following examples from Theodoros Prodromos, Hörandner 1974:44.135–138; 141; Nikephoros Basilakes, Pignani 1983:241; Philagathos Kerameus, Rossi Taibi 1969:40.9–10. The latter offers a remarkably vivid description of the Widow of Nain who laments her dead son. Given the nature of this text—a sermon most probably addressed to an audience of various educational backgrounds and couched in a generally simple style—it may not be too adventurous to assume a possible reworking of traditional popular topoi here: ἡ δὲ ἀθλία μήτηρ, οἷς ἐποίει καὶ οἷς ἐφθέγγετο, πλέον τῶν εἰς αὐτὴν βλεπόντων ἐπεσπᾶτο τὰ δάκρυα, ὥσπερ τις ὄρνις πορθουμένους ὁρῶσα τοὺς νεοσσούς, ὄφεως προσερπύσαντος, περιποτᾶται τὴν καλιὰν περιτρύζουσα καὶ ἀμύνειν οὐκ ἔχουσα … γενομένη γὰρ ὑπὸ τοῦ πάθους παράφορος καὶ οἷον ἐκβαχευθεῖσα τῷ παρ’ ἐλπίδας κακῷ, περιενόστει τὰς ἀγυιάς (on this description, see also above n225). On a variation of the same motif, see the previous note. Cf. also the elaborate version of the metaphoric comparison of the lamented person with a bird in Tzetzes’ monody on Manuel Komnenos (Matranga 1835:621.64–83). The deceased is described as an eagle, a hawk, a dove, and a turtledove.

[ back ] 244. Drosilla and Charikles 1.324–327: κισσὸς γὰρ εἰς δρῦν δυσαποσπάστως ἔχει·/ἐθίζεται γὰρ συμπλοκαῖς ταῖς ἐκ νέου/καὶ σωματοῦται καὶ δοκεῖ πεφυκέναι/ἓν σῶμα, διπλῆν τὴν ἐνέργειαν φέρον; 6.80–81: βαβαί, πονηρῶς ἐξ ἐμοῦ διῃρέθης,/ὡς οἷά τις κλὼν συμφυοῦς πτόρθου βίᾳ; 9.50–51: ῏Ω κλὼν φανεὶς ὅρπηκος ἁδροῦ Λεσβίου,/ἔφυς μὲν ἁδρὸς καὶ καλὸς καὶ γλυκίων (the image here recalls Sapph. fr. 115; for Sappho in Byzantine literature in general, see Cataudella 1965; Yatromanolakis 1999; Yatromanolakis forth., n4 with earlier bibliography; also Pontani 2001); Rhodanthe and Dosikles 6.292–295: ῎Ωμοι, ῾Ροδάνθη, ποῦ τὸ τῆς ἥβης ἔαρ,/ἡ κυπάριττος τῆς καλῆς ἡλικίας,/τὸ τῆς παρειᾶς καὶ τὸ τοῦ χείλους ῥόδον,/ὁ τῶν πλοκάμων κιττὸς (ἡ ξένη χάρις),/ὁ τὴν κορυφὴν πλατάνιστον πλέκων; Hysmine and Hysminias 6.8.2–3: μή σοι τὸ μέλι τρυγήσῃ τοῦ στόματος, ὃ μάτην ἡ φιλεργὸς ἐγώ σοι κατεπόνησα μέλιττα· … ῾Υσμινία, σὺ τὴν ἐμὴν ταύτην ῾Υσμίνην ἐρωτικῶς κατεκήπευσας· σύ μοι καὶ φραγμὸν περίθου τῷ κήπῳ, μὴ χεὶρ ὁδοιποροῦντος τρυγήσῃ με; 7.17.11: μέμυκέ σου τὸ στόμα, τὸ σίμβλον τοῦ μέλιτος; 10.11.3–4: ὑψίκομός μοι κυπάριττος ῾Υσμίνη μοι σύ, ἣν περὶ μέσην ἐμὴν ἐκηπευσάμην ψυχήν … ἐθέρισέ μου τὸν ἄσταχυν, τὸν βότρυν ἐτρύγησε καὶ τὴν ῥοδωνιὰν ἀπηνθίσατο; cf. the following passage from Hysmine and Hysminias, where the heroine tries to protect her virginity from the vehement desire of her beloved: ῾Υσμινία, … φεῖσαι παρθενίας ἐμῆς· μὴ πρὸ τοῦ θέρους ἐκτίλῃς τοὺς στάχυας· μὴ τὸ ῥόδον τρυγήσῃς πρὸ τοῦ προκύψαι τῆς κάλυκος, μὴ τὴν σταφυλὴν ὀμφακίζουσαν, μή πως ἀντὶ νέκταρος ὄξος ἐκθλίψῃς ἐξ ὄμφακος. Σὺ θερίσεις τὸν ἄσταχυν, ἀλλ’ ὅταν λευκανθῇ σοι τὸ λήϊον· σὺ τὴν ῥοδωνιὰν ἀπανθίσεις, ἀλλ’ ὅταν πεπανθὲν τὸ ῥόδον προκύψῃ τῆς κάλυκος· σὺ τρυγήσεις τὴν σταφυλήν, ἀλλ’ ὅταν τὸν βότρυν ἴδῃς ὑπερπερκάσαντα (5.17.1–2). The imagery that Hysmine employs here is not different from the metaphors often used in the laments of this and the other Komnenian novels. Byzantine epithalamia use similar images; the examples are abundant but the following ones, composed by Theodoros Prodromos, suffice to highlight the rich amphoteroglōssia of the imagery used by the heroes of the Komnenian novels in their laments and pathētikai ēthopoiiai: Hörandner 1974:14, 25–26: πάλιν συνεδενδρώθησαν εἰς μίαν συμφυΐαν/κλάδος ὡραῖος Κομνηνῶν κλάδῳ Δουκῶν ὡραίῳ; Hörandner 1974:40–41: καὶ συνεμπρέπεις θαυμαστῶς τῇ ταύτης συναφείᾳ/ὡς περὶ πλάτανον κισσὸς καὶ περὶ δάφνην κλῆμα; Hörandner 1974:20.56–59: προσκύνει δέ, κἂν ἄπεστι, τὸν κράτιστον δεσπότην,/ὅς γε μετῆρεν ἄμπελον ἀπὸ δυσμῶν ὡραίαν/καὶ κατεφύτευσεν αὐτὴν τοῖς βασιλείοις κήποις,/ὡς συμπλακῇς καὶ συμφυῇς τῷ κλήματι τῷ τούτου; Hörandner 1974:43.c.2–13: βλεψάτω μὲν κυπάριττον ὦδε τὴν ἡλικίαν/ … κιττοῦ κορύμβους εὐπρεπεῖς τοὺς εὐπρεπεῖς βοστρύχους/τὴν τύχην κέδρον ὑψηλὴν … /τὸ γένος ἄλλην ἄμπελον πολύβοτρυν ὡραίαν,/τὸν τρόπον ῥόδον εὔοσμον ὑπὲρ λειμῶνος ῥόδον/ … τῆς δὲ παστάδος τὰ σεμνὰ καὶ τῆς νυμφαγωγίας/ὡς περὶ πλάτανον κισσὸς καὶ περὶ δάφνην κλῆμα. The ambivalence of the similar imagery used in the laments in the Komnenian novels underlines the persistent dialogue between erōs and the vicissitudes of life experienced by the protagonists of these fictional narratives; see the discussion in the following pages. Some twelfth-century rhetorical laments, too, contain similar images. Particularly interesting are those that draw from the Song of Songs. See, for example, Basilakes, Pignani 1983:244–245; Manasses’ monody on Theodora, the wife of Ioannes Kontostephanos, Kurtz 1900:632; Eugeneianos’ monody on Stephanos Komnenos, Helfer 1972:72, 11–15. For a discussion of the impact of the Song of Songs on the development of the theme of love and mourning in Western European medieval literature, see the interesting, albeit overly psychoanalytical, approach in Astell 1990:119–135. On aspects of the same theme in ancient Greek literature, the New Testament, and the troubadours, cf. Staten 1995.

[ back ] 245. Kazhdan points to the similarities between an epithalamion composed by Eugeneianos and the ekphrasis of Drosilla in his novel (Kazhdan 1967:107–108; Eugeneianos’ epithalamion in Gallavotti 1935:233–236). According to Kazhdan, these similarities indicate that Eugeneianos modeled the portrait of his heroine on the features of the bride whom he praises in his epithalamion. Some resonances of epithalamia can be detected in other ekphraseis in the novels. In Eugeneianos, the description of Charikles (4.80–85) recalls some images of the above-mentioned epithalamion by the same author. Kazhdan finds parodic elements in this ekphrasis. However, one cannot exclude the possibility that Eugeneianos’ description is realistic rather than parodic and that Charikles’ pronounced elegance reflects the fashion of the author’s contemporary flashy young men. As Kazhdan (with Epstein) has noted elsewhere without, though, referring to Eugeneianos, twelfth-century Byzantines had developed new concerns for their appearance that, not rarely, gave rise to criticisms on the part of their conservative contemporaries. Wigs and long hair down to the waist were new trends in twelfth-century Byzantium and caused the vehement criticism of bigots like the canonist Zonaras (Kazhdan and Epstein 1985:76–77; cf. also Magdalino 1993:385). To my mind, it may not be fortuitous that Charikles, too, has long hair down to his waist and that his whole appearance is rather effeminate. Topoi of Byzantine epithalamia may be also detected in Rhodanthe’s and Dosikles’ ekphraseis in Prodromos’ novel (1.40–60; 7.213–238). The same holds true, I think, for the ekphrasis of Hysmine in Hysminias’ dream in 3.6 of Makrembolites’ novel.

[ back ] 246. Hörandner 1974:43.c.

[ back ] 247. Frye 1976:97–157.

[ back ] 248. Dosikles’ pathētikē ēthopoiia in Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.88–131 is heard by Kratandros, a fellow prisoner of the hero, who thus becomes a close friend of his. Dosikles’ pathētikē ēthopoiia in Drosilla and Charikles 1.226–257 performs a similar function. Rhodanthe’s lament in 7.17–160, which recapitulates her past misfortunes, plays an important role in the development of the story too: it is heard by Myrhilla, the daughter of Rhodanthe’s master and sister of her friend Kratandros, whom Rhodanthe mentions in her lament. Myrhilla wishes to learn more about the fate of her brother. The information that Rhodanthe gives leads to the discovery of Kratandros and Dosikles. In Eugeneianos’ novel, Charikles’ lament in 6.34–94 is heard by Chagos, the leader of the barbarians who had arrested him. Chagos is moved by the hero’s story and frees him. Drosilla’s lament in the same book (6.205–235) is heard by Baryllis, a soft-hearted old woman who offers hospitality to the heroine. Chrysilla’s rather parodied lament in 5.183–193 functions as an introduction to her speech to Charikles with which she tries to gain his love.

[ back ] 249. The following laments perform the function of anticipation in the plot of the novel: Rhodanthe and Dosikles 1.88–131 (Dosikles’ pathētikē ēthopoiia; it refers to what will happen later to Rhodanthe); 3.409–486 (Dosikles’ pathētikē ēthopoiia that foreshadows the future adventures of the heroine in a more specific way than the previous one); Hysmine and Hysminias 7.17 (Hysminias’ lament for Hysmine; the hero’s appeal to Eros for Hysminias’ rescue from the sea anticipates exactly this development later in the story). In Drosilla and Charikles, a parallel function is undertaken by Charikles’ pathētikē ēthopoiia in 1.226–257 but with some differences, for which see the discussion on pp. 107–108. For anticipation and recapitulation techniques in general in the ancient Greek novel, see Hägg 1971:213–287.

[ back ] 250. For the laments in the ancient Greek novel, see Birchall 1996, especially 14–17, where the function of the laments in Heliodoros is discussed; also Ferrini 1990. For the laments in vernacular Byzantine romances, see Agapitos 1991:215–217.

[ back ] 251. For the conventional use of wishes in Greek ritual lament in general, see Alexiou 2002a:178–181.

[ back ] 252. Ποῦ γὰρ ἂν εἶχον βλέπειν/τοιοῦτον, ὦ Ζεῦ καὶ θεοὶ πάντες, πάθος;/τίς γὰρ προέγνω καὶ προεῖπε τὰς τύχας;/ἢ τίς προειπὼν εἶχεν ἀληθὴς δοκεῖν; 6.334–337.

[ back ] 253. Τῶν δραμάτων ῥήξασα τὸν πολὺν τόμον. Conca’s translation ‘spezzando il grande libro dei tuoi drammi’ (Conca 1994a) does not render precisely the allusive dimension of this phrase; the possessive pronoun ‘tuoi’ (‘your’) does not exist in the Greek text.

[ back ] 254. Rhodanthe’s words οὐ ψεύσομαί σοι τὰς ἐνόρκους ἐγγύας (7.90) apparently recall Dosikles’ words καὶ τὰς ἐνόρκους ἐξεφώνεις ἐγγύας in his own lament in 6.332.

[ back ] 255. Markovich notes John 13.15, where Christ washes the feet of his disciples (ὑπόδειγμα γὰρ δέδωκα ὑμῖν, ἵνα καθὼς ἐποίησα καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιῆτε) and Euripides’ Alkestis 150–151.

[ back ] 256. AP 9.203. In two manuscripts of Leukippe and Kleitophon, this epigram accompanies the novel. The text is as follows: ῎Ερωτα πικρὸν ἀλλὰ σώφρονα βίον/ὁ Κλειτοφῶντος ὥσπερ ἐμφαίνει λόγος·/ὁ Λευκίππης δὲ σωφρονέστατος βίος/ἅπαντας ἐξίστησι, πῶς τετυμμένη/ κεκαρμένη τε καὶ κατηχρειωμένη,/τὸ δὴ μέγιστον, τρὶς θανοῦσ’ ἐκαρτέρει./εἴπερ δὲ καὶ σὺ σωφρονεῖν θέλεις, φίλος,/μὴ τὴν πάρεργον τῆς γραφῆς σκόπει θέαν,/τὴν τοῦ λόγου δὲ πρῶτα συνδρομὴν μάθε·/νυμφοστολεῖ γὰρ τοὺς ποτοῦντας ἐμφρόνως (Vilborg 1955:163).

[ back ] 257. The diction of this last poem resembles Rhodanthe’s words: ὡς ὀλβία σὺ ταῖς ἐρώσαις παρθένοις,/ἐρωμέναις δὲ πάλιν ὀλβιωτέρα/ … φιλῶ, κόρη, σὲ τῆς εὐβουλίας χάριν,/τῆς καρτερίας, τῆς συνέσεως χάριν,/τοῦ γνησίου <τ’> ἔρωτος πρὸς τὸν νυμφίον (Colonna 1938:372). See also the discussion of sōphrosunē in Chapter Three.

[ back ] 258. The first incident is in Rhodanthe and Dosikles 6.182–185: ῎Ελεξε ταῦτα, καί τις ἑστὼς πλησίον/βάρβαρος ὠμός, νηλεὴς μέγας γίγας,/κατὰ προσώπου τὸν καλὸν παίσας νέον/ἄκοντα ῥιπτεῖ πρὸς μέσην τὴν ὁλκάδα. The second one is in 8.428–459. In the expression of his fear that Drosilla might be poisoned by Chrysilla, Charikles uses a phrase that must have been taken directly from the description of the corresponding incident in Prodromos’ novel: Πρὸ τοῦ τυχεῖν δὲ τῆς Χρυσίλλας ὁ φθόνος/διαφθερεῖ σκύφῳ σε δηλητηρίου (Drosilla and Charikles, 245–246); cf. Rhodanthe and Dosikles 8.437: σκύφον ποτοῦ πίμπλησι δηλητηρίου.

[ back ] 259. This is the role of Hysmine at the banquet at the house of Hysminias’ master in Artykomis (Hysmine and Hysminias 10.8.2).

[ back ] 260. For this motif in Greek ritual laments in general, see Alexiou 2002a:182–184. I find it noteworthy that Drosilla expresses her reproach of Charikles with the verb μέμφομαι, which recalls a parallel ancient Greek practice, on which, see Alexiou 2002a:182.

[ back ] 261. Lucian’s On Mourning offers a well-known example of a parodied lament; cf. also the intriguing satirical monody—probably written in the twelfth century—edited by Sideras (Sideras 2002).

[ back ] 262. In the manuscript tradition, Chrysilla’s address to Charikles is described as: ἔρως Χρυσίλλ(ης) εἰς Χαρικλέα (L) and μήνυμα Χρυσίλλ(ης) εἰς Χαρικλέα.

[ back ] 263. For ancient Greece, see Alexiou 2002a:14–23; cf. Sourvinou-Inwood 2005. For the manipulation of the ritual context of lamentation as an occasion for the negotiation of social and gender roles in modern Greece, cf. Caravelli-Chaves’s pioneering studies (Caravelli-Chaves 1986; 1980), Herzfeld 1993, and the excellent study of the sociocultural context of Maniot lamentation in Seremetakis 1991; cf. also Kligman’s study of the Romanian ritual lament (Kligman 1988).

[ back ] 264. For examples of the theme of a barbarian woman’s dangerous passion for the male protagonist in the ancient Greek novel, see e.g. Heliodoros 7.25; Xenophon 2.3; see also Haynes 2003:108–113. Cf. also Prodromos 1.110 (on barbarian desire in general).

[ back ] 265. For the role of Lykainion in Longos, see Levin 1978; also Hunter 1983:68–69; and more recently Haynes 2003:106–108.

[ back ] 266. Chrysilla’s speech is interspersed with a number of allusions to Theokritos’ poetry, especially to Idylls 4, 7, 8, 9, 10.

[ back ] 267. For the Platonic use of this image, see Phaedrus 241D1; cf. Charmides 155D-E.

[ back ] 268. Schepers 1969:2.1.

[ back ] 269. Domingo-Forasté 1994:12.