Roilos, Panagiotis. 2006. Amphoteroglossia: A Poetics of the Twelfth Century Medieval Greek Novel. Hellenic Studies Series 10. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_RoilosP.Amphoteroglossia_Poetics_Twelfth_Century.2006.
Chapter 2. Rhetorical Modulations in the Komnenian Novel
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 …
Rhetoric and the novel
Rhetoric in the twelfth century
Μεθόδῳ δὲ δεινότητος, ῥητορικῷ τῷ τρόπῳ
ἐκ Σερβηλίων τῆς γονῆς λέγω καὶ τὸν Σερβλίαν. 
῾Ως εἴπερ ἄλλος ἤθελε, Σέρβον ᾿Ηλίαν εἶπεν.
Τοῦτο γὰρ ῥήτορος ἀνδρὸς καὶ ἀμφοτερογλώσσου,
καὶ πράγμασι καὶ κλήσεσι καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς ὁμοίως
πρὸς ἔπαινον καὶ ψόγον δὲ κεχρῆσθαι συμφερόντως. 
Serbilios was a consul and Caesar of the Romans.
But in the method of forcefulness, in a rhetorical mode,
I say that Serblias, too, comes from the family of the Serbelioi.
Someone else, if he wished, would have called him “Serbos Elias;”
for this is a trait of a rhetorical and double-tongued man:
to employ things and names and similarly all the rest
as praise [psogos] as well as invective [egkōmion] according to expediency.
στομῶ δὲ γλῶσσαν, ὡς ξυρόν, τῇ διπλόῃ. 
I exhale fire against the opponents
and edge the tongue, like a razor, with diploē.
Practicing the art: rhetorical exercises (progumnasmata)
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.
Basilakes may allude here to the double semantic connotations of the word drama as a characterization of both an erotic adventure and the literary composition that narrates it.  His use of this marked term, at least in these cases, can be interpreted as an allusion to a terminology that in Byzantium was often associated with the genre of the novel too. 
Aphēgēmatikai rhētorikai ennoiai: the reception of the novel in Byzantium
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.  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.  I would contend that Photios’ repeated references to the importance of temperance in the Aithiopika  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. 
Self-referential discourse in the Komnenian novels
καὶ τοὺς ὑποσχεθέντας ἐκτέλει γάμους
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.
I used the rhetorical tongue of those brought up with the Muses;
I envied the song of the lyre of Hermogenes,
I imitated the refinement of Attic songs. 
All these, however, are surpassed by the expressiveness of the Emperor’s military feats, for now, the poet continues, he has found a new Hermes, more sophisticated than the god of rhetoric. “For you, full of Ares and full of triumphs,” he says to the Emperor, “have proved my Hermes in these songs by your deeds,/and have sharpened my tongue like a pen.” 
μήπως ῾Ερμῆς ὁ λόγιος φιλῶν τὴν συμμετρίαν
ἡμῖν μεμψιμοιρήσειεν ὡς ἀπεραντολόγοις. 
But let me finish these here
lest the Logios Hermes, who likes symmetry,
accuses me of being loquacious.
When associated with Aphrodite, Hermes rejoices:
ὁ λάλος φιλοπαίγμονι μουσοκιθαριστρίᾳ. 
The eloquent Hermes rejoices with Proitis,
the loquacious one with the playful, musical player of the kitharis.
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.  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.” 
τοῦ γάρ λόγου τὸ σῶμα συνεχιστέον,
οἷον διχασθὲν τῇ παρεμπτώσει μέσον …
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:
ἁπλῶς γὰρ εἰπεῖν καὶ συνεκτικῷ λόγῳ,
ἐνεργὸν οὐδὲν τῶν μελῶν τῇ παρθένῳ
To say it with just one word and in summary,
no part of the maiden’s body was active.
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.
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.
ἆρ’ ἵλεων ἐνεῖδεν αὐτοῖς ἡ Τύχη,
καὶ καθυφῆκεν ὁ Φθόνος τῶν μαστίγων;
οὐκ ἔστιν εἰπεῖν, ἀλλ’ ὁ βάσκανος μίτος
πολλὰς ἐπεκλώσατο κακῶν ἰδέας
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. 
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 function of this question is obviously only rhetorical: Hysminias’ own narrative has already provided the answer.
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.  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.
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.
Narcissistic Monologues and Subversive Narratives
… μὴ γίνου δημηγόρος
(ἀπρόσφορος γὰρ ἄρτι φιλοσοφία)
ἀλλὰ σκωπῶμεν ἐμφρόνως τὸ πρακτέον
… and do not act like an orator
(for philosophy is unbecoming now)
but let us look into the matter prudently. 
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.
Flirting in the provinces: rhetoric and sociocultural stereotypes
ὁλοσχερῶς ῎Ερωτι θητεύων βίᾳ·
ἄνθος δὲ τὸ πρὶν τὴν παρειὰν φυγγάνει,
τοῦ βλέμματος δὲ σβέννυταί μοι τὸ φλέγον
ἐκ δακρύων ῥύακος ὡς ἐξ ὑδάτων.
and forced to serve Eros in everything.
The bloom of my face is gone,
the spark of my gaze has been extinguished
by the torrent of tears that run like waters. 
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).
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.
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:
πρὸς ἁρπαγὴν ὥρμησε λῃστρικωτέραν·
οὐκ αἰσχύνην γὰρ οἶδε πολλάκις ἔρως.
he rushed to an abduction in the manner of the wildest robbers;
for often love knows of no shame. 
Contrary to the conventional idyllic image of villagers as innocent and, at least according to such an influential rhetorician as Libanios, as temperate fellows,  Kallidemos appears here as a lecherous and potentially dangerous young man.
πῶς ἄρα, Καλλίδημε, παῖ Ξενοκράτους,
χωριτικοὶ γένοιντο κρείττονες ξένοι;
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.  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.
ὢ πῶς ῥέει δάκρυον, εἶπε, καὶ λίθος.
“Oh!, how even a rock can issue tears!” 
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.  Later, Nikolaos, too, employed it to illustrate the genres of anaskeuē and kataskeuē in his own rhetorical exercises.  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. 
I am sitting inert, with my mouth shut,
being idle, motionless, like a prisoner,
a tongueless rhetor deprived of his freedom of speech,
a voiceless rhetor who has no opportunity to practice. 
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.” 
Subcategories and the manuscript tradition
Codifying the pain: ritual aspects and formulaic frames
ἔτυπτεν εἰς τὸ στέρνον, ἀνεκεκράγει
μετὰ στεναγμῶν καὶ μετ’ ὄμβρου δακρύων.
beating her breast and shouting
with moans and downpour of tears.
καὶ πικρὸν οἷον ἀλαλάξας ἐκ βάθους,
ἀντετραγῴδουν τῷ τεκόντι τὴν κόρην.
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:
(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.
(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.  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. 
… 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 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
ἔφυς μὲν ἁδρὸς καὶ καλὸς καὶ γλυκίων.
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).  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.  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. 
Τίς τῶν καθ’ ἡμᾶς λῆξίς ἐστι δακρύων;
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).
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:
τὸ τάϊζα τὴ ζάχαρη, τὸ πότιζα τὸ μόσκο,
κι ἀπὸ τὸ μόσκο τὸν περσὸ κι ἀπὸ τὴ μυρουδιά του
μοῦ σκανταλίστη τὸ κλουβὶ καὶ μοῦ ‘φυγε τ’ ἀηδόνι.
Πῆρα τὰ ὄρη σκούζοντα καὶ τὰ βουνὰ ρωτῶντα:
“βουνά μου καὶ λαγκάδια μου καὶ κάμποι μὲ τὰ ρόδα,
μὴν εἴδατε τ’ ἀηδόνι μου κι ἐπέρασε πετῶντα;”
“ ̓Εχτές, προχτὲς ἐπέρασε καὶ πάει στὸν Κάτου Κόσμο …” 
I had a little bird in a cage and I had tamed it,
I was feeding it with sugar, I was watering it with musk,
and with all the musk and its fragrance
the cage broke and the nightingale left.
I went up the mountains wailing and asking all the hills:
—You, my mountains and my ravines and plains with roses,
have you seen my nightingale, has it flown past here?
—Yesterday, the day before yesterday it passed and goes to the Underworld.
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
καὶ τὴν ἔνυγρον πικρὰν ἐλπίσας τύχην,
σαυτὸν προαπέπνιξας αὐτὸς αὐτόχειρ;
and fearing the [i.e. my] bitter doom in the water,
have you maybe committed suicide by drowning yourself in advance?
Rhodanthe concludes her lament with another allusion to her imagined pathētikē ēthopoiia that had been proleptically performed in Dosikles’ lament: she invokes their old vows of love, and promises that she will never break them. The dialogue between these two pathētikai ēthopoiiai is further underscored by the use of similar diction. 
αἷς εἰς ἐραστάς, εἰς ἐρωμένους νέους,
αἷς ἐξ ἐραστῶν, ἐξ ἐρωμένων πόθος·
… καλὸν γὰρ ὑπόδειγμα ταῖς ἐρωμέναις
δέδωκα νῦν. Ζηλοῦτε, ναὶ ζηλοῦτέ με.
you who desire lovers and beloved youths,
you who are desired by lovers and beloved men,
… for I have given now a good example to the
women who are in love.
Admire me, yes, admire me.
In addition to their possible echoes from the Bible and classical tragedy,  I discern in Rhodanthe’s words an allusion to the medieval Greek reception of the role of the heroines of the ancient Greek novels, particularly Charikleia and Leukippe. In an epigram from Anthologia Palatina, attributed to the Patriarch Photios or to Leo the Philosopher, Leukippe is presented as a paragon of temperance.  In another short poem, most probably composed by Theodoros Prodromos himself, Charikleia is also extolled as an example of fidelity and continence. 
εἴ που φανεὶς ὄνειρος ἐγκαθηδύνει,
ἐμοὶ παριστῶν τὸν φίλον Χαρικλέα.
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:
καὶ τοὺς ὀνείρους ἀξιοῖς ὄψιν μίαν
φέρειν ἐν ὕπνοις, τὴν θέαν Δοσικλέος.
and you ask the dreams to bring you just one single image
in your sleep, a view of Dosikles.
λαγὼν δὲ κύνες, ἀμνὸν ἄρκτος ἀγρία,
στρουθοῦ νεοσσοὺς ἀγκυλῶνυξ ἱέραξ·
ἐγὼ δέ σοι τὸ φίλτρον αὐξάνω μόνω.
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.