Abstract: The Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig sees in the rise of Digital Technologies an opportunity to re-assess and re-establish how the humanities can advance the understanding of the past and to support a dialogue among civilizations. Philology, which uses surviving linguistic sources to understand the past as deeply and broadly as possible, is central to these tasks, because languages, present and historical, are central to human culture. To advance this larger effort, the Humboldt Chair focuses upon enabling Greco-Roman culture to realize the fullest possible role in intellectual life.
Greco-Roman culture is particularly significant because it contributed to both Europe and the Islamic world and the study of Greco-Roman culture and its influence thus entails Classical Arabic as well as Ancient Greek and Latin. The Humboldt Chair inaugurates an Open Philology Project with three complementary efforts that produce open philological data, educate a wide audience about historical languages, and integrate open philological data from many sources: the Open Greek and Latin Project organizes content (including translations into Classical Arabic and modern languages); the Historical Language e-Learning Project explores ways to support learning across barriers of language and culture as well as space and time; the Scaife Digital Library focuses on integrating cultural heritage sources available under open licenses.
In this recent addition to the Variorum Collected Studies Series, Roger Scott grapples with Byzantine historiography and the age of Justinian. The papers contained therein are divided into four broad groupings: (A) Historiography, Chronicle and the Sixth Century; (B) Malalas, Theophanes and the Sixth Century; (C) Malalas, Theophanes and Their Byzantine Past; and (D) Reinterpreting the Fifth and Sixth Centuries. Scott, a Classicist by training, has devoted a good part of his career to the study of early Byzantine chronicles, with a particular emphasis on Malalas and Theophanes.1 Like other volumes in this series, the majority of the papers included were originally published elsewhere. Some of these come from hard to find publications such as Bysantinska Sälskapet Bulletin, a boon for scholars who might otherwise lack access to them. Some of the articles are over forty years old (X). On the other hand, two of the nineteen are published for the first time in this volume.
The first section (A) is composed of six papers that deal, by and large, with the character of early and high Byzantine chronicles. Scott discusses the length of chronicles (I) and notes their reliance on earlier documents. He discusses "the ubiquity of good stories in Byzantine culture" (I, p. 34), such as the story of the apple of Theodosius II and the eagle of Marcian (IV), he describes the development of Byzantine historiography (III); and he treats "the literariness of Byzantine historical writing" (V). In the last paper of the section (VI), a new one, Scott returns to an earlier thesis, arguing that Malalas, for all his faults, is representative of his age and is to be applauded for including details not found elsewhere. At the same time, Procopius is not to be trusted, at least with regard to what he chooses to emphasize (war), and how he interprets the reign of Justinian. In the end, Scott, unsurprisingly (given what he has written before) claims that we ought not see "Justinian as the great conqueror and restorer of the Empire".
The second section (B) contains seven papers and focuses on the sixth century. We return to what constituted the most important events of Justinian's reign, and how the texts of Malalas and Theophanes as well as those of authors like John the Lydian (X) have been and should be used to evaluate the reign. While discussing the reliability of Theophanes' Chronicle as a source for Justinianic events, Scott argues that there is much to be gained from exploring Theophanes' impact on Byzantine historiography (and literature in general) (XII). As in the book as a whole, Malalas is the focus of the majority of the papers in this section. Malalas, we read, approached history in a manner in keeping with the worldview of his contemporaries, while presenting an interpretation of the past and present all his own (VII). Malalas' Chronicle is replete with official dispatches, at least when he turns to contemporary or near-contemporary events (VIII). This includes the Roman Empire's diplomatic dealings (XI). Yet, Malalas and Procopius, despite their ostensible differences in mentalité, often agree on certain facts about Justinian's reign (such as Justinian's gifts of money to barbarians), though Malalas draws upon Justinianic propaganda to present them in a positive light while Procopius presents them negatively in his Secret History (IX). The final paper of the section explores the different ways that Malalas and Theophanes interpret the reign of Justinian while downplaying the importance of Procopius.
A new book in the series of Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia
The fourteen essays in Viewing the Morea focus on the late medieval Morea (Peloponnese), beginning with the bold attempt of Western knights to establish a kingdom on foreign soil. Reinserted into this tale of Crusader foundation are the large numbers of Orthodox villagers who shared the region and created their own narrative of an eternal and sacred empire generated by the pains of loss and the hopes of refoundation. Layered upon the historical and physical topography of the region are the traces of the Venetians, whose “right eye,” Modon, was located at the peninsula’s southwestern tip. How these groups interacted and how they asserted identity is at the center of inquiry in these essays. Also at the core of this study is the understanding of place and memory—the recollection of the ancient history of the Peloponnese, the architectural and cartographic marking of its mountains and valleys, the re-creation of distant capitals on its land, and the refashioning of the Morea for a Renaissance audience. The authors look at the Morea and its people in the broadest possible manner and with careful attention to written and material evidence, historiography, economic networks, and the making—or retelling—of myths.
About the Author
Sharon E. J. Gerstel is Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Demetrios Athanasoulis is director of the 25th Ephoreia of Byzantine Antiquities.
Julian Baker is curator of medieval and modern coins at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University.
Veronica della Dora is Senior Lecturer in Geographies of Knowledge at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol.
Sandra J. Garvie-Lok is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta.
Timothy E. Gregory is Distinguished Professor of Byzantine History and Classical Archaeology in the Department of History and Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at Ohio State University, Columbus.
John Haines is Professor of Music and Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, where he currently holds a Canada Research Chair.
David Jacoby is Emeritus Professor of History, Department of History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Elizabeth Jeffreys is Emerita Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, and Emerita Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.
Florin Leonte is a doctoral candidate at the Central European University, Budapest.
Amy Papalexandrou is an independent scholar and research associate at the University of Texas at Austin.
Titos Papamastorakis was Associate Professor of Byzantine Archaeology and Art in the Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Athens.
Helen Saradi is Professor of Byzantine History and Byzantine Civilization at the University of the Peloponnese.
Teresa Shawcross is Assistant Professor in Medieval Mediterranean and European History at Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges.
Alan Stahl is Curator of Numismatics and Lecturer in the Departments of Classics and History at Princeton University.
Manuel I Komnenos and Michael Glycas: A Twelfth-Century Defence and Refutation of Astrology
Manuel Komnenos I, Emperor of the Byzantine Empire composed a defence of
astrology to the Church Fathers, in which he asserted that this discipline was
compatible with Christian doctrine. Theologian Michael Glykas, possibly
imprisoned and blinded by Manuel for political sedition, refuted this defence,
claiming that the astrological art was heretical.
This is the first time that this
exchange of treatises has been translated into any language since their
composition in the twelfth-century.
The introduction sets these works into their
historical framework, at a time when the belief in the validity of astrology was
held by some of the best scholars of this century as a result of the flood of Arabic
astrological translations coming into the Latin West and Greek East. The
writings of these two antagonists precipitated anew in mediaeval thought the
problem of the correct relationship between man, the celestial bodies and God
who dwelled in Heaven.
Greco-Egyptian Alchemy in Byzantium
The main concern of this paper will be with the problems raised by
the reception of ancient alchemy in Byzantium. After a brief
introduction, I will start from the study of a pre-Byzantine author,
Zosimos of Panopolis, and deal with the following questions : How,
from a purely material viewpoint, were Zosimos’ writings handed
down during the Byzantine period? Did Byzantine alchemists have
access to his works and did they resort to them?
known outside the alchemical Corpus; in other words, did Graeco Egyptian alchemists exert any kind of influence outside strictly
alchemical circles? When and how was the alchemical Corpus put
together? In a more general way, what evidence do we have,
whether in the Corpus itself or in non-alchemical literature, that
alchemy was practised in Byzantium? Answers (or at least partial
answers) to these questions should help us to understand and define
to some extent the place held by the ‘sacred art’ in Byzantium.
The art of creating mosaic patterns grew and developed with the rise of the Byzantine Empire in the 5th century. New characteristics appeared in mosaics with Eastern influences in style and the use of glass tesserae, known as smalti, sourced from northern Italy. This added new texture and life to the mosaic patterns being created, with the smalti, which were cut from thick sheets of colored glass and had a rough surface and tiny air bubbles throughout, being backed by reflective silver or gold leaf.
The application of mosaics also changed; while the Romans favored the use of mosaic patterns for flooring, the Byzantines took the art further and applied them to walls and ceilings. They kept their smalti un-grouted to allow light to reflect and refract through them and set their pieces at slight angles to capture the play of light as it moved through the space and allow the silver or gold backing to sparkle from every angle.
The mosaic patterns and themes melded together, with Roman images being absorbed into the predominantly Christian themes favored by the Byzantines, and while some of the pieces remained purely decorative, some were used to depict Emperors much as the Romans depicted gods (Source).
Edited by Marina S. Brownlee, Princeton University, and Dimitri Gondicas, Princeton University
The present volume has grown out of the conference held at Princeton University on November 12-14, 2009. Its essays explore a coherent, interrelated nexus of topics that illuminate our understanding of the cultural transactions (social, political, economic, religious and artistic) of the Greek East and Latin West: unexpected cultural appropriations and forms of resistance, continuity and change, the construction and hybridization of traditions in a wide expanse of the eastern Mediterranean.
Areas that the volume addresses include the benefits and liabilities of periodization, philosophical and political exchanges, monastic syncretism between the Orthodox and Catholic faiths, issues of romance composition, and economic currency and the currency of fashion as East and West interact.
Contributors are Roderick Beaton, Peter Brown, Marina S. Brownlee, Giles Constable, Maria Evangelatou, Dimitri Gondicas, Judith Herrin, Elizabeth Jeffreys, Marc D. Lauxtermann, Stuart M. McManus, John Monfasani, Maria G. Parani, Linda Safran, Teresa Shawcross and Alan M. Stahl
He sparked a controversy on Islam when, during a conference in Regensburg, he quoted a passage from the text of a Byzantine ruler, Manuel II Palaeologus.
The Regensburg lecture was delivered on 12 September 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg in Germany, where he had once served as a professor of theology. It was entitled "Faith, Reason and the University — Memories and Reflections" (German: Glaube, Vernunft und Universität — Erinnerungen und Reflexionen). The lecture is considered to be among the most important papal statements on world affairs since John Paul II's 1995 address to the United Nations, and sparked international reactions and controversy.
In his lecture, the Pope, speaking in German, quoted an unfavorable remark about Islam made at the end of the 14th century by Manuel II Palaiologos, the Byzantine emperor. As the English translation of the Pope's lecture was disseminated across the world, many Islamic politicians and religious leaders protested against what they saw as an insulting mischaracterization of Islam.
Mass street protests were mounted in many Islamic countries, the Majlis-e-Shoora (Pakistani parliament) unanimously called on the Pope to retract "this objectionable statement". The Pope maintained that the comment he had quoted did not reflect his own views, and he offered an apology to Muslims.
The controversial comment originally appeared in the 7th of the 26 Dialogues Held With A Certain Persian, the Worthy Mouterizes, in Anakara of Galatia, written in 1391 as an expression of the views of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, one of the last Christian rulers before the Fall of Constantinople to the Muslim Ottoman Empire, on such issues as forced conversion, holy war, and the relationship between faith and reason. The passage, in the English translation published by the Vatican, is as follows:
“ Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. ”
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