Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pilgrimages to Jerusalem in Byzantium

As a large scale social and religious phenomenon in Byzantium, pilgrimages produced a good number of texts and other source materials.
A recent brief article from Bible History Daily discusses the Byzantine pilgrimage.
Jerusalem has been revered as a holy city for millennia—with pilgrims a staple feature in its bustling streets. Egeria’s Travels and the journals of the Bordeaux Pilgrim and the Piacenza Pilgrim demonstrate that this was as true in the Byzantine period as it is today.
Click here to read it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Byzantine local complex discovered in Israel

Israel's Antiquities Authority announced a recent discovery of a compound near Beit Shemeish dating from the Byzantine era.

The complex consists of olive presses, mosaics, and wine presses.

Irene Zilberbod and Tehila Libman, excavation directors for the Antiquities Authority said:

It is true we did not find a church at the site or an inscription or any other unequivocal evidence of religious worship. Nevertheless, the impressive construction, the dating to the Byzantine period, the magnificent mosaic floors, window and roof tile artifacts, as well as the agricultural-industrial installations inside the dwelling compound are all known to us from numerous other contemporary monasteries.
Click here for the full report 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Archaeologists uncover synagogue mosaic of first non-biblical scene

American archaeologists have recently found what they believe to be the first non-biblical scene in a synagogue mosaic.
The report mentions three mosaics with very different iconographic models found in the 5th c. synagogue at Huqoq, in Israel’s Lower Galilee. In particular, what struck the researchers was the image of an elephant, an animal which can be rarely found in the Hebrew Bible but it was generally associated with Alexander the Great.

Click here to read the full report

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Free Ebook: Dialoguing in Late Antiquity by A. Cameron

Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies has recently published online A. Cameron's volume on Dialoguing in Late Antiquity.

A passage from the Introduction:
This book is about a particular form of writing by Christians in late antiquity, sometimes referred to as “the philosophical dialogue”—although by no means all the dialogues in question can be regarded as philosophical. The subject is central to the much wider question of the development of a specifically Christian rhetoric, especially in Perelman’s sense in which “the realm of rhetoric” constitutes “the entire universe of argumentative discourse,” [1] for Christian writers did indeed use the dialogue form as part of their argumentative endeavor.

Click here to read the book

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Book on Early Monastic Practices and Coptic Christianity

The Canons of Our Fathers. Monastic Rules of Shenoute by Bentley Layton
From the presentation of the book:
This book is the first publication of a very early collection of Christian monastic rules from Roman Egypt. Designed for the so-called White Monastery Federation, a community of monks and nuns who banded together about 360 CE, the rules are quoted by the great monastic leader Shenoute of Atripe in his writings of the fourth and fifth century. These rules provide new and intimate access to the earliest phases of Christian communal (cenobitic) monasticism.
The Table of Contents:

I: The Nature of the Rules
1: The Historical Context of the Rules
2: The Corpus of Monastic Rules
3: Monastic Life as seen in the Rules
4: Monastic Experience and Monastic Rules
Subject Index to Part I
Index of Rule Numbers cited in Part III
I: Corpus of Monastic Rules
Abbreviations for Libraries and Museums Holding the Coptic Manuscripts
Editorial SignsThe Rules, Edited and Translated
Concordance of Manuscript References and Rule Numbers

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A New Book on Byzantine Literature: Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry, 1025-1081

A new volume on middle Byzantine poetry was recently published at Oxford University Press:
Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry, 1025-1081, by Floris Bernard.

Here is the abstract:
In the mid eleventh century, secular poetry attained a hitherto unseen degree of wit, vividness, and personal involvement, chiefly exemplified in the poetry of Christophoros Mitylenaios, Ioannes Mauropous, and Michael Psellos. This book examines the various social occasions, opportunities, and constraints that motivated and influenced the reading and writing of poetic texts. It critically reconsiders modern assumptions about poetry, focusing instead on Byzantine conceptions of the role of poetry in society. By providing a detailed account of the various media through which poetry was presented to its readers, and by tracing the initial circulation of poems, it takes an interest in the Byzantine reader and his/her reading habits and strategies, addressing aspects of performance and visual representation. The extraordinary social mobility of the time and the importance of education were driving forces behind textual display, and fuelled contests and competitions. Didactic poetry is part of this seething rivalry between teachers, influencing the adoption of unusual metres. Poets developed different self-representative strategies against the background of an unstable elite struggling to find moral justification; the thoughtfully arranged collection of Mauropous in particular bears traces of this. Finally, this study addresses the question of patronage, analysing the discourse employed by poets to secure material rewards, and explaining the social dynamics of dedication. Gift exchange is a medium that underscores the value of their poetry and confirms the exclusive nature of intellectual friendship.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Byzantine Gardens in Monasteries

An interesting and detailed article about a topic good for those who enjoy spending time in a garden:
Byzantine Monastic Horticulture:The Textual Evidence, by A.-M. Talbot
From the introduction:
There is a paucity of evidence on Byzantine gardens, both textual and archaeological. Whenwe turn to monastic horticulture, however, the situation is somewhat less bleak, for bothfoundation documents (typika) and saints’ lives shed occasional light on the gardens, vineyards,and orchards that provided food, drink, and eucharistic wine for the use of the residentmonks or nuns. The surviving textual sources should ideally be supplemented by thefindings of archaeological excavation of actual monastic gardens. Such excavation, whichhas been carried out to date primarily in the late Roman monasteries of Palestine, can onlybe touched upon in this essay, in which I focus on the literary evidence. For the most part Ilimit my observations to those gardens situated in the immediate vicinity of monasteries,rather than to agricultural properties owned by monasteries but located at some distancefrom the monastic complex.

Click here to continue reading 

Friday, August 8, 2014

The translation of the Suda Lexikon, a 10th c Byzantine encyclopedia, completed

The Suda Lexikon, a great source for the study of Classics and of the Byzantine literary culture, dating from the 10th c., the golden age of the Byzantine Empire, is very close to having a complete online English version.
Click here to visit the project webpage

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Loeb Classical Library Is Going Digital

The venerable collection of classical authors will have a digital version in a few months.

Founded by James Loeb in 1911, the mission of Loeb Classical Library® has always been to make Classical Greek and Latin literature accessible to the broadest range of readers. The Digital Loeb Classical Library extends this mission into the twenty-first century. Harvard University Press is honored to renew James Loeb’s vision of accessibility, and presents an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing, virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature. Epic and lyric poetry; tragedy and comedy; history, travel, philosophy, and oratory; the great medical writers and mathematicians; those Church Fathers who made particular use of pagan culture—in short, our entire Greek and Latin Classical heritage is represented here with up-to-date texts and accurate English translations. More than 520 volumes of Latin, Greek, and English texts are available in a modern and elegant interface, allowing readers to browse, search, bookmark, annotate, and share content with ease.
Click here for more details

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