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TLG Updates, May 2010
The TLG has just released the latest updates to its text collection. This is what has been added, from the oldest to the most recent texts, with Early Modern Greek texts separate:
- Philodemus (i BC): On Anger (ed. Indelli, 1988)
- Philodemus is a Hellenistic philosopher, who we know about mainly thanks to Mt Vesuvius, carbonising Pompeii and Herculaneum and everyone in it—as well as a library full of papyri. Papyri that have made it to our day in the optimal conditions of Egypt are still more bitty and fragmentary than we’d like; and carbonised papyri are not preserved in optimal condition. Their preservation is especially suboptimal because they were first discovered and read under 18th century technology rather than 21st century—which meant scalpels rather than X-rays, and the leaves of papyrus turning to dust as they were being copied out.
There is an ongoing project to reedit Philodemus, including the papyri that were copied back then (and for which the 18th century copies are sometimes better witnesses than the modern-day remnant), and the papyri that couldn’t be (and that modern technology can now get to). The major texts recently published have been On Piety and On Poems. This text, On Anger, presents a papyrus in a poorer state: something like 7,000 words’ worth, some of which are even legible.
- Hesychius Illustrius (vi AD): Life of Aristotle (Vita Menagiana) (ed. Düring, 1957)
- Hesychius of Miletus was an historian much of whose work was lost, though his biographical dictionary has substantially contributed to the Suda. The Life of Aristotle first published by Gilles Ménage in 1663 is anonymous; Düring associated it with Hesychius.
- Constantine Manasses (xii AD): Hodoiporikon (Guidebook) (ed. Horna, 1904)
- An account of the historian’s mission to Jerusalem and back, pursuing diplomacy through marriage between Byzantium and the crusader states. For more on the text, see Aerts, W.J. 2003. A Byzantine Traveller to one of the Crusader States. In Ciggaar, K.N. & Teule, H.G.B. (eds), East and West in the Crusader States. Peeters. 165–222.
- Constantine Harmenopulus (xiv AD): Hexabiblos (ed. Heimbach, 1851)
- Harmenopulus (or Armenopoulos) wrote the Hexabiblos (The Six Volumes), which was the final major compendium of Byzantine Law, which itself was a continuation of Roman Law—as witnessed by the undigested Latin expressions that pervaded it. (Yes, even more so than in English-language law.) As the final major compendium, it was much more accessible than its forebears, and has served as a starting point for many historians since. It also served as a foundation of Ottoman law—and of the civil code in the Modern Greek State until 1946.
- Anonymous works on Church Music (xiv–xvi AD): Anonymous questions and answers on the interval signs (Ἀκρίβεια) (ed. Schartau, 1998)
- This is a treatise on Byzantine musical notation (a topic I have already written an 11 MB PDF on), and the notation it talks about is recognisably the notation used now. The treatise includes examples of the notation as used; but like other early treatises, it isn’t really a Teach Yourself manual. To this day textbooks defer on the subtler inflections of Byzantine music to the instruction of your local cantor.
- Andronicus Callistus (xv AD): Monody on Unfortunate Constantinople (ed. Pertusi, 1976)
- “Yet all this is gone, and now, alas, the queen has become a slave. O, how can one narrate her suffering? It was daytime, but darkness and gloom for the City, and sudden war flowed into the City from land and brine; and the Impious One throws projectiles against the walls with machines, and it falls to the ground in many places, and he rushes against the City bearing a heavy hand.”
- George of Trebizond (xv AD): Letter to Mehmed II on the Christian faith (ed. Pertusi, 1976)
- “For these reasons have I dared write to Your Majesty concerning your eternal and wondrous glory. And you, most golden emir, do receive these letters gladly, which I have written in a simpler tongue, so that they may be more easily translated by your people into the sunlike and most bright dialect of the Turks, whose sweet-sounding and succinct words, whose boldness and virility of pronunciation is attested by all who have tasted it. For I believe that this speech translated may be of some benefit.”
The circumstances of the letter are discussed in Monfasani’s 1976 biography of George—with an ingenious explanation of the millenarian thinking that made George attempt to make a Christian of Mehmed (the “Impious One” of Andronicus Callistus).
- Belthandros and Chrysantza (xiv AD?) (ed. Egea, 1998)
- This vernacular romance (aka Velthandros and Chrysantza) has the distinction of being the only example of its kind to have its own English Wikipedia page (for now).
- Libistros and Rhodamne (xiv AD?): Vatican manuscript redaction (ed. Lendari, 2007)
- This is the second of three surviving redactions of this romance (and we know that there were other copies which have disappeared). Redaction α, representing most surviving manuscripts, was included in the preceding update.
- Father Synadinos (xvii AD): Chronicle of Serres (ed. Odorico, 1996)
- This is an important text—although I obtained it too late to use for my thesis, and therefore to get properly familiar with it. It is a vernacular chronicle of a provincial Macedonian town, and is one of the few extensive pieces of vernacular we have from the mainland at all for that time. It is also an important early witness of the dialect of Greek Macedonia. In fact the blog I’ve linked to—though emphatically on the Hellenic side of the fence—notes that the surnames in the Chronicle are all Greek, yet in recent history Synadinos’ native village had become Slavic-speaking, so populations had kept moving during the Ottoman Empire.
The chronicle has another reason for mattering to me: the linguistic commentary to Odorico’s edition was written by the late Tassos Karanastassis.
- Laments on the Fall of Constantinople (xv, xix AD) (eds Pertusi, 1976; Lampros, 1908; Zoras, 1955)
- The final collection in this update is of anonymous vernacular laments written about the Fall of Constantinople, taken from an edition by Pertusi; it is supplemented by two vernacular laments published by other scholars.
The laments were written within the timeframe of 1453; but the end of Rhomania kept casting a shadow over the Christians who identified with it, and it remained a topic of folk song. These folk songs were important in the nation-building of Modern Greece (as Herzfeld has analysed in Ours Once More), and every Greek schoolchild has read the song:
Σημαίνει ὁ Θιός, σημαίνει ἡ γής, σημαίνουν τὰ ἐπουράνια,
God strikes, the Earth strikes, and the Heavens strike.
Hagia Sophia strikes, the great cathedral,
with two and sixty bells, four hundred prayer blocks.
The better-read will also know the laments that were recorded in Pontic folk song:
Μὴ κλαίς, μὴ κλαίς, ἅϊ Γιάννε μου, καὶ δερνοκοπισκᾶσαι.
Ἡ Ρωμανία ’πέρασεν, ἡ Ρωμανία ’πάρθεν.
Ἡ Ρωμανία κι ἂν ’πέρασεν, ἀνθεῖ καὶ φέρει κι ἄλλο
Cry not, St John, and beat your breast not so.
Rhomania’s time has passed; Rhomania’s fallen.
Rhomania’s passed; it buds, and bears a new one.
Τὴν Πόλην ὅνταν ὥριζεν ὁ Ἕλλην Κωσταντῖνον,
εἶχε πορτάρους δίκλωπους, ἀφέντους φοβετσάρους,
εἶχεν ἀφέντην σερασκέρ’ τὸν μέγαν Ἰωάννην.
When Constantine the Hellene ruled the City,
his lords were scared, his gatekeepers were two-faced,
and John the Mighty was his general.
Ὁ ἥλιον πάει ’ς σὴν μάνναν ἀτ’ μαυρομελανιασμένον.
Φέρει καὶ τραπεζώνει ἀτον γάλαν καὶ παξιμάτιν,
ὁ πρόσωπος ἀτ’ ’κὶ γελᾷ, ἀπολογιὰν ’κ’ ἐδῶκεν.
The Sun goes to his mother, black and blue.
She brings him milk and serves him rusks to dine on.
His face won’t smile, and he gives no reply.
It turns out that Pertusi has included a selection of these folk songs in his collection. Which means the TLG now includes Pontic. (And I have to worry about morphologically analysing it.)