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Byzantine Poetry and Literature

Written by: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition

By “Byzantine literature” is generally meant the literature, written in Greek, of the so-called Byzantine period. There is no justification whatever for the inclusion of Latin works of the time of the East Roman empire. The close of Definition.the Byzantine period is clearly marked by the year 1453, at which date, with the fall of the Eastern empire, the peculiar culture and literary life of the Byzantines came to an end. It is only as regards the beginning of the Byzantine period that any doubts exist. There are no sufficient grounds for dating it from Justinian, as was formerly often done. In surveying the whole development of the political, ecclesiastical and literary life and of the general culture of the Roman empire, and particularly of its eastern portion, we arrive, on the contrary, at the conclusion that the actual date of the beginning of this new era—i.e. the Christian-Byzantine, in contradistinction to the Pagan-Greek and Pagan-Roman—falls within the reign of Constantine the Great. By the foundation of the new capital city of Constantinople (which lay amid Greek surroundings) and by the establishment of the Christian faith as the state religion, Constantine finally broke with the Roman-Pagan tradition, and laid the foundation of the Christian-Byzantine period of development. Moreover, in the department of language, so closely allied with that of literature, the 4th century marks a new epoch. About this time occurred the final disappearance of a characteristic of the ancient Greek language, important alike in poetry and in rhythmic prose, the difference of “quantity.” Its place was henceforth taken by the accent, which became a determining principle in poetry, as well as for the rhythmic conclusion of the prose sentence. Thus the transition from the old musical language to a modern conversational idiom was complete.

The reign of Constantine the Great undoubtedly marks the beginning of a new period in the most important spheres of national life, but it is equally certain that in most of them ancient tradition long continued to exercise an Transitional period.influence. Sudden breaches of continuity are less common in the general culture and literary life of the world than in its political or ecclesiastical development. This is true of the transition from pagan antiquity to the Christian middle ages. Many centuries passed before the final victory of the new religious ideas and the new spirit in public and private intellectual and moral life. The last noteworthy remnants of paganism disappeared as late as the 6th and 7th centuries. The last great educational establishment which rested upon pagan foundations—the university of Athens—was not abolished till a.d. 529. The Hellenizing of the seat of empire and of the state, which was essential to the independent development of Byzantine literature, proceeds yet more slowly. The first purely Greek emperor was Tiberius II. (578-582); but the complete Hellenizing of the character of the state had not been accomplished until the 7th century. We shall, therefore, regard the period from the 4th to the 7th century as that of the transition between ancient times and the middle ages. This period coincides with the rise of a new power in the world’s history—Islam. But though, in this transitional period, the old and the new elements are both to a large extent present and are often inextricably interwoven, yet it is certain that the new elements are, both as regards their essential force and their influence upon the succeeding period, of infinitely greater moment than the decrepit and mostly artificial survivals of the antique.

In order to estimate rightly the character of Byzantine literature and its distinctive peculiarities, in contradistinction to ancient Greek, it is imperative to examine the great difference between the civilizations that produced Mixed character of Byzantine culture.them. The Byzantine did not possess the homogeneous, organically constructed system of the ancient civilization, but was the outcome of an amalgamation of which Hellenism formed the basis. For, although the Latin character of the empire was at first completely retained, even after its final division in 395, yet the dominant position of Greek in the Eastern empire gradually led to the Hellenizing of the state. The last great act of the Latin tradition was the codification, in the Latin language, of the law by Justinian (527-565). But it is significant that the Novels of Justinian were composed partly in Greek, as were all the laws of the succeeding period. Of the emperors in the centuries following Justinian, many of course were foreigners, Isaurians, Armenians and others; but in language and education they were all Greeks. In the last five centuries of the empire, under the Comneni and the Palaeologi, court and state are purely Greek.

In spite of the dominant position of Greek in the Eastern empire, a linguistic and national uniformity such as formed the foundation of the old LatinImperium Romanum never existed there. In the West, with the expansion of Rome’s political supremacy, the Latin language and Latin culture were everywhere introduced—first into the non-Latin provinces of Italy, later into Spain, Gaul and North Africa, and at last even into certain parts of the Eastern empire. This Latinizing was so thorough that it weathered all storms, and, in the countries affected by it, was the parent of new and vigorous nationalities, the French, the Spaniards, the Portuguese and the Rumanians. Only in Africa did “Latinism” fail to take root permanently. From the 6th century that province relapsed into the hands of the native barbarians and of the immigrant Arabs, and both the Latin and the Greek influences (which had grown in strength during the period of the Eastern empire) were, together with Christianity, swept away without leaving a trace behind. It might have been expected that the Hellenizing of the political system of the Eastern empire would have likewise entailed the Hellenizing of the non-Greek portions of the empire. Such, however, was not the case; for all the conditions precedent to such a development were wanting. The non-Greek portions of the Eastern empire were not, from the outset, gradually incorporated into the state from a Greek centre, as were the provinces in the West from a Latin centre. They had been acquired in the old period of the homogeneous Latin Imperium. In the centuries immediately following the division of the empire, the idea of Hellenizing the Eastern provinces could not take root, owing to the fact that Latin was retained, at least in principle, as the state language. During the later centuries, in the non-Greek parts, centrifugal tendencies and the destructive inroads of barbarians began on all sides; and the government was too much occupied with the all but impossible task of preserving the political unity of the empire to entertain seriously the wider aim of an assimilation of language and culture. Moreover, the Greeks did not possess that enormous political energy and force which enabled the Romans to assimilate foreign races; and, finally, they were confronted by sturdy Oriental, mostly Semitic, peoples, who were by no means so easy to subjugate as 517were the racially related inhabitants of Gaul and Spain. Their impotence against the peoples of the East will be still less hardly judged if we remember the fact already mentioned, that even the Romans were within a short period driven back and overwhelmed by the North African Semites who for centuries had been subjected to an apparently thorough process of Latinization.

The influence of Greek culture then, was very slight; how little indeed it penetrated into the oriental mind is shown by the fact that, after the violent Arab invasion in the south-east corner of the Mediterranean, the Copts and Syrians were able to retain their language and their national characteristics, while Greek culture almost completely disappeared. The one great instance of assimilation of foreign nationalities by the Greeks is the Hellenizing of the Slavs, who from the 6th century had migrated into central Greece and the Peloponnese. All other non-Greek tribes of any importance which came, whether for longer or for shorter periods, within the sphere of the Eastern empire and its civilization—such as the Copts, Syrians, Armenians, Georgians, Rumanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Albanians—one and all retained their nationality and language. The complete Latinizing of the West has, accordingly, no counterpart in a similar Hellenizing of the East. This is clearly shown during the Byzantine period in the progress of Christianity. Everywhere in the West, even among the non-Romanized Anglo-Saxons, Irish and Germans, Latin maintained its position in the church services and in the other branches of the ecclesiastical system; down to the Reformation the church remained a complete organic unity. In the East, at the earliest period of its conversion to Christianity, several foreign tongues competed with Greek, i.e. Syrian, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Gothic, Old-Bulgarian and others. The sacred books were translated into these languages and the church services were held in them and not in Greek. One noticeable effect of this linguistic division in the church was the formation of various sects and national churches (cf. the Coptic Nestorians, the Syrian Monophysites, the Armenian and, in more recent times, the Slavonic national churches). The Church of the West was characterized by uniformity in language and in constitution. In the Eastern Church parallel to the multiplicity of languages developed also a corresponding variety of doctrine and constitution.

Though the character of Byzantine culture is mainly Greek, and Byzantine literature is attached by countless threads to ancient Greek literature, yet the Roman element forms a very essential part of it. The whole political Roman influence.character of the Byzantine empire is, despite its Greek form and colouring, genuinely Roman. Legislation and administration, the military and naval traditions, are old Roman work, and as such, apart from immaterial alterations, they continued to exist and operate, even when the state in head and limbs had become Greek. It is strange, indeed, how strong was the political conception of the Roman state (Staatsgedanke), and with what tenacity it held its own, even under the most adverse conditions, down to the latter days of the empire. The Greeks even adopted the name “Romans,” which gradually became so closely identified with them as to supersede the name “Hellenes”; and thus a political was gradually converted into an ethnographical and linguistic designation. Rhomaioi was the most common popular term for Greeks during the Turkish period, and remains so still. The old glorious name “Hellene” was used under the empire and even during the middle ages in a contemptuous sense—“Heathen”—and has only in quite modern times, on the formation of the kingdom of “Hellas,” been artificially revived. The vast organization of the Roman political system could not but exercise in various ways a profound influence upon Byzantine civilization; and it often seemed as if Roman political principles had educated and nerved the unpolitical Greek people to great political enterprise. The Roman influence has left distinct traces in the Greek language, Greek of the Byzantine and modern period is rich in Latin terms for conceptions connected with the departments of justice, administration and the imperial court. In literature such “barbarisms” were avoided as far as possible, and were replaced by Greek periphrases.

But by far the most momentous and radical change wrought on the old Hellenism was effected by Christianity; and yet the transition was, in fact, by no means so abrupt as one might be led to believe by comparing the Pagan-Hellenic Christianity.culture of Plato’s day with the Christian-Byzantine of the time of Justinian. For the path had been most effectually prepared for the new religion by the crumbling away of the ancient belief in the gods, by the humane doctrine of the Stoics, and, finally, by the mystic intellectual tendencies of Neoplatonism. Moreover, in many respects Christianity met paganism halfway by adapting itself to popular usages and ideas and by adopting important parts of the pagan literature. The whole educational system especially, even in Christian times, was in a very remarkable manner based almost entirely on the methods and material inherited from paganism. Next to the influences of Rome and of Christianity, that of the East was of importance in developing the Byzantine civilization, and in The Orient.lending Byzantine literature its distinctive character. Much that was oriental in the Eastern empire dates back to ancient times, notably to the period of Alexander the Great and his successors. Since the Greeks had at that period Hellenized the East to the widest extent, and had already founded everywhere flourishing cities, they themselves fell under the manifold influences of the soil they occupied. In Egypt, Palestine and Syria, in Asia Minor as far inland as Mesopotamia, Greek and oriental characteristics were often blended. In respect of the wealth and the long duration of its Greek intellectual life, Egypt stands supreme. It covers a period of nearly a thousand years from the foundation of Alexandria down to the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs (a.d. 643). The real significance of Egyptian Hellenism during this long period can be properly estimated only if a practical attempt be made to eliminate from the history of Greek literature and science in pagan and in Christian times all that owed its origin to the land of the Nile. The soil of Egypt proved itself especially productive of Greek literature under the Cross (Origen, Athanasius, Arius, Synesius), in the same way as the soil of North Africa was productive of Latin literature (Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, Augustine). Monastic life, which is one of the chief characteristic elements of Christian-Byzantine civilization, had its birth in Egypt.

Syria and Palestine came under the influence of Greek civilization at a later date than Egypt. In these, Greek literature and culture attained their highest development between the 3rd and the 8th centuries of the Christian era. Antioch rose to great influence, owing at first to its pagan school of rhetoric and later to its Christian school of exegesis. Gaza was renowned for its school of rhetoric; Berytus for its academy of law. It is no mere accident that sacred poetry, aesthetically the most valuable class of Byzantine literature, was born in Syria and Palestine.

In Asia Minor, the cities of Tarsus, Caesarea, Nicaea, Smyrna, Ephesus, Nicopolis, &c., were all influential centres of Greek culture and literature. For instance, the three great fathers of Cappadocia, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus all belonged to Asia Minor.

If all the greater Greek authors of the first eight centuries of the Christian era, i.e. the period of the complete development of Byzantine culture, be classified according to the countries of their birth, the significant fact becomes evident that nine-tenths come from the African and Asiatic districts, which were for the most part opened up only after Alexander the Great, and only one-tenth from European Greece. In other words, the old original European Greece was, under the emperors, completely outstripped in intellectual productive force by the newly founded African and Asiatic Greece. This huge tide of conquest which surged from Greece over African and Syrian territories occupied largely by foreign races and ancient civilizations, could not fail to be fraught with serious consequences for the Greeks themselves. The experience of the 518Romans in their conquest of Greece (Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit) repeated itself in the conquest of the East by Greece, though to a minor extent and in a different way. The whole literature of Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor cannot, despite its international and cosmopolitan character, disavow the influence of the Oriental soil on which it was nourished. Yet the growth of too strong a local colouring in its literature was repressed, partly by the checks imposed by ancient Greek tradition, partly by the spirit of Christianity which reconciled all national distinctions. Even more clearly and unmistakably is Oriental influence shown in the province of Byzantine art, as Joseph Strzygowski has conclusively proved.

The greater portion of Greek literature from the close of ancient times down to the threshold of modern history was written in a language identical in its principal features with the common literary language, the so-called Language.Koine, which had its origin in the Alexandrian age. This is the literary form of Greek as a universal language, though a form that scintillates with many facets, from an almost Attic diction down to one that approaches the language of everyday life such as we have, for instance, in the New Testament. From what has been already said, it follows that this stable literary language cannot always have remained a language of ordinary life. For, like every living tongue, the vernacular Greek continually changed in pronunciation and form, as well as in vocabulary and grammar, and thus the living language surely and gradually separated itself from the rigid written language. This gulf was, moreover, considerably widened owing to the fact that there took place in the written language a retrograde movement, the so-called “Atticism.” Introduced by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in the 1st century before Christ, this linguistic-literary fashion attained its greatest height in the 2nd century a.d., but still continued to flourish in succeeding centuries, and, indirectly, throughout the whole Byzantine period. It is true that it often seemed as though the living language would be gradually introduced into literature; for several writers, such as the chronicler Malalas in the 6th century, Leontius of Neapolis (the author of Lives of Saints) in the 7th century, the chronicler Theophanes at the beginning of the 9th century, and the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century, made in their writings numerous concessions to the living language. This progressive tendency might well have led, in the 11th and 12th centuries, to the founding in the Greek vernacular of a new literary language similar to the promising national languages and literature which, at that period, in the Romance countries, developed out of the despised popular idiom. In the case of the Byzantines, unfortunately, such a radical change never took place. All attempts in the direction of a popular reform of the literary language, which were occasionally made in the period from the 6th to the 10th centuries, were in turn extinguished by the resuscitation of classical studies, a movement which, begun in the 9th century by Photius and continued in the 11th by Psellus, attained its full development under the Comneni and the Palaeologi. This classical renaissance turned back the literary language into the old ossified forms, as had previously happened in the case of the Atticism of the early centuries of the empire. In the West, humanism (so closely connected with the Byzantine renaissance under the Comneni and the Palaeologi) also artificially reintroduced the “Ciceronian” Latin, but was unable seriously to endanger the development of the national languages, which had already attained to full vitality. In Byzantium, the humanistic movement came prematurely, and crushed the new language before it had fairly established itself. Thus the language of the Byzantine writers of the 11th-15th centuries is almost Old Greek in colour; artificially learnt by grammar, lexicon and assiduous reading, it followed Attic models more and more slavishly; to such an extent that, in determining the date of works, the paradoxical principle holds good that the more ancient the language, the more recent the author.

Owing to this artificial return to ancient Greek, the contrast that had long existed with the vernacular was now for the first time fully revealed. The gulf between the two forms of language could no longer be bridged; and this fact found its expression in literature also. While the vulgarizing authors of the 6th-10th centuries, like the Latin-writing Franks (such as Gregory of Tours), still attempted a compromise between the language of the schools and that of conversation, we meet after the 12th century with authors who freely and naturally employed the vernacular in their literary works. They accordingly form the Greek counterpart of the oldest writers in Italian, French and other Romance languages. That they could not succeed like their Roman colleagues, and always remained the pariahs of Greek literature, is due to the all-powerful philological-antiquarian tendency which existed under the Comneni and the Palaeologi. Yet once more did the vernacular attempt to assert its literary rights, i.e. in Crete and some other islands in the 16th and 17th centuries. But this attempt also was foiled by the classical reaction of the 19th century. Hence it comes about that Greek literature even in the 20th century employs grammatical forms which were obsolete long before the 10th century. Thus the Greeks, as regards their literary language, came into a cul de sac similar to that in which certain rigidly conservative Oriental nations find themselves, e.g. the Arabs and Chinese, who, not possessing a literary language suited to modern requirements, have to content themselves with the dead Old-Arabic or the ossified Mandarin language. The divorce of the written and spoken languages is the most prominent and also the most fatal heritage that the modern Greeks have received from their Byzantine forefathers.

The whole Byzantine intellectual life, like that of the Western medieval period, is dominated by theological interests. Theology accordingly, in literature too, occupies the chief place, in regard to both quantity and quality. Next to it General character of Byzantine literature.comes the writing of history, which the Byzantines cultivated with great conscientiousness until after the fall of the empire. All other kinds of prose writing, e.g. in geography, philosophy, rhetoric and the technical sciences, were comparatively neglected, and such works are of value for the most part only in so far as they preserve and interpret old material. In poetry, again, theology takes the lead. The poetry of the Church produced works of high aesthetic merit and enduring value. In secular poetry, the writing of epigrams especially was cultivated with assiduity and often with ability. In popular literature poetry predominates, and many productions worthy of notice, new both in matter and in form, are here met with.

The great classical period of Greek theological literature is that of the 4th century. Various factors contributed to this result—some of them positive, particularly the establishment of Christianity as the official religion Theology.and the protection accorded to it by the state, others negative, i.e. the heretical movements, especially Arianism, which at this period arose in the east of the empire and threatened the unity of the doctrine and organization of the church. It was chiefly against these that the subtle Athanasius of Alexandria directed his attacks. The learned Eusebius founded a new department of literature, church history. In Egypt, Antonius (St Anthony) founded the Greek monastic system; Synesius of Cyrene, like his greater contemporary Augustine in the West, represents both in his life and in his writings the difficult transition from Plato to Christ. At the centre, in the forefront of the great intellectual movement of this century, stand the three great Cappadocians, Basil the Great, the subtle dogmatist, his brother Gregory of Nyssa, the philosophically trained defender of the Christian faith, and Gregory of Nazianzus, the distinguished orator and poet. Closely allied to them was St Chrysostom, the courageous champion of ecclesiastical liberty and of moral purity. To modern readers the greater part of this literature appears strange and foreign; but, in order to be appreciated rightly, it must be regarded as the outcome of the period in which it was produced, a period stirred to its depths by religious emotions. For the times in which they lived and for their readers, the Greek fathers reached the highest attainable; though, of course, they produced nothing of such general human 519interest, nothing so deep and true, as the Confessions of St Augustine, with which the poetical autobiography of Gregory of Nazianzus cannot for a moment be compared.

The glorious bloom of the 4th century was followed by a perceptible decay in theological intellectual activity. Independent production was in succeeding centuries almost solely prompted by divergent dogmatical views and heresies, for the refutation of which orthodox authors were impelled to take up the pen. In the 5th and 6th centuries a more copious literature was called into existence by the Monophysites, who maintained that there was but one nature in Christ; in the 7th century by the Monothelites, who acknowledged but one will in Christ; in the 8th century by the Iconoclasts and by the new teaching of Mahomet. One very eminent theologian, whose importance it has been reserved for modern times to estimate aright—Leontius of Byzantium (6th century)—was the first to introduce Aristotelian definitions into theology, and may thus be called the first scholastic. In his works he attacked the heretics of his age, particularly the Monophysites, who were also assailed by his contemporary Anastasius of Antioch. The chief adversaries of the Monothelites were Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem (whose main importance, however, is due to his work in other fields, in hagiography and homiletics), Maximus the Confessor, and Anastasius Sina?tes, who also composed an interpretation of the Hexa?meron in twelve books. Among writers in the departments of critical interpretation and asceticism in this period must be enumerated Procopius of Gaza, who devoted himself principally to the exegesis of the Old Testament; Johannes Climax (6th century), named after his much-read ascetic work Klimax (Jacob’s ladder); and Johannes Moschus (d. 619), whose chief work Leimon (“spiritual pasture”) describes monastic life in the form of statements and narratives of their experiences by monks themselves. The last great heresy, which shook the Greek Church to its very foundations, the Iconoclast movement, summoned to the fray the last great Greek theologian, John of Damascus (Johannes Damascenus). Yet his chief merit lies not so much in his polemical speeches against the Iconoclasts, and in his much admired but over-refined poetry, as in his great dogmatic work, The Fountain of Knowledge, which contains the first comprehensive exposition of Christian dogma. It has remained the standard work on Greek theology down to the present day. Just as the internal development of the Greek Church in all essentials reached its limit with the Iconoclasts, so also its productive intellectual activity ceased with John of Damascus. Such theological works as were subsequently produced, consisted mostly in the interpretation and revision of old materials. An extremely copious, but unfruitful, literature was produced by the disputes about the reunion of the Greek and Roman Churches. Of a more independent character is the literature which in the 14th century centred round the dissensions of the Hesychasts.

Among theologians after John of Damascus must be mentioned: the emperor Leo VI., the Wise (886-911), who wrote numerous homilies and church hymns, and Theodorus of Studium (759-826), who in his numerous writings affords us instructive glimpses of monastic life. Pre-eminent stands the figure of the patriarch Photius. Yet his importance consists less in his writings, which often, to a remarkable extent, lack independence of thought and judgment, than in his activity as a prince of the church. For he it was who carried the differences which had already repeatedly arisen between Rome and Constantinople to a point at which reconciliation was impossible, and was mainly instrumental in preparing the way for the separation of the Greek and Latin Churches accomplished in 1054 under the patriarch Michael Cerularius. In the 11th century the polyhistor Michael Psellus also wrote polemics against the Euchites, among whom the Syrian Gnosis was reviving. All literature, including theology, experienced a considerable revival under the Comneni. In the reign of Alexius I. Comnenus (1081-1118), Euthymius Zigabenus wrote his great dogmatic work, theDogmatic Panoply, which, like The Fountain of Knowledge of John of Damascus in earlier times, was partly positive, furnishing an armoury of theology, partly negative and directed against the sects. In addition to attacking the dead and buried doctrines of the Monothelites, Iconoclasts, &c., to fight which was at this time a mere tilting at windmills, Zigabenus also carried on a polemic against the heretics of his own day, the Armenians, Bogomils and Saracens. Zigabenus’s Panoply was continued and enlarged a century later by the historian Nicetas Acominatus, who published it under the title Treasure of Orthodoxy. To the writings against ancient heresies were next added a flood of tracts, of all shapes and sizes, “against the Latins,” i.e. against the Roman Church, and among their authors must also be enumerated an emperor, the gifted Theodore II. Lascaris (1254-1258). The chief champion of the union with the Roman Church was the learned Johannes Beccus (patriarch of Constantinople 1275-1282). Of his opponents by far the most eminent was Gregory of Cyprus, who succeeded him on the patriarchal throne. The fluctuations in the fortunes of the two ecclesiastical parties are reflected in the occupation of the patriarchal throne. The battles round the question of the union, which were waged with southern passion, were for a while checked by the dissensions aroused by the mystic tendency of the Hesychasts. The impetus to this great literary movement was given by the monk Barlaam, a native of Calabria, who came forward in Constantinople as an opponent of the Latins and was in 1339 entrusted by Andronicus III. with a mission to Pope Benedict XII. at Avignon. He condemned the doctrine of the Hesychasts, and attacked them both orally and in writing. Among those who shared his views are conspicuous the historian Nicephorus Gregoras and Gregorius Acindynus, the latter of whom closely followed Thomas Aquinas in his writings. In fact the struggle against the Hesychasts was essentially a struggle between sober western scholasticism and dreamy Graeco-Oriental mysticism. On the side of the Hesychasts fought Gregorius Palamas, who tried to give a dogmatic foundation to the mysticism of the Hesychasts, Cabasilas, and the emperor John VI. Cantacuzenus who, after his deposition, sought, in the peaceful retreat of a monastery, consolation in theological studies, and in his literary works refuted the Jews and the Mahommedans. For the greatest Byzantine “apologia” against Islamism we are indebted to an emperor, Manuel II. Palaeologus (1391-1425), who by learned discussions tried to make up for the deficiency in martial prowess shown by the Byzantines in their struggle with the Turks. On the whole, theological literature was in the last century of the empire almost completely occupied with the struggles for and against the union with Rome. The reason lay in the political conditions. The emperors saw more and more clearly that without the aid of the West they would no longer be able to stand their ground against the Turks, the vanguard of the armies of the Crescent; while the majority of Byzantine theologians feared that the assistance of the West would force the Greeks to unite with Rome, and thereby to forfeit their ecclesiastical independence. Considering the supremacy of the theological party in Byzantium, it was but natural that religious considerations should gain the day over political; and this was the view almost universally held by the Byzantines in the later centuries of the empire; in the words of the chronicler Ducas: “it is better to fall into the hands of the Turks than into those of the Franks.” The chief opponent of the union was Marcus Eugenicus, metropolitan of Ephesus, who, at the Council of Florence in 1439, denounced the union with Rome accomplished by John VIII. Palaeologus. Conspicuous there among the partisans of the union, by reason of his erudition and general literary merit, was Bessarion, afterwards cardinal, whose chief activity already falls under the head of Graeco-Italian humanism.

Hagiography, i.e. the literature of the acts of the martyrs and the lives of the saints, forms an independent group and one comparatively unaffected by dogmatic struggles. The main interest centres here round the objects Hagiography.described, the personalities of the martyrs and saints themselves. The authors, on the other hand—the Acts of the Martyrs are mostly anonymous—keep more in the background than in other branches of literature. The man whose name is 520mainly identified with Greek hagiography, Symeon Metaphrastes, is important not as an original author, but only as an editor. Symeon revised in the 10th century, according to the rhetorical and linguistic principles of his day, numerous old Acts of the Martyrs, and incorporated them in a collection consisting of several volumes, which was circulated in innumerable copies, and thus to a great extent superseded the older original texts. These Acts of the Martyrs, in point of time, are anterior to our period; but of theLives of Saints the greater portion belong to Byzantine literature. They began with biographies of monks distinguished for their saintly living, such as were used by Palladius about 420 in his Historia Lausiaca. The most famous work of this description is that by Athanasius of Alexandria, viz. the biography of St Anthony, the founder of monachism. In the 6th century Cyril of Scythopolis wrote several lives of saints, distinguished by a simple and straightforward style. More expert than any one else in reproducing the na?ve popular style was Leontius of Neapolis in Cyprus who, in the 7th century, wrote, among other works, a life of St John the Merciful, archbishop of Alexandria, which is very remarkable as illustrating the social and intellectual conditions of the time. From the popular Lives of Saints, which for the reading public of the middle ages formed the chief substitute for modern “belles lettres,” it is easy to trace the transition to the religious novel. The most famous work of this class is the history of Barlaam and Josaphat (q.v.).

The religious poetry of the Greeks primarily suffered from the influence of the ancient Greek form, which was fatal to original development. The oldest work of this class is the hymn, composed in anapaestic monometers and Religious poetry.dimeters, which was handed down in the manuscripts with the Paedagogus of Clement of Alexandria (d. about 215), but was probably not his work. The next piece of this class is the famous “Maidens’ Song” in the Banquet of St Methodius (d. about 311), in which many striking violations of the old rules of quantity are already apparent. More faithful to the tradition of the schools was Gregory of Nazianzus. But, owing to the fact that he generally employed antiquated versification and very erudite language, his poems failed to reach the people or to find a place in the services of the church. Just as little could the artificial paraphrase of the Psalms composed by the younger Apollinaris, or the subtle poems of Synesius, become popular. It became more and more patent that, with the archaic metre which was out of keeping with the character of the living language, no genuine poetry suited to the age could possibly be produced. Fortunately, an entirely new form of poetical art was discovered, which conferred upon the Greek people the blessings of an intelligible religious poetry—the rhythmic poem. This no longer depended on difference of quantity in the syllables, which had disappeared from the living language, but on the accent. Yet the transition was not effected by the substitution of accent for the old long syllables; the ancient verse form was entirely abandoned, and in its stead new and variously constructed lines and strophes were formed. In the history of the rhythmic sacred poetry three periods are clearly marked—the preparatory period; that of the hymns; and that of the Canones. About the first period we know, unfortunately, comparatively little. It appears that in it church music was in the main confined to the insertion of short songs between the Psalms or other portions of Holy Writ and the acclamations of the congregation. The oldest rhythmic songs date from Gregory of Nazianzus—his “Maidens’ Song” and his “Evening Hymn.” Church poetry reached its highest expression in the second period, in the grand development of the hymns, i.e. lengthy songs comprising from twenty to thirty similarly constructed strophes, each connected with the next in acrostic fashion. Hymnology, again, attained its highest perfection in the first half of the 6th century with Romanos, who in the great number and excellence of his hymns dominated this species of poetry, as Homer did the Greek epic. From this period dates, moreover, the most famous song of the Greek Church, the so-called Acathistus, an anonymous hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary, which has sometimes, but erroneously, been attributed to the patriarch Sergius.

Church poetry entered upon a new stage, characterized by an increase in artistic finish and a falling off in poetical vigour, with the composition of the Canones, songs artfully built up out of eight or nine lyrics, all differently Canones.constructed. Andreas, archbishop of Crete (c. 650-720), is regarded as the inventor of this new class of song. His chief work, “the great Canon,” comprises no less than 250 strophes. The most celebrated writers of Canones are John of Damascus and Cosmas of Jerusalem, both of whom flourished in the first half of the 8th century. The “vulgar” simplicity of Romanos was regarded by them as an obsolete method; they again resorted to the classical style of Gregory of Nazianzus, and John of Damascus even took a special delight in the most elaborate tricks of expression. In spite of this, or perhaps on that very account, both he and Cosmas were much admired in later times, were much read, and—as was very necessary—much commentated. Later, sacred poetry was more particularly cultivated in the monastery of the Studium at Constantinople by the abbot Theodorus and others. Again, in the 9th century, Joseph, “the hymn-writer,” excelled as a writer of songs, and, finally, John Mauropus (11th century), bishop of Euchaita, John Zonaras (12th century), and Nicephorus Blemmydes (13th century), were also distinguished as authors of sacred poems, i.e. Canones. The Basilian Abbey of Grotta Ferrata near Rome, founded in 1004, and still existing, was also a nursery of religious poetry. As regards the rhythmic church poetry, it may now be regarded as certain that its origin was in the East. Old Hebrew and Syrian models mainly stimulated it, and Romanos (q.v.) was especially influenced by the metrical homilies of the great Syrian father Ephraem (d. about 373).

In profane literature the writing of history takes the first place, as regards both form and substance. The Greeks have always been deeply interested in history, and they have never omitted, amid all the vicissitudes of their Profane literature; historical accounts.existence, to hand down a record to posterity. Thus, they have produced a literature extending from the Ionian logographers and Herodotus down to the times of Sultan Mahommed II. In the Byzantine period all historical accounts fall under one of two groups, entirely different, both in form and in matter, (1) historical works, the authors of which described, as did most historians of ancient times, a period of history in which they themselves had lived and moved, or one which only immediately preceded their own times; and (2) chronicles, shortly recapitulating the history of the world. This latter class has no exact counterpart in ancient literature. The most clearly marked stage in the development of a Christian-Byzantine universal history was the chronicle (unfortunately lost) written by the Hellenized Jew, Justus of Tiberias, at the beginning of the 2nd century of the Christian era; this work began with the story of Moses.

Byzantine histories of contemporary events do not differ substantially from ancient historical works, except in their Christian colouring. Yet even this is often very faint and blurred owing to close adherence to ancient methods. Apart from this, neither a new style nor a new critical method nor any radically new views appreciably altered the main character of Byzantine historiography. In their style most Byzantine compilers of contemporary history followed the beaten track of older historians, e.g. Herodotus, Thucydides, and, in some details, also Polybius. But, in spite of their often excessive tendency to imitation, they displayed considerable power in the delineation of character and were not wanting in independent judgment. As regards the selection of their matter, they adhered to the old custom of beginning their narrative where their predecessors left off.

The outstripping of the Latin West by the Greek East, which after the close of the 4th century was a self-evident fact, is reflected in historiography also. After Constantine the Great, the history of the empire, although its Latin character was maintained until the 6th century, was mostly written by Greeks; 521e.g. Eunapius (c. 400), Olympiodorus (c. 450), Priscus (c. 450), Malchus (c. 490), and Zosimus, the last pagan historian (c. 500), all of whom, with the exception of Zosimus, are unfortunately preserved to us only in fragments. Historiography received a great impulse in the 6th century. The powerful Procopius and Agathias (q.v.), tinged with poetical rhetoric, described the stirring and eventful times of Justinian, while Theophanes of Byzantium, Menander Protector, Johannes of Epiphaneia and Theophylactus of Simocatta described the second half of the 6th century. Towards the close of the 6th century also flourished the last independent ecclesiastical historian, Evagrius, who wrote the history of the church from 431 to 593. There now followed, however, a lamentable falling off in production. From the 7th to the 10th century the historical side is represented by a few chronicles, and it was not until the 10th century that, owing to the revival of ancient classical studies, the art of writing history showed some signs of life. Several historical works are associated with the name of the emperor Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus. To his learned circle belonged also Joseph Genesius, who at the emperor’s instance compiled the history of the period from 813 to 886. A little work, interesting from the point of view of historical and ethnographical science, is the account of the taking of Thessalonica by the Cretan Corsairs (a.d. 904), which a priest, Johannes Cameniata, an eyewitness of the event, has bequeathed to posterity. There is also contained in the excellent work of Leo Diaconus (on the period from 959 to 975) a graphic account of the bloody wars of the Byzantines with the Arabs in Crete and with the Bulgarians. A continuation was undertaken by the philosopher Michael Psellus in a work covering the period from 976 to 1077. A valuable supplement to the latter (describing the period from 1034 to 1079) was supplied by the jurist Michael Attaliata. The history of the Eastern empire during the Crusades was written in four considerable works, by Nicephorus Bryennius, his learned consort Anna Comnena, the “honest Aetolian,” Johannes Cinnamus, and finally by Nicetas Acominatus in an exhaustive work which is authoritative for the history of the 4th Crusade. The melancholy conditions and the ever increasing decay of the empire under the Palaeologi (13th-15th centuries) are described in the same lofty style, though with a still closer following of classical models. The events which took place between the taking of Constantinople by the Latins and the restoration of Byzantine rule (1203-1261) are recounted by Georgius Acropolita, who emphasizes his own share in them. The succeeding period was written by the versatile Georgius Pachymeres, the erudite and high-principled Nicephorus Gregoras, and the emperor John VI. Cantacuzenus. Lastly, the death-struggle between the East Roman empire and the mighty rising power of the Ottomans was narrated by three historians, all differing in culture and in style, Laonicus Chalcocondyles, Ducas and Georgius Phrantzes. With them may be classed a fourth (though he lived outside the Byzantine period), Critobulus, a high-born Greek of Imbros, who wrote, in the style of the age of Pericles, the history of the times of the sultan Mahommed II. (down to 1467).

The essential importance of the Byzantine chronicles (mostly chronicles of the history of the world from the Creation) consists in the fact that they in part replace older lost works, and thus fill up many gaps in our historical survey Chronicles.(e.g. for the period from about 600 to 800 of which very few records remain). They lay no claim to literary merit, but are often serviceable for the history of language. Many such chronicles were furnished with illustrations. The remains of one such illustrated chronicle on papyrus, dating from the beginning of the 5th century, has been preserved for us by the soil of Egypt.7 The authors of the chronicles were mostly monks, who wished to compile handbooks of universal history for their brethren and for pious laymen; and this explains the strong clerical and popular tendency of these works. And it is due to these two qualities that the chronicles obtained a circulation abroad, both in the West and also among the peoples Christianized from Byzantium, e.g. the Slavs, and in all of them sowed the seeds of an indigenous historical literature. Thus the chronicles, despite the jejuneness of their style and their uncritical treatment of material were for the general culture of the middle ages of far greater importance than the erudite contemporary histories designed only for the highly educated circles in Byzantium. The oldest Byzantine chronicle of universal history preserved to us is that of Malalas (6th century), which is also the purest type of this class of literature. In the 7th century was completed the famousEaster or Paschal Chronicle (Chronicon Paschale). About the end of the 8th or the beginning of the 9th century Georgius Syncellus compiled a concise chronicle, which began with the Creation and was continued down to the year 284. At the request of the author, when on his death-bed, the continuation of this work was undertaken by Theophanes Confessor, who brought down the account from a.d. 284 to his own times (a.d. 813). This exceedingly valuable work of Theophanes was again continued (from 813-961) by several anonymous chroniclers. A contemporary of Theophanes, the patriarch Nicephorus, wrote, in addition to a Short History of the period from 602 to 769, a chronological sketch from Adam down to the year of his own death in 829. Of great influence on the age that followed was Georgius Monachus, only second in importance as chronicler of the early Byzantine period, who compiled a chronicle of the world’s history (from Adam until the year 843, the end of the Iconoclast movement), far more theological and monkish in character than the work of Theophanes. Among later chroniclers Johannes Scylitza stands out conspicuously. His work (covering the period from 811 to 1057), as regards the range of its subject-matter, is something between a universal and a contemporary history. Georgius Cedrenus (c. 1100) embodied the whole of Scylitza’s work, almost unaltered, in his Universal Chronicle. In the 12th century the general increase in literary production was evident also in the department of chronicles of the world. From this period dates, for instance, the most distinguished and learned work of this class, the great universal chronicle of John Zonaras. In the same century Michael Glycas compiled his chronicle of the world’s history, a work written in the old popular style and designed for the widest circles of readers. Lastly, in the 12th century, Constantine Manasses wrote a universal chronicle in the so-called “political” verse. With this verse-chronicle must be classed the imperial chronicle of Ephraem, written in Byzantine trimeters at the beginning of the 14th century.

Geography and topography, subjects so closely connected with history, were as much neglected by the Byzantines as by their political forerunners, the Romans. Of purely practical importance are a few handbooks of navigation, Geography.itineraries, guides for pilgrims, and catalogues of provinces and cities, metropolitan sees and bishoprics. The geographical work of Stephanus of Byzantium, which dates from Justinian’s time, has been lost. To the same period belongs the only large geographical work which has been preserved to us, theChristian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes. For the topography of Constantinople a work entitled Ancient History (Patriaof Constantinople, which may be compared to the medieval Mirabilia urbis Romae, and in late manuscripts has been wrongly attributed to a certain Codinus, is of great importance.

Ancient Greek philosophy under the empire sent forth two new shoots—Neopythagoreanism and Neoplatonism. It was the latter with which moribund paganism essayed to stem the advancing tide of Christianity. The last great Philosophy.exponent of this philosophy was Proclus in Athens (d. 485). The dissolution, by order of Justinian, of the school of philosophy at Athens in 529 was a fatal blow to this nebulous system, which had long since outlived the conditions that made it a living force. In the succeeding period philosophical activity was of two main kinds; on the one hand, the old philosophy, e.g. that of Aristotle, was employed to systematize Christian 522doctrine, while, on the other, the old works were furnished with copious commentaries and paraphrases. Leontius of Byzantium had already introduced Aristotelian definitions into Christology; but the real founder of medieval ecclesiastical philosophy was John of Damascus. Owing, however, to his having early attained to canonical authority, the independent progress of ecclesiastical philosophy was arrested; and to this it is due that in this respect the later Byzantine period is far poorer than is the West. Byzantium cannot boast a scholastic like Thomas Aquinas. In the 11th century philosophical studies experienced a satisfactory revival, mainly owing to Michael Psellus, who brought Plato as well as Aristotle again into fashion.

Ancient rhetoric was cultivated in the Byzantine period with greater ardour than scientific philosophy, being regarded as an indispensable aid to instruction. It would be difficult to imagine anything more tedious than the numerous Rhetoric.theoretical writings on the subject and the examples of their practical application: mechanical school essays, which here count as “literature,” and innumerable letters, the contents of which are wholly insignificant. The evil effects of this were felt beyond the proper sphere of rhetoric. The anxious attention paid to the laws of rhetoric and the unrestricted use of its withered flowers were detrimental to a great part of the rest of Byzantine literature, and greatly hampered the development of any individuality and simplicity of style. None the less, among the rhetorical productions of the time are to be found a few interesting pieces, such as the Philopatris, in the style of Lucian, which gives us a remarkable picture of the times of Nicephorus Phocas (10th century). In two other smaller works a journey to the dwellings of the dead is described, after the pattern of Lucian’s Nekyomanteia, viz. in Timarion (12th century) and in Mazaris’ Journey to the Underworld (c. 1414). A very charming representative of Byzantine rhetoric is Michael Acominatus, who, in addition to theological works, wrote numerous occasional speeches, letters and poems.

In the field of scientific production, which can be accounted literature in the modern acceptation of the term only in a limited sense, Byzantium was dominated to an extravagant and even grotesque extent by the rules of what in The sciences.modern times is termed “classical scholarship.” The numerous works which belong to this category, such as grammars, dictionaries, commentaries on ancient authors, extracts from ancient literature, and metrical and musical treatises, are of little general interest, although of great value for special branches of philological study, e.g. for tracing the influences through which the ancient works handed down to us have passed, as well as for their interpretation and emendation; for information about ancient authors now lost; for the history of education; and for the underlying principles of intellectual life in Byzantium. The most important monument of Byzantine philology is, perhaps, the Library of the patriarch Photius. The period from about 650 to 850 is marked by a general decay of culture. Photius, who in the year 850 was about thirty years of age, now set himself with admirable energy to the task of making ancient literature, now for the most part dead and forgotten, known once more to his contemporaries, thus contributing to its preservation. He gave an account of all that he read, and in this way composed 280 essays, which were collected in what is commonly known as the Library or Myriobiblon. The character of the individual sketches is somewhat mechanical and formal; a more or less complete account of the contents is followed by critical discussion, which is nearly always confined to the linguistic form. With this work may be compared in importance the great Lexikon of Suidas, which appeared about a century later, a sort of encyclopaedia, of which the main feature was its articles on the history of literature. A truly sympathetic figure is Eustathius, the famous archbishop of Thessalonica (12th century). His voluminous commentaries on Homer, however, rivet the attention less than his enthusiastic devotion to science, his energetic action on behalf of the preservation of the literary works of antiquity, and last, not least, his frank and heroic character, which had nothing in it of the Byzantine. If, on the other hand, acquaintance with a caricature of Byzantine philology be desired, it is afforded by Johannes Tzetzes, a contemporary of Eustathius, a Greek in neither name nor spirit, narrow-minded, angular, superficial, and withal immeasurably conceited and ridiculously coarse in his polemics. The transition to Western humanism was effected by the philologists of the period of the Palaeologi, such as Maximus Planudes, whose translations of numerous works renewed the long-broken ties between Byzantium and the West; Manuel Moschopulus, whose grammatical works and commentaries were, down to the 16th century, used as school text-books; Demetrius Triclinius, distinguished as a textual critic; the versatile Theodorus Metochites, and others.

Originally, as is well known, Latin was the exclusive language of Roman law. But with Justinian, who codified the laws in his Corpus juris, the Hellenizing of the legal language also began. The Institutes and the Digest were translated Jurisprudence.into Greek, and the Novels also were issued in a Greek form. Under the Macedonian dynasty there began, after a long stagnation, the resuscitation of the code of Justinian. The emperor Basilius I. (867-886) had extracts made from the existing law, and made preparations for the codifying of all laws. But the whole work was not completed till the time of Leo VI. the Wise (886-912), and Constantine VII. Porphyrogenitus (912-959), when it took the form of a grand compilation from the Digests, the Codex, and the Novels, and is commonly known as the Basilica (Τ? βασιλικ?). In the East it completely superseded the old Latin Corpus juris of Justinian. More that was new was produced, during the Byzantine period, in canon law than in secular legislation. The purely ecclesiastical rules of law, the Canones, were blended with those of civil law, and thus arose the so-calledNomocanon, the most important edition of which is that of Theodorus Bestes in 1090. The alphabetical handbook of canon law written by Matthaeus Blastares about the year 1335 also exercised a great influence.

In the province of mathematics and astronomy the remarkable fact must be recorded that the revival among the Greeks of these long-forgotten studies was primarily due to Perso-Arabian influence. The Great Syntaxis of Mathematics and astronomy.Ptolemy operated in the oriental guise of theAlmagest. The most important direct source of this intellectual loan was not Arabia, however, but Persia. Towards the close of the 13th century the Greeks became acquainted with Persian astronomy. At the beginning of the 14th century Georgius Chrysococca and Isaac Argyrus wrote astronomical treatises based on Persian works. Then the Byzantines themselves, notably Theodorus Metochites and Nicephorus Gregoras, at last had recourse to the original Greek sources.

The Byzantines did much independent work in the field of Military science.military science. The most valuable work of the period on this subject is one on tactics, which has come down to posterity associated with the name of Leo VI., the Wise.

Of profane poetry—in complete contrast to sacred poetry—the general characteristic was its close imitation of the antique in point of form. All works belonging to this category Profane poetry.reproduce the ancient style and are framed after ancient models. The metre is, for the most part, either the Byzantine regular twelve-syllable trimeter, or the “political” verse; more rarely the heroic and Anacreontic measures.

Epic popular poetry, in the ancient sense, begins only with the vernacular Greek literature (see below); but among the literary works of the period there are several which can be compared with the epics of the Alexandrine age. Epic.Nonnus (c. 400) wrote, while yet a pagan, a fantastic epic on the triumphal progress of the god Dionysus to India, and, as a Christian, a voluminous commentary on the gospel of St John. In the 7th century, Georgius Pisides sang in several lengthy iambic poems the martial deeds of the emperor Heraclius, while the deacon Theodosius (10th century) immortalized in extravagant language the victories of the brave Nicephorus Phocas.


From the 11th century onwards, religious, grammatical, astrological, medical, historical and allegorical poems, framed partly in duodecasyllables and partly in “political” Didactic poems.verse, made their appearance in large quantities. Didactic religious poems were composed, for example, by Philippus (? Μον?τροπος, Solitarius, c. 1100), grammatico-philological poems by Johannes Tzetzes, astrological by Johannes Camaterus (12th century), others on natural science by Manuel Philes (14th century) and a great moral, allegorical, didactic epic by Georgius Lapithes (14th century).

To these may be added some voluminous poems, which in style and matter must be regarded as imitations of the ancient Greek romances. They all date from the 12th century, a fact evidently connected with the general revival of Romances.culture which characterizes the period of the Comneni. Two of these romances are written in the duodecasyllable metre, viz. the story of Rodanthe and Dosicles by Theodorus Prodromus, and an imitation of this work, the story of Drusilla and Charicles by Nicetas Eugenianus; one in “political” verse, the love story of Aristander and Callithea by Constantine Manasses, which has only been preserved in fragments, and lastly one in prose, the story of Hysmine and Hysminias, by Eustathius (or Eumathius) Macrembolita, which is the most insipid of all.

The objective point of view which dominated the whole Byzantine period was fatal to the development of a profane lyrical poetry. At most a few poems by Johannes Lyrics.Geometres and Christophorus of Mytilene and others, in which personal experiences are recorded with some show of taste, may be placed in this category. The dominant form for all subjective poetry was the epigram, which was employed in all its variations from playful trifles to long elegiac and narrative poems. Georgius Pisides (7th century) treated the most diverse themes. In the 9th century Theodorus of Studium had lighted upon the happy idea of immortalizing The epigram.monastic life in a series of epigrams. The same century produced the only poetess of the Byzantine period, Casia, from whom we have several epigrammatic productions and church hymns, all characterized by originality. Epigrammatic poetry reached its highest development in the 10th and 11th centuries, in the productions of Johannes Geometres, Christophorus of Mytilene and John Mauropus. Less happy are Theodorus Prodromus (12th century) and Manuel Philes (14th century). From the beginning of the 10th century also dates the most valuable collection of ancient and of Byzantine epigrammatic poems, the Anthologia Palatina (see Anthology).

Dramatic poetry, in the strict sense of the term, was as completely lacking among the Byzantine Greeks as was the condition precedent to its existence, namely, public performance. Apart from some moralizing allegorical Drama.dialogues (by Theodorus Prodromus, Manuel Philes and others), we possess only a single work of the Byzantine period that, at least in external form, resembles a drama: theSufferings of Christ (Χριστ?ς Π?σχων). This work, written probably in the 12th century, or at all events not earlier, is a cento,i.e. is in great measure composed of verses culled from ancient writers, e.g. Aeschylus, Euripides and Lycophron; but it was certainly not written with a view to the dramatic production.

The vernacular literature stands alone, both in form and in contents. We have here remarkable originality of conception and probably also entirely new and genuinely medieval matter. While in the artificial literature prose is Vernacular Greek literature.pre-eminent, in the vernacular literature, poetry, both in quantity and quality, takes the first place, as was also the case among the Latin nations, where the vulgar tongue first invaded the field of poetry and only later that of prose. Though a few preliminary attempts were made (proverbs, acclamations addressed by the people to the emperor, &c.), the Greek vernacular was employed for larger works only from the 12th century onwards; at first in poems, of which the major portion were cast in “political” verse, but some in the trochaic eight-syllabled line. Towards the close of the 15th century rhyme came into use. The subjects treated in this vernacular poetry are exceedingly diverse. In the capital city a mixture of the learned and the popular language was first used in poems of admonition, praise and supplication. In this oldest class of “vulgar” works must be reckoned the Spaneas, an admonitory poem in imitation of the letter of Pseudo-Isocrates addressed to Demonicus; a supplicatory poem composed in prison by the chronicler Michael Glycas, and several begging poems of Theodorus Prodromus (Ptochoprodromos). In the succeeding period erotic poems are met with, such as the Rhodian love songs preserved in a MS. in the British Museum (ed. W. Wagner, Leipzig, 1879), fairy-tale like romances such as the Story of Ptocholeon, oracles, prayers, extracts from Holy Writ, lives of saints, &c. Great epic poems, in which antique subjects are treated, such as the legends of Troy and of Alexander, form a separate group. To these may be added romances in verse after the manner of the works written in the artificial classical language, e.g. Callimachus and Chrysorrho?Belthandrus and ChrysantzaLybistrus and Rhodamne, also romances in verse after the Western pattern, such as Phlorius and Platziaphlora (the old French story of Flore et Blanchefleur). Curious are also sundry legends connected with animals and plants, such as an adaptation of the famous medieval animal fables of the Physiologus, a history of quadrupeds, and a book of birds, both written with a satirical intention, and, lastly, a rendering of the story of Reynard the Fox. Of quite peculiar originality also are several legendary and historical poems, in which famous heroes and historical events are celebrated. There are, for instance, poems on the fall of Constantinople, the taking of Athens and Trebizond, the devastating campaign of Timur, the plague in Rhodes in 1498, &c. In respect of importance and antiquity the great heroic epic of Digenis Akritas stands pre-eminent.

Among prose works written in the vulgar tongue, or at least in a compromise with it, may be mentioned the Greek rendering of two works from an Indian source, the Book of the Seven Wise Masters (as Syntipas the Philosopher by “Vulgar” prose works.Michael Andreopulus), and the Hitopaderaor Mirror of Princes (through the Arabic Kalilah and Dimnah by Simeon Sethus as Στεφαν?της κα? ?κνηλ?της), a fish book, a fruit book (both skits on the Byzantine court and official circles). To these must be added the Greek laws of Jerusalem and of Cyprus of the 12th and 13th centuries, chronicles, &c. In spite of many individual successes, the literature written in the vulgar tongue succumbed, in the race for existence, to its elder sister, the literature written in classical and polished Greek. This was mainly due to the continuous employment of the ancient language in the state, the schools and the church.

The importance of Byzantine culture and literature in the history of the world is beyond dispute. The Christians of the East Roman empire guarded for more than a thousand years the intellectual heritage of antiquity against the General significance of Byzantine literature.violent onslaught of the barbarians. They also called into life a peculiar medieval culture and literature. They communicated the treasures of the old pagan as well as of their own Christian literature to neighbouring nations; first to the Syrians, then to the Copts, the Armenians, the Georgians; later, to the Arabians, the Bulgarians, the Serbs and the Russians. Through their teaching they created a new East European culture, embodied above all in the Russian empire, which, on its religious side, is included in the Orthodox Eastern Church, and from the point of view of nationality touches the two extremes of Greek and Slav. Finally the learned men of the dying Byzantine empire, fleeing from the barbarism of the Turks, transplanted the treasures of old Hellenic wisdom to the West, and thereby fertilized the Western peoples with rich germs of culture.

Bibliography.—1. General sources: K. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur (2nd ed., 1897), supplemented in Die byzantinische Zeitschrift (1892 seq.), and the Byzantinisches Archiv (1898 seq.), which is intended for the publication of more exhaustive matter. The Russian works in this department are comprised in the Vizantiisky Vremennik (1894 seq.).

2. Language: Grammar: A. N. Jannaris (Giannaris), An 524Historical Greek Grammar (1897); A. Dieterich, “Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der griechischen Sprache von der hellenistischen Zeit bis zum 10ten Jahrhundert,” in Byzant. Archiv, i. (1898). Glossary: Ducange, Glossarium ad scriptores mediae et infimae Graecitatis (1688), in which particular attention is paid to the “vulgar” language; E. A. Sophocles, Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (3rd ed., 1888).

3. Theology: Chief work, A. Ehrhard in Krumbacher’s Geschichte der byz. Lit. pp. 1-218. For the ancient period, cf. the works on Greek patrology (under article Fathers of the Church). Collective edition of the Fathers (down to the 15th century); Patrologia, series Graeca (ed. by Migne, 161 vols., 1857-1866). Church poetry: A collection of Greek Church hymns was published by W. Christ and M. Paranikas, entitledAnthologia Graeca carminum Christianorum (1871). Many unedited texts, particularly the songs of Romanos, were published by Cardinal J. B. Pitra, under the title Analecta sacra spicilegio Solesmensi parata (1876). A complete edition of the hymns is edited by K. Krumbacher.

4. Historical literature: A collective edition of the Byzantine historians and chroniclers was begun under Louis XIV., and continued later (1648-1819), called the Paris Corpus. This whole collection was on B. G. Niebuhr’s advice republished with some additions (Bonn, 1828-1878), under the title Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae. The most important authors have also appeared in the Bibliotheca Teubneriana. A few Byzantine and oriental historical works are also contained in the collection edited by J. B. Bury (1898 seq.).

5. Vernacular Greek literature: The most important collective editions are: W. Wagner, Medieval Greek Texts (1870), Carmina Graeca Medii Aevi(1874), Trois Po?mes grecs du moyen ?ge (1881); E. Legrand, Collection de monuments pour servir ? l’?tude de la langue n?o-hell?nique (in 26 parts, 1869-1875), Biblioth?que grecque vulgaire (in 8 vols., 1880-1896).