On November 20, the Classics Library honored UC Classics Professor Kathryn Gutzwiller on the occasion of her being awarded the title “John Miller Burnam Professor of Classics,” named for a Professor of Latin Palaeography at UC, 1900-1921, and whose personal library formed the basis for the classics library, which is also named after him.
The celebration in the Library’s main Reading Room began with a talk by Susan Prince, Associate Professor of Classics, who referenced some of Professor Gutzwiller’s many academic accomplishments, followed by a musical treat with Yo Shionoya on oboe and Janna Young on harp. Next, the event moved to the Blegen Library lobby for a champagne toast by Professor Jack Davis, followed by a reception with desserts from Happy Chick’s Bakery in Northside. The celebration also included a display of only a small selection of Professor Gutzwiller’s numerous publications, towered over by emperor Augustus wearing a laurel wreath, a symbol of triumph, along with a display of facsimiles and rare books of works by Hellenistic poets upon which Professor Gutzwiller has based much of her original and groundbreaking research.
The guest of honor, Kathryn Gutzwiller, John Miller Burnam Professor of Classics, with Classics faculty members Lauren Ginsberg, Jack Davis, Marion Kruse, Kathleen Lynch, Steven Ellis (in the back) as well as Classics graduate students, many of whom are students of Professor Gutzwiller.
Professor Jack Davis, Chair of the Classics Department, and Associate Professor Susan Prince who gave a toast and speech in honor of Professor Gutzwiller.
In the middle of the first row: Associate Professors of Classics, Daniel Markovich and Lauren Ginsberg; second row: Visiting Assistant Professor David Stifler and Assistant Professors Mirjam Kotwick, Calloway Scott, and Marion Kruse.
Susan Prince, Associate Professor of Classics, gave a laudatory speech honoring Professor Gutzwiller.
Janna Young on harp and Yo Shionoya on oboe, both graduate students at the UC College-Conservatory of Music, performed “Nightingale and Rose” by Saint-Saens and “Ombra Mai Fu” by Handel.
In addition to a card signed by all the classics faculty and staff, grad students, and Tytus fellows, the Library gave a notebook to Professor Gutzwiller with a motto that all agree perfectly fits her: “she believed she could [and] so she did.”
Professor Jack Davis gave a thoughtful yet good-humored champagne toast in honor of Professor Gutzwiller in the Blegen Library lobby.
Toastmaster Professor Davis had a captive audience. Jeffrey Kramer, the Archivist in the Classics Department, in the foreground.
All toasters were of age; graduate students Gabrielle Busnelli, Tiziano Boggio, Jakob Froelich, Luiza dos Santos Souza, Austin Hattori, Cecilia Cozzi, Simone Agrimonti, with faculty members Calloway Scott and Daniel Markovich.
The reception featured cakes from Happy Chick’s Bakery in Northside with the text “Dr. Kathryn Gutzwiller — John Miller Burnam — Professor of Classics — November 20 2019.” The flavors comprised chocolate orange, strawberry lemonade, vanilla rose, and ginger chai.
Displays of a selection of Professor Gutzwiller’s works, towered over by a bust of Roman emperor Augustus, and with a deer. Professor Gutzwiller and her husband Bob are great supporters of the deer in their neighborhood of Clifton. In the glass case are rare books and facsimiles of the works of Hellenistic poets, such as Menander and Callimachus, upon whose texts much of Professor Gutzwiller’s research is based. She has published several books on Hellenistic poetry: Studies in the Hellenistic Epyllion (1981), Theocritus’ Pastoral Analogies: The Formation of a Genre (1991), Poetic Garlands: Hellenistic Epigrams in Context (1998), and The Guide to Hellenistic Literature (2007). She edited a volume on a new collection of epigrams by Posidippus found on a papyrus, The New Posidippus: A Hellenistic Poetry Book (2005, rev. ed. 2008), and has written several peer reviewed journal articles, too many to list here.
CONGRATULATIONS KATHRYN GUTZWILLER,
JOHN MILLER BURNAM PROFESSOR OF CLASSICS!
Shannan Stewart will be joining the staff of the John Miller Burnam Classics Library as Library Specialist in Classics on November 4. Shannan holds a PhD in Classics from the University of Cincinnati. She received a BA in Classical and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Minnesota and an MA in Classics from the University of Wisconsin. She also studied at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and at the American Numismatic Society, and she taught various classical civilization courses at the University of Illinois for a number of years. However, since she felt that she belonged in Cincinnati, she now lives here, and in her own words, “for good.” Her professors in the Classics Department are thrilled, describing Shannan as an outstanding student; her dissertation defense was considered one of the best. Shannan is a classical archaeologist with much field experience, including working with the former chair of the UC Classics Department, Brian Rose, in Turkey and Albania and with the current chair, Jack Davis, in Greece. Her book on Hellenistic pottery from Gordion is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Please join us in welcoming Shannan to the Classics Library and to UC!
After weeks of excavating several layers of dust particles, mostly dog hairs, and what may be interpreted as children’s toys, textiles, and tools in his attic, our very own bibliographer/archaeologist/coin enthusiast/dog lover Mike Braunlin made what could only be described as the discovery of a lifetime, move over Griffin Warrior, namely the partial skeletal remains (a surprisingly small head and large hands) of one of the greatest of the ancient Romans, none other than the orator, lawyer, politician, Republican (not the Trump kind), good father, less great husband, Marcus Tullius Cicero. The identification is virtually certain since a paper fragment was attached with the text: “Caveat Rhetor: Cicero olim fui” in addition to a rostrum (the rostra of Rome?). AIA’s gold medal is a given for the explorer himself.
— Mike, please tell us; how did it feel when you made this remarkable discovery?
Mike: Well, Rebecka, words alone serve as an inadequate vessel to contain the depth of my emotions when I opened that box and saw “things…yes, wonderful things.” Let it only be noted that by the time I had descended my ladder, but before I was able with trembling fingers and benumbed legs to convey that precious cargo into my house, I used up my 2 remaining Depends, and Susan had to drive to Kroger’s to purchase another package for me. In short, it was a very moving experience.
— Would you say that this find equals Carter’s discovery of the tomb of King Tut and Schliemann’s discovery of Troy?
Mike: A modest man is a wise man. Let others judge.
— What’s next for the intrepid adventurer? Searching for Atlantis?
Mike: Besides my immediate concern of plotting the closest restrooms on my twice daily trek to and from the University Garage, I want to confirm once and for all my long held belief that the existence of the Byzantines proves that space aliens interbred with local populations in the eastern Mediterranean in late antiquity. While the coin portraiture of the 7th through 15th centuries should alone convince even the skeptic, as just a few of my numerous examples show in the photos below, I suppose the die-hard opponents of this truth will only bow before the Light of Science. As my many intimates know, I WAS abducted by space aliens one dark November evening while I was bicycling home from a Boy Scout meeting in 1966. Little did my tormentors know that they themselves would someday provide evidence of their existence. I managed to take a bite out of one of those space-oddities while they were attaching a brain waive monitor to my head. As we all know, alien flesh does not decompose (they are like plastic bottles that way), and I still have a chunk of that nastiness wedged between my teeth. We’ve just got to dig up some Byzantine bones and match their DNA with the stuff I’m currently trying to dislodge with my tongue. Then let my detractors laugh no more!
— There you have it. In spite of his exceptional discovery, Mike Braunlin remains modest and grounded in reality and is anxious to continue his search for the remains of dead people, whether of this or other worlds.
The skeletal remains of Cicero is temporarily (until October 31) on display on the mezzanine of the John Miller Burnam Classics Library. Entrance is free. Do not touch.
I recently (August 24-30) attended a conference in Athens, Greece, where I presented and led a discussion on a project launched by the Classics Library called the Greek Digital Journal Archive (GDJA). The goal is to create a consortium to offer fulltext and detailed descriptions (so called metadata) for Greek journals in the humanities and the social sciences, newspapers, and newsletters published 1811-1949 (current out-of-copyright date) in one searchable and open online repository.
The Athenian Acropolis
The famed UC archaeologist Carl W. Blegen was a great Philhellene. He owned a house in Athens, in the posh neighborhood of Kolonaki, also the home of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), but never in Cincinnati although he taught here part of the year. He along with benefactor and the then Chair of the Classics Department, William T. Semple (1921-1959), devoted much time, money, and effort to building the Greek collections, initially focusing on Ancient, but soon also on Byzantine and Modern Greece. Blegen would take frequent book purchasing trips to London, New York, Paris, and Istanbul in his pursuit to expand the Classics Library’s collections, especially of Greek materials. In 1953, under the leadership of Blegen, UC took on the responsibility for collecting scholarly Greek publications in all disciplines except for in agriculture, medicine, and law. This initiative formed part of the efforts of many academic research libraries in the U.S. during and after WWII to salvage and preserve library and archival materials in European libraries ravaged by war. This project was named the Farmington Plan after a town in Connecticut in which the first meeting was held. The idea was for U.S. libraries to take on the collecting of specific geographic areas, which were expanded to include the world since there were wars and disasters also in other parts of the world besides Europe. UC assumed responsibility for Greek publications, such as journals, hence UC’s distinguished collection of Modern Greek journals.
The journals in the Classics Library are in print. Some of them are in poor physical condition. The collection is frequently requested via Interlibrary Loan and OhioLINK. Unfortunately, the Library’s small staff cannot scan more than brief articles. Often an entire issue or even an entire run is requested. Digitizing this collection would not only preserve it, but also potentially make it available also to scholars outside of UC. The digital collections & repositories department in Langsam, however, cannot take this on because of limited resources and because there are many projects that perhaps are more urgent. Outsourcing the digitization would cost between $400,000 and $800,000, depending upon the level of OCR correction necessary. This too is not feasible. Also, even though our collection is very strong and quite unique, we do lack journal titles and issues within the journal runs we hold. I have, therefore, pursued the possibility of a consortium of multiple libraries taking on this project. This way, the financial burden could be shared and the journal and newspaper runs be more complete.
The Library of the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center
Many Greek historic journals have in fact already been digitized although one major obstacle users have is the disparate digitization efforts. The digitized journals are often difficult to locate and access in Greek libraries. There are a few in several libraries or academic departments, few coordinated efforts, but these are often hidden under multiple layers of discovery. In other cases, such as at the University of Cyprus, their digital journal collection is not easily accessible outside of the University of Cyprus community although scanned documents may be available upon request.
Syntagma Square and the Greek Parliament
To explore the possibility of and interest in forming such a consortium, the Classics Library organized a conference at UC in October of last year. Participants included the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection at California State University, Sacramento, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Harvard University, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Greece, the Gennadius Library, and King’s College London.
The Acropolis Museum
The participants at the recent conference in Athens also included representatives from the Greek Parliamentary Library, the Greek National Documentation Centre, the University of Patras, the University of Crete, the Center for Research Libraries, and the Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Conference goers enjoyed Greek foods, music, and dance at the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center.
The cooperating institutions in the project also include the Centre for Asia Minor Studies, Athens, Princeton University, and the University of Minnesota (the Immigration History Research Center Archives).
Syntagma Square at night
Cooperating institutions have so far contributed inventories to determine unique titles at each institution and also items shared by multiple libraries and archives. Four journal issues have been digitized by UC and a couple of titles at other institutions have been linked to as “proof of concept” in a Repository under development. There is also a Website in progress.
Present-day Greeks are proud of their ancient Greek heritage. Copies of the east pediment of the Parthenon can be seen in Athens’ subway.
The next meeting of the GDJA will take place at the Symposium of the Modern Greek Studies Association in Sacramento, California, on November 8 at 1:15 pm.
If you have questions about this project or would like to contribute financially or by volunteering, please contact me at (513) 556-1316, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati, John Miller Burnam Classics Library, Choir Psalter
Italy, s. XV (with s. XVIII additions)
As most of you know, the Classics Library has shifted a number of its collections this summer. One of those collections is the rare books and manuscripts that were moved from ARB to what used to be called the Pal cage on S4. Most of the palaeography collection in turn has moved to the Scriptorium by the main Reading Room on floor 4. One day in early spring, as I was reviewing the books in the Pal cage to prepare for the move, I came upon a large size book (16 x 22 inches), an original medieval choir book on parchment with a wooden cover adorned with metal bosses and metal studs at the edges. I could not find either a title page or a call no. In fact, the book had not been cataloged and neither the classics bibliographer of more than 40 years, Mike Braunlin, nor my predecessors, Jacqueline Riley and Jean Wellington, were aware of its existence. I set out to try to solve the mystery of its provenance and date, but also its acquisitions history. I could find no information in the minutes of the UC Trustees, or in any library history, so the acquisitions history may never become fully known. We included the manuscript in the Adopt-a-Book event in Langsam in March which generated interest and a generous donation.
Regarding the identification of the manuscript, however; after some initial research, I contacted specialists I knew, in particular, Carmela Vircillo Franklin, President of the Medieval Academy of America and Professor of Medieval Latin at Columbia, who in turn contacted someone I also knew and had worked with in the past. Consuelo Dutschke is the Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Collections at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. There are few more distinguished experts in the world. Dr. Dutschke identified our mystery manuscript as Italian, possibly northeastern, [from the Veneto area?], and originating in the 15th century. Below are her notes:
Choir Psalter for ferial use, with psalms, hymns and other texts (invitatories; antiphons; responsories; etc.).
Italy, s. XV with later (possibly s. XVIII) additions, including an alphabetical index to the psalms as the front pastedown (signed and dated 1728), as well as some replacement leaves (e.g., f. 68), and some added prayers (e.g., the Salve Regina at the end of the book).
One historiated initial remains: on a verso (folio not known), to open the service at compline, a 4-line initial C in white-patterned pink, set on a cusped gold ground, with blue and green acanthus leaves as terminals; the initial encloses the bust of a tonsured religious man wearing black robes (Benedictine?), holding a rosary in his right hand, and with a large wooden cross leaning against his left shoulder.
A verso //<Patri simulque filio tibique sancte> Spiritus sicut fuit sit iugiter seculum per omne Gloria. Amen. <added versicle and response; then:> Ad Magnificat antiphona, Suscepit deus Israel puerum suum sicut locutus est . . . , Ad complectorium antiphona, Miserere. Antiphona, Alleluia. In secula seculorum amen. Psalmus, Cum invocarem exaudivit me iustitie mee in tri<bulatione dilatasti michi> . . .
End of the hymn, Verbum supernum prodiens; antiphon for vespers; beginning of service for compline with Ps. 4. Note in the upper margin: Ad completorium. The bottom three lines of the leaf, but carefully maintaining the original historiated initial, are an 18th century replacement. The outlined style of the initial’s ground (very cusped) and the small flourished gold dot above the initial may point to northern (even northeastern?) Italy.
Bound in brown tooled leather over wooden boards, which are outlined in stamped metal; three bosses of an original six remain.
Added on the front pastedown, alphabetical list of the psalms with references to folio numbers in this volume; at the end of the list, a separate list of the psalms used in the Office of the Dead. The list is signed: “P. M. PR Fecit 1728”; the first “P” might stand for “Pater/Padre”; the “PR” might stand for “Presbyter” (?).
- 1 Invitatoria subscripta dicuntur singula singulis diebus dominicis a dominica prima post octavam epyphanie usque ad Septuagesimam. Et a kalendis octobris usque ad adventum. Ita tamen quod ultimum invitatorium si oportuerit repetatur. Invitatorium, Venite exultemus domino . . .
Invitatories for Sundays from the first Sunday after the octave of Epiphany until Septuagesima Sunday (basically from mid-January until February, since Septuagesima = 9th Sunday before Easter), and from the first of October until Advent (basically from early October until the end of November).
- 2 Hymns from the beginning of Lent and from the beginning of October until Advent, beginning with the hymn, Primo die quo Trinitas beata mundum condidit . . .
This first hymn for Sunday at matins; note that the second part of the line, i.e., “quo Trinitas beata mundum condidit” is a re-writing over an erasure.
- 68 Constituite diem solemnem in condempsis usque ad cornu altaris, Deus meus es tu et confitebor tibi, deus meus es tu et exaltabo te. Confitebor tibi quoniam exaudisti me et factus es mihi in salutem . . . Psalmus, Beati immaculati in via qui ambulant in lege domini, Beati qui scrutantur tes<timonia eius . . .>
End of Ps. 117 and beginning of Ps. 118; this leaf is an 18th century (probably?) replacement for the original leaf, carefully cut off along the inner bounding line that left the original penflourishing of the initials in place.
A verso //<quoniam non de>reliquisti querentes te domine. Psallite domino qui habitat in syon . . . Exultabo in salutare tuo, infixe sunt gentes in interitu//
Ps. 9, vv. 11-16; a note in a later hand in the upper margin reads “Dominica.”
- 110 //<cum ex>ultatione portantes manipulos suos. Antiphona, Facti sumus sicut consolati. Ymnus, Telluris alme conditor mundi solum qui separans pulsis aque . . .
Ps. 125, v. 6; antiphon and hymn for Tuesday evening.
- 149v-150 Salve Regina, ending on the recto of f. 150 (but probably continuing on later pages) at “et Iesum benedictum fructum ventris”//
Added in an 18th century hand (?).
These detailed observations were made from email attachments of the images above. An in person examination will most likely yield further details. Dr. Dutschke is also one of the founders of Digital Scriptorium, a consortium of American libraries and museums whose goal is to provide inventory and detailed metadata in addition to images and, in many cases, the full text of medieval manuscripts. It is our hope that our manuscript will soon be digitized and included in the DS. However, most importantly, although the manuscript is in surprisingly good physical condition, the UCL Preservation Department will first need to stabilize the red rotted leather binding and clean the text blocks.
It was an exiting find in an obscure corner of our Library where no one knew of its existence until just a few months ago. Thanks to Professor Franklin and Dr. Dutschke and to the anonymous donor who gave us the financial support we needed, we will now be able to catalog and formally add this magnificent 15th century Italian choir book to the John Miller Burnam Classics Library’s manuscript collection.
Welcome and welcome back! There is much (mostly) good news to report from the Library
We have new Classics Library access policies. Please see: https://libraries.uc.edu/libraries/classics/classics-library-policies.html
Please note that faculty, graduate students, Tytus fellows in Classics are given swipe card access to the stacks. We are also getting lockers primarily for non-UC classicists in which to place bags.
The rare classics books in ARB have been transferred from ARB to the new “Rare Book and Manuscript Room” in the former Pal cage on S4. Please ask library staff to retrieve rare books for consultation in the Circulation area, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m, M-F.
Most of the palaeography collection has been transferred to the Scriptorium – The John Miller Burnam Palaeography Reading Room — room 414A off of the main Reading Room. Please request that the staff at the Circulation desk unlock the door for you.
The Reference collection is now located on the 4th floor opposite the Circulation desk and the current journals have been moved to the mezzanine.
Please review the Classics Library’s borrowing privileges for the collections in these and other locations: https://libraries.uc.edu/libraries/classics/services.html
The “New Books” have been moved to the cubby hole in the Circulation area.
We have “new” more comfortable chairs opposite the Circulation desk.
Please note that our annual supply budget of $250 cannot pay for new furniture (barely for pens). We make regular trips to UC Surplus on our own time and money to pick up discards. Much is trash, but occasionally we find decent chairs and things which was the case with the two armchairs we have put in the graduate study room to replace the tattered green one.
We currently have three new student assistants: Emily Dean and Elaine Suer (both Classicists), and Kayla Weiglein (in the German Ph.D. program).
Returning student assistants include: Brycen Carle, Kathleen Johnson, Maddie Menssen, Yo Shionoya, and Amber’Nay Wilkins. We are currently in the process of hiring additional student assistants. So far we are pleased with the applicant pool.
We are happy that Yo will be staying with us albeit in a different capacity from during the summer. Our many projects (and calamities) have greatly benefited from Yo’s intelligence, kind and helpful manner, and hard work in the supervisory position he has held since late May. His many transformative initiatives have included a new student worker recruitment process and training procedures as well as his supervision of and active participation in the many reorganization projects and salvage efforts this summer.
The black mold from the leak in the Reading Room has been removed, so the room is again safe to use.
The leak in the stacks (under the urinal) has more or less been fixed. We are still waiting for the areas affected to be cleaned. Some 400 German dissertations are being treated by the Preservation department in Langsam.
Last but not least, the Classics Library has a new and improved website: https://libraries.uc.edu/libraries/classics.html
The website has been a major undertaking for many months because of added content but also because earlier versions kept being overlaid on newer ones, not by us). I wish to personally thank Lindsay Taylor for her invaluable help in navigating the many complexities of the different reiterations and editing modules. John Wallrodt used his Photoshopping skills to produce the composite image on the Classics Library landing page.
The moving of some 15,000 books has been quite an overwhelming effort. Most of the work – reviewing each book, changing locations and labels in the catalog and on spines, carrying, lifting, and cleaning numerous books, book cases, and shelves (we’re not quite finished yet) — has been carried out by our small Classics Library staff and student workers. An outside company moved the books from ARB to the Classics Library, but because of misshelvings and other issues, some of this work has been (and continues to be) fixed by the Library staff.
Hope you will like our new and improved library organization and welcome (back) to the John Miller Burnam Classics Library, UC’s Best Kept Secret!
From Your Classics Library
On a Tuesday May 29, 1453, a Turkish-Ottoman army of ca. 80,000 men, led by Sultan Mehmet II, captured the city of Constantinople after a 53-day siege, bringing to an end the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine empire. Rather than submit to the Sultan’s demand to surrender Constantinople, the emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos chose to die fighting in defense of the city and Christianity. Although the 7,000 defenders fought bravely, the city’s massive 5th c. CE walls, which had for a millennium proved impregnable to successive sieges, were no match for the Turkish cannons, and the 80,000-man Ottoman army overwhelmed the small defending force of Byzantines and their Italian allies. Once the emperor realized the city was lost, he threw off his imperial regalia and plunged into the midst of the fighting. His body was never found.
Constantinople had been an imperial capital since its founding by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in 330. There have been numerous studies on the fall of Constantinople, but, according to Mike Braunlin, one of the most accessible to English readers is Sir Steven Runciman’s The Fall of Constantinople, 1453 (Cambridge 1965). The quoted sections that follow are from this book. On a Monday May 28th, realizing the end was near, the emperor encouraged his small force by reminding them what they were fighting for: “To his Greek subjects he said that a man should always be ready to die either for his faith or his country or for his family or for his sovereign. Now his people must be prepared to die for all four causes. He spoke of the glories and high traditions of the great Imperial city. He spoke of the perfidy of the infidel Sultan who had provoked the war in order to destroy the True Faith and to put his false prophet into the seat of Christ. He urged them to remember that they were the descendants of the ancient heroes of Greece and Rome and to be worthy of their ancestors. For his part, he said, he was ready to die for his faith, his city, and his people” (p. 130).
That evening the last Christian service was held in the great church of Holy Wisdom, the Hagia Sophia, which had been the heart of Eastern Orthodox Christianity for a thousand years. Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox put aside their bitter doctrinal differences: “Priests who held union with Rome to be a mortal sin now came to the altar to serve their Unionist brothers. The Cardinal was there, and beside him bishops who would never acknowledge his authority; and all the people came to make confession and take communion, not caring whether Orthodox or Catholic administered it. There were Italians and Catalans along with the Greeks. The golden mosaics, studded with the images of Christ and his saints and the emperors and empresses of Byzantium, glimmered in the light of a thousand lamps and candles; and beneath them for the last time the priests in their splendid vestments moved in the solemn rhythm of the Liturgy. At this moment there was union in the Church of Constantinople” (p. 131).
Hagia Sophia, a Christian church in Constantinople until 1453, now an Islamic mosque in Istanbul.
As is often stated, there are at least two sides to every story. The atrocities committed by Christian crusaders against Muslims and Jews, including women and children, will not be covered in this blog post, but should be recognized as well. And whereas to Christians it was a Fall; to Muslims it was a Conquest.
For western Europe, the Fall of Constantinople had perhaps one silver-lining in that there was an ensuing migration of Byzantine scholars, scientists, musicians, astronomers, writers, poets, scribes, architects, artists, grammarians in the period following the Fall which brought with it a revival of Greek and Roman studies that eventually led to the development of Renaissance humanism and science.
Representing more than 1,000 years in a blog post is clearly impossible, so the following will instead offer a few highlights.
Emperor Justinian I, detail from mosaic in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy.
During the reign of Justinian I (reign 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. Justinian was considered by many the greatest of the Byzantine emperors. Two of his accomplishments include the uniform rewriting of Roman law, contained in the Corpus Iuris Civilis, which is still the basis of civil law in many countries, and the architectural masterpiece, the Hagia Sophia. The new law code gave the Church and Ruler the arguments to support the absolute right of the monarch with God’s approval, unbound by secular laws (legibus solutus) and answerable only to God. Justinian’s wife Theodora was highly influential in the politics of the Empire which perhaps speaks to the relative high status of women, at least among the Byzantine aristocracy.
Theodora and her court, mosaic in the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy.
The Nika revolt against Emperor Justinian during a week in 532 CE and Theodora’s pivotal council is famously narrated in Procopius’ History of the Wars (Ὑπὲρ τῶν πολέμων). I. 24. 32-38) and is here cited in toto.
“Οἱ δὲ ἀμφὶ τὸν βασιλέα ἐν βουλῇ ἦσαν, πότερα μένουσιν αὐτοῖς ἢ ταῖς ναυσὶν ἐς φυγὴν τρεπομένοις ἄμεινον ἔσται. καὶ λόγοι μὲν πολλοὶ ἐλέγοντο ἐς ἑκάτερα φέροντες. καὶ Θεοδώρα δὲ ἡ βασιλὶς ἔλεξε τοιάδε “Τὸ μὲν γυναῖκα ἐν ἀνδράσι μὴ χρῆναι τολμᾶν ἢ ἐν τοῖς ἀποκνοῦσι νεανιεύεσθαι, τὸν παρόντα οἶμαι καιρὸν ἥκιστα ἐφεῖναι διασκοπεῖσθαι εἴτε ταύτῃ εἴτε ἄλλῃ πη νομιστέον. οἷς γὰρ τὰ πράγματα ἐς κίνδυνον τὸν μέγιστον ἥκει, οὐκ ἄλλο οὐδὲν εἶναι δοκεῖ ἄριστον ἢ τὰ ἐν ποσὶν ὡς ἄριστα θέσθαι. ἡγοῦμαι δὲ τὴν φυγὴν ἔγωγε, εἴπερ ποτέ, καὶ νῦν, ἢν καὶ τὴν σωτηρίαν ἐπάγηται, ἀξύμφορον εἶναι. ἀνθρώπῳ μὲν γὰρ ἐς φῶς ἥκοντι τὸ μὴ οὐχὶ καὶ νεκρῷ γενέσθαι ἀδύνατον, τῷ δὲ βεβασιλευκότι 36τὸ φυγάδι εἶναι οὐκ ἀνεκτόν. μὴ γὰρ ἂν γενοίμην τῆς ἁλουργίδος ταύτης χωρίς, μηδ᾿ ἂν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην βιῴην, ἐν ᾗ με δέσποιναν οἱ ἐντυχόντες οὐ προσεροῦσιν. εἰ μὲν οὖν σώζεσθαί σοι βουλομένῳ ἐστίν, ὦ βασιλεῦ, οὐδὲν τοῦτο πρᾶγμα. χρήματα γάρ τε πολλὰ ἔστιν ἡμῖν, καὶ θάλασσα μὲν ἐκείνη, πλοῖα δὲ ταῦτα. σκόπει μέντοι μὴ διασωθέντι ξυμβήσεταί σοι ἥδιστα ἂν τῆς σωτηρίας τὸν θάνατον ἀνταλλάξασθαι. ἐμὲ γάρ τις καὶ παλαιὸς ἀρέσκει λόγος, ὡς καλὸν ἐντάφιον 38ἡ βασιλεία ἐστί.” τοσαῦτα τῆς βασιλίδος εἰπούσης, θάρσος τε τοῖς πᾶσιν ἐπεγένετο καὶ ἐς ἀλκὴν τραπόμενοι ἐν βουλῇ ἐποιοῦντο ᾗ ἂν ἀμύνεσθαι δυνατοὶ γένοιντο, ἤν τις ἐπ᾿ αὐτοὺς πολεμήσων ἴοι.”
“Now the emperor and his court were deliberating as to whether it would be better for them if they remained or if they took to flight in the ships. And many opinions were expressed favoring either course. And the Empress Theodora also spoke to the following effect: ‘As to the belief that a woman ought not to be daring among men or to assert herself boldly among those who are holding back from fear, I consider that the present crisis most certainly does not permit us to discuss whether the matter should be regarded in this or in some other way. For in the case of those whose interests have come into the greatest danger nothing else seems best except to settle the issue immediately before them in the best possible way. My opinion then is that the present time, above all others, is inopportune for flight, even though it bring safety. For while it is impossible for a man who has seen the light not also to die, for one who has been an emperor it is unendurable to be a fugitive. May I never be separated from this purple, and may I not live that day on which those who meet me shall not address me as mistress. If, now, it is your wish to save yourself, O Emperor, there is no difficulty. For we have much money, and there is the sea, here the boats. However consider whether it will not come about after you have been saved that you would gladly exchange that safety for death. For as for myself, I approve a certain ancient saying that royalty is a good burial-shroud.’ When the queen had spoken thus, all were filled with boldness, and, turning their thoughts towards resistance, they began to consider how they might be able to defend themselves if any hostile force should come against them.”
The relative freedom of women in Byzantium may also be manifest in the figure of Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician Hypatia (born ca. 350–370; died 415 CE) who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, where she was the Head of the renowned Neoplatonic school in Alexandria until she was murdered in March 415 CE by a mob of Christian monks known as the parabalani. Ostensibly, the reason was political as one side accused her of siding with Orestes, the Roman prefect of Alexandria, who was feuding with Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria. However, the fact that she was an intelligent and influential woman and pagan no doubt played a significant role in her murder.
Gilded Mummy Portrait of a Woman, often referred to as Hypatia. From Εr-Rubayat, Egypt. Roman Period, about C.E. 160–170.
Fifth century church historian Socrates Scholasticus of Constantinople praised her (text available in Patrologia Graeca vol. 67 through Google Books http://patristica.net/graeca/).
“Ἦν τις γυνὴ ἐν τῇ Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ τοὔνομα Ὑπατία. Αὕτη
Θέωνος μὲν τοῦ φιλοσόφου θυγάτηρ ἦν, ἐπὶ τοσοῦτο δὲ
προὔβη παιδείας, ὡς ὑπερακοντίσαι τοὺς κατ’ αὐτὴν φιλοσό-
φους, τὴν δὲ Πλατωνικὴν ἀπὸ Πλωτίνου καταγομένην δια
τριβὴν διαδέξασθαι καὶ πάντα τὰ φιλόσοφα μαθήματα τοῖς
βουλομένοις ἐκτίθεσθαι. Διὸ καὶ οἱ πανταχόθεν φιλοσοφεῖν
βουλόμενοι συνέτρεχον παρ’ αὐτήν. Διὰ δὲ τὴν προσοῦ-
σαν αὐτῇ ἐκ τῆς παιδεύσεως σεμνὴν παρρησίαν καὶ τοῖς
ἄρχουσιν σωφρόνως εἰς πρόσωπον ἤρχετο, καὶ οὐκ ἦν τις
αἰσχύνη ἐν μέσῳ ἀνδρῶν παρεῖναι αὐτήν· πάντες γὰρ δι’
ὑπερβάλλουσαν σωφροσύνην πλέον αὐτὴν ᾐδοῦντο καὶ κατε-
πλήττοντο” (Socrates Scholastics. Historia Ecclesiastica 7.15).
“There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not infrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in coming to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.”
The historian Hesychius from Alexandria referred to her as the greatest astronomer (the best in matters of astronomy) “μάλιστα εἰς τὰ περὶ ἀστρονομίας” (frag. 7. 1002).
The Egyptian Coptic bishop John of Nikiû (fl. 680-690) seemed less “impressed”:
“And in those days there appeared in Alexandria a female philosopher, a pagan named Hypatia, and she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through her Satanic wiles. And the governor of the city honored her exceedingly; for she had beguiled him through her magic. And he ceased attending church as had been his custom… And he not only did this, but he drew many believers to her, and he himself received the unbelievers at his house” (John of Nikiû’s Chronicle 1916, 84:87-88, Translation from the Ethiopic version, Text and Translation Society: https://archive.org/stream/JohnOfNikiuChronicle1916/John_of_Nikiu_Chronicle_1916_djvu.txt).
Socrates Scholasticus recounts her murder:
“ἐκ τοῦ δίφρου ἐκβαλόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν,
ᾗ ἐπώνυμον Καισάριον, συνέλκουσιν,
ἀποδύσαντές τε τὴν ἐσθῆτα ὀστράκοις ἀνεῖλον, καὶ
μεληδὸν διασπάσαντες ἐπὶ τὸν καλούμενον Κιναρῶνα
τὰ μέλη συνάραντες πυρὶ κατανήλωσαν”
(Socrates Scholasticus. Historia Ecclesiastica, book 7 chapter 15).
“They dragged her into a nearby church, known as the Caesarion, where they stripped her naked and murdered her using ostraka. They tore her body into pieces and dragged her mangled limbs through the town to a place called Cinarion, where they set them on fire.”
The Byzantine town Mystras or Mistras (Greek Μυστρᾶς/Μιστρᾶς) was the capital of the Byzantine Despotate of Morea during the 14th and 15th centuries. The remains of its many splendid churches are located on Mt. Taygetos near ancient Sparta. While an undergraduate, visiting Mystras on top of Taygetos during a spectacular thunder and lightning storm added a mystical feeling to its now rather ghost-like but still impressive appearance. The Peribleptos Monastery houses some remarkable frescoes from the mid to late 14th century (seen in the image below). Interestingly, devotion to Virgin Mary appears to have been an iconic focus at Mystras. Mystras can also lay claim to being the last bastion of Byzantine scholarship; the Neoplatonist philosopher Georgius Gemistos (Plethon) lived there until his death in 1452. He reintroduced Plato’s ideas to Western Europe during the 1438–1439 Council of Florence and in the process is thought to have heralded the Italian humanist renaissance. He is believed to have influenced Cosimo de’ Medici to found the new Academy (Accademia Platonica), at which Marsilio Ficino translated all of Plato’s works into Latin.
The Suda or Souda (Byzantine Greek Σοῦδα “fortress”, Latin Suidae Lexicon) with the alternate name Suidas stemming from an error made by Greek scholar Eustathius who mistook the title for the author’s name, is an extensive 10th-century lexical encyclopaedia of c. 30,000 entries concerning the Mediterranean world (http://www.stoa.org/sol/). Many of the entries draw on ancient sources that have since been lost and derived from medieval Christian compilers. It is an invaluable source for ancient and Byzantine lexicography, history and life, although the reliability of some of its ancient entries has been called into question such as the biographical information about an alleged husband and daughter of the ancient Greek poet Sappho. If we are to trust the Suda (s.v. Σαπφώ),
ἐγαμήθη δὲ ἀνδρὶ Κερκύλᾳ πλουσιωτάτῳ, ὁρμωμένῳ ἀπὸ Ἄνδρου, καὶ θυγατέρα ἐποιήσατο ἐξ αὐτοῦ, ἣ Κλεὶς ὠνομάσθη.
her husband’s name was “Kerkylas from the Isle of Andros” which would be the equivalent of “Penis from the Isle of Man,” a reference which most likely stems from the many comedies about Sappho, popular already in antiquity, and the reference to a “daughter” Kleϊs (Sappho 98bV) may simply refer to a young woman, more or less the equivalent of lovers calling each other “baby.” In the fragmentary Sapphic corpus the word pais (παίς), “child” means girl or child 10 times and “somebody’s child” 5 times.
For Byzantine things more contemporary with the Suda the level of reliable information increases. It is an important source for classical antiquity as well, especially for lexical information, but, as we saw, with some caveats.
CARTOGRAPHY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
Map of Constantinople (1422) by Buondelmonti, contained in Liber insularum Archipelagi (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris) is the oldest surviving map of the city, and the only one which antedates the Turkish conquest of the city in 1453.
At the turn of the 14th century two Italians, Cristoforo Buondelmonti and Cyriacus de’ Pizzicolli, broke with the tradition of spending their days scrutinizing texts of ancient authors or searching for manuscripts, and instead sought to record the material culture of classical antiquity. To Buondelmonti, a Florentine monk, we owe the first attempt at cartography applied to Greece, and to Cyriacus, a merchant from Ancona, the beginnings of modern day archaeology. In fact, he considered the monuments and inscriptions to be more faithful witnesses of classical antiquity than the texts of ancient writers.
“At et cum maximas per urbem tam generosissimae gentis reliquias undique solo disiectas aspexisset, lapides et ipsi magnarum rerum gestarum maiorem longe quam ipsi libri fidem et notitiam spectantibus praebere videbantur” (Francesco Scalamonti, Vita Kyriaci Anconitani 56).
“It appeared to him, as he looked upon the great remains left behind by so noble a people, cast to the ground throughout the city, that the stones themselves afforded to modern spectators much more trustworthy information about their splendid history than what was to be found in books.”
In Constantinople in 1444 he was involved in the preparation of the crusade against the Turks in large measure to preserve the material remains of ancient Greece. The historian and humanist scholar Poggio Bracciolini, the author of “the most famous jokebook of the Renaissance” (Bowen, 1988, p. 5), notes sarcastically:
“Ciriacus Anconitanus, homo verbosus et nimium loquax, deplorabat aliquando, astantibus nobis, casum atque eversionem Imperii Romani, inque ea re vehementius angi videbatur” (Facetiae or Jocose Tales of Poggio, vol. I, ch. 82).
“Cyriacus of Ancona, a verbose and inexhaustible speaker, sometimes deplored the fall and breakup of the Roman Empire before our eyes; it seemed to cause him terrible anguish.”
Cyriacus’ drawing of the Parthenon from 1444 with its frieze and pediments intact.
Having a resident Byzantine coin expert we would be remiss if we did not also include the following perfect illustration of the Zenith and Fall of Byzantium.
The first photo represents a copper follis of Justinian I, perhaps the last Byzantine emperor whose native language was Latin. He sought to restore to the empire the western provinces, which had been lost in the 5th century. On the obverse, the emperor is depicted as a Roman “Imperator,” in military dress and helmet, and he holds in his right hand a globe representing the world, surmounted by a cross. The reverse displays pertinent details about the coin and its manufacture; it is a denomination valued at 40 nummia (the large mu = 40), struck at CON(stantinople), bearing the date ANNO XIII = 539/40. The epsilon beneath the mark of value M tells us the coin was struck in the 5th workshop of the Constantinople mint (gratias Mike).
The second photo shows the development of Christian religious iconography on the coinage, in this case, the type of Christ/portrait of emperor and its increasing poverty of representation echoing the decline of the empire. The obverse portrait of Christ, shown nimbate, with the cross represented behind him, is adapted from icons. Christ holds in his left hand a book of the Gospels (on the viewer’s right), the cover of which is decorated with jewels (most visible on the middle coin — there are 5 jewels there). Christ’s right hand (on the viewer’s left) is raised in a gesture derived from Roman artistic convention representing speech. The top coin is a gold nomisma of Basil II, 976-1025, whom later Byzantine writers nicknamed Boulgaroktonos, the “Bulgar‐Slayer,” because he blinded an army of 15,000 captives and thereby not only destroyed the army but also broke the spirit of the Bulgarian state which ultimately led to it being subsumed under the Byzantine empire. Basil appears on the left, accompanied by his brother Constantine VIII, who enjoyed nominal imperial power while his brother ran the empire. Basil’s reign ushered in the zenith of Byzantine power and influence in the middle ages. The next coin, in silver, was struck under the emperor John V Palaiologos, 1341-91, and one can see the growing stylization of the types, which is brought to an even more extreme state in the last coin, again, in silver, of Constantine XI, 1448-1453.
Christ Pantocrator mosaic in the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily (constructed between 1170 and 1189).
On the Fall:
Barbaro, Nicolò. Diary of the Siege of Constantinople, 1453. Translated [from the Italian] by J. R. Jones. New York, Exposition Press . cl-g DF649 .B313
Carroll, Margaret G. A Contemporary Greek Source for the Siege of Constantinople, 1453: The Sphrantzes Chronicle. Amsterdam: A.M. Hakkert, 1985. cl-g DF645.P483 C37 1985
Haldon, John F. The Fall of Constantinople: The Ottoman Conquest of Byzantium. Oxford; New York : Osprey, 2007. cl-g DR730 .H35 2007
Phrantzes, Georgius. Chronikon Geōrgiou Phrantzē. English. The Fall of the Byzantine Empire: A Chronicle; translated by Marios Philippides. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980. cl-g DF645 .G4813
Runciman, Steven, Sir. The Fall of Constantinople, 1453. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965. cl-g DF649 .R8
On Byzantium in general:
Garland, Lynda. Byzantine Empresses: Women and Power in Byzantium, AD 527-1204. London; New York: Routledge, 1999. cl-g DF572.8.E5 G37 1999
Gregory, Timothy E. A History of Byzantium. 2nd ed. Chichester, U.K.; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. cl-g DF552 .G68 2010
Haldon, John F. Byzantium: A History. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus; Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2000. cl-g DF521 .H32 2000
Herrin, Judith. Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001. cl-g DF581.3 .H47 2001
__________. Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. cl-g DF521 .H477 2007
Mango, Cyril, ed. The Oxford History of Byzantium. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. cl-g DF552 .O94 2002
Shepard, Jonathan, ed. The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire c. 500-1492. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. cl-g DF571 .C34 2008
Treadgold, Warren. A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997. cl-g DF552 .T65 1997
On March 28, 2019, faculty and students from CCM and Classics as well as from UCL gathered for an evening of fun, celebrating the life and work of the great Greek comedy playwright Aristophanes (ca. 446-386 BCE), especially his play Lysistrata about a strong and intelligent Athenian woman who hatches an ingenious plan to end the Peloponnesian War. The evening included an engaging expert talk by Susan Prince, Associate Professor of Classics, a recital, masterfully directed by Brant Russell, Assistant Professor of Acting at CCM, and brilliantly acted by graduate students from CCM and Classics, accompanied by superbly played “ancient Greek Dionysian” music, arranged by Yo Shionoya, graduate student at CCM and interim Student, Circulation, and Stack Supervisor in the Classics Library. The evening celebrating not only Aristophanes but also Dionysus, (Modern) Greek Independence Day, the Annunciation of the Theotokos, and the recent accomplishments of American female politicians(!) concluded with a delectable feast of Greek food and “wine”. To enjoy a video recording of the evening, see the link at the bottom of the page.
Tweet by Neville G. Pinto, President of the University of Cincinnati:
Theater in Ancient Athens was performed during festivals to honor Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility, theater, ecstatic dance and music. His attributes included grapes, pine cones, wine cups, vines, ivy, leopard skin. Continue reading
In connection with an event in the Classics Library’s Reading Room on March 28 to celebrate the life and works of the Greek comedy playwright Aristophanes (with lecture, recital of Lysistrata, “Dionysian” music, and Greek food), here are some of our favorite Aristophanes quotes.
“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something witty” (Knights 95-96).
“Always keep the people on your side by sweetening them with gourmet bons mots” (Knights 215-16).
“By words the mind is winged” (Birds 1447-48).
“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy” (Assemblywomen 206-208).
“Let each man exercise the art he knows” (Wasps 1431).
“High thoughts must have high language” (Frogs 1058-59).
“[Y]ou possess all the attributes of a demagogue; a screeching, horrible voice, a perverse, crossgrained nature and the language of the market-place. In you all is united which is needful for governing” (Knights 217-219).
“You [demagogues] are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it’s only in troublous times that you line your pockets” (Knights 864-67).
“It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls” (Birds 378-79).
“What matters that I was born a woman, if I can cure your misfortunes? I pay my share of tolls and taxes, by giving men to the State. But you, you miserable greybeards, you contribute nothing to the public charges; on the contrary, you have wasted the treasure of our forefathers, as it was called, the treasure amassed in the days of the Persian Wars. You pay nothing at all in return; and into the bargain you endanger our lives and liberties by your mistakes. Have you one word to say for yourselves?… Ah! don’t irritate me, you there, or I’ll lay my slipper across your jaws; and it’s pretty heavy” (Lysistrata 649-657).
“[Y]ou [man] are fool enough, it seems, to dare to war with [woman=] me, when for your faithful ally you might win me easily” (Lysistrata 1016-17).
“Under every stone lurks a politician” (Thesmophoriazusae 529-30).
“A man can learn wisdom even from a foe” (Birds 375).
“Politics, these days, is no occupation for an educated man, a man of character.
Ignorance and total lousiness are better” (Knights 191-93) — Rebecka’s favorite quote.
“Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war; and this lesson saves their children, their homes, and their properties” (Birds 375-80).
“Comedy too can sometimes discern what is right” (Acharnians 500).
“Shrines! Shrines! Surely you don’t believe in the gods. What’s your argument? Where’s your proof” (Knights 32-33)?
“Have you ever looked up and seen a cloud resembling a centaur, or a leopard, or a wolf, or a bull” (Clouds 346-47) — Mike’s favorite quote 1.
“Socrates: No, I just want to ask you a few questions. For instance, do you have a good memory?
Strepsiades: Yes and no, by Zeus: if I’m owed something, it’s good, but if I’m the hapless debtor, it’s bad” (Clouds 482-85).
“… and it is my heart’s desire, after many a long season, to embrace the fig trees that I planted myself when I was young” (Peace 558-59).
“Well, in our opinion it’s possible to hear them out first; a wise person can in fact learn something beneficial even from his enemies” (Birds 381-82).
“Ah democracy, what will you bring us to in the end, if the gods can elect this person ambassador” (Birds 1570-71)?
“One’s country is wherever one does well” (Wealth 1151).
“When I’m in the audience and see one of those clever bits, I go home a whole year older” (Frogs 16-18) – Angelica’s favorite quote.
“…brekekekex koax koax!” (Frogs 210) — Mike’s favorite quote 2.