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A cognitive analysis of metrical irregularities in the ‘Ὥσπερ ξένοι’ book epigrams

  • Julie Boeten (a1) and Mark Janse (a2)
Abstract

This article considers the variation in the metres of the ‘ὥσπερ ξένοι’ epigrams, collected in the Database of Byzantine Book Epigrams (DBBE). In its canonical form, these epigrams follow a dodecasyllabic metrical pattern. The seemingly unmetrical decasyllabic and decatetrasyllabic variants are explained from a cognitive-linguistic perspective as the pairing of different cola – 5+5 and 7+7 instead of the usual 7+5 or 5+7. From this perspective, cola can be equated with the cognitive ‘idea’ or ‘intonation units’ (IUs) used in ordinary speech.

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1 The DBBE is hosted by Ghent University at www.dbbe.ugent.be. Research for this paper was supported by grants from Ghent University's Special Research Fund (BOF/15/GOA/034) and the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders (FWO 3F02016000401). Earlier versions of the paper were presented at the 7th U4 Winter School on Antiquity (Istanbul, March 2016), the 23rd International Congress of Byzantine Studies (Belgrade, August 2016) and Varieties of Post-Classical and Byzantine Greek (Ghent, December 2016). We take the opportunity to thank the following colleagues for their useful remarks and suggestions: Klaas Bentein, Sien De Groot, Ilse De Vos, Kristoffel Demoen, Marc Lauxtermann, Peter Mackridge, Renaat Meesters, Racchele Ricceri and Maria Tomadaki.

2 Bentein, K. et al., ‘Book epigrams in honor of the Church Fathers: Some inedita from the eleventh century’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 49 (2009) 281–94; Bentein, K. et al., ‘New Testament book epigrams: Some new evidence from the eleventh century’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 103 (2010) 1323 ; Bentein, K. and Bernard, F., ‘A cycle of book epigrams on the four Evangelists’, Scriptorium 64 (2011) 237–49; Bernard, F. and Demoen, K., ‘Byzantine book epigrams from manuscript to digital database’, in Clivaz, C., Meizoz, J., Vallotton, F. and Verheyden, J. (eds), From Ancient Manuscripts to the Digital Era: Readings and Literacies (Lausanne 2012) 431–40; Bernard, F., ‘Rhythm in the dodecasyllable: Practices and perceptions’, forthcoming; F. Bernard and K. Demoen, ‘Book epigrams’, in Rhoby, A., Zaglas, N. and Hörandner, W. (eds), A Companion to Byzantine Poetry (Leiden, forthcoming); Demoen, K., ‘La poésie de la συλλογή: Les paratextes métriques des manuscrits byzantins et le (vocabulaire du) recueil’, in Gastgeber, C. et al. (eds), Pour l'amour de Byzance: Hommage à Paolo Odorico (Frankfurt 2013) 8998 ; Meesters, R., ‘Byzantijnse boekepigrammen / metrische parateksten: Terminologie en classificatie’, Handelingen van de Koninklijke Zuidnederlandse Maatschappij voor Taal- en Letterkunde en Geschiedenis 70 (2016, in press); Meesters, R., ‘Ascending the ladder: Editio Princeps of four poems on the Ladder of John Klimakos (Bodleian Baroccianus 141)’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 56 (2016) 556–71.

3 Maas, P., ‘Der byzantinische Zwölfsilber’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 12 (1903) 278323 ; Jeffreys, M., ‘The nature and origins of the political verse’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 28 (1974) 142–95; Lauxtermann, M. D., ‘The velocity of pure iambs: Byzantine observations on the metre and rhythm of the dodecasyllable’, Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 48 (1998) 933 ; The Spring of Rhythm: An Essay on the Political Verse and Other Byzantine Meters (Vienna 1999); Rhoby, A., ‘Vom jambischen Trimeter zum byzantinischen Zwölfsilber: Beobachtung zur Metrik des spätantiken und byzantinischen Epigramms’, Wiener Studien 124 (2011) 117–42.

4 Maas, ‘Der byzantinische Zwölfsilber’; Rhoby, ‘Vom jambischen Trimeter’.

5 M. Jeffreys, ‘Nature and origins of the political verse’; Mackridge, P., ‘The metrical structure of the oral decapentasyllable’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 14 (1990) 551–74.

6 Janse, M., ‘Homerische metriek: Orale poëzie in de praktijk [Homer's Meter: Oral Poetry in Practice]’, Didactica Classica Gandensia 38 (1998) 125–51; ‘The metrical schemes of the hexameter’, Mnemosyne 56 (2003) 343-8; Inleiding tot de Homerische taal en metriek, 7th edn (Ghent 2016).

7 Soltic, J., ‘The distribution of object clitic pronouns in the Grottaferrata manuscript of Digenis Akritis’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 36 (2012) 178–97; ‘Late Medieval Greek πάλιν: a discourse marker signaling topic switch’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 53.2 (2013) 390-419; ‘The late medieval Greek vernacular πολιτικὸς στίχος poetry: a modern linguistic analysis into Intonation Units’, Journal of Greek Linguistics 14 (2014) 84-116; ‘The vernacular medieval Greek romances and information structure: Linguistic features pointing to an oral style’, Porphyra (December 2015) 80-7; ‘Het modern taalkundig concept van de Intonatie Eenheid in de laat-Middeleeuws Griekse πολιτικὸς στίχος poëzie’, Handelingen van de Koninklijke Zuidnederlandse Maatschappij voor Taal- en Letterkunde en Geschiedenis (2015) 85-97.

8 F. Bernard and K. Demoen, ‘From manuscript to digital database’, 434; Bernard and Demoen, ‘Book epigrams’, 3.

9 Thomas, C., The Acts of Peter, Gospel Literature and the Ancient Novel. Rewriting the Past (Oxford 2003) 40 .

10 Bernard and Demoen, ‘Book epigrams’, 13, cf. infra under ‘3. The ὥσπερ ξένοι epigrams’.

11 This type of book epigram is called ‘colophon verse’ by Lauxtermann, M. D., Byzantine Poetry from Pisides to Geometres: Texts and Contexts (Vienna 2003) 200 .

12 Treu, K., ‘Der Schreiber am Ziel: Zu den Versen Ὥσπερ ξένοι χαίρουσιν. . . und änlichen’, in Dummer, J., Treu, K. and Richard, M. (eds), Studia Codicologica (Berlin 1977) 473–92; Brock, S., ‘The scribe reaches harbour’, Byzantinische Forschungen 21 (1995) 195202 ; P. Lemay, ‘De functie en de evolutie van de verzen ὥσπερ ξένοι. . . in Byzantijnse manuscripten’, unpublished MA thesis, Ghent University, 2013.

13 The ‘ὥσπερ ξένοι’ epigrams in the DBBE all date from the period 900-1500.

14 DBBE 22, 275, 799, 800, 1137, 1159, 1362, 1513, 1696, 1758, 1765, 1814, 1871, 2129, 2906, 3004, 3285, 3495, 3687, 3907, 4505, 4915, 4919, 5633. It should be noted that the exact number of occurrences may change in the future, as the DBBE is continually expanding. In April 2017, the total number of ‘ὥσπερ ξένοι’ epigrams in the DBBE was set at 159.

15 Text source by DBBE.

16 All cited epigrams in this article are what the DBBE calls ‘occurrences’ (as opposed to ‘types’), i.e. the faithful transcription of the text as it was found in the manuscript. No normalizations have been applied to these texts and all orthographic mistakes/variances are retained.

17 DBBE 1116, 1275, 1369, 1393, 1561, 1640, 1733, 1898, 1900, 1921, 1985, 2173, 5920, 5956, 5970, 6072, 7910, 7979, 8833.

18 Text source by Evangelatou-Notara, F., Συλλογὴ χρονολογημένων σημειωμάτων ἑλληνικῶν κωδίκων, 13ος αἰ. (Athens 1984) 150 .

19 An interesting parallel can be found in Syriac and Arabic manuscripts, where the same, popular simile frequently occurs, cf. McCollum, A. C., ‘The rejoicing sailor and the rotting hand: Two formulas in Syriac and Arabic colophons, with related phenomena in other languages’, Journal of Syriac Studies 18.1 (2015) 6793 .

20 Bernard and Demoen, ‘Book epigrams’, 13.

21 Text source by Evangelatou-Notara, F., Χορηγοί-κτήτορες-δωρητές σε σημειώματα κωδίκων, Παλαιολόγειοι χρόνοι (Athens 2000) 257 .

22 A very similar variant is DBBE 2473 (Vatican, Bibl. Apostolica Vaticana - Ross. 887).

23 Text source by Kadas, S. D., Τὰ σημειώματα τῶν χειρογράφων τῆς ἱερᾶς Μεγίστης Μονῆς Βατοπαιδίου (Mount Athos 2000) 57 .

24 Maas, Der byzantinische Zwölfsilber, calls the inner caesura in the dodecasyllable Binnenschluβ rather than ‘caesura’, as he correctly believes the nature of the dodecasyllabic pause to be different from the caesura in prosodic metres. Based on Maas’ terminology, the inner caesura is often referred to with the letter ‘B’ followed by the number of syllables preceding the Binnenschluβ (B5 or B7).

25 Text source by Martini, E., Catalogus codicum graecorum Bibliothecae Ambrosianae I (Milan 1906) 753 .

26 Text source by Hunger, H., Johannes Chortasmenos (ca. 1370-ca. 1436/37). Briefe, Gedichte und kleine Schriften. Einleitung, Regesten, Prosophographie, Texte (Vienna 1969) 72 .

27 The Byzantines continued calling the dodecasyllable ‘iambic trimiter’, as if it was still the very same metre of ancient authors. More educated scribes even preserved the archaic prosody in their dodecasyllabic poems, in order to maintain the illusion of an archaic metre, cf. P. Maas, Der byzantinische Zwölfsilber; M. D. Lauxtermann, ‘The velocity of pure iambs’; The Spring of Rhythm; A. Rhoby, ‘Vom jambischen Trimeter’.

28 Bernard, F., Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry (Oxford 2014) 243–4.

29 Text source by DBBE.

30 Treu, ‘Der Schreiber am Ziel’, 47.

31 DBBE 22 (Florence, Bibl. Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 60, Cod. 15, f. 205r).

32 DBBE 22, 170, 801, 876 (εὑρεῖν), 957, 972 (εὑρεῖν), 1146, 1499, 1700, 1941, 1988, 2284, 2305, 2955, 3472, 3673, 4055, 4156, 4223, 4572, 4590, 5403, 5514, 5618, 5799, 6049, 6052, 6782, 6907, 7647, 7846.

33 Text source by F. Evangelatou-Notara, Παλαιολόγειοι χρόνοι, 174.

34 Text source by DBBE.

35 DBBE 972 (last two lines), 1808 (first line), 1811 (first line), 1956 (second line), 3185 (second line), 4689 (first line), 5614 (last two lines), 5996 (first line).

36 Text source by Schartau, B., Codices graeci Haunienses (Copenhagen 1994) 435.

37 M. D. Lauxtermann, The Spring of Rhythm, 51. On the previous page, he mentions four other hymns in the same manuscript: three of them also in heptasyllables, the other one in octosyllables.

38 M. Janse, Homerische metriek; Metrical Schemes of the Hexameter; Inleiding tot de Homerische taal en metriek.

39 Van Nuffelen, P., ‘John of Antioch, inflated and deflated. Or: how (not) to collect fragments of early Byzantine historians’, Byzantion 82 (2012) 446.

40 C. Thomas, The Acts of Peter, 40.

41 Bakker, E. J., Poetry in Speech: Orality and Homeric Discourse (Ithaca 1997).

42 Chafe, W., ‘Cognitive constraints on information flow’, in Tomlin, R. (ed.), Coherence and Grounding in Discourse: Outcome of a Symposium, Eugene, Oregon (Amsterdam 1987) 2151 ; ‘Prosodic and functional units of language’, in Edwards, J. A. & Lampert, M. D. (eds), Talking Data: Transcription and Coding in Discourse Research (Hillsdale 1993) 3343 ; Discourse, Consciousness and Time: The Flow and Displacement of Conscious Experience in Speaking and Writing (Chicago 1994); ‘The analysis of discourse flow’, in Schiffrin, D., Tannen, D. and Hamilton, H. E. (eds), The Handbook of Discourse Analysis (Oxford 2001) 673–87.

43 Soltic, ‘Late medieval Greek vernacular πολιτικὸς στίχος poetry’; ‘Distribution of object clitic pronouns’; ‘Late medieval Greek πάλιν’; ‘Vernacular medieval Greek romances’.

44 Mackridge, ‘Metrical structure of the oral decapentasyllable’; Lauxtermann, The Spring of Rhythm.

45 Lauxtermann, The Spring of Rhythm, 51.

46 Op. cit., 50.

47 Op. cit., 85.

48 Dewing, H. B., ‘The origin of the accentual prose rhythm in Greek’, The American Journal of Philology 31.3 (1910), 312–28; Valiavitcharska, V., Rhetoric and Rhythm in Byzantium: the Sound of Persuasion (Cambridge, 2013). Both Hörandner and Lauxtermann even assume that Byzantine accentual poetry has its earliest roots in rhetorical rhythm, cf. Hörandner, W., Der Prosarhythmus in der retorischen Literatur der Byzantiner (Vienna 1981); Hörandner, W., ‘Beobachtungen zur Litararästhetik der Byzantiner. Einige byzantinische Zeugnisse zu Metrik und Rhythmik’, Byzantinoslavica 56.2 (1995) 279–90; Lauxtermann, The velocity of pure iambs; The Spring of Rhythm.

49 Lauxtermann, The Spring of Rhythm, 77.

50 Text source by DBBE.

51 Text source by Efstratiades, S., ‘Ἁγιορειτικῶν κωδίκων σημειώματα’, Γρηγόριος ὁ Παλαμᾶς 3 (1919) 150.

52 DBBE 60, 1499, 2305, 3472, 3673, 4055, 5514, 6782.

53 DBBE 1499, 2045, 3472, 3673, 4055, 6907, 7647.

54 The same phenomenon occurs in DBBE 4156 (Athos, Monè Megistes Lavras Θ 147, f. 137r), which displays a very similar text but with some minor differences: χαίροντες instead of χαίρουσιν in the first line, εὑρεῖν instead of ἰδεῖν in the second line, the fourth line is omitted, and βιβλίου instead of βιβλίον in the last line.

55 There is no clear chronological evolution in the metrical irregularities of the ‘ὥσπερ ξένοι’ epigrams: mistakes occur at random from the ninth to the fifteenth century. Combinations with decapentasyllabic lines only emerge from the tenth century onwards (i.e. the genesis of the decapentasyllabic metre) and become considerably more popular during the fifteenth century.

56 For more on εὐρυθμία and its use in both poetry and prose, see M. D. Lauxtermann, ‘The velocity of pure iambs’, 19-20.

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