[MGSA-L] Princeton Hellenic Studies Lecture: November 15, 2011

Dimitri H. Gondicas gondicas at Princeton.EDU
Thu Nov 10 06:07:29 PST 2011


Hellenic Studies


Striking a Match on Byzantium's "Dark Age":
Historiographical Production, 7th - 8th Centuries

Maria Conterno
conterno at princeton.edu<mailto:conterno at princeton.edu>
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hellenic Studies

The seventh and eighth centuries have been called the "Dark Age" of Byzantium because of the paucity of historical sources that illuminate them. This lack is commonly ascribed more to scant production than to failed transmission. Traditional historiographical genres in Greek did actually fall silent for two centuries, but historiography in the wide sense of "memory-keeping" (as well as "memory-building") found other ways of expression. Theophanes' Chronographia, Agapius of Mabbug's and Michael the Syrian's chronicles and The Chronicle of the Year 1234 share a significant amount of historical information, undoubtedly drawn from the same sources, via different paths. Close examination of this material leads to a better understanding of how forms of Greek historiography survived outside the capital of the empire and the ways in which information and texts flowed across geographic, linguistic and ethnic boundaries in a period that has otherwise been considered as culturally stagnant.

Maria Conterno holds a Ph.D. in Byzantine History and Civilization, Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, Florence, and a Diploma in Greek Paleography, Vatican School of Paleography, Diplomatics and Archives Administration.  She works primarily on interactions between Greek and Syriac culture in Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium.  She is now publishing (in Italian translation) the Syriac version of Themistius' oration Perì Philìas, along with other two of his speeches,  which came down to us respectively in Syriac and Arabic. Her doctoral dissertation, which is being turned into a monograph, focuses on the question of the Oriental sources of Theophanes the Confessor's Chronographia, proposing a substantial revision of the theory of the so-called 'Circuit of Theophilus of Edessa' which is the commonly accepted explanation of the similarities of the Chronographia with some later Syriac chronicles. She is currently doing further research on the Syriac sources related to the Monoenergetic-Monotheletic dispute. Both this new project and the previous one are part of a wider research plan aimed at investigating the survival of Greek culture and literature, and the mutual influences with the Syriac ones, in the Eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire immediately before, during and after Arab conquests.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
4:30 p.m.
Scheide Caldwell House, Room 103

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