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CODE 94757
SEMESTER 1° Semester
MODULES Questo insegnamento è un modulo di:


The course offers an overview of some crucial Byzantine literary texts, from scratch to the top: students start reading a manuscript, understanding some layers of the text (in terms of lexicon, style, variant readings, literary imitation, variatio and historical context) and will be guided towards a philological/literary commentary.

A good knowledge of ancient Greek is required.



The educational objectives aim at the acquisition of the following knowledges, skills and abilities: - know through direct reading of the texts the main genres of the Byzantine literature through their diachronic development and the contribution of each author; - lead a philological, linguistic, stylistic and historical-literary exegesis of the texts belonging to the Byzantine literary culture; - contextualize the texts both in their relationship with the Attic and Christian cultural heritage, and in the specific literary and cultural configuration of the Greek Middle Ages; - identify the role of individual texts and authors in the Nachleben of literary and ideological themes.


For the aims, see the previous item.

Learning outcomes

It is expected that, at the end of teaching attendance and the study of the related program, students will be able:

(a) to read correctly and accurately translate the proposed texts with awareness of the multiple meanings;

(b) to connect the texts to the characters of the literary genre they belong to;

(c) to read the manuscripts which hand down the texts, read the critical apparatus correctly, follow the path that leads from the witnesses to the edition, the translation and the comment;

(d) to critically address the reading of a critical essay/article, drawing up a reasoned report and critical assessment of it.


A good knowledge of ancient Greek is necessary to take the course.


Lessons will be held in presence. Attendance, although not compulsory, is recommended. Only those who attend lessons in presence will be deemed attending students.

The teacher, upon specific request by single students, could allow them to attend lessons remotely and to access the recordings of the lessons via Teams.

Classes will be complemented with Power Point/pdf presentations and various kinds of interaction, including flipped classroom; a laboratory of translation via online lexica (GI, LSJ, LBG and so on) will be complemented by samples of focused commentaries.

It is requested to subscribe on Aulaweb as well, in order to get information, didactic material, notices, bibliography and so on.

Non-attending students are requested to contact the professor for supplementary readings and/or a tailor-made content/schedule.


Mimesis and basileia in Byzantium, from Homer to the historians.

The Byzantine millennium (330-1453 AD) shows a literature rich in variety (poikilia) where tradition and innovation are deeply interwoven. After a general introduction to the Byzantine studies, the literature and the ideology of the Empire (basileia), we read (in Greek) and we comment on texts with literary imitation (mimesis). From single words drawn from the Homeric poems, to whole texts born in the fundamental relationship with their sources, we analyse some passages relevant to understand the Byzantine literature. Students can find here some general research tools, as well as some updated bibliography and a selection from the critical apparatuses.

Webinars by relevant experts will be offered during the lessons.

Three lessons by dr. Marco Enrico, post-doc, will be offered in Italian about “Mimesis in the archive. Greek medieval documentary texts about politics and diplomacy”.


Relevant texts and selected pages/open access weblinks can be found on Aulaweb.

Students are kindly asked to wait the lessons start and a confirmation about the bibliography by the professor before buying/loaning the texts.

(a) Byzantine texts in Greek (selected passages will be found on Aulaweb):

Eusebio di Cesarea, Vita di Costantino, a cura di L. Franco, Milano 2009, selected passages.

Procopio di Cesarea, Storie segrete, a cura di F. Conca, versione italiana di P. Cesaretti, Milano 1996, selected passages.

Procopio di Cesarea, Santa Sofia. Un tempio di luce (De aedificiis I 1,1-78), a cura di P. Cesaretti – M.L. Fobelli, Milano 2011, selected passages.

Ioannis Malalae Chronographia recensuit I. Thurn, Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae Berolinensis 35, Berolini-Novi Eboraci 2000, selected passages.

Georgii Monachi Chronicon, edidit C. de Boor, addenda et corrigenda adiecit P. Wirth, Bibliotheca Teubneriana, Stutgardiae 19782, vol. II, p. 767, 5-14.

(b) Bibliography (a fully English list may be requested instead)

L.R. Cresci, Aspetti della mimesis in Procopio, “Diptycha. Hetaireias byzantinon kai metabizantinon meleton” 4, 1986-87, pp. 232-249.

Ead., Ancora sulla mimesis in Procopio, “Rivista di filologia e di istruzione classica” 114, 1986, pp. 449-457.

P. Magdalino, Basileia: the Idea of Monarchy in Byzantium, 600-1200, in A. Kaldellis-N. Siniossoglou (eds.), The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium, Cambridge 2017, pp. 575-598.

L.R. Cresci, L’assassinio di Niceforo Foca attraverso la lente di due citazioni omeriche, “Erga-Logoi” 8, 2020.1, pp. 119-128.

A.Kaldellis, Procopius of Caesarea. Tyranny, History, and Philosophy at the End of Antiquity, Philadelphia 2004.

(c) Summary of Byzantine literature (optional for students who have already passed Byzantine philology):

A. KAMBYLIS, Compendio della letteratura bizantina, in H.-G. NESSELRATH, Introduzione alla filologia greca, trad. it., Roma, Salerno Editrice, 2004, pp. 446-478.

Students may choose a wholly English bibliography: please contact the professor as soon as possible via email (


Exam Board

PIA CAROLLA (President)


DOMENICO LOSAPPIO (President Substitute)



CLARA FOSSATI (Substitute)




Monday, 3rd October 2022

Class schedule




Oral exam


Oral exam: students will be asked to read, translate and provide a historical, literary, philological and linguistic commentary of the texts analyzed during the course, in order to assess their knowledge of the language, literary genre and tradition of each text. The students will present the laboratory activity conducted on the text, from the reading of the manuscript to the elaboration of a commentary.
Before the oral exam, the students will deliver a written report on a critical reading/article/contribution (to be chosen by the student in a list); the aim is to assess their level of proficiency in text analysis and synthesis. The report has to be written in rather accurate Italian (B1 level) and to summarize the essential contents of the reading. 'Excellence' requirements for the written test are: writing an effective, reasonable report on the argumentation, by underlining its strengths and weaknesses as well. The students email (or hand over) the report at least 10 days before the oral exam.

Minimum 'pass' requirements for the oral exam are: (i) being able to read the manuscript analyzed in class, (ii) being able to translate and (iii) to comment texts by outlining the major linguistic, literary and philological features of such texts.

'Excellence' requirements are: being able to confidently read manuscripts, to translate and comment texts accurately by making connections with Byzantine literary context; being able to point out accurately all aspects of texts: linguistic, historical, literary and philological aspects.

At the end of the oral exam, the student presents the report, just to confirm his/her authorship and abilities.

Exam schedule

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
20/01/2023 10:00 GENOVA Orale
07/02/2023 10:00 GENOVA Orale
11/05/2023 10:00 GENOVA Orale Appello riservato ai laureandi
29/05/2023 11:30 GENOVA Orale
13/06/2023 10:00 GENOVA Orale
14/07/2023 10:00 GENOVA Orale
15/09/2023 10:00 GENOVA Orale


Please contact the professor for any further information in English.


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