Isocrates in Byzantium

Juan Signes Codoñer, Universidad de Valladolid, Summer Fellow 2011

My topic was the reception of Isocrates in Byzantium since the ninth century. I aimed to analyze the different levels of recycling of his texts, ranking from the single quotation to the more elaborate re-creation of his works or ideas, as in the anonymous dialogue Charidemos. Manuscript tradition was taken into account, especially before the end of the fourteenth century, when the number of manuscripts multiplies. Consultation of the original editions of the Byzantine authors and of the relevant bibliography to the works and manuscripts has allowed me to deepen my views in a just a few weeks and to come to definitive conclusions, which I hope to publish very soon in separate articles, culminating perhaps in a book. Although Isocrates, in contrast to Demosthenes (somehow ubiquitous since his canonization through Hermogenes), was mainly indirectly quoted and appraised and even his most popular work (the Demonicea) was referred to through gnomologia or late antique parainetic texts, there were significant instances of direct reading and appraisal of his speeches by different Byzantine authors. They were attracted by the fame of the orator as transmitted by the late antique manuals, to which he owed his popularity. Significantly enough, the manuscript tradition up to the fourteenth century can be connected with the names of these very few Byzantine intellectuals at the capital who since the times of John Sardianos and Photios contributed to the diffusion of Isocrates’s speeches as a model for prose style. They made it thus possible for Isocrates to appear in the canonical lists of orators and rhetoricians that turn up from time to time in the writings of Byzantine authors from Psellos to Joseph Rhakendytes. To these lists I will devote a particular study. A typology of the different kinds of rewriting of classical and Byzantine texts (such as epitome, paraphrasis, and metaphrasis) is also envisaged in the frame of a congress devoted to textual criticism and Quellenforschung to be held in Madrid in February 2012. It will include my work on Isocrates.

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