Academic year
2023/2024 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0546 (AF:448535 AR:253441)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Go to Moodle page
The module "Byzantine History and literature" has been designed to offer to the students of the MA in "History from the Middle Age to Present" and "Ancient Civilisations: Literature, History and Archaeology" a course that introduces to the history and the literature of the Byzantine Empire, id est the Eastern Roman Empire that flourished for more than a millennium from 330 to 1453, and was the
the heir, the continuator and the defender of the classical Greek-Roman culture during the Middle Ages and contributed to the splendor of the Italian Renaissance thanks to the great personalities who emigrated from Constantinople, together with their precious collections of Greek classics.

The course has two parallel courses, one for students who do not know Greek and one for students who have learned Greek in high school or are enrolled in the master's degree course in "Ancient sciences: literature, history and archeology".
- a basic knowledge of the History of the Byzantine Empire,
- a thorough understanding of the influences and the cultural heritage of the Byzantine Empire,
- an advanced knowledge of the most important themes of the Greek literature (4th-15th century),
- the ability to contextualise the most important authors of the Byzantine literature and their writings,
- an advanced knowledge of the main literary genres of the Byzantine literature.
It is of great help to have a sound knowledge of Roman History and Medieval and/or Byzantine History.
Knowledge of Greek is not mandatory: the module includes both a program for those who know Greek and one for those who do not know it.
The module dedicated to "Byzantine history and literature" is an introduction to Byzantine history and history of Byzantine literature based on the anthological reading of Greek sources in Italian translation (those enrolled in the master's degree in "Ancient Civilisations: Literature, History and Archaeology" are expected to read the texts in Greek).

1. Introduction to the Byzantine world and its literature
2. Imperial propaganda: rhetoric
3. Who is God? The development of Byzantine Orthodoxy between theology and hymnography
4. Lives of men and women: hagiography
5. Byzantine intellectuals: letters and philosophy
6. So that the memory will not fade away: chronography and historiography
7. What kind of Greek do you write? Reflections on the Greek language
8. The Byzantine surprise: romance and poetry
9. Byzantium in contemporary literature
10. Final discussion: what is Byzantine literature?
"The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Literature", a cura di S. Papaioannou, Oxford, New York 2021.

Lauxtermann, M. D., "The Spring of Rhythm: An Essay on the Political Verse and Other Byzantine Metres", Wien, 1999.
Lauxtermann, M. D., "Byzantine Poetry from Pisides to Geometres: Texts and Contextes", Wien, 2003.
"Four Byzantine Novels", a cura di E. Jeffreys. Liverpool, 2014.
I. Nilsson, "Raconter Byzance: la littérature au XIIe siècle", Paris, 2014.
Bernard, Floris. "Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry, 1025-1081". Oxford, 2014.
"Reading the Late Byzantine Romance: A Handbook", a cura di a cura di A.Goldwyn & I. Nilsson, Cambridge, 2018.
L. Neville, "Guide to Byzantine Historical Writing", Cambridge, 2018.
Rhoby, A., e Zagklas, N.. "Middle and Late Byzantine Poetry: Texts and Contexts". Leuven, 2018.
Zagklas, N., Rhoby, A., e W. Hörandner. "A Companion to Byzantine Poetry". Leiden - Boston, 2019.
Oral assessment questions focus both on the general introductory part (Byzantine history and history of Byzantine literature) and on reading, commenting and translating the texts illustrated and explained in class (the translation is mandatory only for students enrolled in the master's degree course in "Ancient Civilisations: Literature, History and Archaeology").
The course is divided into 3 basic activities:

1) lectures dedicated to the introduction to the Byzantine civilisation: Byzantine history, periodisation, tools and methods;
2) Lessons and structured seminar activities dedicated to the history of Byzantine literature: periods, literary genres, literary criticism;
3) Structured seminar activities : contextualisation, discussion and guided reading of an anthology of texts (in Greek and Italian and / or English or French translation) available on MOODLE platform.
The teacher follows bachelor's and master's degree theses dedicated to the social and religious history of the Byzantine Empire; to Byzantine literature; to Byzantine philology (editions and translations of texts).
Students who intend to dedicate their dissertation to the Byzantine world must know Classical Greek or have attended the two introductory courses to the Greek language.
The teacher accompanies the students during face-to-face personal meetings introducing the research work, discussing the structure of the thesis, and correcting the partial essays that must be submitted in advance. Therefore, students are invited to plan well in advance the research work, the time required for meetings with the supervisor and the time for drafting and correcting the final thesis.
The degree thesis must be completed 30 days before the "uploading period" so that the supervisor can read and correct the final disseration and that the student can make the necessary corrections.
Word limits: BA 15/20.000 words; MA 20/25.000 words.
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 26/05/2023