June 18, 2021

Publication, Chiara D'Agostini and Aglae Pizzone, "Clawing Rhetoric Back: Humor and Polemic in Tzetzes’ Hexameters on the 'Historiai'"

CML PhD fellow Chiara D'Agostini and CML/Danish Institute for Advanced Study Assistant Professor Aglae Pizzone have recently published the article "Clawing Rhetoric Back: Humor and Polemic in Tzetzes’ Hexameters on the Historiai" in the journal Parekbolai. An Electronic Journal for Byzantine Literature.


This paper offers the first literary-historical analysis of the book epigram in hexameters sealing the second recension of John Tzetzes’ Historiai. The book epigram belongs to a corpus of paratexts that, despite being edited by Pietro Luigi Leone half a century ago, have received very little attention. Yet, as we argue, they are crucial to understand how Tzetzes positioned the Historiai within his oeuvre, offering at the same time striking insights into the intellectual scene of 12th-century Constantinople. The hexametric book epigram, in particular, provides a key to read through the generic and rhetorical conventions of the Historiai, allowing the readers to “crack” their code and stressing the importance of humor and irony to read through Tzetzes’ own idiosyncratic expressive modules.

Image: ms. Paris. gr. 2750, fol. 207r (detail)

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