Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

tic effects; but translinguistic differences limit the range here. The diction, even when it might tend to be densely lush or monotonously parallel, is designedly close to the original, while preserving its narrative flow and homiletic message. Any expansion or adjustment of the text is made solely in the interests of clarity. This usually involves the substitution of proper names for ambiguous pronouns. To emphasize the congregation's participation in the production of a kontakia, each refrain is kept as consistent as sense and grammar allow. 48

The only previous English version of the works of Romanos is that by Marjorie Carpenter. 49 Unfortunately these translations are marred by frequent errors, misunderstandings, and a general awkwardness; they are no longer in print.


NOTES
1.
For general surveys of the period, see Browning, Justinian and Theodora, and Mango, Byzantium; neither has more than a passing mention of Romanos. On the city itself, see Downey, Constantinople.
2.
See Topping, "On Earthquakes and Fires", 22-35.
3.
The most complete and accessible discussion of the "biographical" documents relating to Romanos is that of José Grosdidier de Matons, Romanos le Mélode et les origines de la poésie religieuse à Byzance, 159-98. (As indicated previously, this work will be cited as Romanos et les origines.)
4.
The vita is in the tenth-century Synaxarium of Sirmond; the text is from Romanos et les origines, 162; the translation is my own. The line that Romanos chanted is the opening verse of "Nativity 1" (see Part 2 [1.1.1.]).
5.
In one of the kontakia on "The Ten Virgins" (22), Maas finds direct references to the earthquakes; Grosdidier de Matons rearranges the text and suggests a more general typological allusion. For discussions of this point, with full bibliographical references, see Romanos et les origines, 178-79, and Hymnes V, 276-86.
6.
See Daniélou, Jewish Christianity, 10: "Syriac literature in particular absorbed Jewish haggada, notably in Eusebius of Emesa and Ephraem." On the "Semitisms" in Romanos' Greek see Salvaneschi, Adattamento inter-linguistico, 23-68, and Mitsakis, "Language", s.v. Semitisms.
7.
In the iconography of the Orthodox Church, Romanos is frequently represented as an archetypical deacon; see, for example, the nineteenth-century fresco on the apse-arch in the church of a Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem ( Tzaferis, The Monastery, 44 and color plate 77).

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