Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

(8.4-8); Noah's ark and Moses' rod again (13.4-9); the wood that sweet-
ened the waters of Marah (15.1-2); wooden ships from Tarshish (18.7-12).

In my judgment, the connection between the wood at Marah and the
wood of the cross (15.1-8) is not meant to be taken literally. And in the
following lines from a similar kontakion, "The Adoration of the Cross,"
the emphatic verb metephuteuthē is certainly metaphorical:

When the Good Thief saw that tree in Eden,
he clearly realized that the Life in it
had been wonderfully transplanted to Golgotha. (23.1.7-9)

There is, however, a popular legend that Christ's cross was made of wood
from the Edenic Tree of Life ( Genesis 2:9). 2 Although he repeatedly plays
with the concept of the crucifix bringing life back into the world and
restoring mortals to Paradise, Romanos does not refer to this legend. On
the other hand, in "The Adoration of the Cross" quoted here, a specific
etymology and attention to Adam indicate that the Melodist knows the
traditional tale that Golgotha ("skull") was the site of the first man's
grave (23.8.9)


NOTES
1.
A tenth-century Byzantine ivory crucifix in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art illustrates stanzas 1 and 3 of this kontakion; see Frazer, Hades Stabbed, 153-61.
2.
The most accessible version of the tale of the origin of the wood of the cross is that narrated by Jacobus de Voragine in The Golden Legend, I.277-78, in the entry for the feast of the "Invention of the Holy Cross" (May 3); also see J. D. M. Derrett , O KYPIOI, 378-92, for a detailed discussion of a similar theme.

The Victory of the Cross

1. A flaming sword no longer bars the gates of Eden; a strange, new bolt sits there now, the cross-beam. To it are spiked death's sting and Hades' victory. And you stand at those gates, my Savior, beckoning those below:

-126-

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Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Citations and Abbreviation xv
  • Concordance of Kontakion Numbers xvii
  • Part I - Introduction 1
  • Notes 36
  • Part 2 - The Sung Sermons 41
  • "The First Humans" 43
  • Notes 44
  • "The Nativity I" (1) 49
  • Notes 50
  • "The Presentation in the Temple" (4) 60
  • Note 61
  • Healing the Leper" (8) 69
  • Notes 70
  • "The Sinful Woman" (10) 77
  • "The Man Possessed by Demons" (11) 86
  • Notes 87
  • "Judas" (17) 96
  • Notes 97
  • "Mary at the Cross" (19) 106
  • Note 107
  • "The Passion of Christ" (20) 115
  • Note 116
  • "The Victory of the Cross (22)" 125
  • Notes 126
  • "The Resurrection Vi" (29) 135
  • "Abraham and Isaac" (41) 148
  • Notes 149
  • "The Temptation of Joseph" (44) 158
  • Notes 162
  • "Repentance: Jonah and Nineveh" (52) 176
  • Note 177
  • "Earthquakes and Fires" (54) 184
  • Notes 185
  • "The Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I" (57) 196
  • Notes 198
  • "The Akathistos Hymn" 207
  • Notes 208
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 227
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