Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

manos' typical signals of "creative" speech (toiauta) and the adverbs ara and pantōs. These touches seem to me to call for an adjustment in the "stage directions" at 12.1 and 14.1 to soften the direct force of the address. I have, therefore, translated all of Sarah's speech as if it were indirect: a mother's imagined laments are a strategically forceful argument -- and one that allows Romanos to build up considerable pathos and suspense. 3

God's stopping of the sacrifice is the occasion for a Christian message to be derived from this harsh Old Testament episode. Stanzas 22-23 include the usual vocabulary of typology: proskiazō ("I foreshadow"), ektupōma ("die-model"), ta mellonta ("impression of the future"), mustērion ("mystery"), sēmanei ("prefigure"). Here is the complex comparison: just as the two horns of the surrogate ram caught in the thicket are seen as foreshadowing the arms of Christ pegged to the cross, so too another only Son carries the wood of his sacrifical offering up a mount on his shoulders, and returns. In the final stanza Sarah's joy at the "spared 'victim' " is linked to the congregation's appeal for divine mercy.


NOTES
1.
See Hymnes I, 130-31.
2.
HymnesI, 129-30.
3.
Grosdidier de Matons' suggestion (in Hymnes I, 134) of two contradictory sources that have been imperfectly blended by the poet here seems to me to be neither likely nor economical. The conclusion of similar extracanonical interior monologue violates the logic of the plot in "The Presentation in the Temple" (see my translation [4.9.1]). In my judgment, both examples of extraordinary speech are to be attributed not to Romanos' faulty memory or his inept adaption of several sources but to his desire to establish dramatic verisimilitude, even at the expense of minor structural inconsistency.

Abraham and Isaac

I. God, you accepted innocent Isaac as a perfect sacrifice,
an unstained offering, unbloody, presented
by his father on behalf of sons who love you.

-149-

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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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