Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

"Earthquakes and Fires" (54)

Twenty-five stanzas with the acrostic TOY TAΠEINOΓ PΩMANOΓ O ψ AδMOΣ ("the psalm of/by the humble Romanos").


Wednesday of the third week of Lent

This is the only surviving kontakion that was composed by Romanos in direct response to historical events. In the Greek text the words that terminate lines 6 and 7 in stanza 16 are enika and ephilonikei. These two verbs, in emphatic parallel positions in adjacent lines, are clearly meant to indicate that the natural disasters and political upheaval described in stanzas 13-20 are connected with the Nika ("Victory!") revolt, which ravaged Constantinople in January 532. 1

In an article that thoroughly examines the historical and literary aspects of this work, Eva Catafygiotu Topping agrees with the view that the occasion for this "encomium to Justinian" was not long after the restoration of the severely damaged Hagia Sophia began in February 532. 2 This hypothesis clarifies the multilayered example of typology ( SolomonConstantine-Justinian) on the literal and metaphorical stability of the church (stanza 24.1-3). 3 The restoration of the buildings takes place in a metropolis in which imperial wisdom and civic peace (sophia, eirēnē [20.1]) are united -- and both of these virtues are commemorated in the titles of important churches in the city (20.1-2). Romanos also includes Constantine's mother, the Empress Helena, as being instrumental in the construction of basilicas in Jerusalem in 320, two hundred fifty years after the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. (22.1-4). So too is the Empress Theodora associated with Justinian in the contemporary work of restoring the churches in Constantinople (22.8, 23.1, 24.7, 25.2). 4

The Bible is mentioned only once in the work: the Epistle of James

-184-

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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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