Byzantine Style, Religion, and Civilization: In Honour of Sir Steven Runciman

By Kaegi, Walter E. | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Byzantine Style, Religion, and Civilization: In Honour of Sir Steven Runciman


Kaegi, Walter E., The Catholic Historical Review


Medieval Byzantine Style, Religion, and Civilization: In Honour of Sir Steven Runciman. Edited by Elizabeth M. Jeffreys. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007. Pp. M, 436. $145.00.)

Byzantine Style, Religion and Civilization: In Honour of Sir Steven Runciman is a collection of twenty-two specialized and eclectic and disparate contributions in addition to a bibliography of Runciman's publications and biographical essay and a very judicious and sensitive appreciation, "James Cochran Stevenson Runciman 1903-2000,"byAntony M. Bryer (pp.xxxix-lv). This is a posthumous tribute, for Runciman died in 2000. Elizabeth M.Jeffreys has performed a fine yet chaEenging task of editing the text. The papers do not form any coherent whole, for their authors have come together from very diverse specialties and perspectives to honor Runciman.The volume contains seventy-nine plates or figures, in addition to a photograph of the honored historian. They originated at a conference in Scotland in honor of his ninetieth birthday on May 21-23,1993. Probably some of the original participants were no longer surviving when what became a memorial volume finally appeared in 2007, and some others are too young to have participated in that conference fourteen years ago. I can add a few supplementary details to Bryer's essay with respect to Runciman at the University of Chicago. Here he lectured for the first time in 1962. In the following year, 1963 (April), he was Alexander White Visiting Professor in the Department of History. Departmental records show that he gave six lectures between April 2 and 18 on "Personal Contacts between Christians and Moslems in the Middle Ages." He gave lectures at the University of Chicago on at least three other occasions during my own appointment at that institution. Here he always attracted a large and favorable audience for the lectures that he delivered in an accomplished and magisterial style. Style was part of his presentation. His visits were always welcome and much appreciated and informative. He loved to travel. Dinner conversations with him during his visits were always stimulating. I can recall one in which he talked about his conversation with Yeats about the origins of "Sailing to Byzantium." His outstanding student was the late Donald Nicol, a fellow Cantabridgian, who observed to me in a letter that some of his own books, most notably Last Centuries of Byzantium, were "Runcimanesque." I shall leave consideration of the papers by art historians such as Brubaker and Buckton and archaeologists such as Megaw, Dunn, and Winfield to others who are more qualified than !.Among the contributions, the following are especially interesting and useful: the valuable update by John Haldon,"'Greek Fire' Revisited: Recent and Current Research" (pp. …

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