Twenty-two stanzas with the acrostic ΕΙΣ ΤΟΝ ΙΩΣΡΦ ΠΩΜΑΝΟΥ ΕΠΟΣ ("a poetic work of/by Romanos about Joseph"). The third koukoulion is bracketed as a later addition.
Romanos composed two kontakia about Joseph, the son of the patriarch Jacob. One (43) deals with Joseph's entire career, from his earliest envygenerating interpretation of dreams to the reunion with his father and brothers in Egypt. Composed of forty stanzas, this is the Melodist's longest work. The second piece, translated here, focuses on the encounter between Joseph and Potiphar's wife ( Genesis39). It is perhaps the most rhetorically charged and dramatically explosive of all the kontakia. The confrontation scenes caused Romanos' first editor, a cardinal, to apologize for presenting "the blandishments of a shameless hussy in the midst of the hallowed services of the Church's most Holy Week. 1 Another scholar summarized the work as "a detailed description of an assault on chastity." While it is true that few of these details would bring even a faint blush to modern cheeks, it should also be noted that Romanos does not revel in "the spicy suggestiveness" of most of the extrascriptural elaborations found in the haggadic tradition. 2 At any rate, the topic demands a verbal versatility not called for in other kontakia, and in the diction of this work I detect echoes of a roughly contemporary, but definitely classical" epyllion, Musaeus' Hero and Leander. These similarities are not surprising, granted Romanos' emphasis on the Egyptian woman's compulsive, indeed demonic, eroticism -- nor does my choice of the term