Sacred Song from the Byzantine Pulpit: Romanos the Melodist

By R. J. Schork | Go to book overview

"The Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I" (57)

Eighteen stanzas with the acrostic TOY KYPOY PΩMANOY EΠ{H}H ("verses of/by kuros Romanos"). 1 The manuscript contains an extra final stanza (H), which the Oxford editors rightly regard as spurious. I have bracketed this clumsy addition to the original text.


March 9

There is, of course, no primary scriptural source for the only hagiographic kontakion I have included in this selection of translations. Romanos does, however, directly acknowledge (stanza 13.4) a lyric quotation from the First Epistle to the Corinthians 15:30. In his initial stanza the poet also uses a typical formula (tauta kai toiauta legontes eikotōs) to indicate that he is inventing words to put into the mouths of the martyrs: "Such must have been your words, soldier-heroes, as you challenged your persecutors" (1.6-7)

Two kontakia on the martyrdom of the forty legionnaires at Sebasteia have been attributed to Romanos, 57 and 58. Trypanis, one of the editors of the Oxford text that included both hymns in its Genuina volume, subsequently regarded 58 as spurious; later he rejected both works. 2 As far back as Krumbacher's first complete edition and commentary, there has been discussion of various aspects of the entire tradition of the Forty Martyrs and the place of this kontakion in the tradition. 3

Since these saints were enormously popular cult heroes among early Christians, Eastern and Western, there are numerous legends that developed about them and the varieties of their veneration. In the spring of 1986 the Queen's University of Belfast sponsored an international collo-

-196-

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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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