BMCR 2024.04.13

Gregorios Antiochos: Reden und Briefe

, Gregorios Antiochos: Reden und Briefe. Corpus fontium historiae Byzantinae, 54. Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2021. Pp. 1204, 2 volumes. ISBN 9783700183655.

Alexander Sideras (1935–2019) was an Außerplanmäßiger Professor at the University of Göttingen. In the field of Byzantine Studies, he is renowned for his monumental editorial endeavor that led to the publication of no less than 167 funeral orations.[1] Less well-known is his study on prose rhythm accompanying the edition of an invective against the writers of funeral orations.[2]

Sideras’ long-awaited edition of the works of Gregorios Antiochos has appeared in the Viennese branch of the prestigious Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae series (henceforth CFHB), with an introduction and German translation. The book is another instance of the author’s long-established partnership with the Verlag der ÖAW, where Sideras published his most important scientific contributions. Sadly, Sideras’ second opus magnum was also to be his swan song as it appeared after his passing. Despite some changes to the original design (see further in this review), the book was eventually published thanks to the joint effort of the editors of the CFHB – Series Vindobonensis and the scholar’s family (Paraskevi Sidera-Lytra and Agis Sideras; see vol. 1, p. 6). The book is well edited and carefully proof-read.

Sideras’ work on Gregorios Antiochos started in the 1980s, and the CFHB edition was preceded by fifteen articles, featuring studies of textual transmission and partial editions (for a complete account, see vol. 1, pp. 11–12). Everything is now reworked into this editio maior, which is the first to contain the whole of Antiochos’ corpus, with a good introduction.

A short preface (Chapter I.1) is followed by an introduction with a biography of the author (Chapter I.2), a general overview of his works, their textual transmission, and their editions (Chapter I.3). In Chapter I.4, each paragraph presents relevant information about the addressees, the (possible) date and occasion of composition, and a summary of the contents of each of the works. On page 32, there is a helpful table with the chronological order of Antiochos’ works according to Sideras’ reconstruction. In general, the introduction reveals Sideras’ interest in finding evidence for the historical context and for twelfth-century prosopography through Antiochos’ work. As in previous publications, Sideras often disagrees with and criticizes the work of Jean Darrouzès and Marina Loukaki on Antiochos; he usually underlines the passages where he does so both in the introduction and in the apparatus to the text. This enables the reader to understand the points of disagreement and read the three scholars’ work synoptically.[3]

Antiochos himself uses a refined literary language and writes in elegant prose, rich in quotations (p. 17). In his preparatory articles, Sideras presented single texts with a short commentary and an index of rare words.[4] Unfortunately, the CFHB edition does not have a commentary, which would have offered the reader access to further considerations based on Sideras’ previously published work. Furthermore, Sideras’ passing has prevented the readers from having an Index Graecitatis (see Zum Geleit, vol. 1, p. 6). As it stands now, the paragraph on language and style (I.2.i) is too short to be substantial, and the following chapter on prose rhythm (I.2.ii) is restricted to examples of the most widespread rhythmical clauses. Therefore, a close linguistic and literary analysis of Antiochos’ works is still a desideratum, and any interested scholar should look at Sideras’ previous articles in parallel to the CFHB edition before undertaking this endeavor.

In the introduction, Sideras highlights the peculiarity of the discourse on Saint John the Forerunner (L8) and establishes a link with the Monastery of Prodromos Petra. This long text deserves a comprehensive study as it conveys important information on medieval devotion. For instance, the way in which Antiochos was healed (by drinking the olive wax of candles from a saint’s place of worship/burial, see L8 8.84–01 [vol. 1, p. 364]) refers to an attested medieval Orthodox practice.[5] The same applies to the two discourses for the megas droungarios Andronikos Kamateros, which are here edited for the first time, and the discourses after the death of Antiochos’ father, where we find interesting evidence about patronage towards monasteries.

Sideras offers a reliable critical text. Most of Antiochos’ works are transmitted in a single manuscript, the MS Escorial Y–II–10 (Andrés 265) [diktyon 15478] (henceforth, E); the sole exception is the speech for Basileios Kamateros (L5), which is preserved both in E and in MS Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, gr. XI, 22 (coll. 1235) [diktyon 70658] (henceforth, M). Additionally, two texts on Antiochos’ father are transmitted as separate texts in E and M. They were initially published separately by Sideras, but he afterward maintained that they are the remnants of a single oration and are treated that way in this edition (F3 Sideras).[6] Sideras’ interpretation of the textual transmission and his editorial ratio are described in vol. 1, pp. 29–30 and 36; additionally, I suggest reading his previous article on the relationship between E and M.[7]

The Greek text has been ‘normalized’ to the accentuation rules of ancient, not medieval Greek.[8] In the edition, Sideras usually notes when he has changed accents or word division, as is the case for θλῖψιν for θλίψιν in L8 133.1602 (vol. 1, p. 464),[9] περί που for περίπου in L2 15.160 (vol. 1, p. 152) and παρ’ ὅσον for παρόσον in E18 7.89 (vol. 2, p. 1112). The same applies to μηδέ and ὁ δ’, which are written μὴ δὲ and ὃ δ’ in the manuscripts (see e.g., L7 1.14 [vol. 1, p. 300] and L1 2.28 [vol. 1, p. 92] respectively).[10] Such notes help the reader reconstruct the manuscripts’ orthographical practices.[11] However, just to give an example, in L7 34.409 (vol. 1, p. 328), I assume τοῦτο γε is the manuscript reading, which was silently changed by Sideras into τοῦτό γε with no mention in the apparatus. I am emphasizing this point because I agree with Sideras (pp. 27–28) on the need for further studies of prose rhythm, which are now eased by recent scholarship, including his own.[12] Yet his editorial choices have sometimes complicated this area of research.

When manuscripts are damaged or display problematic readings, Sideras intervenes and concisely explains his choice in the apparatus. His interventions build on his acquaintance with Antiochos’ writings and generally appear plausible. Furthermore, he has granted readers a valuable tool by reporting the approximate length of each lacuna in number of letters, thus ensuring a basis for alternative emendations. In the apparatus criticus, Sideras sometimes explains his choices by referring to possible sources or loci paralleli. Given his conciseness, this may cause some confusion between the two apparatus at first.

Quotations are highlighted in italics in the main text and referenced in the first apparatus and in the index locorum. Sideras extensively uses ‘cf.’, also in cases where the quotation is just paraphrased by amplification or reduction (e.g., F6 16.171–174 [vol. 2, p. 804], where Antiochos paraphrases Ps. 1: 3.1–2). Other references to Antiochos’ possible readings are also quoted by means of ‘cf.’. For instance, again in F6, ἀένναοι ποταμοί (14.175–176 [ibidem]) is a common collocation (e.g., Hes. Op. 550 and 737; Basil of Caesarea’s third homily on the Hexaemeron, 3.6.6 and 32) and, here, it may be a reference to Sap. 11:6–7 (cf. ps.-Apoll. Metaphrasis Psalmorum 77.41). However, Sideras mentions only Herodotus and Epiphanius’ Panarion together with Basil, and just as loci paralleli (see ‘etc.’, vol. 2, p. 804, apparatus). The apparatus thus often fails to distinguish among what Sideras considers to be paraphrased quotations, possible references, and mere loci paralleli.

From Sideras’ preface (vol. 1, p. 15), we learn that the CFHB editors asked for a facing translation. Sideras’ translation is generally good, despite using numerous brackets, which sometimes affect readability (e.g., vol. 2, p. 639). The translation enables better accessibility to the edition, and, in the absence of a commentary, makes clear Sideras’ interpretations.

The CFHB’s fifty-sixth volume is a sound piece of scholarship and editorial technique. Given the importance of these texts, I hope it will be extensively used. I suggest that scholars also consult Sideras’ previous publications to gain a complete picture of his ideas about Gregorios Antiochos. His literary production is a case-study for understanding twelfth-century rhetoric and the function of different types of logoi in the Komnenian period, for exploring the use of high-register language, and for rethinking quotation practices. Sideras offers here a reliable text accompanied by good insights for future research: the ideal monument to his lifelong commitment to Byzantine literature.



[1] A. Sideras, 25 unedierte Byzantinische Grabreden, Parateretes: Thessaloniki, 1990 (Κλασικά γράμματα 15) and Die byzantinischen Grabreden, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Vienna, 1994 (Wiener byzantinische Studien 19).

[2] A. Sideras, Eine byzantinische Invektive gegen die Verfasser von Grabreden, Verlag der ÖAW: Vienna, 2002 (Wiener Byzantinische Studien 23). See the review by Niels Gaul in Byzantinische Zeitschrift 100.1 (2007): 257–261, which corrects Sideras’ dating.

[3] J. Darrouzès, “Notice sur Grégoire Antiochos (1160 à 1196),” Revue des études byzantines 20 (1962): 61–92 and M. Loukaki, Grégoire Antiochos, L’éloge du patriarche Basile Kamatèros, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1996 (Byzantina Sorbonensia 13).

[4] See, e.g., A. Sideras, “Der unedierte Brief des Gregorios Antiochos an den Patirarchen Basileios Kamateros,” Rivista di studi bizantini e neoellenici 48 (2011): 93–122. Cf. also Loukaki, Grégoire Antiochos, p. 41–43.

[5] Cf., e.g., E. Kurtz (ed.), “Zwei griechische Texte über die Hl. Theophano, die Gemahlin Kaisers Leo VI,” Mémoires de l’Academie Imperiale des Sciences de St. Petersbourg, series VIII, III/2 (1898), p. 23 ll. 1–2.

[6] A. Sideras, “Zur Zusammengehörigkeit zweier Grabredenfragmente des Gregorios Antiochos,” Rivista di studi bizantini e neoellenici 31 (1994): 175–183.

[7] A. Sideras, “Die Codices Escur. 265 (Y II 10) und Marc. XI 22 als Überlieferungszeugen der Lobrede des Gregorios Antiochos an den Patriarchen Basileios Kamateros,” Revue d’histoire des textes 5 (2010): 43–64.

[8] The same happens for punctuation. For a different approach, see e.g., A. Berger (ed.), Nicephori Callisti Xanthopuli Historia Ecclesiastica, vol. I, libros 1-6 complectens, Verlag der ÖAW: Vienna, 2022 (CFHB LVII/1).

[9] Manuscripts (as, in this case, E) often present the latter form, cf. e.g., Ioannes Mauropous, Poem 53.1 (Vat. Gr. 676 [diktyon 67307], f. 23r), where ῥῖψον is written ῥίψον.

[10] Cf. A. Riehle (ed.), Die Briefsammlungen des Nikephoros Chumnos, De Gruyter: Berlin/Boston, 2023 (Byzantinisches Archiv 43), 147–171.

[11] Sideras notes his interventions also when normalizing some other peculiarities, be they orthographical or morphosyntactic (e.g., see Ε13.24 and 45 [vol. 2, p. 1064] βραχεῖ and ἐπίκουσας from Μ into βραχὺ and ἐπήκουσας). Sometimes he changes common features of medieval Greek: for instance, in L5.257 (vol. 1, p. 228) (and everywhere else) πρέσβιν should have been accepted; see, e.g., S.B. Psaltes, Grammatik der byzantinischen Chroniken, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht: Göttingen, 1913, p. 150. For texts from E, Sideras tends to substitute περί with παρά; see, e.g., F4 2.17 (vol. 2, p. 678) περιλελυμένον into παραλελυμένον. He usually does not change Biblical readings according to modern editions, but he records variants as, for instance, in F4 33.385 (vol. 2, p. 702) on 2Cor 4:8. As for Biblical names, he is inconsistent: cf. L2 3.24 (vol. 1, p. 142) Καπερναούμ (manuscript’s reading) in the text and Καφαρναούμ in the apparatus in a quotation from Mark 2:1; and L1 13.194 (vol. 1, p. 104) Αἰλείμ in the text and ἐλείμ (manuscript’s reading) in the apparatus in a quotation from Exodus 15:27. In these cases, Sideras fails to report that both Καπερναούμ and Ἐλείμ are well represented in manuscripts preserving the Gospel of Mark and Exodus, see the apparatus in C. Tischendorf (ed.), Novum Testamentum Graece, 8th ed., Giesecke & Devrient: Leipzig, 1869, p. 229 and J.W. Wevers and U. Quast (eds.), Septuaginta. Exodus, Vandenhoek & Ruprecht: Göttingen, 1991, p. 205. Furthermore, Sideras’ Αἰλείμ for L1 13.194 is a reading attested in manuscripts, and it was chosen by R. Holmes and J. Parsons, Vetus Testamentum, vol. 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1798, ad Ex. 15:27.

[12] Apart from Sideras (cf. note 2), see W. Hörandner, Der Prosarhythmus in der rhetorischen Literatur der Byzantiner, Verlag der ÖAW: Vienna, 1981 (Wiener byzantinische Studien 16) and V. Valiavitcharska, Rhetoric and Rhythm in Byzantium: The Sound of Persuasion, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2013.