"a work which has set new exemplary standards for research, but also above all for the modern presentation of a mediaeval poem" -- Hans Eideneier

Excerpts from the poem (in Greek and English)

Spring 2003 comments by Roderick Beaton (in English)

12/7/03 interview (with Lamprini Thoma) in Apogevmatini (in Greek)

February 2004 review by Timothy Dawson in Medieval History Magazine

2/20/04 review by Simon Goldhill in The Times Literary Supplement

Other news





The poem recited in Greek

No Love Lost




AN ENTERTAINING TALE OF QUADRUPEDS


Jointly with Nick Nicholas -- Columbia University Press, 2003



While touring the island of Crete after attending a Computer Science conference there in July 1990, I walked into a modest used books store in the town of Chania and picked an anthology of medieval Greek poetry, a subject barely known even in Greece. Most of the poems or fragments of poems there did not appeal that much to me at that time; but the strange, allegorical poem about a certain animal conference stood out: there I saw an obliquely subversive style of writing blended with sarcasm and a powerful language combining elements of both ancient and modern Greek.


Three years later I located the entire text (as edited by Vassiliki Tsiouni in 1972) and posted a rough translation (together with the original text in Latinized Greek and minimal commentary) on usenet: it took 42 segments and almost the entire academic year 1993-94. After a couple of years I improved the translation and my understanding of the poem with the help of Tassos Karanastassis, a researcher at Aristotle University's Center of Byzantine Studies in Thessaloniki.


A better, metrical translation with extensive introduction and commentary, joint work (1995-2003) with Nick Nicholas and based on a so far unpublished critical edition by Manolis Papathomopoulos (2010), has been published by Columbia University Press (Records of Western Civilization Series) in June 2003. Our work has also been presented at the 19th International Congress of Byzantine Studies (Copenhagen, August 1996), the 10th Conference of the Australian Association of Byzantine Studies (Canberra, April 1997) and the 26th Byzantine Studies Conference (Harvard, October 2000). Below you see a small tribute (based on the Copenhagen presentation) to the poem's eternal themes and humble heroes, some of whom you may meet right here, be it through a group 'photo' (in a paradisiac setting) or 'individually' (boar, buffalo).


The joy of life

The pampered dog's hunts
The hard working buffalo
The privileged horse

Decline and death

The dog falls from grace
The fox in the vineyard
The wolf's summer vacation
"They shoot horses when they grow old"

Glorious 'survival'

The boar goes to church
The hare's spicy farewell
The lynx's final rest
The elephant's bedroom activities

Political messages

Before and after the conference
The rat exposes the cat

'Subvertiveness'

The monkey mocks the elevated elephant




Photo by Jim Russel

Penfield Library, February 11, 2004

2/25/04 Campus Update article


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