Nonnus’ Paraphrase between Poetry, Rhetoric and Theology

Rewriting the Fourth Gospel in the Fifth Century


This book investigates the various paraphrastic techniques employed by Nonnus of Panopolis (5th century AD) for his poetic version of the Gospel of John. The authors look at Nonnus’ Paraphrase, the only extant poetic Greek paraphrase of the New Testament, in the light of ancient rhetorical theory while also exploring its multi-faceted relationship with poetic tradition and the theological debates of its era. The study shows how interpretation, cardinal both in ancient literary criticism and in theology, is exploited in a poem that is exegetical both from a philological and a Christian point of view and adheres, at the same time, to the literary principles of Hellenistic times and late antiquity.

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Maria Ypsilanti holds a PhD from University College London and is Associate Professor of Ancient Greek Literature at the University of Cyprus. Her publications include the monographs The Epigrams of Crinagoras of Mytilene (Oxford University Press 2018) and Τριφιοδώρου Ἰλίου Ἅλωσις (Ἀθήνα, Στιγμή 2019) and many articles. Laura Franco holds a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London and is Research Assistant at the Hellenic Institute of the same college. She has published several articles on Symeon Metaphrastes and on female Byzantine saints and stylite saints. Her publications include Vita di Costantino (Italian translation, Milan 2009) and Cinque sante bizantine. Storie di travestite, cortigiane, imperatrici (Milan 2017).
Notes on Contributors

I Introduction
Laura Franco
 A  An Evanescent Figure
 B  Dates and Chronology
 C  The Dionysiaca
 D  The Paraphrase
 E  Nonnus’ Influence: A Brief Overview
 F  Nonnus’ Paraphrastic Technique: Rhetorical Tradition and Poetic Creativity
 G  Aims of the Present Study

II The Rhetorical Background to the Paraphrase in the Light of Ancient Rhetorical Treatises
Claudia Greco, except for B.1.a.iii (Claudia Greco, Maria Ypsilanti)
 A  Poetry and Rhetoric
 B  Ancient Rhetorical Treatises and Paraphrastic Technique
 C  Paraphrase as a School Exercise. The Chreia.

III Non-amplificatory Paraphrase
Introductory Essay: Laura Franco
 A  Literal Paraphrasis
   Laura Franco, Maria Ypsilanti
 B  Abbreviations and Conflations
   Laura Franco, Maria Ypsilanti
 C  Sequence and Transpositions
   Laura Franco

IV Amplificatio
Introductory Essay: Laura Franco
 A  Periphrasis
   Maria Ypsilanti
 B  Synonymic Amplificatio and Verbal / Adjectival Accumulation
   Introductory Essay: Laura Franco
 C  Explanations
   Maria Ypsilanti, Laura Franco
 D  Imagery with Theological Significance
   Introductory Essay: Maria Ypsilanti
 E  “Theatrical” Elements: Impressive Visualisation, Description of Scenery, Effects of Sound
   Introductory Essay: Maria Ypsilanti
 F  Handling of Speech (Direct / Indirect / Dialogue)
   Introductory Essay: Maria Ypsilanti
 G  Character Sketching: Between Theatricality, Exegesis and Ethopoea
   Introductory Essay: Maria Ypsilanti
 H  Interpretatio
   Introductory Essay: Laura Franco

V Conclusions
Maria Ypsilanti

Students and scholars interested in Nonnus, Bible Epic, poetry of late antiquity, echoes of theology in poetry, ancient rhetorical theory. Also institutes and libraries of classical studies (Greek and Latin literature).