Chapter 2 Theodore Metochites between Conservatism and Innovation: Linguistic Approaches at the Chora through the Lens of the Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides

In: Biography of a Landmark, The Chora Monastery and Kariye Camii in Constantinople/Istanbul from Late Antiquity to the 21st Century
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Didier Clerc
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In Byzantium, rhetorical training based on the works of authors writing in the Attic dialect was an important part of the regular curriculum and opened the doors to a career in the high imperial (or ecclesiastical) administration.1 Adherence to ancient Attic models (or μίμησις, ‘imitation’2 ) was assigned such importance that some scholars have even questioned the ability of the Byzantines to represent their own reality.3 Indeed, writings produced from the Archaic period to Late Antiquity provided the Byzantines with a rich repertoire of rhetorical formulae and ideas to use as models.4 Writers of the Palaiologan period, in particular, are known for their outstanding ability to imitate: it took scholars time to identify Thomas Magister as the true author of speeches that had long been attributed to Aelius Aristides, for example.5

This chapter examines the final prose work by Theodore Metochites, entitled (in an abbreviated form) the Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides. Metochites composed it during his very last years of life (i.e. between 1330 and 1332).6 In 1228 Emperor Andronikos II and his protégé and counsellor Metochites were stripped of their power by Andronikos III. After a brief exile in Didymoteicho, Metochites was allowed back to Constantinople, where he spent his last days under house arrest at Chora Monastery.7 Thus the Chora, where Metochites wrote his Comparison, becomes a place of culture and, more appropriately, of rhetorical erudition. Among the most influential ancient orators in Byzantium, Demosthenes and Aristides were both highly esteemed and often imitated on account of their rhetorical richness and the purity of their Attic language.8 But did Metochites himself always adhere to the rules of ancient rhetoric? In his view, did ancient models prevail without exception over a more innovative style? The Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides offers excellent perspective on this matter, as it is at once a rhetorical piece and a technical work about rhetoric. The first aim of the present chapter is to identify some linguistic features of the Comparison that are consistent with traditional Byzantine teachings on rhetoric. The second is to assess the extent to which Metochites innovated at the Chora with reference to linguistic matters. Before taking into consideration these two specific topics, it is useful to catch a glimpse of the perception of Metochites’s style by his contemporaries and to compare their views with respect generally to Atticism.

The Reception of Metochites’s Style by His Contemporaries

It is well known that, some years before the appearance of the Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides, a quarrel arose between Metochites and Nikephoros Choumnos.9 Though this dispute was motivated by personal reasons,10 one of its major topics pertained to style: Metochites disparaged Choumnos because of the excessive ‘clarity’ (σαφήνεια) of his writings. For his part, Choumnos criticized Metochites’s ‘obscurity’ (ἀσάφεια) and condemned his reluctance to imitate the style of ancient Greek authors such as Plato.

Considering the personal basis of the argument between Nikephoros Choumnos and Metochites, the former’s opinion may not seem sufficiently objective. Yet, even Nikephoros Gregoras, Metochites’s pupil, praised his master’s erudition in his eulogy, only to rebuke his harsh style immediately afterwards:

Probably only one thing could be criticized with regard to him [i.e. Metochites], namely, that he never wished to conform the representation of his style of writing to any of the ancient orators, and that he was never inclined to lighten the gravity of his thought by cheerful and pleasing language, nor to restrain with any bridle the abundance of his natural genius. Instead, in obedience to his own characteristics and laws, he puts forth, so to say, a storm and a sea of words. And, consequently, he pricks and scratches the ears of the audience, as the thorn around the rose [pricks] the hand of those who try to pluck it.11

Gregoras claims that Metochites did not follow the ‘laws’ (i.e. the linguistic features) of ancient authors. Instead, according to the eulogizer, Metochites obeyed only his own judgement in matters of style, ‘pricking’ the audience with his verbosity and his peculiar wording. Modern scholars also tend to find Metochites’s style inelegant and often puzzling,12 but Gregoras’s assessment – like that of Choumnos – is striking in its implication that the problematic character of Metochites’s writing resulted from his neglect for the rules of Atticism.13 Writing in compliance with ancient Attic authors was a requirement not only for literary works but also for scientific texts. Accordingly, for example, Gregory Akindynos speaks highly of Gregoras’s work on astronomy for its Attic language:

I took it [i.e. Gregoras’s treatise on astronomy], then, and studied its depth of meaning as well as its classical style and the flower of its vocabulary, picked from the Attic meadow, and the variety of arguments from the Platonic treasures (unless I am altogether untrustworthy in such matters): in short, I may say, its whole graceful composition. I did not admire it as much as it deserves, not even nearly so, as I said before. Nevertheless, admire it I did to the best of my ability; then I passed it on to those who were eagerly asking for it, and they were many.14

Bearing in mind the statements of Choumnos and of Gregoras concerning Metochites’s style, in the next two sections we shall identify the linguistic features of the Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides that speak either against or in support of their opinion.15

Atticist and Archaizing Features in the Comparison

Many linguistic features of the Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides would seem to refute the allegations of non-Atticism made against Metochites:

  1. In the Comparison, the Attic double tau is always employed instead of the double sigma.16 A total of 49 instances of -ττ- are found in the text, 12 of them in the prologue.17

  2. The Attic εἰς is always used in place of ἐς.18

  3. The Attic suffix -θεν appears often throughout the text (30 instances).19

  4. Metochites opts for the spelling μικρ- rather than σμικρ-. μικρ- is found more frequently in the works of Attic authors,20 whereas σμικρ- is a more ancient form, used in both Ionic and Doric dialects.21

  5. There are five instances of the deictic ι (οὑτοσί, οὑτωσί, νυνί), three of them in the prologue.22

  6. ἑάλων appears instead of ἥλων (chapter 2).23

  7. There is one instance of the Attic third-person singular of the personal pronoun οἱ (chapter 6).

  8. The grammatical number dual is intensively used, especially in the prologue (34 instances, supplemented by a further 35 in the text). One may argue that it is quite logical to apply the dual in a comparison between two orators. Nonetheless, we must bear in mind that the dual disappeared quite early from spoken language.24 Thus, in this Metochites indeed employs an archaizing and elevated style.

  9. The same remark can be made about the optative, a verbal mood that Metochites uses quite extensively in the Comparison (95 times, 25 of them in the prologue alone).25

  10. We find one verbal adjective (χρηστέον), another feature that was eliminated from spoken language.26

  11. The dative, which likewise disappeared from spoken language,27 is used extensively throughout the Comparison.28

  12. The Attic form ἀνύτω (five occurrences) is always used instead of ἀνύω. It is striking to note that in his other works Metochites oscillates between the two. Therefore, the language of the Comparison seems to show particular care.

  13. Metochites follows the lexica of Herodian and Thomas Magister in employing the expression γέλως πλατύς (‘loud laughter’) rather than γέλως πολύς.29 Although, according to the Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell, Scott and Jones (LSJ, s.v. γέλως I), the turn of phrase γέλως πλατύς “is not classical,” Metochites merely demonstrates compliance with the phraseology that was considered Attic and thus correct.30

  14. Finally, in the Comparison, the Attic γιγν- is found much more often (17 occurrences) than the simple γιν- (two occurrences, never in the prologue), which prevails in Koine Greek.31

To sum up these findings: Metochites applies many linguistic features that can be described as conservative or as adhering to how a Byzantine intellectual was expected to write, that is, in accordance with the language of ancient Attic authors. After all, in chapter 31 of the Comparison, he refers to Demosthenes as “the legislator … and guide … of the art of oratory.”32 This is expressive of his opinion that Aristides and all future generations had only to follow the path of this great Attic orator, and in general the path of classical authors. And this position is consistent with his own wide use of archaizing and Atticizing language.

Non-Attic or Non-Classical Words in the Comparison

Considering the above list of evidence, some of Choumnos’s and Gregoras’s accusations may seem unwarranted. However, the Comparison demonstrates certain linguistic features that run counter to the Attic idiom, thus supporting their view:

1 Accentuation

  1. As seen above (point 13), Metochites usually follows the recommendations of the Atticist lexica. However, in chapter 11 of the Comparison we find the proparoxytone word τρόπαιον (‘trophy’). Many lexica identify the properispomenon word τροπαῖον as the proper Attic form.33 Here, Metochites does not accord with the precepts of the lexica but rather with the most common wording: according to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG), τρόπαιον is far more frequently used than τροπαῖον. Thus, in some cases, the widespread usage of a non-Attic form could legitimize its employment,34 even in a comparison between two authors writing in the Attic dialect.

2 Non-Classical Words

  1. In chapter 9 of the Comparison, we find the participle συναεθλεύων, from the rare Byzantine verb συναεθλεύω.35 According to the TLG, the noun συναεθλευτής and the verb συναεθλεύω appear only nine times in all of Greek literature (the first time being in the work of Eustathios of Thessaloniki).36 However, the noun συνάεθλος (which the LSJ translates as ‘fellow-toiler’) already appears among the writings of authors of Late Antiquity.37

  2. Next, we may consider the name ἐκτόκια, (‘products’), which appears in chapter 14. The word ἐκτόκιον is first found in the output of Metochites’s contemporaries, but once again its root (< τίκτω, ‘give birth to/produce’ + prefix ἐκ-, ‘out’) renders it perfectly comprehensible as well as consistent with the ancient Greek language.

  3. The same remark can be made about the word δονακίσκον (chapter 22). According to the TLG, it is only seen twice in all of Greek literature, that is, by Metochites and by another Byzantine author, Niketas Choniates.38 Nonetheless, it is clear that this is the diminutive of the ancient term δόναξ (the ‘reed’ used, for example, as a writing instrument),39 which is already used by Homer (e.g. Il. 10,467).40 In addition, the use of the diminutive could be justified by the fact that, according to Eustathios of Thessaloniki,41 the δόναξ is smaller than another reed, the κάλαμος.42

  4. Concerning the word λαμυρότης (chapter 29), a preliminary remark is necessary. In his 1969 edition, Marcello Gigante emends λαμυρότητι, which appears in the manuscript, to λαμπρότητι (perhaps in accordance with chapter 30, in which the latter term actually occurs).43 However, already before him Ihor Ševčenko had spoken in favor of the text transmitted by the manuscript (λαμυρότητι),44 and Ioannis Polemis and Eleni Kaltsogianni have also maintained this reading of the manuscript in their recent edition (2019). The word λαμυρότης is indeed very rare (five occurrences according to the TLG, six if we count the one in the Comparison itself) and first appears in the 12th century. In this respect, λαμυρότης is not a classical word, but it is a calque of both the adjective λαμυρός (LSJ ‘gluttonous / impudent / charming / bright’), which is first found in Xenophon, and the noun λαμυρία, which appears many times in Plutarch (LSJ ‘wantonness / pertness’), an author whom Metochites esteemed highly.45

  5. The word τήβενον (chapter 33) is also corrected by Gigante as τήβεννον (‘toga’). τήβεννος is the form used since Dionysius of Halicarnassus, but τήβενος is also attested in the Suidae lexicon.46

3 Hapax legomena

The previous examples are all rare, or very rare, words employed by Byzantine authors and are therefore non-classical words. Moreover, in the Comparison there are four hapax legomena. This is particularly notable given that it is remarkable to find even one hapax in a text longer than the Comparison.

  1. One first encounters the word γλωττοστροφίαν (chapter 10). The word means the ‘ability to turn the tongue’, that is, the ability to speak in a treacherous way, as sophists are often accused of. The noun γλωττοστροφία is indeed a hapax legomenon, but the corresponding verb γλωττοστροφέω already appears in Aristophanes’s Clouds (v. 792).

  2. The compound ἀρτιόχρειος (chapter 19) is used in other works by Metochites.47 Nonetheless, it does not appear among the writings of other authors nor in the LSJ. The meaning ‘suitable, consistent, in accordance with’ could be added to the one given by the Lexikon zur byzantinischen Gräzität (LBG), namely, ‘sehr nützlich’. If the form of the word is indeed innovative, the meaning suggested here is not: in fact, it is the first meaning of ἄρτιος offered by the LSJ.

  3. As for the next hapax, Ἀρεϊκώτερος (chapter 29) appears only here and in Metochites’s Byzantius (14). It is the comparative related to the adverb Ἀρεϊκῶς, thus meaning ‘in a manner even more appropriate to the god of war Ares’. As both the adverb Ἀρεϊκῶς and the adjective Ἀρεϊκός appear in texts written during the Late Antiquity, Metochites’s readers may well be surprised by the unprecedented comparative Ἀρεϊκώτερος, but they can hardly be really puzzled.

  4. The last hapax is ἀπορρυπτεῖσθαι (chapter 29). The verb ἀπορρυπτέω does not appear in the LSJ, but the LBG rightly refers the reader to the lemma ἀπορρύπτω in the LSJ (‘cleanse thoroughly’).

The above-mentioned words are neither ancient nor properly Attic and share common characteristics such as rarity and intelligibility. In addition, as Ševčenko put it, they ‘twist’ the “rules of rhetorical composition,” i.e. of the style and expression of ancient authors.48 Metochites thus sets up a linguistic game, aiming to present the reader with a vocabulary that is easily comprehensible yet involves a slight transgression with regard to the ancient forms. This makes his style – to some extent – innovative.49

Stylistic Auto-Legitimization in the Comparison

As shown above, Metochites makes use of a composite style, alternating Attic and archaizing language with certain non-Attic and more recent, or even completely new, words. Although the newer terminology Metochites employed would have been comprehensible to readers knowledgeable in ancient Greek, his contemporaries did not hesitate to censure him for not adopting more conventional wordings.

In this respect, the Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides seems to be a stylistic self-apology.50 Indeed, even for his last rhetorical piece, Metochites continued using his peculiar mixed style – partly conservative and partly innovative. Moreover, in the Comparison he characterizes both Demosthenes and Aristides as innovators, thus seeking to legitimize his own style through the example of the two renowned orators.

In chapter 19, Demosthenes is said to be “very innovative” (μάλιστα καινισθέντα) in his use of figures of speech and of all common rhetorical means, which he employs “at every occasion at the most proper time” (ἐν παντὶ τῷ παραστάντι κάλλιστ’ ἐν καιρῷ). Metochites looks to Demosthenes’s novel style to empower his own: Who would blame Metochites for innovating, if Demosthenes himself (so says the author) introduced originality in his speeches?

But another question arises, then: How far can innovation go with regard to the art of oratory? Metochites answers while addressing Aristides’s alleged originality:

While innovating [καινίσας] many times … in respect to the art of oratory, … Aristides demonstrates shrewdness and agility in this discipline, but even so he keeps a firm grip on those ancient rules, and he does not abandon his respect [for them], … being proud of the dignity of his style, [which is] rough for the lips to express and harsh for the ears to hear.51

In light of the above evidence, this description of the style of Aristides can be seen to be applicable to Metochites himself. In particular, the latter’s self-apology concerns tradition and innovation as well as harshness, for which Gregoras denounced him. As Metochites states in the passage just quoted, harshness and innovation are marks of a dignified style; the condition is that innovation must remain well grounded and consistent with the language of ancient authors. Thus, the ‘ancient rules’ can be bent, but not completely ignored, forgotten, or refuted. By using a mixed style in his Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides, Metochites adopts precisely this linguistic approach – an approach he considers praiseworthy.

Conclusion

The Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides contains many linguistic features that are perfectly consistent with the expectations of a learned Byzantine audience. Metochites is careful to adopt a refined and Atticizing style to impress the reader by adhering to linguistic standards that all contemporary intellectuals shared. Chora Monastery, where Metochites wrote the Comparison at the end of his life, became in this respect a place of high erudition, in which ancient writings were preserved and reanimated through close imitation.

Nevertheless, Metochites was critiqued by friends and foes alike for his peculiar style. But his interspersing of recent words and personal linguistic coinages was reflective of his approach to innovation: he considered originality to be a welcome feature of the art of oratory, but one that must never break the old rules of that art; it should not go beyond the limits of comprehension and reason with regard to ancient Greek language. For instance, as the word δόναξ (denoting a ‘reed’ that is smaller than a κάλαμος) was used by ancient authors and -ισκ- denoted a diminutive already in antiquity, why, then, should the diminutive δονακίσκος not exist? Or why should the noun γλωττοστροφία not be used, if Aristophanes applied the corresponding verb γλωττοστροφέω in one of his verses? The recent and rare words, as well as the hapax legomena, that Metochites employs in his Comparison are indeed striking and worthy of study, but they are far from puzzling.

Metochites sought to legitimize his own innovative style by arguing that Demosthenes and Aristides themselves had innovated, as far as language was concerned. Thus, writing at the Chora at the end of his life, Metochites advocated a style that, though novel in regard to some features, took the old one into account, respected it, and built upon it in a consistent and harmonious way.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Manuela Studer-Karlen, the two anonymous reviewers, and the proofreader for their helpful suggestions and their meticulous work that improved this contribution.

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  • Vanderspoel, John. “Were the speeches of Aelius Aristides ‘rediscovered’ in the 350s p.C.?,” in Regards sur la Seconde sophistique et son époque, edited by Thomas Schmidt, and Pascale Fleury, pp. 189198. Toronto/Buffalo/London, 2011.

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  • Vix, Jean-Luc. “Aelius Aristide, égal de Démosthène? Réflexions sur la réception d’Aristide à la Renaissance,” Dodone: Philologia (In memoriam Emmanuel Papathomopoulou) 3839 (2013), 433–452.

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  • Wahlgren, Staffan, “Case, Style and Competence in Byzantine Greek,” in The Language of Byzantine Learned Literature, edited by Martin Hinterberger, pp. 170175. Turnhout, 2014.

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  • Xenophontos, Sophia. “The Byzantine Plutarch: Self-Identity and Model in Theodore Metochites’ Essay 71 of the Semeioseis Gnomikai,” in The Afterlife of Plutarch, edited by John North, and Peter Mack, pp. 2339. London, 2018.

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1

See Costas N. Constantinides, “Teachers and Students of Rhetoric in the Late Byzantine Period,” in Rhetoric in Byzantium. Papers from the Thirty-Fifth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Exeter College, University of Oxford, March 2001, ed. Elisabeth Jeffreys (Aldershot, 2003), pp. 39–53.

2

On the concept of μίμησις, see Herbert Hunger, “The Classical Tradition in Byzantine Literature: the Importance of Rhetoric,” in Byzantium and the Classical Tradition: University of Birmingham Thirteenth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies 1979, ed. Margaret Mullett, and Roger Scott (Birmingham, 1981), pp. 35–47; Ihor Ševčenko, “Levels of Style in Byzantine Prose,” in XVI. Internationaler Byzantinisten Kongress, Wien 4.–9. Oktober 1981. Akten I, ed. Wolfram Hörandner (Vienna, 1981), pp. 289–312.

3

See Cyril Mango, Byzantine Literature as a Distorting Mirror (Oxford, 1975); Sergey Averintzev, “Vizantijskaja ritorika” [Byzantine Rhetoric], in Ritorika i istoki evropeyskoy literaturnoy traditsii [Rhetoric and Origins of the European Literary Tradition] (Moscow, 1996), pp. 244–318. Both are mentioned by Jakov Ljubarskij, “How should a Byzantine text be read?,” in Rhetoric in Byzantium, pp. 117–25, esp. 117–18.

4

See Antonia Giannouli, “Education and Literary Language in Byzantium,” in The Language of Byzantine Learned Literature, ed. Martin Hinterberger (Turnhout, 2014), pp. 52–71, esp. 69.

5

See Antonio Rollo, “‘Greco medievale’ e ‘greco bizantino’,” AION. Annali del Dipartimento di Studi del Mondo Classico e del Mediterraneo Antico. Sezione linguistica 30 (2008), 429–73, esp. 441–43.

6

See Eva de Vries-Van der Velden, Théodore Métochite: une réévaluation (Amsterdam, 1987), pp. 259, 262.

7

On the last years of Metochites’s life, see Ihor Ševčenko, “Theodore Metochites, the Chora, and the Intellectual Trends of His Time,” in The Kariye Djami, vol. 4, Studies in the Art of the Kariye Djami and Its Intellectual Background, ed. Paul A. Underwood (Princeton, N.J., 1975), pp. 17–55, esp. 24–55; Ihor Ševčenko, “Théodore Métochites, Chora et les courants intellectuels de l’époque,” in Ideology, Letters and Culture in the Byzantine World, ed. idem (London, 1982), section VIII, pp. 15–39, esp. 23–36; de Vries-Van der Velden, Théodore Métochite, pp. 102–04.

8

On the reception of Demosthenes, see Craig Cooper, “Philosophers, Politics, Academics. Demosthenes’ Rhetorical Reputation in Antiquity,” in Demosthenes. Statesman and Orator, ed. Ian Worthington (London/New York, 2000), pp. 224–45; Philip Harding, “Demosthenes in the Underworld. A Chapter in the Nachleben of a rhetor,” in Demosthenes. Statesman and Orator, pp. 246–71; Robert David Milns, “The Public Speeches of Demosthenes,” in Demosthenes. Statesman and Orator, pp. 205–23. On Aristides, see Niels Gaul, Thomas Magistros und die spätbyzantinische Sophistik. Studien zum Humanismus urbaner Eliten in der Frühen Palaiologenzeit (Wiesbaden, 2011), pp. 175–81; Lorenzo Miletti, “Elio Aristide nella scuola tardoantica: commentari e trattati di retorica,” AION. Annali del Dipartimento di Studi del Mondo Classico e del Mediterraneo Antico. Sezione di filologia e letteratura classica 40 (2018), 58–85; Fabrice Robert, “Enquête sur la présence d’Aelius Aristide et de son œuvre dans la littérature grecque du IIe au XVe siècle de notre ère,” Anabases 10 (2009), 141–60; John Vanderspoel, “Were the speeches of Aelius Aristides ‘rediscovered’ in the 350s p.C.?,” in Perceptions of the Second Sophistic and Its Times – Regards sur la Seconde sophistique et son époque, ed. Thomas Schmidt, and Pascale Fleury (Toronto/Buffalo/London, 2011), pp. 189–98; Jean-Luc Vix, “Aelius Aristide, égal de Démosthène? Réflexions sur la réception d’Aristide à la Renaissance,” Dodone: Philologia (In memoriam Emmanuel Papathomopoulou) 38–39 (2013), 433–52.

9

On this quarrel, see Ihor Ševčenko, Études sur la polémique entre Théodore Métochite et Nicéphore Choumnos. La vie intellectuelle et politique à Byzance sous les premiers Paléologues (Brussels, 1962).

10

As Choumnos was removed from office, Metochites replaced him and became μεσάζων. On the personal and political background of their dispute, see Ševčenko, Études, pp. 145–66.

11

Nikephoros Gregoras, Historia Romana, ed. Immanuel Bekker, and Ludovicus Schopen (Bonn, 1829–55), 1:272 (my translation): Ἕν τι μόνον ἴσως αὐτοῦ καταμέμψαιτό τις, ὅτι πρὸς οὐδένα τῶν πάλαι ῥητόρων ἀναφέρειν βεβούληται τοῦ τῆς αὐτοῦ γραφῆς χαρακτῆρος τὴν μίμησιν, οὐδ’ ἱλαρᾷ τινι καὶ μειδιώσῃ γλώσσῃ τὸ τῆς διανοίας παραμυθεῖσθαι ἐμβριθὲς, οὐδὲ τὸ τῆς φύσεως πάνυ τοι γόνιμον χαλινῷ τινι κατέχειν προτεθύμηται· ἀλλ’ ἰδιοτροπίᾳ τινὶ καὶ αὐτονομίᾳ φύσεως κατακολουθήσας χειμῶνά τινα καὶ θάλατταν γλώττης προΐσχεται· κἀντεῦθεν ἀμύσσει καὶ κνίζει τῶν ἐπιόντων τὴν ἀκοὴν, καθάπερ τὴν τῶν τρυγώντων παλάμην ἡ περὶ τὸ ῥόδον ἄκανθα.

12

See Teodoro Metochites, Saggio critico su Demostene e Aristide, ed. Marcello Gigante (Varese/Milan, 1969), pp. 19–20; Ševčenko, Études, pp. 40–41. Gigante and Ševčenko offer a list of opinions on Metochites’s style.

13

Börje Bydén, “Nikephoros Gregoras’ Commentary on Synesius, De insomniis,” in On Prophecy, Dreams and Human Imagination, ed. Donald A. Russell, and Heinz-Günther Nesselrath (Tübingen, 2014), pp. 166–67, rightly observes that Gregoras applies the simile of the pricking thorn also to the style of Synesius; see Nikephoros Gregoras, Explicatio in librum Synesii “De insomniis.” Scholia cum glossis, ed. Pietrosanti Paolo (Bari, 1999), p. 127. He also notes that Gregoras (ibid., pp. 127–28) justifies Synesius’s style on the same basis as Metochites does, i.e. that he was educated in Egypt; see Semeioseis gnomikai 17.1.1 in Theodore Metochites on Ancient Authors and Philosophy: Semeioseis gnomikai 1–26 et 71, ed. Hult Karin (Göteborg, 2002). Furthermore, in a letter to Demetrios Kabasilas on Synesius’s De insomniis, Gregoras salutes the author’s obscurity as the mark of a prophetic book; see letters 148 and 214–32 in Nikephoros Gregoras, Epistulae, ed. Pietro Luigi M. Leone (Matino, 1982–83), here in vol. 2. According to Bydén, Gregoras is not actually criticizing Metochites in his eulogy but instead covertly praising him for imitating Synesius’s peculiar style. Although this is possible, I find it curious that Gregoras gives no grounds for Metochites’s style, as he does overtly for Synesius’s: Metochites seems to have no reason at all to write in such a way.

14

Translation by Angela Constantinides Hero. Letters of Gregory Akindynos 1, ed. eadem (Washington, D.C., 1983): Ἐγὼ δὲ παραλαβὼν καὶ διεξιὼν τό τε βάθος τῆς διανοίας τό τε τῆς ἑρμηνείας Ἑλληνικὸν καὶ τὸ τῶν λέξεων ἀνθηρὸν ἐξ Ἀττικοῦ τοῦ λειμῶνος καὶ ποικιλίαν ἐνθυμημάτων ἐκ τῶν Πλάτωνος θησαυρῶν (εἰ μὴ παντάπασιν ἄπιστος ἐγὼ τὰ τοιαῦτα) καὶ πᾶσαν, ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν, τὴν μεθ’ ὥρας κατασκευὴν αὐτῆς, οὐχ ὅσον μὲν εἰκὸς ἦν, οὐδ’ ἐγγύς, ὅπερ εἶπον, θαυμάσας δ’ οὖν εἰς δύναμιν τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ, τοῖς σφόδρα ζητοῦσιπολλοὶ δὲ οὗτοιδιέδωκα.

15

I hereafter cite the Comparison according to the text of Teodoro Metochites, Saggio critico, as that is the version available in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG). Nonetheless, I also take a new edition into account: Theodore Metochites, Orationes, ed. Ioannis Polemis, and Eleni Kaltsogianni (Berlin/Boston, 2019).

16

On the double τ as a mark of Atticism, see Wilhelm Schmid, Der Atticismus in seinen Hauptvertretern von Dionysius von Halikarnass bis auf den zweiten Philostratus (Stuttgart, 1887–97), esp. 4:579, mentioned in Toma Magister, La regalità, ed. Paola Volpe Cacciatore (Naples, 1997), p. 17.

17

It is not entirely clear whether the prologue ends at chapter 5 (as suggested by Marcello Gigante in Teodoro Metochites, Saggio critico, pp. 20–21) or chapter 7. Laurent Pernot, L’ombre du tigre. Recherches sur la réception de Démosthène (Naples, 2006), p. 102, points out that the ‘préambule’ ends at chapter 5, but the comparison actually begins at chapter 8. I find chapter 7 to be a more convincing endpoint for the prologue; see Theodore Metochites, Comparaison de Démosthène et d’Aristide. Introduction, traduction princeps, commentaire et études, ed. Didier Clerc, forthcoming.

18

On this feature, see Schmid, Der Atticismus, 4:579, mentioned in Toma Magister, La regalità, p. 18.

19

See Toma Magister, La regalità, p. 18.

20

See the Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell, Scott and Jones, s.v. μικρός, p. 1133.

21

See Eduard Schwyzer, Griechische Grammatik (Munich, 1939), 1:310–11.

22

See Toma Magister, La regalità, p. 18.

23

Thomas Magister’s influential Ecloga vocum Atticarum also recommends the use of the form ἑάλω, which he then considers as an Attic feature; see idem, Ecloga vocum Atticarum, ed. Fridericus Ritschl (Hildesheim, 1970), p. 146.

24

According to Antonius Nicholas Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar. Chiefly of the Attic Dialect … (London, 1897), p. 101, the dual had already disappeared from spoken language by the end of the 4th century B.C.

25

Ibid., p. 450, points out that the use of the optative declined from the Hellenistic period onwards, though surviving until the 7th century A.D. According to Carlo Martino Lucarini, the optative is no doubt a mark of Atticism; see idem, “Erodiano e l’Atticismo,” in Erodiano. Tra crisi e trasformazione, ed. Alessandro Galimberti (Milan, 2017), pp. 3–37, esp. 4.

26

See Erich Trapp, “The Role of Vocabulary in Byzantine Rhetoric as a Stylistic Device,” in Rhetoric in Byzantium, pp. 137–49, esp. 146–47.

27

See Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar, pp. 325–27, 341–47.

28

On the use of dative by Byzantine authors as a feature of Atticism, see Staffan Wahlgren, “Case, Style and Competence in Byzantine Greek,” in The Language of Byzantine Learned Literature, ed. Martin Hinterberger (Turnhout, 2014), pp. 170–75. In his study, Wahlgren points out that, despite its gradual vanishing from spoken language, the dative appears even more often among Byzantine authors than the Attic authors themselves. This phenomenon suggests that the Byzantines perceived the dative to be another archaizing linguistic element.

29

See Herodian, Philetaerus 180, ed. Alphonse Dain (Paris, 1954); Thomas Magister, Ecloga vocum Atticarum, p. 293 follows him.

30

Two similar cases relate to the use of ἀμηγέπῃ and εὐκολία. The former is an Attic word, according to Herodian, De prosodia catholica 3.1.489, ed. Augustus Lentz (Leipzig, 1878). Thomas Magister explains the meanings of εὔκολος in his Ecloga vocum Atticarum, p. 107.

31

On -γν- instead of -ν- as a mark of Atticism, see Sonja Gammage, Atticism in Achilles Tatius: An Examination of Linguistic Purism in Achilles Tatius’Leucippe and Clitophon” (PhD diss., University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 2018), pp. 90–93.

32

νομοθέτης … καὶ ἡγεμὼν … τῆς τέχνης.

33

Herodian, De prosodia catholica 3.1.369; Arcadius, Epitome of Herodian’s “De prosodia catholica,” ed. Stephanie Roussou (Oxford, 2018), p. 138; Scholia in Dionysii Thraci Artem grammaticam, ed. Alfredus Hilgard (Leipzig, 1901), p. 131; Ioanni Tzetzae, Commentarii in Aristophanis “Plutum,” line 705, ed. Lydia Massa Positano, et al. (Groningen, 1960). Others regard τρόπαιον as a more recent form than τροπαῖον; see Scholia Graeca in Aristophanis “Thesmophoriazusas,” line 697, ed. Friedrich Dübner (Hildesheim, 1969); Scholia in Thucydidem ad optimos codices collata 1.30.1, ed. Carolus Hude (Leipzig, 1927).

34

On this principle, see Stefano Valente, “Old and New Lexica in Palaeologan Byzantium,” in Toward a Historical Sociolinguistic Poetics of Medieval Greek, ed. Andrea Massimo Cuomo, and Erich Trapp (Turnhout, 2017), pp. 45–55, esp. 54.

35

On this verb, see the Lexikon zur byzantinischen Gräzität, which mentions this passage of the Comparison of Demosthenes and Aristides and translates as ‘sich zusammen mühen’.

36

Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentarii ad Homeri “Iliadem” pertinentes, ed. Marchinus van der Valk, 4 vols (Leiden, 1971–87), here 3:124.

37

According to the TLG, the first occurrence of this noun is to be found in Oppian, Cynegetica 1.195 and 4.379; see Oppian, Colluthus, Tryphiodorus, ed. Mair Alexander William (Cambridge, Mass., 1963).

38

Nicetae Choniatae, Historia, ed. Jan van Dieten (Berlin, 1975), p. 439.

39

Although Thomas Magister states that the δόναξ is not a writing instrument, thus differentiating it from the κάλαμος; see idem, Ecloga vocum Atticarum, p. 201.

40

On the ancient diminutive -ίσκ-, see Jannaris, An Historical Greek Grammar, pp. 291–92.

41

Eustathios of Thessaloniki, Commentarii ad Homeri “Iliadem”, 3:113 and 4:264.

42

See also the Scholia in Euripidis “Orestem”, line 146, in Scholia Graeca in Euripidis tragoedias, ed. Gulielmus Dindorf (Oxford, 1863).

43

Both λαμυρότητι and λαμπρότητι are written on fol. 363v of the manuscript of the Comparison. This work is preserved only in the codex Vindobonensis philologicus graecus 95. On this manuscript, see Herbert Hunger, Katalog der griechischen Handschriften der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, vol. 1, Codices historici, codices philosophici et philologici (Vienna, 1961), pp. 202–04; Ševčenko, Études, p. 179.

44

Ševčenko, Études, p. 38, n. 1.

45

On Metochites’s admiration for Plutarch, see Sophia Xenophontos, “The Byzantine Plutarch: Self-Identity and Model in Theodore Metochites’ Essay 71 of the Semeioseis Gnomikai,” in The Afterlife of Plutarch, ed. John North, and Peter Mack (London, 2018), pp. 23–39. In addition, Metochites also wrote a treatise about Xenophon (Semeioseis gnomikai 20, ed. Hult).

46

Suidae lexicon, ed. Ada Adler, 4 vols (Leipzig, 1928–35); here 3:299 (λ 834). The TLG online version of Neophytos Ducas, Ἐπιστολαὶ πρὸς τινὰς ἐν διαφόροις περιστάσεσι ὑπὸ Νεοφύτου Δούκα 335 (Aegina, 1835) has also τήβενον, although the printed version (p. 158) has τήβεναν (with one ν instead of the more conventional two). Most importantly, see also Suidae lexicon 4:537 (τ 464 and 465): even though the two lemmas are Τήβεννος, the critical apparatus by Adler shows that some manuscripts give the form Τήβενος.

47

According to the TLG, except for the occurrence in the Comparison, the word ἀρτιόχρειος appears in the following texts: Theodore Metochites, Orationes, 17.13; idem, Carmina, 6,156, ed. Ioannis Polemis (Turnhout, 2015); idem, Βυζάντιος ἢ περὶ τῆς βασιλίδος μεγαλοπόλεως 40, ed. Ioannis Polemis (Thessaloniki, 2013). Moreover, Gigante draws attention to the three occurrences in Theodore Metochites, Miscellanea, ed. Christianus Müller, and Theophilus Kiessling (Leipzig, 1821), pp. 527, 663, and 735; see Teodoro Metochites, Saggio critico, ad loc.

48

Ševčenko, “Theodore Metochites,” pp. 44–45.

49

On Metochites’s stylistic innovation, see ibid., pp. 44–45; Trapp, “The Role of Vocabulary,” p. 140.

50

The Comparison is not the only self-apology among Metochites’s works. For the treatise on Plutarch (Semeioseis gnomikai 71) as an “indirect apology for himself” and his choices in life, see Xenophontos, “The Byzantine Plutarch,” p. 38.

51

Teodoro Metochites, Saggio critico 27 (my translation): Καὶ πολλὰ γὰρ καινίσας … ἐπὶ τῇ τέχνῃ, … τὸ ἀγχίνουν μὲν καὶ τὴν εὐφορίαν ἐντεῦθεν προδείκνυσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ οὕτως ἀπρὶξ ἔχεται τῶν προτέρων ἐκείνων νομίμων καὶ τῆς εὐλαβείας τῆσδ’ οὐκ ἐξίσταται …, ἀκόμψῳ τοῖς χείλεσιν ἐρεῖν καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκοῦσαι τῆς ἑρμηνείας ἀξιώματι σεμνυνόμενος.

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