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A Commentary and Translation of the Three Byzantine Dramatia: Katomyomachia, Dramation, and Bion prasis

Przemysław Marciniak, University of Silesia, Poland, Summer Fellow 2010

During the summer term, I focused mainly on the translation and commentary of the Bion prasis (The Auction of Celebrities), one of the most neglected texts written by Prodromos. The Bion prasis is usually dismissed as an imitation of the work of Lucian, but this is a simplification and a misunderstanding. Bion prasis was designed rather as a “sequel” to Lucian’s work (as is clearly stated at the very beginning of the text) rather than an imitation of it. Whereas the Syrian author auctioned only philosophers, Prodromos included the most important authors of antiquity (e.g., Homer, Euripides, Aristophanes, Demosthenes, and Pomponius). Having analyzed this work, I propose that it was a text designed for school purposes. The ancient authors sold at the auction form the core of the Byzantine curriculum studiorum; their utterances are built either from their own texts or from the works ascribed to them by the ancient and Byzantine traditions. I prepared the working Polish and English translation (with facing Greek original), determined the sources used in the text, studied the language (as Prodromos changes the language of a given character in accordance with his place of origin and the dialect used in his works), and examined the issues raised by the analysis of the text (children’s education in Byzantium, the place of Homer in the Byzantine curriculum, knowledge of Hippocrates’ and Demosthenes’ bioi and writings in Byzantium, and Pomponius’s legal writings).

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