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Vernacular Byzantine Translations and the Medieval European Romance, 1350–1550

Kostas Yiavis, Cornell University, Fellow 2010–2011

During the academic year, I worked on two books that rethink the transition from the Byzantine to the early modern period. Both are part of an incipient literary history of the Greek Renaissance. First, I concluded my critical edition of the rhymed romance Imperios and Margarona, which was wildly popular throughout Europe. The other project was the first assessment of the earliest adaptations of Western works into vernacular Greek in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. These adaptations, often dismissed as unoriginal, are reclaimed as fiercely important, not least for their decisive enhancement of vernacular authority. The study involves comparisons with, inter alia, Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Gower, and aims to reconfigure vernacular Greek literature as part of the total European field. Diversion came in the form of an article that establishes the topos of external attacks on courtly feasts. The essay covers the period from the inception of the motif in Gilgamesh, through its reinvention by Homer and Virgil, until the medieval and the composite production of the sixteenth century in a range of languages, including Hebrew, Old French, Anglo-Norman, Middle English, Scottish, Middle High German, Italian, Old Norse, Medieval Greek, Middle Persian, and Japanese. I also started thinking about a book on satire featuring the Cretan poet Sachlikis for the Byzantine section of the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (DOML) edited by Alice-Mary Talbot.