Writing From the Margins

Welcome to Writing From the Margins, the blog of the DBBE project!

This blog sheds light on various interesting dimensions of the Byzantine book epigrams contained in our database. It is a space to discuss topics that go beyond the limits of a database record. You will find here the stories behind the transmission of some remarkable book epigrams, as well as preliminary results of in-progress research, larger-scale overviews of metrical paratexts on various subjects, and discoveries of exciting new material transmitted in beautiful manuscripts.

Whether you are acquainted with Byzantine paratexts or you have coincidently stumbled upon this blog, you will find some ideas (and pictures!) that will spark your interest.



Do not hesitate to reach out should you be interested to contribute a post to our blog!


On Restored Manuscripts and Fulfilled Oracles: Two Book Epigrams on Niketas Choniates’ ‘History’ Posted on 04/04/2023 Category: Blog, Miniatures, Niketas Choniates, Scholia, Textual transmission by Julián Bértola - Niketas Choniates (c. 1155-1217) is one of the top Byzantine intellectuals of all times, a bureaucrat and a writer mostly known for his historiographical work. His History sets off at the beginning of the 12th century with the death and succession of Alexios I Komnenos (1118) and finishes with the… Read more
On the date of the Menologion and the Psalterion of Basil II Posted on 14/02/2023 Category: Blog, Coins, Menologion of Basil II, Miniatures, Psalter of Basil II, Synaxarium by Alberto Longhi - The so-called Menologion (actually a Synaxarion) and the Psalterion written for, and dedicated to, Basil II (976-1025)[1] are certainly among the most famous Byzantine manuscripts handed down to us. Despite being very well-known, they cannot be dated exactly. Moreover, taking into account both the illuminations and the information provided by… Read more
Book Epigrams as Ekphraseis? A Look at the Menologion of Basil II Posted on 21/11/2022 Category: Blog, Ekphrasis, Iliad, Menologion of Basil II, Miniatures, Nicholas Mesarites, Paul the Silentiary, Progymnasmata by Brad Hostetler - Epigrams often include descriptive details about the images and things that they adorn. For example, the epigram in a menologion (Oxford, Bodleian Library, gr. th. f. 1) describes the pearls, silver, and gold that decorated the book’s cover; an epigram in a lectionary (Mount Athos, Mone Megistes Lauras Α 103… Read more
Παῦλος ὁ μύστης τῶν ἀπορρήτων λόγων: On the Use of Book Epigrams in New Testament Catenae on Paul Posted on 24/10/2022 Category: Blog, Catenae, Church Fathers, Miniatures, New Testament, Paul the Apostle by Jacopo Marcon - Catenae and commentaries on the Pauline Epistles: the case of the Pseudo-Oecumenian catena Biblical catenae are Byzantine manuscripts comprising a selection of patristic and exegetical material from multiple sources. The biblical text, usually in the middle of the page for the so-called ‘frame’ or ‘marginal’ catenae, is surrounded by the… Read more
Carmine finito: Some Evidence of Latin Book Epigrams Posted on 02/09/2022 Category: Blog, Church Fathers, Colophons, Latin book epigrams, Miniatures, Western manuscripts by Renaat Meesters - Latin book epigrams can be found in numerous Western manuscripts. Just as is the case with Byzantine book epigrams, it seems that there is a lot of variation among Latin book epigrams. Some are short and formulaic, others are more refined literary compositions. Similar subgenres (scribe-, patron-, owner-, author-, reader-,… Read more
The Byzantine Reader’s Experience Between Paratexts and Collections of Excerpts: Reading the Iliad Posted on 09/06/2022 Category: Blog, Education, Excerpts, Iliad, Memory, Readership, Scholia by Ottavia Mazzon - The compilation of anthologies of excerpts, that is to say, the selection and transcription of passages deemed important while reading a text, is a common scholarly practice in Byzantium: excerpts were essential to the way Byzantine intellectuals managed information. Very often, collections of excerpts were compiled close to the moment… Read more
Greek Epigrams in a Georgian Manuscript Posted on 04/05/2022 Category: Blog, Georgian manuscripts, Metrical captions, Miniatures, Synaxarium by Georgi Parpulov - While waging war against the Georgians in 1021-1022, Emperor Basil II employed as his envoy one of their bishops, who consequently ended up in far-away Constantinople and could not return home before 1030. The prelate, named Zachariah, was a wealthy man and had several books and religious objects made in… Read more
Book Epigrams and Grammar: Verses in and on Grammar Books Posted on 24/03/2022 Category: Blog, Education, Grammar, Scholia, Text books by Febe Schollaert - All epigrams discussed in this blog post are to be found in the Database of Byzantine Book Epigrams (last consulted on 04/03/2022).   I am a grammatical textbook, easy to comprehend, easy to take in, focused, plain, clear, written in good order, guiding the answers to the question. For this… Read more




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