Simon Zuenelli, The Ancient Legacy of the Byzantine Book Epigram

The second lecture in the online lecture series Speaking From the Margins. DBBE Online Lectures, Fall 2021 Series will be given by Simon Zuenelli (Universität Innsbruck).

Dr Simon Zuenelli is Assistant Professor at Innsbruck University (Austria) and chief editor of the review journal Anzeiger für die Altertumswissenschaft. His research focuses on post-classical Greek poetry. He authored several contributions on Nonnus’ Dionysiaca and is currently preparing a monograph on the ancient Greek book epigram.


As the DBBE effectively shows, the production of book epigrams was indeed a popular phenomenon in the Byzantine Middle Ages. Yet, the book epigram is not a Byzantine invention, but rooted in a long tradition going as far back as the Hellenistic period. The history of the ancient book epigram is currently being investigated in the project “The Ancient Greek Book Epigram”, funded by the Austrian Science Fund and carried out at Innsbruck University. In my paper, I would like to present some of the results gained so far, which can lead to a better understanding of the evolution of the Byzantine book epigram tradition. Accordingly, my paper will highlight the continuity of book epigram production between Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

More specifically, after a brief general introduction to the ancient Greek book epigram, the paper will firstly deal with the continuity on a generic level. To this end, the type of the ancient “scribe-related epigram”, where the aspect of continuity is particularly visible, will be discussed. Secondly, two important issues related to the practice of Byzantine book epigram production will be addressed, namely the question of visual presentation and that of textual fluidity (or textual recycling). Taking P.Lond.Lit 11 as an example, several striking parallels with the ancient book epigram tradition in regards of both phenomena will be presented. This analysis will eventually lead to the general discussion of how to determine the “origin” of single Byzantine book epigrams.

Practical information

Date & time: Tuesday 19 October 2021, 4:00pm (CET)

No registration required. The lecture is freely accessible via Zoom:

  • Meeting ID: 997 6893 8150
  • Passcode: Pk1QAR6S

N.B.: A Zoom account is required to join this meeting. Please make sure to be logged in, using your Zoom credentials.