David, our Orpheus. Reception, rewritings and adaptations of the psalms in Byzantine poetry

David, onze Orpheus. Receptie, herschrijvingen en adaptaties van de psalmen in Byzantijnse po√ęzie
Start - End 
2018 - 2022 (ongoing)
Department of Literary Studies
Research Focus 
Research Region 
Research Language 
Research Methodology 
Additional tags 
Book epigrams
Byzantine poetry
Greek palaeography



The Psalms, being an important corpus of biblical poetic texts, have influenced the entire history ofEuropean literature and religious culture. Early Christian and Byzantine readers recognized thepoetical features of the Psalms, and psalmody (i.e. the practice of singing the Psalms in divineworship) was a typical exercise of monastic life. This research project analyzes how the GreekPsalms are reflected in various kinds of late antique and Byzantine poetry. This connection has beenoverlooked so far but will strongly contribute to an insight into the reception of the Bible in theMiddle Ages.

Different kinds of poetical texts selected from different periods will be explored, inorder to ensure a variety of perspectives. The corpus includes metrical paratexts referring to thePsalms, that is: epigrams that praise David (often as the new Orpheus) and his Psalms. These poemsare transmitted along with the Psalms themselves and attest to the persistence of a particularpoetic taste in the transmission of the biblical text. They will be the object of a monograph,including a critical edition and translation. Another field of investigation is constituted byparaphrases of the Psalms in verse from very different periods, which are studied as examples ofinterpretation, rewriting and creative appropriation at once.





Reinhart Ceulemans

KU Leuven