Living texts. Historiography and literature in the early Byzantine period



In recent years, scholarship has re-emphasised the importance of understanding Byzantine historiography as literature. Important as this is, it suggest that modern concepts, such as authorship, can be applied to Byzantine works of history without further questioning. The project draws attention to a specific phenomenon of Early Byzantine historiography, namely that many histories were repeatedly and thoroughly reworked by copyists or other authors and still continued to circulate under the name of their first author as if they were the unchanged work of that author, and uses this as a lense to assess how the use of the modern notion of ‘literature’ distorts our understanding of these texts. Applying the notion of ‘living text’, which until now was reserved for anonymous ‘para-literary’ texts in Greek and Latin literature, to this body of material, the project shows that discussions about authorship, authority, and audience in early Byzantine historiography have so far been predicted on the idea of a text as a fixed entity produced by a single author. Questioning that assumption, it will not only enhance our understanding of early Byzantine historiography and its relationship with the classical tradition, but also contribute significantly to current debates on the notion of literature and its applicability in this period.



Phd Student(s)