Singers Silently Speaking: Psalmists in Inscriptions from Late Antique Middle Egypt (Bawit)
This article looks at dipinti and graffiti by, and about, singers of psalms at the monastery of Apa Apollo at Bawit.
This article discusses one of the most peculiar elements of the Diocletianic tradition in Coptic hagiographical texts which is unattested in any other historical sources — namely, the special connection between Diocletian and his favourite god, Apollo. It appears that the authors of Coptic texts used for re-creating the historical setting of the events of the Great Persecution not only the material provided in the works of Christian historiographers, such as Eusebius, Lactantius and John Malalas, but also homiletic and hymnographic material found in other sources. The descriptions of the Diocletian’s connection with Apollo in the Coptic texts contradict the historical evidence (Diocletian’s tutelary deity was Zeus, not Apollo); however, they evince their authors’ knowledge of the references to the cult of Apollo at Antioch in the works of the two most popular Antiochian authors of later period — John Chrysostom and Severus of Antioch. Their homilies in honour of St Babylas of Antioch have been known in Egypt from the relatively early stage and have obviously influenced the Coptic perception of Antioch as a centre of the cult of Apollo; one might also see the how these later episodes — the story of Julian the Apostate and the relics of St Babylas — were re-imagined and re-introduced by Coptic hagiographers into the martyr passions of the Diocletianic period.
In the present article two eleventh-century phrases inscribed many times on the walls of the St Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod (коуни рони and парехъ мари) are shown to be of Semitic provenance. The authors provide the linguistic arguments which support the claim of a Hebrew source for коуни рони and a Syriac one for парехъ мари. In addition, we offer a reconstruction of the historical pragmatic context in which the phrases can be situated. It is proposed that the коуни рони inscriptions can be connected with the seizure of Novgorod and the plundering of St Sophia by Vseslav of Polotsk in the year 1066. They should be regarded as the oldest tangible proof of contacts with Jews and Hebrew in Rus’. In the case of the парехъ мари inscriptions, the hypothesis is put forward that the author was a certain Efrem, a local citizen, possibly a clergyman, who was a Syrian by descent.
The present book, the first collective volume entirely devoted to aspects of Byzantine epigraphy, mainly comprises papers delivered at two international meetings (Vienna 2010, Sofia 2011). The book is divided into four sections and includes among others the following contributions: after an introductory article about the “history” of the discipline of Byzantine epigraphy Cyril Mango tries to define the term “Byzantine inscription” and its limits. Vincent Debiais offers some interesting observations by comparing medieval Latin inscriptions from the West with Byzantine epigraphic traditions. The second section of the book bears the title “Methods of Editing Byzantine Inscriptions”: while the paper of Peter Schreiner discusses the urgent necessity of creating a new epigraphic initiative within Byzantine Studies, Walter Koch describes the Western medieval inscription projects in detail. Both Guglielmo Cavallo and Erkki Sironen discuss editorial guidelines while Charlotte Roueché stresses the advantages of creating online-corpora, and Joel Kalvesmaki describes his recently published epigraphic font “Athena Ruby”. The third section covers articles which report current epigraphic projects: two projects from Greece presented will be published within databases. Maria Xenaki discusses the epigraphic wealth of Cappadocia and its hardly studied graffiti. The last section is devoted to case studies articles. Their content ranges from Late Antiquity (Sencer Şahin, Mustafa Sayar) until the middle and the late Byzantine period (Ida Toth, Linda Safran).
The present volume mainly contains studies that served to maintain and continue the scientific legacy of Heinz Heinen. Thematically they revolve around one of the research focuses of Heinen, the northern Black Sea region with its ethnic, cultural and political, especially dynastic interrelations. A central concern of the authors is to question traditional ideas of ethnicity and culture and their influence on political conditions. The historical-geographical references of the contributions, the publication of which in the Geographica Historica is more than justified, are diverse, especially as they add new aspects to research in a region from the perspective of their topic, to which earlier volumes of the series are dedicated. In addition, this publication is a welcome opportunity to express our personal solidarity with Heinz Heinen.