Dialogues and Debates from Late Antiquity to Late Byzantium

“… But How Shall We Converse?”



Literary and philosophical dialogues were one of the most enduring and most practised forms of writing in antiquity and throughout the Byzantine period. Yet the hundreds of examples known from the early Christian period until as late as 1453 and beyond have rarely received the attention they deserve. If Byzantine literature was the ‘Cinderella’ of Byzantine studies, dialogues are still the Cinderella of Byzantine literary history.

Well over two hundred dialogues are known in Greek and Syriac from the second century CE to 1453 and later; as well as La­tin examples from the early centuries, scholastic disputations and dialogues in Latin from the later medieval period, and many more from the Renaissance in Latin, Italian, and other languages. The genre also includes question-and-answer treatises (erōtapokriseis), dialogues between body and soul popular in many ancient and medieval cultures, and the many dialogues written by Christians to argue against Jews (the so-called Adversus Iudaeos texts), as well as against Muslims, some of the latter written in Arabic.

 While there have been some general contributions on dialogue in the late antique part of the millennium under consideration, there is still no overall study of the material, and in particular for the properly Byzantine period: it is exactly this gap that the workshop aspires to fill by bringing together for the first time experts on the early empire, late antiquity and Byzantium from the second to the fifteenth centuries CE.

Co-hosted by: Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies (CEMS), Central European University; Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research (OCBR); Research Cluster in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Keble College, Oxford

Organizing CommitteeAveril Cameron (University of Oxford), Niels Gaul (CEU), Florin Leonte (Harvard University), Divna Manolova (CEU), Alberto Rigolio (University of Oxford) and Foteini Spingou (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library & Collection, Washington, DC)

With generous support from: ERC project “Defining Belief and Identity in the Eastern Mediterranean (6th–8th Centuries)” (DEBIDEM); Jowett Copyright Trust, Balliol College, Oxford