The twenty Poems of Theodore Metochites (ca. 1270-1332) constitute a unique corpus of approximately 10.000 verses composed in the traditional Homeric hexameter. Metochites did not use the most common iambic verse, but chose to commemorate his deeds and immortalize his thoughts and experiences in the heroic Homeric verse. At the same time he took advantage of the poetic works of Gregory of Nazianzus, who exercised a considerable influence upon his language and his general attitude towards his fellow men and his social environment.
The poems of Metochites, both in their entirety and each one of them separately, are a curious mixture of various genres (autobiography, ekphrasis, letter, hagiographical praise), which testify to their author's wide range of interests and his bold attempt to renovate the traditional patterns of Byzantine poetry. Some poems are addressed to his friends (e.g. Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos or Leo Vardales), but most of them are addressed to the author himself. Metochites was quite pessimistic about the situation of the state and of his own affairs, and gave expression to his inner feelings of frustration and sadness in a rather unrestrained manner.
Most of these poems had been published in the past, but their editions are either difficult to obtain or inadequate. In the introduction the editor sketches a balanced portrait of Metochites as a poet, underlining both his merits and his limitations.
Ioannis Polemis is full Professor of Byzantine Literature at the University of Athens (Department of Philology). He specializes in Byzantine philosophical and theological literature of the fourteenth century.
“With this edition Polemis has surely advanced scholarship on Metochites, a monumental contribution (…) Approached with a dose of critical thinking, it will be fundamental to study of this author and hopefully aid and encourage work on the rest of his writings that remain unpublished or lack critical editions.” (Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 22.11.2016)
“Scholars of late Latin poetry will undoubtedly find much of interest in this book.” (Éric Fournier, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2016.11.50)