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 14th century.
Theodore Metochites (c.1270-1332), an important writer of Late Byzantium, composed twenty long Poems in dactylic verse, which constitute an unicum in Byzantine Literature. Some of them are clearly autobiographic, offering important details about their author’s career, while others are devoted to some saints of the Byzantine church (St Athanasius of Alexandria and the three prelates Basil of Caesarea, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom). Some of them are addressed to close friends of Metochites (like the polymath Nikephoros Gregoras, or the church historian Nikephoros Xanthopoulos), asking for their advice or complaining about his own difficulties. Three of them are funerary Poems, extolling the virtues and mourning the death of persons close to the emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, who was the protector and benefactor of Metochites. The last seven Poems are written in a more reflective mood, discussing the precariousness of human happiness and the inevitability of man’s fall due to the adverse circumstances of his life. All those Poems are preserved in MS. Parisinus graecus 1776, which was written in all probability under Metochites’ supervision. The translation is accompanied by notes clarifying the sense of difficult passages and giving references to the texts that inspired Metochites directly or to parallel passages in the works of Metochites himself, or other Greek and Byzantine authors.
The source text of this volume appeared in Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca as Theodorus Metochita, Carmina (CC SG 83). References to the corresponding pages of the Corpus Christianorum edition are provided in the margins of this translation.