MEDS 6926: Medieval Latin Text Seminar: Texts from Late Antique Constantinople
The Medieval Latin Text Seminar is open to all interested students, both MA and PhD, whose level is above Intermediate and who would like to improve their skills in reading and interpreting Late and Medieval Latin. The main aim of the course is to offer the students a chance to get acquainted with and explore in some depth two late antique texts that deal with Constantinople (the New Rome), the new capital of the Roman Empire, from very different perspectives. One of these, the Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae, composed by an anonymous author probably between 447 and 450 CE on the basis of official sources, is a description of Constantinople that lists, region by region, the most important public and private objectives a visitor of the capital might have been interested to see. With a touch of local patriotism, this text offers an interesting image of the urban development of the new capital roughly one century after its inauguration. The second text, known as the Expositio totius mundi et gentium was written initially in Greek, sometime between 347 and 361 CE, by an anonymous author probably based in late antique Syria; it survives now in two somewhat different Latin translations, probably made at the end of the fifth or in the first part of the sixth century. The Expositio is an interesting generic mixture, somewhere between a (partially imaginary) travelogue through the late Roman world, a Handelsgeographie (“commercial geography”), and a semi-official description of the Empire, region by region. The text is heavily informed by the various biases and professional interests of its author, a 'pagan' and, presumably, a merchant of some literary education. We will read, translate, compare, and annotate chosen passages from these texts dealing primarily with the new capital of the Empire (Constantinople, the New Rome), but also with the old Rome and, for the sake of comparison, with another important late Roman urban center, Alexandria. We will explore the texts with an eye to the various textual, lexical, and stylistic differences involved. A first, obvious aim of the course is to explore the linguistic aspects of the text (morphology, syntax, vocabulary), so as to enable students to familiarize themselves with the features of Late Latin in both its lower register (as written by the anonymous Latin translator of the Expositio) and its higher version, which often turns into late Roman officialese (represented in the Notitia urbis). Another important focus point of the course will be the various conventions that structure the two texts (i.e., generic, rhetorical, etc.) and their possible relation to the urban reality of the fourth and fifth-century Constantinople. We will also explore how various biases (religious or otherwise) influence the description of a major urban center such as Constantinople and try to see how the description of a city may become a convenient rhetorical tool in denigrating the memory of its founder (Emperor Constantine). At the same time, the students will be encouraged to prepare detailed annotations of the excerpts read focusing on the historical background of the text (insofar as this is recoverable). A special aim of the course is to survey the extant manuscripts in which the Notitia urbis has been preserved and analyze the relationship of the text and the illustrations present in it (which go back to late antique models) as well as contextualize these illustrations by looking at other late antique graphic descriptions of urban spaces.
Week 1 General introduction. Late antique notitiae urbium and their historical context. A survey of the texts: available editions, methodology, problems. [Format: lecture]
Week 2 The Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae (I). Introduction.
Reading: ed. Seeck, p. 229 (Praefatio). [Format: lecture and translation seminar]
Week 3 Walking through New Rome (I).
Reading: ed. Seeck, p. 231-32 (Regio II, Regio III) [Format: translation seminar]
Week 4 Walking through New Rome (II)
Reading: ed. Seeck, p. 239 (Regio XII), p. 240-41 (Regio XIIII) [Format: translation seminar]
Week 5 A Birdseye View
Reading: ed. Seeck, p. 241-43 (Collectio ciuitatis) [Format: translation seminar]
Week 6 Text and Images in the Manuscript Tradition of Late Antique Geographic Descriptions [Format: interactive lecture]
Week 7 The Expositio totius mundi et gentium. Introduction [Format: interactive lecture]
Weeks 8-9 New Rome and Old Rome in the Expositio totius mundi
Reading: Expositio totius mundi 50 (Constantinople and Thrace) ed. Rougé, p. 186; Expositio totius mundi 55 (Rome), ed. Rougé, p. 192-94. [Format: translation seminar]
Weeks 10-11 Alexandria in the Expositio totius mundi
Reading: Expositio totius mundi 35-37, ed. Rougé, p. 170-176. [Format: translation seminar]
Week 12 Concluding Discussion. [Format: interactive lecture]
06/04/2013 - 16:00
06/05/2013 - 09:00
06/14/2013 - 09:00
07/01/2013 - 13:00
07/05/2013 - 09:00