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Byzantine Greek

Hey, just started using the new resource. Looking forward to de-scholasticizing my greek.

I am really interested in the byzantine period, particularly the high byzantine period around the macedonian dynasty, and i was hoping to ask for some advice by more capable greek speakers.

What reading level would you say that Byzantine writers write at, in comparison to modern greek, or biblical greek?

The second question is if anyone has any suggestions for resources for Byzantine Greek? Byzantine Greek texts in particular.

Thanks a lot!

September 19, 2016



Chronographia by Michaael Psellos (Psellus) is a history of the last fourteen Byzantine emperors and empresses of the Macedonian dynasty. I haven't found it online in the original Greek but you can read it in English translation here: http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/psellus-chrono01.asp A good academic library may have a copy in the original medieval Greek. It looks like Vrasidas Karales edited an edition in modern and medieval Greek side by side published in 1992 in two volumes.


thanks, this is exactly what i was looking for!


I am not sure what you mean by "what reading level Byzantine writers write at"... A number of texts can be found online e.g. Justinian, Psellus, Tzetses and writings of and about various saints. It helps if you search in Greek.


"TopherRodr, what have you been studying so far? (I take it you are studying at a university) Are you studying Ancient Greek or Koine Greek?"

actually, not quite, I studied Attic Greek in college, but i graduated. Im trying to keep in practice and improve my language after school, and my personal interest is in Byzantine history. The focus was mostly ancient greek, but the professor let us dabble a bit in koine and (for me) byzantine.

I have a copy of some byzantine literature courtesy of The Orthodox Research Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Press. I was able to read from "The Haigiography of St. Thekla fairly well." Atteliates is taking some work, Zygabenos, im not doing very well.


I lived in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki for a number of years and of course the hey-day of that city was during the Byzantine period, so it is one of the best places in the world to study byzantine architecture. The Byzantine period was certainly interesting, mainly because it's influence was so far-reaching e.g. when I visited Kiev the presence of Byzantium was obvious; the churches, the monasteries the references everywhere to the close links and intermarriages between Kiev and Byzantium.

It might help to find other people who share your interest on-line and to study together.


i suppose what i mean is "what difficulty." Where between thucydides and and a greek pop song does a byzantine writer usually fall into? How advanced a vocabulary do they use? how difficult is their grammar? I would imagine some of the theological writers would get fairly technical, so that might be a little more difficult.


I would say it is somewhere in the middle, simply because it is that bit closer to modern Greek. However, the subject matter can be a lot more dry than Ancient Greek texts.


thanks, i had a professor warn me that byzantine grammar tended towards being "pretentiously opaque and unnecessarily opaque." That just might be the subject matter he mentioned.

Thank you so much!


The Medieval (Byzantine) Greek language is quite simple and very close to Modern Greek, but the Byzantine writers used to write in Attic Greek, because they wanted to imitate the Ancient Greek writers. Reading a text written by Psellus is difficult, but a few Byzantine writers such as Theodoros Prodromos and Michael Glykas were writing in a simpler language close to the speaking one.


any sorts of books from the byzantines are welcome, honestly. Knowing that Glykas and Prodromos are more modern-esque gives me an idea of how to set up my readings of them.

So any favorites or interests in the era are welcome.


Theo, the OP will be ok with Psellus. I am able to read him with knowledge of Hellenistic Greek - it will be good practice :-)


TopherRodr, what have you been studying so far? (I take it you are studying at a university) Are you studying Ancient Greek or Koine Greek?

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