The witty and self-assertive poetry of Christopher of Mytilene and John Mauropous provides unique snapshots of eleventh-century Constantinople at the height of its splendor and elegance. Their collections, aptly called “various verses,” greatly range in length and style—including epigrams, polemics, encomia, and more—and their poems were written for a broad range of social occasions such as court ceremonies, horse races, contests between schools, and funerals. Some were inscribed on icons and buildings. Many honored patrons and friends, debunked rivals, or offered satirical portraits of moral types in contemporary society. In some remarkable introspective poems, Mauropous carefully shaped a narrative of his life and career, while Christopher’s body of work is peppered with riddles and jocular wordplay. This volume is the first English translation of these Byzantine Greek collections.
Floris Bernard is Assistant Professor of Medieval Studies at Central European University in Budapest.
Christopher Livanos is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.