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Greek Laughter and TearsAntiquity and After$
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Margaret Alexiou and Douglas Cairns

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474403795

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403795.001.0001

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Do Brothers Weep? Male Grief, Mourning, Lament and Tears in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Byzantium

Do Brothers Weep? Male Grief, Mourning, Lament and Tears in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Byzantium

Chapter:
(p.312) 18 Do Brothers Weep? Male Grief, Mourning, Lament and Tears in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Byzantium
Source:
Greek Laughter and Tears
Author(s):

Margaret Mullett

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403795.003.0018

This chapter deals with a pair of poems by Theophylact of Ochrid, written in the first decade of the twelfth century, setting them in a context of male lament, specifically of brothers writing laments for brothers in which they emphasise the shedding of tears. The question of male weeping is discussed in terms of medieval narrative, and the issue of lament in Byzantium as a gendered form is considered. Scholars have emphasised that it was women’s part to lament; but we need to look more closely at who weeps in our texts. First, tears do not only mean grief; second, tears were not evidence of weakness or effeminacy, but often of heroic asceticism; third, there are many cases of emperors weeping in Byzantium. Lament does appear to be regarded as a largely female genre, although its practice by a trained rhetor is not unusual. These cases are made possible by biblical models, by the use of anacreontics for lament earlier in Byzantium, by representations of men weeping in icons, wall-paintings, liturgy and Byzantine tragedy. The chapter ends with treatment of pathos in a woman’s voice, and the significance of the comparison with Niobe.

Keywords:   Theophylact of Ochrid, Lament, Tears, Nonverbal behaviour, Masculinity, Genre, Narrative

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