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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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‘Words Filled With Tears’: Amorous Discourse as Lamentation in the Palaiologan Romances

‘Words Filled With Tears’: Amorous Discourse as Lamentation in the Palaiologan Romances

(p.353) 20 ‘Words Filled With Tears’: Amorous Discourse as Lamentation in the Palaiologan Romances
Greek Laughter and Tears

Panagiotis Agapitos

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines a particular way in which feelings of love are expressed in the Palaiologan romances (c. 1250–1350). This manner of expression is presented through the systematic use of an imagery and vocabulary of lamentation, that incorporates into these highly artful poetic narratives a discourse deriving from folk poetry. These amorous laments (moirologia), as they are sometimes called by the narrators or even the characters, are not direct quotations of actual folk laments or songs as folklorists in the early twentieth century believed. They are a way of presenting amorous feelings to Byzantine listeners or readers (initially within an aristocratic courtly milieu, later also within a bourgeois environment) in a manner attuned to their contemporary and specific socio-cultural context, yet structurally keeping to the conventions set by the ‘Hellenising’ novels of the Komnenian age. These folk-like songs reflect a new type of poetic and emotional sensibility in late Byzantium, partly in response to Old French romance as it was available in the thirteenth century (orally, at least), partly in response to a growing interest in ‘folk subjects’ as attested by the collections of vernacular proverbs and popular lore.

Keywords:   Love romance, Erotic discourse, Folk poetry, Vernacular language, Palaiologan literature

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