KrumbacherByzSchol. - 6 Classical Studies 214 General Characteristics[499 It is distinctive of Byzantine creative production that perhaps half of

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6. Classical Studies 214. General Characteristics [499] It is distinctive of Byzantine creative production that perhaps half of its surviving written works, leaving theology to the side, can be defined as philology in the wider sense. It is in this area of Byzantine literature that the connection with Antiquity is the most immediate and most manifest. Even the most strident proponents of the independence of the Classics recognize that in respect to this side of Byzantinism a connection between medieval and classical Greek studies is desirable. Consequently, this element of Byzantine literature is almost the only one that is known in any detail in wider philological circles, and it is through this genre that the totality of the strength and independence of the Byzantine spirit is judged. This must be warned against. Admittedly, occupation with Antiquity determined the cultural life of Byzantium to a great extent. The Byzantines had Antiquity to thank for an education system that was possessed by no other people in the Middle Ages. But it should not be forgotten that the works through which the Romaii were most closely connected to their forefathers were less important for the general cultural and literary history of the Middle Ages than, for example, their production of history, church poetry, and works of popular fiction. It was only at the end of the Middle Ages, when the Byzantines collapsed, that their works of philology became fruitful in an unprecedented manner for the general education of humanity. The concern for philological studies in Byzantium was very much the same as the interest in grammar in the late Roman period. The most important characteristics of the Byzantines were a lack of self-acquired erudition and systematic criticism as well a great deal of garrulousness and a simple-minded adoption of older models. Real efforts to ask philological questions or even to state unselfconscious and healthy opinions were very rare. Nevertheless, one should be cautious before passing an unduly harsh judgment on the Byzantine philologists. If one wishes to deal with them in a historically just manner, it is not reasonable to set them alongside the learned men of Antiquity such as Zenodotus, Aristophanes, and Aristarchus. [500] They are separated from them by a thousand years, a period in which the conditions for philological erudition had steadily worsened. How inappropriate would it be to judge a Planudes or a Triklinios according the standards of Alexandrian criticism! Moschopoulos had nothing more to do with Aristarchus than did Melanchthon. How bad would the Praeceptor Germaniae look in comparison to the sharp-witted Alexandrian? Similarly, it is obvious that one cannot expect the same of the learned men of the medieval Greek period as one does of the modern researcher, who is supported by the greatest possible array of auxiliary materials, and who is formed through methodical schooling and a ruthless polemic. But it is the case that many make this very error when they raise their noses in disgust at everything Byzantine! As is proper in every consideration of historical matters, a judgment can be just only if
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This note was uploaded on 08/23/2011 for the course CLA 3504 taught by Professor Kapparis during the Spring '11 term at University of Florida.

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KrumbacherByzSchol. - 6 Classical Studies 214 General Characteristics[499 It is distinctive of Byzantine creative production that perhaps half of

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