News items and events


May 12

Epigrams in the picture: a Byzantine applause for all healthcare heroes!

Today, on International Nurses Day, we wanted to give an extra, virtual applause for all healthcare heroes around the globe – Byzantine style! 👏

This beautiful portrait of Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Medicine’, can be found in the medical manuscript Par. gr. 2144 (14th c.), surrounded by a poem fifty (!) verses long. The reader is addressed by the ancient physician himself, who recounts how medicine has stolen his heart in these first five verses.

✒️ Ἰατρικῆς μὲν τῆς κρατίστης ἐν τέχναις
δεινός τις εἷλε τὴν ἐμὴν ψυχὴν ἔρως
ἐκ παιδὸς εὐθὺς ἐντακεὶς εὐμηχάνως
καὶ προςπαθῶς ἔχουσαν ἕλκων τὴν φύσιν
πρὸς συμπαθῆ παίδευσιν ὁλκαῖς ἐμφύτοις.

📖 “Zur Heilkunst als der besten unter den Künsten
erfasste eine gewaltige Liebe meine Seele,
die gleich von Kindheit an passend in mir eingeschmolzen war,
und zog meine leidenschaftliche Natur
zu einer Bildung, die den angeborenen Neigungen angemessen war.”

Healing was a calling for Hippocrates, just as it is for modern-day doctors, nurses and other health workers, whose everyday commitment is invaluable during this corona pandemic. You are doing an incredible job, thank you all! ❤️

Interested in reading the whole poem or other medicine-related epigrams? Check out DBBE!

📸 A. Bianchini, 1992, Byzance: l'art byzantin dans les collections publiques françaises. Paris: 457

Feb 14

Epigrams in the picture: Valentine's Day


As DBBE is an ever-growing corpus of fascinating and diverse Byzantine book epigrams, we would like to put some of these hidden gems in the spotlight in the series #epigramsinthepicture !

This Valentine's Day, DBBE sends you lots of love with a fitting book epigram! ❤️💘

✒️ Φιλῶ σε, κόρη, τῆς σωφροσύνης χάριν,
φιλῶ σε, κόρη, τῆς φιλανδρίας χάριν,
φιλῶ σε, κόρη, τῆς εὐβουλίας χάριν,
φιλῶ σε, κόρη, τῆς καρτερίας χάριν,
φιλῶ σε, κόρη, τῆς συνέσεως χάριν,
τοῦ γνησίου ἔρωτος πρὸς σὸν νυμφίον.

📖 "Mi sei cara, fanciulla, per la tua castità,
mi sei cara, fanciulla, per la tua magnanimità,
mi sei cara, fanciulla, per la tua prudenza,
mi sei cara, fanciulla, per la tua saggezza,
mi sei cara, fanciulla, per la tua assennatezza,
per l’amore legittimo verso il tuo sposo."


In at least one manuscript (Munich gr. 157, first half 15th c.), the epigram can be found at the end of Heliodorus' novel Aethiopica in a colophon dedicated to the female protagonist, Chariclea. The epigram in the picture was written in ms. Laur. Plut. 59.46, copied in 1489 by Ioannes Rhosos. Here, the poem functions in a completely different context, as it was added after the scribe's subscription following Demosthenes' De falsa legatione.


Dec 06

Epigrams in the picture: Saint Nicholas

As DBBE is an ever-growing corpus of fascinating and diverse Byzantine book epigrams, we would like to put some of these hidden gems in the spotlight in the series #epigramsinthepicture !

This morning, children in Belgium found treats and presents in the shoes they put in front of the fireplace last night. 🍭🎁 It’s Sinterklaas who paid them a visit! He is a legendary figure in the Low Countries based on Saint Nicholas of Myra, whose name day we celebrate today. Such a famous saint is hardly an unexpected subject of Byzantine book epigrams.

One of these poems accompanies this beautiful illumination in Vat. Reg. gr. 1 (10th c., f. 3r), the so-called ‘Bible of Leo’, ordered by Leon Sakellarios, who donated it to a monastery of Saint Nicholas, founded by his own brother Konstantinos. ⛪️ The miniature depicts Saint Nicholas blessing two men in proskynesis at his feet: Makar, the abbot of the monastery, on the left and Konstantinos on the right.
The epigram, written around the miniature, is a prayer from Leon to Saint Nicholas on behalf of both supplicants. Note the pun on the saint’s name in the first two words!

✒️ Νῖκος λαοῦ μοχθηρᾶς τῆς κακουργίας
καὶ τῶν πονηρῶν πνευμάτων δίδου, μάκαρ,
τῷ τὴν μονήν σοι πρὸς μονὰς ζωῆς θέειν
ξενοτρόπως, αὖθις τε τῷ δειμαμένῳ
νέμων κατ᾽ ἄμφω τὴν χάριν - τῷ μὲν κράτος,
ἱλασμὸν ἔνθε τῷ δὲ τῶν ὀφλημάτων.

📖 "[You who are] the victory of the people over wretched wrong-doing and evil spirits, grant O blessed one, to the [superior?] of your monastery to speed in wondrous fashion to the abodes of life, and likewise to its founder, as you dispense your grace to both – strength to the one, and to the other remission of his debts over here."


Go to our manuscript record ( and check out the other amazing epigrams and miniatures in this famous codex! Or read some other epigrams related to Saint Nicholas:


Dec 04

Seminar: Andreas Rhoby, An Introduction to Byzantine Inscriptions and Epigrams.

Jun 11

Lecture: Sofia Belioti, The etymological wordplay in the epigrams of Gregory of Nazianzus.

May 14

Lecture: Georgi Parpulov, Byzantine Scribes and their Paratexts​.

The study of paratexts (additions) in medieval Greek manuscripts has made great advances over the past decade. My paper will discuss some of the ways in which such paratexts were selected and transmitted from one manuscript to another.

About the speaker:
Georgi Parpulov studied history at the University of Sofia and art history at the University of Chicago. He subsequently did curatorial work at the Walters Art Museum, the J Paul Getty Museum and the British Museum, and taught at the University of Oxford.​


Aug 16

Lecture: Anna Gialdini, Negotiating "Greekness" in Early Modern Italian Book Production.

In the mid-fifteenth century, as Italian book collectors began being exposed to Byzantine codices, the bindings of the latter started being imitated in Florence and Venice. The resulting bindings were often hybrid, since they mixed Western and Byzantine techniques, but also distinctly and deliberately "Greek-looking"; they were called "alla greca" and were sought-after for the messages they conveyed: an association with Greek culture; a refined taste for beautifully-bound books; and the appropriation of the Byzantine legacy.

My paper today looks at some aspects of the production and consumption of "alla greca" bookbindings in early modern Italy, and namely the ethnicity of bookbinders and patrons, bookmaking techniques, and collecting practices, and what they tell us about the intellectual milieux in which the books themselves circulated.​

About the speaker:​
Anna Gialdini has a BA and MA in Classics from the University of Milan and a Diploma in Archival Studies from the State Archive of Milan. She has recently submitted her PhD thesis on Greek-style Bookbindings in Renaissance Venice, which constitutes an analysis of these objects from a structural and cultural perspective. Her research, which has been supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Fondazione Fedrigoni – Istocarta, and the Bibliographical Society of America, also deals with archival bindings, the social history of bookbinders, cross-cultural contact in the early modern Mediterranean, and the materiality of the book in professional contexts. After a short-term fellowship at the Huntington Library, she is now collaborating with the Public Library and Groeningemuseum in Bruges for an exhibition on Colard Mansion and the printing of incunables in the city.


Dec 05

Lecture: Krystina Kubina, The many ways of reading poetry in late Byzantium: Manuel Philes' laudatory poems.

In recent years, scholarship has turned its attention to the historical setting, the Sitz im Leben, of Byzantine poetry. In this context, the most prolific poet of the early 14th century, Manuel Philes, was taken into account. However, due to the vast number of texts transmitted under his name (more than 30,000 verses in more than 150 manuscripts!) no attempt has been made to look at the full picture of how his poetry was read. Without aiming at a complete evaluation, I shall offer an overview of the ways of reception. Philes’ poems were read in a variety of different contexts: from private readings of verse letters over performed enkomia to epigrams inscribed on public buildings. The form of reception also altered the way of how Philes was perceived as an author: from self-conscious reflections of an authorial ‘I’ in letters to the total absence of the author in inscriptions. The example of Manuel Philes shows the wide presence of poetry (and literature in general) in Late Byzantine society.

About the speaker:
Krystina Kubina is a doctoral candidate at the University of Vienna working on encomiastic poetry of the early Palaiologan period and visiting scholar at the Ghent Database of Byzantine Book Epigrams project.

Oct 28

Lecture: Andreas Rhoby, The Vienna Inscriptional Epigrams Project.

Andreas Rhoby stelt het vierde volume van zijn reeks 'Byzantinische Epigramme' voor, dat binnenkort verschijnt bij de Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Het volume is gewijd aan epigrammen bij miniaturen, en dus nauw verwant aan het Gentse DBBE project, bij wie dr Rhoby te gast is.