Princeton University Program in Hellenic Studies May 12, 2006 When Culture Dreams Empire: 'Byzantium' as Usable Past morning session: 9: 30 a m. – 12: 30 p m. Chair: Dimitri Gondicas



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Molly Greene

Princeton University



Greek merchants and the Catholic Reformation

A renewed sense of mission in the Greek lands was one of the results of the Catholic Reformation. To date, this mission - which was formalized with the establishment of the /Congregation de Propaganda Fide /in 1622- has been considered almost entirely from the religious, cultural and educational point of view. The politics of the /Congregation /in the Greek East have also received a limited amount of attention. In this paper I shall argue that the /Congregation /had siginificant commercial implications for Greek merchants operating in the Ottoman Empire. This makes sense when one considers the fact that Catholic pirates, under the protection of various Catholic princes, were extremely active in the seventeenth century eastern Mediterranean where they were a major threat to peaceful commerce. Nevertheless, the connections between Greek commercial life and the politics of the Catholic Reformation have never been drawn. In this paper I shall describe what these connections were.



Petre Guran

Princeton University



God explains to Patriarch Athanasios the fall of Constantinople: I.S.Peresvetov and the impasse of political theology

Strange anachronisms and historical distortions and confabulations in the Slavonic narratives of the fall of Constantinople cannot be dismissed as mere errors of a non-historical age and society. Whatever historical information was available to the Slavonic narrators of the siege and final capture of Constantinople was put together by them in order to introduce the event into their own history and to relate to it in a meaningful way. I would like to exemplify this process with the story of the departure and ascension of the divine light from Saint Sophia reported by Nestor Iskander in The Tale of Constantinople, a text which is the main source for the fall of Constantinople in 16th century Slavonic historiography. Particularly the publication of this Tale under the name of I.S. Peresvetov together with three other texts, The Tale of the Books, The Tale of Mehmet Sultan and the Big Supplication (the Dialogue with Petru the Wallachian Voevod) uncovers the ideological significa nce of the whole reconstructed narrative and sheds a new light on the miraculous omen. Through comparison with Greek and Western accounts of the last days of Constantinople we will try to assess the origin and the role of the miracle-story in the narrative of Nestor Iskander, its historicity and its ideological meaning.



Nikos Panou

Harvard University


Emperor without empire: 

Rhetoric, power, ideology in late seventeenth-century Wallachia

The hermeneutic and methodological principle underlying this inquiry is that discursive and political practices are mutually constitutive. The paper examines the way writing represented authority in late seventeenth-century Wallachia, or, in other words, the process through which relations of power were transcribed into purely linguistic terms. My analysis of Sevastos Kyminitis’ paraphrase of a proto-Byzantine ‘mirror for princes,’ namely, Synesius of Cyrene’s De regno, which was undertaken in Bucharest under the auspices of Constantin Brâncoveanu, aims to show that the Wallachian ruler, his state policy, and the monarchical institutions of his reign had given a distinctive shape to, at the same time as they were being shaped by, the problematic dialectics of absolutist signification, as systematized in the philosophical and rhetorical discourse of the period under review.





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