Book Reviews
Byzantine Heroic Poetry.

David Ricks (8th century epic) Aristide D. Caratzas, 1990.
Mark Merlino - Home page

"Byzantine Heroic Poetry" is a very well organized publication of six related Byzantine poems. These poems revolve
around a handful of different characters and are set in the eighth century on the Byzantine / Syrian frontier. This
volume begins with an informative introduction to Byzantine heroic poetry, and then gives the bi-lingual texts of the
poems, which were probably written some time in the middle Byzantine period. The six poems are as follows:

* 'The Lay of the Emir' tells the story of the courtship of the parents of Digenes Akrtites. His father was an Arab Emir
who was captured by five Byzantine brothers, while raiding the Byzantine Empire. The Emir falls in love with the sister
of his captors and decided to renounce his former life and move to the Byzantine Empire. Their son is the future hero
Digenes Akrites.

* 'Akrites among the Raiders' is a short poem explaining some of the triumphs of the boy Akrites, as he became a
raider.

* 'Romance of Akrites' tells the story of how Akrites came to marry his wife. This is a story of bride snatching and
bravery.

* 'The Exploits of Akrites' relates a series of separate stories about this hero, vanquishing his foes. The stories are not
edifying but are written in a very vivid and descriptive manner.

* 'The Retirement and Death of Akrites' is a moving piece about the death of a hero and his wife. This poem
discusses Akrites' accomplishments outside of the battlefield. His wife gives a very moving speech before she too dies.

* 'The Lay of the Armoures' tells the story of a bold youth named Arestes who crosses the Euphrates River in search
of his father who is being held captive. His boldness secures his father's freedom.

This book is an invaluable look into Byzantine and Medieval literature. I would highly recommend it to anyone
interested in Medieval or Ancient literature or Byzantine history.
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