Rhetoric and rhythm in Byzantine homilies
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My dissertation seeks to bring more attention to speech patterns and rhythm in oratory -- issues that have long been on the fringes of rhetoric scholars' concerns -- by arguing that prose rhythm in Byzantine and Old Slavic sermons was an important tool not only in creating an overall aesthetic experience but also in promoting shared meaning and individual persuasion. The first chapter offers a comparison between the clauses of early to middle Byzantine homilies and their translations into Old Church Slavonic, within a corpus of texts contained in the late tenth-century Codex Suprasliensis. The comparison shows a remarkable correspondence between the number of syllables and accents per clause in both languages. I conclude that the Slavonic translators strove not only to provide literal translations, but also to preserve the rhythmical patterns of the original homilies. The second chapter explores the classical and late antique theoretical underpinnings of rhythm in general and prose rhythm in particular and argues that in late antiquity there was a strong tradition of differentiation between rhythm and meter. Prose rhythm was considered the domain of the rhythmicians (not metricians) and defined by word arrangement and cadence. I argue that the word and its main accent were perceived as the basic unit of prose rhythm -- in addition to clausularcadence, which so far has been considered the main carrier of rhythm. Thus homiletic prose rhythm resembles the accentual rhythms of Byzantine liturgical poetry. Chapter 3 examines Byzantine rhetorical commentaries and scholia on classical literature and concludes that the Byzantine teachers taught accentual rhythm by looking for regular accentual patterns in classical Greek texts and pointing them out to their students, who in turn internalized and reproduced them in their own compositions. My last chapter argues that the same principles were found in the first Slavonic translations of Greek homilies. I conclude that the persistent recurrence of similar rhythmical patterns, even across national and linguistic boundaries, may lead us to think of rhythm as a meaning-bearing component of oratory.