n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Romanos Melodos, 'On the Massacre of the Innocents' : a perspective on ekphrasis as a method of patristic exegesis
|Article Title||Romanos Melodos, 'On the Massacre of the Innocents' : a perspective on ekphrasis as a method of patristic exegesis|
|© Publisher:||Classical Association of South Africa (CASA)|
|Journal||Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa|
|Publication Date||Jan 2007|
|Pages||29 - 50|
The rhetorical genre of ekphrasis was widely employed by patristic and Byzantine authors, especially in their homiletic output. Here we have especially in mind the descriptive homily : As opposed to the exegetical homily, in which the Fathers followed a line-for-line commentary, the descriptive homily follows a methodology according to which the preacher starts from a given (scriptural) episode or passage and then proceeds to develop it freely and elaborately, dramatising it by introducing lively dialogues, monologues and vivid descriptions, in this way taking the audience back in time and inviting them to partake in those far-off biblical events, and in the process rendering those events more vivid. In this form the patristic and Byzantine homily was actually an ekphrasis. In this paper the extensive use of ekphrasis in kontakion 3 (15) of Romanos is analysed as method of exegesis. It concerns the description of war, in this case Herod's slaughter of the Innocents of Bethlehem. Romanos, in line with his model (Basil of Caesarea), closely follows the instructions for the composition of a war description prescribed by the pagan teachers of rhetoric (Theon, Hermogenes).
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