Simone Beta Lecture : Les énigmes grecques, depuis Constantin Céphalas jusqu'à Jean Eugenikos

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4th February 2021
10.30 am, Montreal Time

We know the poetic genre of the riddle in Greek literature thanks to the fourteenth book of the Palatine Anthology. In this small collection, which contains about fifty riddles, fifty oracles and fifty mathematical problems, we find categories of riddles that will become very popular in the following centuries.

In the conference these small texts will be examined by comparing them to the texts of the Byzantine enigmas, attributed to more or less known authors (Jean Mauropous, Jean Géomètre, Christope de Mytilène, Michel Psellos, Basile Mégalomytes, Eustathios Makrembolites, Théodore Aulikalamos, Théodore Prodromos, Jean Eugénikos) who were active between the 11th and 15th centuries.

Simone Beta is Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Siena. His research focuses on ancient theater and its fortune (especially Greek comedy), metaphor, epigrams and enigmas.

As far as comedy is concerned, he has worked mainly on Aristophanes: we recall here Il linguaggio nella commedia di Aristofane: parola positiva e parola negativa nella commedia antica, Rome 2004; The Metamorphosis of a Greek Comedy and its Protagonist: Some Musical Versions of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, in P. Brown & S. Ograjensek (eds.), Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage, Oxford and New York 2010, 240-57 ; Attend, o Muse, Our Holy Dances and Come to Rejoice in Our Songs: The Reception of Aristophanes in the Modern Musical Theater, in S. Douglas Olson (ed.), Ancient Comedy and Reception. Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson, Berlin and Boston 2013, 824-48.


Regarding the metaphor, we can quote La metafora. Testi greci e latini tradotti e commentati da Giulio Guidorizzi e Simone Beta, Pisa 2000; as regards the epigrams, Vino e poesia. Centocinquanta epigrammi greci sul vino, a cura di S. Beta, Milan 2006.

He has published unpublished Byzantine riddles ('You possess me, you bring me with you, I am a part of you': a new Byzantine riddle in the Pal.gr. 116, BZ 107, 2014, 37-50; An Enigmatic Literature. Interpreting an Unedited Collection of Byzantine Riddles in a Manuscript of Cardinal Bessarion, DOP 68, 2014, 211-40; A Challenge to the Reader. The Twelve Byzantine Riddles of Pal.gr. 356, JÖB 66, 2016, 11-32).

His latest publications are Il labirinto della parola. Enigmi, oracoli e sogni nella cultura antica, Turin, 2020 and Io, un manoscritto: l'Antologia Palatina si racconta, Rome, 2019, translated into French by Les belles lettres (Moi, un manuscrit. Autobiographie de l'Anthologie Palatine). He has just translated into Italian the Antigone by Sophocles (Milan, 2020) and the Lysistrata by Aristophanes (Milan, 2020).

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