Casting Prose from Medieval Poetry in the Seventeenth Century

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Image credit: MET Museum


Casting Prose from Medieval Poetry in the Seventeenth Century

Change and Persistence in Digenis Akritis’ Prose Version

NEW DATE | Thursday 11 July 2024, 3pm 

Online - Register via Eventbrite.


This event is part of the ongoing Doctoral Seminar ‘Projecting Poetry’ and will be held online on Teams. To obtain the link, please register at the following Eventbrite link.

Registration closes 2 days before the start of the event. You will be sent the joining link within 48 hours of the event, on the day and once again 15 minutes before the event starts.

For further information, you can contact Ugo Mondini at


Speaker: Michele Didoli, PhD student at Department of Linguistics, Ghent University


The Medieval Greek poem Digenis Akritis, about the deeds of the Cappadocian border guard, displays a lively textual tradition. It consists of five versions in decapentasyllables, dating from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. In the seventeenth century, the poem was reshaped into prose.

This adaptation, known as the ‘Andros-Thessaloniki’ version, deserves attention for transforming verse into prose, a process that also involved changing the register into fully Vernacular Greek. The metrical traces left by the reshaping within the texture of the final prose make Andros-Thessaloniki a perfect case study for the following questions: How is a poetic text turned into prose? What changes, and what remains from the verse original? How does the change of register affect the transition?

My presentation will first sketch the stylistic features of this prose version in two ways: first, by comparing it to the coeval metrical versions of the poem and second, by further referring to the differences between poetry and prose. I will then focus on the survival of metrical sequences within the prose and the different interpretations scholars have given of them. I plan to illustrate 1) the length of these sequences; 2) the issues in identifying them; 3) their distribution throughout the text; and, in the end, 4) the reasons behind their preservation, which I will attempt to explain from a linguistic perspective. The consistency in register will, therefore, be proved to be the compiler’s main concern, regardless of the survival of metrical traces.

Poetry in the Medieval World Network