Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Project title: Concepts of Winds in Byzantium from the 9th to the 11th Century. A Study on the Literary Depictions of a Meteorological Phenomenon.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Johannes Pahlitzsch, Prof. Dr. Jochen Althoff
People have always had to cope with natural phenomena. They have come to know natural events and learnt how to confront or take advantage of them. In every culture of the world, the relationship between man and nature has left its indelible traces in literature, art, philosophy, theology. The traces left by the natural phenomenon of the wind in the Byzantine literary world will be the subject of my current research. How and to what effect were winds and other correlated meteorological phenomena represented in literary genres such as scientific treatises, poetry and historiography? Which classical, scriptural or patristic template is discernible?
With the help of ancient and contemporary lexica and a comparative reading of Greek sources, the representational and metaphorical significance of the description of natural phenomena is going to be investigated. In a time-journey to the Middle Byzantine era, it will be possible to discover how men (and women) of that time perceived and staged nature in their literary works. Moreover, it is the aim of this textual and historical investigation to gain the most comprehensive view possible, not only of the Byzantine man’s perception of environment and nature around him, but also of the role he played in his ecosystem.
This research method consists of a combination of philological and historical approaches, ranging from literary theories to anthropological concepts in the natural sciences. Therefore, it finds an ideal field of application in the context of contemporary Byzantine studies.