The Old Slavic Digenis Akritis: Its Origin, ‘Formulaic Style,’ and Problems of Its Edition

2 November 2018, 11:00 - 15:00

Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RP

Free event but online registration is required. Please click the link on the right hand of this page.

Robert Romanchuk (Florida State University)

The workshop will explore the Old Slavonic version of the 12th-c. Byzantine “romantic epic” Digenis Akritis -- a text of considerable importance to Byzantine, Slavonic, and oral-traditional studies. The Slavonic Digenis, produced in 13th-c. Ukrainian Galicia or 14th-c. Macedonia, represents the work’s only consistently epic extension and the earliest uncontested witness of Slavonic epic composition. A distant cousin of the long-winded Grottaferrata version, it expands on the material of their concise Greek common ancestor by means of oral-traditional formulas and themes found in near-contemporary and later Greek and Slavonic folksong. It presents the editor of a critical text with a number of sui generis problems.

Robert Romanchuk (PhD Slavic, UCLA 1999) is Pribic Family Associate Professor of Slavic and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University and a 2018–19 HURI/Ukrainian Studies Fund Research Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. His fields are philology and psychoanalysis.

In the first field he has published the monograph Byzantine Hermeneutics and Pedagogy in the Russian North: Monks and Masters at the Kirillo-Belozerskii Monastery, 1397–1501 (U. Toronto Press, 2007) and a number of book chapters and journal publications, most recently chapters on the literature of Mount Athos for David Wallace’s Europe: A Literary History, 1348–1418 (Oxford UP, 2016) and on “lettered education” in Kyivan Rus for the English translation of Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s History of Ukraine-Rus', vol. 3 (ed. Frank Sysyn: CIUS, 2016). He is preparing a critical edition of the Byzantine romantic epic Digenis Akritis in its Old Slavonic translation, “The Deeds of the Brave Men of Old.”

The workshop, a collaborative undertaking of Cambridge Ukrainian Studies and Byzantine Worlds Seminar, will be led in English; all interested postgraduate students and scholars of medieval history and culture are welcome to attend. The event is free but online registration is required. Register at by 22 October, 2018. Upon registration you will be sent pdfs of the two recommended readings that are not available on-line.

Recommended Workshop Readings:

It is particularly recommended that participants look over the reading material listed below before attending the workshop, however none of the reading is compulsory.

Secondary Readings:

(1) Jouanno, C. 2016. Shared Spaces: 1. Digenis Akritis, the Two-Blood Border Lord, in C. Cupane and B. Krönung, eds., Fictional Storytelling in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond. Leiden, pp. 260–84

(2) Bruni, A. 2014. The Language of the Old East Slavic Digenis Akritis. Russica Romana21, 9–41.

(3)Romanchuk, R., Shelton, L., and Goldgof, R. 2017. The Old Slavic Digenis Akritis: Free Retelling or Rhetorical Translation? Vestnik SPbU. Istoriia, 62(2), 299–308.
(4) Romanchuk, R., and Birnbaum, D., eds. 2016. Digenis Akritis: Lay of the Emir.

Primary Sources (texts and translations):

Of the Greek:

Jeffreys, E. M. 1998. Digenis Akritis: The Grottaferrata and Escorial Versions. Cambridge.

Of the Slavonic:

Tvorogov, O. V.1999. Devgenievo deianie, in D. S. Likhachev, L. A. Dmitriev, A. A. Alekseev, and N. V. Ponyrko, eds., Biblioteka literatury Drevnei Rusi, tom 3: XI-XII veka, eds. 58-91, 364-66. St. Petersburg.

cf. also J. V. Haney’s English translation of Tvorogov’s compiled edition (caveat lector):

Coffee, lunch and refreshments will be served during the workshop.



The Byzantine Worlds Seminar / Cambridge Postgraduate Workshop in Medieval and Early Modern Slavonic Studies

Open to successful applications from graduate students and junior scholars.
For more information please contact Rosie Finlinson  or Olenka Pevny

This workshop is jointly hosted with Cambridge Ukrainian Studies

Part of Byzantine Worlds Research Network Seminar Series
Administrative assistance: