Ancient History

Feasting and Reading: Some Suggestions on Approaching Banquet Scenes in Rhodanthe and Dosikles



This paper examines connections between Theodore Prodromos’ Rhodanthe and Dosikles and the production of space in Byzantium in the early twelfth century. Previously, Panagiotis Roilos (2005) has argued that banquet scenes in Rhodanthe and Dosikles may have worked as liminal spaces within the narrative of the text, allowing the satirization and parody of established codes of conduct and communication. We build upon Roilos’ work to propose that interplay between passagesdepicting feasting and performative contexts aligned with satirical elements within the text. This, we argue, rendered the humor and satire more explicit for the gathered audience. We locate the performance of Rhodanthe and Dosiklesin large halls in the households of a group involving the ex-empress Eirene Doukaina and her son-in-law Nikephoros Bryennios. Here we argue, the performance of the text contributed to the production of a space which challenged the emperor John II and his wife Piroska-Eirene’s monopoly on dynastic imperial legitimacy. The article is intended as a case study which raises broader research questions on the spatial dimensions of twelfth-century literature. Suggestions for further research on this topic are offered in our conclusion. 


BanquetsByzantiumLiteratureNovelsProdromosSpaceTwelfth Century
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 4 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 1-25
  • DOI: 10.18573/share.20
  • Published on 12 Oct 2020
  • Peer Reviewed