The Info List - Medieval Greek

--- Advertisement ---

(i) (i)

MEDIEVAL GREEK, also known as BYZANTINE GREEK, is the stage of the Greek language
Greek language
between the end of Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
in the 5th-6th centuries and the end of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, conventionally dated to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople
in 1453. From the 7th century onwards, Greek was the only language of administration and government in the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
. This stage of language is thus described as Byzantine Greek. The study of the Medieval Greek language
Greek language
and literature is a branch of Byzantine Studies, or Byzantinology , the study of the history and culture of the Byzantine Empire.

The beginning of Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
is occasionally dated back to as early as the 4th century, either to 330 AD, when the political centre of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
was moved to Constantinople
, or to 395 AD, the division of the Empire. However, this approach is rather arbitrary as it is more an assumption of political as opposed to cultural and linguistic developments. Indeed, by this time the spoken language, particularly pronunciation, had already shifted towards modern forms. The conquests of Alexander , and the ensuing Hellenistic period , had caused Greek to spread to peoples throughout Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean, altering the spoken language's pronunciation and structure. Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
is the link between this vernacular, known as Koine Greek
Koine Greek
, and the Modern Greek language. Though Byzantine Greek literature was still strongly influenced by Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
, it was also influenced by vernacular Koine Greek, which is the language of the New Testament
New Testament
and the liturgical language of the church.


* 1 History and development

* 1.1 Diglossia * 1.2 Dialects

* 2 Phonetics and phonology

* 2.1 Vowels * 2.2 Consonants

* 3 Grammar

* 4 Vocabulary, script, influence on other languages

* 4.1 Intralinguistic innovations * 4.2 Loanwords from other languages

* 5 Script

* 5.1 Uncial and cursive script * 5.2 Minuscule script

* 6 Influence on other languages

* 7 Sample Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek

* 7.1 Sample 1 – Anna Komnena * 7.2 Sample 2 – Digenes Akritas

* 8 Research * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 Sources * 12 Further reading * 13 External links


Evolution of Greek dialects from the late Byzantine Empire through to the early 20th century. Demotic in yellow. Pontic in orange. Cappadocian in green. (Green dots indicate Cappadocian Greek speaking villages in 1910. )

With the transfer of the Roman imperial court to Byzantium (Constantinople) between 324 and 330, the political centre of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
was moved into an area where Greek was the dominant language. At first, Latin
remained the language of both the court and the army and it was used for official documents, but its influence soon waned. From the beginning of the 6th century, amendments to the law were mostly written in Greek.

Furthermore, parts of the Roman Corpus Iuris Civilis
Corpus Iuris Civilis
were gradually translated into Greek. Under the rule of Emperor Heraclius
(610–641 AD), who also assumed the Greek title Basileus (Greek : βασιλεύς, "monarch") in 629, Greek became the official language of the Eastern Roman Empire. This was in spite of the fact that the inhabitants of the empire still considered themselves Romaioi ("Romans") until its end in 1453.

Despite the absence of reliable demographic figures, it has been estimated that less than one third of the inhabitants of the Eastern Roman Empire, around eight million people, were native speakers of Greek. The number of those who were able to communicate in Greek may have been far higher. The native Greek speakers consisted of many of the inhabitants of the southern Balkan Peninsula, south of the Jireček Line , and all of the inhabitants of Asia Minor
Asia Minor
, where the native tongues (Phrygian , Lycian , Lydian , Carian etc.), except Armenian in the east, had become extinct, replaced by Greek, by the 5th century. In any case, all cities of the Eastern Roman Empire
Roman Empire
were strongly influenced by the Greek language.

In the period between 603 and 619, the southern and eastern parts of the empire (Syria, Egypt, North Africa) were occupied by Persian Sassanids and, after being recaptured by Heraclius
in the years 622 to 628, they were conquered by the Arabs in the course of the Muslim conquests a few years later. Alexandria
, a center of Greek culture and language, fell to the Arabs in 642. During the seventh and eighth centuries, Greek was replaced by Arabic as an official language in conquered territories such as Egypt.

Thus, the use of Greek declined early on in Syria, Egypt, and North Africa; starting also at about the sixth century came the invasion of the South Slavs . This left Greek-speaking Sicily and parts of Magna Graecia , Cyprus, Asia Minor
Asia Minor
and more generally Anatolia, parts of the Crimean Peninsula
Crimean Peninsula
, and lastly the southern Balkans which would henceforth be contested between Byzantium and various Slavic kingdoms or empires. From the late 11th century onwards, the interior of Anatolia was invaded by Seljuq Turks, who advanced westwards. With the Ottoman conquests of Constantinople
in 1453, the Peloponnese
in 1459/1460, the Empire of Trebizond
Empire of Trebizond
in 1461, Athens in 1465, and two centuries later the Duchy of Candia in 1669, the Greek language
Greek language
lost its status as a national language until the emergence of modern Greece in the year 1821. Language varieties after 1453 are referred to as Modern Greek.


As early as in the Hellenistic period , there was a tendency towards a state of diglossia between the Attic literary language and the constantly developing vernacular Koiné . By late antiquity, the gap had become impossible to ignore. In the Byzantine era, written Greek manifested itself in a whole spectrum of divergent registers, all of which were consciously archaic in comparison with the contemporary spoken vernacular, but in different degrees.

They ranged from a moderately archaic style employed for most every-day writing and based mostly on the written Koiné of the Bible and early Christian literature, to a highly artificial learned style, employed by authors with higher literary ambitions and closely imitating the model of classical Attic, in continuation of the movement of Atticism in late antiquity. At the same time, the spoken vernacular language developed on the basis of earlier spoken Koiné, and reached a stage that in many ways resembles present-day Modern Greek in terms of grammar and phonology by the turn of the first millennium AD. Written literature reflecting this demotic Greek begins to appear around 1100.

Among the preserved literature in the Attic literary language, various forms of historiography take a prominent place. They comprise chronicles as well as classicist, contemporary works of historiography , theological documents, and saints\' lives . Poetry can be found in the form of hymns and ecclesiastical poetry. Many of the Byzantine emperors were active writers themselves and wrote chronicles or works on the running of the Byzantine state and strategic or philological works.

Furthermore, letters, legal texts, and numerous registers and lists in Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
exist. Concessions to spoken Greek can be found in literature in the following examples: John Malalas's Chronography from the 6th century, the Chronicle
of Theophanes the Confessor (9th century) and the works of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (mid-10th century). These are influenced by the vernacular language of their time in choice of words and idiom, but largely follow the models of written Koine in their morphology and syntax .

The spoken form of Greek was called γλῶσσα δημώδης ("vernacular language"), ἁπλοελληνική ("basic Greek"), καθωμιλημένη (‘spoken’) or Ῥωμαιϊκή ("Roman language"). Before the 13th century, examples of texts written in vernacular Greek, are very rare. They are restricted to isolated passages of popular acclamations , sayings, and particularly common or untranslatable formulations which occasionally made their way into Greek literature. Since the end of the 11th century, vernacular Greek poems from the literary realm of Constantinople
are documented.

The Digenes Akritas , a collection of heroic sagas from the 12th century that was later collated in a verse epic, was the first literary work completely written in the vernacular. The Greek vernacular verse epic appeared in the 12th century, around the time of the French romance novel, almost as a backlash to the Attic renaissance during the dynasty of the Komnenoi in works like Psellos ’s Chronography (in the middle of the 11th century) or the Alexiad, the biography of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos written by his daughter Anna Komnena about a century later. In fifteen-syllable blank verse (versus politicus), the Digenes Akritas deals with both ancient and medieval heroic sagas, but also with stories of animals and plants. The Chronicle
of the Morea , a verse chronicle from the 14th century, is unique. It has also been preserved in French, Italian and Aragonese versions, and covers the history of French feudalism on the Peloponnese

The earliest evidence of prose vernacular Greek exists in some documents from southern Italy written in the tenth century. Later prose literature consists of statute books, chronicles and fragments of religious, historical and medical works. The dualism of literary language and vernacular was to persist until well into the 20th century, when the Greek language
Greek language
question was decided in favor of the vernacular in 1976.


The persistence until the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
of a single Greek speaking state, the Byzantine Empire, meant that, unlike Vulgar Latin
, Greek did not split into separate languages. However, with the fracturing of the Byzantine state after the turn of the first millennium, newly isolated dialects such as Mariupol Greek , spoken in Crimea, Pontic Greek , spoken along the Black Sea coast of Asia Minor, and Cappadocian , spoken in central Asia Minor, began to diverge.

In Griko , a language spoken in the southern Italian exclaves, and in Tsakonian , which is spoken on the Peloponnese, dialects of older origin continue to be used today. Cypriot Greek was already in a literary form in the late Middle Ages, being used in the chronicles of Leontios Makhairas and Voustronios.


It is assumed that most of the developments leading to the phonology of Modern Greek had either already taken place in Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
and its Hellenistic period predecessor Koine Greek
Koine Greek
, or were continuing to develop during this period. Above all, these developments included the establishment of dynamic stress , which had already replaced the tonal system of Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
during the Hellenistic period. In addition, the vowel system was gradually reduced to five phonemes without any differentiation in vowel length, a process also well begun during the Hellenistic period. Furthermore, Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
diphthongs became monophthongs .




CLOSE /i/ ι, ει, η (/y/) υ, οι, υι /u/ ου

MID /e̞/ ε, αι

/o̞/ ο, ω

OPEN /a/ α

The Suda
, an encyclopedia from the late 10th century, gives some indication of the vowel inventory. Following the antistoichic system, it lists terms alphabetically but arranges similarly pronounced letters side by side. In this way, for indicating homophony , αι is grouped together with ε /e̞/; ει and η together with ι /i/; o with ω /o̞/, and οι with υ /y/. However, at least in educated speech the vowel /y/, which had also merged υι with, likely did not lose lip-rounding and become /i/ until the 10th/11th centuries; this is seen where up to this point Georgian transliterations continue using a different letter for υ/οι from that used for ι/ει/η. From then on, the Georgian language begins transliterating υ/οι with the letter representing /u/ (უ), in line with the alternative development in certain dialects like Tsakonian, Megaran and South Italian Greek where /y/ reverted to /u/. This phenomenon perhaps indirectly indicates that the same original phoneme had merged with /i/ in mainstream varieties at roughly the same time (the same documents also transcribe υ/οι with ი /i/ very sporadically.)

In the original closing diphthongs αυ, ευ and ηυ, the offglide had developed into a consonantal or early on (possibly through an intermediate stage of and ). Before , υ turned to (εὔνοστος > ἔμνοστος , χαύνος > χάμνος , ἐλαύνω > λάμνω ), or was dropped (θαῦμα > θάμα ). Before , it occasionally turned to (ἀνάπαυση > ἀνάπαψη ). Words with initial vowels were often affected by apheresis : ἡ ἡμέρα > ἡ μέρα ("the day"), ἐρωτῶ > ρωτῶ ("to ask").

A regular phenomenon in most dialects is synizesis ("merging" of vowels). In many words with the combinations , , and , the stress shifted to the second vowel, and the first became a glide . Thus: Ῥωμαῖος > Ῥωμιός ("Roman"), ἐννέα > ἐννιά ("nine"), ποῖος > ποιός ("which"), τα παιδία > τα παιδιά ("the children"). This accentual shift is already reflected in the metre of the 6th century hymns of Romanos the Melodist . In many cases, the vowel o disappeared in the endings -ιον and -ιος (σακκίον > σακκίν , χαρτίον > χαρτίν , κύριος > κύρις ). This phenomenon is attested to have begun earlier, in the Hellenistic Koine Greek
Koine Greek


The shift in the consonant system from voiced plosives /b/ (β), /d/ (δ), /ɡ/ (γ) and aspirated voiceless plosives /pʰ/ (φ), /tʰ/ (θ), /kʰ/ (χ) to corresponding fricatives (/v, ð, ɣ/ and /f, θ, x/, respectively) was already completed during Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
. But the original voiced plosives remained as such after nasal consonants, with (μβ), (νδ), (γγ). The velar sounds /k, x, ɣ, ŋk, ŋɡ/ (κ, χ, γ, γκ, γγ) were realised as palatal allophones () before front vowels. The fricative /h/, which had been present in Classical Greek, had been lost early on, although it is still reflected in spelling through the rough breathing , a diacritic mark added to vowels.

Changes in the phonological system mainly affect consonant clusters that show sandhi processes. In clusters of two different plosives or two different fricatives , there is a tendency for dissimilation such that the first consonant becomes a fricative and/or the second becomes a plosive ultimately favoring a fricative-plosive cluster. But if the first consonant was a fricative and the second consonant was /s/, the first consonant instead became a plosive, favoring a plosive-/s/ cluster. Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
also had cluster voicing harmony favoring the voice of the final plosive or fricative; when the resulting clusters became voiceless, the aforementioned sandhi would further apply. This process of assimilation and sandhi was highly regular and predictable, forming a rule of Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
phonotactics that would persist into Early Modern Greek . When dialects started deleting unstressed /i/ and /u/ between two consonants (such as when Myzithras became Mystras
), new clusters were formed and similarly assimilated by sandhi; on the other hand it is arguable that the dissimilation of voiceless obstruents occurred before the loss of close vowels, as the clusters resulting from this development do not necessarily undergo the change to , e.g. κ(ου)τί as not .

The resulting clusters were:

For plosives:

* > * > (νύκτα > νύχτα ) * > (ἑπτά > ἑφτά )

For fricatives where the second was not /s/:

* > (Μυζ(η)θράς > Μυστράς ) * > (only occurred in Pontic) * > (σκολείο > σκολειό ) * > (φθόνος > φτόνος ) * > * > (χθές > χτές )

For fricatives where the second was /s/:

* > (ἔπαυσα > ἔπαψα )

The disappearance of /n/ in word-final position, which had begun sporadically in Late Antiquity, became more widespread, excluding certain dialects such as South Italian and Cypriot. The nasals /m/ and /n/ also disappeared before voiceless fricatives, for example νύμφη > νύφη , ἄνθος > ἄθος .

A new set of voiced plosives , and developed through voicing of voiceless plosives after nasals . There is some dispute as to when exactly this development took place but apparently it began during the Byzantine period. The graphemes μπ, ντ and γκ for /b/, /d/ and /g/ can already be found in transcriptions from neighboring languages in Byzantine sources, like in ντερβίσης , from Turkish derviş ("dervish "). On the other hand, some scholars contend that post-nasal voicing of voiceless plosives began already in the Koine , as interchanges with β, δ, and γ in this position are found in the papyri. The prenasalized voiced spirants μβ, νδ and γγ were still plosives by this time, causing a merger between μβ/μπ, νδ/ντ and γγ/γκ, which would remain except within educated varieties, where spelling pronunciations did make for segments such as


Many decisive changes between Ancient and Modern Greek were completed by circa 1100 AD. There is a striking reduction of inflectional categories inherited from Indo-European , especially in the verb system, and a complementary tendency of developing new analytical formations and periphrastic constructions.

In morphology , the inflectional paradigms of declension , conjugation and comparison were regularised through analogy. Thus, in nouns, the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
third declension, which showed an unequal number of syllables in the different cases, was adjusted to the regular first and second declension by forming a new nominative form out of the oblique case forms: Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
ὁ πατήρ > Modern Greek ὁ πατέρας , in analogy to the accusative form τὸν πατέρα . Feminine nouns ending in -ις and -ας formed the nominative according to the accusative -ιδα -αδα , as in ἐλπίς > ἐλπίδα ('hope') and in Ἑλλάς > Ἑλλάδα ('Greece'). Only a few nouns remained unaffected by this simplification, such as τὸ φῶς , genitive τοῦ φωτός .

The Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
formation of the comparative of adjectives ending in -ιον, -ων, which was partly irregular, was gradually substituted by the formation using the suffix -τερ and regular endings of the adjective: µείζων > µειζότερος ('the bigger‘).

The enclitic genitive forms of the first and second person personal pronoun , as well as the genitive forms of the third person demonstrative pronoun developed into unstressed enclitic possessive pronouns that were attached to nouns: µου , σου , του , της , µας , σας , των .

Irregularities in verb inflection were also reduced through analogy. Thus, the contracted verbs ending in -άω , -έω etc., which earlier showed a complex set of vowel alternations, adopted the endings of the regular forms: ἀγαπᾷ > ἀγαπάει ('he loves'). The use of the past tense prefix, known as augment , was gradually limited to regular forms in which the augment was required to carry word stress. Reduplication in the verb stem, which was a feature of the old perfect forms, was gradually abandoned and only retained in antiquated forms. The small ancient Greek class of irregular verbs in -μι disappeared in favour of regular forms ending in -ω χώννυμι > χώνω ('push'). The auxiliary εἰμί ('be'), originally part of the same class, adopted a new set of endings modelled on the passive of regular verbs, as in the following examples:










ἔνι > ἔναι, εἶναι












In most cases, the numerous stem variants that appeared in the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
system of aspect inflection was reduced to only two basic stem forms, sometimes only one. Thus, in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
the stem of the verb λαμβάνειν (“to take”) appears in the variants λαμβ- , λαβ- , ληψ- , ληφ- and λημ- . In Medieval Greek, it is reduced to the forms λαμβ- (imperfective or present system) and λαβ- (perfective or aorist system).

One of the numerous forms that disappeared was the dative . It was replaced in the 10th century by the genitive and the prepositional construction of εἰς ('in, to') + accusative . In addition, the dual, nearly all the participles and the imperative forms of the 3rd person were lost. The optative was replaced by the construction of subordinate clauses with the conjunctions ὅτι ('that') and ἵνα ('so that'). ἵνα first became ἱνά and was later shortened to να . By the end of the Byzantine era, the construction θέλω να ('I want that…') + subordinate clause developed into θενά . Eventually, θενά became the Modern Greek future particle θα Medieval Greek: , which replaced the old future forms. Ancient formations like the genitive absolute , the accusative and infinitive and nearly all common participle constructions were gradually substituted by the newly emerged gerund and constructions of subordinate clauses.

The most noticeable grammatical change in comparison to ancient Greek is the almost complete loss of the infinitive , which has been replaced by subordinate clauses with the particle να. Arabic influences have been assumed as a possible explanation for this phenomenon, as a sentence structure such as "I can that I go" is common in Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic
. Possibly transmitted through Greek, this phenomenon can also be found in the adjacent languages and dialects of the Balkans. Bulgarian and Romanian for example, are in many respects typologically similar to medieval and present day Greek , although genealogically they are not closely related.

Besides the particles να and θενά, the negation particle δέν ('not') was derived from the Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
word oὐδέν ('nothing').



Lexicographic changes in Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
influenced by Christianity can be found for instance in words like ἄγγελος ('messenger') > heavenly messenger > angel) or ἀγάπη 'love' > 'altruistic love', which is strictly differentiated from ἔρως , ('physical love'). In everyday usage, some old Greek stems were replaced, for example, the expression for "wine" where the word κρασίον ('mixture') replaced the old Greek οἶνος . The word ὄψον (meaning "something you eat with bread") combined with the suffix -αριον , which was borrowed from the Latin -arium, became "fish" (ὀψάριον ), which after apheresis, synizesis and the loss of final ν became the new Greek ψάρι and eliminated the Old Greek ἰχθύς , which became an acrostic for Jesus Christ and a symbol for Christianity.


See also: List of Greek words of Byzantine Latin

Especially at the beginning of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
, Medieval Greek borrowed numerous words from Latin
, among them mainly titles and other terms of the imperial court’s life like Αὔγουστος (“Augustus”), πρίγκιψ (Lat. princeps, “Prince”), μάγιστρος (“Master”), κοιαίστωρ (Lat. quaestor, “Quaestor”), ὀφφικιάλος (Lat. officialis “official”). In addition, Latin
words from everyday life entered the Greek language, for example ὁσπίτιον Greek pronunciation: (Lat. hospitium, “hostel”, therefore “house”, σπίτι in Modern Greek ), σέλλα (“saddle”), ταβέρνα (“tavern”), κανδήλιον (Lat. candela “candle”), φούρνος (Lat. furnus “oven”) and φλάσκα (Lat. flasco “wine bottle”).

Other influences on Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
arose from contact with neighboring languages and the languages of Venetian, Frankish and Arab conquerors. Some of the loanwords from these languages have been permanently retained in Greek or in its dialects:

* κάλτσα from Ital. calza "stocking" * ντάμα from Fr. dame "dame" * γούνα from Slav. guna "fur" * λουλούδι , probably from Alban. lule "flower" * παζάρι from Turk. pazar (itself derived from Persian), "market, bazaar " * χατζι- from Arab. hajji "Mecca pilgrim", used as a name affix for a Christian after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.


Middle Greek used the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet which, until the end of antiquity, were predominantly used as lapidary and majuscule letters and without a space between words and with diacritics.


Manuscript of the Anthology of Planudes
Anthology of Planudes

In the third century, the Greek uncial developed under the influence of the Latin
script because of the need to write on papyrus with a reed pen. In the Middle Ages, uncial became the main script for the Greek language. A common feature of the medieval majuscule script like the uncial is an abundance of abbreviations (e.g. ΧϹ for "Christos") and ligatures. The first Greek script, a cursive script, developed from quick carving into wax tablets with a slate pencil. This cursive script already showed descenders and ascenders, as well as combinations of letters. Several letters of the uncial (ϵ for Ε, Ϲ for Σ, Ѡ for Ω) were also used as majuscules especially in a sacral context. The sigma was adopted in this form as a С by the Cyrillic script. The Greek uncial used the interpunct in order to separate sentences for the first time, but there were still no spaces between words.


The Greek minuscule script, which probably emerged from the cursive writing in Syria
, appears more and more frequently from the 9th century onwards. It is the first script that regularly uses accents and spiritus, which had already been developed in the 3rd century B.C. This very fluent script with ascenders and descenders and many possible combinations of letters is the first to use gaps between words. The last forms which developed in the 12th century were Iota subscript and word-final sigma (ς). The type for Greek majuscules and minuscules that was developed in the 17th century by a printer from the Antwerp printing dynasty, Wetstein, eventually became the norm in modern Greek printing.


As the language of the Orthodox Church , Middle Greek has, especially with the conversion of the Slavs by the brothers Cyril and Methodius , found entrance into the Slavic languages
Slavic languages
via the religious sector, in particular to the Old Church Slavonic and over its subsequent varieties, the different Church Slavonic manuscripts(?), also into the language of the countries with an Orthodox population, thus primarily into Bulgarian , Russian , Ukrainian and Serbian . For this reason, Greek loanwords and neologisms in these languages often correspond to the Byzantine phonology, while they found their way into the languages of Western Europe over Latin
mediation in the sound shape of the classical Greek (cf. German Automobil vs. Russian автомобиль avtomobil and the differences in Serbo-Croatian ).

Some words in Germanic languages, mainly from the religious context, have also been borrowed from Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
and have found their way into languages like German or English through the Gothic language . These include the word church (from κυριακὴ , κυριακὴ οἰκία 'House of the Lord') via Germanic *kirike, and the German word for Pentecost
, Pfingsten (from πεντηκοστή ‚ 'the fiftieth ').

Byzantine research played an important role in the Greek State, which was refounded in 1832, as the young nation tried to restore its cultural identity through antique and orthodox-medieval traditions. Spyridon Lambros (1851–1919), later Prime Minister of Greece, founded Greek Byzantinology , which was continued by his and Krumbacher’s students.


The following texts clearly illustrate the case of diglossia in Byzantine Greek, as they date from roughly the same time but show marked differences in terms of grammar and lexicon, and likely in phonology as well. The first selection is an example of high literary classicizing historiography, while the second is a vernacular poem which is more compromising to ordinary speech.


The first excerpt is from the Alexiad of Anna Komnena , recounting the invasion by Bohemond I of Antioch , son of Robert Guiscard, in 1107. The writer employs much ancient vocabulary, influenced by Herodotean Ionic, though post-classical terminology is also used (e.g. δούξ, from Latin
dux.) Anna has a strong command of classical morphology and syntax, but again there are occasional 'errors' reflecting interference from the popular language, such as the use of εἰς + accusative instead of classical ἐν + dative to mean 'in.' As seen in the phonetic transcription, although most major sound changes resulting in the Modern Greek system (including the merger of υ/οι /y/ with /i/) are assumed complete by this period, learned speech likely resisted the loss of final ν, aphaeresis and synizesis.

Ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς, ἔτι εἰς τὴν βασιλέυουσαν ἐνδιατρίβων, μεμαθηκὼς διὰ γραφῶν τοῦ δουκὸς Δυρραχίου τὴν τοῦ Βαϊμούντου διαπεραίωσιν ἐπετάχυνε τὴν ἐξελέυσιν. ἀνύστακτος γὰρ ὤν ὁ ὁ δοὺξ Δυρραχίου, μὴ διδοὺς τὸ παράπαν ὕπνον τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς, ὁπηνίκα διέγνω διαπλωσάμενον τὸν Βαϊμούντον παρὰ τὴν τοῦ Ἰλλυρικοῦ πεδιάδα καὶ τῆς νηὸς ἀποβεβηκότα καὶ αὐθότι που πηξάμενον χάρακα, Σκύθην μεταπεψάμενος ὑποπτερον δή, τὸ τοῦ λόγου, πρὸς τὸν αὐτοκράτορα τὴν τούτου διαπεραίωσιν ἐδήλου.

'When the emperor, who was still in the imperial city, learned of Bohemond's crossing from the letters of the duke (military commander) of Dyrráchion, he hastened his departure. For the duke had been vigilant, having altogether denied sleep to his eyes, and at the moment when he learned that Bohemnond had sailed over beside the plain of Illyricum, disembarked, and set up camp thereabouts, he sent for a Scythian with "wings", as the saying goes, and informed the emperor of the man's crossing.'


The second excerpt is from the epic of Digenes Akritas (manuscript E), possibly dating originally to the 12th century. This text is one of the earliest examples of Byzantine folk literature, and includes many features in line with developments in the demotic language. The poetic metre adheres to the fully developed model of a Greek 15-syllable political verse . Features of popular speech like synezisis, elision and apheresis are regular, as is recognized in the transcription despite the conservative orthography. Also seen is the simplification of διὰ to modern γιὰ. In morphology, note the use of modern possessive pronouns, the concurrence of classical -ουσι(ν)/-ασι(ν) and modern -ουν/-αν 3pl endings, the lack of reduplication in perfect passive participles and the addition of ν to the neuter adjective in γλυκύν. In other parts of the poem, the dative case has been almost completely replaced with the genitive and accusative for indirect objects.

Καὶ ὡς εἴδασιν τὰ ἀδέλφια της τὴν κόρην μαραμένην, ἀντάμα οἱ πέντε ἐστέναξαν, τοιοῦτον λόγον εἶπαν: 'Ἐγείρου, ἠ βεργόλικος, γλυκύν μας τὸ ἀδέλφιν˙ ἐμεῖς γὰρ ἐκρατοῦμαν σε ὡς γιὰ ἀποθαμένην καὶ ἐσὲν ὁ Θεὸς ἐφύλαξεν διὰ τὰ ὡραῖα σου κάλλη. Πολέμους οὐ φοβούμεθα διὰ τὴν σὴν ἀγάπην.'

'And when her brothers saw the girl withered, the five groaned together, and spoke as follows: "Arise, lissom one, our sweet sister; we had your for dead, but you were protected by God for your beautiful looks. Through our love for you, we fear no battles.'


In the Byzantine Empire, Ancient and Medieval Greek
Medieval Greek
texts were copied repeatedly; studying these texts was part of Byzantine education. Several collections of transcriptions tried to record the entire body of Greek literature since antiquity. As there had already been extensive exchange with Italian academics since the 14th century, many scholars and a large number of manuscripts found