An Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds

Translated by Nick Nicholas and George Baloglou

Columbia University Press

An Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds

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Pub Date: July 2003

ISBN: 9780231127615

576 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $36.00£30.00

Pub Date: July 2003

ISBN: 9780231127608

576 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£88.00

Pub Date: July 2003

ISBN: 9780231501996

576 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $35.99£30.00

An Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds

Translated by Nick Nicholas and George Baloglou

Columbia University Press

An Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds is the first English verse translation of the Greek satirical poem Diegesis Paidiophrastos ton Zoon ton Tetrapodon. Written by an anonymous author in fourteenth-century Byzantium, this vernacular allegorical poem has long been recognized as a unique document, one that appears to have originated independently of comparable works in other traditions. A medieval Animal Farm, the story describes a convention of animals in which each beast vaunts its uses to humanity while denigrating others, resulting in a cataclysmic battle. The authors provide extensive textual analysis and notes on the form, style, and context of the poem.

Nicholas and Baloglou have here produced a thorough study of a 14th-century 'popular' Byzantine poem concerning an assembly of herbivores and carnivores at the behest of King Lion.... Reproductions of the drawings from the one illustrated manuscript of the tale are provided, along with textual notes, six appendixes, an extensive bibliography, and an index of Greek words... Clearly a labor of love.

Choice

The interest of this work is the insights it provides into various aspects of the life of the time....The introduction and commentary to the translation are both substantial and extensively researched, and would be a great resource for someone wishing to follow up any of these areas.... a good read for those interested in the popular culture and daily life of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Medieval History

A significant contribution to the study of vernacular Greek literature and the evolution of Greek language. Meticulously researched, it will intrigue philologists without alienating the general reader.

Manolis Papathomopoulos, emeritus professor of classics, University of Ioannina, Greece

This is a splendid translation of a neglected text, which constitutes an important addition to our knowledge of vernacular Greek literature of the late Byzantine period. But it is also a highly amusing and genuinely 'entertaining' piece of medieval literature about animals, their characters and contests, ending in a great battle between the herbivores and the carnivores. Since so little of this type of writing is available for non-Greek readers... this translation will introduce a whole field of literature to medievalists in general.

Judith E. Herrin, author of A Medieval Miscellany and Women in Purple

The commentary fulfills the desire of the poem's prologue--that this fable will 'draw out and stir up learning.' Readers who study the decline of empire, while they attend to the voice of the weak in their confrontations with coercive power, will hear in this astute work a reminder that 'God shares power out'—even if his creatures think otherwise. By recalling the wonder that was Byzantium, this book is playful reading for any turbulent time preoccupied with 'what is past, or passing or to come.'

Patrick M. Murphy, editor of The Tempest: Critical Essays

The "Entertaining Tale" is an engaging, high-spirited fable in a genre that runs from Aesop to Orwell's "Animal Farm" and the musical "The Lion King". All the animals come together to debate their merits in a state of truce; but just like humans and human kingdoms, all they can do is boast and hurl insults at each other, until the truce is dissolved and the beasts revert to nature. The "Tale" carries an unexpected sting: in the final battle, it is the peace-loving tame animals that win out. A political moral here? Perhaps.The editors, Nick Nicholas and George Baloglou, have done a wonderful job. From contrasting backgrounds, and based on different continents, they have been brought together in what amounts to a stupendous labour of love. The "Tale" is presented (bravely, but with good justification) translated into fluent English blank verse, with the original Greek text alongside. The introduction and commentary cover everything that the specialist longs to see covered adequately in a text of this sort, while being at the same time fully accessible and informative to the layman. Indeed, after the heroic epic of Digenes Akrites, this is the only text in medieval vernacular Greek to benefit from a scholarly bilingual edition to date. The publishers are to be congratulated for taking it on. It deserves a wide readership, as well as the gratitude of specialists.

Roderick Beaton, Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature, King's College London, Author of The Medieval Greek Romance (2nd ed. revd, 1996)

Both authors have a vision and an unequivocal perspective, which they have followed from the first page to the last: bringing a modern interested reader close to a mediaeval poem. They do this with a breath of fresh air, which blows away the traditional philologists' dust.

Hans Eideneier, Byzantinische Zeitschrift

An Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds definitely belongs in university libraries and could be used as a textbook in courses on Byzantine Greek literature and late medieval writing in general—in spite of a certain repetitiousness.

Fifteenth Century Studies

About the Author

Nick Nicholas is a research fellow in the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and a contributor to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae project at the University of California, Irvine.George Baloglou is an associate professor of mathematics at the State University of New York, Oswego.