Przemysław Marciniak

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2012/2013
discipline Literature
Professor of Byzantine Literature at the University of Silesia in Katowice

Research project

A Dance in the Role of Thersites. A Study on Byzantine 
Satires (Eleventh – Fifteenth Centuries)


The aim of my project is a literary analysis of Byzantine satirical texts written between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries as well as an analysis of the social and cultural role they played in the Byzantine society. Satire was not a very prolific literary genre in Byzantium before the eleventh century from when more satirical texts appeared (with the true satirical revival, especially in Lucian’s manner, in the twelfth century). My project investigates also Lucianic Nachleben in Byzantium. I intend to describe the place of Lucian’s writings in Byzantine literary culture and to understand how, and to what purposes, his texts were used throughout the Byzantine period.

Defining satire in Byzantium is a very difficult task. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium: “[satire] could take many forms, including parody and allegory. Intentionality and not literary form determine what is satire”. It has long been recognised that certain satires are excellent sources of information about Byzantine political and biographical issues and have been studied for the political knowledge displayed by the authors as well as identification of the characters satirised. However, as examples of literature they have been regarded as uninteresting and, in many cases, as simple imitations of Lucian. However, by dismissing the texts as poor imitations of classical literature or only sources of historical facts, the studies have failed to appreciate the literary qualities of the texts, which my project will study. Only recently did some authors start reappraising common, mostly nineteenth century, views on Byzantine satires.

My project will examine the following issues related to Byzantine satires: Byzantine sense of humour, literary construction of satire, Byzantine satirical katabaseis (visits to the Underworld), satire as a game, the socio-cultural functions performed by satires, and the art of invectives in Byzantine texts. Though my main focus will be literature I intend to put satire in a wider context. Therefore historical, cultural and sociological factors will be taken into account. The outcome of my project will be a monograph on Byzantine satire which is intended as a cross-disciplinary study. Such a study will be useful, as I hope, not only for Byzantinists but also classicists, students of the history of laughter, and generally historians of literature.



Przemyslaw Tadeusz Marciniak is Professor of Byzantine Literature at the University of Silesia in Katowice. He holds a Ph.D. and a Habilitation in Literary Studies/Byzantine Studies from the University of Silesia in Katowice.

Selected publications


‘‘Theodore Prodromos’ Bion prasis – a Reappraisal’, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, vol. 53, 2013, pp. 219-238.


‘Laughing against all the odds. Humour and Religion in Byzantium’, in H. Geybels and W. Van Herck (eds), Humour and Religion. Challenges and Ambiguities, Continuum, London, 2011, pp. 141–155.


‘Der Mythos des Falls des Konstantinopel in der Literatur (17. Jh.–20. Jh.)’, Acta Byzantina Fennica, vol. 3, 2009–2010, pp. 196–214.


‘The Dramatic Afterlife. The Byzantines on ancient dramas and their authors’, Classica et Mediaevalia, vol. 59, 2009, pp. 120–137.


‘The Greek Playwrights in the Light of Byzantine Sources’, Journal of Australian Early Medieval Studies, vol. 5, 2009, pp. 71–88.


‘The Byzantine Sense of Humour’, in G. Tamer (ed.), Humor in der arabischen Kultur, De Gruyter, Berlin – New York, 2009, pp. 127–135.


Greek Drama in Byzantine Times, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, Katowice, 2004.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Cultural Studies