John Tzetzes - Encyclopedia

GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

JOHN TZETZES, Byzantine poet and grammarian, flourished at Constantinople during the 12th century A.D. Tzetzes has been described as a perfect specimen of the Byzantine pedant. Excessively vain, he resented any attempt at rivalry, and violently attacked his fellow grammarians. Owing to want of books, he was obliged to trust to his memory; hence he is to be used with caution. But he was a learned man, and deserves gratitude for his efforts to keep up the study of ancient Greek literature. Of his numerous works the most important is the Book of .Histories, usually called Chiliades (" thousands") from the arbitrary division by its first editor (N. Gerbel, 1546) into books each containing loon lines (it actually consists of 12,674 lines in "political" verse). It is a collection of literary, historical, theological and antiquarian miscellanies, whose chief value consists in the fact that it to some extent makes up for the loss of works which were accessible to Tzetzes. The whole production suffers from an unnecessary display of learning, the total number of authors quoted being more than 400 (H. Spelthahn, Studien zu den Chiliaden des Johannes Tzetzes, diss., Munich, 1904). The author subsequently brought out a revised edition with marginal notes in prose and verse (ed. T. Kiessling, 1826; on the sources see C. Harder, De J. T. historiarum fontibus quaestiones selectae, diss., Kiel, 1886). The Chiliades is based upon a collection of Letters (ed. T. Pressel, 1851), which has been called an index to the larger work, itself described as a versified commentary on the letters. These letters (107 in number) are addressed partly to fictitious personages, and partly to the great men and women of the writer's time. They contain a considerable amount of biographical details. The Iliaca, an abridgment of and supplement to the Iliad, is divided into three parts - Antehomerica, Homerica, Post- homerica - containing the narrative from the birth of Paris to the return of the Greeks after the fall of Troy, in 1676 hexameters (ed. C. Lehrs and F. Dilbner, 1868, in the Didot series, with Hesiod, &c.) The Homeric Allegories, dedicated to the empress Irene, in "political" verse, are two didactic poems in which Homer and the Homeric theology are explained on euphemistic principles (ed. P. Matranga, in his Anecdota graeca, i. 1850). Tzetzes also wrote commentaries on a number of Greek authors, the most important of which is that on the Cassandra or Alexandra of Lycophron (ed. C. G. Muller, 1811), in the production of which his brother Isaac is generally associated with him. Mention may also be made of a dramatic sketch in iambic verse, in which the caprices of fortune and the wretched lot of the learned are described; and of an iambic poem on the death of the emperor Manuel, noticeable for introducing at the beginning of each line the last word of the line preceding it (both in Matranga, An. gr. ii.). For the other works of Tzetzes see J. A. Fabricius, Bibliotheca graeca (ed. Harles), xi. 228, and C. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byz. Litt. (2nd ed., 1897); monograph by G. Hart, "De Tzetzarum nomine, vitis, scriptis," in Jahn's Jahrbiicher fiir classische Philologie. Supplementband xii. (Leipzig, 1881).

i This versification is called (KXZµaE, ladder), a term more commonly applied to a verse in which each word contains one letter more than the one which precedes it.

U The twenty-first letter of the English alphabet. It is a modification made in manuscript writing of the Latin inscriptional V, and is itself found on the inscriptions of Rome as early as the latter part of the 2nd century A.D. The symbols U, V, Y are all of the same origin, but what the origin is has been much disputed. In the Phoenician alphabet T is the last symbol, but there can be little doubt that when the Greeks introduced symbols for vowels, which had not been indicated in the alphabet they had borrowed, they took the sixth symbol of the Phoenician alphabet (see F) in its ordinary form Y and placed it at the end of the alphabet with the value of a vowel. This vowel was apparently u (English oo in moon), though Ionic and Attic Greek at a very early period changed it to the sound of the French u. In other dialects the earlier value long persisted, and in modern Tzakonian, the representative of the ancient Laconian, it still survives. In some places, e.g. Boeotia, the sound seems to have changed, in connexion with dental consonants, in the same way as the English sound, in certain cases i (y) being inserted in front of it. This seems to be the only feasible explanation of such spellings as Ttouxa (Tbxn), iroAtobeevos (iroXu evos), which appear after the Boeotians adopted the Ionic alphabet. A similar change must have existed in very early Attic and Ionic to account for the change of t before v into s in aru, " thou" for Tu; some authorities think it was universal in the earliest Greek. Greek nowhere shows the symbol in the bowl shape that it has in the Semitic alphabet. From the 7th century B.C. both Y and V are found, sometimes both in the same area. Another form somewhat later has the upper strokes curved outwards T, while the angle is much less deep than in the other forms. It is noticeable that the symbol for u in the syllabary which was used to write Greek in Cyprus has this form amongst others. The name of the sixth symbol in the Phoenician alphabet was Waw (Vau), but though U has taken its form, in Greek its name was v (i.e. English oo, as in moon, except in Attic and Ionic, where it was like the French u in lune), not upsilon, as is frequently stated. In Sweet's terminology u (oo), as pronounced in English "put" or "too," is a high back wide round, while the sound in the French sou or the Scotch pronunciation of "book" is a high back narrow round. The high front corresponding sound is found in the French lune. With this the German "modified u" (ii) is often equated, but it is not really identical, being a mid front narrow round vowel. The pitch of the vowel u is among the lowest of the vowel sounds; the rounding and protrusion of the lips make the breath passage longer than it is for other vowels, and so its production may be compared to that of a sound made upon a flute when all the finger-holes are covered. In modern English u preceded by a (y) arises from three different sounds in middle English: (a) the long French u (ii) brought in with borrowed words from French (duke), (b) eu (Early English eow) as in "new," (c) a more open sound eu (Early English eaw) as in "dew" (Sweet, New English Grammar, § 806). The y-sound was dropped after r, ch and dzh, as in "true," "choose," "juice" (ibid., § 857). In the literary dialect also it generally disappears after 1, as in "lurid," "lute." In some provincial and American pronunciations it is dropped everywhere except initially, so that "Tuesday" is pronounced Toosday, " new" noo. (P. Gz.)

Custom Search

Encyclopedia Alphabetically

A * B * C * D * E * F * G * H * I * J * K * L * M * N * O * P * Q * R * S * T * U * V * W * X * Y * Z

Advertise Here


- Please bookmark this page (add it to your favorites)
- If you wish to link to this page, you can do so by referring to the URL address below.

This page was last modified 29-SEP-18
Copyright © 2018 ITA all rights reserved.