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Bardaisan and the origins of Syriac versification

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Lunch Talk


December 15, 2023

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RSVP to [email protected] by December 11th to guarantee lunch.

Speaker & Affiliation

Alberto Rigolio, Durham University


12:00 pm - 1:20 pm
161 East Pyne


While local languages tended to subside, or disappear from the written record, after the Roman conquest, Syriac stands out as a significant exception. This variety of Aramaic from Edessa, in northern Mesopotamia, became the vehicle of one of the most prestigious literatures of the first millennium CE and beyond. 

This paper addresses the beginnings of Syriac literature in the context of the Roman Near East, during the second and third centuries CE. It discusses available sources for the emergence of Syriac versification, which are linked to earliest known Syriac poet, Bardaisan, and pioneers the use of the model of “vernacularization” to account for the Syrians’ complex relation with Greco-Roman literary culture.

(Image: Syriac Mosaic representing Odysseus, 3rd cent. CE. From: Abdallah, Desreumaux, al-Kaid, "Nouvelles mosaïques d'Osrhoène découvertes in situ en Syrie du Nord" JMR 13 (2020):1-34.)