Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Procopius of Gaza's lost Monody

The paucity of materials on Antioch in the ancient literature means that each mention much be cherished. One of the pieces that we know of and that is now lost is the Monody for Antioch (Monodia per Antiochia/μονωδια Αντιοχαιαζ)by Procopius. This work appears to have still existed into the 12th century when it was used as a reference source for some homilies written and delivered by a Sicilian monk, Philagathus Cerami (otherwise known as Filogato Cerameo). 

The most extensive reference to this lost work is made in an article by Professor Aldo Corcella in, «Echi del romanzo e di Procopio di Gaza in Filagato Cerameo», Byzantinisches Zeitschrift 103, 2010, pp. 25-38..

Procopius (c. 465-528 AD) came from Gaza, a city now better known for its political football status, but back in the fifth century had somewhat of a literary fame. The Monody (in form most usually a poem in which one person laments another's death) he wrote was in relation to the devastating earthquake of AD 526 that flattened Antioch.

Allusions to the Monody in Philagathus's Homily No. XII (in the Patrologia Graeca numbering): "In Sanctos Innocentes dicta in ambone archiepiscopalis ecclesiae" on the theme would appear to be a vestige of this elusive work by Procopius of Gaza.