The worldview of women in demotic historic, akritic and epic poetry of the late Byzantine period (9th century to 1453)


By Virginia A. Deligatos

Master’s Thesis, University of Johannesburg, 2008


A study is conducted into the roles of women living in the late Byzantine period between the 6th Century to 1453, using demotic or ‘popular’ poetry which can be quite significant in shedding some light into Byzantine history and society. An in depth analysis of these songs is carried out and compared to valid historical texts in order to create a proper account on history. Some questions that will be examined are as follows: How did women fit into society? What was their expected role? Did they ever go beyond their conventional role? Were they treated differently at different stages or circumstances in their life? Do the clues that are found in these songs correspond to the previously written historical texts that were predominantly written by men? It is no secret that, women portrayed in historical texts which refer to that period, were subjugated to the men in their lives and had very different roles to their partners, fathers, or brothers. Using demotic poetry, one is able to understand the voice of common folk and their worldview, thereby collecting accounts of the society’s ideas and ideals at grassroots level. A collection of about 20 songs has been gathered for this study and each song has been analysed in detail alone and in its contexts. It is tremendously interesting to discover how important women were in their society and how they often seem to have influenced men’s behaviour indirectly.

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