Mike Aquilina

Verse-Case Scenario

Monday March 08th 2010, 9:58 pm

Edward G. Mathews, Jr., reviews Christos Simelidis’s Selected Poems of Gregory of Nazianzus in BMCR.

Gregory of Nazianzus is one of the most consistently celebrated of the early Christian writers … However, this sustained popularity was generally due to his theological acumen and his extraordinary rhetorical skills, not to his poetry, which both Jerome and the Suda numbered at 30,000 verses (only about two-thirds of them have actually survived) …

Simelidis’ work is a revised version of his Oxford doctoral dissertation. It offers a lengthy introduction to Gregory’s poetry (pp. 21-102), critical editions of the Greek texts — no translations — of four of Gregory’s poems … This is an extraordinarily detailed and erudite study that ought to lay down the path for any future study of Gregory’s poetry. Gregory stands as a unique transitional point between classical/hellenistic poetry and Byzantine poetry.

Some of Gregory’s poems are available in English translation, in the Popular Patristics series: On God and Man: The Theological Poetry of St. Gregory of Nazianzus.