Thursday, 30 April 2015

Ilias Nesseris: Unkown Prayers on Education in Twelfth-Century Byzantium

Among the various prayers for all kind of daily life activities that can be found in Goar’s edition of the Euchologion are included three which concern children’s education. The first two involve the young child’s sending off to the school of primary education to learn the so-called hiera grammata, while the third is an interesting service regarding mischievous students.
In addition to these prayers, there exist many others that remain unknown because they are not preserved in Byzantine and post-Byzantine prayer books, but in manuscripts containing school material, namely schedographies, i.e. collections consisting of numerous short pieces called schedē composed for the teaching of grammar. These unknown prayers are exceptional both in form/type and content for a variety of reasons: their precise classification would be prayers in the form of schedē; they were composed ad hoc for various specific aspects of school life, such as the annual examinations at the end of the school year; their composers were, in some cases, well-known teachers, such as Constantine Manasses, or others that have remained anonymous; finally, they were composed for individual students rather than the entire student body in general.
The aim of the present paper is to analyze and present all these unknown prayers for the first time, to expand on their significance for the educational affairs of the late Byzantine and post-Byzantine period and place them in their social context, and to explore the methodological challenges they pose in regard to the more conventional prayers found in the Euchologion.

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