Collegium Helveticum
Fellow Project 2023–2024

Disputes Over Authority
The Complex Relationship between Soul and Body in Medieval Greek Tradition

The project explores the entanglements of diverse intellectual concepts in medieval Greek tradition. It will focus on a largely unknown twelfth-century treatise of theological, philosophical, rhetorical, and legal nature written by the Metropolitan of Athens Michael Choniates (c. 1138–1222). In this text, the two personified figures of soul and body debate over their respective superiority to each other. The work affords us important insights not only into the complex thinking of one of the most celebrated authors of the medieval Greek tradition regarding the everlasting complex relationship between soul and body, but also into the transmission, transformation, and adaptation of ancient philosophical thought in a Christian environment.

In order to go beyond the current state of research and advance a new model for a more nuanced understanding of the intellectual history of Byzantium, the study of the text will rely on a multi-layered and interdisciplinary methodological approach, including philology, manuscripts studies, intellectual history, and rhetorical theory.