While a number of scholars have had a defining role in this book coming to fruition, certainly the most influential of all is my Oxford supervisor, Professor Averil Cameron. Her gentle yet directed guidance has been invaluable to me along the road of learning how to do scholarship. Although it goes without saying that any errors of fact or interpretation in this book are my own, I have relied heavily on her knowledge, advice, and support. I will always be grateful for the kindness she has shown me.
Also notable among my scholarly benefactors are the following individuals: Dr. Sebastian Brock, who shared with me his love for Syriac; Professor Peter Brown, who graciously invited me to Princeton for a crucial sojourn in 2002; Professor Elizabeth Jeffreys, who deftly guided me through the intricacies of Byzantine literature; Professor Fergus Millar, who first encouraged me to come to Oxford; and Dr. Charles Weiss, who has played alternately the indispensable roles of sounding-board and confidant for several years now.
Special thanks are due to my two D.Phil. examiners, Dr. Jaś Elsner and Professor Charlotte Roueché. I am exceedingly grateful for the close attention that they paid to my work and for the wise counsel they gave me in moving towards publication. This study is much improved because of their input. I feel privileged to have had such accomplished and genial scholars examining my thesis.
The Harvard Society of Fellows has provided a supremely tranquil environment in which to turn my Oxford thesis into a publishable study. I am chiefly grateful to Professor Gregory Nagy, Professor Walter Gilbert, and Ms. Diana Morse for their warm welcome to Cambridge. My colleagues in the Society have played a special role in crystallizing ideas that found their way into this book. I would like to thank especially Avner Ben-Zaken, Elisabeth Camp, Michael Gordin, Eric Nelson, and Bence Ölveczky for taking the time to discuss these ideas at length.
I would also like to thank the publications team at the Center for Hellenic Studies: Joni Godlove, Zoie Lafis, Ivy Livingston, Leonard Muellner, Jennifer Reilly, and Jill Robbins have been patient, warm, and professional throughout the entire pre-publication process. I am grateful to them and to the editors of the Hellenic Studies Series for welcoming me into their fold.
Many more colleagues and friends at Oxford, Harvard, and elsewhere, assisted or encouraged the progress of this book. I would like to render my thanks to the following people: Jonathan Barnes, Hilary and Jeff Becker, Ann Blair, François Bovon, Ewen Bowie, Catherine Burris, William Childs, Chip and Sarah Coakley, Tom Curtis, Stephen Davis, Alan Dearn, Bruce Denson, Robert Drews, Mark Edwards, Laurence Emmett, Bill and Susan Frazee, Robert and Courtney Frazee, William and Priscilla Frazee, Kathy Gaca, John Gager, Martin Gamache, James George, David Gwynn, Jim Hankins, Michael Jeffreys, Christopher Jones, Jeremy Kath, Jonathan Kirkpatrick, Derek Krueger, Michael Maas, Marlia Mango, Matthew McClellan, Tom McGinn, David Michelson, Teresa Morgan, Ryan Olson, J. T. Paasch, Yannis Papadoyannakis, Matthew Polk, Simon Price, Claudia Rapp, Dan Schwartz, Ben Scott, Christos Simelidis, Greg Smith, John Stroup, Alice-Mary Talbot, Jack Tannous, David Taylor, Iain Taylor, Günder Varinlioglu, William Weaver, Mary Whitby, and Susan Ford Wiltshire.
Essential to the completion of this long project has been the steady support of my family. In particular, I cannot even begin to repay with thanks the enormous debt that I owe to my parents and grandparents. They encouraged my studies from the very beginning, and, in response to their love and their unwavering commitment, I dedicate this book to them.
Finally, my wife Carol has been an inspiration to me ever since we first met. Her open zeal for life, language, and people daily provides the context in which my work can become meaningful. Above all things in this world the bond that we share is to me the most solid—this book simply would not have been possible without her.
To my parents and grandparents
Scott Johnson
Cambridge, Massachusetts
June 2005