Rape, Consent, and Ecofeminist Narratology in the Komnenian Novels

Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter examines the implicit and explicit threats of sexual violence that problematize issues of sexual consent between lovers in three twelfth-century Komnenian novels: Theodore Prodromos’ Rhodanthe and Dosikles, Eustathios Makrembolites’ Hysmine and Hysminias, and Niketas Eugenianos’ Drosilla and Charikles. The application of an ecofeminist narratology can demonstrate the ways in which the aesthetics and rhetorical practices of romance prioritize male voices and experiences while simultaneously silencing those of women, non-human animals, plants, and the other marginalized objects of male violence. By contrast, Christine de Pizan’s Old French anti-romance The Tale of the Shepherdess reveals the often terrifying and violent romantic encounters from the perspective of a woman, thus demonstrating how standpoint criticism can reveal patriarchal ideologies from perspectives of alterity.


Rhodantha Prodromos Shepherdess Gardengarden oakOak 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Andrianova, Anastassiya. 2016. Narrating Animal Trauma in Bulgakov and Tolstoy. Humanities 5: 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angold, Michael. 1995. Church and Society in Byzantium Under the Comneni, 1081–1261. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armstrong, Philip. 2002. The Postcolonial Animal. Society & Animals 10 (4): 413–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barber, Charles. 1992. Reading the Garden in Byzantium: Nature and Sexuality. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 16 (1): 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beaton, Roderick. 1996. The Medieval Greek Romance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Burton, Joan. 2000. Abduction and Elopement in the Byzantine Novel. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 4: 377–409.Google Scholar
  7. Chrétien de Troyes. 1990. Complete Works of Chrétien de Troyes. Trans. David Staines. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 1994. Oeuvres Complètes. Paris: Editions Gallimard.Google Scholar
  9. Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. 2016. Posthuman Environs. In Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene, ed. Serpil Oppermann and Serenella Iovino, 25–44. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  10. Dauterman Maguire, Eunice, and Henry Maguire. 2007. Other Icons: Art and Power in Byzantine Secular Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Dinshaw, Caroline. 1989. Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  12. Donovan, Josephine. 2016. The Aesthetics of Care: On the Literary Treatment of Animals. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  13. Evans-Grubb, Judith. 1989. Abduction Marriage in Antiquity: A Law of Constantine (VTh IX. 25. I) and Its Social Context. Journal of Roman Studies 79: 59–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedman, Jamie. 2011. Between Boccaccio and Chaucer: The Limits of Female Interiority in the Knight’s Tale. In Grief, Guilt, and Hypocrisy: The Inner Lives of Women in Medieval Romance Literature, ed. Jamie Friedman and Jeff Rider, 203–222. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Garland, Lynda. 1990. ‘Be Amorous but Be Chaste …’: Sexual Morality in Byzantine Learned and Vernacular Romance. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 14: 62–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haynes, Katherine. 2003. Fashioning the Feminine in the Ancient Novel. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Heng, Geraldine. 2003. Empire of Magic: Medieval Romance and the Politics of Cultural Fantasy. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Herrin, Judith. 2013. Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jouanno, Corinne. 1992. Les barbares dans le roman byzantine du XIIème siècle: Fonction d’un topos. Byzantion 62: 264–300.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2006. Women in Byzantine Novels of the Twelfth Century: An Interplay Between Norm and Fantasy. In Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience, 800–1200, ed. Lynda Garland, 141–162. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  21. Karlin-Hayter, Patricia. 1992. Further Notes on Byzantine Marriage: Raptus-ἁρπαγή or μνηστεῖαι? Dumbarton Oaks Papers 46: 133–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laiou, Angeliki, ed. 1993. Consent and Coercion to Sex and Marriage in Ancient and Medieval Societies. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks.Google Scholar
  23. Laist, Randy. 2013. Plants and Literature: Essays in Critical Plant Studies. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  24. Littlewood, Anthony. 1979. Romantic Paradises: The Rôle of the Garden in the Byzantine Romance. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 5: 95–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. MacAlister, Suzanne. 1996. Dreams and Suicides: The Greek Novel from Antiquity to the Byzantine Empire. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. MacWebb, Christine. 2006. Debating the Romance of the Rose: A Critical Anthology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Marder, Michael. 2013. Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Markopoulos, Theodore. 2017. Linguistic Contacts in the Late Byzantine Romances: Where Cultural Influence Meets Language Interference. In The Late Byzantine Romance: A Handbook, ed. Adam Goldwyn and Ingela Nilsson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Forthcoming).Google Scholar
  29. Moore, Megan. 2014. Exchanges in Exoticism: Cross-Cultural Marriage and the Making of the Mediterranean in Old French Romance. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nilsson, Ingela. 2001. Erotic Pathos, Rhetorical Pleasure: Narrative Technique and Mimesis in Eumathios Makrembolites’ Hysmine & Hysminias. Uppsala: Studia Byzantina Upsaliensa.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 2017. To Touch or Not to Touch—Erotic Tactility in Byzantine Literature. In Knowing Bodies, Passionate Souls: Sense Perceptions in Byzantium, ed. Susan Ashbrook Harvey and Margaret Mullett, 239–257. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Press.Google Scholar
  32. Priki, Efthymia. forthcoming. Eros the Executioner: Dreams and Female Initiation in the Tale of Livistros and Rodamne and in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. In The Late Byzantine Romance: A Handbook, ed. Adam Goldwyn and Ingela Nilsson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Roilis, Panagiotis. 2005. Amphoteroglossia: A Poetics of the Twelfth-Century Medieval Greek Novel. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.Google Scholar
  34. Rubanovich, Julia. 2016a. A Hero Without Borders: 3 Alexander the Great in the Medieval Persian Tradition. In Fictional Storytelling in the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond, ed. Carolina Cupane and Bettina Krönung, 210–233. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. ———. 2016b. In the Mood of Love: Love Romances in Medieval Persian Poetry and Their Sources. In Fictional Storytelling in the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond, ed. Carolina Cupane and Bettina Krönung, 67–94. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ruether, Rosemary. 2008. Foreword to Nature Ethics: An Ecofeminist Perspective, by Marti Kheel. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  37. Spivak, Gayatri. 1988. Can the Subaltern Speak? Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture: 271–313.Google Scholar
  38. Steel, Karl. 2011. How to Make a Human: Animals and Violence in the Middle Ages. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Weil, Kari. 2012. Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now? New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Wolfe, Cary. 2009. Human, All Too Human: Animal Studies and the Humanities. PMLA 124 (2): 567–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Yiavis, Kostas. 2016. The Adaptations of Western Sources by Byzantine Vernacular Romances. In Fictional Storytelling in the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond, ed. Carolina Cupane and Bettina Krönung, 127–158. Leiden: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. ———. 2017. ‘Originals’ and ‘Adaptations’: Revisiting Categories in Late Byzantine Romance. In The Late Byzantine Romance: A Handbook, ed. Adam Goldwyn and Ingela Nilsson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Forthcoming).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.North Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

Personalised recommendations