Katepheia: From heroic failure to Christian dejection

Aglae Pizzone*


Publikation: Kapitel i bog/rapport/konference-proceedingKapitel i bogForskningpeer review


This contribution explores the diachronic development of two non-prototypical terms for sadness in Byzantine Greek: κατήφεια (katepheia) and σκυθρωπότης (skuthropotes). In particular, it looks at the metaphors and metonymies underlying these emotion-terms. Metaphor (i.e., mapping across two different conceptual domains) and metonymy (i.e., mapping within a single conceptual domain) are integral to the structure of many emotional domains. In this respect, the chosen terms provide a perfect case study. The literal meaning of katepheia (casting the eyes down, but also absence of brightness in the eyes) refers to the typical bodily behavioural pattern of the sad person (i.e., drooping posture). The meaning is metonymical in that a physiological-behavioural consequence of sadness comes to denote the emotion itself. However, over time katepheia comes to be used metaphorically, in particular to denote atmospheric conditions (rain, clouds, darkness). In turn, such new meanings generate further emotion-related metaphors: for instance, sadness as a ‘clothing’ cloud. Similarly, skuthropotes, a word literally related to the facial expression of pain, is frequently subsumed into the semantic and metaphorical area of katepheia. Both terms, moreover, are related to physiological/behavioural aspects that belong not only to sadness but also to shame. The chapter considers these two terms and the related literalness – metonymy – metaphor continuum by looking at changes and developments from ancient to Byzantine Greek; how generic constraints reshape folk emotion concepts; and how katepheia and skuthropotes reflect the sadness – shame interaction.
TitelManaging Emotion in Byzantium : Passions, Affects and Imaginings
RedaktørerMargaret Mullet, Susan Ashbrook Harvey
ISBN (Trykt)9781032340470
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781351358507
StatusUdgivet - 2023


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