Panagiotis Agapitos was born in Athens in 1959. He received his M.A. in Byzantine Studies and Musicology from the University of Munich, and his Ph.D. in Byzantine Literature from Harvard University. Since 1992 he has taught Byzantine Literature at the University of Cyprus.
He has published two books on the Byzantine romances of love, the first critical edition of the thirteenth-century vernacular romance Livistros and Rhodamne, as well as a series of articles on interpretative approaches to Byzantine literature, the theory of rhetoric and literary genres in Byzantium, the history of manuscripts and the editorial problems of Medieval Greek texts.
The Byzantine mystery novel The Ebony Lute is his first novel, first published in Greece in July 2003 to great critical and public acclaim. Several reviews and two inteviews appeared in the major Greek and Cypriot newspapers, while the book was in Greek best-seller list for three months.
Diether Reinsch, Professor of Byzantine Studies at
the Freie Universitat Berlin, is not only one of Germany's leading
Byzantinists, but also a successful translator of Byzantine historical
texts (published by Du Mont, De Gruyter and Styria). In his person
the Ebony Lute finds combined the professional specialist on
Byzantium, the cultivated reader and the sensitive connoiseur of both
German and Greek.
THE EBONY LUTE
A BYZANTINE MYSTERY NOVEL
|A BYZANTINE MYSTERY NOVEL (592 pages, 17.5X12
The subtitle ("A Byzantine Mystery Novel")
describes the book fairly accurately, since it would be misleading to
call it simply a crime novel in historical dress. It is much more: a
fully developed historical novel that plays in an exactly drawn and
well researched setting, while, at the same time, breathing life into
this historical framework through a concrete literary form; it is the
story of how a series of murders was solved by someone who is anything
else but a detective; and, finally, it is also the story of this detective
despite himself, a complex personality that moves in the ambience of
Byzantine-Arab relations and between the worlds of politics, crime,
poetry and love.
In these circumstances, Emperor Theophilos sends chief
secretary Leo, head of the imperial chancellery, as ambassador to Caliph
al-Mamun in Bagdad in order to negotiate peace in the East. The ambassador
and his retinue arrive in Cappadocian Caesarea (modern-day Kayseri in
Turkey), the last station before the border. Under a seemingly calm
surface, the town is in turmoil. Arab spies are preparing a revolt,
dissident monks are encouraging the idolotrous veneration of icons and
ruthless procurers are abducting young women for the slave-markets of
Syria. The military commander seems to have lost control of the town.
When the brutally murdered body of the town judge's thirteen-year-old
daughter is found outside the castle walls, the commander is forced
to ask for the ambassador's help.