The Greco-Roman and Early Byzantine tale (2nd – 7thc. AD) is the subject of a research programme of the University of Cyprus entitled: Storyworlds in Collections: Toward a Theory of the Ancient and Byzantine Tale”. The Programme, having the acronym TaleTheory, is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Foundation of Research and Innovation (Programme “DIDAKTOR”). The research team consists of researchers from the University of Cyprus and other European universities (University of Southern Denmark and University of Uppsala).

TaleTheory will pursue groundbreaking research in Classics, Byzantine Studies and Literary Criticism by writing a critical history of the ancient and early Byzantine tale and by positing the first relevant theory based on a corpus of representative, yet understudied texts, which have come down to us in the form of collections. Moreover, TaleTheory seeks to disseminate the project findings and outcomes to the wider community, and it works with therapists, educators, sociologists, and the general public to exchange information in an effort to cultivate awareness concerning the importance of storytelling and story writing to self-understanding and emotional development and stability.

By theorizing the early tale and tracing its history, TaleTheory explores questions, such as the following:

  • What were the different stages in the early development of the tale? How were these determined through intercultural influences?
  • What are the tale subcategories? How have they changed through time?
  • What types of tales are repeated? When, where, and why? What were they used for in each case?
  • What are the interrelationships among the different tale categories?
  • How do the various tale categories or subcategories compete with one another?
  • Which category becomes dominant in each case and why?
  • How did tales travel from one period to another? How were they adapted to meet new needs?
  • Are there any hybrid and parodic tales? If yes, when and where did they appear?
  • How and why did particular miscellanies and collections come into being?
  • How could the deeper knowledge of the ancient and early Byzantine tale contribute to the work of other disciplines such as Folklore and Cultural Studies, Literary and Narrative Studies, and Creative Writing?

In an attempt to understand and promote the study of the early tale, TaleTheory creates and fosters collaborations with Classicists, Byzantinists, Folklorists, and Literary Theorists, as well as Therapists, Sociologists, Educators, and Literary Authors. TaleTheory thus shows that an engagement with the dynamic relationship among ancient, Byzantine, and modern is essential to an understanding, on the one hand, of the literary production of past societies and, on the other, allows influential participation in contemporary debates about literature’s place and uses in modern technological societies.