Welcome to the Database of Byzantine Book Epigrams

Warning (May 2019): the DBBE team will launch a new version of the Database in the near future. This website will no longer be updated. Please contact us (dbbe@ugent.be) for any inquiries.

The Database of Byzantine Book Epigrams (DBBE) is an ongoing project that makes available textual and contextual data of book epigrams (or: metrical paratexts) from medieval Greek manuscripts (seventh to fifteenth century).

We define book epigrams as poems in books and on books: their subject is the very manuscript in which they are found. They record, react to, or motivate the production, the contents and the use of the book. Further explanation of this definition is to be found on the Help page.

Objectives of the database are to:

  • collect textual material that was hitherto dispersed over various publications, chiefly catalogues;
  • make available unedited epigrams to be found in manuscripts and not mentioned in existing publications;
  • clarify the manuscript context of the epigrams;
  • provide ways to search the corpus and detect affinities between epigrams and manuscripts;
  • offer reliable editions that respect the uniqueness of each specific manuscript.

The user can access the database by searching or browsing through three categories in the menu above:


Epigrams as they occur in one specific manuscript. Currently, more than the half of the data collected here is the result of manuscript consultation carefully conducted by members of our team. The remainder is compiled from descriptive catalogues and other related publications, such as articles, editions, etc.


Normalised versions of the poems, often regrouping several similar occurrences. This part of the database is still very provisional. The types are meant to evolve into a corpus of editions over the next years.


Manuscript identifications are given according to city, library, name of the collection, shelf number: it basically follows the system of the Pinakes database.

A beta version of the database has been released on 1 September, 2015. Please, bear in mind that this version is still work in progress. All users are invited to send their feedback with corrections, suggestions, etc. to dbbe@ugent.be.

We are keen for DBBE to be used in the widest possible range of educational and research contexts. For information on how to cite or refer to DBBE, see the Help page.