The period between the seventh and the eight centuries is often described as the 'Byzantine Dark Ages'. This period also coincides with a remarkable political and cultural change, that is, the rise of Islam in the Mediterranean area. When comparing the actual literary and artistic output of this period with the two centuries before, and examining its unique features - compilation, codification, condensation, and transformation of classical genres - we may ask whether we can at all speak of 'Dark Ages'. We should probably think rather of a shift in the prevalent cultural and religious patterns. This project aims at tracing the historical, social, and mental factors, which could be summarized as the disappearance of old authorities and the search for new ones and which may have contributed to the emergence of one genre at the expense of another and to the intensifying literary and artistic activity which benefited directly from the invention of new modes of expression.