History

The Letters of Psellos | ,

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The Letters of Psellos is the first detailed study of the correspondence of Michael Psellos, a leading Byzantine intellectual, politician, and writer of the eleventh century. Psellos' corpus of over 500 letters represents a historical source of great significance for the study of society and culture of the time: literary masterpieces in and of themselves, yet often complex and difficult to understand in their entirety, they not only rebound with subtlety and humour, but also offer invaluable information on myriad subjects ranging from the political culture of Byzantium and its civil administration to social codes, religious beliefs, and popular culture. This volume consists of two complementary parts designed to make Psellos' letters as widely accessible as possible, both to the specialist academic community and to a wider non-specialist audience. The first part contains five essays offering detailed historical and literary analyses of a considerable number of the letters across a range of different topics, including the financial management of monasteries, the friendship of Psellos and John Mauropous, and the challenges posed by Psellian irony. While the essays are supplemented by individual appendices containing the translated text of the pertinent letters, the second part of the book presents annotated summaries in English of the entirety of Psellos' correspondence, compiled over many years as part of the Prosopography of the Byzantine World project and supported by substantial excursuses and notes. The result is an engaging and accessible shortcut into these bewildering and fascinating letters and an essential resource for the study of eleventh-century Byzantine society and culture through the pen of one of its pre-eminent figures..

History

Theophylact of Ochrid | Margaret Mullett

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Few works exist on Byzantine literature as literature and still fewer studies of individual texts. This reading of the letter-collection (c.1090-c.1110) of Theophylact of Ochrid employs a variety of approaches to characterise a work which is both a literary artefact in a long Greek tradition and the only trace of a complex network of friends, colleagues, patrons and clients within Byzantine Bulgaria and also within the empire as a whole. These letters are of great importance from the point of view of local economic or ecclesiastical history, relations with the Slavs, the arrival of the First Crusade, but have not hitherto been studied as an example of Byzantine letter writing. This was a genre taken seriously by Byzantines, offering us unique insight into the mentality of the Byzantine elite, but also into what the Byzantines regarded as literature. This book is important as an attempt to raise the status of the study of Byzantine literature, and of letters within that literature. It is a first attempt to place an epistolary text in a succession of literary and historical contexts; its aim, too, is to probe the reliability of any rhetorical text for straightforward biography especially at the time of the revival fiction in Byzantium. At the heart of the book is an analysis of the personal network of Theophylact, as presented in the collection, with further methodological discussion of network analysis in medieval texts..

History

Byzantine Perspectives on Neoplatonism | Sergei Mariev

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Byzantine intellectuals not only had direct access to Neoplatonic sources in the original language but also, at times, showed a particular interest in them. During the Early Byzantine period Platonism significantly contributed to the development of Christian doctrines and, paradoxically, remained a rival world view that was perceived by many Christian thinkers as a serious threat to their own intellectual identity. This problematic relationship was to become even more complex during the following centuries. Byzantine authors made numerous attempts to harmonize Neoplatonic doctrines with Christianity as well as to criticize, refute and even condemn them. The papers assembled in this volume discuss a number of specific questions and concerns that drew the interest of Byzantine scholars in different periods towards Neoplatonic sources in an attempt to identify and explore the central issues in the reception of Neoplatonic texts during the Byzantine era. This is the first volume of the sub-series "Byzantinisches Archiv - Series Philosophica", which will be dedicated to the rapidly growing field of research in Byzantine philosophical texts..

History

Serving Byzantium's Emperors | Dimitris Krallis

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This book is a microhistory of eleventh-century Byzantium, built around the biography of the state official Michael Attaleiates. Dimitris Krallis presents Byzantium as a cohesive, ever-evolving, dynamic, Roman political community, built on traditions of Roman governance and Hellenic culture. In the eleventh century, Byzantium faced a crisis as it navigated a shifting international environment of feudal polities, merchant republics, steppe migrations, and a rapidly transforming Islamic world. Attaleiates’ life, from provincial birth to Constantinopolitan death, and career, as a member of an ancient empire’s officialdom, raise questions of identity, family, education, governance, elite culture, Romanness, Hellenism, science and skepticism, as well as political ideology during this period. The life and work of Attaleiates is used as a prism through which to examine important questions about a long-lived medieval polity that is usually studied as exotic and distinct from both the European and the Near Eastern historical experience..

History

Social Change in Town and Country in Eleventh-Century Byzantium | James Howard-Johnston

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The history of Byzantium pivots around the eleventh century, during which it reached its apogee in terms of power, prestige, and territorial extension, only then to plunge into steep political decline following serious military defeats and extensive territorial losses. The political, economic, and intellectual history of the period is reasonably well understood, but not so what was happening in that crucial intermediary sphere, the social order, which both shaped and was shaped by contemporary ideas and brute economic developments. This volume aims to deepen understanding of Byzantine society by examining material evidence for settlements and production in different regions and by sifting through the far from plentiful literary and documentary sources in order to track what was happening in town and country. There is evidence of significant change: the pattern of landownership continued to shift in favour of those with power and wealth, but there was sustained and effective resistance from peasant villages. Provincial towns prospered in what was an era of sustained economic growth, and, through newly emboldened local elites, took a more active part in public affairs. In the capital the middling classes, comprising much of officialdom and leading traders, gained in importance, while the twin military and civilian elites were merging to form a single governing class. However, despite this social upheaval, careful analysis of these various factors by a range of leading Byzantine historians and archaeologists leads to the overarching conclusion that it was not so much internal structural changes which contributed to the vertiginous decline suffered by Byzantium in the late eleventh century, as the unprecedented combination of dangerous adversaries on different fronts, in the east, north, and west..

History

Byzantium in the Eleventh Century | Marc D. Lauxtermann,Mark Whittow

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The eleventh century in Byzantium is all about being in between, whether this is between Basil II and Alexios Komnenos, between the forces of the Normans, the Pechenegs and the Turks, or between different social groupings, cultural identities and religious persuasions. It is a period of fundamental changes and transformations, both internal and external, but also a period rife with clichés and dominated by the towering presence of Michael Psellos whose usually self-contradictory accounts continue to loom large in the field of Byzantine studies. The essays collected here, which were delivered at the 45th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, explore new avenues of research and offer new perspectives on this transitional period. The book is divided into four thematic clusters: 'The age of Psellos' studies this crucial figure and seeks to situate him in his time; 'Social structures' is concerned with the ways in which the deep structures of Byzantine society and economy responded to change; 'State and Church' offers a set of studies of various political developments in eleventh-century Byzantium; and 'The age of spirituality' offers the voices of those for whom Psellos had little time and little use: monks, religious thinkers and pious laymen..

History

Writing and Reading Byzantine Secular Poetry, 1025-1081 | Floris Bernard

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In the mid-eleventh century, secular Byzantine poetry attained a hitherto unseen degree of wit, vividness, and personal involvement, chiefly exemplified in the poetry of Christophoros Mitylenaios, Ioannes Mauropous, and Michael Psellos. This is the first volume to consider this poetic activity as a whole, critically reconsidering modern assumptions about Byzantine poetry, and focusing on Byzantine conceptions of the role of poetry in society. By providing a detailed account of the various media through which poetry was presented to its readers, and by tracing the initial circulation of poems, this volume takes an interest in the Byzantine reader and his/her reading habits and strategies, allowing aspects of performance and visual representation, rarely addressed, to come to the fore. It also examines the social interests that motivated the composition of poetry, establishing a connection with the extraordinary social mobility of the time. Self-representative strategies are analyzed against the background of an unstable elite struggling to find moral justification, which allows the study to raise the question of patronage, examine the discourse used by poets to secure material rewards, and explain the social dynamics of dedicatory epigrams. Finally, gift exchange is explored as a medium that underlines the value of poetry and confirms the exclusive nature of intellectual friendship..

History

Poetry and its Contexts in Eleventh-century Byzantium | Floris Bernard,Kristoffel Demoen

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Byzantine poetry of the eleventh century is fascinating, yet underexplored terrain. It presents a lively view on contemporary society, is often permeated with wit and elegance, and is concerned with a wide variety of subjects. Only now are we beginning to perceive the possibilities that this poetry offers for our knowledge of Byzantine culture in general, for the intellectual history of Byzantium, and for the evolution of poetry itself. It is, moreover, sometimes in the most neglected texts that the most fascinating discoveries can be made. This book, the first collaborative book-length study on the topic, takes an important step to fill this gap. It brings together specialists of the period who delve into this poetry with different but complementary objectives in mind, covering the links between art and text, linguistic evolutions, social functionality, contemporary reading attitudes, and the like. The authors aim to give the production of 11th-century verse a place in the Byzantine genre system and in the historic evolution of Byzantine poetry and metrics. As a result, this book will, to use the expression of two important poets of the period, "offer a small taste" of what can be gained from the serious study of this period..

History

The Author in Middle Byzantine Literature | Aglae Pizzone

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Author and authorship have become increasingly important concepts in Byzantine literary studies. This volume provides the first comprehensive survey on strategies of authorship in Middle Byzantine literature and investigates the interaction between self-presentation and cultural production in a wide array of genres, providing new insights into how Byzantine intellectuals conceived of their own work and pursuits..

History

Innovation in Byzantine Medicine | Petros Bouras-Vallianatos

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Byzantine medicine remains a little known and misrepresented field not only in the context of debates on medieval medicine, but also among Byzantinists themselves. It is often viewed as 'stagnant' and mainly preserving ancient ideas, and our knowledge of it continues to be based to a great extent on the comments of earlier authorities, which are often repeated uncritically. This volume presents the first comprehensive examination of the medical corpus of, arguably, the most important Late Byzantine physician: John Zacharias Aktouarios (c.1275-c.1330). Its main thesis is that John's medical works show an astonishing degree of openness to knowledge from outside Byzantium combined with a significant degree of originality, in particular, in the fields of uroscopy and human physiology. The analysis of John's edited (On Urines and On Psychic Pneuma) and unedited (Medical Epitome) treatises is supported for the first time by the consultation of a large number of manuscripts, and is also informed by evidence from a wide range of medical sources, including those previously unpublished, and texts from other genres, such as epistolography and merchants' accounts. The contextualization of John's corpus sheds new light on the development of Byzantine medical thought and practice, and enhances our understanding of the Late Byzantine social and intellectual landscape. Through examination of his medical observations in the light of examples from the medieval Latin and Islamic worlds, his theories are also placed within the wider Mediterranean milieu, highlighting the cultural exchange between Byzantium and its neighbours..

Antiques & Collectibles

Politics and Government in Byzantium | Jonathan Shea

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The eleventh century marked a turning point in the history of the Byzantine Empire. At its start Byzantium was the paramount power in the Mediterranean world, by turns feared, respected and admired. By the century's close the empire had lost half of its territory and had managed only a partial recovery under the leadership of the Komnenos family. How did a powerful and famously wealthy empire collapse so quickly? The contemporary accounts of this turbulent 'long' century (taken here as c. 950–1100) attribute the empire's decline to the emperors' reckless and self-serving favouring of civilian bureaucrats and, while these sources are today widely acknowledged as biased and unreliable, modern assessments of the century have hitherto failed to suggest any tangible alternatives. To circumvent this dearth of archival material, Jonathan Shea has meticulously analysed 2,200 unpublished seals from the period (more than a third of the known total extant today) to uncover exactly whom the emperors were favouring and promoting, as well as developing a nuanced and revealing picture of the makeup of the much-chastised civilian bureaucracy. The sigillographic evidence is throughout measured against the written material to give a fresh account of this key transitional century and a rare insight into Byzantine politics..

History

The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Literature | Stratis Papaioannou

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This volume, the first ever of its kind in English, introduces and surveys Greek literature in Byzantium (330 - 1453 CE). In twenty-five chapters composed by leading specialists, The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Literature surveys the immense body of Greek literature produced from the fourth to the fifteenth century CE and advances a nuanced understanding of what "literature" was in Byzantium. This volume is structured in four sections. The first, "Materials, Norms, Codes," presents basic structures for understanding the history of Byzantine literature like language, manuscript book culture, theories of literature, and systems of textual memory. The second, "Forms," deals with the how Byzantine literature works: oral discourse and "text"; storytelling; rhetoric; re-writing; verse; and song. The third section ("Agents") focuses on the creators of Byzantine literature, both its producers and its recipients. The final section, entitled "Translation, Transmission, Edition," surveys the three main ways by which we access Byzantine Greek literature today: translations into other Byzantine languages during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages; Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscripts; and modern printed editions. The volume concludes with an essay that offers a view of the recent past--as well as the likely future--of Byzantine literary studies..

History

Rhetoric in Byzantium | Elizabeth Jeffreys

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'Rhetoric in Byzantium' explores the ways in which rhetoric functioned in Byzantine society - as a tool for the effective communication of ideas and ideologies, but at times also a barrier that inhibited the expression of real feelings and everyday realities, and imposed a burden of decoding on outsiders. After an introduction on the practical and textual background to Byzantine rhetoric, the essays are grouped in five sections. The first two deal with the basis of rhetoric in Byzantium and its public uses, principally in imperial and ecclesiastical ceremonial. The next sections look at how rhetoric affects the definition of literature in a Byzantine context and the aesthetic to be used in approaching Byzantine literature, with reference to current critical approaches, and specifically at the role of rhetoric in the writing of history - does it only obscure the facts, or does the rhetorical process itself provide information at other levels? The final essays examine the interaction of the written word and pictorial representation and the question of whether real connections between rhetorical training and artistic production can be demonstrated..

History

Byzantine Childhood | Oana-Maria Cojocaru

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Byzantine Childhood examines the intricacies of growing up in medieval Byzantium, children’s everyday experiences, and their agency. By piecing together a wide range of sources and utilising several methodological approaches inspired by intersectionality, history from below and microhistory, it analyses the life course of Byzantine boys and girls and how medieval Byzantine society perceived and treated them according to societal and cultural expectations surrounding age, gender, and status. Ultimately, it seeks to reconstruct a more plausible picture of the everyday life of children, one of the most vulnerable social groups throughout history and often a neglected subject in scholarship. Written in a lively and engaging manner, this book is necessary reading for scholars and students of Byzantine history, as well as those interested in the history of childhood and the family..

History

Introduction to Byzantium, 602–1453 | Jonathan Harris

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Introduction to Byzantium, 602–1453 - Jonathan Harris Preview:

Introduction to Byzantium, 602–1453 provides students with an accessible guide to medieval Byzantium. Beginning with the near collapse of Byzantium in the seventh century, the book traces its survival and development through to its absorption by the Ottoman empire. As well as having an overall political narrative, the chapters cover a wide range of topics including society and economy, art and architecture, literature and education, military tactics and diplomacy, gender and education. They also explore themes that remain prominent and highly debated today, including relations between Islam and the West, the impact of the Crusades, the development of Russia, and the emergence of Orthodox Christianity. Comprehensively written, each chapter provides an overview of the particular period or topic, a summary of the ongoing historiographical debates, primary source material textboxes, further reading recommendations and a ‘points to remember’ section. Introduction to Byzantium, 602–453 provides students with a thorough introduction to the history of Byzantium and equips them with the tools to write successful analytical essays. It is essential reading for any student of the history of the Byzantine empire..

History

Byzantine Warfare | John Haldon

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Warfare was an integral part of the operations of the medieval eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire, both in its organization, as well as in social thinking and political ideology. This volume presents a selection of articles dealing with key aspects of Byzantine attitudes to war and violence, with military administration and organization at tactical and strategic levels, weapons and armaments and war-making itself; discussions which make an important contribution to answering the questions of how and why the empire survived as long as it did..

History

The Middle Byzantine Historians | W. Treadgold

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This volume, which continues the same author's Early Byzantine Historians , is the first book to analyze the lives and works of all forty-three significant Byzantine historians from the seventh to the thirteenth century, including the authors of three of the world's greatest histories: Michael Psellus, Princess Anna Comnena, and Nicetas Choniates..

History

Novum Millennium | Claudia Sode,Sarolta Takács

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This volume reflects the different methods and new approaches to the study of Byzantine history that have characterized the work of Paul Speck, to whom it is dedicated, and above all, his insistence on a close reading and careful interpretation of the sources. These aims are encapsulated in the introduction by John Haldon, which gives a sense of where future studies should lead new generations of scholars. The following studies, by many of the leading authorities in their fields, look at a whole range of aspects of the history of Byzantium - its culture, theology, linguistics, literature, historiography, sigillography and art - and at the place of the Byzantine empire within the late antique and medieval worlds..

History

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire | Edward Gibbon

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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is Edward Gibbon's magnum opus, written and published over a 13-year period beginning in 1776. It not only chronicles the events of the downfall starting with the end of the rule of Marcus Aurelius, but proposes a theory as to why Rome collapsed: the populace, Gibbon theorizes, lost its moral fortitude, its militaristic will, and its sense of civic duty. History is considered a classic in world literature, and Gibbon is sometimes called the first "modern historian" for his insistence upon using primary sources for his research. Many scholars today still use his highly regarded work as reference. In this fifth of seven volumes, readers will find Chapter 45 ("State of Italy Under the Lombards") through Chapter 51 ("Conquests by the Arabs"), which cover the reign of Justin II; the Lombards' conquest of Italy; the Franks' conquest of Italy; the reign of Tiberius II; the life of Gregory the Great; and the rules of Phocas and Heraclius; the development of Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire and the councils of Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Nice; the Greek emperors of Constantinople; the rule of Charlemagne of France and the division of his empire upon his death; and the clash between the Arabs and the Eastern Roman Empire. English parliamentarian and historian EDWARD GIBBON (1737-1794) attended Magdelan College, Oxford for 14 months before his father sent him to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he continued his education. He published Essai sur l'tude de la Littrature (1761) and other autobiographical works, including Mmoire Justificatif pour servir de Rponse l'Expos, etc. de la Cour de France (1779)..

Religion

The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics | Ken Parry

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This comprehensive volume brings together a team of distinguished scholars to create a wide-ranging introduction to patristic authors and their contributions to not only theology and spirituality, but to philosophy, ecclesiology, linguistics, hagiography, liturgics, homiletics, iconology, and other fields. Challenges accepted definitions of patristics and the patristic period – in particular questioning the Western framework in which the field has traditionally been constructed Includes the work of authors who wrote in languages other than Latin and Greek, including those within the Coptic, Armenian, Syriac, and Arabic Christian traditions Examines the reception history of prominent as well as lesser-known figures, debating the role of each, and exploring why many have undergone periods of revived interest Offers synthetic accounts of a number of topics central to patristic studies, including scripture, scholasticism, and the Reformation Demonstrates the continuing role of these writings in enriching and inspiring our understanding of Christianity.