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Lecture 13: The Macedonian Renaissance

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by

Jonathan Shea

on 19 October 2015

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Transcript of Lecture 13: The Macedonian Renaissance

306
Constantine
crowned
565
Death of
Justinian
Western Empire
falls
476
717-18
Arab Siege of
Constantinople
Restoration
of Icons
843
1453
Fall of
Constantinople

Death of
Basil II
1025
The Fourth
Crusade
1204
1071
The Battle of
Manzikert
1261
Recovery of
Constantinople
Death of
Andronikos II
1332
Death of
Muhammad
632
912
Death of Leo VI
The Macedonian Renaissance
or
Why we only have books because of Byzantium

Pindar - 17 books of poetry, 4 grouped into a codex, 13 lost
Aeschylus - 90 plays, 7 were selected and survived [the Alexandrians knew 72]
Sophocles - 123 plays, 7 were selected and survived
Euripides - 92 plays, 9 were selected and survived [the Alexandrians knew 78]
Technology Shifts and the Loss of Texts
What to tell a Classics professor at a cocktail party who asks what Byzantium has to offer a Classicist.
‘The transliteration of old uncial books into the new script was energetically undertaken by the scholars of the ninth century. It is largely owing to their activity that Greek literature can still be read, for the text of almost all authors depends ultimately on one or more books written in miniscule script at this date or shortly after, from which all later copies are derived; the quantity of literature that is available to us from the papyri and the uncial manuscripts is only a small proportion of the whole.’ (Scribes and Scholars, p. 60)
Theoktistos fails to recover Crete
Bulgars defeated
846
Paulicians persecuted
844
Failed attempt to help Sicily
848
Ali the Armenian, Emir of Tarsos, raids Byzantium
851, 852, 853
Byzantine fleet attacks Egypt
853, 854
Byzantines sack Anazarbos
855
856
Michael proclaims himself sole emperor
855
Bardas reinstated at court
Theoktistos murdered
857
Theodora confined to a convent
On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs, have brought me home,
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Edgar Allen Poe 'To Helen'
What did Lord Macauly need?
Greek text
Books
Paper
The stories themselves
Michael and Bardas invade Bulgar territory
864
Khan Boris baptized
865
Battle of Lalakon
863
I read Antonius Diogenes, Wonders beyond Thule, in twenty-four sections. It is a novel . . . Its contents offer very great pleasure; though the narrative verges on mythical and incredible it arranges the material in a structure of very plausible fiction . . . This book appears to be the source and origin of Lucian’s True Story . . . In this novel, as in other fictional tales of that type, there are essentially two very useful features: one, that he shows the unjust man always paying the penalty, even if he seems to escape on numerous occasions; secondly, that he portrays many innocent people exposed to great danger and often saved contrary to all expectation.I read a substantial, indeed enormous, work in fifteen sections and five volumes. It is a collection of testimonies and quotations of whole books, not just Greek but Persian, Thracian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Chaldaean and Roman, by authors highly regarded in each nation. The compiler tries to show that they are in agreement with the pure, supernatural and divine religion of Christians; that they announce and proclaim the supernatural Trinity of one substance . . . The author was not averse to similar exploitation of the writings on alchemy by Zosimos (he was a Theban from Panopolis). Here he expounds the meaning of Hebrew words and discusses where each of the apostles proclaimed the doctrine of salvation and ceased his mortal labours. At the end of the work he offers a personal exhortation, blended from and strengthened by pagan maxims and scriptural quotations. Here is particular one can recognize the man’s devotion to virtue and irreproachable piety . . . So far I have not been able to discover the name of the compiler of these volumes . . . But he lived in Constantinople with his wife and children and was active after the reign of Herakleios.

Photios, Bibliotheke, Ninth century.
Photios and the
Bibliotheke
‘because he was so successful in rendering the rich variety of the Greek vocabulary and syntax without doing violence to the genius of Slavonic, and because the various Slav peoples still spoke at that time a relatively uniform tongue, Old Church Slavonic became the third international language of Europe and the common literary idiom of those East European Peoples, the Bulgarians, the Russians, the Serbs and the Rumanians, who
gained entry into the Byzantine Commonwealth. Constantine was not only, with his brother Methodius, the greatest of all the Byzantine Missionaries who worked among the Slavs; he was also he founder of a cultural tradition, at once religious, literary and intellectual, in which Byzantine and native Slav elements were in some degree blended.’

Obolensky, The Byzantine Commonwealth, p. 141
Primary Readings
We are not discussing worldly affairs. The right to judge them rests with the Emperor and the secular tribunal. But here is a question of divine and heavenly decisions and those are reserved only to him whom the Word of God has said: "Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, will be bound in Heaven and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in Heaven" (Matt. 16:19). And who are the men to whom this order was given? - the Apostles and their successors. And who are their successors? - he who occupies the throne of Rome and the is the first; the one who sits upon the throne of Constantinople and is the second; after them, those of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. That is the Pentarchic authority in the Church. It is to them that all decision belongs in divine dogma. The Emperor and the secular authority have the duty to aid them and to confirm what they have decided.

Theodore of Studios before 826.
One day, Antigonos, Domestic of the Scholai and the son of caesar Bardas, prepared a sumptuous feast. His father, who was to be the principal guest, came to the banquet bringing many other kinsmen, friends and acquaintances. There also came with him some Bulgars, ... Theophilos, the master of Basil, was also a guest...When the wine was flowing freely and the banquet was in full swing, the Bulgars began to make preposterous statements and to brag about an athlete who was with them, celebrated for his physical strength. They boasted that nobody could stand up to him in wrestling... Basil came to grips with the Bulgar, grasping and strangling him like a newborn child. He lifted him up as easily as though he were a truss of hay or a fleece of wool and threw him on the table. This pleased the Romans no end, while it filled the Bulgars with shame. From that day the fame of Basil spread throughout the capital...

John Skylitzes, Synopsis Historion, p.125
In former times, when the constitution followed a different system, the order of affairs was also differently arranged...there were some matters which it was the business of the Senate to consider and decided; and it was by it that persons were proposed for appointment... In former times, when affairs were different, such a law as this was necessary. Today, however, everything depends on the wisdom of the emperor, and all things are supervised and managed, with the aid of heaven, by the providential care of his wisdom.

Leo VI, Novella XLVII
I read Antonius Diogenes, Wonders beyond Thule, in twenty-four sections. It is a novel . . . Its contents offer very great pleasure; though the narrative verges on mythical and incredible it arranges the material in a structure of very plausible fiction . . . This book appears to be the source and origin of Lucian’s True Story . . . In this novel, as in other fictional tales of that type, there are essentially two very useful features: one, that he shows the unjust man always paying the penalty, even if he seems to escape on numerous occasions; secondly, that he portrays many innocent people exposed to great danger and often saved contrary to all expectation.I read a substantial, indeed enormous, work in fifteen sections and five volumes. It is a collection of testimonies and quotations of whole books, not just Greek but Persian, Thracian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Chaldaean and Roman, by authors highly regarded in each nation. The compiler tries to show that they are in agreement with the pure, supernatural and divine religion of Christians; that they announce and proclaim the supernatural Trinity of one substance . . . The author was not averse to similar exploitation of the writings on alchemy by Zosimos (he was a Theban from Panopolis). Here he expounds the meaning of Hebrew words and discusses where each of the apostles proclaimed the doctrine of salvation and ceased his mortal labours. At the end of the work he offers a personal exhortation, blended from and strengthened by pagan maxims and scriptural quotations. Here is particular one can recognize the man’s devotion to virtue and irreproachable piety . . . So far I have not been able to discover the name of the compiler of these volumes . . . But he lived in Constantinople with his wife and children and was active after the reign of Herakleios.

Photios, Bibliotheke, Ninth century.
Tarsos
Melitene
Theodosiopolis
I doubt whether any other family has ever been so much favoured by God as have the Macedonians: which is strange when one considers the criminal manner of its coming to power, and how it was born of murder and bloodshed. And yet the plant took root, and sent out such mighty shoots, each bearing imperial fruit, that no other can be compared with it for beauty and splendour.

Michael Psellos,
Chronographia
,
The Caesar Bardas plotted against me to slay me, and for this reason induced me to leave the city. Had I not been informed of the conspiracy by Symbatios and Basil, I should not be alive today. The Caesar was guilty, and brought his death upon himself.

It is my will that Basil, the
parakoimomenos
, who is loyal to me, who has delivered me from my enemy and who holds me in great affection, should be the guardian and manager of my Empire and should be proclaimed by all as
basileus
.
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