312. Past Masters: Byzantine Historiography

Posted on 17 November 2018

The larger meaning of history in the chronicles written by Michael Psellos, Michael Attaleiates, Anna Komnene, and Niketas Choniates.

Further Reading

• A. Kaldellis and D. Krallis (trans.), Michael Attaleiates: History (Washington DC: 2012).

• H.J. Magoulias (trans.), O City of Byzantium. Annals of Niketas Choniates (Detroit: 1984).

• E.R.A. Sewter (trans.), Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: the Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Harmondsworth: 1966).


• J. Harris, “Distortion, Divine Providence and Genre in Nicetas Choniates’s Account of the Collapse of Byzantium 1180-1204,” Journal of Medieval History 26 (2000), 19-31.

• E. Quandahl and S.C. Jarratt, “‘To Recall Him… Will be a Subject of Lamentation’: Anna Comnena as Rhetorical Historiographer,” Rhetorica 26 (2008), 301-35.

• D. Krallis, Michael Attaleiates and the Politics of Imperial Decline in Eleventh Century Byzantium (Tempe: 2012).

• R.-J. Lilie, “Reality and Invention: Reflections on Byzantine Historiography,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 68 (2014), 157-210.

• P. Magdalino, “Aspects of twelfth century Byzantine Kaiserkritik,” Speculum 58 (1983), 326-46.

• W. Treadgold, The Middle Byzantine Historians (New York: 2013).

• T. Urbainczyk, Writing about Byzantium: the History of Niketas Choniates (London: 2018).


Irene 18 November 2018

Sorry, but the initial Easter chant just sounds so wrong in November. There are so many others you could have chosen from. Great work though and I really enjoy your podcasts.

Good point! It was more appropriate when I first started using that music. I was actually planning to keep it through the whole Byzantine series, and bring in new music for the Renaissance. At least you can enjoy the thought that you had to be quite well informed for this to bother you in the first place.

Hi there!

I take of course Irene's well-justified point, but I wanted to note that in the Christian (at least the Orthodox) tradition and structure of time Sunday (i.e. the day of the new podcast and of the celebration of liturgy) is always a day of happiness and joy, because the Resurrection of God is commemorated (and even more than commemoration: that's the holy Eucharist); 

+having the Resurrection hymn (Christ is risen: From the Canon of Pascha/Easter by none other than Saint John of Damascus) in the beginning of the episode is appropriately eschatological (like Christ's presence in the earth before the Second Coming), i.e. befitting the Byzantine (and especially Maximus the Confessor's) ethos!

Dear Peter, thanks for all you hard and fine work all these years and for the years to come!

Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1754-1833) would salute you, as he did with everyone at every point of the liturgical/calendar year in the following way: 'Christ is risen, my joy!'

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