Sunday, January 16, 2011

Notes and Bibliography to Michael Attaleiates

These notes accompany my translation from the history of Michael Attaleiates on the reign of Romanos Diogenes, which is available here.


  1. The actual text of document by which she swore not to make a second marriage still survives. For this document, see N. Oikonomides, “Le serment de l’imperatrice Eudocie: un episode de l’histoire dynastique de Byzance” , Revue des Etudes Byzantines 21 (1963) 105-108

  2. John Xiphilinus was patriarch from 1064-1075.

  3. Melitene was on the border of Byzantine Mesopotamia part of its own theme.

  4. A reference to Michael VI the Old (1056-1057)

  5. Attaliates’ actual phrase is that they whipped them manless.

  6. PS pgs. 121-2: On this account, the vestarch Romanus, son of Constantine Diogenes was brought in to rule. The way in which he was brought in, I shall tell here. When Diogenes was appointed dux of Sardica, being a patrician, he asked the emperor Constantine Ducas to give him the honor of vestarch. The emperor though replied to him, "Show me deeds then ask payments", and sent him away empty-handed not giving in to his request. And so Diogenes left and came to Sardica coming upon the Pechenegs plundering the land and caused a great rout of them capturing many of them alive and sending the heads of the slain off to the emperor who gave him the honor of vestarch writing to him, "This is not my gift, Diogenes, but rather that of your own valor and bravery.” While he was staying there, he started to plot against the emperor, but he ceased in the plot fearing it come to light. Yet because the emperor died and the empire was being ravaged, he started conspiring with one of his most faithful men on it to join with the neighboring nations in it, who had been amicably disposed towards him since the time he had ruled over the lands by them giving them ample example of his nobleness.

  7. PS pg. 122 adds the following after ‘suffering’: for the body of Christian’s suffering ravaged almost daily by the Agarenes| after the rest is as follows in the translation.

  8. διογενές ‘Zeus sprung’ is meant to be simply as clever praise based on his surname

  9. Compare Attaliates’ description with that of Psellus in the following oration, the first of five to the emperor Romanus Diogenes:

    18. To the emperor Diogenes when he was emperor

    Now is a day of salvation, freedom from evils, now strength and might of New Rome, now an unshakeable tower of rule, a wall unagitable, a column unshaken, a foundation erected by the lands of the Lord. Now the Lord has looked into his heritage and stooped down from heaven and saw it, so he has sent from on high his angel to save us from present evils, future terrors, a mass of clouds [of men], and the leasing of arrows.

    Where now is the pride of the Persians? Where is the insolence of the Medians? Where is the Scythians' fearful attack? Where is boastful scorn of the of the Turks and irresistible attack of the barbarian?

    Now as though upon a scale everything is counterpoised and the scales turned. Now everything is anew, that of the enemy has changed and ours has changed as well. Now we behold a emperor, neither by call, nor scheme false, great as a giant, long of arm, mighty of strength, awesome unarmed, mighty and irresistible armed, in form worthy of rule, and in heart rivaling the prophet David.

    In you, divine emperor, a mass of everything is run together, awesomeness, brightness, and wonder; by birth unrivalled in nobility, in motherland the most beautiful of cities, in which there are noble natures, undefeatable strength, and unbearable might against barbarians. Such is the nature of your body that the barbarian can not bear it, while such is the nature of your spirit that we are gladdened at seeing it, irresistible base against enemies, which shines forth to us calmly and tamely. Diogenes [Zeus sprung] above, divine of form beneath; august in show, bright in thought, well-established in mind, noble in argument, sharp minded, swift-tongued, a rhetor as well as a soldier. Oh what an unexpected wonder to see the divides of words and arms, arrows and meters, verbs and charges, wisdom and panoply all gathered together paradoxically in your soul. You make war with a long arm, while you freely and tersely consort with your tongue, so that your are like a river as well as an aqueduct. The mind pours forth with thoughts, while the tongue overflows gently with the fineness of the words. You, emperor, speak as a rhetorician amongst the army, while you bring an attack on the word and sally forth with them on the matter. And when it is time to loose the arrows, you then stretch the bow tight, put the javelin in your arm, and mightily throw down the spear on the men arrayed against you. And where there is need of speaking, you gives speeches radiantly not adapting the cleverness of Demosthenes, but kindling the glories of Nestor of Pylius. When there is need of standing together with shields in rows and columns, you extend the phalanx, you wind it around, you turn the soldiers about, you change the arrangement, and astound the barbarian with martial rebuke.

    But now the speech is getting me to the empress, who I could not only enconomize, but also marvel at. Oh she ponders on so much good, minded to so much better. You defended our cities, you tore down the wall of the barbarians, you decorated the empire of Rome, you elevated yourself on high, your defended imperial rule for your sons, and with one thought and one deed brought all of this to the better. I almost want to dance with zeal and joy.

    Now a synod of lights, now heaven and earth are made merry, and all is glorified to the heights, and the hour truly that for panegyric. Since comparison is needed in a speech, I shall say something paradoxical, though it is very true. You, oh emperor, possess the tokens of victory against everyone only less than the empress, the despotess. While you, oh empress, appear without comparison amongst all women, I should not say all men as well, bearing second place, though content of this, to the emperor. Oh he is victorious over all men and she is victorious over all women, victorious over each other and defeated by one another. Oh, you are a an idol of males and you are the pride of females.

  10. Z pgs. 683-4:

    When these tidings reached the empress, they provided her with consternation. Many people were saying that an emperor was needed, so the empress afraid lest the common people make someone emperor and thus depose her and her children, decided to bring someone into to rule so that she might keep power for herself and her children and keep it from being taken away from them. They say it was not licentiousness, nor being overcome by Diogenes' handsomeness to suit herself, but the fact he was an energetic man, experienced in war, and incomparable in strength that made her elevate him to the imperial rule so that the advance of the barbarians be measurably checked with him resisting them.

    He was a man descended from a brilliant family and from men famous for their bravery. His father was the son-in-law of the child of the emperor Romanos Argyros' brother, who when he was accused of treason, committed suicide throwing himself down from a precipice

  11. PS pg. 123-4: Because the empress was afraid of the Senate, the Patriarch, the people who signed her oath, and those who witnessed it, she did not dare to marry anyone important and proclaim him emperor, so she decided to think beyond a woman and overcome by the patriarch by knavery and trickery and thus accomplish her desire and force back the attacking nations. Therefore she made one of the men in the gynaecium her ally in this. The man promised to by any means necessary accomplish her desire, razor sharp, the plan was this. The Patriarch had a brother named Bardas who was very lustful and inclined towards pleasures having no other merits in life. So the eunuch went to the patriarch and told him secretly about this, and that if he wanted it he had only to agree to overlook her terrible handwritten oath and the empress would marry his own brother and he would be immediately proclaimed emperor. Like the tuna [greedy man] he was the Patriarch took the bate and was soon each for the union deciding to inform the Senate about it. One by one, he called each of them to him constructing the necessity of the matter ridiculing the oath as unlawful and made for the jealousy of one man and not for the public interest, which, if the empress marry a noble and courageous men, it would be, since Romans might sprout afresh and expected already to be ready to be emasculated and extinguished. He brought them all around to it by persuading some with punishment an some with propitiations with bags of money and ripe atonements though he did not even abstain from fear of what might happen, And so, Diogenes was lead into palace all-in-arms and married to the empress. He was proclaimed emperor on the first of January of the sixth indiction in 6576 (1068) secretly meeting the empress’s sons. Immediately, the Varangian guard started to cause a stir because they held of proclaiming him contrary to public decree. Her son Michael appeared before them with his brothers announcing that they were in agreement with what had taken place and immediately started proclaiming him emperor in loud and piercing voices.

  12. basileus autocrator

  13. This incident is well attested to by Michael Psellos in his own history in the following words:

    6. In the meantime there had been whispered rumours, and the court got to know of the affair. The future emperor had already been chosen by her, and according to the arrangements they had made, this was the very day on which the prospective bridegroom was expected to arrive in the city. On the morrow the ceremony of coronation was to be performed. That evening the empress sent for me. When we were alone, she spoke to me with tears in her eyes. 'You must be aware,' she said, 'of our loss in prestige and of the declining fortunes of our Empire, with wars constantly springing up and barbarian hordes ravaging the whole of the east. How can our country possibly escape disaster?' I knew nothing of the things that had been going on, nor that the future emperor was already standing at the palace doors, so I replied that it was no easy matter to decide. 'It requires careful consideration,' I said. 'Better propose today and listen tomorrow, as the proverb says.' With a little laugh she went on, 'But deliberation is superfluous now. The matter has been considered already and the decision is made. Romanus, the son of Diogenes, has been invited to rule as emperor, in preference to all others.'

    7. These words filled me with instant consternation. I could not conceive what would become of me. 'Well then,' I said, 'tomorrow I too will give my advice on the matter.' -- 'Not tomorrow,' she replied 'but now. Give me your support.' I returned to the attack, with just one question: 'But your son, the emperor, who will presumably one day govern the Empire alone -- does he know what has happened too?' -- 'He is not entirely in the dark, although he does not yet know all the details,' she said. 'However, I am glad you mention my son. Let us go up to him together, and explain how things stand. He is sleeping above in one of the imperial apartments.'

    8. So we went up to him. How she felt about it I do not know, but I was most agitated. A sudden fit of trembling shook me through and through. She sat down on her son's bed, called him 'her emperor', 'her best of sons'. 'Rise up,' she said, 'and receive your step-father. Although he takes the place of your father, he will be a subject, not a ruler. I, your mother, have bound him in writing to observe this arrangement.' Well, the young man got up from his bed at once, and although he looked at me suspiciously I have no idea what he was thinking. Together with his mother he left the room in which he had been sleeping, and immediately came face to face with the new emperor. Without the slightest trace of emotion, his visage quite expressionless, he embraced Romanus, becoming at once his colleague on the throne and his friend.

    9. Thereupon the Caesar was also summoned. Never were his diplomatic qualities seen to better advantage. First he made some tactful inquiries about his nephew the emperor, then added a few words of commendation in praise of Romanus. This was followed by congratulations for all the imperial party. One could almost hear him singing the wedding song and see him taking his fill from the nuptial drinking-bowl. And that is how the government of the Empire passed into the hands of the next sovereign, Romanus.

    Excerpted from E.R.A. Sewter's translation of Michael Psellos's Chronographia accessed online at

  14. PS pg. 124: The empress ruled along with her sons for seven months and a little bit more.

  15. PS pg. 124 adds: who proved a obstacle for him from the beginning until the end and poorly dealt with Roman affairs leaving them in their current state.

  16. PS pg 125: after the passage of two months

  17. The word here is νεοπαγὴς, which is being used metaphorically. In Galen, the word used with cheese can mean 'newly curdled cheese', while with blood it can mean 'newly congealed.'

  18. This next oration of Michael Psellus seems to have been delivered right before Romanus Diogenes left on his first campaign.

    19. To same man in the form of an encomium

    Where ever are you going, most radiant sun, great light of truth? How also patiently you bear leaving behind the moon of the world, under which you are shown and which you shine brighter than? Was it love for us and desire to keep the Queen of Cities free of all vassalage and attack from barbarians that persuaded you to disdain you body, spirit, and dearest ones? O vivacious soul, o flaming heart, o noble sentiment, the luxury and enjoyment of imperial rule did not enchant you; nor did the decorum of rule and the remaining adornments of it as well as the beauty of the diadem overcome you. But as though God had raised you upon the throne, so we might revel and enjoy ourselves, while you look after us with many labors and plague yourself with many anxious thoughts as well as adorning your head with the diadem and the point of your spear against your enemies. O brave deed, o high state of mind, you did not stay here for the change of season, but in the middle of winter, when the sun is hidden beneath the clouds, when it is the most dim in the sky, as though hard steel capable of sustaining all [sorts of] blows and broken apart by nothing, not the terrible winter, not a great storm, and not the terrible cold, you set out from the Queen of Cities and advanced against the kingdom [τυραννίδος] of the enemy.

    Such a course for an emperor to take at the beginning shows for us thus a good, thus a noble, thus a gentle, thus full of audacity emperor. Also that everything about you is beyond noble: birth, manner, life, the adornment of the body, the greatness of spirit, desire for God, the awesome love for us, the noble mind, the generous hand, free rightness, and spring of favors. O how sweet it is for us they we should have the good fortune to have you as emperor. O the pain of our opponent when we see you as though our sun advance on another world.

    May you overpower completely the enemy and opponent in combat, may you crown your head with radiant routs. May you adorn yourself with noble deeds against the barbarians and may you render for your spear many victories. May the sun not burn during the day and the moon at night, but a column of light guide you, and the sea part for you, the rivers give way, and the angels sent forth light over all the land. May we behold you return with routs to us adorned with noble laurels, o imperial wonder, sight most worthy of the state, and most noble light of our moon.

  19. PS pg. 125 adds to composition of army: from Macedonian, Bulgarians, Cappadocians, Uz, and other nations, as well as the Franks and Varrangians

  20. PS pg. 125: There was a paradox sight: the famous champions of the Romans, who had enslaved the east and west standing all together numbering only a few men born into poverty and lacking in complete armament, in place of blades and other weapons, as the Bible says, carrying hunting spears and scythes bereft of war mounts and other war items...

  21. district between Libanus and Anti-libanus

  22. PS pg. 126 changes statement: he left the road for the theme of Lycandus during the summer planning to...

  23. PS pg. 127 adds: and Argaos for the mountains he marched through

  24. PS pg. 128: Apsinalios

  25. PS pg. 128 adds: The ancients had a maxim for this: it is better for a lion to rule deer than a deer to rule lions.| I think here the writer did what I did the first time reading through the text and took the ἐκεῖνοι to mean Romanus‘s own soldiers, but there he might for fall from right and truthful understanding. I am not even sure as to the meaning of this phrase.

  26. PS pg. 129: Libellisius

  27. PS pg. 129 adds: or Berroea

  28. PS pg. 129: Turks

  29. PS pg. 130: It was worthy of astonishment that this disaster and defeat of the Romans should causes not one of the remaining soldiers and officers to rise to avenge themselves, but instead all of them remain sitting down as though encamped on allied land desiring to keep to themselves stirred to no zeal or desire to fight.

  30. PS pg. 131: Pharasmanes

  31. PS pg. 132: Terchola

  32. Z pg. 692: Angered that he was not able to do anything about it, he put his army in order so that they could pass the winter with any deficiencies and returned to the Queen of Cities feeling boastful that he had done much not only for others, but also for the empress. She on the contrary perceiving her expectations defeated was displeased and had her heart swollen up unable to bear the afflictions.

  33. This next oration of Psellus does not have any clear place so I place it here after his first victory:

    20. A declamation to the emperor Romanus Diogenes before the citizens in the cletorium.

    Now first I behold an soldier emperor, now first a see a general and emperor. Your head flashes with a golden crown, while no less in your right hand there is an awesome spear. With a gentle eye you regard us citizens, while with a piercing stare you strike fear into the barbarians. Your voice is sweet towards us, while it is a piercing cry to your opponents. Your face is joyous to us, while to your opponents it is an awesome, martial rebuke.

    O emperor, soldier, and general, and any other resplendent noun. O holder of all merit, whether of the city, or of the commander. O universal benefit to soldiers and citizens, great advantage to the Queen of Cities, which was lowered to its knees, but now against hope is recovering and greatly concerned for you, lord and emperor, crowning you with your victories, proclaiming your routs, and speaking about them to not only you. O torch-bearing light, you shine down on me with boundless light. O radiant sun, returning from the east, you have come to the center of the day covering all the earth with your sparkling light.

    Where were once and again you, the blush of imperial rule were away from me? You saw me an old woman, but now you have made me a young woman again and returned to the old beauty and strength of youth. Besides this, I kiss you on the eyes which have gone many time without sleep for me, caress your hands which you have covered many times with the slaughter of barbarians, and cling to your chest prominent with the scars of wounds which you received thrown at you. I bring to you them people I have given me names and fed, the citizens, who I put before and bring them forward before you as suppliants and dear ones. Embrace them for me kindly, be generous to them abundantly. They loves you and praise you , since you return to them many more times that.

    This, most divine emperor, the city declaims to you. Let you rise up and change its standing changed for the worse to the better. Put away the beautiful and become beautiful with your struggles. It was a fading light, but its most divine lover and beloved, the man who showed the might of the Romans mightier than the barbarians, the man previously having the fact of imperial rule, not having the name as well, emperor of emperors, commander of commanders is truly the most marvelous fact and name of this great and most famous of cities.

  34. PS pg. 134 adds: the Bulgarian, brother of the emperor's wife, who he married while he was still a private citizen

  35. ἐπισκέψει is something of a mystery to me. It appears in numerous monastic documents, but I cannot quite get the sense for what it is exactly. It would seem almost to refer to a suburb since there is the walled city (κάστρον) and also the ἐπισκέψις At least perhaps it means the area around the walled part of the city. Melangeia means in modern terms ‘Black Lands’, so-named for the dark color of the soil.

  36. PS pg. 135 adds: namely the Uz

  37. PS pg. 136 adds: from the Brachami family

  38. PS pg. 137: Munzarum

  39. PS pg. 137: Celtzena| probably a scribal error.

  40. PS pg. 137: The soldiers left behind with Philaretus, filled by abject fear of their opponents and seized by it, started to march behind the emperor leaving the places they had been entrusted to guard until they got to Anthiae. There the enemy suddenly appeared from behind took to flight without even a battle and came to the emperor in Celtzena by foot.

  41. PS pg. 139 is more direct: When the emperor was informed of this he only seemed to be pleased hiding his envy.

  42. PS pgs. 140-2 inserts the following paragraph: Previously, the attack and destruction of the nations subject to the Romans seemed to manifest divine anger against heretics such as the Armenians living in Iberia and Mesopotamia until Lycandus, Melitene, and the adjacent lands, as well as those worshiping after the Judaic mode of Nestorius and the heresy of the bishopless, since the lands of this heresy are numerous. However, when the orthodox suffered this misfortune, everybody worshipping after the mode of the Romans was stuck dumb and forced to examine what had happened and especially what happened to Amorium and to reckon and believe that only was their faith not correct, but also that their lifestyle did not compare to their faith. Because of this both the man erring in his faith and that imperfect in his life were receiving their punishment, while the doer and teacher was praised and blessed. When he heard this, the emperor had been eager to start off and help his own land, but he was prevented from doing so by his counselors and ignorance of the number of his opponents. They were Nicephorus Palaeologus, the most honored and counsel of philosopher Constantine Psellus, and above all the Caesar the brother of the previous emperor, who wanted him dead after this because oppressive to them and very beholden. They hated him for being a noble and courageous man and for dealing with the sons of Ducas as successors to the throne. Yet so they openly began to form a conspiracy against him.

  43. For a more detailed account of this episode, see the following except of Nicephorus Bryennius pgs 10-12

    Encouraged by these words, the sultan sent a force of nearly twenty thousand men against the Romans making its commander the son of his brother Asan [Hasan], called Kophos, urging him to go in all haste to the land of Media and take possession of it if it would not submit to him. From there, the Turks initiated the war against the Romans, which they have continued to carry out until the present day. However, here let us return to the original track of my narrative. Manuel, as it was said, the curopalates, was appointed commander of the eastern legions by Diogenes and was staying near the lead of Chaldia guarding it against the raids of the Turks. When Turkish plans were announced to him for an army of Turks under the command of Chrysosculus, who was descended from the sultan, to seize and pillage the village-towns of the Armeniac theme, he took his forces and advanced against the Turks scattering them and routing them easily when he met them going on a foraging expedition. He got very close to the Turkish camp while pursuing them and fell into a sudden ambush resisting valiantly, while he was still able to, before the Roman phalanx was turned to flight and scattered him included being surrounded by the Turks and captured along with his two brother-in-laws Melissenus and Taronites. A few Romans also fell. Lead before Chrysosculus, he thought himself to have done nothing worthy of his race having taken flight. On this account when he decided to rebel against the sultan having won victory over him and desiring power over the Persians, Manuel decided he ought to make a trial of him. Coming before him all alone and having examined his position, he decided that this man was very afraid that he did not have a force worthy of the sultan, so he spoke to him with soft words softening his harsh resolution pushing him with energetic words towards a second essay. He said that since he was lacking in sufficient force it was impossible for him to resist the master of Persia, he would never succeed in his plans unless he desert to the emperor of the Romans and make him his ally in his venture. He took his counsel and made his guide swiftly coming to the capital prevailed over and conquered by the arms and cleverness of these words. This deed brought the curopalates great glory and was very praiseworthy. The emperor received them both warmly and honored them with many gifts.

    When spring was starting, he marched off against the Turks accompanied by Chrysosculus. When he reached Bithynia, the curopalates caught an ear-infection and died causing great grief to the emperor.

  44. PS pg. 142: the day of Orthodoxy

  45. For this rhetorical work see none other Michael Psellus's twenty-first and last public oration for Romanos Diogenes translated below:

    21. A Syntacterius Oration to the emperor.

    Let a syntacterius oration here be spoken about your most kind soul both as such for leaving and thus marvelous. It is thus a commingling of prayers and tears by us to you, our most excellent lord and emperor.

    May you return from the east to the east again and again like lightning as the sun in its unending cycle does, a rich light shining down on your subjects and scorching the barbarians. Besides this, may you extinguish Babylonian fire, rein in the impulses of lions, and draw fire down from the sky against the hostile phalanx. May you split the sea asunder, drive back the river, and make war on Amalek.

    A cloud may cast a shadow over your head stripping you of your burn, but a pillar of light goes before your shield guiding you. May the Lord smooth away any high and rough mountain, fill the ravines for you, and make the curves straight. May you don up your head with wreaths of victory and may you return to us with with myriads of victories gloried with many routs. May the angels fight alongside you and God act as your fellow general and cover the new Pharaoh with the sea for you.

    Further, may you reconcile the chasms and cut down the wall of the palisade, making a hostile enemy into a friendly one by your might, most imperial and victorious.

    I speak with one voice for the voices of many when I say this to you last: may you not stay long from us who wish to see you, but may you return in haste more bright with victories and more radiant, o most excellent of all emperors incomparable in clandestine beauty and greatness of nature.

  46. PS pg. 142: ...but at Helenopolis, which the locals call more rurally Eleeinopolis, which did not seem a good omen.

  47. Yet the stupidity of men, so to say poor habits, lack in faith in obvious proof, and the unintelligible did not put trust in one of them, but the obvious was ignored and no sense was given to what was come hurled from above.

  48. PS pg. 143: Tzombus

  49. PS pg. 143: the attack

  50. When he perceived it, the emperor mounted his horse and called his soldiers together astounding his foreign men and again subordinating them, ordering this only as punishment: that they put in the furthest away parts for his own security.

  51. Here it would seem there was a Byzantine word for the agent who took control of the city that Attaliates considered too barbaric to be used in his narrative because he replaced it with a participle meaning 'he who takes over.' I would suspect that it is Latin in origin

  52. The practice of Bible divination, sors evangelica, is a long Byzantine tradition. We find Heraclius doing the same thing at challenging junctions in his war with the Persians. The priest would open the Bible and turn to the random page to a random verse that would then be interpreted for what it boded for the future.

  53. The full quotation which the priest turned to was John 15.20-16.3

  54. PS pg. 145 adds to divination: god sent

  55. PS pg. 146: And so the enemy surrounded him and took him captive leading him off to the sultan in chains. On coming before his sight, he did not stand a slave nor as a captive taken to the sultan. Nor did the sultan treat him like a slave or a captive, but had him constantly in his presence asking about the emperor showing him his own might and filling him with terror and fear. The man praised all of this and counseled him taking liberty that the Roman emperor's force standing against him was at a disadvantage.

  56. PS pg. 147: When morning came, a contingent of Uzes, having a commander Tamin thus called a Scythian appointed by Tornicus Cotertzes, deserted to the enemy.

  57. PS pg 147: He was ignorant that Tarchaniotes persuaded as well Ruselius, who was minded to come aid the emperor, learning of the arrival of sultan and his approach on the emperor had set out with his men and fled ignobly through Mesopotamia to Roman territory, the cowardly man not even sending a message to his master or doing any befitting.

  58. PS pg. 147-8: Yet he assented and gave them a cross so that by this sign they could return to him unharmed bearing carrying tidings which they might learn from the sultan. For what he sent, induced by the hopelessness of the situation was that the sultan would leave the place and make camp further away from his encampment, while the emperor would set up camp at that place where the Turks had had their encampment and would come to terms with him. He was offering victory to the enemy high-mindedly just as those in the know had agreed, the most victorious symbol, the cross being sent to him.

  59. Z pg. 700: In the midst of this, ambassadors came from the sultan to discuss peace. The emperor did not altogether warmly receive them he gave them messages and permitted them to return to their lord and say that, "If you want to discuss peace, leave behind the place in which you are encamped move camp to somewhere far away so I can set up camp with the Roman army where the barbarian encampment now is." With this said boastfully to the ambassadors, he commanded them to go back shortly. They reported the emperor's words to the sultan and he with the men about him were [still] desirous of peace agreement. As the emperor was arrogant, he was persuaded by some of the men about him who said that the sultan was afraid that he did not have sufficient enough an army and was therefore seeking peace so that battle should be avoided and he could bring in another force, so neither waiting for the return of the ambassadors nor thinking of anything else he ordered the war trumpets to be sounded.

  60. PS pg. 149 adds: Andronicus, the son of the Caesar

  61. PS pg. 150 testifies sultan named Axan
  62. PS pg. 150-1: When he was assured by the ambassadors and Basiliacus that the man thrown before his feet was him giving off a pitiful lament, he straightaway as though a mad man sprung up from his throne and put it right. He put his foot on the man before his foot as customary and rose up him embracing him saying to him, "Do not fear, o emperor, but be of good cheer, since you will suffer no bodily harm and shall be honored worthy of the excellence of your majesty. Foolish is he who does not reverence the unexpected fortunes he is given."

  63. Z pg. 703: He said, "Do not grieve, emperor, for such it is to be human. I will conduct myself towards you not a as a captive, but as an emperor."

  64. The long lasting memory of Mantzikiert even lived on as a major down turn in Byzantium's decline in the following excerpt from Bessarion's encomium to Trebizond:

    Bessarion: Encomium to Trebizond pgs. 182-3:
    From Egypt, the Saracens, from Persia again, the Turks came as well as lands below, the former putting Palestine, Syria, and Pamphylia beneath them, while the latter put everything in between up until Bithynia under them and enslaved them including even taking the Roman emperor Romanus surnamed Diogenes captive, while the Romans held Europe and everything towards the dawning sun in word, while the Scythians, Huns, and the Pecheneg race and I know not who else attacked it on all sides and plundered all of the Mysians.

  65. Z pg. 703: He then came to Theodosiopolis clothed barbarically (the sultan had provided him his own vestments)...| Zonaras confuses the Greek word στολή 'vestment/army', which actually based on context refers to the Turkish army with him. Even Greek writers of the age make mistakes!

  66. Z pg. 704: When news of his capture reached the capital, people were split amongst themselves by it. Some were in favor of giving the empress power again, others giving the whole thing to the elder of his sons, and still others working out joint rule between the empress and her sons.

  67. PS pg. 152: One of the first to rise up to his proclamation was the counsel of philosophers Psellus just as he boasts in his books. It is said that the empress was of this persuasion not to receive Diogenes in return

  68. These two lacunae are in the text as published by Bekker.

  69. Attaliates in his account understandably forgets that Andronicus received Diogenes like a gentleman feting his return with a lavish banquet, as Psellus tells us (Chapter 49). Attaliates understandably 'forgets' this event since the irony of it would have been more than most men could handle. The man who had betrayed him at Mantzikiert, now received him generously.

  70. Bibliotheca graeca Medii Aevi by Constantine Sathas. Tomos V. 1876, pgs. 392-4

    145. To Andronicus Ducas while on campaign against Romanus Diogenes

    I am not amazed that you have conquered and taken hold of the enemy by your superiority, most noble and martial man, my dearest friend, because of as such your honor, strategic sagacity, and your cunning in war. I praise you for your marches, advances, stratagems [here word also carries negative connotation of thievery and fraud], devices, thoughtful invention, and embellished change of scale. I amazed with you for your struggles, presence in the battle, phalanx, the appearances before the routs, the division on both in columns…and of the opponent, either crosswise or on each sides, one of them in columns, the other in the cycles that men cunning in this name them. For it does not thus happen either with great fear or from the first vestibule, resplendent with victory and victories you may be received again by us, but from martial plans, from tactical movements, from lines and divisions, and noble fights and such things as the head of a general is crowned by.

    At that moment, we all stood midway in the air divided in our opinions on both sides and very joyous for any news from where you were. The greater part of us and more divine voices were pleased, thrice-beloved and most magnificent man, to hear from your messengers of your rout by name and victory. It has thus been written in the above books, or rather from above you have received these noble deeds as gifts.

    You, although the head of the serpent is not yet broken, have announced this good news. It has already been lost on us, since the full length of the serpent has not yet been taken care of, while the arch-evil head has not yet been broken, though may the beast may be struck down by your lightning bolt and this, not deep below nor unseen, but high up and manifest as you come upon the den, strip down the remaining parts, and inflict a terrible poison throughout it for the righteous.

    You, with a hand of gold, arms of steel, and a chest of bronze, when you have completed it, please send news. For I am already devising words of praise for you for when there is final victory and I shall place an uncontaminated laurel gathered from Attic meadows upon your head.

    However, there is still the basilisk upon my mind! Of whom do I speak? The most wily Chataturius, who please do not let escape and slip through your hands. Let the beast be captured at once by your hands, since he is not a part of length of the serpent, but at the same level with the head of the serpent.

    After all of this, shall I pour [kisses] around your neck, shall I caress your right hand stained with righteous blood seeing with my own eyes the fair sight, and shall I proclaim you in the middle of the City climbing upon the highest surface so that my voice may be heard throughout the world, if it is possible, to make it heard the furthest away?

    What is there for me to make famous of you, most sagacious of all men? For not, if you prescribe it shall it be of a contrary nature, since the memory should not be from set purpose, not from commandment, but bubbling up from below gushing forth in noble substance. I will make you famous even in Hades if indeed that is where spirits are left to remembrance.

    You need craft no message about yourself, since this happening suffices for you in the place of any, even this one of mine, although it shall shortly be said, that you have caused the death of the empire of the Romans.

  71. Romanus Diogenes had two sons by the Augusta Eudocia, Nicephorus and Leo, who Anna Comnena attests to, without whom this reference might be lost on us.

  72. I think this speech might need some explanation with all of Attaliates’ rhetoric and unending sentences in a paraphrase and explanation. As he says in the paragraph following this speech is meant to be like something you would find in Sophocles, a dramatic speech delivered at that very moment to Michael Parapinaces, clothed both in pagan and Christian language:

    O emperor, what do you think should be done with this man. Has he wronged anyone by sacrificing himself for the Roman Empire when he could have sat around in the palace and been lazy? He has been recognized and well treated by his enemy who recognize their victory comes from God. How can you order his eyes put out when he no longer poses any threat to you having renounced the empire, renounced public life, and become a monk? He poses no threat, yet you are insatiable in your lust for power and so you order this respecting nothing not even kin. Woe be upon you, o emperor, and may fortune curse you for ambition.

  73. PS pg. 154 adds after Colonia the name Theophilus

  74. Z pg. 706 adds the following explanation: His eyes were very cruelly put out and because no care was given his head swelled up and the wounds caused it to become infested with worms, while the air about him was rank with the foul smell of rot.

  75. καὶ πρὸ τῆς τελευτῆς ὀδωδώς

  76. PS pg. 154-5: It is said these things were done without the knowledge of the emperor Michael, who later confirmed them, the Caesar conceiving them and arranging them secretly.

  77. Here I think is the appropriate place to add a short excerpt from the Timarion, the Byzantine equivalent of Dante's Inferno, written in the eleventh to twelfth century in which Romanus Diogenes figures. The narrator has recently died and like any good Greek gone to Hades not Hell where he is escorted about and meets a man who he asks about a tent he keeps hearing moans from:

    As I had told him all about things in life, I asked him who was the man living in that tent and who the elder was beside it and the reasons for bellowing.

    The vulgar man said:

    The man living in the tent whose who innermost laments you have heard is the famous Diogenes from Cappadocia. Chiefly what I know about his life is that he was brought in to rule, that he marched against the eastern Scythians, and that he was taken captive. Then he was freed and tried to return to Byzantium and was not permitted to continue ruling, but was taken hold of by war and oath and treacherously, as you see, blinded being brought to these things by a trick of mischievous terror [or 'cunning man'].


  • Attaliates, Michael. ed. Immanuel Bekker. Historia. Corpus Scriptorium Historiae Byzantinae. Bonn, 1853.

  • Bessarion. ed S, Lambros. Εγκώμιον εις Τραπεζούντα. Νέος Ελληνομνήμων 13. 1918.

  • Bryennius, Nichephorus. ed. Augustus Meinecke, Corpus Scriptorium Historiae Byzantinae. Bonn. 1836.

  • Psellus, Michael. ed. Constantine Sathas. Bibliotheca graeca Medii Aevi. Tomos V. 1876.

  • Psellus, Michael. Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, trans. E.R.A. Sewter, rev. ed., (New York: Penguin, 1966).

  • Pseudo, Scylitzes. ed. E.T. Tsolakes. Ἡ συνέχεια τῆς χρονογραφίας τοῦ Ἰωάννου Σκυλίτση Ἑταιρεία Μακεδονικῶν Σπουδῶν. Ἵδρυμα Μελετῶν Χερσονήσου τοῦ Αἵμου 105. Thessalonica, 1968.

  • Timarion. R. Romano, Pseudo-Luciano, Timarione. Byzantina et neo-hellenica neapolitana 2. Naples: Università di Napoli. Cattedra di filologia bizantina, 1974.

  • Zonaras, John. ed. L. Dindorf. Ioannis Zonarae epitome historiarum, vol. 3. Leipzig: Teubner, 1870.

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