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date: 18 April 2024

Psellos, Michaellocked

Psellos, Michaellocked

  • Stratis Papaioannou

Extract

Psellos, Michael (baptismal name Constantine) (1018–1078 CE) was born into a middle-class family in Constantinople, at a time when the capital of the Byzantine Empire was again at the peak of its power, after the crisis of the 7th and 8th centuriesce. Psellos’s life was punctuated by the reigns of the emperors and the careers of other members of the Constantinopolitan ruling elite, whose patronage and friendship he successfully or (occasionally) less successfully sought. Because of his education and learnedness in all fields of the Byzantine curriculum, which must have appeared spectacular in the eyes of his contemporaries, Psellos gained and sustained various posts in the imperial court and related networks of elite society as secretary, professional public speaker, and teacher during the thirty-five years (until 1078) when we can follow his career. His impressive erudition, but also his brilliant talent (by Byzantine standards) in literary discourse were also the reason for his inclusion, almost immediately after his death, in the reading canon of Byzantine advanced literacy and, therefore, the continued copying and preservation of his vast discursive production.

Subjects

  • Late Antiquity

Updated in this version

Article rewritten to reflect current scholarship.

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