Customer Reviews


10 Reviews
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An account of the rapid decline of Byzantium after Basil II
Michael Psellus, a court official in Constantinople, witnessed Byzantium's rapid military decline after it reached its peak at the death of Basil II. He paints a vivid picture of how bickering and scheming Court officials, combined with the astonishing succession of over 8 Emperors in 36 years after Michael IV (all fairly mediocre; in terms of their competence at least)...
Published on 14 Dec. 2000

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Proto Humanist
The footnotes lead one to suppose that Psellus is not entirely reliable and is self-serving. What I find of most interest in his writing - and I believe this to be new in writing at that time - are those Montaigne like passages where he speaks of himself and his thoughts.
Published 18 months ago by opus


Most Helpful First | Newest First

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An account of the rapid decline of Byzantium after Basil II, 14 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
Michael Psellus, a court official in Constantinople, witnessed Byzantium's rapid military decline after it reached its peak at the death of Basil II. He paints a vivid picture of how bickering and scheming Court officials, combined with the astonishing succession of over 8 Emperors in 36 years after Michael IV (all fairly mediocre; in terms of their competence at least) led to the destruction of Byzantium's ambition and former reality of being a world power at the battle of Manzikert 1071.
This title should not present too many problems for those without much knowledge of the period in Byzantium as Psellus's text is nicely self contained, though a grasp of the general situation outside of the Empire may be useful to the reader. Byzantine idiom, such as Porphyrogenitus etc... are explained in the introduction and footnotes.
Psellus writes with first hand knowledge and erudition, the introduction is great and I heartily recommend his Chronographia to anyone interested in this period.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must about 11th century Bizantium, 27 Sept. 2005
By 
Luciano Lupini (Caracas Venezuela) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
Fine edition of an oft forgotten (but indeed important) opus in Byzantine literature and history. The author, Michael Psellus (1018-1078 A.D.), born of an aristocratic family, was a pupil of John Mauropous (Archbishop of Euchaita), became Professor of Rhetoric and then, after being introduced to the court by Michael V, rose to be a first hand spectator of the rise and demise of several emperors, having occupied the posts of Secretary of State, Prime Minister and Grand Chamberlain. This explains why this is a valuable memoir of a contemporary witness to Byzantine life and the workings of the imperial court, under several rulers, from the reign of Basil II (976-1025) to the reign of Michael VII (1071-1078). Originally published as the first whole translation in English of Psellus work in 1953, under the title The Cronographia of Michael Psellus , this revised edition is a wonderful tool for those interested in Byzantine history. The scarce or relative interest that occurred in the field of Byzantine literature until a century ago, compared to the classical period, comprehensive of Greek and Roman history up to the reign of Justinian, has been surpassed due to the fine work of several modern scholars. But it has been clearly noticed that in addition to the well known classical works of Procopius, Menander Protector and Leo Diaconos, this opus by Psellus is unsurpassed or unique for the study of the period covered by the author. Indeed, he was in a position to fully comprehend the events that occurred at the death of Basil II (who ruled for more than 40 years, crushed rebellions, rescued the Empire's army, finances and pride ) in 1078, and the particular decadence that ensued in the following generations due to the unworthiness of the following rulers. So we must concur with the appreciation of Professor Joan Hussey, who wrote the introduction to the second edition of this opus in English, in the sense that Psellus was one man who comprehended the decay in the Empire's fortunes around the eleventh century as a turning point, and that although the Cronographia may give sometimes the impression of vagueness (compared to the works of Cedrenus or Zonaras) it has a colour and variety rarely found in any of its rivals. Not in vain Professor Hussey concludes that Psellus dedication to philosophy was life long and that his contribution to revive classicl learning was truly important:-Renaissance authors owed much to this man-
For scholars or those generally interested in Byzantine history, mores and decadence, the Cronographia is a must.Written by Luciano Lupini.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insider viewpoint, entertaning too....., 3 July 2006
By 
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
From the reign of Constantine IX onwards Psellus was a court insider so anything he has to say on this crucial period of Byzantine history is of the first importance. He is at pains to insist that he is writing history and not enconiums but he certainly can get pretty close to the latter, especially when writing about Constantine X and his son Michael VII. The accompanying footnotes remind us that neither of them deserved such fulsome praise. He is often self serving too, reminding us again and again that he is a philosopher and accomplished in just about all the other arts - a doctor for example, and a better military strategist than Romanus IV, though he never was even in the army far less led one! He makes quite a few digressions to tell us about his own career despite repeatedly telling us that he doesn't want to. He is very proud of his writing style and rhetorical abilities but his metaphors can be very laboured and (unintentionally) comical. Perhaps the height of his conceit is when he tells us how the Empress Eudocia regarded him : "In fact, she looked upon me as someting divine." (p345) Only a few lines later he recounts how she married Romanus Diogenes in secret and against his advice. Despite all this, or perhaps because of it, it is a brilliant book. He gives wonderfully concise snapshots of the follies and foibles of these emperors and empresses. He has a wicked sense of humour and can do a character assassination in a few mischievious lines. He wrings his hands in supposed anguish as he systematically destroys the reputation of Constantine IX, the emperor who first employed him and was his friend. It is very much a court history, perhaps inevitably, and we learn very little about the often momentous events going elsewhere in the empire except where they impact on Byzantium itself. Astonishingly the schism between the eastern and western churhes of the 1050s doesn't rate a mention! The account of Basil II which opens the book is hardly adequate for such an important figure but the book becomes very much better when Psellus gets to the rulers he knew and worked for. I found it a very easy read and for that the translator must be praised too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars satisfactory, 18 Jan. 2011
By 
Omar Farid "order of choice" (from Qatar) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
from the first impression, this book seems no more than mere diagnosis from Basil 2 until michael 8th . However, it is a good supplemetary add collection for anyone who is interested in the Byzantine saga not only that it covered important phases , but also the author himself has lived among most of the emperors because of his political stamina as well as his social status wich gave him a narrative advantage in describing the political as well as historical circumstances that surrounded Bizantium.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fourteen byzantine rulers, 27 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
reading this book you know where the phrase byzantine comes from full of conspiracy, role playing at court and the survival of the dynasty
easy to read story of rise and fall of emperors and empresses of varied talent
the best part is the lovers raised from obscurity and often betrayed by the elderly empress sisters zoe and theodora
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Proto Humanist, 16 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
The footnotes lead one to suppose that Psellus is not entirely reliable and is self-serving. What I find of most interest in his writing - and I believe this to be new in writing at that time - are those Montaigne like passages where he speaks of himself and his thoughts.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 16 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
Good book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars byzantine emperors, 25 Mar. 2014
By 
James E. Harkins "freskin dundemore" (edinburgh,scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
A very good, almost gossipy, translation of Psellus' accounts of some of the grossly unpleasant types who ended up as sicko emperors of an effete, in-bred, wholly corrupt and rotten eastern european empire.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 2 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
excellent
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 8 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics) (Paperback)
Excellent
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus (Classics)
£14.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews