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Mothers and Sons, Fathers and Daughters The Byzantine Family of Michael Psellos by

Mothers and Sons, Fathers and Daughters The Byzantine Family of Michael Psellos


Mothers and Sons, Fathers and Daughters The Byzantine Family of Michael Psellos by

Mothers and Sons, Fathers and Daughters makes available for the first time extensive English translations from the works of Michael Psellos (1018-1081?), a key philosopher of the Byzantine Empire. Psellos was not simply a philosopher, he was also a courtier, historian, and monk, and his works betray a dazzling engagement with philosophy, theology, history, and science. These interests were expressed in some eleven hundred works, including formal rhetorical texts, history writing, letters, poetry, and texts written for his students. This book contains the works that Psellos wrote about his family, including a long funeral oration for his mother that features unique recollections from a childhood spent in Constantinople; a funeral oration for his young daughter Styliane, which includes a detailed description of her physical appearance and a moving account of her illness and death; a legal work pertaining to the engagement of his second, adopted, daughter; and various letters and other works that relate to the private life of this Byzantine family. These works offer us a rare and comprehensive picture of the family life of a medieval Byzantine courtier and philosopher. Much of the material follows the rules of rhetoric inherited from classical and Christian antiquity, but Psellos was always recasting the conventions of those genres to express his own revolutionary views regarding the relation of body and soul. Some of these works also have an apologetic or legal purpose, as Psellos occasionally used them to get himself out of trouble. Mothers and Sons, Fathers and Daughters will appeal to all who study medieval women, childhood, and the family, especially as it provides a Byzantine perspective that has been absent from most modern discussions of those topics.


Anthony Kaldellis is a skilled and gifted translator, one of the best I have ever encountered. I am very excited that we will have access to Psellos
two important encomia of his mother and daughter in an accurate and readable translation, so that more scholars and students will be able to read these works which offer such fascinating insights into family life in eleventh

-century Byzantium. This book will be an excellent lead-off volume in the Psellos series, and make scholars anxious for the subsequent volumes to appear. - Alice-Mary Talbot, Director, Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks

About the Author

ANTHONY KALDELLIS is associate professor of Greek and Latin at Ohio State University. He is the author of a number of books, including Procopius of Caesarea: Tyranny, History, and Philosophy at the End of Antiquity.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th November 2006


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University of Notre Dame Press


240 pages


European history
Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500
Western philosophy: Medieval & Renaissance, c 500 to c 1600
Autobiography: historical, political & military



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