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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Byzantine chronicle of Constantine Manasses

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript, dating to the later 16th century, contains the <i>Byzantine chronicle of Constantine Manasses</i>, quite unusual for a historical text in being written in verse. The author, a court poet and orator, composed the work at some point between 1145 and 1150. It was commissioned by the sebastokratorissa Eirene, the widowed sister-in-law of the Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1118-1180, r. 1143-1180) and an important literary patron. Like many Byzantine chronicles, this text begins with the creation of the world, and it concludes with the reign of Nikephoros III Botaneiates (r. 1078-1081), the immediate predecessor of the reigning Komnenos dynasty. It appears to have been one of the most widely read of Byzantine historical works, surviving in 125 known copies and giving rise to a medieval Bulgarian translation and a 14th-century vernacular Greek paraphrase.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This manuscript conforms to the standard format for copies of this text, including marginal notes helping the reader to navigate the text by identifying the emperor whose reign is being narrated and other indications of content. These notes also highlight proverbial expressions, another standard feature in manuscripts of this text</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript also contains a single leaf of philological remarks regarding the letters of Gregory of Nazianzus by the French scholar and printer Fédéric Morel (c. 1552-1630), which appear to bear no relation to the text of Manasses.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr Christopher Wright</p>

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