Publisher:Oxford University Press
The Letters of Psellos is the first detailed study of the correspondence of Michael Psellos, a leading Byzantine intellectual, politician, and writer of the eleventh century. Psellos' corpus of over 500 letters represents a historical source of great significance for the study of society and culture of the time: literary masterpieces in and of themselves, yet often complex and difficult to understand in their entirety, they not only rebound with subtlety and humour, but also offer invaluable information on myriad subjects ranging from the political culture of Byzantium and its civil administration to social codes, religious beliefs, and popular culture. This volume consists of two complementary parts designed to make Psellos' letters as widely accessible as possible, both to the specialist academic community and to a wider non-specialist audience. The first part contains five essays offering detailed historical and literary analyses of a considerable number of the letters across a range of different topics, including the financial management of monasteries, the friendship of Psellos and John Mauropous, and the challenges posed by Psellian irony. While the essays are supplemented by individual appendices containing the translated text of the pertinent letters, the second part of the book presents annotated summaries in English of the entirety of Psellos' correspondence, compiled over many years as part of the Prosopography of the Byzantine World project and supported by substantial excursuses and notes. The result is an engaging and accessible shortcut into these bewildering and fascinating letters and an essential resource for the study of eleventh-century Byzantine society and culture through the pen of one of its pre-eminent figures.