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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Macedonian epoch (867-1081)

Education, learning, literature, and art 


The Original Greek New Testament
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A large number of writings of the time of Constantine VII in the tenth century are preserved. Some of them were written by Constantine himself, others with his personal aid, while still others, in the form of anthologies of ancient texts and encyclopedias with extracts on various questions, were compiled at his suggestion. Among his works are his eulogistic biography of his grandfather, Basil I. Another work, On the Administration of the Empire, dedicated to his son and successor, contains interesting and valuable information about the geography of foreign countries, the relations of the Byzantine Empire with neighboring nations, and Byzantine diplomacy. This work opens with chapters on the northern peoples, the Patzinaks, Russians, Uzes, Khazars, Magyars (Turks), who, especially the first two, played a dominating part in the political and economic life of the tenth century. It also deals with Arabs, Armenians, Bulgarians, Dalmatians, Franks, southern Italians, Venetians, and some other peoples. The work contains also the names of the rapids of the Dnieper, given in two languages, Slavonic and Russian, that is, Scandinavian. It is one of the most important bases on which rests the theory of the Scandinavian origin of the first Russian princes. It was composed between 948 and 952 (or 951) and written in an order different from that of the modern published text. Bury, who wrote a special study on the treatise, called it a patchwork. It gives, however, an impressive idea of the political, diplomatic, and economic power of the Empire in the tenth century. Much geographical material is found also in his third work, On Themes, based partly on geographical works of the fifth and sixth centuries.

It was also in his time that the large work On the Ceremonies of the Byzantine Court was compiled. This was primarily a detailed description of the complicated code of life at the imperial court, and might almost be considered as a book of court regulations. It was compiled chiefly on the basis of official court records of various periods, and the data found in it on baptism, marriage, coronation, burial of emperors, on various church solemnities, on the reception of foreign ambassadors, on the equipment of military expeditions, on offices and titles, and many other aspects of life form an invaluable source for the study, not only of the life at court, but also of the social life of the whole Empire. The Byzantine court ceremonial which sprang up and developed out of the court ceremonies of the late Roman Empire of the time of Diocletian and Constantine the Great later penetrated the court life of western Europe and the Slavonic states, including Russia. Even some of the court ceremonies of Turkey of the twentieth century bear traces of Byzantine influence. Constantine is also responsible for the lengthy account of the triumphant removal of the miraculous image of the Saviour from Edessa to Constantinople in the year 944. Popular tradition claimed that this image had been originally sent by Christ to the Prince of Edessa.

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