Anna Komnene: The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian by Leonora Neville

By Leonora Neville

Byzantine princess Anna Komnene is understood for 2 issues: plotting to homicide her brother to usurp the throne, and writing the Alexiad, an epic historical past of her father Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118) that may be a key historic resource for the period of the 1st Crusade. Anna Komnene: the lifestyles and Work of a Medieval Historian investigates the connection among Anna's self-presentation within the Alexiad and the tale of her bloodthirsty ambition. It starts via asking why girls didn't write historical past in Anna's society, what cultural ideas Anna broke by way of doing so, and the way Anna attempted to reply to these demanding situations in her writing. some of the idiosyncrasies and surprises of Anna's Alexiad are pushed by way of her efforts to be perceived as either an exceptional historian and a great lady. those new interpretations of Anna's authorial character then spark a radical re-thinking of the normal tale which defines Anna's existence by means of the failure of her intended political objectives. the second one half this paintings stories the medieval resources with clean eyes and re-establishes Anna's basic id as an writer and highbrow instead of as a failed conspirator.

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Also like Eudokia, Glykeria was not actually without resources. Glykeria had the social status to assemble a group of prominent landowners from surrounding islands and a high official from one of the empire’s greatest monasteries, the ecclesiarch of the Great Lavra of Mt. Athos, to witness her new deed. 32 They were able to get away with it, with the backing of their surrounding communities, by enacting a behavior that required the men in those communities to support and protect them. Their performances of weakness appear to have elicited the performance of supportive behavior from men, which in turn permitted the women to achieve their desired goals.

Anna’s status as the daughter of the emperor makes her believable as a knowledgeable source of information about the history of Alexios. Anna’s emphasis on her relationship with her father is a necessary part of her claim 36 A Good Historian and a Good Woman to firsthand knowledge, and hence the ability to write history. 18 Beyond proximity to the subject, Anna’s statement that she is the daughter of the emperor and the empress, born in the porphyry chamber of the palace, is authorizing within the context of her culture, because nobility was sometimes seen as a factor that might enable women to transcend their nature.

Why Didn’t Greek Women Write History? 25 In order to get her audience to believe her history was reliable, Anna needed to remain morally above all reproach. Since leaving the female sphere would diminish Anna’s character, as judged by the standards for elite women of her culture, any steps taken to conduct historical inquiry through the questioning of witnesses could potentially weaken her claim to have the good character needed for history writing. If she remained properly cloistered, she could be a worthy woman, but hardly a historian.

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