Michael Psellos on Literature and Art: A Byzantine Perspective on Aesthetics

Publication Year



Charles Barber, professor of art and archaeology at Princeton University, and Stratis Papaioannou, associate professor of classics and director of the Program of Medieval Studies at Brown University, have co-edited a book titled Michael Psellos on Literature and Art: A Byzantine Perspective on Aesthetics. Psellos has long been known as a key figure in the history of Byzantine literary and intellectual culture, but his theoretical and critical reflections on literature and art are little known outside of a small circle of specialists. Most famous for his Chronographia, a history of eleventh-century Byzantine emperors and their reigns, Psellos also excelled in describing as well as prescribing practices and rules for literary discourse and visual culture. The ambition of Michael Psellos on Literature and Art is to illustrate an important chapter in the history of Greek literary and art criticism and introduce precisely this aspect of Psellian writing to a wider public. This volume presents thirty Psellian texts, all of which have been translated—some in part, most in their entirety—into English. In the majority of cases, the works are translated for the first time in any modern language, and several are discussed at length here for the first time.

"Modern histories of aesthetic theory in the West have resolutely ignored the contributions of Byzantine thinkers. Thanks to this splendid collection of translations, this will now change. The editors, both eminent scholars of Byzantine culture, together with a distinguished team of experts, have produced elegant versions of a wide variety of works by the brilliant polymath, Michael Psellos, accompanied with rich notes and introductions. The book is indispensable to anyone interested in Byzantine perspectives on art and literature." —David Konstan, New York University

Notre Dame Press