This book explores Michael Psellos' place in the history of Greek rhetoric and self-representation and his impact on the development of Byzantine literature. Avoiding the modern dilemma that vacillates between Psellos the pompous rhetorician and Psellos the ingenious thinker, Professor Papaioannou unravels the often misunderstood Byzantine rhetoric, its rich discursive tradition and the social fabric of elite Constantinopolitan culture which rhetoric addressed. The book offers close readings of Psellos' personal letters, speeches, lectures and historiographical narratives, and analysis of other early Byzantine and classical models of authorship in Byzantine book culture, such as Gregory of Nazianzos, Synesios of Cyrene, Hermogenes and Plato. It also details Psellos' innovative attention to authorial creativity, performative mimesis and the aesthetics of the self. Simultaneously, it traces within Byzantium complex expressions of emotion and gender, notions of authorship and subjectivity, and theories of fictionality and literature, challenging the common fallacy that these are modern inventions.
Stratis Papaioannou is Associate Professor of Classics at Brown University, Rhode Island. He has published extensively on Byzantine literature, especially on the history of rhetoric and literary subjectivity. He has co-edited Byzantine Religious Culture: Studies in Honor of Alice-Mary Talbot (2011). Recent articles include: Fragile Literature: Byzantine Letter-Collections and the Case of Michael Psellos (2012), 'Michael Psellos on Friendship and Love: Erotic Discourse in Eleventh-Century Constantinople' (in Early Medieval Europe, 2011), 'Byzantine Enargeia and Theories of Representation' (in Byzantinoslavica, 2011) and 'Byzantine Mirrors: Self-Reflection in Medieval Greek Writing' (in Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 2010).
Introduction; Part I. The Professional Rhetor and Theory of Authorship: 1. The philosopher's rhetoric; 2. The rhetor as creator: Psellos on Gregory of Nazianzos; 3. The return of the poet: mimesis and the aesthetics of variation; Part II. Self-Representation: 4. Aesthetic charm and urbane ethos; 5. The statue's smile: discourses of Hellenism; 6. Female voice: gender and emotion; Conclusion: from rhetoric to literature; Appendix: books and readers in the reception of Psellos.