Three Political Voices from the Age of Justinian

Agapetus - Advice to the Emperor, Dialogue on Political Science, Paul the Silentiary - Description of Hagia Sophia

Translated with commentary by Peter Bell

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ISBN: 9781846312090

Publication: October 5, 2009

Series: Translated Texts for Historians 52

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This one-volume translation, with commentary and introduction brings together three important works. All three texts cast great, if generally neglected light on politics and ideology in early Byzantium.  Agapetus wrote, c. 527-30CE, from a position sympathetic to Justinian, when he had still to consolidate his authority.  He sets out what an emperor must do to acquire legitimacy, in terms of government’s being the imitation of God.  Read in context, his work is much more than a list of pious commonplaces.  The Dialogue, written anonymously towards the end the same reign, comprises fragments from Books 4-5 of a philosophically sophisticated (lost) longer work, setting out requirements for the ideal polity, based on a similar concept of imperial rule, with extensive comment on matters of current political salience but from an implicitly hostile standpoint.  Not only does the text reflect the nature of Neoplatonic political philosophy but it also penetrates with its ideas deep into the inner realities of the time, into the political problems of Constantinople during the first half of the sixth century. The third text was written by Paul the Silentiary to mark the rededication of the basilica Hagia Sophia, built thirty years earlier under the orders of Emperor Justinian I. Together the translations provide an important insight into the early Byzantine period.

Preface Abbreviations INTRODUCTION 1. The World of Agapetus, the Dialogue on Political Science and Paul the Silentiary 2. The Authors 3. Dating 4. Agapetus – Advice: His Sources, Methods and Thought 5. The Dialogue on Political Science – Sources, Methods and Thought 6. Paul the Silentiary – Description of Hagia Sophia: Sources, Methods and Thought 7. Texts and Translations AGAPETUS: ADVICE TO THE EMPEROR JUSTINIAN Translation and Notes THE DIALOGUE ON POLITICAL SCIENCE BOOK 4 – MILITARY MATTERS Translation and Notes BOOK 5 – THE IDEAL STATE 1. Translator’s Synopsis 2. Translation and Notes PAUL THE SILENTIARY: DESCRIPTION OF HAGIA SOPHIA Translation and Notes Select Bibliography Map of Constantinople Index

This is an important volume, one that should be required reading for scholars and students of the sixth century. The translations are precise and accessible and are accompanied by a wealth of analysis and commentary.
Tim Greenwood   Early Medieval Europe, 20 (4)
University of Andrews

Bell's book marks a new starting point for exploring these texts. He has succeeded in producing a clear and readable translation of some notoriously opaque documents including the first English translation of the Dialogue and the first modern English translation of both Agapetus and Paul.
  Ecclesiastical History, Volume 63/2

it is gratifying that these three rhetorical texts with Bell's translation to a wider Audiences are now accessible.
  Historische Zeitschrift vol. 293/1

Three Political Voices makes a welcome addition to the accessible and affordable Translated Texts for Historians series.
  Speculum, A Journal of Medieval Studies

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 x 210 x 147 mm

256 Pages

Copyright: © 2009

ISBN: 9781846312090

Publication: October 5, 2009

Series: Translated Texts for Historians 52

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