Few works exist on Byzantine literature as literature and still fewer studies of individual texts. This reading of the letter-collection (c.1090-c.1110) of Theophylact of Ochrid employs a variety of approaches to characterise a work which is both a literary artefact in a long Greek tradition and the only trace of a complex network of friends, colleagues, patrons and clients within Byzantine Bulgaria and also within the empire as a whole. These letters are of great importance from the point of view of local economic or ecclesiastical history, relations with the Slavs, the arrival of the First Crusade, but have not hitherto been studied as an example of Byzantine letter writing. This was a genre taken seriously by Byzantines, offering us unique insight into the mentality of the Byzantine elite, but also into what the Byzantines regarded as literature. This book is important as an attempt to raise the status of the study of Byzantine literature, and of letters within that literature. It is a first attempt to place an epistolary text in a succession of literary and historical contexts; its aim, too, is to probe the reliability of any rhetorical text for straightforward biography especially at the time of the revival fiction in Byzantium. At the heart of the book is an analysis of the personal network of Theophylact, as presented in the collection, with further methodological discussion of network analysis in medieval texts.
Table of Contents
Contents: Map of Theophylact's Letter-Network; Map of Theophylact's Bulgaria; Genre and Milieu; Epistolarity; Evaluation; Reception; 11th Century Constantinople; Byzantine Bulgaria; Alexian literature; Collection and network; Dating and Ordering; Preoccupations and Concerns; Rhetoric; Detecting Theophylact's network; Theophylact's first order zone; The uses of network; Author and man; Theophylact as auctor; Letters in the oeuvre; Other people's letters; The Constantinopolitan; The Bulgarian; The exile; Context and text; Collection; Network; Index.
'Readers..will emerge educated and informed.' Anglo-Hellenic Review 'the letters of Theophylact, skilfully ’decoded’ by Dr Mullett and equipped with invaluable instrumenta studii, can reveal much about the ambivalent nature of the Byzantine presence in the Balkans, while exemplifying the literary pursuits which bonded together the lay and clerical members of the élite.' Journal of Theological Studies '...the book is well written and documented, providing a pleasant and profitable reading.' Byzantinische Zeitschrift '...Mullett’s study of Theophylact’s Letters is most welcome...Mullett has shown that with patience and skill context can be restored to Byzantine literary texts and with it their historical value. It is in this way that she achieves a partial rehabilitation of Byzantine literature. This is an achievement, for which many Byzantinists will be grateful.' Catholic Historical Review '...gives a useful overview of Byzantine-Bulgarian history and the administrative complexities of the Bulgarian region....' Parergon 'It will be essential reading not just for those who want to know about Theophylact...but also for those who wish to understand about Byzantine society under the Komnenes....' Sobornost 'This work is valuable in many ways.... Byzantinists should find Mullett’s discussion of many unresolved questions especially valuable.' Church History