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Anna KomneneThe Life and Work of a Medieval Historian$
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Leonora Neville

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190498177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190498177.001.0001

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Qualified, and Modest about It

Qualified, and Modest about It

(p.31) 2 Qualified, and Modest about It
Anna Komnene

Leonora Neville

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains how in the prologue to the Alexiad Anna Komnene tried to present her qualifications for writing authoritative history—including her education, relationship with the subject Alexios Komnenos, temporal proximity, rhetorical skills—while simultaneously insisting on her humility, modesty, and femininity. It discusses how Anna effaces her agency in writing by presenting herself as compelled to fight the destructive force of time that threatened the memory of Alexios, and as finishing the history written by her husband, Nikephoros Bryennios. It further argues that she presents herself as mourning her father and husband in order to elicit sympathy from her audience and provoke condescension that would counteract the self-aggrandizement of her authorship.

Keywords:   Anna Komnene, Alexiad Prologue, Sophocles, Nikephoros Bryennios, mourning, authorial humility

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