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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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Gathering Research without Leaving the House

Gathering Research without Leaving the House

Chapter:
(p.75) 5 Gathering Research without Leaving the House
Source:
Anna Komnene
Author(s):

Leonora Neville

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190498177.003.0006

This chapter discusses Anna Komnene’s efforts to substantiate her research while maintaining her persona as a modest woman. It explores the conflict between the Greek ideal of historiography that history should be written on the basis of personal observation and interrogation of witnesses, and the ideal that women should be secluded and only talk to men who were close relatives. It suggests that Anna’s practice of quoting original documents was a means of effacing her authorship while demonstrating her access to archival information. Anna’s discussion of her research methods in book 14 is spliced with expressions of pathos, isolation, and mourning. These interjections are interpreted as gestures intended to make Anna seem like a cloistered, modest, piteous widow, and so to gain the audience’s sympathy, even as the discussion of methods presents her as writing on the basis of autopsy, questioning multiple witnesses, and actively researching.

Keywords:   Anna Komnene, Greek historiography, autopsy, document quotation, historical methods, Alexiad

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