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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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Celebrating an Odd Bird

Celebrating an Odd Bird

(p.113) 7 Celebrating an Odd Bird
Anna Komnene

Leonora Neville

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how Anna Komnene’s character, and her relationships with John Komnenos and Nikephoros Bryennios, were depicted in court oratory of the twelfth century. After discussing works by Theodore Prodromos, Michael Italikos, John Tzetzes, and Constantine Manasses, the chapter focuses on the funeral oration for Anna written by George Tornikes. Tornikes’s oration displays the tensions between Anna’s intellectualism and her culture’s expectations for women. Tornikes admits that Anna does not fit models for either female or male virtue and ultimately decides to compare her to a phoenix. His difficulties in praising Anna closely parallel the gender challenges Anna dealt with in writing the Alexiad, and they used some of the same methods for diffusing tension. The chapter presents evidence for Anna’s reputation as an intellectual and her work in commissioning commentaries on Aristotle, writing poetry and letters, and her study of philosophy, classical literature, and medicine.

Keywords:   Anna Komnene, George Tornikes, Theodore Prodromos, Michael Italikos, John Tzetzes, Constantine Manasses, Nikephoros Bryennios, John II Komnenos

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