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The Nature of the Bibliotheca of Photius

Warren T. Treadgold

Dumbarton Oaks Studies

Byzantine Studies, Byzantine History


The Bibliotheca of Photius, a massive description of some four hundred books representing fourteen centuries of Greek literature on nearly every subject, is the most important work of Byzantium's most important scholar. For the Byzantinist, it provides unique evidence about the resources, methods, and scope of Byzantine learning. For the Classicist, it preserves material that is otherwise lost from dozens of Classical texts, such as the histories of Ctesias and Theopempus, the novels of Jamblichus and Antonius Diogenes, the lexicon of Phrynichus, and the Chrestomathia of Proclus. Yet the peculiar character and disorderly form of the Bibliotheca have long caused problems even for those who know it well.

This volume presents a concise but thorough analysis of what the Bibliotheca is and when, why, and how it was composed. After summarizing the conflicting views of previous scholars, the author gives his own conclusions, basing them on evidence from the entire text of the Bibliotheca and from relevant other sources. He includes also the first annotated table of contents and full indices of Photius' work, as well as an up-to-date bibliography. The study as a whole is designed to make the Bibliotheca accessible to students of both the Classical and the Medieval worlds.

Dumbarton Oaks Studies 18

 

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