Based on the known data of the Georgian version of Stethatos’s works and the new version of Epistle III, we can draw the following conclusions:
1. Niketas Stethatos created his trilogy and the epistles in the period between 1054 and 1080. He died between January 1080 and 1094.
2. At the very end of his life, Niketas became a hegumen of the Monastery of Stoudios, which is confirmed by the data of the Georgian version of his epistles, dated to the end of the eleventh century or the beginning of the twelfth century. The period, during which Niketas was a hegumen of the Stoudios had to have followed the period during which he wrote his trilogy and the epistles. Most probably it was a short period between January 1080 and his death.
3. The name of the addressee of Epistles V–IX was Basil. The name Gregory, found in the Greek version, is either his monastic name, or it is a result of some unexplained error. Based on the data that we can collect about the Sophist it is possible to raise a question whether Basil the Sophist could be identified with Basil protasekretis, one of the authors of epigrams to the Hymns of Symeon the New Theologian, edited by Niketas Stethatos.
Niketas Stethatos (Nicetas Pectoratus) was one of the most important thinkers of the eleventh century. He actively participated in the events that ended up in the Great Schism of 1054. Studying the figure of Niketas contributes to scholarship on the history of the church in the eleventh century,1 but many aspects of his life remain studied only insufficiently. Details of his life and work in his later years, after the Schism of 1054, are especially obfuscated. During this period of his life Niketas wrote the trilogy On the Hierarchy, On the Soul, and On Paradise, as well as epistles that are a follow-up to his trilogy. There is, however, no scholarly agreement concerning the number of his letters or their addressees.
In this context, the Georgian version of the works of Niketas Stethatos, translated by Arsen Iqaltoeli († c. 1130s)2 and included in his anthology Dogmatikon, is worthy of special attention. Arsen began his work on the Dogmatikon at the end of the eleventh century, during Niketas’s life, and finished it at the beginning of the twelfth century, before the 1120s.3 The Georgian translation is well preserved and it is closer to the archetype than the Greek versions that are known today.4 In the present article we publish new data about Epistle III of Niketas Stethatos, clarify some details of Niketas’s life, and try to determine the name and identity of the addressee of Epistles V–IX.5
The Georgian translation of Niketas’s epistles is very accurate and appears to have stayed very close to the Greek source.6 Niketas’s epistles are represented rather evenly across the Greek and Georgian manuscripts: three manuscripts in the Greek tradition and four manuscripts in the Georgian tradition.7 The Greek version of the epistles is retained in manuscripts Vatopedinus 531 (14th c.), Angelicus 90 (14th–15th cc.), and Vindobonensis suppl. 15 (17th c.);8 the Georgian version is retained in manuscripts S-1463 (early 12th c.), K-23 (12th–13th cc.), K-15 (17th–18th cc.), and Q-50 (1777).9 The Georgian version of the works of Niketas Stethatos is older than the extant Greek manuscripts. Its protograph must either be contemporary to Niketas’s life or have been written right after it. Since the Georgian version is older than the Greek one and supposed to be close to the archetype, it is of especial interest and can provide important data that can shed light on the late period of the life and work of Niketas Stethatos
2 Epistle III
Both the chronology of the creation of Epistles I–IX and the identification of their addressees deserve the interest of scholars who study Niketas Stethatos’s life. Having almost no polemical and dogmatic contents, Epistle I and Epistle III provide details about Epistles V–IX. Therefore, Epistles I and III are the key sources for establishing a relative chronology of Niketas Stethatos’s epistles and an identification of the addressee of Epistles V–IX.
2.1 New Data on Epistle III
The Georgian version of the epistles of Niketas Stethatos is retained in four Dogmatikon manuscripts:10
ms. S-1463 (early 12th c., National Centre of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia);11
ms. K-23 (12th–13th c., Kutaisi State History Museum, Kutaisi, Georgia);12
ms. K-15 (17th–18th c., Kutaisi State History Museum, Kutaisi, Georgia);13 and
ms. Q-50 (1777; National Centre of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia).14
Epistle III contains a reply of Niketas Koronis (also known as Niketas Chartophylax) to Niketas Stethatos about Epistles V–IX. The Georgian edition of Epistle III was published based on three manuscripts – S-1463, K-23, and Q-50.15 The most important Georgian manuscript of the Dogmatikon is manuscript S-1463, which is contemporary to Arsen Iqaltoeli’s life, and which, most probably, was copied directly from his autograph.16 The scribe and editor of ms. S-1463, as has been shown recently, was John Mtavaraisdze, one of Arsen’s colleagues.17 The manuscript contains Epistle III in the second half of the codex (ff. 277ra–277rb), among other works of Niketas Stethatos. At the very end of ms. S-1463 (f. 312vb) we discovered another version of Epistle III, that was copied by the same hand as the rest of the manuscript. This second copy has a small, but important difference from all the known versions of Epistle III (both Georgian and Greek). The updated critical text of Epistle III is supplied in Addendum 1.
Featuring minimum variations in the text and almost matching the first version of Epistle III (hereafter III1),18 the second version of Epistle III (hereafter III2) does not contain the last paragraph and provides us with another title for the epistle:
The last paragraph of version III1, that is absent in version III2, must originate in the autograph, as it contains Niketas Koronis’s address to Niketas Stethatos, presented with the words “oh holy father and [most reverend] lord,” and phrases in the vocative rather have to belong to the original text and not to the editor’s revisions.
The editor of S-1463 traced the protograph closely, leaving notes like “that was here” (f. 239v), “that was in the original” (ff. 204v, 208r), “honour was written by the translator” (f. 219r), etc.19 Therefore, it is improbable that while copying version III1 the editor of S-1463 knew version III2, as in this case it is impossible to explain why he did not add an expanded title °III2 to the main copy III1 at least in a marginal note. We assume, that at the moment of copying version III1 the scribe and editor of S-1463 had only one copy of Epistle III, which he copied as III1, and only later, when the manuscript was almost (or already) completed, he found a source of copy III2. This is also supported by the fact that copy III2 looks like a draft version, given the intensive use of abbreviations and a qalam with a sharp nib. Nevertheless, the question arises then why III2 does not include the last paragraph of Epistle III. This can be explained in two ways: either its protograph did not include this paragraph at all, or the scribe of S-1463 thought that it was a new epistle of Niketas Stethatos (which is possible, because he had never seen that title before), copied a large part of the epistle, then recognized Epistle III, and left it unfinished. Despite the very small number of differences between versions III2 and III1, we have here two important pieces of evidence from the second version of Epistle III: the first one is about Niketas Stethatos being a hegumen of the Monastery of Stoudios, and the second one pertains to the Sophist’s name in the Georgian version of Niketas’s epistles.
2.2 Niketas Stethatos as a Hegumen of the Monastery of Stoudios
The vast majority of the sources (treatises, epistles, orations, etc.) name Niketas Stethatos as a presbyter (Gr. πρεσβύτερος; Geo. ხუცესი) of the Monastery of Stoudios. Until now, scholars of the life and works of Niketas Stethatos knew only one source, which informed us that Niketas was a hegumen of the Stoudios, namely Exposition of the profession of faith (Προέκθεσις [περὶ] ὁμολογίας καὶ πίστεως).20 The text is retained in only one manuscript, Bodleian E. D. Clarke No. 2 (ff. 109–113; Summary Catalogue No. 18364), which is dated to the fifteenth century according to the catalogues of the Bodleian Library and which Jean Darrouzès dated to the end of the thirteenth century.21 In either case, ms. Bodleian E. D. Clarke № 2 dates to not earlier than the end of the thirteenth century, that is two centuries after Niketas’s life. Regardless of the data of the Profession of faith, probably because of the uniqueness of the source, we can see some caution in accepting its evidence concerning Niketas as a hegumen of the Stoudios.22
The title °Geo.III2 directly mentions Niketas as “სტუდიელთა წინამძღ(უ)რისა სტითატისა” (a hegumen of the Stoudites, [who is] Stethatos). Here Niketas’s title is precisely hegumen and cannot be anything else:
წინამძღუარი directly corresponds to the Greek words ἡγούμενος, ἀρχηγός, προεστώς, etc.23 Among the Georgian equivalents of πρεσβύτερος that are used, we find ხუცესი, but not წინამძღუარი, while among the equivalents of ἡγούμενος, we find წინამძღუარი, but not ხუცესი.24
The only two Greek titles of Niketas Stethatos that are attested are πρεσβύτερος and ἡγούμενος, and wherever the Greek version has πρεσβύτερος, we find a correct word ხუცესი in the Georgian version. Obviously, წინამძღუარი in °Geo.III2 must be ἡγούμενος, and not πρεσβύτερος.
Finally, among other examples of the use of წინამძღუარი for hegumen, we can mention a title of the famous predecessor of Niketas Stethatos – Theodore the Stoudite, a hegumen of the Monastery of Stoudios. In the Georgian version of his homilies, translated by George Mtatsmindeli, St. Theodore is also named “სტუდიელთა წინამძღუარი.”25
Thus, წინამძღუარი in °Geo.III2 definitely renders hegumen, and not presbyter.
The title °Geo.III2 cannot belong directly to Niketas because of two reasons. First, a pleonastic commentary “პასუხად მიწერილი ნიკიტაჲს მიმართ” (<a letter> written as an answer to) has to belong to the editor. Second, Niketas is mentioned as “a hegumen of the Stoudites,” which, obviously, cannot be synchronous with other epistles, which mentioned him as a presbyter and not as a hegumen. Nevertheless, the source of this title had to be either a Greek protograph of Geo.III2, or some data, available to the Georgian editor of the Dogmatikon (Arsen Iqaltoeli) or to the scribe and editor of ms. S-1463 (probably John Mtavaraisdze). With this, the Georgian version confirms the opinion of Jean Darrouzès that we can accept the evidence of the unique Greek source Profession of faith and assume that Niketas Stethatos was a hegumen of the Monastery of Stoudios at the end of his life. Dated to the end of the eleventh or the beginning of the twelfth centuries, the copy Geo.III2 in ms. S-1463 is the second, but the oldest known source, which provides us with this information.
2.3 The Name of the Sophist in the Georgian Version
There is a one consistent difference between the Greek and the Georgian versions of the epistles of Niketas Stethatos: they provide different names for the addressee of Epistles V–VIII. The Greek version names him Gregory (°V, §VI.10), while the Georgian version names him Basil (2×°V, §III, §VI.10). In addition, the Sophist’s name is found in the Georgian version of §III and is not rendered in its Greek version.26 There was a theoretically correct, but ultimately improbable possibility that all the four references to Basil in the Georgian version originated in exactly the same mistakes, made in Arsen Iqaltoeli’s autograph in all four places at once.27
We know now, that the scribe of S-1463 had two versions of Epistle III, one of which was obtained separately from the collection of treatises and epistles, and that the name Basil is mentioned in both versions of Epistle III. Since it is almost impossible that the same error was made independent of the main text in °Geo.III2 (especially given that the names are written in full in the Georgian version and contain no abbreviations), the possibility that the Georgian text contains multiple mistakes in the Sophist’s name must be completely rejected. Therefore, the copy III2 confirms, that there is no error, neither in the name of the Sophist, nor in its inclusion in the Georgian text of §III – this is exactly Basil the Sophist, and he was really mentioned in §Geo.III.
3 Data Provided in the Epistles of Niketas Stethatos
What additional information can we extract from the Georgian version of the epistles of Niketas Stethatos and its correspondence to the Greek one?
3.1 A Relative Chronology of the Epistles
Let us recall the relative chronology of the epistles once again.28 The treatises On Paradise and On the Soul were written first. The epistles, written after the trilogy, split into two branches:
The first branch contains the correspondence of Niketas Stethatos with Niketas Koronis about the treatises, that is, in chronological order, Epistle K, Epistle II, and Epistle IV;
The second branch contains the correspondence of Niketas Stethatos with Basil the Sophist (on the Sophist’s name see ch.4.1 below), and with Niketas Koronis (about the Sophist), that is, in chronological order, Epistles V–IX, Epistle I, and Epistle III.
It is clear that Epistle I was written after Epistle K, because Stethatos mentions the treatises without any introduction or commentary, which means that Niketas Koronis already knew about them, and we know that the treatises were introduced to him in Epistle K. It is also clear that Epistle III had to be written by Niketas Koronis after Epistle II, as he wrote “<I have> read … also(!) your objecting letters to Basil the Sophist,” which means that Stethatos already knew that Koronis had read the treatises, and Koronis informed Stethatos about it in Epistle II.
Therefore, the relative chronology of the treatises and epistles is as follows:
On Paradise, On the Soul
Epistles V–IX and Κ
Epistles I and II
Epistles III and IV
3.2 Data Provided in the Titles of the Works of Niketas Stethatos
When analyzing the information which we can obtain from the epistles, it is important to differentiate between what is a real quotation from the original text, what was a later revision and belongs to an editor, and what can be either of these two options. We cannot say much with certainty about the texts of the epistles, as they definitely contain later revisions (this is clear, for example, from the difference in the Sophist’s name in §VI.10). With regard to the titles of the epistles, it is possible to propose the following criteria for classifying them (or their fragments) either as an original text by Niketas, or as a result of later editing:
The original titles (i.e. beginnings of letters) must have some stable formula of opening, containing names of both a sender and a recipient in a structure similar to “X [writes/answers] to Y ”;29
Obviously, the fragments containing ‘from/to the same’ (Geo. მისივე, მისდავე; Gr. τοῦ αὐτοῦ, τῷ αὐτῷ) and ‘to [someone]’ (Geo. მიმართ) are editor’s comments and cannot belong to the original text of Niketas or his correspondent;
It is also obvious that the fragments containing ‘simple, unworthy’ (Geo. უნდოჲ; Gr. εὐτελὴς) have to originate in the original text of Niketas, as we must exclude per se any idea that an editor could have introduced into a text any pejorative words against the author;
Finally, any commentaries, clarifying the meaning of the title, have to belong to an editor and not to the author.
We have the following titles in the Georgian and Greek versions:
It is clear, that:
the original titles that belong directly to Niketas are °K, °Gr.Ψ.a, °I, and °Geo.V.a – they exactly match the criteria of an original title both lexically and structurally;
the obvious editor’s insertions are titles °E.a, °Π.a, °II, °Geo.III.a/Gr.III, °Gr.V and °Geo.V.b, °VI, °VII, °VIII, and °IX.a; °Geo.III.b cannot be an original title of Niketas, neither lexically, nor because of the considerations we provided earlier (see ch. 1.1 above), °Geo.Ψ.a is a revised title °Gr.Ψ.a, while °E.b and °E.c cannot belong to Niketas at the same time;
°IX.b can belong to Niketas or to an editor (two revised titles can be combined in one long title, as we can see in °E and °III), and, similarly, nothing certain can be said about the remaining titles °Ψ.b, °Π.b, and °IV.
Therefore, the following titles belong directly to Niketas: °K, °Gr.Ψ, °I, and °Geo.V.a.
3.3 The Late Period of Niketas Stethatos’s Life
A colophon by Niketas, supplied to the collection of his works and epistles and included in the Georgian version after Epistle VIII,30 contains a date that is restored with confidence as January of 1080.31 Therefore, the treatises and the epistles had to have been written by Niketas before 1080.
At the same time, Niketas is not mentioned as a hegumen of the Monastery of Stoudios neither in any of his works in the collection, nor in its colophon. Neither one of the titles °K, °Gr.Ψ, °I, and °Geo.V, which cite the original text, mentions him as a hegumen. As we stated above (ch. 2.1), at the moment of copying Epistle Geo.III1 the copyist of the manuscript S-1463 did not have version III2 yet. Therefore, the collection, compiled by Niketas in January of 1080 and translated into Georgian by Arsen Iqaltoeli, did not contain any references to Niketas as a hegumen of the Stoudios (neither by the author, nor by the translator). Hence, we can draw the conclusion that Niketas probably became a hegumen of the Monastery of Stoudios after the compilation of that collection, i.e. after January of 1080. This agrees well with the known fact that the hegumen of the Stoudios in 1075 was Kosmas.32
The hegumen of the Stoudios who followed Niketas has to be John, mentioned in 1092 (1094) as a witness for Leo of Chalcedon.33 Therefore, Niketas’s death had to have happened between 1080 and 1092 (1094).
The data, which we can derive from the collection of epistles, allows us to clarify several assumptions about Niketas’s life and work that have been made earlier:
Based on the colophon that is appended to the Hymns, Jean Darrouzès assumed that Alexius the Philosopher could have taken part in the preparation of the edition of the trilogy and the epistles of Niketas Stethatos.34 However, the colophon by Niketas that follows Epistle VIII clearly states that the collection “აღიწერა ... ჴელითა სიტყუათა ამათ მამისა” (was written by the [own] hand of the father of these words),35 i.e. Niketas personally composed and copied a collection of his treatises and epistles.
Recently, Frederick Lauritzen assumed, that the end of Niketas’s active work has to be dated to 1065,36 and, in fact, he dated Niketas’s life to the period of 1005–1065.37 In this scheme, the treatises and epistles had to have been written during 1054–1065.38 The evidence of the Georgian version shows that this idea is incorrect: Niketas had been alive and working in 1080. The closest alternative date that could be assumed based on the colophon is January 1050,39 which is unacceptable for the treatises and epistles in any case.
4 The Addressee of Epistles V–IX
The case of the addressee of Epistles V–IX remains unclear. All attempts to identify this person have failed to lead to any noteworthy result and are based mainly on guesses. Yet what can we actually conclude from the available data?
4.1 The Name of the Sophist: Gregory or Basil?
The case of the name of the addressee of Epistles V–IX remains as the most complicated question. The Georgian version mentions Basil the Sophist (°V.a, °V.b, §III, §VI.10) three times and once Basil the Monk (°IX), while the Greek version mentions Gregory the Sophist (°V, §VI.10) twice. Moreover, regardless of the choice of name, the addressee of Epistles V–VIII and Epistle IX is the same person, who was a layman at the time of the composition of Epistles V–VIII (§VII.5, §VIII.4) and who became a monk before Niketas wrote Epistle IX (°IX).40
We assume that the consistent difference in the Sophist’s name between the Georgian and the Greek versions can be attributed only to the intentional change of name in one of the versions. This must have happened because of some reason, e.g. a period of probation in a monastery or the taking of monastic vows during the period that passed between Epistle VIII and Epistle IX.41 On the one hand, the idea of the editor’s revision of the name after the addressee obtained a new church name seems sounder than the idea that the editor may have made a mistake in several places at once (regardless of which redaction introduced that change – Geo or Gr). On the other hand, taking on the clerical name Gregory by someone who had a lay name Basil does not follow the Byzantine habit of taking a monastic name that starts with the same letter as the lay name one had; yet this practice was not mandatory.42 Thus, the question of the possible cause of the difference in the Sophist’s name between the Georgian and Greek versions remains unanswered. Nevertheless, we are inclined towards accepting the idea of a change from a lay to a monastic name.
So we have two possible solutions for the name of the Sophist:
Gregory the Sophist (and, possibly, Basil the Monk). In this case the early Georgian version (less likely) or its protograph (more likely) replaced Gregory with Basil in §Geo.VI.10, °Geo.V.a, and °Geo.V.b, and added Basil to §Geo.III (maybe with an explanatory purpose in mind?).
Basil the Sophist (and, possibly, Gregory the Monk). In this case, the late Greek version replaced Basil with Gregory in °Gr.V and §Gr.VI.10, and omitted Basil in §Gr.III (the difference in treatment of §VI.10 and §Gr.III in this case makes sense, as §VI.10 contains only the name without the Sophist, so the name could not be omitted in §VI.10 without affecting the meaning). With regard to °Geo.IX, the only disputable issue in this case is a monastic name Gregory (as the use of Basil the Monk is unexpected), if it was really the case. However, in this case we can explain Basil in °Geo.IX if the Sophist was a novice and had not taken monastic vows yet, i.e. he had not taken a new name yet and Niketas used the monk with a friendly attitude (Stethatos was usually polite towards his addressees). Anyway, in this case, in the autograph of Niketas and in the protograph of the Georgian version the name was Basil, and it was later replaced with Gregory in the Greek version.
Despite the simplicity of the first solution, we think that the second one is actually correct. This solution is based on the Georgian title °V.a, that is omitted in the Greek version: this title obviously cites the original text of Niketas (see ch. 2.2 above), and there we find Basil the Sophist. In contrast, in the Greek version we have only the revised titles of Epistles V–IX and none of them have any fragment that contains the name Gregory and certainly originates in the source text. Counting the facts that the text cannot be simply corrupted in the Georgian version,43 and that the Greek version contains revisions precisely in the title that mentions the Sophist’s name, we must give preference to the reading of the Georgian title °V.a, that cites Niketas.
The conclusion concerning the name Basil also finds its confirmation in text §III. From phrases like “you should not even provide all the answers,” “a windbag,” “fruit of [all the] non-good,” etc., it is clear, that the attitude of Niketas Koronis towards the Sophist is quite disparaging. Therefore, it is unexpected to see only the τὸν σοφιστὴν in the place where Koronis mentions the epistles to the Sophist in §Gr.III, since without the Sophist’s name it could (and must!) be read simply as to the wise one, or to the teacher, which contrasts with the earlier tone of Koronis.44 Thus it is more probable that the name was omitted in §Gr.III, and that §Geo.III retains the correct text – to Basil the Sophist.
Based on what was stated above we assume, that the real name of the addressee of Epistles V–VIII had to be Basil the Sophist, while Gregory is a later revision of the Greek edition.
4.2 The Identity of the Sophist
The identity of Basil the Sophist continues to remain unclear. Following the publication of the Georgian version of the epistles and the discovery of Epistle IX, the situation became even more complicated, as it is now clear that there is a variation in the Sopist’s name between the Greek and the Georgian versions, and that later on Niketas addressed him as a monk and not as a sophist. To attempt to identify the Sophist, we need to collect all the information we have about this person.
What do we know about the Sophist? The Sophist communicated with Stethatos quite often (§VII.5). Moreover, the treatises On Paradise and On the Soul were presented to the Sophist concurrently with their presentation to Niketas Koronis, and before the latter replied, the Sophist asked Stethatos some questions and received detailed answers. Since Niketas Stethatos had presented his treatises to Niketas Koronis in order to elicit a reaction and comments from the higher clergy, and, possibly, in order to correct the final version of the treatises, the communication between the Sophist and Stethatos about the treatises had to have happened before Stethatos presented his works to the public. This allows us to conclude that even while being a layman the Sophist either belonged to those who were close to Niketas Stethatos or he had close ties with the Monastery of Stoudios. As it follows from Stethatos’s works, the Sophist was also a patron of some household, that had a house church (§VIII.4), which attests that Basil belonged to a wealthy family. Joining all these facts together, we can assume that Basil the Sophist was a layman of quite a high rank, who either supported the monastery, or was close to the circle of Niketas Stethatos.
The question arises now, who from among those close to Niketas Stethatos could be Basil the Sophist?
Here our attention is drawn to Basil protasekretis (Βασιλείου προτασηκρῆτις), one of the authors of epigrams that are added to the Hymns of Symeon the New Theologian, edited by Niketas Stethatos.45 The epigrams introduce Basil as an asekretis, and then mention him as a protasekretis and ktetor (κτήτορος) of the Monastery of Evergetis (Εὐεργέτιδος).46 If there is no error in Basil’s title protasekretis, his position in Byzantine society had to have been very high, because “as chief of the imperial chancery, protasekretis enjoyed enormous influence, and important persons such as Photios held the post.”47
We lack clarity about references to Basil as a ktetor of the Evergetis, as the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis was founded between 1049 and 1054 by a certain Paul, who established the monastery on his private land.48 Even more, during the whole of the eleventh century we do not find any ktetor of the Evergetis named Basil.49 Any possible connection between Basil protasekretis and the monastery remains unclear.50 Yet we must not neglect the fact that the ktetor right (ktetorikon dikaion) could be held in the family of the founder of a monastery for one or two generations, or it could be assigned as an honorific title for one’s merits to a monastery (something that is very realistic for a wealthy benefactor).51 In any case, regardless of a possible connection between Basil protasekretis and the Monastery of Evergetis,52 he really was one of the authors of epigrams, as his epigrams № 5 and № 6 belong to the archetype of the Hymns.53
There is no agreement among scholars on the date of Basil’s epigrams: Jean Darrouzès dated them to 1126–1127,54 while Paul Gautier dated Basil’s activity to 1070.55 Yet regardless of the exact dating, it is clear that in order to add epigrams of a layman Basil to the Hymns edited by Niketas Stethatos, Basil had to be either close to Niketas, or, at least, close to the Monastery of Stoudios. The same conclusion can be drawn when one considers those authors of epigrams, who are identified:
Alexis the Philosopher, who was Niketas’s colleague and worked on the Hymns (and later became a grand didaskalos);56
Niketas diakonos and didaskalos, who probably was a nephew of Niketas Koronis (a correspondent of Stethatos in Epistles K, I–IV);57
Theophylaktos of Bulgaria, an archbishop of Ohrid (c. 1050 – after 1126, active after 1078);58 and
Nicholas of Kerkyra (metropolitan of Kerkyra, active c. 1100–1117).59
All of these persons are either from the circle around Niketas Stethatos, or contemporary to him.
Therefore, the probable description of Basil protasekretis matches with what we expect for Basil the Sophist (see above). Even if we accept the idea of becoming a monk for Basil the Sophist, we can draw a parallel to Alexis the Philosopher, who later took monastic vows60 – it is possible to expect the same destiny for Basil. Based on what was said above, and without claiming to provide here the final solution, we assume that we can raise the question of the possible identification of Basil the Sophist with Basil protasekretis.
Moreover, the identification of Basil the Sophist with Basil protasekretis could shed some light on possible causes of the rich contents of the Georgian version of Stethatos’s works.61 The period between 1071 and 1087 was marked by the strong influence on affairs in Constantinople of the empress Maria of Alania (of Georgia), a daughter of the Georgian king Bagrat IV, who had strong ties with Georgian clergy.62 It was a period of intensive connections between Georgia and Constantinople: Arsen Iqaltoeli and other Georgian translators came to Byzantium in order to translate important Greek texts into Georgian, while during the same period George II (a brother of Maria) received the highest Byzantine title of caesar, etc. On the other side, Maria was in communication with the known theologians and writers of that time (among whom we also find Theophylaktos of Ohrid, one of the authors of epigrams to the Hymns), and actively participated in church matters, including donations. Finally, Maria’s first husband, the deposed emperor Michael VII Doukas, became a monk at the Monastery of Stoudios in 1078, and it is quite likely that Maria kept con- nections with him, as she cared much about their common son. Therefore, as a protasekretis, Basil could be connected to the imperial court that had strong ties with Georgia, and could belong to the circle around Niketas Stethatos at the same time.
Addendum 1. The Georgian Version of Epistle III by Niketas Stethatos
The edition of the text provided below is given according to the following manuscripts:
S1 = S-1463 (early 12th c.; National Centre of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia), ff. 277ra–277rb;
S2 = S-1463, f. 312vb;
K = Kut. 23 (late 12th c.; Kutaisi State History Museum, Kutaisi, Georgia), ff. 319v–320r;
L = Kut. 15 (17th – 18th c., Kutaisi State History Museum, Kutaisi, Georgia), f. 210rb.
Q = Q-50 (1777; National Centre of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia), ff. 159v– 160r.
In variant readings, S (without index) marks the identical readings of variants S1 and S2.
The edition of the text provides the original orthography of the manuscripts. The punctuation, however, follows the rules of modern Georgian.
Abbreviations are expanded, but we directly mark expansions with round brackets in cases, when a word is abbreviated in all the manuscripts (e.g. ხ̅ = ხ(ოლო)). In cases of doubtful variant readings, contractions are provided as they are. When matters are not clear due to a difference in an abbreviation, we assume that the orthography of the versions S1 and S2 is the same (e.g. მეტყ(უ)ჱლისა ] მეტყ̅ლისა S1, მეტყ̅ჱლისა S2).
The English translation strives to stay as close as possible to the Georgian text. When it is essential for a precise understanding, grammatical markers of Georgian word forms are provided in angular brackets.
– variant readings of Georgian manuscripts;
– references to the passages, cited in the text;
– differences between the editions Geo.III and Gr.III (according to Dogmatikon II: 358).
s.l. – super lineam (i.e., the fragment in question is written on the top of the line)
1 Cf. M. Angold, Church and Society in Byzantium under the Comneni, 1081–1261, Cambridge – New York, 2000, pp. 28–31, 269–271; А. В. Бармин, Полемика и схизма [A. V. Barmin, Polemics and Schism], Moscow, 2006, p. 138 ff.; A. Louth, Greek East and Latin West: The Church, AD 681–1071, Crestwood – New York, 2007, pp. 333–334; etc.
2 ი. ლოლაშვილი, არსენიყალთოელი (ცხოვრებადამოღვაწეობა) [I. Lolašvili, Arsen Iqaltoeli (Life and Service)], Tbilisi, 1978, p. 103. We render the name as Arsen, as it is generally accepted now. Nevertheless, we have to note here that the Old Georgian form is Arseni (with stem -i), which can be confirmed from marginalia in manuscript S-1463 (ff. 39v, 223r, 228r, 232v), produced during Arsen Iqaltoeli’s life.
3 Lolašvili, Arsen Iqaltoeli, p. 156.
4 M. Kasradze-Girod, La traduction géorgienne ancienne des écrits de Nicétas Stéthatos dans le «Dogmatikon» d’Arsen d’Iqaltho, XIe siècle, École pratique des hautes études, Section des sciences historiques et philologiques, thèse soutenue le 3 juillet 2001, [Paris], p. 140; მ. რაფავა, ნიკიტასტითატისანტიმონოფიზიტურისიტყვები [M. Raphava, Anti-Monophysite Speeches by Niketas Stethatos], Tbilisi, 2013, pp. 30–31.
5 We use the following identifiers for the editions of Niketas’s works: Geo – the edition, now lost in Greek and retained in Georgian translation in the Dogmatikon; Gr – the Greek edition, retained in Greek manuscripts and published by Jean Darrouzès. We use the following identifiers for the individual works, introduced in Ostrovsky & Raphava, “Notes”: Ψ for the treaty On the Soul; Π for the treaty On Paradise; I–IX for Epistles I–VIII, published by Jean Darrouzès (see n. 8), and Epistle IX, published by Maia Raphava (see n. 27); Κ for the stand-alone epistle to Niketas Chartophylax, also known as Niketas Koronis (Κορωνίδος), which precedes the treatises On the Soul and On Paradise; Ε for the epistle to Eusebius, which is not known from the Greek manuscripts (see n.31). References to the text passages are provided in the format §X.n, where X is the identifier of the work (I–IX, Ε, Κ, Π, Ψ) and n is a paragraph number (if specified), e.g. §VI.10, §III. References to the titles are provided in the format °X.n, where X is the identifier of the work (I–IX, Ε, Κ, Π, Ψ) and n is a fragment of the title (if we mark fragments in the title), e.g. °VI, °III.a.
6 See n.4 above.
7 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules et lettres, introduction, texte critique, traduction française et notes par J. Darrouzès (SC, 81), Paris, 1961, p. 44; ნ. ჩიკვატია, „‘დოგმატიკონის’ ხელნაწერი კრებულები (S 1463 ნუსხასთან მათი მიმართების ცხრილი” [N. Čiḳvaṭia, “Manuscript anthologies of the Dogmatikon (table of their correspondence to manuscript S-1463)”], Mravaltavi, 20 (2003), pp. 81–85: tab. II.
8 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, pp. 42–43.
9 Čiḳvaṭia, “Manuscript anthologies,” tab. II.
10 Ibid. The information on ms. K-15 is provided here following M. Raphava’s examination of the manuscript in situ.
11 For the description of the manuscript, see ქართულ ხელნაწერთა აღწერილობა:ყოფილი ქართველთა შორის წერა-კითხვის გამავრცელებელი საზოგადოების (S) კოლექცია [Description of Georgian Manuscripts: The Collection of the Society for the Spreading of Literacy among Georgians (S)], vol. II, by A. Bakraʒe, T. Bregaʒe, E. Meṭreveli, M. Šaniʒe, ed. E. Meṭreveli, Tbilisi, 1961, pp. 213–222. For the dating and details of S-1463, see ა. ოსტროვსკი, “„დოგმატიკონის“ S-1463 ხელნაწერის დათარიღებისა და შედგენილობისათვის” [A. Ostrovsky, “On the Dating and the Composition of Manuscript S-1463”], Mravaltavi, 24 (2015), pp. 110–128, here 113–114; A. Ostrovsky, “One episode from the history of codex S-1463 (Arsen Iqaltoeli’s Dogmatikon),” in: Armenia between Byzantium and the Orient: Celebrating the Memory of Karen Yuzbashyan (1927–2009) (forthcoming).
12 For the description of the manuscript, see [ქუთაისის სახელმწიფო ისტორიული მუზეუმი:] ხელნაწერთა აღწერილობა [[Kutaisi State History Museum’s] Description of Georgian Manuscripts], vol. I, by E. Niḳolaʒe, ed. Ḳ. Ḳeḳeliʒe,Tbilisi, 1953, pp. 104–108.
13 For the description of the manuscript, see Kutaisi … Description of Georgian Manuscripts, vol. I, pp. 75–78.
14 For the description of the manuscript, see საქართველოსსახელმწიფომუზეუმისქართულხელნაწერთააღწერილობა : მუზეუმისხელნაწერთაახალი(Q)კოლექცია [Description of Georgian Manuscripts of the State Museum of Georgia: The New (Q) Museum’s Collection of Manuscripts], vol. I, by E. Meṭreveli, K. Šarašiʒe, ed. I. Abulaʒe, Tbilisi, 1957, pp. 64–69.
15 [არსენ იყალთოელი,] დოგმატიკონი, II (ნიკიტა სტითატი, თხზულებანი, ხუთი პოლემიკური სიტყვისა და ეპოსტოლეთა ტექსტები გამოსაცემად მოამზადა და გამოკვლევა დაურთო მაია რაფავამ, ტექსტები “აღსავალთათჳს”, “სულისათჳს” და “სამოთხისათჳს” გამოსაცემად მოამზადა და გამოკვლევა დაურთო მარიამ კასრაძემ, ლექსიკონი და საძიებლები მოამზადეს მაია რაფავამ და ნანა ჩიკვატიამ) [[Arsen Iq̣altoeli,] Dogmatikon, II, in: Niketas Stethatos, Works, ed. M. Raphava, M. Kasradze, and N. Chikvatia], Tbilisi, 2013, p. 358.
16 Ostrovsky, “On Manuscript S-1463,” pp. 113–114; Ostrovsky and Raphava, “Notes,” pp. 388–389.
17 For details on S-1463, see Ostrovsky, “On Manuscript S-1463.”
18 All the differences between the texts of §III1 and §III2 are limited to several variations in orthography and punctuation.
19 Cf. Lolašvili, Arsen Iqaltoeli, p. 143.
20 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, pp. 10, 22, 444 n. 1. There is no word περὶ in Darrouzès’s edition, but it is provided in the Summary catalogue of the Bodleian library (see n. 22). As we were unable to check the text of the manuscript, we provide a combined title.
21 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, p. 40; A summary catalogue of Western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the quarto series, vol. 4: Collections received during the first half of the 19th century, ed. F. Madan, Oxford, 1897, p. 298; a record in Online Catalogues of Archives and Manuscripts can be accessed at <http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/online/medieval/clarke/clarke.html>.
22 E.g. A. P. Kazhdan, “Niketas Stethatos,” in: ODB, vol. III, p. 1955; Louth, Greek East and Latin West, p. 333. However, cf. the alternative in Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography, vol. 1: Periods and Places, ed. S. Efthymiadis, Farnham – Burlington, 2011, p. 149.
23 ბერძნულ-ქართული დოკუმენტირებული ლექსიკონის ქართულ-ბერძნული ინდექსი, სიმონ ყაუხჩიშვილის საერთო რედაქციით, პასუხისმგებელი რედაქტორი ლიანა კვირიკაშვილი, ტ. VII : ნ–ჵ [Greek-Georgian Documented Dictionary’s Georgian-Greek Index, eds. S. Q̣auxčišvili, L. Ḳviriḳašvili], vol. VII: n–ō, Tbilisi, 2007, p. 338.
24 ბერძნულ-ქართული დოკუმენტირებული ლექსიკონი, სიმონ ყაუხჩიშვილის საერთო რედაქციით, პასუხისმგებელი რედაქტორი ლიანა კვირიკაშვილი, [Greek-Georgian Documented Dictionary, eds. S. Q̣auxčišvili, L. Ḳviriḳašvili], vol. IV: ο–ρ, Tbilisi, 2006, pp. 450–451; ბერძნულ-ქართული დოკუმენტირებული ლექსიკონი, სიმონ ყაუხჩიშვილის საერთო რედაქციით, პასუხისმგებელი რედაქტორი ლიანა კვირიკაშვილი [Greek-Georgian Documented Dictionary, eds. S. Q̣auxčišvili, L. Ḳviriḳašvili], vol. III : ζ–ξ, Tbilisi, 2005, pp. 28–29.
25 Ms. A-500 (11th c., National Centre of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia), ff. 17r, 200v. See ქართულ ხელნაწერთა აღწერილობა : ყოფილი საეკლესიო მუზეუმის (A) კოლექციისა [Description of Georgian Manuscripts: The Collection of the former Ecclesiastic Museum (A)], vol. II1, by T. Bregaʒe, C. Ḳaxabrišvili, M. Kavtaria, L. Kutatelaʒe, C. Č̣anḳieva, L. Xevsuriani, ed. E. Meṭreveli, Tbilisi, 1986, pp. 248–249.
26 For the details see M. Raphava, “Georgian Translations of Nicetas Stethatos’s Epistles (According to Arsen Iqaltoeli’s Dogmatikon) [with the editio princeps of a letter lost in Greek],” in: Georgian Christian Thought and Its Cultural Context. Memorial Volume for the 125th Anniversary of Shalva Nutsubidze (1888–1969), ed. T. Nutsubidze, C. B. Horn, B. Lourié, Leiden, 2014, pp. 244–282.
27 For the details of and objections against this solution, see Ostrovsky and Raphava, “Notes,” pp. 396–397.
28 Ibid., pp. 384–385. Here we use the same notation for Stethatos’s works (see n. 5 for details).
29 M. Trapp, Greek and Latin Letters: An Anthology, With Translation, Cambridge, 2003, pp. 34–38; R. K. Gibson, A.D. Morrison, “Introduction: What is a Letter?,” in: Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography, eds. R. Morello, A. D. Morrison, New York, 2007, pp. 1–16, here 3 and 11.
30 Raphava, “Georgian Translations,” p. 252.
31 Ostrovsky and Raphava, “Notes,” pp. 387–388.
32 La Géographie Ecclésiastique de l’Empire Byzantin, Première partie, Le Siège de Constantinople et le Patriarcat Œcuménique, t. III, Les églises et les Monastères, ed. R. Janin, Paris, 1953, p. 448.
33 Ibid., p. 448; PG 127, col. 973D.
34 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, pp. 18–19.
35 Raphava, “Georgian Translations,” p. 252.
36 F. Lauritzen, “Areopagitica in Stethatos: a chronology of an interest,” Византийский Временник, 72(97) (2013), pp. 199–215, here 209.
37 F. Lauritzen, “Areopagitica in Stethatos: a chronology of an interest,” Византийский Временник, 72(97) (2013), p. 199.
38 Cf. F. Lauritzen, “Areopagitica in Stethatos: a chronology of an interest,” Византийский Временник, 72(97) (2013), p. 201.
39 Ostrovsky and Raphava, “Notes,” p. 387.
40 Ostrovsky and Raphava, “Notes,” p. 396.
41 Cf. Ibid., p. 397.
42 Cf. A. Kazhdan, “Names, Personal,” in ODB, vol.II, pp. 1435–1436, here 1436.
43 Ostrovsky and Raphava, “Notes,” p. 396.
44 Greek lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine periods (from B.C. 146 to A.D. 1100), ed. E. A. Sophocles, Cambridge, 1914, p. 1001.
45 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, p. 18; Symeon Neos Theologos, Hymnen, ed. A. Kambylys, Berlin – New York, 1976, pp. 25–33.
46 Symeon Neos Theologos, Hymnen, p. 29.
47 A. Kazhdan, “Protasekretis,” in: ODB, vol. III, p. 1742.
48 R. H. Jordan, R. Morris, The Hypotyposis of the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis, Constantinople (11th–12th Centuries): Introduction, Translation and Commentary, Farnham – Burlington, 2013, p. 9.
49 Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents: A Complete Translation of the Surviving Founders’ Typika and Testaments, eds. J. Thomas, A. Constantinides Hero, G. Constable, vol. 2, Washington, 2000, p. 455.
50 La Géographie Ecclésiastique, pp. 191–192; Jordan and Morris, The Hypotyposis, p. 11; Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents, p. 455.
51 A. Kazhdan, “Ktetor,” in: ODB, vol. II, p. 1160.
52 If such a connection existed, then it only strengthens the connection between Basil and Niketas Stethatos, as Evergetis had close ties with the Stoudios (cf. Jordan and Morris, The Hypotyposis, pp. 27–28).
53 Symeon Neos Theologos, Hymnen, p. CCCLXI.
54 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, p. 18.
55 P. Gautier, “Le typikon de la Théotokos Évergétis,” RÉB, 40 (1982), pp. 5–101, here 10.
56 Symeon Neos Theologos, Hymnen, p. CCCLX; Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, p. 18–19.
57 Symeon Neos Theologos, Hymnen, p. CCCLXII.
58 Symeon Neos Theologos, Hymnen, p. CCCLXI (n. 26); Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, pp. 16, 18. See also A. Kazhdan “Theophylaktos,” in: ODB, vol. III, p. 2068.
59 Symeon Neos Theologos, Hymnen, p. CCCLXI (n. 26); Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, p. 18. See also A. Kazhdan, “Nicholas of Kerkyra,” in: ODB, vol. II, p. 1469.
60 Nicétas Stéthatos, Opuscules, p. 19.
61 The Georgian version includes Niketas’s colophon, Epistle IX to Basil the Monk and Epistle E to Eusebius, absent in the Greek version.
62 For the details on Maria of Alania, see B. Skoulatos, Les personnages byzantins de l’Alexiade. Analyse prosopographique et synthèse, Louvain, 1980, pp. 188–192; C. M. Brand, A. Cutler, “Maria of Alania,” in: ODB, vol. II, p. 1298.
M. TrappGreek and Latin Letters: An Anthology With TranslationCambridge2003 pp. 34–38; R. K. Gibson A.D. Morrison “Introduction: What is a Letter?” in: Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography eds. R. Morello A. D. Morrison New York 2007 pp. 1–16 here 3 and 11.
Cf. Ibid. p. 397.