The Chronographia of George the Synkellos and Theophanes

The Ends of Time in Ninth-Century Constantinople


The ninth-century Chronographia of George the Synkellos and Theophanes is the most influential historical text ever written in medieval Constantinople. Yet modern historians have never explained its popularity and power. This interdisciplinary study draws on new manuscript evidence to finally animate the Chronographia’s promise to show attentive readers the present meaning of the past.

Begun by one of the Roman emperor’s most trusted and powerful officials in order to justify a failed revolt, the project became a shockingly ambitious re-writing of time itself—a synthesis of contemporary history, philosophy, and religious practice into a politicized retelling of the human story. Even through radical upheavals of the Byzantine political landscape, the Chronographia’s unique historical vision again and again compelled new readers to chase after the elusive Ends of Time.
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Jesse W. Torgerson, Ph.D., (2013), University of California Berkeley, is Associate Professor of Letters in the College of Letters at Wesleyan University in the Middletown of Connecticut, USA.
Managing editor: Bonnie Effros (University of British Columbia)
Editorial board: Lisa Bailey (University of Auckland), Deborah Deliyannis (Indiana University), Eduardo Manzano (CCHS-CSIC Madrid), Walter Pohl (Austrian Academy of Sciences), Edward Roberts (University of Kent) and Andrea Sterk (University of Minnesota).

List of Figures and Tables
Two Notes on the Text

Introduction: Reading the Chronographia on Its Own Terms
 1 Reconstructing Authors or Re-Reading Manuscripts? A New Approach
 2 Essential Terms and Their Implications for Reading
 3 The Chronographia’s Invective against Eusebius as Its Claim to Auctoritas
 4 The Place of the Chronographia in Byzantine Chronography
 5 The Argument of This Book

Part 1: The Argument of the Chronographia

1 Text and Manuscripts: The Imperial Logic of the Chronographia
 1 The Ninth-Century Form of the Chronographia
 2 The Structure of the Text: AM 5434 as the Beginning of a New Era
 3 Time’s Order: A Chronology of Emperors or of Universal Years?
 4 How the Dating Systems Work in Practice
 5 The Imperial Time of the Chronographia

2 Author: The Synkellos and His Imperial Critique
 1 The Significance of George’s Personal History for Reading the Chronographia
 2 What Was a synkellos in ca. 800?
 3 The synkelloi of the Chronographia and the Revolt of AM 6300 (AD 808)
 4 The Associates of the Synkellos in the Revolt of AD 808
 5 The Synkellos’ Imperial Critique

3 Thesis: The First-Created Day
 1 What Did the First-Created Day Mean? A Reliable Chronology of Empire
 2 Theological Truth in the Chronological Paradox of the First-Created Day
 3 Typology and Chronology: The Past Fulfilled in the Present
 4 The First-Created Day and the Present Age
 5 The Thesis of the First Created Day: Chronology and Typology

4 Reader: The Invitation of the Preface of Theophanes
 1 The Preface: From Authorship to Readership
 2 A Conceptual Map of the Preface
 3 George as Author and Theophanes as His Reader
 4 Theophanes, Author of “the Same Chronography,” and His Reader
 5 The Invitation of the Preface
 Appendix: Preface of Theophanes as in Wake Greek 5, Collated with VG 155

Part 2: The Imperial Types of the Chronicle

5 Imperial Antitypes: Progenitors, Successors, and Greed
 1 The Imperial Antitype: The Greedy Emperor
 2 The Progenitor-Successor Type: Constantine-Constantius
 3 The Corruption of the Progenitor-Successor Type: Herakleios-Constans
 4 The Antitype of the Progenitor-Successor Type: Leo III to Constantine V
 5 Interpreting the Antitypes in the Reader’s Present

6 Imperial Prototypes: Mothers, Sons, and Repentance
 1 The Fulfillment of Early Rulers’ Virtues: Constantine I with Helena
 2 The Paradigm of Good Rule: Theodosios II with Pulcheria
 3 Irene and Constantine VI: From a Holy Beginning to a Failed Joint Reign
 4 From Irene the Sinner to Irene the Repentant
 5 Irene the Repentant Martyr
 6 Mothers, Sons and Repentance

7 Nikephoros the All-Devourer
 1 The Transition from Irene to Nikephoros: AM 6295–6296 (AD 802–804)
 2 Nikephoros’ Failures and a Growing Opposition: AM 6297–6301 (AD 804–809)
 3 The Ten Evils of Nikephoros I: An Overview
 4 The First Five Evils: The Evils of Impiety
 5 The Last Five Evils: The Evils of Greed
 6 The Parable of the Keroullarios and the All-Devourer: A Typological Reading
 7 The First End(ing) of the Chronographia

Part 3: The Ends of the Chronographia

8 AD 815 and the End of History
 1 Who Was against Nikephoros? The Faction behind the Chronographia Project
 2 Who Is for Leo V? The Entries for AM 6303–6305
 3 AM 6303–6305 and the Community of the Chronographia
 4 The Second End(ing) of the Chronographia

9 The Past’s Future: The Chronographia Project in the Mid-Ninth Century
 1 Dating the Ninth-Century Recensions of the Chronographia
 2 The Papal-Carolingian Excursus
 3 The Chronographia and the Triumph of Orthodoxy: AD 843–847
 4 Writing Time in the Early Middle Ages

Conclusion: Writing Time for an End
 1 The Past Study
 2 The Present Discourse
 3 An End for the Future
Scholars and students of Byzantium and the Eastern Mediterranean, and anyone with interests in early medieval historical texts and Greek historiography.
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