As a literature specialist first and foremost, whose background is in English drama and poetry p. Firstly, to set the stage, it is worth offering a brief introduction to the Alexiad itself. This is a work imbued with socio-political significance — written by Anna Komnene, the first-born daughter of the emperor Alexios I Komnenos — , who is the focal point and namesake of her historical epic. As such, seeming confusion and ambiguity abound — certain episodes are misplaced, persons conflated and battle scenes repeated. Scholars have long contemplated the proper use of the Alexiad within historical studies — how to cope with material clouded by bias and subject to the forgetfulness of time.

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In the Alexiad, Anna describes the political and military history of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father, the Byzantine emperor, which makes it a reference on the Byzantium of the High Middle Ages. The Alexiad documents the Byzantine Empire's interaction with the Crusades and highlights the conflicting perceptions of the East and West in the early 12th century.

The text was written in a form of artificial Attic Greek. The Alexiad is divided into 15 books and a prologue; its scope is limited to the duration of Alexios' reign, which it is thus able to depict in full detail. The Alexiad remains one of the few primary sources recording Byzantine reactions to both the Great Schism of and the First Crusade, [2] as well as documenting first-hand the decline of Byzantine cultural influence in both eastern and western Europe.

The First Crusade and Byzantine reactions to it Books 10—11 :. Although Anna Komnene explicitly states her intention to record true events, important issues of bias do exist. Throughout the Alexiad , emphasis on Alexios as a "specifically Christian emperor," morally, as well as politically laudable, is pervasive.

Frankopan frequently compares Alexios' treatment in the text to the techniques of the hagiographical tradition, while contrasting it with the generally negative portrait or outright absence of his successors John II and Manuel I. This distaste extends to the Turks and Armenians. Despite these issues, George Ostrogorsky nevertheless emphasizes the importance of the Alexiad as a primary document.

The main theme of the Alexiad is the First Crusade , and religious conflict. The Alexiad was originally written in Greek in around , and first edited by Possinus in Anna Komnene explicitly describes herself in the text and openly acknowledges her feelings and opinions for some events, which goes against the typical formatting of historiography.

Anna Komnene's writings are a major source of information on her father, Alexios I of the Byzantine Empire. She regarded the crusaders, whom she refers to as Celts, Latins and Normans, as uneducated barbarians.

Some historians believe her work to be biased because of her feelings towards the Crusaders, and how highly she regarded her father. There has been much debate as to whether the Alexiad was in fact written by Anna Komnene herself, with one scholar saying that the text gives very few comments that would suggest the author's gender or any other aspect of their background, aside from a few explicit mentions.

However, it is largely agreed that Anna Komnene was the author. Explicit mentions in the text of her engagement, her role as a wife, and the commentary on her female modesty that influences her writing make Anna's authorship of the Alexiad "unmistakable", according to some. In the Alexiad , Anna Komnene portrays gender and gender stereotypes in a unique way. Like her male counterparts, she characterizes women along the typical stereotypes, such as being "liable to tears and as cowardly in the face of danger".

Immediately, however, she informs the reader that she will stop crying in order to properly return to her duty of history, an episode which she repeats twice in the narrative. Anna Komnene's somewhat unusual style of writing history has been attributed to her gender. Her style is noteworthy in that it included both a history of her father's actions during the First Crusade, and her reactions to some of these events.

Her opinions and commentary on particular events in an otherwise historical text have been assigned to her gender both positively and negatively. While the Roman historian Edward Gibbon saw this "gendered" narrative to betray "in every page the vanity of a female author", [25] with some scholars agreeing with him, [26] [27] other scholars claim that this style might be indicative of Anna's mentor, Michael Psellos.

Anna Komnene is considered unique for her time in the intensity by which she integrates her own narrative and emotion, [30] and yet she does not mention all personal details, such as the fact that she had four children. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Alexiad. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Contribute Help Community portal Recent changes Upload file.

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Anna Comnena

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The Alexiad

This work was published before January 1, , and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least years ago. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement between and inclusive without a copyright notice. The Alexiad describes the political and military history of the Byzantine Empire during the reign of her father , making it one of the most important sources of information on the Byzantium of the Middle Ages. As well as this, within the Alexiad, the First Crusade's interaction with the Byzantine Empire is documented despite being written nearly fifty years after the crusade , which highlights the conflicting perceptions of the East and West in the early 12th century. This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


The Alexiad

Anna Comnena , Comnena also spelled Komnene , born December 2, —died c. She is remembered for her Alexiad , a history of the life and reign of her father, which became a valuable source as a pro-Byzantine account of the early Crusades. Anna received a good education, studying, among other subjects, literature , philosophy , history, and geography. She married the leader of Bryennium, Nicephorus Bryennius , and joined her mother, the empress Irene, in a vain effort to persuade her father during his last illness to disinherit his son, John II Comnenus , in favour of Nicephorus. Later conspiring to depose her brother after his accession to the throne , Anna was, however, unable to obtain the support of her husband; the plot was discovered, and she forfeited her property, retiring to a convent, where she wrote the Alexiad.

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