This book translates the mid-12th-century Synopsis Chronike by Constantine Manasses which was widely circulated. It extends to 1081, marking the end of Nikephoros Botaneiates' reign and the accession of Alexios I Komnenos. Commissioned by the Sevastokratorissa Irene, whose sponsorship likely determined its format in verse and subject matter, the chronicle begins with a dedicatory epigram and introduction lauding Irene for her largesse and love of learning. Manasses proceeds to relate a pastoral view of creation, biblical stories, a history of the peoples of the East, Alexander the Great's conquests and the subsequent Hellenistic empires. He then provides a non-Homeric view of the Trojan War and continues with Rome through the Principate and early empire until the reigns of Constantine I in the East and Theodosios II in the West. Manasses then focuses on the New Rome with a colorful treatment of its individual emperors. The chronicle attracted the attention of Emperor John Alexander for whom the Middle Bulgarian Synodal or Moscow manuscript was translated. This is the mid-14th-century copy taken into account here with deviations from the Greek contained in the footnotes. The so-called Middle Bulgarian Short Chronicle is interspersed in the appropriate places.
‘The translation is elegant, the footnotes clear in differentiating SC from the Bulgarian translation, and the index and references fulsome. It is never less than an interesting read, and will provide useful, thumbnail sketches of the sixty-six Byzantine rulers who get a look in…'
Adrian Spooner, Classics for All