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Not Composed in a Chance Manner: The Epitaphios for Manuel I Komnenos by Eustathios of Thessalonike

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Uppsala University Press

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The Epitaphios for the emperor Manuel I Komnenos (r. 1143-1180) by the eminent scholar bishop, Eustathios of Thessalonike, is one of the longest and most ambitious political eulogies of the Byzantine era. Delivered during a time of looming political peril at the Byzantine court and composed in a compellingly intricate style, the Epitaphios was meant to serve as both a blueprint for subsequent rulers and as a model of innovative eloquence. Eustathios’ funeral oration marked an unprecedented effort by one of the empire's most accomplished authors to wed epideictic rhetoric, with its virtuoso displays of style and erudition, to political memorialization. Comprised of a critical edition, translation, and wide-ranging commentary, and prefaced by an extensive introduction which ranges from questions of aesthetics, the reception of Byzantine ‘high style’ texts, to palaeography and the performance of oratory, the present study is intended to offer a comprehensive analysis of the text and of its enabling literary, ceremonial, and political contexts. The work illustrates the potential of neglected medieval Greek texts to shed light on the still elusive poetics of Byzantine literature.