Tag Archives: Emperor Basil II

Michael Psellus on learning

The value of learning was in question, a thousand years ago, during and after the reign of Emperor Basil II, in what was to become Istanbul. When learning has no purpose, it may flourish; when it has, it may be abandoned when the purpose is not achieved soon enough. Michael Psellus suggests this in Fourteen Byzantine Emperors (London: Penguin, 1966).

Michael Psellos
Michael Psellos (left) with his student, Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas (from Wikipedia)

Basil died in 1025. Michael was born in 1018; here is what he says.

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Basil II

One reason for this blog is to avoid being enclosed by the wall of the garden called Facebook.

Sometimes I enjoy reading the history of where I live, and lately I have been working slowly through Judith Herrin, Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire. The work is not chronological like that of John Julius Norwich (I have read only his Short History of Byzantium); but it does have a chapter on Emperor Basil II, the so-called Bulgar-Slayer, who apparently led the Byzantine Empire to its apogee. Reading this, I could not remember having read about Basil before, in Michael Psellus; but I had, as I could see when Herrin mentioned the latter. Continue reading