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Traits of a successful Byzantine emperor from the perspective of Michael Psellus - Research Paper Example

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Traits of a successful Byzantine emperor from the perspective of Michael Psellus.
The fact that Psellus was a master of rhetoric in addition to being a philosopher caused him to be regarded as being a philosophical-authority-figure as well as being regarded as a credible advisor on political matters…
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Traits of a successful Byzantine emperor from the perspective of Michael Psellus
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Traits of a successful Byzantine emperor from the perspective of Michael Psellus

Download file to see previous pages... In his historical works, he describes the attributes of the various emperors (it is notable that he had shifted his political alignment numerous times during his lifetime, thus implying that he had assessed Emperors and shifted allegiances when he perceived that an Emperor was weak). Thus, one can make the argument that Psellus was a pragmatists and a proto-Machiavellian figure, as evidenced by his political career, and the standards by which he assessed politicians and emperors. From reading Psellus’ Chronographia, one can arrive to the conclusion that Psellus’ ideas on what constituted a successful emperor were derived from the earlier Byzantine history (since the notorious “dirty power politics” that one can observe throughout the late Byzantine history can be traced to the earlier Roman times). Therefore, the traits that would make one a good Byzantine emperor were theorized by Psellus at a time when the Byzantine Empire was enjoying a century of success, stability and expansion (while also going through difficult times later on). Thus, Psellus himself was a high-class Byzantine political figure who was actively involved with the court politics of the Byzantine Emperors . Since Psellus had specialized in court politics, his perspective is inseparable from the Constantinopolitan political culture. Various political events that took place in Psellus’ time and the reigns of various emperors that greatly differed from each other provided Psellus with a wide-range of political experience to derive his assessment model from, since he always had the opportunity to observe how the imperial court had functioned under different emperors. Michael Psellus Traits of a Successful Byzantine Emperor In his book, the Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, Psellus provides a first-hand account that includes observations of blatant mismanagement, unethical political practices, incompetence, as well as successful or exemplary incidents that he attributes to various Byzantine emperors and politicians. Since Psellus was a member of the Byzantine court for nearly a quarter century, he was able to not only observe but also interact with various emperors. This enabled him to better comprehend the various traits and ruling-styles of different emperors and thus form connections between the traits of a particular emperor and how those traits related to economic growth, military success, or the general well-being of the Empire at different instances throughout his career3. It should be noted though, that Psellus’ views were undoubtedly influenced by the norms of his time. Thus, Psellus’ political assessments also have a historical touch to it, apart from only concerning the discipline of political science. From the first to the last of the fourteen emperors, Psellus provides the following traits as being necessary for Byzantine Emperor to be a successful ruler4. Alertness, thoughtfulness and Intelligence The notion that these series of traits are necessary for an emperor to be successful is evidenced by the after-math of the demise of John Tzimisces. The legible heirs to the throne were Basil and Constantine, and both of them had been gaining political power prior to the death of Tzimisces. Michael Psellus explains that the two heirs had different political ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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