Socrates the judge: a not-so-platonizing dialogue on the deposition of Patriarch Nicholas IV Mouzalon
The article brings under scrutiny an understudied dialogical account about the deposition of the patriarch of Constantinople Nicholas IV Mouzalon (1147–51). A close reading shows that this is not an official record of the proceedings but a piece of fiction that deliberately inverts the generic conventions of the two types of texts indicative of the 12th-century literary landscape, namely 1) minutes of church councils and 2) syllogistic theological dialogues. The anonymous author invites the reader to recognize the all-familiar scheme of the Socratic interrogation but eventually departs from it investing the protagonists (Manuel I Komnenos and Mouzalon) with features that distance them from their Platonic models. The text seems to be inextricably linked to Mouzalon’s canonical dilemma: can an archbishop who previously voluntarily fled from his office be appointed archbishop once again? In fact, the author’s primary concern is not the patriarch but the emperor, a judge-logician who is at one and the same time Socrates and more than Socrates, and the new language able to reflect the changing balance between the imperial and ecclesiastical powers in mid-12th-century Byzantium.