Михаил Глика и трое венценосных убийц
Michael Glykas is best known as the author of a vast Chronicle covering the historical events from Creation to the death of the emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1118 AD). Although quite popular in Byzantium, this composition does not enjoy high reputation among the scholars, the reason being its loose composition and massive uncritical borrowings from earlier sources with only feeble attempts to rework and reconcile them. Yet in another creation of his, an authorial collection of admonitory and dogmatic letters habitually referred to as the Theological chapters, Glykas appears to be an apt storyteller who produces a tightly knit narrative with rhetorical sophistication and mastery in portraying his heroes’ emotions and creating suspense. The discrepancies between the two working methods become most conspicuous when the Chronicle and the Theological chapters deal with the same subject matter. The article provides a close reading of the three stories about murders perpetrated by the emperors Theodosios I the Great (379–395), Maurikios (582–602) and Ioannes I Tzimiskes (969–976) reported in the Chronicle alongside their versions in the 57th Theological chapter. The latter was initially conceived as a conciliatory letter addressed to the niece of the emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143–1180) Theodora who had committed a murder out of jealousy and sought repentance. The analysis shows that the parallel accounts have common compositional skeleton and share the same set of sources; neither of the two versions contains any unique historical data absent from the other. Nevertheless, the specific narrative techniques chosen by Glykas to tell the same stories twice are diametrically opposite to each other. For Glykas the chronicler no historical detail is more important than the other, therefore he produces a kind of encyclopedia cemented by chronology but virtually devoid of narrativity and inner hierarchy. Glykas the epistolographer, by contrast, has clear understanding of how to arrange the stories, thinks through their composition, manipulates the reader through key-phrases and syntactical devices, builds drama and make his characters live through severe breakdowns and recover in front of the readers’ eyes. The conclusion proposes to see in Glykas’ unwillingness to narrate coherent stories in the Chronicle a conscious authorial choice motivated by his understanding of chronicle-writing as activity by definition opposed to storytelling.