Nikephoros Gregoras’ Vita of St. Michael the Synkellos. Rewriting Techniques and Reconstruction of the Iconoclast Past in a 14th cent. hagiographical Metaphrasis
Nikephoros Gregoras’ metaphrasis of the Vita of St. Michael the Synkellos (BHG 1297), if compared with its immediate source BHG 1296, sheds new light on Gregoras’ metaphrastic approaches and literary concepts. A comparative analysis allows to distinguish the following metaphrastic techniques introduced to meet the aesthetic demands of the learned Palaiologan audience: simplification of plot-motifs, usage of additional sources, compositional changes, psychologization, dramatization, and stylistic reworking. Reducing nonessential plot lines and eliminating secondary characters, Gregoras enriched the narration with vivid depictions of emotions, dramatic dialogues, sophisticated metaphors, and classical allusions, and thus inevitably albeit unintentionally distorted the historical memory of the iconoclast controversy.