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v2.1 Reference

Arguing it Out

Discussion in Twelfth-Century Byzantium

The long twelfth century, from the seizure of the throne by Alexius I Comnenus in 1081, to the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, is a period recognized as fostering the most brilliant cultural development in Byzantine history, especially in its literary production. It was a time of intense creativity as well as of rising tensions, and one for which literary approaches are a lively area in current scholarship. This study focuses on the prose dialogues in Greek from this period—of very varying kinds—and on what they can tell us about the society and culture of an era when western Europe was itself developing a new culture of schools, universities, and scholars. Yet it was also the period in which Byzantium felt the fateful impact of the Crusades, which ended with the momentous sack of Constantinople in 1204. Despite revisionist attempts to play down the extent of this disaster, it was a blow from which, arguably, the Byzantines never fully recovered.

About the Author

Averil Cameron taught at King's College London from 1965 to 1994, and was chair of the then new Society for Byzantine Studies (SPBS), as well as the founding Director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King's. Having originally read classics at Oxford, she moved back there in 1994 to become Warden of Keble College, a post from which she retired in 2010; she then became the chair of the new Oxford Centre of Byzantine Research (OCBR).

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