Emperors, Patriarchs, and Sultans of Constantinople, by Marios Philippides

By Marios Philippides

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Additional resources for Emperors, Patriarchs, and Sultans of Constantinople, 1373-1513: An Anonymous Greek Chronicle of the Sixteenth Century

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It is difficult for us today to appreciate the depth of reverence in which Homer’s writings, in particular, were held in antiquity. The earliest known public readings took place among the Greeks. Already in the fifth century BC, Herodotus (c. 485–c. 425 BC), the ‘Father of History’, rather than travel from city to city to read his works, as was then customary, presented them to all assembled Greek men at the Olympic festivals. One must appreciate that the first public readings, both in Greece and Rome, still maintained that intimate connection between oral and written literature, in that the authors were presenting their own 56 .

By the fifth century BC reading was no longer the monopoly of an oligarchy validating herein its power: it was rapidly becoming a ‘popular’ tool for accessing information. The historian and politician Thucydides (c. 11 It signalled a paradigm shift in humanity’s appreciation of reading’s innate power. For one now realized writing could allow accession and retention of many texts, and to a degree that orality could never achieve. Through reading, a person could visually ‘become’ a text and, with increased reading, even a ‘walking library’ of multiple works.

You might give me one of your sons, and he might become my husband. , Ay]. I am loath to make him my husband. The Hittite king acquiesced. But then his young son was murdered on his way to Egypt, and so Ankhesenpaaten, probably fearing for her own life, condescended to marry Ay. Ancient Egyptian reading was far more than information conveyance: the very spirit of a text was being conveyed as well. Unlike Mesopotamia’s utilitarian cuneiform wedges, Egyptian hieroglyphs, in particular, were believed to hold magical power.

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