By Leonora Neville
Byzantine princess Anna Komnene is understood for 2 issues: plotting to homicide her brother to usurp the throne, and writing the Alexiad, an epic background of her father Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118) that may be a key ancient resource for the period of the 1st Crusade. Anna Komnene: the lifestyles and Work of a Medieval Historian investigates the connection among Anna's self-presentation within the Alexiad and the tale of her bloodthirsty ambition. It starts off by means of asking why ladies didn't write heritage in Anna's society, what cultural ideas Anna broke by way of doing so, and the way Anna attempted to answer these demanding situations in her writing. a few of the idiosyncrasies and surprises of Anna's Alexiad are pushed through her efforts to be perceived as either a superb historian and an outstanding lady. those new interpretations of Anna's authorial personality then spark an intensive re-thinking of the normal tale which defines Anna's existence via the failure of her intended political objectives. the second one 1/2 this paintings reports the medieval resources with clean eyes and re-establishes Anna's fundamental id as an writer and highbrow instead of as a failed conspirator.
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Additional resources for Anna Komnene: The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian
14 Her emphasis in her prologue on her own philosophical training and expertise may have worked to cast her as their successor. Anna does not explicitly claim to have read the great works of Attic tragedy and comedy. She makes her knowledge of these texts clear however, by quoting Sophocles’s Ajax in the first line of her prologue, and through the vocabulary and textual fabric of her writing. Anna’s ability to make an illusion that interacts meaningfully with Sophocles’s text displays her deep reading and understanding of classical Attic texts.
By nature, they remained emotional and subject to passion, but they were able to transcend this nature, to an extent, through practice. A second significant way Byzantine women could exercise power was to act helpless and needy, which pushed men to help them. By performing the neediness their culture attributed to women, they encouraged men to display their authority and power by helping them. By being needy, women called on men to be provident. 25 While it was illegal for a woman to sell part of her dowry, she could do so in the case of extreme need.
The system of gender just described was a matter of pervasive ideology within Byzantine culture. The existence of that ideology does not mean that women were in fact always disempowered, passive, and subordinate to men. Yet women seem to have wielded authority more by upholding than disputing 18 A Good Historian and a Good Woman the dominant gender ideas of their culture. Ideals of female subordination to men were reinforced by depicting particularly virtuous women as having overcome the problems inherent in their femaleness: some women could be good because they became like men.
Anna Komnene: The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian by Leonora Neville