Georgius Pachymeres

Georgios Pachymeris

Georgius Pachymeres (Georgios Pachymeris) (Γεώργὶος ὁ Παχυμερής) (1242-c. 1310) one of the most important of the later Byzantine writers, was born in, or about 1242 AD at Nicaea, whither his father, an inhabitant of Constantinople, had fled after the capture of Constantinople by the Latins, in 1204. Thence Pachymeres sometimes calls himself a Constantinopolitan. After receiving a careful and learned education, he left Nicaea in 1261, and took up his abode in Constantinople, which had then just been retaken by Michael VIII Palaeologus. Here Pachymeres became a priest. It appears that besides divinity he also, according to the spirit of the time, studied the law, for in after years he was promoted to the important posts of Πρωτέκτικος or advocate general of the church (of Constantinople), and Δικαιοφύλαξ, or chief justice to the imperial court, perhaps in ecclesiastical matters, which, however, were of high political importance in the reigns of Michael Palaeologus and his successor, Andronicus II Palaeologus. As early as 1267 he accompanied, perhaps as secretary, three imperial commissioners to the exiled patriarch Arsenius, in order to investigate his alleged participation in an alleged conspiracy against the life of Michael Palaeologus. They succeeded in reconciling these two chiefs of the state and the church. The emperor Michael having made preparatory steps towards effecting a union of the Greek and Latin churches, Pachymeres sided with the patriarch Joseph, who was against the union; and when the emperor wrote in defence of the union Pachymeres, together with Jasites Job, drew up an answer in favour of the former state of separation. It was Pachymeres who was the author of the deed of abdication of the patriarch Joannes Beccus. When the emperor Andronicus repealed the union, Pachymeres persuaded the patriarch Georgius Cyprius, who was for it, to abdicate. It seems that Pachymeres also devoted some of his time towards teaching, because one of his disciples was Manuel Phile, who wrote an iambic poem on his death, which is given by Leo Allatius quoted below.

Pachymeres died probably shortly after 1310 ; but some believe that his death took place as late as 1340. There is a wood-cut portrait of Pachymeres prefixed to Wolf's edition of Nicephorus Gregoras, Basel, 1562, which the editor had engraved after a drawing of a MS. of his Historia Byzantina, "which was then at Augsburg." Pachymeres wrote several works of importance, the principal of which are :

1. Historia Byzantina, being a history of the emperors Michael Palaeologus and Andronicus Palaeologus, the Elder, in thirteen books, six of which are devoted to the life of the former, and seven to that of the latter. This is a most valuable source for the history of the time, written with great dignity and calmness, and with as much impartiality as was possible in those stormy times, when both political and religious questions of vital importance agitated the minds of the Greeks. The style of Pachymeres is remarkably good and pure for his age. It would seem as if Wolf intended to publish this work from the above-mentioned Augsburg codex, but was prevented from doing so by causes not known to us. That Codex, however, was not complete, but the remaining portions were discovered by Petavius in Paris, who published them in Greek, together with the History of St. Gregoras, some fragments of Nicephorus Gregoras and others, Paris, 1616, 8vo. The complete editio princeps, however, is that of Petrus Possinus, Greek and Latin, Rome, 1666-69, 2 vols. fol. To each of the two lives the editor wrote a very valuable commentary, the one like the other divided into three books, and in both cases the first contains a Glossarium, the second Notes, and the third the Chronology of the period. He added to it "Liber de Sapientia Indorum," being a Latin translation of an Arabic work on that subject which was known to, and is referred to, by Pachymeres. Immanuel Bekker published a reprint of this edition, revised in several places, but without the "Liber de Sapientia," Bonn, 1835, 2 vols. 8vo., which belongs to the Bonn Collection of the Byzantines.

2. καθ̓ ἑαυτύν, a poetical autobiography of Pachymeres which is lost, and the existence of which is only known by the author giving two fragments of it in his History. Were this work extant, we should know more of the life of so important a man as Pachymeres


3. Epitome in universam fere Aristotelis Philosophiam. A Latin version by Philip Bech, together with some writings of Synesius, Basel, 1560, fol.; the Greek text, with a Latin version, Augsburg, 1600, fol., by J. Wagelin, who ascribes it to one Gregorius Aneponymus.

4. Epitome Philosophiae Aristoteliae, a portion of No. 3, ed. 1, Gr. et Lat. by Jacob. Foscarini, Venice, 1532, under the title "De Sex Definitionibus Philosophiae," which Camerarius inserted in his edition of the Categories of Aristotle. 2. A Latin version by J. B. Rasarius, Paris, 1547. 3. The Greek Text, ibid., 1548. 4. Gr. et Lat. by Edward Barnard, Oxon., 1666.

5. Περὶ ἀτόμων γραμμῶν, a Paraphrase of Aristotle's work on the same subject (on indivisible lines). It was formerly attributed to Aristotle himself, and appeared as such in the earlier editions of that philosopher. The first edition, with the name of Pachymeres in the title, is that by Casaubon, who affixed it to his edition of Aristotle (1597). The first separate edition, with a Latin translation, was published by J. Schegk, Paris, 1629, 12mo.

6. Παράφρασις εἰς τὰ τοῦ ἁγίου Διονυσίου τοῦ αρεοπαγίτου εὑρισκόμενα, which the author wrote at the suggestion of Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria. Editions : Greek, by Gulielmus Morellus, Paris, 1561; Greek and Latin, in the two editions of the works of Dionysius Areopagita, by Petrus Lansselius, Paris, 1615, fol., and by B. Corderius, Antwerp, 1634, fol.

7. De Processione Spiritus Sancti, in Leo Allatius, Gruecia Orthodoxa ; a short treatise.

8. Ἔκφρασις τοῦ αὐγουστεῶνος, a description of the column erected by Justinian the Great in commemoration of his victories over the Persians, in the church of St. Sophia in Constantinople. It was published by Boivin in his Notes to Nicephorus Gregoras.

9. Several minor works.

(Leo Allatius, Diatribat de Geogiis ; Hankius, Script. Byzant. ; Fabrisbc. Bibl. Graec. volt. vii. p. 775, &c.)

 
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