This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources prepared and mounted by Paul Stephenson.



Theophanes Continuatus is the name conventionally applied to a collection of texts preserved in a single eleventh-century manuscript (Vat. gr. 167). It comprises four separate sections covering the period AD 813-961. The first section, in four books, (813-67) continues Theophanes Confessor, but in a very different style: the anonymous continuator abandons Theophanes' strict annalistic format. The second part (867-86) comprises a biography of the emperor Basil I, the so-called Vita Basilii. This was almost certainly written before the first four books, which were added to fix the Life of Basil I into the grand narrative of Roman history. The third section (886-948) of Theophanes Continuatus is very close to Symeon Logothete, and either draws on that work or -- if as has been suggested elsewhere, the Logothete's Chronicle was written later -- on the same lost sources, including a hagiographical account of the life and reign of Romanos I Lekapenos. The fourth section (948-61) has been attributed to Theodore Daphnopates, who was the head of the imperial chancery (protasekretis) under Lekapenos, and who before his death (after 961) achieved the rank of magistros.

The first sections of the work were commissioned by the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus to present the"'Macedonian" imperial dynasty in a favourable light. The Vita Basilli eulogizes his grandfather, who founded the Macedonian dynasty, while the section which corresponds to the Logothete's chronicle has numerous interpolations of a hagiographical nature which enhance the pro-Macedonian aspect. The sections selected for translation illustrate this perspective, and take as their main focus the fluctuating relationship between Constantine VII, his regents, Romanos Lekapenos, and the ruler of Bulgaria, Symeon (d. 927). Although the Greek is fairly straightforward, I have benefited from access to a partial, handwritten translation of chapters relating to Symeon by Jonathan Shepard.


Basic bibliography

A. Kazhdan, A History of Byzantine Literature, II. 850-1000, ed. C. Angelidi (Athens, 2006), 137-52.

A new edition with English translation of the Vita Basilii was promised by I. Sevcenko before his death in December 2009. Currently, this is slated to appear in May 2011, but the date has changed frequently.

Paul Stephenson, October 1998

Revised January 2012