Mango, Cyril (Alexander) 1928-

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MANGO, Cyril (Alexander) 1928-

PERSONAL: Born April 14, 1928, in Istanbul, Turkey; son of Alexander A. and Adelaide (Damonov) Mango; married Mabel Grover, 1953 (marriage ended); married Susan A. Gerstel, 1964 (marriage ended); married Maria C. Mundell, 1976; children: (first marriage) a daughter; (second marriage) a daughter. Education: University of St. Andrews, M.A., 1949; University of Paris, Doctor of History, 1953.

ADDRESSES: Home—12 High St., Brill, Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 9ST, England.

CAREER: Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Center, Washington, DC, instructor, 1955-58, lecturer, 1958-61, associate professor, 1961-63, professor of Byzantine archaeology, 1968-73; University of London, King's College, London, England, Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and of Byzantine History, Language, and Literature, 1963-68; Oxford University, Oxford, England, Bywater and Sotheby Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek, 1973-95. Visiting associate professor of Byzantine history, University of California, Berkeley, 1960-61.

MEMBER: Society of Antiquaries (fellow), British Academy (fellow).


(Translator and author of introduction) Photius I, The Homilies of Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1958.

The Brazen House: A Study of the Vestibule of the Imperial Palace of Constantinople, I kommission hos Munksgaard (Copenhagen, Denmark), 1959.

The Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul, Dumbarton Oaks (Washington, DC), 1962.

(With Ekrem Akurgal and Richard Ettinghausen) Treasures of Turkey, Zwemmer (London, England), 1967.

(With David Jacobs) Constantinople, City on the Golden Horn (juvenile nonfiction), American Heritage Publishing Co. (New York, NY), 1969.

(Compiler) The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453: Sources and Documents, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1972.

Byzantine Architecture, Abrams (New York, NY), 1976.

Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1980, Scribner (New York, NY), 1981.

Byzantium and Its Image: History and Culture of the Byzantine Empire and Its Heritage, Variorum (London, England), 1984.

Le développement urbain de Constantinople, IVe-VIIe siècles, Diffusion de Boccard (Paris, France), 1985.

(Translator and author of commentary) Nikephoros, Short History, Dumbarton Oaks (Washington, DC), 1990.

Studies on Constantinople, Variorum (Brookfield, VT), 1993.

(Editor, with Gilbert Dagron) Constantinople and Its Hinterland, Varorium (Brookfield, VT), 1995.

(Translator and contributor) The Deacon Ignatios, The Correspondence of Ignatios, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington, DC), 1997.

(Translator and author of commentary) Theophanes, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History, A.D. 284-813, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(Editor) The Oxford History of Byzantium, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Cyril Mango is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on the ancient Byzantine Empire. In his books, Mango brings to life the art, architecture, and culture of a world that witnessed the growth of Christianity and left behind a rich cultural legacy. The world that Professor Mango reconstructs is a world neglected by many recent historians. For this reason, Mango's works stand out, as do his insights into a culture which, for many, remains alien. In a New York Review of Books discussion of one of Mango's early books, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, Peter Brown stated: "Professor Cyril Mango's admirable collection … encourages us to listen in to the Byzantines themselves talking about their art; but what we hear is an alien language: early Christians insist on saying very different things from what we would when we stand before the same monuments as they had visited and commissioned." Mango allows the Byzantine Empire to come to life by illuminating the aspects of it that have become obscure to modern minds.

A critic for Choice wrote of The Art of the Byzantine Empire: "The student has never been so well served: virtually every important document on Byzantine art is represented at least in part. Others, obscure but revelatory, will be new to most scholars." In Brown's opinion, the great value of The Art of the Byzantine Empire is in Professor Mango's ability to present his material in context. The book, noted Brown, "helps to place Christian art firmly in its context at the time when Christianity became the public religion of the empire…. In these texts, we seldom find ourselves in front of an isolated artifact; we are immersed in the bustle of an ancient time."

These ancient times were brought to life again in Professor Mango's work Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome. This book is divided into three sections. In "Aspects of Byzantine Life," Mango discusses the social and cultural rules that governed daily life. In "The Conceptual World of Byzantium," the author explores then-popular ideas about the universe and its inhabitants, and in "The Legacy," he relates the main features of Byzantine literature and art. In his Times Educational Supplement review, Robert Browning discussed the author's organization of his work: "As Mango himself disarmingly recognizes, this is a highly eclectic approach. Many topics are left out of [the] account or [are] merely mentioned in passing…. Sometimes the problem is the scarcity or obscurity of evidence. But in the main what has shaped the book is the author's own judgment of what is important and what is not…. Onemay occasionally raise an eyebrow at what he deems to be important." Browning also criticized Mango's view of Byzantine life as static over the course of its thousand-year existence, stating: "In many chapters of the book the thousand years of the Byzantine empire are treated as homogeneous and unchanging…. [Consequently] Mango is inclined to use evidence from one period for inferences about another. When he describes the Byzantine ideal of the good life he offers a mosaic of citations from the fourth-century Fathers…. Does this really tell us about how men saw the good life in the twelfth century, or the fourteenth?"

Despite such criticisms, many other reviewers were overwhelmingly favorable in their comments. "Works like this," asserted a writer for Virginia Quarterly Review, "if only there were more of them, would undo the mischief done by Gibbon. Because the master ignored Byzantium, … because of Edward Gibbons's foolish prejudices and unforgiveable ignorance, we in the West still know next to nothing of the glory that was the Byzantine Empire." Browning added, "Let us hope that [Mango] will go on to write another book as elegant as this…. Fewareso well qualified to do so, both by knowledge of the evidence and by acuity of critical judgment."

The Oxford History of Byzantium is yet another of Mango's contributions to the appreciation of Byzantine culture. This volume, edited by the professor, presents a history as written by various contributors. Since Byzantine civilization endured for more than one thousand years, the subject is "enormous," as Robert J. Andrews noted in Library Journal, though the volume focuses on vital cultural and political issues of the era. The end result is a "remarkable achievement," in Andrews's opinion, made even more valuable because of the varying perspectives offered by the different essayists. A Contemporary Review contributor further noted: "The wealth of illustrations helps to bring this lost civilisation vividly back to life."



Aetos: Studies in Honour of Cyril Mango Presented to Him on April 14, 1998, B. G. Teubner (Stuttgart, Germany), 1998.


Books, December, 1998, review of Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome, p. 27.

Choice, April, 1973, July-August, 1981; June, 2003, B. S. Bachrach, review of The Oxford History of Byzantium, p. 1800.

Contemporary Review, February, 2003, review of The Oxford History of Byzantium, p. 123.

Encounter, December, 1986, review of Byzantine Architecture p. 51.

History Today, May, 2003, Charles Freeman, review of The Oxford History of Byzantium, p. 65.

International History Review, December, 2003, Sebastian Brock, review of The Oxford History of Byzantium, p. 894.

Library Journal, October 15, 2002, Robert J. Andrews, review of The Oxford History of Byzantium, p. 85.

New York Review of Books, October 3, 1974, Peter Brown, review of The Art of the Byzantine Empire.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 1994, review of Studies on Constantinople, p. 9.

Religious Studies Review, October, 1987, review of The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453, p. 354; April, 1999, review of The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, p. 198.

Reprint Bulletin Book Reviews, number 3, 1986, review of The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453, p. 51.

Speculum, January, 1997, review of Constantinople and Its Hinterland, p. 196.

Times Educational Supplement, July 22, 1994, Robert Browning, review of Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome, p. 26.

Times Literary Supplement, September 26, 1980; April 13, 1984, review of Byzantium and Its Image, p. 395.

Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1981.*