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Nicetas Choniates

NICETAS CHONIATES

Incorrectly called Akominatos, younger brother of Michael Choniates, theologian important Byzantine historian; b. Chonae (Phrygia), 1140; d. Nicaea, 1213. As a child, Nicetas went to Constantinople to study under the guidance of his elder brother. Entering civil service, he became governor of Philippopolis, where he witnessed the destruction caused by armies of frederick i barba rossa on the Third crusade. He served as imperial secretary under Isaac II Angelus.

After the sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, Nicetas fled to the court of Theodore I Lascaris in Nicaea, where he turned to writing. Nicetas proved to be one of the better theologians of the time. As a model for his "Treasury of Orthodoxy" he used the "Panoply of Dogma" by Euthymius Zigabenes. Nicetas's chief work is a Chronicle of 21 books covering the period from 1118 to 1206. In this work he used the treatise of Eustathius of Thessalonica in describing the capture of that region by normans in 1185.

Because of his power of vivid description, he was considered the most brilliant historian of medieval Byzantium after Psellus; Nicetas was a fervent Greek patriot, reflecting the rising tide of Byzantine nationalism. He was unusually objective and reliable despite his experiences with the Crusaders' armies. His works helped to make the epoch of the Comneni one of the most brilliant and flourishing periods of Byzantine historiography.

Bibliography: Patrologa Graeca, ed. j. p. migne (Paris 185766) 139:3191057, 11011447; 140:9282,122145. r. ceillier, Histoire générale des auteurs sacrés et ecclésiastiques (Paris 172983) 14:117677; Table 2:208. l. petit, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., (Paris 190350) 14.1:316318; 16:20. k. krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur (Munich 1890) 281286. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 663666. g. ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State tr. j. hussey (Oxford 1956) 311313.

[m. c. hilferty]

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