A Byzantine Discussion of Friendship: the Case of Nikephoros Gregoras' Letter Collection Cover Image
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Една византийска дискусия относно приятелството в писмата на Никифор Григора
A Byzantine Discussion of Friendship: the Case of Nikephoros Gregoras' Letter Collection

Author(s): Divna Manolova
Subject(s): Philosophy
Published by: Издателство »Изток-Запад«
Keywords: Byzantine philosophy; epistolar collection; letter; frienship; Nikephoros Gregoras

Summary/Abstract: The present article reconstructs and analyzes two rhetorical strategies of constructing epistolary friendship through the employment of specialized philosophical vocabulary and discussion. Case in point are two late Byzantine letters penned by Nikephoros Gregoras (ca. 1292/1295–1358/1361), a prominent historian, astronomer and philosopher at the Palaiologan court. The first part of the inquiry discusses letter 134, addressed to Ignatios Glabas, metropolitan of Thessaloniki from 1336 to 1341. The second half of the article is dedicated to letter 34, addressed to Maximos Magistros, a monk and later an archimandrite of the Chortaïtes monastery. Both letters seem to be written around the same time, i.e. during the second half of the 1330s. Letter 134 employs Aristotle’s theory of friendship as found in books VIII and IX of Nicomachean Ethics, as well as in Rhetoric. Here, with a subversive maneuver, Gregoras defends the claim that even those not equal in fortune could still be joined by the bond of friendship. Letter 34 exemplifies the opposite strategy: it praises the friendship of those who are the same in nature, employing Plato’s cosmological discussion in the Timaeus, as well as the corresponding commentary by Plutarch. In conclusion, the article argues for the primacy of rhetorical function over philosophical discussion in the two epistolary strategies employed by Gregoras.

  • Issue Year: 2012
  • Issue No: 18
  • Page Range: 125-146
  • Page Count: 23
  • Language: Bulgarian