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Imperial Visions of Late ByzantiumManuel II Palaiologos and Rhetoric in Purple$
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Florin Leonte

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474441032

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474441032.001.0001

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Voices of Consent: Imperial Rhetoricians, Theatra and Patronage

Voices of Consent: Imperial Rhetoricians, Theatra and Patronage

(p.58) 2 Voices of Consent: Imperial Rhetoricians, Theatra and Patronage
Imperial Visions of Late Byzantium

Florin Leonte

Edinburgh University Press

The chapter argues that, unlike the ecclesiastics, the rhetoricians maintained the idea of the ruler’s omnipotence. To a certain extent, their attachment to Manuel II Palaiologos and to the imperial absolutist idea can be correlated with their individual immediate concerns: the emperor was still one of the major patrons of literary activities and could also provide positions at court or other benefits deriving from his largesse. Remarkably, most of the rhetoricians’ texts added to the standard set of imperial virtues one particular image: the emperor as eloquent rhetorician and educator of both his son and his subjects. By stressing the pedagogical and the rhetorical dimension of the imperial persona, these rhetoricians reworked the old idea of the philosopher-king into an idea of emperor-rhetorician who acted as a teacher in a quest to improve his governing. Finally, their intense activity in promoting the emperor is indicative of the emperor’s efforts to cultivate court-rhetorical activities, a situation which contrasted with his father’s, John V’s, approach.

Keywords:   Rhetoricians, rhetoric, teaching, emperor, Byzantine, philosopher-king

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