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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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The Didactic Voice: The Foundations of an Imperial Education

The Didactic Voice: The Foundations of an Imperial Education

(p.124) 4 The Didactic Voice: The Foundations of an Imperial Education
Imperial Visions of Late Byzantium

Florin Leonte

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter analyses how the emperor fashioned his didactic voice and how it functioned in a typical text of advice. It argues that the Foundations combines the tradition of political advice inaugurated by Agapetos, the gnomic tradition, and the tradition of theological centuria providing moral and theological principles. The generic strands present in the text allow for a multifaceted authorial voice less formal than that in previous similar texts. The Foundations stands as more than a list of principles for the emperor’s conduct: it is rather a complex guide for understanding, managing and implementing ethical axioms. Manuel injected a degree of political realism and paternal intimacy, features absent from the court rhetoric of the period. In re-elaborating the gnomic tradition, Manuel partly positioned himself outside the traditional tenets transmitted via other texts of advice. This chapter suggests that one should shy away from placing the Foundations in the category of ‘princely mirrors’, at least because that fails to explain the core features of the text: intimacy and political advice.

Keywords:   Didactic literature, princely mirrors, teaching, father-son relation, kephalaia, wisdom literature

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