V. Syros / Journal of Early Modern History 14 (2010) 451-504
eval and early modern Italy. It recovers and presents hitherto unknown orneglected material, such as Kottunios’ works and epigrams composed by Greeks in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It brings new authorsto the fore and identiﬁes aspects of their writings that merit inclusion inthe history of Byzantine and post-Byzantine political thought.
Classical Precedents and Sources
Republic and Democracy
Byzantine accounts of the constitutional organization of the Italian city-states were often framed in terms of comparisons with two ancient Greek patterns of political organization, democracy and the mixed constitution,even though the Byzantines’ knowledge of the political history of ancientGreece often comes out as inaccurate or defective.
Te great majority of Byzantine writers expressed a strong predilection for monarchy. Nonethe-less, and although it would certainly be too great a stretch to aﬃrm theexistence of a distinct republican strain within the Byzantine political tra-dition, we do come across isolated defenses of republican or democraticideas or of election as a precondition for healthy governance.Zosimos (Zosimus, who lived from the second half of the ﬁfth century to the beginning of the sixth century) in his
)argues for the desirability of the Republic versus the Empire.
Johannes Irmscher, “Die hellenische Polisideologie und die Byzantiner,” in
Hellenische Poleis: Krise-Wandlung-Wirkung
, ed. Elisabeth C. Welskopf (Berlin, 1974), 3: 1639-67;and, in general, Elizabeth M. Jeﬀreys, “Te Attitudes of Byzantine Chroniclers towards Ancient History,”
49 (1979): 199-238. On Byzantine views on the ancientGreek city-states, see Johannes Irmscher, “L’ideologia ellenica della polis e i Bizantini,”
8 (1982): 71-85. Compare Michael Choniates’ (ca. 1140-1220)description of ancient Athens in Paul Speck, “Eine byzantinische Darstellung der anti-ken Stadt Athen,”
28 (1975): 415-18, English trans. as “A Byzantine Depictionof Ancient Athens,” in idem,
Understanding Byzantium: Studies in Byzantine Historical Sources
, ed. Sarolta akács (Aldershot, 2003), no. V (29-32). See also Silvio G. Mercati,“Intorno alla elegia di Michele Acominato sulla decadenza della città di Atene,” in
Eis mnemen Spyridonos Lamprou
(Athens, 1935), 423-27, in
, 1: 483-88.
A suvey of middle Byzantine views of ancient Rome appears in Athanasios Marko-poulos, “Roman Antiquarianism: Aspects of the Roman Past in the Middle ByzantinePeriod (9th-11th Centuries),” in
Proceedings of the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies
, vol. 1:
, ed. Elizabeth Jeﬀreys (Aldershot, 2006), 277-97.