The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Bryennius




, a Greek priest and eloquent preacher, died between a. d. 1431 and 1438. He is the author of a great number of treatises on religious subjects, as well as of several letters to distinguished persons of his time respecting theological and ecclesiastical matters. His works were first published under the title " 'Iw(r?}(£ /uora%oiJ rov Bpvevviov rd evpeOevra. Si' ETn^eAeias Evyeviov, alclkovov tt?s BouAryapeias, 07817 to irp&rov t^ttois eKo\)0ei/Ta," three volumes, 8vo. Leipzig, 1768—1784. This edition contains only the Greek text. Eugenius, diaconus in Bul­ garia, was in possession of a fine manuscript of the works of Bryennius, and he is the author of a life of Bryennius contained in the preface to the Leip­ zig edition. The works of Bryennius were known and published in extracts long before the complete edition of them appeared. Leo Allatius refers to, and gives extracts from, several of his treatises, such as " Orationes II de Futuro Judicio et Sem- piterna Beatitudine," in which the author main­ tained peculiar views respecting purgatory; " Ora- tio de Sancta Trinitate;" " Oratio de Transfigura- tione Domini;" " Oratio de Domini Cracifixione ;" &c. The style of Bryennius is remarkably pure for his time. (Leo Allat. De Libris et Rebus Eccles. Grace, parsi. pp. 136,141,143,237, &c., 311, 339- 343, De Consensu Utriusque Ecclesiae, pp. 529, 837, 863, &c.; Cave, Hist. Liter. Appendix., p. 121; Fa­ bric. Bibl. Graec. xi. p. 659, &c.) [W. P.]

BRYENNIUS, MA'NUEL (Moww^X Epv&- wos), a Greek writer on music, is probably identi­ cal with one Manuel Bryennius, the contemporary of the emperor Andronicus I., who reigned from 1282 till 1328. Bryennius wrote 'Apjuoi/i/co, or a commentary on the theory of music, which is di­ vided into three books, in the first of which he frequently dwells upon the theory of Euclid, while in the second and third books he has chiefly in view that of Ptolemy the musician. The learned Meibomius intended to publish this work, and to add it to his " Antiquae Musicae Autores Septem," Amsterdam, 1652 ; but he was prevented from ac­ complishing his purpose. The " Harmonica" hav­ ing attracted the attention of John Wallis, who perused the Oxford MSS., he published it in 1680 together with the "Harmonica" of Ptolemy and some other ancient musicians ; he also added a Latin translation. The "Harmonica" of both Bryen­ nius and Ptolemy are contained in the third volume of Wallis's works, Oxford, 1699. (Fabric. Bibl. Graec. iii. pp. 648, 649; Labbe, Biblioth. Nov. MSS. p. 118.) [W. P.]

BRYENNIUS, NICE'PHORUS (Nt/o^rfpos Bpuej/i/ios), the accomplished husband of Anna Comnena, was born at Orestias in Macedonia in the middle of the eleventh century of the Christian aera. He was the son, or more probably the ne­phew, of another Nicephorus Bryennius, who is re­nowned in Byzantine history as one of the first generals of his time, and who, having revolted against the emperor Michael VII. Ducas Parapi-naces, assumed the imperial title at Dyrrhachium in 1071. Popular opinion was in favour of the usurper, but he had to contend with a third rival, Nicephorus Botaniates, who was supported by the aristocracy and clergy, and who succeeded in de­posing Michael and in becoming recognized as em­peror under the name of Nicephorus III. The contest then lay between Nicephorus Botaniates and Nicephorus Bryennius, against whom the for-


mer sent an army commanded by Alexis Conrnenng, who afterwards became emperor. Bryennius was defeated and made prisoner by Alexis near Cala-brya in Thrace: he was treated by the victor with kindness; but Basil, the emperor's minister, order­ed his eyes to be put out. His son, or nephew, the subject of this article, escaped the fate of his relative; and no sooner had Alexis Comnenus as­cended the throne (1081), than the name of Bry-ennius became conspicuous as the emperor's most faithful friend.

Bryennius was not only distinguished by bodily beauty and military talents, but also by his learn­ing, the affability of his manners, and the wisdom he shewed in the privy council of the emperor. During the first differences with the crusaders, he was one of the chief supports of the throne; and, in order to reward him for his eminent services, Alexis created for him the dignity of panhyperse-bastos—a title until then unknown in the code of Byzantine ceremonies, and which gave the bearer the rank of Caesar. But Bryennius is also called Caesar, and we must therefore suppose that this title was formally conferred upon him. The greatest mark of confidence, however, which Alexis bestow­ed upon him was the hand of his daughter, Anna Comnena, with whom Bryennius lived in happiness during forty years. Bryennius distinguished him­self in the war between Alexis and Bohemond, prince of Antioch, and negotiated the peace of 1108 to the entire satisfaction of his sovereign.

Anna Comnena and the empress Irene tried to persuade the emperor to name Bryennius his successor; but Alexis would not deprive his son John of his natural rights. After the death of Alexis in 1118, and the accession of John, Anna and Bryennius conspired against the young em­peror, but the conspiracy failed. [anna comnena.] The cause of its failure was the refusal of Bryen­nius to act in the decisive moment, for which ho was severely blamed by his haughty wife. They were punished with confiscation of their estates and banishment to Oenoe, now Unieh, on the Black Sea, where they led a retired life during several years. Bryennius afterwards recovered the favour of the emperor. In 1137 he went to Cilicia and Syria with the intention of relieving the siege of Antioch by the crusaders; but ill health compelled him to return to Constantinople, where he died soon afterwards.

Bryennius is the author of a work entitled "TAT/ tffTopias, which is a history of the reign of the em­perors Isaac I. Comnenus, Constantine XI. Ducas, Romanus III. Diogenes, and Michael VII. Ducas Parapinaces ; his intention was to write also the history of the following emperors, but death pre­vented him from carrying his design into execution. This work, which is divided into four books, is one of the most valuable of the Byzantine histories, and is distinguished by the clearness of the narrative. Its principal value arises from its author 1 eing not only a witness but also one of the chief Laders in the events which he relates, and from his being accustomed to, and having the power of forming a judgment upon, important affairs. The editio prin-ceps forms part of the Paris collection of the Byzan­tines, and was published by Pierre Poussines at the end of Procopius, Paris, 1661, fol., with notes and a Latin translation. The editor, who dedicated the work to Christina, queen of Sweden, perused two MSS., one of Cujas, and the other of Favre de St.

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of