308. Dominic O'Meara on Michael Psellos

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Dominic O'Meara speaks to Peter about Michael Psellos, focusing especially on his political philosophy.



Further Reading

• D.J. O’Meara (ed.), Psellos: Philosophica minora II (Leipzig: 1989).

• D.J. O’Meara, “On Pythagoreanism V-VII: The Excerpts in Michael Psellus”, in his Pythagoras Revived. Mathematics and Philosophy in Late Antiquity (Oxford: 1989), 53-85.

• D.J. O’Meara, 1998, “Aspects du travail philosophique de Michel Psellus”, in Dissertatiunculae criticae. Festschrift für Günter Christian Hansen (Würzburg: 1998), 431-9.

• D. O’Meara, “Political Philosophy in Michael Psellos: the Chronographia Read in Relation to his Philosphical Work,” in B. Bydén and K. Ierodiakonou (eds), The Many Faces of Byzantine Philosophy (Athens: 2012), 153-70.

• D.J. O’Meara, “Proclus’ Commentary on the Chaldean Oracles and Proclus’ Lost Commentary,” H. Seng (ed.), Platonismus und Esoterik in byzantischem Mittelalter und italienischer Renaissance (Heidelberg: 2013), 45-56.

• D.J. O’Meara, “Michael Psellos,” in S. Gersh (ed.), Interpreting Proclus from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Cambridge: 2014), 165-81.


Seersucker on 14 July 2023

"I alone..."

"Longtime listener, first time commenter" here .... I am trying to track down the provenance of the remark by Psellos with which you begin this interview.  The closest I have come is a passage in the Chronographia, Book VI, 37. "Philosophy, when I first studied it, was moribund as far as its professors were concerned, and I alone revived it, untutored by any masters worthy of mention, and despite my thorough research finding no germ of philosophy either in Greece or in the barbarian world." (This from the online version available via the Internet History Sourcebooks project at Fordham.)  Is this the text you have in mind (if you remember)?  Or is there another place where one can find the more succinct and pointed version you quote?


This is too brief a comment to bear the full weight of my appreciation and profit with which I engage with the podcast (and the books). Even the puns by now!

In reply to by Seersucker

Peter Adamson on 14 July 2023

Psellos quotation

Thanks, glad you are finding the podcast worthwhile!

I got this reference from J. Duffy, “Hellenic Philosophy in Byzantium and the Lonely Mission of Michael Psellos,” in K. Ierodiakonou (ed.), Byzantine Philosophy and its Ancient Sources (Oxford: 2002), 139-56, at 152, and he refers to Oratoria minora 6 according to my old notes but it would probably be better to look it up in Duffy. I have a copy of that book if you need me to do it.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Seersucker on 16 July 2023

Found it

Thank you!  Yes, definitely different from the Chronographia. Duffy provides the Greek original in his footnote, and while I can only sound out (not actually read) that, it's enough to let me appreciate its aphoristic force. 

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