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The fragmentation of Greek elite culture after the Latin conquest disrupted a long tradition for academic concentration in Constantinople. The generations seeking education and further studies after 1204 faced both the difficulty of finding able teachers and the dispersal of Greek literature across geographical and political divides. This paper proposes to trace the career choices and challenges of a select few who eventually successfully negotiated the post-1204 academic reality. Both Nikephoros Blemmydes and Gregory of Cyprus wrote autobiographical works that allow us to catch a glimpse of the choices at hand and they will consequently form the core of analysis. Blemmydes travelled extensively throughout his life in the pursuit of knowledge and at the point when his and Gregory’s lives intersect his fame is such as to attract pupils from afar. Ironically his academic pursuits had at that point intensified to a degree that he became almost inaccessible to prospective students. Gregory describes him as completely retired in his monastic foundation in a scene that could have been inspired be Aristophanes’ Clouds. Gregory had beforehand, as he describes it, escaped Cyprus in search of a teacher and, having failed to meet Blemmydes, he continued his search which suggests both a relative centralization of knowledge in the regions under Laskarid rule and randomness in the quality or accessibility of the teachers.
28. feb. 2014
The Oxford University Byzantine Society's XVI International Graduate Conference: From Constantinople to the frontier