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Synopsis

It is a history of the Byzantine emperors during the century leading up to Psellos' own time. It covers the reigns of fourteen emperors and empresses, beginning with the almost 50-year-long reign of Basil II, the "Bulgar-Slayer" (976–1025), and ending some time during the reign of Michael VII Doukas (1071–1078). Unlike most other historiographical works of the period, it places much more emphasis on the description of characters than on details of political and military events. It also includes very extensive autobiographical elements about Psellos' political and intellectual development, and it gives far greater weight to those periods when Psellos held an active position in politics, giving the whole work almost the character of political memoirs. It is believed to have been written in two parts. The first covers the emperors up to Isaac I Komnenos. The second, which has a much more strongly apologetic tone, is in large parts an encomium on Psellus' current protectors, the emperors of the Doukas dynasty.

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