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Eustathius


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(12th cent. ad), born and educated in Constantinople, was deacon at St Sophia and taught rhetoric (and probably grammar) in the patriarchal school until 1178, when he became metropolitan of Thessalonica, in which position he continued till his death (c.1194). His works of classical scholarship were written before 1178. Henceforward he devoted himself to the practical duties of his spiritual office and to combating the prevailing corruption of monastic life.

works (1) Classical: Commentary on Pindar, of which only the introduction survives; this gives information on lyric poetry (especially Pindar's) and Pindar's life, and shorter notes on the Olympian Games and the pentathlon. The Commentary on Dionysius Periegetes contains discursive scholia, valuable for citations from earlier geographers, historians, the unabridged Stephanus of Byzantium, and the lost works of Arrian. The Commentaries on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (Parekbolai eis tēn Homērou Iliada Odysseia) are a vast compilation, in which the Iliad commentary is twice as long as that on the Odyssey. They are evidently based on Eustathius' lectures. Prefaces deal with the differences between the poems and with the cultural importance of Homer. The notes discuss chiefly questions of language, mythology (sometimes interpreted allegorically), history, and geography. Their value consists particularly in the assemblage of material drawn from the old scholia and the lost works of earlier scholars and lexicographers. His quotations from classical authors are taken mostly at second hand. He often illustrates a point by reference to the customs and observances of his own time and to contemporary vernacular Greek.(2) His other works include an account of the conquest of Thessalonica by the Normans (1185), in which he was personally involved. It is a perceptive account of life in an occupied city, in which victors and vanquished alike are corrupted and demoralized. He also wrote polemics, e.g. the famous Inquiry into Monastic Life; letters to the emperor, church dignitaries, and others; speeches and addresses, homilies and tracts, some of which have historical value. Eustathius was the outstanding scholar of his time, enthusiastic for traditional learning, for the preservation of books, for sound principles of education, and for the moral reawakening of monasticism. He is regarded as a saint by the Orthodox Church, and portrayed in a fresco in the church of the Virgin in the Serbian royal monastery of Gračanica (c.1321); see STEPHANUS OF BYZANTIUM; ARRIAN.

(1) Classical: Commentary on Pindar, of which only the introduction survives; this gives information on lyric poetry (especially Pindar's) and Pindar's life, and shorter notes on the Olympian Games and the pentathlon. The Commentary on Dionysius Periegetes contains discursive scholia, valuable for citations from earlier geographers, historians, the unabridged Stephanus of Byzantium, and the lost works of Arrian. The Commentaries on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (Parekbolai eis tēn Homērou Iliada Odysseia) are a vast compilation, in which the Iliad commentary is twice as long as that on the Odyssey. They are evidently based on Eustathius' lectures. Prefaces deal with the differences between the poems and with the cultural importance of Homer. The notes discuss chiefly questions of language, mythology (sometimes interpreted allegorically), history, and geography. Their value consists particularly in the assemblage of material drawn from the old scholia and the lost works of earlier scholars and lexicographers. His quotations from classical authors are taken mostly at second hand. He often illustrates a point by reference to the customs and observances of his own time and to contemporary vernacular Greek.

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Subjects: Classical Studies.


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