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Acropoli'ta, Georgius

Γεώργιος Ἀκροπολίτης), the son of the great logotheta Constantinus Acropolita the elder, belonged to a noble Byzantine family which stood in relationship to the imperial family of the Ducas. (Acropolita, 97.) He was born at Constantinople in 1220 (Ib. 39), but accompanied his father in his sixteenth year to Nicaea, the residence.of the Greek emperor John Vatatzes Ducas. There he continued and finished his studies under Theodorus Exapterigus and Nicephorus Blemmida. (Ib. 32.) The emperor employed him afterwards in diplomatic affairs, and Acropolita shewed himself a very discreet and skilful negociator. In 1255 he commanded the Nicaean army in the war between Michael, despot of Epirus, and the emperor Theodore II. the son and successor of John. But he was made prisoner, and was only delivered in 1260 by the mediation of Michael Palaeologus. Previously to this he had been appointed great logotheta, either by John or by Theodore, whom he had instructed in logic. Meanwhile, Michael Palaeologus was proclaimed emperor of Nicaea in 1260, and in 1261 he expulsed the Latins from Constantinople, and became emperor of the whole East; and from this moment Georgius Acropolita becomes known in the history of the eastern empire as one of the greatest diplomatists. After having discharged the function of ambassador at the court of Constantine, king of the Bulgarians, he retired for some years from public affairs, and made the instruction of youth his sole occupation. But he was soon employed in a very important negociation. Michael, afraid of a new Latin invasion, proposed to pope Clemens IV. to reunite the Greek and the Latin Churches; and negociations ensued which were carried on during the reign of five popes, Clemens IV. Gregory X. John XXI. Nicolaus III. and Martin IV. and the happy result of which was almost entirely owing to the skill of Acropolita. As early as 1273 Acropolita was sent to pope Gregory X. and in 1274, at the Council of Lyons, he confinned by an oath in the emperor's name that that confession of faith which had been previously sent to Constantinople by the pope had been adopted by the Greeks. The reunion of the two churches was afterwards broken off, but not through the fault of Acropolita. In 1282 Acropolita was once more sent to Bulgaria, and shortly after his return he died, in the month of December of the same year, in his 62nd year.


Works


Χρονικὸν ὡς ἐν συνόψι. τῶν ἐν ὑστέροις

Acropolita is the author of several works: the most important of which is a history of the Byzantine empire, under the title Χρονικὸν ὡς ἐν συνόψι. τῶν ἐν ὑστέροις, that is, from the taking of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204, down to the year 1261, when Michael Palaeologus delivered the city from the foreign yoke. The MS. of this work was found in the library of Georgius Cantacuzenus at Constantinople, and afterwards brought to Europe. (Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. vol. vii. p. 768.)

Editions

The first edition of this work, with a Latin translation and notes, was published by Theodorus Douza, Lugd. Batav. 1614, 8vo.; but a more critical one by Leo Allatius, who used a Vatican MS. and divided the text into chapters. It has the title Γεωργίου τοῦ Ἀκροπολίτου τοῦ μεγάλου λογοθέτου χρονικὴ συγγράφη, Georgii Acropolitae, magni Logothetae, Historia, &c. Paris, 1651. fol. This edition is reprinted in the " Corpus Byzantinorum Scriptorum," Venice, 1729, vol. xii.

Assessment

This chronicle contains one of the most remarkable periods of Byzantine history, but it is so short that it seems to be only an abridgment of another work of the same author, which is lost. Acropolita perhaps composed it with the view of giving it as a compendium to those young men whose scientific education he superintended, after his return front his first embassy to Bulgaria. The history of Michael Palaeologus by Pachymeres may be considered as a continuation of the work of Acropolita.


Orations

Besides this work, Acropolita wrote several orations, which he delivered in his capacity as great logotheta, and as director of the negotiations with the pope; but these orations have not been published. Fabricius (vol. vii. p. 471) speaks of a MS. which has the title Περὶ τῶν ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμον ἐτῶν καὶ περὶ τῶν βασιλευσάντων μέχρι ἁλώσεως Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. Georgius, or Gregorius Cyprius, who has written a short encomium of Acropolita, calls him the Plato and the Aristotle of his time. This "encomium" is printed with a Latin translation at the head of the edition of Acropolita by Th. Douza : it contains useful information concerning Acropolita, although it is full of adulation. Further information is contained in Acropolita's history, especially in the latter part of it, and in Pachymeres, 4.28, 6.26, 34, seq.

[W.P]

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