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Michael Psellus or Michael Psellus the Younger or the Younger Michael Psellus

3. Michael Constantinus Psellus the younger, a far more celebrated person, flourished in the 11th century of our era. He was born at Constantinople, of a consular and patrician family, A. D. 1020. When five years old he was placed in the hands of a tutor, to whom, however, he is said to have been far less indebted than to his own prodigious industry and talent. He afterwards studied at Athens, and excelled in all the learning of the age; so that he was a proficient at once in theology, jurisprudence, physics, mathematics, philosophy, and history. He taught philosophy, rhetoric, and dialectics, at Constantinople, where he stood forth as almost the last upholder of the falling cause of learning. The emperors honoured him with the title of Prince of the Philosophers (Φιλοσόφων ὕπατος), and did not disdain to use his counsels, and in effecting their elevation he even had a share. The period during which he thus flourished at Constantinople extends over the reigns of Constantinus Monomachus (A. D. 1042-1054), his empress Theodora (to A. D. 1056), and Michael Stratonicus, who succeeded Theodora, and who entrusted Psellus with a conciliatory mission to Isaac Comnenus, whom the soldiers had saluted emperor in A. D. 1057. He still remained in favour with both these emperors, and with Constantinus Ducas, who succeeded Comnenus in A.D. 1060, and also with his successor Eudocia, and her three sons. When Romanus Diogenes, whom Eudocia had married, was also declared emperor (A. D. 1068), Psellus was one of his counsellors ; but three years afterwards he was the chief adviser, among the senators, of the measure by which Diogenes was deposed, and Michael VII. Ducas, the son of Constantinus Ducas, elected in his place, A. D. 1071. Michael was the pupil of Psellus himself, by whom he had been so thoroughly imbued with the love of letters, that, in spite of the remonstrances of Psellus, he devoted himself to study and writing poetry, to the neglect of his imperial duties. To this folly Michael added the ingratitude of permitting his tutor to be supplanted in his favour by Joannes Italus, a man of far less talent, but an eloquent sophist, and a great favourite with the nobles, in discussions with whom the emperor spent his time. The deposition of Michael Ducas (A. D. 1078) was followed by the fall of Psellus, who was compelled by the new emperor, Nicephorns Botanias, to retire into a monastery; and in his dishonoured old age he witnessed the elevation of his rival to the title of Prince of the Philosophers, which he imself had so long held, and which the next emperor, Alexius Comnenus, conferred upon Joannes, in A. D. 1081. Psellus appears to have lived at least till A. D. 1105; some suppose that he was still alive in 1110, the thirtieth year of Alexius Comnenus.


He was not only the most accomplished scholar, but also the most voluminous writer of his age. His works are both in prose and poetry, on a vast variety of subjects, and distinguished by an eloquence and taste which are worthy of a better period.

A great number of the works of Psellus are still unedited. Of those which have been printed there is no complete collection.

Printed Works

In 1532 a work was printed at Venice, in 8vo., and reprinted at Paris in 1541, in 12mo., entitled Pselli Introductio in et Philosophiae Modus : Synopsis quinque vocum et decem Categoriarum, together with similar works by Blemmidas and Georgius Pachymerius. With this exception, all his works have been published singly, as follows :--

1. Περὶ ἐνεργείας δαιμόνων διάλογος,
de Operatione Daemonum Dialogus


Gr. ed. G. Gualminus, Par. 1615, 8vo. ; carelessly reprinted, Kilon. 1688, 12mo.



Gr. Lat. ed. Phil. Jac. Maussacus, Tolos. 1615, 8vo.; re-edited by Jo. Steph. Bernardus, Lugd. Bat. 1745, 8vo. (It has been already stated that some scholars attribute these works to the elder Psellus.)



Gr. Lat. ed. a Elia Ehingero F., Aug. Vind. 1597, 8vo. 4. Mathematical Works, namely, (1) complete: Pselli Opus in quattuor Mathematicas Disciplinas, Arithmeticam, Musicam, Geometriam, et Astronomliam, ed. Astronomiam, ed. Arsenio, Archiepisc. Monembas. Gr. Venet. 1532, 8vo.; reprinted, Paris. 1545, 12mo.; re-edited by G. Xylander, Basil. 1556, 8vo.; (2) separate portions ; Geometria, stud. M. C. Meureri, Lips. 1589, 8vo.; περὶ ἀριθμητικῆς σύνοψις, Arithmetices Compendium, Gr. Paris. in off. Wechel. 1538, 4to.; reprinted, with a Latin version, Paris. 1545, 8vo.; Σύνοψις μονσικῆς, Compendium Musices, Gr. Paris. ap. A. Wechel. 1556, 4to.


containing the Carmina politica de Dogmate, Carmina de Nomuocanone, and Tractatus de septen sacris synodis oeculoenicis


Gr. Lat. per Fr. Bosquetum, Paris. 1632, 8vo.; reedited, with the omission of the last of the three works, by Corn. Sibenius, in the Novus Thesaurus Juris civilis et canonici of Ger. Meermannus, vol. i. pp. 37, &c., 1571, fol.; again re-edited by L. H. Zeucherus, Lips. 1789, 8vo.; reprinted in the Auctores Graeci Minores, vol. ii. Lips. 1796.

6. Διδασκαλία παντοδαπή (


Gr. Lat. in the old edition of Fabric. Biblioth. Graec. vol. v. pp. 1, &c., Hamb. 1705, 4to.

7. Εἰς τὰς ἁγίας ἑπτὰ συνόδους (


Gr., with the epigrams of Cyrus Theodorus Prodromus, Basil. 1536, 8vo.



first edited, with the similar works of Eusebius, Polychronius, and others, by J. Meursius, Lugd. Bat. 1617, 4to.; reprinted in the works of Meursius, vol. viii. pp. 289, &c., Florent. 1746, fol.; also in the Paris Bibliotheca Patrum, vol. xiii. pp. 681, foll.



Gr. Lat., edited by J. Wegelinus, with the Argumenta contra Nestorianos of Cyril of Alexandria and John of Damascus, Aug. Vind. 1611, 8vo.; another edition, 1698, fol.



Gr. Lat. with Qrigen's Philocalia, Paris, 1624, 4to.



in iambic verse, Gr., stud. Arsenii, in the Praeclara dicta philosophorum, Romae (no date), 8vo.; reprinted, with the Allegories of Heracleides Ponticus, Basil. 1544, 8vo.



Gr. Lat., in the De Symneonum Scriptis Diatriba of Leo Allatius, Paris, 1664, 4to.



Gr., edited by D'Orville, in the Miscellan. Observe. Crit. in Auctores reteres et recentiores, vol. vii. torn. iii. pp. 366, &c. Paris, 1743, 8vo.



in the Excerpta Graecorum et Rhetorum of Leo Allatius, Romae, 1641, 8vo.

15. , i. e.


Gr. Lat., edited by Anselmus Bandurius, in his Imperium Orientale, Paris, 1711, repr. Venet. 1729, folio.



printed with various editions of the Oracula Magica of Zoroaster, 1599. &c.



printed with some editions of Gregory Nazianzen, 1609, 1690.

18. Παράφρασις εἰς τὸ περὶ ἑρμηνίας (


In the Aldine Editio Princeps of Ammonius Hermeas, 1503, folio. (Hoffmann, Lexicon Bibliogr. Script. Graecor. s. v.

Unedited Works of Psellus

For a list of the numerous unedited works of Psellus, see Fabricius and Cave.

Epigram in the Greek Anthology ascribed to Psellus

The Greek Anthology contains one epigram ascribed to Psellus, which, in the absence of any further information, may be ascribed to the younger Michael Psellus, as the most celebrated person of the name. (Brunck, Anal. vol. iii. p. 127; Jacobs, Anth. Graec. vol. iv. p. 97, vol. xiii. p. 918.)

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