), also called CI'NAMUS (Κίναμος
), and SI'NNAMUS (Σίνναμος
), one of the most distinguished Byzantine historians, and the best European historian of his time, lived in the twelfth century of the Christian aera.
He was one of the "Grammatici" or " Notarii" of the emperor Manuel Comnenus, who reigned from A. D. 1143 till 1180.
The functions of the imperial notaries, the first of whom was the proto-notarius, were nearly those of private secretaries appointed for both private and state affairs, and they had a considerable influence upon the administration of the empire. Cinnamus was attached to the person of Manuel at a youthful age, and probably as early as the year of his accession, and he accompanied that great emperor in his numerous wars in Asia as well as in Europe.
Favoured by such circumstances, he undertook to write the history of the reign of Manuel, and that of his predecessor and father, the emperor Calo-Joannes; and so well did he accomplish his task, that there is no history written at that period which can be compared with his work.
The full title of this work is Ἐπιτομὴ τῶν κατορθωμάτων τῷ μακαρίτῃ βασιλεῖ καὶ πορφυρογεννήτῳ κυρίῳ Ἰωάννῃ τῷ Κομνηνῷ, καὶ ἀφήγησις τῶν πραχθέντων τῷ ἀοιδίμῳ υἱͅῷ αὐτοῦ τῷ βασιλεῖ καὶ πορφυρογεννήτῳ κυρίῳ Μανουὴλ τὧ Κομνηνῷ ποιηθεῖσα Ἰωάννῃ βασιλικῷ γραμματικῷ Κιννάμῳ
It is divided into six books, or more correctly into seven, the seventh, however, being not finished: it is not known if the author wrote more than seven books; but as to the seventh, which in the Paris edition forms the end of the sixth and last book, it is evidently mutilated. as it ends abruptly in the account of the siege of Iconium by the emperor Manuel in 1176. As Cinnamus was still alive when Manuel died (1180), it is almost certain that he finished the history of his whole reign; and the loss of the latter part of his work is the more to be regretted, as it would undoubtedly have thrown light on many circumstances connected with the conduct of the Greek aristocracy, and especially of Andronicus Comnenus, afterwards emperor, during the short reign of the infant son and successor of Manuel, Alexis II.
In the first book Cinnamus gives a short and concise account of the reign of Calo-Joannes, and in the following he relates the reign of Manuel.
Possessed of great historical knowledge, Cinnamus records the events of his time as a man accustomed to form an opinion of his own upon important affairs; and, being himself a statesman who took part in the administration of the empire, and enjoyed the confidence of the emperor Manuel, he is always master of his subject, and never sacrifices leading circumstances to amusing trifles. His knowledge was not confined to the political state of the Greek empire ; he was equally well acquainted with the state of Italy, Germany, Hungary, and the adjoining barbarous kingdoms, the Latin principalities in the East, and the empires of the Persians and Turks. His view of the origin of the power of the popes, in the fifth book, is a fine instance of historical criticism, sound and true without being a tedious and dry investigation, and producing the effect of a powerful speech.
He is, however, often violent in his attacks on the papal power, and is justly reproached with being prejudiced against the Latin princes, although he deserves that reproach much less than Nicetas and Anna Comnena. His praise of the emperor Manuel is exaggerated, but he is very far from making a romantic hero of him, as Anna Comnena did of the emperor Alexis. Cinnamus is partial and jealous of his enemies, rivals, or such as are above him; he is impartial and just where he deals with his equals, or those below him, or such persons and events as are indifferent to him personally.
In short, Cinnamus shews that he was a Byzantine Greek. His style is concise and clear, except in some instances, where he embodies his thoughts in rhetorical figures or poetical ornaments of more show than beauty.
This defect also is common to his countrymen; and if somebody would undertake to trace the origin of the deviation of the writers, poets, and artists among the later Greeks from the classical models left them by their forefathers, he would find it in the supernatural tendency of minds imbued with Christianism being in perpetual contact with the sensualism of the Mohammedan faith and the showy materialism of Eastern imagination. Xenophon, Thucydides, and Procopius were the models of Cinnamus; and though he cannot be compared with the two former, still he may be ranked with Procopius, and he was not unworthy to be the disciple of such masters. His work will ever be of interest to the scholar and the historian.
Leo Allatius made Cinnamus an object of deep study, and intended to publish his work; so did Petrus Possinus also; but, for some reasons unknown, they renounced their design.
The first edition is that of Cornelius Tollius, with a Latin translation and some notes of no great consequence, Utrecht, 1652, 4to.
Tollius dedicated this edition, which he divided into four books, to the states of Utrecht, and in his preface gives a brilliant descriptiori of the literary merits of Cinnamus.
The second edition is that in the Paris collection of the Byzantines by Du Cange, published at Paris, 1670, fol., together with the description of the church of St. Sophia at Constantinople, by Paulus Silentiarius, and the editor's notes to Nicephorus Bryennius and Anna Comnena.
It is divided into six books. Du Cange corrected the text, added a new Latin translation, such of the notes of Tollius as were of some importance, and an excellent philologico-historical commentary of his own; he dedicated his edition to the minister Colbert, one of the principal protectors of the French editors of the Byzantines. This edition has been reprinted in the Venice collection, 1729, fol. Cinnamus has lately been published at Bonn, 1836, 8vo., together with Nicephorus Bryennius, by Augustus Meineke
; the work is divided into seven books.
The editor gives the Latin translation of Du Cange revised in several instances, and the prefaces, dedications, and commentaries of Tollius and Du Cange.
Hankius, De Script. Byzant. Graec.
p. 516, &c.; Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vii. p. 733, &c.; the Prefaces
of Tollius and Du Cange; Leo Allatius, De Psellis,
p. 24, &c.