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Geo'rgius PISIDA

44. PISIDA (the PISIDIAN). The name of this writer occurs in the genitive case, in which it is commonly found, under the various forms, Πισσίδον, Πισίδου, Πισιδίου, Πησίδου, Πησίδη, Πισσίδους, Πισίδονς: in Latin it is written Pisides and Pisida He was, as his name indicates, a Pisidian by birth, and flourished in the time of the emperor Heraclius (who reigned from A. D. 610 to 641), and of the patriarch Sergius (who occupied the see of Constantinople from A. D. 610 to 639). In the MSS. of his works he is described as a deacon, and Χαροτοφύλαξ, Chartophylax, " record keeper," or Σκευοφύλαξ, Sceuophylax, " keeper of the sacred vessels," of the Great Church (that of St. Sophia) at Constantinople. By Nicephorus Callisti he is termed " Refendarius" (Ῥεφενδάριος a designation not equivalent, as some have supposed, to Chartophylax, but describing a different office. We have no means of determining if he held all these offices together or in succession, or if any of the titles are incorrectly given, He appears to have accompanied the emperor Heraclius in his first expedition Against the Persians, and to have enjoyed the favour both of that emperor and of Sergius, but nothing further is known of him.


The works of George the Pisidian are as follows: --

1. Εἰς τὴν κατὰ Περσῶν Ἐκστρατείαν Ἡρακλείου τοῦ Βασιλέως, ἀκροάσεις τρεῖς, .

This work is mentioned by Suidas, and is probably the earliest of the extant works of this writer. The three books are written in trimeter iamnbics, and contain 1098 verses. They describe the first expedition of Heraelius, whose valour and piety are immoderately praised, against the Persians, A. D. 622, when he attacked the frontier of Persia, in the neighbourhood of the Taurus. The descriptions of the author lead us to regard him as an eye-witness; and the poem was probably written not long after the events he records.

2. Πόλεμος Ἀβαρικός, or Ἀβαρικά, or

More fully, Εἰς τὴν γενομένην ἔφοδον τῶν Βαρβαρῶν καὶ εἰς τὴν αὐρῶν ἀστυχίαν ἤτοι ἔκθεσις τοῦ ψενομένου πολέμου εἰς τὸ τεῖχος τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως μεταξὺ Ἀβάρων καὶ τῶν Πολίτων, De invasione facta a barbaris ac de frustrato eorum consilio, sive expositio belli quod gestum est ad moenia Constantinopoleos inter Abares et Cives. This poem consists of one book of 541 trimeter iambic verses, and describes the attack of the Avars on Constantinople, and their repulse and retreat (A. D. 626), while Herachus was absent, and a Persian army occupied Chalcedon, opposite Constantinople.

3. Ἀκάθιστος Ὕμνος,

was composed on occasion of the victory over the Avars, commemorated in No. 2. It is ascribed to George by his editor Quercius on internal evidence, which cannot, however, be regarded as conclusive.

4. Εἰς τὴς ἁγίαν το̂ Χριστον̂ τοῦ Θεον̂ ἡμῶν ἀνάστασιν

This poem consists of 129 trimeter iambic verses, in which George exhorts Flavius Constantine, the son of Heraclius, to emulate the example of his father. It was probably written about A. D. 627.

5. Εἰς Ἡράκλειον τὸν Βασιλέα,

Commonly cited by the title Ἡρακλιάς Heraclias, or Ἡρακλιάδος Ἀκροάσεις δύω, Heracliadis Libri Duo. It has the second title, ἤτοι εἰς τὴν τέλειαν πτῶσιν Χοσπόου Βασιλέως Περσῶν sive de Extremeo Chosroae Persarum Regis Eacidio. But this title does not correctly describe it, for it takes a hasty survey of the transactions and exploits of Heraclius at home and abroad, and only slightly touches on the final overthrow of Chosröes. It was perhaps written when the intelligence of that monarch's death first reached Constantinople, about the end of A. D. 628, and before the return of Heraclius.

6. Ἑξαήμερον ἤτοι Κοσμουργία,

This poem consists of 1910 trimeter iambic verses in the edition of Quercius, who restored some lines omitted by previous editors. It has been supposed that this work has come down to us in a mutilated condition, for Suidas speaks of it as consisting of 3000 verses. But it is possible that the text of Suidas is corrupt, and that we should read εἰς ἔπη δισχίλια, instead of τρισχίλια. The poem has no appearance of incompleteness. The Hexaemeron contains a prayer as if by the patriarch Sergius, for Heraclius and his children. The poem was probably written about A. D. 629.

7. Εἰς τὸν μάταιον Βίον,

This poem consists of 262 iambic verses, but has no internal mark of the time when it was written.

8. Κατὰ Σευήρον or Κατὰ δυσσεβοῦς Σευήρον Ἀντιοχείας,

This poem consists of 731 iambic verses. A passage of Nicephorus Callisti (Hist. Eccl. 18.48) has been understood as declaring that George wrote a poem against Johannes Philoponus, and it has been supposed that Philoponus is aimed at in this poem under the name of Severus, while others have supposed that Nicephorus refers to the Hexaemeron, and that Philoponus is attacked in that poem under the name of Proclus. But the words of Nicephorus do not require us to understand that George wrote against Philoponus at all. This poem against Severus contains the passage to which Nicephorus refers, and in which the Monophysite opinions which Philoponus held are attacked.

9. Ἐγκώμιον εἰς τὸν ἅγιον Ἀναστάσιον μάρτυρα,

or, more fully, Βίος καὶ πολιτεία καὶ ἄθληδις τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ ἐνδόσου ὁσίον μάρτυρος Ἀναστασίου τοῦ μαρτυρήσαντος ἐν Πέρσιδι, Vita, Institutum, et Certamen Sancti, Gloriosi, et Venerabilis Martyris Anastasii, qui in Perside Martyrium passes est. This piece is in prose.

10. Εἰς τὸν ἐν Βλαχέρναις ναὸν

A short poem in iambic verse.

Lost works

These are all the extant works of George; but that he wrote others appears from the quotations which are found in ancient writers, and of which a considerable number have been collected from the Chonographia of Theophanes, the Lexicon of Suidas, the Compendium of Cedrenus, the Historia Ecclesiastica of Nicephorus Callisti, and the Commentaries of Isaacius Tzetzes. George is mentioned also by Johannes Tzetzes.

Works ascribed to George

Some works known or asserted to be extant have been ascribed to George, but without sufficient reason. Usher and others have conjectured that he was the compiler of the Chronicon Paschale, but Quercius refutes the supposition. Possevino mentions a MS. work of his, De Gestis Imperatorum Constantinopolitanorum; but the supposition of the existence of such a work probably originated in a mistake. A MS. in the Imperial Library at Vienna is described by Nesselius and Reimannus as Georgii Pisidae Diaconi et Chartophylacis magnae Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae et Cyrilli Monachi Breviarium Chronographicum ex Variis Historiis concinnatumn, &c. This MS. is probably the same which Raderus mentions as having been read by him. It is a modern MS., probably of the latter part of the sixteenth century and an examination of the title of the MS. itself shows that the Chronological Compendium is ascribed to Cyril alone. But to the proper title of this work is prefixed the inscription Γεωργίου τοῦ Πισίδου καὶ Κυρίλλου; an indication, perhaps, that the writer of the Codex intended to transcribe some of the works of George. The astronomical poem known as Empedoclis Sphaera, consisting of 168 iambic verses, has been conjectured to be George's; but it has been observed by Fabricius, that the writer speaks in one place like a polytheist, while all the known writings of George are distinct expressions of Christian belief; and Quercius thinks this objection is decisive. Le Long speaks of Greek Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul by George of Pisidia as being extant in the Imperial Library at Vienna, but they are not noticed in the catalogues of Lambecius and Reimannus; and it is probable that Le Long's statement is erroneous. Some persons have improperly confounded George of Pisidia with George of Nicomedeia, who lived two centuries later [GEORGIUS, No. 36]; and Cave erroneously makes George of Pisidia archbishop of Nicomedeia, although he correctly fixes the time in which he lived.


The versification of George is correct and elegant, and inharmonious verses are very rare. He was much admired by the later Byzantine writers, and was very commonly compared with Euripides, to whom some.did not hesitate to prefer him. But his poems, however polished, are frequently dull, though in the Hexaemeron there are some passages of more elevated character.


The Hexaemeron and De Vanitate Vitae with such fragments as hao been then collected, with a Latin version by Fed. Morel, were first published in 4to. Paris, 1584. Some copies of the edition have the date 1585 in the title-page.

The Hexaemeron was also published by Brunellus, as a work of Cyril of Alexandria, together with some poems of Gregory Nazianzen and other pieces, 8vo. Rome, 1590.

Both pieces, with the fragments, were reprinted in the appendix to the Bibliotheca Patrum of La Bigne, fol. Paris, 1624, and with the version of Morel, and one or two additional fragments, in the Paris edition of the Bibliotheca Patrum, fol. 1654, vol. xiv. p. 389, &c.

The Latin version of Morel is in the edition of the Bibliotheca, fol. Lyon. 1677, vol. xii. p. 323, &c.

The De Expeditione Imperatoris Heraclii contra Persas, the Bellum Acaricum, the Hymnus Acathistus, the In Sanctam Jesu Christi D. N. Resurrectionem, the Heraclias, the Hexaemeron, the De Vanitate Vitae, the Contra Severum, the Encomium in S. Anastasium Martyrem, and a much-enlarged collection of fragments, with a valuable preface, introductions to the several pieces, a Latin version and notes by Joseph Maria Quercius of Florence, were published in the Corporis Historiae Byzantinae Nova Appendix, fol. Rome, 1777.

The Appendix comprehends also the works of Theodosius Diaconus and Corippus Africanus Grammaticus by other editors.

The De Expeditione contra Persas, Bellum Avaricem, and Heraclias are edited by Bekker and included in the Bonn reprint of the Byzantine writers.

The little poem In Templum Deiparae, &c., was printed by Ducange in p. 65 of the notes to his Zonaras, in the Paris edition of the Byzantine historians. Bandurius printed it with a Latin version in his Imperium Orientale, lib. vii. p. 177; and Fabricius, with another Latin version, in his Bibl. Gr. vol. viii. p. 615.

Further Information

Quercius, ut sup.; Fabric. Bill. Gr. vol. i. p. 185, vol. vii. pp. 450, 472, &c., vol. viii. pp. 612, 615; Cave, Hist. Litt. vol. i. p. 583.

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