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Harmenopu'lus, Constanti'nus

nomophylax and judge of Thessalonice, a Graeco-Roman jurist and canonist, whose date has been a subject of much controversy. Suarez (Notil. Basil § 5) says that his Prochiron was written in A. D. 1143. Jacques Godefroi, in his Manuale Juris (1.9), makes it two years later, and Freher, in the Chronologia prefixed to the Jus Graeco-Romanum of Leunclavius, follows Suarez. Selden, in his Uxor Hebraica (3.29) adopted the common opinion, which placed Harmenopulus in the middle of the twelfth century; but he seems to have been the first to impugn this opinion in his treatise De Synedriis (1.10). The common belief was founded on the asserted fact that Harmenopulus never, in any authentic passage, cites the Novells of any emperor later than tManuel Comnenus (A. D. 1143-1180), and that in his treatise on Heresies (Leunclavius, J. G. R. vol. i. p. 552), in the commencement of his account of the Bogomili, he describes them as a sect which had sprung up shortly before his time (οὐ πρὸ πολλοῦ συνέστη τῆς καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς γενεᾶς). Now it is known that this heresy originated in the reign of Alexius Comnenus. The reason which induced Selden to ascribe to Harmenopulus a much later date was a composition of Philotheus (who was patriarch of Constantinople in A. D. 1362), which appears to be addressed in the form of a letter to Harmenopulus as a contemporary. The letter exists in various manuscripts, and is printed in the J. G. R. of Leunclavius, vol. i. p. 288. It blames Harmenopulus, for inserting in his writings the anathemas which were denounced by some of the eastern emperors against seditious or rebellious subjects, whereas such denunciations ought not to be directed against Christians, however criminal, whose belief was orthodox. " Skilled as you are in such matters, venerable nomophylax and general judge Harmenopulus, why did you not add that the τόμοι had fallen into disuse, in consequence of the ordinances of the holy Chrysostom. However, I proceed to supply this deficiency in the works of my friend." The tomi synodici, which contain the objectionable anathema here referred to, still exist. That of Constantinus Porphyroge nitus alone is given in Leunclavius, J. G. R. vol. i. p. 118, and to this are added the tomi of Manuel Comnenus and Michael Palaeologus (reigned A. D. 1261-1282), in the supplementary volume of Meerman's Thesaurus (p. 374), where they are copied from a manuscript in which they are appended to the Promptuarium of Harmenopulus. Some of the best critics, though not ignorant of this letter of Philotheus, still refused to depart from the opinion which ascribed Harmenopulus to the twelfth century. (Cave, Script. Eccles. Hist. Liter. vol. ii. p.226; Bayle, Réponse aux Questions d'un Provincial, 100.53, Oeuvres, vol. iii. p. 509.) They must have believed the so-called letter of Philotheus to have been a literary forgery, or have supposed that the patriarch addressed such language as we have quoted to an author who lived two centuries before him. The Promptuarium of Harmenopulus has been interpolated and altered otherwise it might be cited in favour of the later date, attributed to its author. As we have it in the edition of Reiz, in the supplemental or eighth volume of Meerman's Thesaurus Juris Civilis, it cites a constitution of the patriarch Athanasius of A. D. 1305. (Prompt. lib. 5. tit. 8. s. 95, with the note of G. O. Reiz; Meerm. Thes. vol. viii. p. 304, n. 176.) In lib. 4. tit. 6. s. 21, 22, 23, of the Promptuarium or Hexabiblon of Harmenopulus, are mentioned the names of Michael, who was patriarch of Constantinople in 1167, and of Arsenius, who was patriarch in 1255, but the sections in which these names occur are not found in the older manuscripts (p. 237, n. 46).

Such was the evidence with respect to the date of Harmenopulus, when Lambecius, who had originally ascribed Harmenopulus to the twelfth century (Comment. de Bibl. Coes. Vindob. lib. v. p. 319, 365, 373, 381), found a note written in a manuscript at Vienna (Cod. Vindob. ii. fol. 195, b.), which induced him to change his opinion. This manuscript note is put forward by Lambecius (lib. vi p. i. p. p. 40) as the testimony of Philotheus, but upon what ground does not appear, since there is no name affixed to it in the Vienna manuscript. It states that the Epitome of the Canons of Harmenopulus, the nomophylax and judge of Thessalonice, was composed in the reign of " our most pious and Christian lady and empress the lady Anna Palaeologina, and her most beloved son, our most pious and Christian king, and emperor of the Romans, the Lord Joannes Palaeologus, in the year of the Creation 6853, in the 13th Indiction," i.e. in A. D. 1345. This testimony has satisfied the majority of more modern critics, as Fabricius (Bibl. Gr. vol. xii. p. 429), Heineccius, Ritter, Zepernic (ad , Beck. de Novellis Lanuis, p. 22, n. k.), Pohl (ad Suarcs. Notit. Basil. p. 16, n. (a)), Heimbach (de Basil. Orig. p. 113, 132-7), Zachariae (Hist. Jur. Gr. Rom. Delin. § 49). On the other hand, Ch. Waechtler is censured by his editor Trotz (Praef. ad Waechtleri Opusc. p. 75) for still adhering, like Cave and Bayle, to the ancient belief.

The general reception of the more modern opinion, which places Harmenopulus in the middle of the fourteenth century, has been favoured by a circumstantial narrative of his life, resting upon an authority which has deceived many recent writers, hut is now known to be utterly unworthy of credit. Nic. Comnenus Papadopoli, in his Praenotiones Mystagogicae, published in 1696, gives a biography of Harmenopulus, the materials of which he professes (p. 143) to have derived from the Paralipomena of G. Coressius, and Maximus Planudes upon the Nomocanon of Photius. (Fabric. Bibl. Gr. vol. xi. p. 260.)

The questionable narrative of Nic. Comnenus, which is the source of the modern biographies, is to the following effect. Harmenopulus was born at Constantinople about A. D. 1320, nearly sixty years after Constantinople had been recovered from the Latins. His father held the office of Curopalates, and his mother, Muzalona, was cousin of the emperor Joannes Cantacuzenus. He commenced the study of his native language under the monk Philastrius, and when he attained the age of sixteen years his father thought that it was time to initiate him into Latin literature. Accordingly, the education of the young Harmenopulus was confided to Aspasius, a Calabrian nonk, who was sent for expressly from Italy to undertake this charge. While under this master, Harmenopulus attended the lectures of Leo, who was afterwards archbishop of Mytilene, and whom Nic. Comnenus believes to be the same with Leo Magentinus, the commentator on Aristotle. At the age of twenty he devoted himself entirely to jurisprudence, under the jurist Simon Attaliata, great-grandson of Michael Attaliata, the author of a legal compendium. [ATTALIATA.] Possessed of a keen and active intellect, he soon mastered the whole extent of the science, and had scarcely attained the age of twenty-eight, when he earned and obtained the title of antecessor, which was usually conferred by the emperors on those only who had grown grey in the successful study and practice of the law. At the age of thirty he was appointed judge of the superior court (judex Dromi). Soon afterwards he was invited to become a member of the council of the emperor Joannes Cantacuzenus, and, though he was the youngest of the royal councillors, the first place of honour was assigned to him. He discharged the high functions of his office with so much sagacity and prudence, that, after the dethronement of the emperor Cantacuzenus, in 1355, he experienced no change of fortune from the succeeding emperor, Joannes Palaeologus. Upon the death of his father, he was appointed Curopalates in his place, and received the title of Sebastus. Soon afterwards he was named prefect of Thessalonice, and nomophylax. Loaded with honours and wealth (for his wife Briennia was a lady of large fortune), he applied himself to the interpretation of law with an extent of skill and learning which are every where conspicuous in his works. Comnenus (p. 272) professes to refute Maximus Margunius, who is stated to have cited the Orations of Harmenopulus; for, says Comnenus, the author of the Hexabiblus and Epitome of the Canons left no orations. Nay, in the commencement of his commentary on the Digest, he calls himself an ineloquent man, slow of speech, and states that for this cause he left the defence of clients, and betook himself to the more umbratile province of legal meditation and authorship. Besides this commentary on the Digest, Comnenus ascribes to him commentaries upon the Code and the Novells, and scholia on the Novells of Leo, and says that he was the author of the Tomus contra Gregorium Palamam, which is published by Allatius in Graecia Orthodoxa (vol. i. p. 780-5, 4to. Rome, 1652), and that he closely followed the jurist Tipucitus, and was far more learned than Balsamo, &c. For fuller particulars relating to the works of Harmenopulus, Comnenus refers to his own Graeciac Sapientis Testimonium, but we cannot find any mention of this treatise of Comnenus in the catalogues, and it was never seen by Fabricius.

We may here stop to remark, that the greater part of the above account is probably sheer invention. The title of antecessor is not met with in authentic history under the later emperors--the story of Simon Attaliata, the descendant of Michael Attaliata, is very like a fable--and there is no evidence that the compilations of Justinian were known at Constantinople, in their original form, in the age when Harmenopulus is stated to have commented upon them. (Heimbach, Anecdota, vol. i. p. 222.) At all events, they were not likely to be annotated by a practical jurist.

To return to the apocryphal biography. About the fortieth year of his age, Harmenopulus, in the midst of the avocations of office, turned his attention to the difficulties of the canon law, a species of study to which the Greeks of the middle ages were more addicted than to the cultivation of elegant literature. In this pursuit he acquired the highest reputation, and became no less celebrated as a canonist than he had previously been as a civilian. He died at Constantinople in 1380, or, according to more exact accounts, on the 1st of March, 1383.


A Greek translation of the Donation of Constantine the Great to the papal see is attributed to Harmenopulus. It is printed in Fabricius (Bibl. Gr. vol. vi. p. 698). To the catalogues of Lambecius, Montfaucon, &c., we must refer for an account of the manuscripts of a Greek lexicon, and other minor works of this author, which have not been printed.

The works by which Harmenopulus is known to the world are the following:--

1. Πρόχειρον Νόμων, seu , seu

This work (which is cited indifferently by all the above names) is based on the older Prochiron of Basileius Constantinus, and Leo, of which it was intended to correct the errors and supply the deficiencies. In fact, it incorporates the whole of the older work, the portions of which are distinguished, in the best manuscripts, by the mark of Saturn (ς), while to the additions is prefixed the sign of the sun . In the printed edition of Reiz, the extracts from the old Prochiron are denoted by an asterisk (*), and the whole of the older original Prochiron has been recently published in a distinct and separate form by Zachariae with very valuable Prolegomena (Heidelb. 1837). Harmenopulus also, in his preface (Protheoria § 20) acknowledges his obligations to the Romaica of Magister [EUSTATHIUS] and other previous sources. He says that he pored over the Πλάτος τῶν Νόμων (by which we understand the Basilica to be designated), and the Novells promulgated by subsequent emperors. One of the most interesting parts of the work to the unprofessional reader consists of the extracts (lib. 2. tit. 4) from the architect Julianus of Ascalon. They begin with an account of measures of length, borrowed from Eratosthenes and Strabo, and proceed with regulations of police (edicta or eparchica) prescribed by governors of Syria, with respect chiefly to the processes of building, and the modes of carrying on trade. In one of these edicts (lib. 2. tit. 4. s. 51) is a citation from the third book of Quaestiones of Papinian, which may possibly be taken from the original work of Papinian, as we cannot find it in the Digest. The arrangement of the Hexabiblus, (so called from its division into six books) is defective, but in legal merit it is superior to most of the productions of the lower empire. A resemblance has been supposed to exist between some of the ideas of Harmenopulus and those of the early glossators on the Corpus Juris in the West, and consequently some communication between them has been suspected. Thus Harmenopulus, like Accursius, derives the name of the Lex Falcidia from falx, instead of deriving it from the name of its proposer, Falcidius (lib. 5. tit. 9. s. 1). The first book is occupied chiefly with judicial procedure, the second with the law of property, corporeal and incorporeal, the third with contracts, the fourth with the law of marriage, the fifth with the law of wills, and the sixth with penal law. An appendix of four titles (the last of which relates to the ordination of bishops) seems to be the addition of a later hand, and it is doubtful whether the collection of leges yeorgicae or colonariae or rusticae of Justinian (qu. Justinian the younger), which, in the manuscripts and printed editions, usually follows the Hexabiblus, was made by Harmenopulus.

The Hexabiblus until recently possessed validity as a system of living law in the greater part of the European dominions of Turkey. In Moldavia and Wallachia it has been supplanted, at least in part, by modern codes. In 1830, by a proclamation of Capodistrias, the judges in Greece were directed to consult the Manual of Harmenopulus, and subsequently, by a constitution of Feb. 23 (O.S.), 1835, Otho I. directs that it shall continue in force until the new codes shall be published. (Zachariae, Hist. Jur. Gr. Rom. Delin. §§ 58, 59; Maurer, das Griechische Volk.


The first edition of this work was that of Theodoricus Adamaeus of Suallemberg, 4to. Paris, 1540. This was followed by the Latin translation of Bernardus a Rey, 8vo. Coloniae, 1547, and by another Latin translation made by Mercier, 4to. Lyon. 1556. The edition of Denis Godefroi, 4to. Geneva, 1547, was the best, until the appearance of the very valuable edition of Reiz in the supplement to Meerman's Thesaurus, La Haye, 1780. From the edition of Reiz, the ancient Greek text was reprinted Ἐν Ἀθήναις, 8vo. 1835.


A translation into modern Greek appeared at Venice, 4to. 1744, and has been reprinted, with the addition of a translation of the Epitome of Canons, in 1777, 1805, and 1820. (Savigny's Zeitschrift. vol. viii. p 222). A new translation by K. Klonares was printed Ἐν Ναυπλιὡ, 8vo. 1833.

There is an old translation into German from the Latin by Justin Gobler, fol. Frank. 1556


A compilation, which is based upon the second part of the Nomocanon of Photius, as altered by Jehannes Zonaras. It is divided into six sections ; the first relating to bishops; the second to priests, deacons, and subdeacons; the third to clerici; the fourth to monks and monasteries; the fifth to laymen, including penances for offences; the sixth to women.


It is printed with a Latin translation and scholia (some of which bear the name of Philotheus, and others of Citrensis, while the greater part are anonymous) in the beginning of the first volume of Leunclavius, J. G. R.

3. Περὶ αἱρεσέων (


This treatise was first published by Leunclavius, with a Latin translation, at the end of Theorianus on the Embassy of Manuel Comnenus to the Armenian Court, 8vo. Bale, 1578. It is also to be found in the J. G. R. of Leunclavius, vol. i. p. 457; in Morell's Bibl. Patr. vol. ii. and in other authors who have written upon Sects. To the end of this treatise is appended the Confession of Faith of Harmenopulus, which Nic. Comnenus (Praenot. Mystag. p. 144) asserts that Harmenopulus recited twice in his last illness upon the very day of his death. In the first and probably more genuine edition of 1578, Harmenopulus, in this creed, represents the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father alone; whereas, in the J. G. R. of Leunclavius, vol. i. p. 552, the words καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ are interpolated.

Further Information

See, in addition to the authorities cited in this article, Αἰμιλίορ Χέρτσογψ (Herzog), Πραγματεία πξρὶ το̂ Προχξίρου τῆρ Ἑχαβίβλου Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ Ἁρμενοπούλου Ἐν Μονάχψ, 8vo. 1837.


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