7. Archbishop of THESSALONICA, was a native of Constantinople, and lived during the latter half of the twelfth century.
At first he was a monk in the monastery of St. Florus, but afterwards he was appointed to the offices of superintendent of petitions (ἐωὶα τῶν δεήσεων
), professor of rhetoric (μαἰ̈στωρ ῥητόρων
), and diaconus of the great church of Constantinople.
After being bishop elect of Myra, he was at once raised to the archbishopric of Thessalonica, in which office he remained until his death in A. D. 1198.
The funeral orations which were delivered upon him by Euthymius and Michael Choniates are still extant in MS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
The praise which is bestowed upon him by Nicetas Choniates (viii. p. 238 x. p. 334) and Michael Psellus (Du Cange, Glossar. s. v. ῥήτωρ
) is perfectly justified by the works of Eustathius that have come down to us: they contain the amplest proofs that he was beyond all dispute the most learned man of his age. His works consist of commentaries on ancient Greek poets, theological treatises, homilies, epistles, &c., the first of which are to us the most important.
These commentaries shew that Eustathius possessed the most extensive knowledge of Greek literature, from the earliest to the latest times; while his other works exhibit to us the man's high personal character, and his great power as an orator, which procured him the esteem of the imperial family of the Comneni.
The most important of all his works is,
1. Commentary on the
His commentary on the Iliad
(Παρεκβολαὶ εἰς τὴν Ὁμήρου Ἰλιάδα κσὶ Ὀδυσσείαν
), or rather his collection of extracts from earlier commentators of those two poems.
This vast compilation was made with the most astonishing diligence and perseverance from the numerous and extensive works of the Alexandrian grammarians and critics, as well as from later commentators; and as nearly all the works from which Eustathius made his extracts are lost, his commentary is of incalculable value to us, for he has preserved at least the substance of their remarks and criticisms.
The number of authors whose works he quotes, is prodigious (see the list of them in Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. i. p. 457, &c.); but although we may admit that he had not read all of them, and that he quoted some at second-hand, yet there seems to be no sufficient reason for believing that he was not personally acquainted with the greatest of the ancient critics, such as Aristophanes of Byzantium, Aristarchus, Zenodotus and others, whose works were accessible to him in the great libraries of Constantinople. If, on the other hand, we look upon the work as a commentary, and estimate it by the standard of what a good commentary should be, we find it extremely deficient in plan and method; the author, however, cannot be blamed for these deficiencies, as his title does not lead us to expect a regular commentary. His remarks are, further, exceedingly diffuse, and frequently interrupted by all kinds of digressions; the many etymological and grammatical fancies which we meet with in his work are such as we might expect.
There is very little in the commentary that is original, or that can be regarded as the opinion of Eustathius himself.
He incorporated in it everything which served to illustrate his author, whether it referred to the language or grammar, or to mythology, history, and geography.
The first edition of it was published at Rome, 1542-1550, in 4 vols. fol., of which an inaccurate reprint appeared at Basle in 1559-60. The Florence edition by A. Potitus (1730, 3 vols. fol.)
, contains only the commentary to the first five books of the Iliad
with a Latin translation. A tolerably correct reprint of the Roman edition was published at Leipzig in two sections; the first, containing the commentary on the Odyssey in 2 vols. 4to., appeared in 1825-26, and the second, or the commentary on the Iliad, in 3 vols. 4to. was edited by G. Stalbaum, 1827-29.
Useful extracts from the commentary of Eustathius are contained in several editions of the Homeric poems.
2. Commentary on Dionysius Periegetes
A commentary on Dionysius Periegetes, dedicated to Joannes Ducas, the son of Andronicus Camaterus, is on the whole of the same kind and of the same diffuseness as the commentary on Homer. Its great value consists in the numerous extracts from earlier writers to illustrate the geography of Dionysius.
It was first printed in R. Stephens's edition of Dionysius (Paris, 1547, 4to.)
, and afterwards also in that of H. Stephens (Paris, 1577, 4to., and 1697, 8vo.)
, in Hudson's Geograph. Minor. vol. iv.
, and lastly, in Bernhardy's edition of Dionysius (Leipzig, 1828, 8vo.)
3. A Commentary on Pindar
A commentary on Pindar, which however seems to be lost, at least no MS. of it has yet come to light.
The introduction to it, however, is still extant.
The surviving introduction was first edited by Tafel in his Eustathii Thessalonicensis Opuscula, Frankfurt, 1832, 4to.
, from which it was reprinted separately by Schneidewin, Eustalhiiprooenium commentariorum Pindaricorum, Göttingen, 1837, 8vo.
The other works of Eustathius which were published for the first time by Tafel in the Opuscula
just mentioned, are chiefly of a theological nature; there is, however, among them one (p. 267, &c.) which is of great historical interest, viz. the account of the taking of Thessalonica by the Normans in A. D. 1185.
Other figures by the name of Eustathius
The name Eustathius is one of very common occurrency during the Byzantine period, and a list of all the known Eustathii is given by Fabricius.
vol. ix. p 149, &c.