History of George Pachymeres, cod. Monac. gr. 442, fol. 6v, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich (source: Wikimedia Commons)

This project seeks to compose the first-ever critical edition of the Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics by the distinguished Byzantine scholar George Pachymeres (1242-ca. 1310).

The project is of significant academic impact. A reliable text for Pachymeres’ Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics is imperative for a wider reassessment of late Byzantine philosophy, as it will emphasise the original contributions made by scholars in this period. At the same time it will establish and help to consolidate the as yet unknown importance of the Late Byzantine period (1261-1453) as an age of considerable philosophical engagement with Aristotle. The edition and translation will throw light on contemporary educational practices by exploring the extent to which Aristotelian commentaries acted as didactic manuals. Relatedly, it will raise the need for an all-encompassing study of late Byzantine education, a topic that is still little explored and poorly understood. Furthermore, it will stimulate further research on the connections between Byzantine philosophy and Western theology and philosophy, and make us reflect on the transfer of knowledge with Arabic philosophy too. The project will help to refine our understanding of Aristotle’s reception in Christian religious thought, and thus will tackle the heated question of how pagan (i.e. ancient Greek) philosophy was more or less easily incorporated into the Christian scholarly community of the later centuries of Byzantium. Last but not least, this study is intended to act as a seed project for the investigation of the undervalued topic of the function of Late Byzantine ethics both as a theoretical discipline and as a practical source of advice on how the good life was expected to be led in Constantinople and other significant parts of the Byzantine Empire.

The project illuminates a momentous period of Byzantine literary culture. More generally, it will therefore help to revisit the issue of how Byzantine studies are seen in the wider fields of intellectual and cultural history today.