Gregoras on Bekkos

October 3, 2007

Nicephorus Gregoras. Byzantine History, Book V, ch. 2, § 5. PG 148, 268 B-C.

“At that time there was a chartophylax of the Great Church named Bekkos, a most sagacious man, well-trained in oratory and letters, and in possession of so many natural gifts, that no one of that time could equal him. For, in respect of goodness of bodily stature, and in the gravity and kindliness of his face, and in magnificence, and in eloquence of speech, and in quickness of movement, and in many other respects, but especially in the wealth of his understanding and its acuteness towards whatever subject he applied it — in all of these respects nature supplied him with things most excellent, so that, to emperors and rulers and to all wise men, he was the revered and shining topic of general conversation. When he had nobly taken a stand against the imperial decree, the emperor sought in every way, both by himself and by means of the learned men of that time, through rational demonstrations and arguments of law, to persuade him to subscribe to it. But, confounding, so to speak, every rumor by the vigor of his mind and tongue, he unravelled their arguments, as though they were some Penelope’s web. For in Hellenic learning there were some men back then who had an advantage of him; but in acuteness of nature and in facility of speech and in training in ecclesiastical doctrines, they all appeared, in comparison with him, like children beside a man.”


3 Responses to “Gregoras on Bekkos”

  1. Greg DeLassus Says:

    Quickness of movement?!? I have to say, while quickness of movement is not a bad thing, it is not among the qualities which would leap readily to my mind to list in commending a bishop. It made me smile to read it. Thanks for sharing that. :)

  2. bekkos Says:

    Hmm… Maybe you’re right, I probably have misinterpreted that particular phrase. The Greek is δρόμῳ συντόνῳ. Δρόμος has a basic sense of running, or a race-course; σύντονος can mean (according to Liddell and Scott) strained tight; intense, impetuous, violent; earnest, serious, severe, vehement. I originally thought the phrase referred to some kind of intellectual quickness. Perhaps it is still referring back to the word γλώττης; in that case the intensity of movement Gregoras is talking about refers to his tongue or speech. My guess is that that is, in fact, what Gregoras is referring to; the image of a bishop in running shorts is probably not what he has in mind.

  3. […] January 4, 2008 Note: The main events described below occurred in the year 1273. The paragraphs follow directly upon a passage from Gregoras’s History that was posted in October; see Gregoras on Bekkos. […]

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