John VI Kantakouzenos’ Use of Thucydidean Paradigms and Passages in His Plague Description (p. 1-8)



Logan M. Biren

College of St. Benedict St. John’s University


Abstract: This article investigates and evaluates the various effects of Byzantine Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos’ use of paradigms, passages, and parallels of Thucydides’ description of the Athenian plague within his own description of the bubonic plague. Among the many Byzantine authors who borrow ideas, passages, and literary forms from classical Greek and Roman writers, muddying the waters of factual history, we find that John VI Kantakouzenos not only responsibly employs these Thucydidean borrowings but incorporates them into his own work, his own time, and his own history without the original context. In doing so, he places his description of the bubonic plague and its mortality on the same level as that of the Athenian Plague; moreover, we find that he employs a Thucydidean passage to introduce the stark contrast between the effects of a plague on faith and society in 430 BCE Athens and the effects in Constantinople over a millennium and a half later while placing a Christian spin on the Thucydidean model.


Kantakouzenos’ Use of Thucydides (pdf)