Pity and Lamentation in the Authorial Personae of John Kaminiates and Anna Komnene

  • Leonora Neville
Part of the New Approaches to Byzantine History and Culture book series (NABHC)


Neville offers a fresh look at the ways historical figures constructed their gender in their writing. Analysing both John Kaminiates’s narration of the capture of Thessalonike and Anna Komnene’s Alexiad, she shows how the two authors used emotion to adjust the balance of power between themselves and their audiences. Kaminiates’s emotional discourse as a powerless captive constructs him as dispassionate and evokes pity from his audience, which he directs towards others and away from himself, hence attenuating the emasculation caused by his captivity and the enslavement of his family. Anna, in contrast, asks for pity from her audience. As a woman of great power, she mitigates the self-aggrandisement of her project. By presenting herself as subject to pathos, she constructs herself as feminine and powerless.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonora Neville
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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