George Pisida - Encyclopedia

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GEORGE PISIDA [GEORGIOS PISIDES], Byzantine poet, born in Pisidia, flourished during the 7th century A.D. Nothing is known of him except that he was a deacon and chartophylax (keeper of the records) of the church of St Sophia. His earliest work, in three cantos (arcpoac r ets), on the campaign of the emperor Heraclius against the Persians, seems to be the work of an eyewitness. This was followed by the Avarica, an account of a futile attack on Constantinople by the Avars (626), said to have been repulsed by the aid of the Virgin Mary; and by the Heraclias, a general survey of the exploits of Heraclius both at home and abroad down to the final overthrow of Chosroes in 627. George Pisida was also the author of a didactic poem, Hexaemeron or Cosmourgia, upon the creation of the world; a treatise on the vanity of life, after the manner of Ecclesiastes; a controversial composition against Severus, bishop of Antioch; two short poems upon the resurrection of Christ and on the recovery of the sacred crucifix stolen by the Persians. The metre chiefly used is the iambic. As a versifier Pisida is correct and even elegant; as a chronicler of contemporary events he is exceedingly useful; and later Byzantine writers enthusiastically compared him with, and even preferred him to Euripides. Recent criticism, however, characterizes his compositions as artificial and almost uniformly dull.

Complete works in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, xcii.; see also De Georgii Pisidae apud Theophanem aliosque historicos reliquiis. (1900), by S. L. Sternbach, who has edited several new poems for the first time from a Paris MS. in Wiener Studien, xiii., xiv. (1891-1892); C. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur (1897); C. F. Bahr in Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyklopddie.

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