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1. Introducing Michael Psellos, Author of Encomion of His Excellency Symeon the Metaphrast and Discourse on the Miracle That Occurred in the Blachernae Church
Psellos could expect the “men of letters” in his audience to recognize his reference here to Hermogenes’ recommendations in On Types of Style (1.1.11) and to appreciate similar references in these logoi to rhetorical handbooks and commentaries familiar to educated Byzantines. Abundant and casual reference to works of the Greek literary heritage is a typical feature of Psellos’ rhetorical style.  Because readers today might not be as closely attuned as Psellos’ Byzantine audience to succinct literary allusions like the “pine and the oak” of Homer, Odyssey ix 186 (3.13) or the “worldly sanctuary” of Hebrews 9.1 (5.4), such references are identified in notes to the translations. Notes also explicate the realia of the past that Psellos adopts and adapts readily in his writings. A disappointed party in a lawsuit “received a black pebble” (5.10), for example, and Symeon’s scholarly exertions resemble a footrace on a double (i.e. horse-shoe shaped) track (3.13). Psellos also seeks opportunities to use technical vocabulary that illustrates his broad expertise in various specialized fields. The reader will find notes to the translations that identify and explain such vocabulary as the “ecliptic conjunctions” (5.5) of astronomy, the “emmelic chords” (3.11) of musical theory, the “consumption of the flesh” (3.8) discussed by medical writers, and the “period” and “circle” 5.24) of literary analysis. No stranger to rhetorical tropes and figures, Psellos savors such devices as hyperbaton (“if someone should throw a discus up beyond the clouds …” at 5.21) and paraleipsis (“I omit mentioning Hezekiah, when the sun traveled backwards …” at 5.14). Throughout his logoi, Psellos maintains scrupulous regard for classical Greek morphology and syntax, which the learned readers and writers of Byzantium studiously emulated and reverently termed “Attic.” In the section from the Encomion of Symeon quoted at the top of this paragraph, for instance, Psellos correctly observes the genitive complementing ζηλῶ (τῆς τοιαύτης εὐστομίας καὶ χάριτος 322), the genitive of comparison in the expression οὐδὲν δὲ ἧττον τῆς εὐχρηστίας (323) and proper disposition of particles (μὲν οὖν … δὲ 322–323, εἰ γὰρ 324, and ἀλλὰ λογίοις μὲν ἴσως 326). Although Psellos’ Greek prose is carefully crafted, I have occasionally found it necessary to abandon his sentence structure in order to resolve his lengthier and more complex locutions into manageable English units and in order to supply from context material implied but not stated in the original text. The grammar of the Greek language is simply better suited than English to the complex logical patterns of Psellos’ mind. Pointed brackets in the translations indicate the material I have expanded from context. 
In Psellos’ estimation, Symeon possessed a natural ability to apprehend ethical concerns using the processes of Aristotelian logic:
The vocabulary of Aristotelian analysis is an integral part of Psellos’ own thinking, evident not only in his Encomion of Symeon but in the Blachernae logos as well. For example, he concludes an examination of chance events in legal processes by turning to Aristotle’s Prior Analytics: “For let ‘chance’ be taken in the more common sense [of the word], even if among the philosophers chance and spontaneity, when enumerated among the causes, possess some distinction [from the others]” (5.22:608–611). 
He found those doctrines expressed most provocatively in the writings of the influential Neoplatonist Proclus and in the so-called Chaldean Oracles, late antique works important in the history of philosophy but virtually forgotten by the time of Psellos. Psellos played a unique role in reviving the study of these neglected works and others like them, although he carefully avoided implying that he himself believed the proscribed pagan doctrines or practiced the magical procedures they describe.  Nevertheless, Psellos gained such a long-lasting reputation as a master of the occult that Samuel Taylor Coleridge mentioned him in an annotation to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
Of the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.
Coleridge supplies in the margin,
Psellos himself, however, insisted vigorously that mastering and reconciling both Christian wisdom and Hellenic learning from antiquity was essential for the philosopher eager to attain full knowledge of the truth. As he observes in a philosophical essay addressed to an unidentified audience,