Pre-Phanariot Satire in the Danubian Principalities: to akhouri and Its Author

Nikos Panou


Early in 1799, the Epirot merchant Alexandros Vasileiou settled in Paris. [1] Already within a few weeks, he found himself engaged not only in a variety of commercial activities but also in an effort to establish a network of connections among the Parisian intelligentsia. [2] Thus, it was shortly after his arrival to the French capital that he met and befriended the philologist and critic Claude Fauriel, who had also moved to Paris that year. [3] Vasileiou’s earliest surviving letter to Fauriel dates from 21 August 1800. That letter, as the author indicates, was written in response to an interest that his friend had previously expressed in contemporary Greek thought and literature. [4] Vasileiou begins by deploring the dismal state of affairs in Ottoman-controlled Greece that had caused a serious decrease in the quality and quantity of its scientific and cultural production. Having done that, he proceeds to give to his correspondent the requested bibliographical report. Aristotle and his ancient or recent commentators are mentioned as an outfashioned field of study. Instead, Fauriel’s attention is directed to a number of recent scholarly works, either original or in translation, on geography, physics, mathematics, grammar, rhetoric, logic, ethics, and politics. And when it comes to literature, Vasileiou records, among a few other works, “Gessner’s Death of Abel, some comedies by Goldoni, certain pieces by Metastasio, several translations from Italian printed in Venice and from German printed in Vienna or Leipzig, and Mr. Kodrikas’ verse translation of Pope’s Essay on Man, as yet unpublished.” [5] That is all he had to offer to his addressee. In fact, he felt obliged to justify himself for giving such a brief and incomplete account of Greek literary activity by admitting that he had been obliged to devote most of his time to commerce instead of literature. Interestingly, however, this embarrassed conclusion is preceded by a final addendum where he discusses in some detail two literary efforts of his compatriots. These works represent the only two specimens of original Greek literature that Vasileiou included in his list. In contrast to the brevity of all previous entries, his description extends now over a few lines:

And even though we lack a substantial theatrical production, a certain comedy, written by a deacon about a monk, has been circulating in Constantinople in manuscript form. It has caused quite a commotion in the City – it’s been thirty or forty years now – as religious trickeries are exposed with considerable and biting sincerity. And there is also a satirical comedy written by Suzo [sic]. They are both composed in an Aristophanic style. They commonly exhibit a caustic spirit and feature characters based on real persons. [6]
The latter of the two “comedies” mentioned in the passage is easily recognizable: Vasileiou is referring to Ἀλεξανδροβόδας ὁ ἀσυνείδητος, a dialogical satire in three acts, composed in 1785 by Georgios N. Soutzos against Alexandros Mavrokordatos “Firarís.” [7] The identity of the first piece, however, is much more problematic, especially since neither the work’s title nor the name of the author are mentioned in the letter. Vasileiou’s vague dating of the work three or four decades before the time he was writing takes us back to the 1760s and 70s. His allusion to the work’s enthusiastic, if controversial, reception in Constantinople indicates that it must have had a wide circulation at least for some time after its composition. And if that had been the case indeed, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the satirical text in question could not have been a work that was only rarely copied. On the contrary, it must be well represented in the manuscript tradition.
Alexis Politis, who was the first to give proper attention to Vasileiou’s letter, has suggested that the anonymous “comédie” reported to Fauriel should probably be identified with a late seventeenth-century satirical dialogue that has survived under the title Τὸ ἀχούρι. [8] It can be argued, however, that the proposed identification bears very little probability. Written in Bucharest in 1692 and preserved in a single manuscript, probably an autograph, the little-known text is not the first thing that comes to mind as an ideal match to the work mentioned in the 1800 letter. It is much more likely, I think, that Vasileiou was referring to one of the intensely satirical texts in theatrical form produced in the context of the Anabaptist controversy that raged among Orthodox circles in Constantinople in the mid-eighteenth century. [9] Nevertheless, it is not without interest that the obscure seventeenth-century dialogue was brought up in relation to Vasileiou’s letter despite the fact that it could hardly fit that role. To put it simply, what we know about the composition, circulation, and reception of Τὸ ἀχούρι cannot support or justify Politis’ suggestion. How then did it end up being proposed as a possible solution to the riddle of the unidentified reference in Vasileiou’s letter to Fauriel? And what exactly can we claim to know about the text and its history?
It has now been 130 years since Émile Legrand produced a rather problematic – but still the only one available – edition of the text, which he included in the second volume of his Bibliothèque grecque vulgaire, preceding it with a short introduction. Nevertheless, the earliest reference to the work and its author dates back to the late 1860s. In his Σχεδίασμα περὶ τῆς ἐν τῷ ἑλληνικῷ ἔθνει καταστάσεως τῶν γραμμάτων, Matthaios Paranikas included a brief reference to a certain seventeenth-century monk from the Peloponnese called Neophytos. That monk, we learn, had been abbot of the Saint Savas monastery in Bucharest and had composed a satire “against Kyrillos of Constantinople.” [10] For further clarification it was added in a footnote that, “Ἡ περίφημος αὕτη Κωμῳδία ἐπιγραφομένη Ἀχοῦρι [sic], εὔρηται ἐν χειρ. ὑπ’ ἀρ. 321 τῆς τοῦ Ἁγιοταφ. Μετοχ. βιβλιοθ.” [11] It is not unlikely that Paranikas, who had access to the library of the Μετόχι Παναγίου Τάφου (henceforth MΠT) in Constantinople, had actually seen the manuscript of the work. In fact, that manuscript can still be found in the same collection, now preserved in the Greek National Library in Athens. It was from that unique copy that Legrand published the text in 1881. The manuscript was later catalogued and described by Athanasios Papadopoulos-Kerameus in the fifth volume of his Ἱεροσολυμιτικὴ βιβλιοθήκη, but without any information about the manuscript’s trajectory or the text’s problematic authorship. [12]
As already pointed out, the work was written in Bucharest in 1692 by someone called Neophytos who was a monk at the Saint Savas monastery, one of the most important monastic establishments in the Wallachian capital. Neophytos signed his name and date of composition at the end of the manuscript and there can be little doubt that what we have is the autograph of the text. Unfortunately, it is not known who included the manuscript in the large leather-bound codex that contains it, and it is equally difficult to establish how, why, and when exactly that codex – MΠT 672 – was removed from the library of Saint Savas in which it had been preserved for at least a few decades. It is certain, however, that at some point in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century most of the monastery’s manuscripts were transferred to the Μετόχι Παναγίου Τάφου, that is, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, in Constantinople. [13] Codex MΠT 672 remained there until the early twentieth century when it was secretly dispatched to Athens in diplomatic sacks, together with large amounts of materials from the library of the Holy Sepulcher. No other manuscripts of the text have survived and there is no indication whatsoever that the work had had an even basic circulation either in Bucharest or in any other part of the larger area of the Balkans. In fact, it is doubtful that it was ever meant for any sort of publication. Thus, Τὸ ἀχούρι remained virtually invisible ever since its composition at the end of the seventeenth century. There is no evidence that it was known, read, or in any way discussed either during the author’s lifetime or at any other point thereafter. Other than its edition by Legrand in 1881 and a few passing references to it that will be discussed here, there is practically nothing to indicate that it has ever been noticed.
Nevertheless, most of the available information on the work could have been accessed by anyone interested in acquiring a basic knowledge of the text and its history. In that sense, the fact that Vasileiou’s description made a discerning neohellenist like Politis think of the specific work can be somewhat surprising. To be sure, Τὸ ἀχούρι displays precisely those qualities that the erudite merchant seems to have valued most in the monastic satire he briefly commented on: a merciless candor, an aggressive tone, and a heavily moralistic agenda. But this is clearly not enough, especially since there are discrepancies that are both forbidding and hard to miss. Failure to take these discrepancies into account is, more than anything else, indicative of the limited attention that the text has received from modern scholars. Therefore, this paper aims to offer a first systematic analysis of Τὸ ἀχούρι that will hopefully remedy our current lack of concrete knowledge about the work itself as well as the identity of its author. What is primarily attempted here is a discussion of the work that aims to clarify its prosopographic and pragmatological content and to foreground those aspects of the text that can yield valuable information about everyday life and intellectual activity at the end of the seventeenth century. Treated that way, Τὸ ἀχούρι has the potential to emerge not only as a literary curiosity worthy of further study, but also as a neglected document that can contribute to a better understanding of an obscure but particularly interesting period in the history of the early modern Balkans.

Plot and Structure

The work begins with a prologue in two parts stretching over forty-eight coupled fifteen-syllable verses. [14] In the first part (lines 1-22) the narrator addresses directly the nobles and potentates of Wallachia who are implicitly designated as the intended audience of the “delicious” and “original” verses that follow. They are urged to serve and support the benevolent and generous ruler of the principality, cementing his reign on a firm basis and contributing to his unfailing efforts to secure peace and prosperity for them and the country in general. Unavoidably, this introductory section soon morphs into a brief but dense and linguistically complex encomium of the Romanian voivode:

Καὶ γὰρ αὐθέντης πέφυκε θεοχαριτωμένος,
ἔνδοξος, εὐσεβέστατος, λαμπροστεφανωμένος·
εὐγένεια προγονικὴ παπποπατροδομένη,
ἡ μπασαραμπαδόξαστος, καντακουζηνωμένη,
ἡγεμονοβασιλική, προκεκαταγομένη,
παρὰ θεοῦ παντάνακτος εὐσεβοφρουρουμένη,
τοῦ εὐσεβαστοκράτορος ὁμώνυμος εἰς πάντα,
τοῦ Κωνσταντίνου Κώνσταντος ἴδιος κατὰ πάντα […] [15]
Constantin Brâncoveanu (1654-1714) ascended the Wallachian throne in 1688, having succeeded his maternal uncle, Şerban Cantacuzino, and reigned uninterruptedly until 1714, enjoying what is generally considered to have been one of the longest and most successful reigns in the history of pre-modern Romania. [16] The author is eager to draw his audience’s attention to the majestic qualities and royal charisma of the praised ruler. He accomplishes that in a succinct, though not always elegant, manner. Not surprisingly, he takes advantage of Brâncoveanu’s first name, Constantin, to establish a conceptual connection between the prince and none other than Constantine the Great. [17] He also makes sure that Brâncoveanu is recognized as a legitimate ruler of distinguished ancestry by emphasizing his undisputed relation to the Basarab dynasty. [18] On the other hand, however, he is equally careful not to leave out the prince’s blood relationship with the Cantacuzino, one of the most powerful boyar families in Wallachia at the time. [19] The specific name bears the prestige and splendor of the late Byzantine aristocratic clan, but also serves as a reminder that behind the praised sovereign there is the omnipotent stolnic Constantin Cantacuzino (1640-1716). It was common knowledge that, although he had never laid claim to the throne, the stolnic had been to a large extent controlling the domestic and foreign policies of the principality for several years and throughout the consecutive reigns of two powerful rulers, Brâncoveanu and his predecessor. [20]
Slightly longer than the first, the second part of the prologue (lines 23-48) gives a schematic summary of the plot, as well as a couple of hints about the character of the satirized villain. Nothing too specific: someone was savagely beaten, deprived of his clothes, and left alone and helpless. We also learn that the person responsible for these atrocities was a monk called Kyrillos, a true monster in disguise. He is greedy and stingy beyond words, a “son of perdition” who does not have a single icon in his monastic cell. Having renounced every sense of kindness and decency, he has consciously committed himself to an obnoxious and wicked conduct.
The main body of the work (lines 49-392) takes the form of a dialogue. Indeed, the piece is thoroughly dialogic and not without a flair for expressive realism, manifested through the programmatic employment of an unembarrassed register of late seventeenth-century vernacular Greek, brimming with linguistic idioms and loans from Turkish and Romanian. Nevertheless, the plot is elemental and the poetic qualities of the text draw on a very imperfectly developed instinct for structure and dramatic elaboration. The amateur author does not seem to have been interested in observing any kind of spatial or temporal coherence. As a result, the narrative sequence is disrupted by several digressions and discontinuities that are worked into the text unskillfully and without any plan. It is clear that rigorous compositional standards had not been applied here and that the satirist did not really strive to attain high artistic results. It is equally unlikely that his primary aim had been to create a psychologically refined or dramatically integrated literary work. What seems to have dictated and determined his approach to the narrative material is a personal motivation to relate the “tragic,” as he puts it, sufferings of the harmed protagonist and stigmatize the moral deficiencies of his despised persecutor. The fact that a dialogic medium was chosen to carry out that project is not without interest with regard to the work’s performative qualities. What is even more striking is that contemporary literary activity, either in Greek or in Romanian, cannot be said to have provided the author with any textual antecedents that could have formed a background of similar tendencies and sensitivities. [21] For several decades before and after its composition, Τὸ ἀχούρι stood out as a fairly isolated manifestation of an incipient theatrical sensitivity in the larger area of the Balkans.
Thirteen characters participate in the action, sharing between them the 344 verses of the dialogue. They are listed, in order of appearance, right after the end of the prologue: “Κύριλλος” (66 verses), “Τὸ ἀχούριον” (2 verses), [22] “Διάβολος” (24 verses), “Νεόφυτος” (134 verses), “ὁ γέροντάς του, πρώην Ἀνδριανουπόλεως” (40½ verses), “Γερμανὸς Νύσσης” (27½ verses), “Εὐστάθιος, κόμισος” (12½ verses), [23] “εὐταξίας τοῦ πατριάρχου” (2 verses), “ἄγα Γειωργούσης” (2 verses), [24] “παπᾶς Ἀθανάσιος, ψάλτης” (9 verses), “Ἀσάνης, κλοτζιάρης” (5½ verses), [25] “Ἀσάνης, καμαράσης” (7 verses), [26] and “ὁ πατριάρχης κύριος Διονύσιος πολλὰ τὰ ἔτη” (12 verses). The first thing we are presented with as the text begins is a desperate Kyrillos crying over his misfortunes, which are, as he admits, the result of his malevolence and the price he has to pay for it. The prison cell where he is kept is given voice and asks him about the reasons of his imprisonment and agitation. Once again, no concrete information is given: the tragic incident involves a beaten person (now we learn that he was not only “πτωχός” but an “ἱερωμένος” as well [27] ), a heavy wooden club – the instrument of the beating – and a physician who was never recompensed for his services.
Kyrillos hopelessly reflects on the life-path he has chosen. He regrets the abominable things he had been engaged in both in Constantinople and, more recently, in Wallachia, and puts the blame on his rapacious inclinations that have turned him into a compulsive money-grabber and a ruthless exploiter. Deservedly, therefore, he has been left completely on his own: not even his cherished protector, the Devil, remembers him any more. But before he could even finish his sentence, Satan appears to him in full glory. He fails to see what Kyrillos is whining about and informs him that the whole affair, both the action itself and its consequences, was his own doing. In fact, he is more than happy to see him in jail precisely because the desolate state he is now in can be safely regarded as the best proof of his cunningness and sinful disposition. And since he can now rest assured that in Kyrillos he has found a worthy and reliable follower, he is off to corrupt other souls.
Enters Neophytos, “ὁ δυστυχὴς, ὁ δεδαρμένος,” lamenting the devastating unpredictability of human fate and the irreducible vanity of all things material. He turns for help and consolation to another Neophytos, the former metropolitan of Adrianople, who, while alive, had been his confessor and spiritual father. The summoned cleric responds to Neophytos’ call from the grave. Indeed, we learn that the late bishop dwells in the underworld where he regularly engages in long conversations about human frailty and the certainty of death with the philosopher Aristarchus, the late Wallachian ruler Şerban Cantacuzino, and even Alexander the Great who descended to Hades like everyone else: completely naked and having left behind all the insignia of his earthly glory and power. What follows is a lively discussion between the harassed monk Neophytos, Neophytos of Adrianople, and Germanos Lokros, metropolitan of Nyssa, who also joins the company from the beyond. The Devil intervenes briefly but spitefully for one last time. Among other things, it is revealed that Kyrillos, the wicked monk, is closely related to the venerable Germanos who makes it clear that he has had enough with his unruly sibling.
This conversation with the conjured spirits is interrupted when a courtier shows up, instantly followed by a messenger who informs Neophytos that someone very important demands to see him: the patriarch Dionysios has heard about the incident and would like to learn more about it; he has also been informed that there was a trial which resulted in Kyrillos’ imprisonment, and that has made him furious, as he abhors the mere thought that church matters had been handled by the laity. Despite his intense reservations, Neophytos appears before the irritated prelate, disclosing in full detail what had actually taken place between him and Germanos Lokros’ brother. It is finally explained – to the patriarch and the readers alike – that Kyrillos had broken into Neophytos’ cell and, having found him casually lying on his bed, gave him such a merciless beating that practically left him on the verge of destruction. [28]
Kyrillos was terrified as he realized that in the likely event of Neophytos’ death he would have to pay with his own life for the consequences of his impudence. Thus, he persuaded his victim to refrain from suing him and to attest in writing that he is facing a natural death. He even brought his own doctor to take care of the badly injured monk, promising Neophytos that in exchange for his discretion he would arrange a splendid funeral for him. He did not have to do so, however, as the invalid eventually got better. In the meantime, the physician who treated Neophytos demanded from Kyrillos the money he had been promised only to find out that now that the danger was over his client was by no means willing to pay. Instead, he had the doctor bullying and pressing Neophytos to submit the due fee. The latter was not in a position to do so and, thus, Kyrillos and the doctor conspired to accuse him of evading his bills, actually managing to confiscate even the clothes he was wearing. Neophytos assures the patriarch that it was not he who brought charges against Kyrillos. It was Kyrillos who took him to court hoping that he could make him pay a fine on top of everything else. But the truth was revealed during the trial and justice was dispensed: Kyrillos was thrown into jail and was sentenced to return the appropriated clothing and pay the doctor. The dialogue ends with another brief praise for Brâncoveanu. The author expresses his confidence in the legal system of Wallachia that has been secured by the noble vision and firm leadership of the country’s prince. How could such an accomplished ruler not fill everyone in his realm with feelings of happiness and gratitude?
It would be interesting to know for sure whether the events described in the text – Kyrillos’ violent outburst, the trial, his eventual imprisonment, and Neophytos’ interview with the patriarch – are based on real events or not. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that can support a definitive answer to that question. It does seem, however, that the satirical venom of the author had been filtered through the traumatic remnants of personally experienced abuse. If the work had no connection to reality, it would have to be an atypically crude literary prank, especially since several distinguished personalities, both dead and alive, are involved in the plot and openly named by the satirist. Indeed, all the main characters in the dialogue represent well-known historical figures that had been active in the Ottoman East in the second half of the seventeenth century. It is almost certain that the author of Τὸ ἀχούρι had known, honored, feared, or hated them at some point in his life. Arguably, that is one of the work’s most interesting aspects and, in a sense, one of its most engaging qualities too.

The Characters

I have not been able to locate any information about the six characters that are only given small roles in the dialogue, although Legrand was probably right in assuming that they must have been courtiers or high-ranking officials based in Bucharest. [29] However, we are in a position to know more about the work’s five major characters: three of them correspond to influential clerics who played an instrumental role in the religious, cultural, and political life of the period; the other two were less prominent, but, as we shall see, they maintained close ties, in one way or another, with these important figures.

Neophytos of Adrianople

The venerable prelate who in the first part of the dialogue is responding to Neophytos “ὡς ἀπὸ τὸν τάφον” has been identified as Neophytos Philaretos, metropolitan of Adrianople. [30] He was born in Epirus and began his ecclesiastical career as a deacon to Parthenios Oxys, when the latter was still metropolitan of Ioannina. He moved to Adrianople in 1639, when Parthenios became metropolitan of the city. As soon as his superior was promoted to the patriarchal rank in 1644, [31] Neophytos replaced him at the head of the diocese. [32] He remained in charge of that post for more than forty-five years almost without interruption, despite the fact that he had regularly suffered the opposition of consecutive patriarchs, including that of his former protector Parthenios who actually had him deposed in 1650. [33] In August 1688 he was deposed again by decision of Patriarch Kallinikos II, but in November of that year Kallinikos’ adversaries subverted him and enthroned the deposed bishop who arrived in Constantinople a month later to assume his duties as Patriarch Neophytos IV. By March or April of the following year, however, he was removed from the throne and replaced by the same Kallinikos whom he had succeeded a few months ago. He was once again granted the metropolitan see of Adrianople and died there in 1689 or 1690. [34]
Although Neophytos did not leave a substantial body of work, he sustained throughout his long life an extensive correspondence with several of the most interesting personalities in the second half of the seventeenth century. He was highly esteemed by his friends and colleagues as a profoundly cultivated and morally impeccable member of the clergy. [35] Contemporary sources abound in passages such as this:

Τίς τῶν ὑψηλοτάτων τιμῶν ἀπολέλειπταί σοι, τίνος ἀρετῆς οὐκ ἐφρόντισας; Φιλοσοφίαν ὑπὲρ ἄλλους ἐτίμησας, σπουδῆς μετρίας μετέσχες, πράξεως πολιτικῆς ὑπερήρθης· μετὰ φιλοσόφων φιλόσοφος, μετὰ θεολόγων θεολόγος, μετὰ ἀστρονόμων ἀστρονόμος, ἐν ἠθικοῖς ἠθικώτατος, ἐν πρακτικοῖς πρακτικώτατος, ὅπερ καὶ ὁ ἡγεμὼν διὰ θαύματος ἄγει. [36]

The ruler mentioned at the end of the quote is Şerban Cantacuzino, who had been one of Neophytos Philaretos’ most fervent admirers and supporters. The metropolitan of Adrianople was deeply revered at the princely court in Bucharest and we know that during the last decades of his life he visited the Wallachian capital at least three times, in 1664, 1682, and 1683. [37] It is not accidental that the ruler’s admiration for him is stressed in the quoted text. Interestingly, that passage is taken from a letter written to Neophytos in 1686 by Germanos Lokros, who had spent the last years of his life in Wallachia in constant pursuit of Şerban’s favor and patronage. As it happens, the author of the letter was not only one of Neophytos Philaretos’ closest friends and most regular correspondents, [38] but also one of the main characters of Τὸ ἀχούρι, in which he appears and is specifically named as the satirized Kyrillos’ deceased brother. Indeed, Germanos is the very person to whom the metropolitan of Adrianople expresses his posthumous indignation at Kyrillos’ maltreatment of his former protégé, the monk Neophytos, in what forms the ghostly scene that concludes the first part of the work.

Germanos of Nyssa

Germanos Lokros, metropolitan of Nyssa, [39] was born in Aitolia (Lokris) at some point between 1610 or 1615. In the 1640s he lived in Athens where he studied with Theophilos Korydaleas, the most prominent Greek-speaking neo-Aristotelian thinker in the first half of the seventeenth century. Later he moved to Constantinople and was appointed professor at the Patriarchal Academy. The events that led to his expulsion from the Academy late in 1663 [40] are relatively well known, but what followed after that, as well as the precise date and specific circumstances of his eventual departure from the Ottoman capital, have remained to a large extent unclarified. [41] We do know, however, that sooner or later after the abrupt and traumatic conclusion of his teaching career in Constantinople he managed to find his way to Wallachia. The earliest evidence of his presence in the country goes back to 1676, but it can be argued that he had already been there for at least some time before that date. [42]
Upon his arrival to Wallachia, Germanos settled in Bucharest. He probably made his living as a tutor, offering public or private courses at the princely court and in boyar households. [43] Germanos stayed in Bucharest until 14 March 1680, at which point he was forced to leave the country by order of Şerban Cantacuzino, having been brutally slandered by Dositheos Skarpetis, the omnipotent patriarch of Jerusalem. [44] He moved to Braşov in Transylvania and during his absence from Wallachia he traveled extensively in Central Europe and as far as England. Nevertheless, he was eventually able to have his good relationship with the Romanian ruler restored, and returned to Bucharest less than two years after his banishment. In fact, at the beginning of 1682 we find him employed in the service of Şerban and his brother, the stolnic Constantin. [45] In the course of the following years, he participated in a project that had a profound impact on religious and cultural developments in the Danubian Principalities, namely, the collective translation of the Bible into Romanian. [46] Germanos, however, did not live to see the outcome of his joint efforts. He died suddenly in 1687, a few months before the publication of the Romanian Biblia. [47] In a letter he sent to Ioannis Kariophyllis in February 1687, the Cephallonian physician Iakovos Pylarinos (1659-1718) reports and briefly comments on the tragic event. We learn that the reason of Germanos’ unexpected death had been some sort of infectious disease that killed the aged bishop within six days despite Pylarinos’ concentrated efforts to save him. [48]

Dionysios IV Mouselimis

The enraged patriarch who urgently calls Neophytos for an interview is undoubtedly the most prestigious character in the satire and one of the most influential and respected figures in the Orthodox world for a large part of the seventeenth century. He was born in Constantinople, probably in the early years of the century, and died in Tîrgovişte, the old Wallachian capital, in September 1696. [49] In the meantime, he had been able to pursue a brilliantly orchestrated ecclesiastical career in the course of which he managed to return to the patriarchal throne five times. [50] It is characteristic that by August 1662, probably in his fifties, he was still a well-connected layman employed in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Supported by powerful circles in both the Ottoman court and the ecclesiastic establishment, he was at that point promoted straight to the rank of metropolitan and given the important diocese of Larissa. [51] Less than a decade later, he had come to claim successfully the highest office in the Great Church.
Like the bishop of Nyssa, Dionysios had been a student of Theophilos Korydaleas, though not in Athens. He studied at the Patriarchal Academy in Constantinople, probably in 1634-1639, that is, during the second period of the philosopher’s tenure there. [52] His ties with Wallachia were even stronger than those of Germanos, and his connections in the princely court by far more impressive. Indeed, he spent extensive periods of time in Bucharest, exerting a profound influence on the religious and political life of the country. [53] In the last twenty years of the seventeenth century, we find him there on three different occasions: 1679-1682, 1687-1693, and 1694-1696. When Τὸ ἀχούρι was being written in 1692, [54] he was exactly where the author wants him to be: in Bucharest. Nevertheless, that was one of the periods when he was not patriarch: Kallinikos II, who had been reappointed after Neophytos Philaretos’ dethronement in 1689, occupied the ecumenical throne until 1693. By October 1692 Dionysios had not held that post in exactly five years. [55]
It should be kept in mind that the work relates events that, if they were actually based on real-life experiences, could not have taken place before 1689-1690, which is still a long time after Dionysios’ fourth dethronement. [56] This can make Dionysios’ explicit presentation as a patriarch look like a chronological inconsistency, but I think that it should not be regarded as such. Naturally, we can exclude the possibility that the author had not realized that Dionysios was not a patriarch at that point. This is highly unlikely, especially since the latter had stepped down from the patriarchal throne several years ago. [57] I believe it makes more sense to assume that this is a kind of mild flattery, a mannerism, or a token of respect. At any rate, what cannot be doubted is that in the context of the dialogue Dionysios is invested with undisputed patriarchal authority, regardless his official status in the ecclesiastical hierarchy at the time, which would have normally required a “πρώην” in front of his title. The Constantinopolitan prelate – whose close friendship with another important ecclesiarch, the archbishop of Wallachia Teodosie, is not left unmentioned in the text [58] – is esteemed, feared, and obeyed as if he were an enthroned patriarch. In this sense, Τὸ ἀχούρι is a testimony to the nature and extent of Mouselimis’ power and influence in the Danubian Principalities at the end of the seventeenth century.


It is made clear more than once in the course of the dialogue that “Κακοκύριλλος,” the evil monk who had caused so much trouble and discomfort to Neophytos, was brother to the metropolitan of Nyssa, Germanos Lokros, whose ghost participates in the concerted accusations against him in the early part of the text. [59] Germanos’ massive correspondence makes clear that one of his four brothers [60] was a monk [61] who had assumed the name Kyrillos. [62] Nevertheless, there are not many things that we can claim to know about him. The scant evidence that has survived can only provide fragmentary and insufficient information about his life and character, so relentlessly condemned under Neophytos’ satirical pen. [63]
Although there is no evidence that could confirm the text’s exaggerated assertions about Kyrillos’ violent personality and aggressive demeanor, there can be little doubt that the latter was a rather eccentric individual. [64] Besides being burdened by a serious eye disease, [65] he seems to have suffered, at least at some point in his life, from acute agoraphobia manifested in a series of neuroses and related symptoms. A fascinating letter, sent in October 1663 [66] by Eugenios Giannoulis to Dionysios Mouselimis, contains an eloquent, if sinister, description of Kyrillos’ state of mind and general conduct at that particular moment:

Τοῦτο δέ, ὃ νῦν πρὸς ἡμᾶς γράφων ἐρεῖς, ἐπήλθέ μοι νὴ τὸν οὐρανὸν γελᾶν· ἐπιτημῆσαι γὰρ φῂς πολλάκις τὸν σὸν Κύριλλον μήποτε τοῦ δωματίου προκύπτειν ἢ ἐξέρχεσθαι, ἀλλ’ οἴκοι μένοντα οἰκουρεῖν καὶ γυναικίζεσθαι· τοὐναντίον ἔδει μᾶλλον, νουθετεῖν καὶ παιδεύειν, ὦ βέλτιστε, καὶ πολιτεύεσθαι ἱερῶς ὡς ἱερωμένον καὶ μὴ ἀποφεύγειν τὴν τῶν σοφοτέρων καὶ πεπαιδευμένων συνομιλίαν. […] σωφρονεῖν αὐτὸν ἤθελον ἐγὼ καὶ ὡς ἱερωμένον μετριάζειν καὶ μὴ στάσεις ἀκαίρους διεγείρειν καὶ ἀθεμίτους κραυγὰς καὶ ὡς μαινάς τις πηδᾶν ἀτάκτως, καὶ ταῦτα τῆς καθ’ἡμᾶς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς ἱεραρχίας τὸ πρόσωπον φέρων καὶ ἔξαρχος ὑπὸ πολλῶν νομιζόμενος. [67]
But despite Eugenios’ anguished disapproval of Germanos’ pedagogic approach, the latter did take good care of his brother, even though he often complained to his correspondents about the material and emotional cost that having assumed full responsibility for his needy relative entailed. When referring to Kyrillos in his letters he rarely fails to imply that the latter had been completely dependent on him, at least financially. Nevertheless, it is also clear that Germanos always supported his brother, lavishing on him both money and familial care in good and bad times. [68] The two surviving letters by the metropolitan of Nyssa to Kyrillos exhibit concrete signs of affection and respect. [69] More than than, it seems that the two brothers spent long periods of time living together. The half-blind monk had attached himself to his loving sibling.
The previously quoted passage from Giannoulis’ letter indicates that at some point between 1660 and 1663 Kyrillos had been living with his brother in Constantinople. [70] Furthermore, at the end of October 1663, Germanos wrote to Kyrillos a hasty and distressed letter informing him about the recent scandal that had forced him to resign from the direction of the Patriarchal Academy. Although he included no information that could give us a clue about the final destination of the letter and the precise location of the recipient, the phrasing suggests that Kyrillos was probably not in Constantinople at that point, but also makes clear that it had not been very long since he was living there. In fact, Germanos proposes that, if he decides to stay in the capital, it would be a favorable opportunity for Kyrillos to return and join him. He also invites his brother to reflect carefully on whether he would like to follow him in his forthcoming wanderings in case he decides to leave the City for good. [71] Regrettably, there is no way to tell what Kyrillos made of the dilemma he was presented with. And since we cannot be certain about Germanos’ moves in the ensuing period, it is not at all clear what his brother’s options eventually turned out to be. In fact, Kyrillos’ whereabouts in the years after 1663 are even harder to establish than those of Germanos. His traces are completely lost until 1679, at which point he is reported by Eugenios Giannoulis to have sent him a letter from Ioannina. [72]
It must have been around that time, or a little later, that he moved to Wallachia to join Germanos who had settled in Bucharest in the early 1670s. In April 1682, Lokros wrote a letter to Ioannis Kariophyllis in which he confirms that Kyrillos was in the Wallachian capital with him, [73] and he might have been living there for at least a couple of years already. [74] A few brief mentions in Τὸ ἀχούρι indicate that Kyrillos had also spent some time – always with his brother – in Plătăreşti, a small town in Muntenia, around a hundred kilometers to the south of Bucharest. This is an interesting piece of information that advances our knowledge of a hitherto unclarified detail pertaining to a particularly traumatic event in Germanos Lokros’ life. It is worth giving a brief summary here. We know that in 1685 Şerban Cantacuzino granted an abandoned monastery to Germanos, which the latter spared no expense to renovate and turn into some sort of unspecified business that very soon yielded considerable profit. No more than a year later, Dositheos of Jerusalem managed to persuade the Wallachian ruler to take back the old monastery and its revenues from Germanos and give it instead to him, which Şerban did. Not surprisingly, Dositheos’ latest attack infuriated Germanos who reacted by openly accusing and spreading vicious rumors against the patriarch. Naturally, messing around with Dositheos proved to be a reckless strategy and Germanos was soon placed under house arrest by princely order. [75] End of story. But although he talks about all this in his correspondence, Germanos does not give the name and precise location of the controversial monastery. Tsourkas thought that it must have been located in Bucharest, also assuming that it was probably the monastery of Saint Savas that had been granted to Dositheos as a dependency of the Holy Sepulcher. [76] Nevertheless, it is certain, I believe, that lines 75, 188, 193-194 and 197-198 of Τὸ ἀχούρι refer precisely to the events and the monastery in question, and they in fact shed light on that aspect of Germanos’ activity in Wallachia. The information given in the dialogue makes clear that the monastery was located not in Bucharest but in Plătăreşti. I also argue that the establishment in question should be identified as the still extant monastery that Matei Basarab and his wife Elena had founded in that town in 1646, presently known as Manastirea Sfantul Mercurie. It is by no means accidental that the specific monastery had at some point passed under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, an event that can now be fully inscribed within the context of the Dositheos-Germanos controversy. [77] Finally, it seems that Germanos did not really turn the monastery into a school, as Tsourkas thought he did. [78] Once again, a brief reference in the beginning of Τὸ ἀχούρι indicates that under the management of Germanos and Kyrillos the former monastery had been operating as an (expensive) inn – a caravansary or khan. [79]
There is no evidence whatsoever as to what happened to Kyrillos after his brother’s death. Our only source of information is the satire itself, which leaves us with rather dismal thoughts on the matter. It can only be assumed that at some point after the Plătăreşti fiasco in 1686 – and probably after Germanos’ death in 1687 – the “orphaned” monk was admitted to the Saint Savas monastery in Bucharest, where the author of Τὸ ἀχούρι, Neophytos, had been a monk too, and where the events related in the dialogue could have taken place. Indeed, it would not be unreasonable to claim that this important monastic center in the Wallachian capital had been the theater of Kyrillos’ fictional (and, perhaps, actual) disgrace.


The only major character in the dialogue about whom almost nothing is known is its abused protagonist. My research has yielded little that could give a concrete sense of Neophytos’ actual identity. [80] On the basis of the few things that can be inferred from the text itself, we are in a position to know that the molested monk was closely related to another Neophytos, the bishop of Adrianople, who has been already discussed here. As he himself asserts early in the dialogue, he had been the latter’s “πρωτοσύγκελλος” at some point in his life – probably in the 1680s and surely before the bishop’s death in 1690. [81] We can also assume that he had been living in Bucharest for some time before the events described in the text had occured. Moreover, he must have been a cleric with influential connections in Wallachia, since his misfortunes seem to have attracted the interest of powerful courtiers who are invariably presented as close friends or patrons of his. [82] Finally, it is strongly implied in the dialogue that he had a long-term drinking problem that became a subject of gossip and social critisism. One cannot help noticing that the narrative is programmatically manipulated at certain points so that the fictional Neophytos can be made to confront that issue, seeking to justify himself or expose the hypocritical malevolence of those who accuse him. [83]
Besides the obvious coincidence between the name of the protagonist and that of the person who signed the work as its author, it must have been the targeted intensity and emotional resonance of the piece that led Legrand to conclude his introduction to the edition of the text by stating that it would not be surprising if the author of the text and the fictional Neophytos proved to be one and the same person. [84] It is difficult to disagree with Legrand on this point, especially since both the factual descriptions and the satirical attacks in the dialogue vibrate with a directness and embittered tension that must be of autobiographical origin. Nevertheless, concrete evidence would have to be produced before such an assumption could be unreservedly accepted, and no such thing is currently available. The same is true for another challenging problem, namely, the identity of the dialogue’s author. Much like the fictional Neophytos, the person who penned his name at the bottom of the text is particularly hard to get at. Once again, the lack of pertinent evidence makes it difficult to address this basic problem effectively. Thus, the following section can only put forth a set of preliminary observations on the issue of the work’s authorship. It offers no definitive answer.

The Peloponnesian Connection

Codex MΠT 672, which contains Τὸ ἀχούρι, comprises sixteen different manuscripts, dating from 1692 to 1701. There are also several blank leaves and a final page, written at a much later point, with a few brief notes in the form of a personal diary of memorable events. The majority of the copied texts included in the codex are works by the Pontic scholar Sevastos Kyminitis (1632-1702). We find three of his paraphrases of Byzantine mirrors for princes, preceded by their dedications and prologues; two encomia [85] and an epigram for Constantin Brâncoveanu; an Easter homily; and his admonitory discourse to the nuns of the Panagia Theoskepastos monastery in Trebizond. Other than that, there are two homilies by Gerasimos II Palladas, patriarch of Alexandria (1688-1710), and two texts by Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory the Theologian.
With the exception of four cases, where the hand is discernibly different, [86] it is certain that all the manuscripts in the codex were copied by the same person. Most of them are left unsigned and undated. There are four instances, however, where a certain monk Neophytos reveals himself as the copier, also giving the exact completion date of each manuscript. These brief notes are reproduced here in chronological order: [87]

Πόνος Νεοφύτου θύτου τε τοῦ Πελοποννησίου: κατὰ ͵αχϟςῳ μηνί Σεπτεμβρίῳ. (f. 26v)
Ἐγράφη ἐν βίᾳ διὰ χειρὸς ἐμοῦ Νεοφύτου ἱερομονάχου καὶ ἡγουμένου τοῦ Ἀγίου Σάββα τοῦ ἐν Βουκουρεστίῳ: κατὰ τὸ ͵αψʹ ἔτος Μαρτίου 24 ἐτελειώθη εἰς τρεῖς ἡμέρας. (f. 134v)
Ἐγράφη παρ’ ἐμοῦ Νεοφύτου ἱερομονάχου τοῦ Πελοποννησίου κατὰ τῷ ͵αψῷ. ἐν μηνὶ Δεκεμβρίῳ 13. (f. 221r)
Ἐγράφη παρ’ ἐμοῦ Νεοφύτου ἱερομονάχου καὶ ἡγουμένου τοῦ Ἁγίου Σάββα τοῦ ἐν Βουκουρεστίῳ ͵αψαῷ ἐν μηνὶ Φεβρουαρίῳ 22. πόνος Νεοφύτου θύτου τε τοῦ Πελοποννησίου. (f. 57v)
Compared to the four dated and signed manuscripts, the manuscript in which Τὸ ἀχούρι is preserved is unique in that it does not quite follow the same pattern that these four signatures more or less establish. The month and year of composition are inserted at the end of the text in a different way. More importantly, this is the only case where the scribe – always the same Neophytos – included a calligraphed signature of his name, completely detached from the rest of the text and at the lower right side of the last page. The exceptional format employed here makes it clear that Neophytos is the author of the dialogue and not just a copier, as in all the other cases. As both Paranikas and Legrand have already argued, this particular manuscript is an autograph.
But who is this Neophytos? From what he himself reveals in the four quoted notes we can only infer that he was from the Peloponnese and that in the last decade of the seventeenth century he was living in Bucharest as a monk, and later abbot, at the Saint Savas monastery, the prosperous dependency of the Holy Sepulcher. [88] This is precisely what Paranikas wrote about him in his 1867 Σχεδίασμα, silently drawing from the information given in the codex. Besides that, there seems to have survived nothing specific about this person, other than the few things that the dialogue reveals about him, provided that there is a biographical connection between author and protagonist: he was related to Neophytos of Adrianople, he had connections among the Wallachian administrative elite, and he was an alcoholic. Not accidentally, Legrand had nothing new to offer with regard to the question of Neophytos’ identity and merely repeated what Paranikas had written about him a few years earlier. Similarly, A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, who included a description of the codex in his Ἱεροσολυµιτικὴ βιβλιοθήκη, did not make any suggestion as to who exactly Neophytos was or might have been. He did not recognize the handwriting and thus refrained from attributing it to any of the hands he had come across in the course of his long career as a palaeographer and archivist of the patriarchal collections in Jerusalem and elsewhere. [89]
To my knowledge, Athanasios Karathanasis was the first to address, if briefly, the issue of the work’s authorship, suggesting that the unknown satirist should be identified as Neophytos Notaras, a rather obscure figure of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, whose uncle, Dositheos of Jerusalem, and brother, Chrysanthos Notaras, had been two of the busiest and most prestigious members of the Orthodox Church at the time. [90] Karathanasis did not expand on this idea, but one can imagine what made him think of Neophytos Notaras. He appears to be a strong candidate as he fits into what we know for sure about the author of Τὸ ἀχούρι in three important ways: he was a monk; his monastic name was exactly what it should be; and he was a Peloponnesian. It would also have to be proven, however, that he was in Bucharest at the time of the dialogue’s composition, but since absolutely nothing is known about Notaras’ whereabouts around 1692, one could claim that he might have been living in the Wallachian capital. It was precisely in those years that his brother, Chrysanthos, had been dividing his time between Constantinople and Bucharest, where he regularly traveled mainly in the context of affairs related to the Holy Sepulcher. Neophytos could have easily made it to Wallachia too, like so many of his contemporaries.
At any rate, Karathanasis’ suggestion was not completely arbitrary, but it was exclusively based on a few coincidences and not supported by any competent evidence that could indisputably verify the dialogue’s attribution to Neophytos Notaras. Nevertheless, the latter’s name came up again in relation to the satire in 2001. In his monograph on Sevastos Kyminitis, Chariton Karanasios argued that it was none other than Neophytos Notaras who had copied the texts in Cod. MΠT 672. [91] The programmatic concentration of works by Kyminitis in the codex makes it a viable suggestion, since Notaras knew and probably corresponded with the Pontic scholar, having been a student of his at the Patriarchal Academy in Constantinople in the late 1670s. Karanasios’ theory is of critical importance for us here. As it has already been explained, it is certain that Τὸ ἀχούρι was composed and written down by the same person who copied most of the manuscripts in the codex. If Neophytos Notaras is proven to have been the unknown copier of that material, there can be little doubt that in his person we also have the author of the satire.
In this case too, however, Notaras’ nomination was essentially exploring an attractive possibility rather than establishing an indisputable fact. It is true, of course, that solid proof is something that one can only minimally hope for: Notaras had led a private and inconspicuous life in the periphery of the Orthodox world and always in the shadow of his two distinguished relatives. As a result, we are left today with practically no information about even the most important aspects of his life and career. Nevertheless, a brief survey of the few things that we do know about him would be necessary before his potential involvement in the composition of Τὸ ἀχούρι can be discussed in a more comprehensive way.
Neophytos Notaras was born in Trikala, a small town in the Peloponnese. The date of his birth is not attested, but Pinelopi Stathi has suggested that he must have been older than his brother Chrysanthos, who was probably born between 1655 and 1660. [92] Almost nothing is known about his parents and early childhood, but we can be certain that both he and his brother were soon taken under the care and guidance of their maternal uncle Dositheos of Jerusalem, whom they always served loyally and remembered with gratitude and respect. [93] It was Dositheos who had arranged for his nephews to become monks and members of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher at a young age, and in due time they were both ordained deacons in the service of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. [94] Both brothers spent several years in Constantinople, where in the late 1670s and early 80s they studied at the Patriarchal Academy with Sevastos Kyminitis, whose surviving letters to Chrysanthos reveal his admiration and affection for both of them. [95] Chrysanthos’ erudition and intelligence were considered to be phenomenal among his contemporaries – and not without good reason. Neophytos, on the other hand, kept a much lower profile than his brother, but he too was widely regarded as a good cleric and gifted individual. Writing in 1719, for instance, Dimitrios Prokopiou stressed precisely these qualities of his:

Νεόφυτος ἱερομόναχος Νοταρᾶς Πελοποννήσιος, ἐπίτροπος τοῦ ἁγίου τάφου, καὶ ἀδελφὸς τοῦ μακαριωτάτου πατριάρχου τῶν Ἱεροσολύμων κυρίου Χρυσάνθου· ἀνὴρ εὐσεβείᾳ καὶ τρόπων χρηστότητι φαιδρυνόμενος, ἐλλόγιμος καὶ φιλομαθής, φιλόσοφος, θεολόγος καὶ μαθηματικός, ἔμπειρος τῆς θείας γραφῆς· μελετᾷ καὶ ἀναγιγνώσκει τὰς ἱερὰς βίβλους τῶν πατέρων τῆς ἐκκλησίας. [96]
Although we have a fairly accurate knowledge of Chrysanthos’ activities in the 1680s and 90s, [97] nothing is known about what happened to his brother in the same period. One thing that is clear, however, is that while the former was rapidly building a spectacular ecclesiastical career for himself, decidedly promoted by Dositheos of Jerusalem, Neophytos was following – or was made to follow – a far less impressive path. Not accidentally, there is no surviving evidence that could give us some sense of his whereabouts from around 1680 and for at least fifteen years thereafter. [98] The earliest trace of him in that period that I have been able to locate dates from as late as 1696. We can now be certain that by that date he had moved to Palestine, since he is specifically mentioned in a contemporary codex as the patriarchal supervisor of the lavra of Saint Savas, a monastery outside Jerusalem. [99] There is no indication that he ever left Palestine after that date, not even in the context of a fund-raising tour like those that the members of the Brotherhood were expected to undertake. [100] As a matter of fact, we know that in 1698 he was appointed “επίτροπος” of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. [101] As an executive director or general secretary charged with the task of running the Patriarchate, he was confronted with responsibilities that required his constant presence, absolute devotion, and unfailing attention to the affairs of the Holy Sepulcher, [102] especially since his tenure coincided with particularly difficult times for the interests of the Orthodox Church in the area. [103] It was probably his perpetual seclusion in remote Jerusalem, as well as the difficulties and complications he dealt with on a daily basis, that made him submit regular petitions to be relieved from his administrative duties. [104] Nevertheless, none of these requests was ever granted. On the contrary, Neophytos was left to supervise the Patriarchate single-handedly [105] for almost twenty-five years. [106] He stayed there throughout his uncle’s tenure and for the most part of that of his brother’s. [107] Indeed, we know that he was still holding that same post when he died, at a fairly advanced age, in mid December 1722. [108]
The question that interests us here, of course, is whether Neophytos Notaras was or could have been the author of Τὸ ἀχούρι. Such a possibility cannot be definitively excluded at this point. It must be observed, however, that there are several discrepancies between concrete textual evidence on the one hand and Notaras’ life and career on the other, which can seriously compromise the suggested attribution of both the dialogue and the manuscripts in Cod. MΠT 672 to him. Since they have never been pointed out before, I will briefly summarize them here.

  1. As already discussed here, it is almost certain that the satire had a strongly autobiographical background. Therefore, despite the fact that no objective value can be attached to the discernible incongruities between what the text reveals about its protagonist/author and what is actually known about Neophytos Notaras, it is worth taking them into account. The fictional Neophytos complains that he has been totally alone in this world since the death of his protector, the metropolitan of Adrianople. He is badly beaten, manipulated, and dragged to court by an insignificant old monk probably over some money that he had borrowed from him and could not pay back. He is auditioned and embarassingly reproached by an ex patriarch, the mere sight of whom he utterly dreads. Finally, his addiction to alcohol is being frequently and viciously criticized to the point that he must come up with some sort of self-defense. None of these can be really applied to Notaras. At the point of the dialogue’s composition, he was a middle aged respectable archdeacon of the Holy Sepulcher, [109] who was soon to be given total control over the Patriarchate of Jerusalem as its general supervisor. There is no indication that he had ever been to Adrianople, and it is highly unlikely that he had served Neophytos Philaretos as his deacon. But even if he had been related to the metropolitan of Adrianople at some point in his life, would he really claim in writing that he was helpless and miserable when his “γέρων” was not around any more? Did Notaras not have other people in his life with whom he could seek comfort and protection? What about his brother and uncle? Not only were they fairly close to each other throughout their lives, but it is also hard to believe that with them by his side Neophytos would publically confess, even in the context of a satirical text, his helplessness and despair over some trivial and quite embarrassing events. It can hardly be overlooked that both Chrysanthos and Dositheos ranked very high among the most powerful clerics in the Orthodox East at the time.
  2. It is difficult to imagine that someone like Notaras could have written a satirical work as acerbic and agressive as Τὸ ἀχούρι. And this is not just an issue of arbitrary psychological interpretation. It should also be kept in mind that all the virtuous and highly praised characters in the dialogue had been branded adversaries of his uncle Dositheos, or, at any rate, were known to have had very problematic relations with the authoritative patriarch of Jerusalem. That was certainly the case with Neophytos of Adrianople, Germanos Lokros, and Dionysios IV Mouselimis, all of whom play an important role in the text as agents of justice and revenge and as people of high moral standards and undisputed authority. [110] It does not seem likely that in a world of ferocious antagonism and deep ideological tension, one of Dositheos’ closest and most trusted colleagues would or could have produced a work whose sympathies lie with precisely those people whose lives and careers had been in one way or another compromised by the patriach’s venomous attacks.
  3. Although the date of Neophytos Notaras’ death is carefully recorded on the last page of the codex, and both his official position at the Patriarchate and his relationship to Patriarch Chrysanthos are explicitly stated, [111] he is not identified as the author of the dialogue. Nor is he anywhere mentioned and specifically named as the owner of the codex or the copier of any of the texts that are included therein. These omissions are not without significance, especially since they go against a standard scribal practice that would normally require the inclusion of information pertaining to the authorship of a text or the ownership of a manuscript. [112]
  4. Finally, a few chronological remarks. The author/copier Neophytos was a monk in Bucharest while he was writing Τὸ ἀχούρι and must have been living there for some time before 1692. As it can be inferred from the previously quoted signatures that conclude four different manuscripts in the codex, he was still there between 1700 and 1701. By that time he had become abbot of Saint Savas, his home monastery. On the other hand, what we know about Notaras is that in 1696 he had settled in Palestine and that no more than two years later he was appointed to a crucial post in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem that had been seriously weakened by the ineffective management of previous administrators. Thus, attributing the dialogue to him would involve accepting that he had been a simple monk in Bucharest at the beginning of the 1690s, which is not impossible but not very likely either. More that than, however, one would also have to accept that soon after moving to Palestine and assuming his duties at the Patriarchate, Notaras returned to the Wallachian capital as abbot of Saint Savas. In fact, he must have stayed in Bucharest at least until the beginning of the eighteenth century, since, as it has been shown here, the abbot of the monastery had copied, signed, and dated at least two manuscripts there, in 1700 and 1701 respectively. This sounds like a rather far-fetched scenario. Notaras’ duties at the Patriarchate demanded his constant presence in Jerusalem and we are in a position to know that he rarely, if ever, left the city after 1698. How possible can it be that he spent extensive periods of time in Bucharest and had actually served as abbot of an imporant monastic center in the city that would have certainly required his constant presence there?
The palaeographic collation of the dialogue’s manuscript in Codex MΠT 672 with a certified autograph of Neophytos Notaras’ will eventually give a definitive answer as to whether the latter was the author of Τὸ ἀχούρι or not. [113] In the case of a positive result, our current knowledge about his life and career would have to be amended to a significant extent and in surprising ways. For the time being, however, we can be almost certain that the author of the dialogue was someone else: a Peloponnesian monk who had found his way to Wallachia from Adrianople after Neophytos Philaretos’ death around 1690, and spent several years as a monk and abbot at Saint Savas in Bucharest. [114] There he must have met, befriended, and perhaps collaborated with Sevastos Kyminitis who had been teaching at the recently founded Principal Academy that was housed at the same monastery [115] and was sponsored by none other than the Wallachian ruler Constantin Brâncoveanu who is being lavishly praised at the beginning of Τὸ ἀχούρι. That probably explains the high concentration of works by Kyminitis in the codex that also contains Neophytos’ dialogue. In fact, I argue that the 1692 satirist was the same person as the hitherto unidentified monk Neophytos who is reported to have delivered in 1695 one of Kyminitis’ panegyrics for Brâncoveanu “upon his Highness’ return from his campaign.” [116] Living in one of the most important urban centers in the Ottoman Balkans, he must have contributed, in his way, to the unprecedented climate of prosperity and renewal that had been reshaping all aspects of social and cultural life in the region under the Wallachian ruler’s direct or indirect support and patronage.


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[ back ] 1. Cf. Politis 1980:265. For Vasileiou’s activities in Paris, see Bettis 1973:347-349.
[ back ] 2. Cf. Politis 1980:265 and 271.
[ back ] 3. Cf. ibid., 264.
[ back ] 4. Cf. ibid., 267. Vasileiou’s letter is reproduced in its entirety in Politis’ article. All translations of quoted passages are mine.
[ back ] 5. Cf. ibid., 268.
[ back ] 6. Ibid.
[ back ] 7. Cf. ibid., 269. For Soutzos’ satire, see Spathis 1995.
[ back ] 8. Politis 1980:269.
[ back ] 9. Cf. Skouvaras 1970; cf. also Spathis 1995:249n58.
[ back ] 10. Cf. Paranikas 1867:104: “Νεόφυτος ἱερομόναχος, Ἡγούμενος τῆς Μονῆς τοῦ Ἁγίου Σάββα ἐν Βουκουρεστίῳ (1680), Κωμῳδίαν γράψας κατὰ Κυρίλλου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως.” The date given in parenthesis is arbitrary. It should also be noted that the passage is included in a series of biographical reports on Peloponnesian erudites. Thus, although Paranikas makes no reference to Neophytos’ place of origin, it is clear that the latter was from the Peloponnese.
[ back ] 11. Ibid., 104n13. The phrase “περίφημος Κωμῳδία” seems to be implying that the work was both popular and widely circulated. Legrand 1881:LXXIV was right to doubt the accuracy of Paranikas’ assertion.
[ back ] 12. Cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB5 1915:224, where the word “Ἀχοῦρι” is reproduced without any information regarding its status and function in relation to the rest of the text. My palaeographic examination of the manuscript confirmed that the word precedes the text in place of a title. It also made clear, however, that it was not until much later, probably in the early or mid nineteenth century, that the word “Ἀχοῦρι” was penciled on top of f. 9r by a noticeably different hand. There can be no doubt, that this is not an original title and that the dialogue had been left untitled for a fairly long time after its completion.
[ back ] 13. Both Saint Savas and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were dependencies of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and, thus, fell under the same jurisdiction.
[ back ] 14. See Neophytos 1881:148-149.
[ back ] 15. Ibid., 148 (lines 11-18).
[ back ] 16. For a detailed account of his life and reign, see mainly Ionescu 1969.
[ back ] 17. Byzantine, and especially Constantinian, motifs were given a prominent place in Brâncoveanu’s propagandistic program for political and cultural emancipation; cf. Duţu 1989.
[ back ] 18. In the Danubian Principalities succession to the throne was hereditary but not based on primogeniture. Specifically in Wallachia any noble could potentially gain access to the throne, provided that he was a descendant of the Basarab dynasty founded by Basarab I in the early fourteenth century.
[ back ] 19. Brâncoveanu’s father died in 1655, when Constantin was only a few months old. He was adopted and raised by his maternal uncles, Şerban and Constantin Cantacuzino.
[ back ] 20. See Cândea 1971.
[ back ] 21. Cf. Spathis 1995:417-418.
[ back ] 22. Both “ἀχούριον” (line 53) and “ἀχούρι” (lines 49 and 51) are used in the text. The medieval Greek word “ἀχούρι(ο)ν” originally designated a stable; cf. Kriaras 1973:413. At a later point it acquired a metaphorical meaning denoting a dump, a place so untidy and deprived of order and cleanliness that it has become fit only for animals although it is human beings that inhabit it. Here, however, it is a dungeon, the “dark and dirty” prison cell into which Kyrillos, the satirized monk, is thrown after his indictment; cf. Neophytos 1881:150-153 (lines 61-62, 73, 117-118, 125-126 and 128), 162 (lines 323-324), and 164 (line 379).
[ back ] 23. “Κόμισος” (Romanian “comis”) was a high-rank courtier and member of the “sfatul domnesc,” the princely council, charged with the care of the horses at court and the transportation of the annual tribute and other gifts to the Porte; cf. Treptow 1996:612 and, in more detail, Stoiescu 1968:293-298. In the text the character is referred to as “Τουρασῆς”; cf. Neophytos 1881:161 (line 307).
[ back ] 24. The manuscript gives “ἄγα γιωργούσης” (f. 10r). An “ἄγα” (aga) was a military commanding officer; cf. Stoiescu 1968:254-256.
[ back ] 25. “Κλοτζιάρης” (clucer) was a court official charged with protecting the provisions at the court. He also supervised the collection of taxes in kind owed to the prince; cf. Treptow 1996:612 and Stoiescu 1968:284-288.
[ back ] 26. “Καμαράσης” (cămăraş) was the title of the financial administrator of the court, in charge of the “cămară domnească,” the princely treasury.
[ back ] 27. Cf. Neophytos 1881:151 (lines 65 and 60, respectively).
[ back ] 28. Nothing in Neophytos’ account of the event indicates that Kyrillos’ act of violence had been fuelled by resentment over some unresolved issue between the two men. In lines 45-48 of the prologue, however, it is implied that the offender was not getting back money that the victim had borrowed from him.
[ back ] 29. Cf. Legrand 1881:LXXVI.
[ back ] 30. Cf. ibid., where, however, Neophytos Philaretos is mistakenly mentioned as the satirized Kyrillos’ brother. The date 1690 that Legrand gives for Neophytos’ ascension to the patriarchal throne is not accurate either.
[ back ] 31. Parthenios Oxys, a student of Theophilos Korydaleas and one of the most ardent supporters of Kyrillos Loukaris, served as ecumenical patriarch twice: 1644-1646 and 1648-1651; cf. Gedeon 1996:449-452 and 453-455.
[ back ] 32. Cf. Tsourkas 1970:24.
[ back ] 33. Neophytos’ fall from grace with Parthenios II and his subsequent “ἀποκήρυξις” in January 1650 were probably the result of a financial conflict with the Ecumenical Patriarchate; cf. Gedeon 1996:454-455 and 1913:117. Nevertheless, he was soon reinstated by decision of Patriarch Ioannikios II, who had succeeded Parthenios II after the latter’s execution in May 1651.
[ back ] 34. Cf. Tsourkas 1970:27.
[ back ] 35. Cf. ibid., 28-29.
[ back ] 36. Quoted in Gedeon 1913:117.
[ back ] 37. Cf. Tsourkas 1970:29-30.
[ back ] 38. At least twenty-seven letters have survived that the two men had exchanged over thirty years of close friendship; cf. ibid., 79-89. A title-list of Neophytos’ correspondence, preserved in Cod. MΠT 553, was published in Sathas 1872:515-518 and later in Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB5 1915:110-113. Three more letters are listed in Camariano 1940:80 (no. 36) and 109 (nos. 168, 169), while a collection preserved in the Iviron monastery on Mount Athos has been recorded but inadequately described in Lambros 1966:213 (no. 4851/2).
[ back ] 39. Germanos became a metropolitan very late in his life, probably at some point between 1678 and 1679. His title was purely honorary.
[ back ] 40. It was not in the summer of 1664 (Tsourkas 1970:40) that the scandal in the Academy broke out. In December 1663, Nektarios of Jerusalem wrote a letter to Germanos from Jassy, the Moldavian capital, which starts with a direct allusion to Germanos’ dismissal; quoted in Manousakas 1941:146. But even before that, Germanos had described the whole incident to his brother Kyrillos in a letter that must be dated to late October 1663 and where it is made clear that the events were still very recent at that point. The letter is published in Hurmuzaki 1909:355; for my suggested dating, cf. n71 below.
[ back ] 41. For Germanos’ activity from 1646 until his final departure from Constantinople, see Tsourkas 1970:37-43 and 45-46.
[ back ] 42. I have been able to locate a letter that he sent from Bucharest to Eugenios Giannoulis on 5 August 1676; cf. Hurmuzaki 1909:357-358. Tsourkas 1970:47 estimates that Germanos might have arrived to Bucharest as early as 1672-1673, which is possible but unattested.
[ back ] 43. Teaching had been a source of revenue for many Greek-speaking clerics and scholars living in or traveling through the Danubian Principalities. The hypothesis advanced in Tsourkas 1970:63-66 that upon his arrival in Wallachia Germanos was appointed professor or director of a Greek college in Bucharest has been convincingly refuted in Camariano-Cioran 1974:29-31.
[ back ] 44. Gedeon 1913:125 places the event in 1678, two years earlier than its actual date; see Tsourkas 1970:49-52 with information on Germanos’ banishment from Wallachia, the political reasons that dictated it, and the role that Dositheos played in it.
[ back ] 45. Karathanasis 1970:44 mistakenly indicates that Germanos remained in Braşov until the end of 1682. In fact, he had returned to Bucharest before 11 January 1682; cf. Tsourkas 1970:52 and 90-91.
[ back ] 46. For the 1688 Biblia, see Păcurariu 1981:135-139.
[ back ] 47. For Germanos’ activities after his return from Braşov and until his death, see Tsourkas 1970:52-55.
[ back ] 48. The letter, reproduced in Tsourkas 1970:111, was written on 10 February 1687 and not “le 11 février 1688,” as is mentioned in ibid., 55.
[ back ] 49. See Karathanasis 1982:104-108.
[ back ] 50. 1. 1671-1673; 2. 1676-1679; 3. 1682-1684; 4. 1686-1687; and 5. 1693-1694. Cf. Gedeon 1996:471-487.
[ back ] 51. C. Karathanasis 1982:105-106 and Gedeon 1996:471.
[ back ] 52. Cf. Karathanasis 1982:104-105. It is unlikely that Neophytos of Adrianople and Germanos Lokros had been Dionysios’ fellow students at the Patriarchal Academy, as it has been suggested by Karathanasis. The latter is right, however, in emphasizing the role that their affiliation with Korydaleas and common intellectual background played in their future development.
[ back ] 53. He had probably established himself in Bucharest as early as the 1640s; cf. Karathanasis 1982:105.
[ back ] 54. The date of composition is clearly inserted in the manuscript on the last page of the text, right above the signature of the author: “ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ ͵αχϟϐ΄ κατὰ μῆνα ὁκτώβριον [sic]. Νεόφυτος”; Cod. ΜΠΤ 672:20r; cf. also Neophytos 1881:165. Interestingly, the first time Neophytos of Adrianople responds to his former deacon’s call, he expresses his dissatisfaction at being disturbed in the following terms: “…μὴν με πειράζῃς ἀπ’ἐδῶ ποῦ εἶμαι τεθαμμένος,/τὸν λογοθέτην καρτερῶ καὶ εἶμαι συγχυσμένος”; Neophytos 1881:154 (lines 153-154). I would argue that the unidentified logothete whose arrival to the underworld is sadly anticipated by the bishop is Ioannis Kariophyllis. He died in Bucharest on 22 September 1692, a few weeks, days perhaps, before Τὸ ἀχούρι was composed in October of that year. For the exact date of Kariophyllis’ death, see Russo 1939:186.
[ back ] 55. For Kallinikos II’s second patriarchate (1689-1693), see Gedeon 1996:485-486. Based on a letter written in June 1693, where Mouselimis signs as “Διονύσιος ὁ πρώην Κων/πόλεως,” Gedeon rightly infers that he was still in Bucharest at that point but had not yet been elected patriarch. Nevertheless, his speculation that Dionysios was elected in July or August 1693 is not convincing, especially as the synodic decree of his fifth deposition (1 May 1694) clearly states that by that time he had been patriarch for six months, which means that his patriarchate must have started in November or December 1693. Following Gedeon, Gennadios 1940:120-122 suggests, equally unconvincingly, that Mouselimis left Bucharest in mid July 1693 and arrived in Constantinople a month later to assume his patriarchal duties for the fifth and last time.
[ back ] 56. The estimated date of Neophytos of Adrianople’s death provides a safe terminus post quem.
[ back ] 57. Nevertheless, this logical assumption can only be confirmed on the basis of a single reference that could be interpreted as an acknowledgment of Mouselimis’ “ex” status, namely, the phrase “ἐστάθη πατριάρχης” in line 273. Nothing else can be found in the dialogue that could betray the fact that Dionysios was not on active duty at the point when the events described in the text take place.
[ back ] 58. Cf. Neophytos 1881:159 (line 270). For Teodosie, who served as archbishop of Wallachia in 1660-1672 and 1679-1708, see Păcurariu 1981:126-129 and 132-135.
[ back ] 59. Cf. Neophytos 1881:155 (lines 183-184 and 185-186), 156 (line 192), and 163 (line 337).
[ back ] 60. To Kyrillos, Alexios, and Sylvestros mentioned in Tsourkas 1970:59-60 one more brother must be added: Eustathios, a goldsmith based in Trikala and regularly corresponding with Eugenios Giannoulis; cf. Giannoulis 1992:22 (no. 36).
[ back ] 61. He is greeted as “ἱερομόναχος” in at least three letters addressed to him; cf. Sathas 1872:518; Hurmuzaki 1909:355; and Giannoulis 1992:391 (no. 207).
[ back ] 62. Tsourkas 1970:59 claims that Kyrillos was probably older than Germanos. But if he was indeed older than his brother, and if Germanos was born at some point between 1610 and 1615, then Kyrillos must have been at least in his early eighties by the time Τὸ ἀχούρι was written in 1692. It is interesting that nothing in the text seems to be alluding, even remotely, to Kyrillos’ advanced age.
[ back ] 63. The identification of Kyrillos, Germanos’ brother, with Kyrillos III Spanos, suggested in Gritsopoulos 1958:414-417 (and followed in Knös 1962:485) is erroneous.
[ back ] 64. Cf. Tsourkas 1970:59; see also Giannoulis 1992:25 (no. 71).
[ back ] 65. In a letter he sent to Ioannis Kariophyllis from Bucharest on 9 April 1682, Germanos writes that, “Ὁ ἀδελφός μου Ἀλέξιος προσκυνεῖ τὴν ἐνδοξότητά σου, ὁμοίως καὶ ὁ ὀφθαλμίας Κύριλλος. Ὁ Ἀλέξιος πιέζεται τῇ πτωχείᾳ, ὁ ἄλλος μαστίζεται τῇ ὀφθαλμίᾳ καὶ σχεδὸν τὴν τιμὴν τῶν μπουχασίων ἣν ἔλαβον διὰ πολλῶν ἐξόδων τὴν ἐδαπάνησαν ἐπειδὴ αἰσχύνομαι ἰδεῖν τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς προσάντας(?) [sic]”; cf. Tsourkas 1970:95 (I would argue that Tsourkas’ problematic reading should be emended to “προσαίτας”). Tsourkas asserts that Kyrillos eventually lost his eyesight altogether (ibid., 101) and seems to have been silently based on another letter by Germanos to Kariophyllis in which he speaks again of his two brothers, predicting for Alexios an unhappy future and for Kyrillos an eventual “παντελῆ τῶν ὄψεων ἀποβολήν.” We do not know if that proved to be the case indeed, but “ὀφθαλμία” (opthlamia or ophthalmitis) is a painful inflammatory disease that can cause severe damage in the visual function and, potentially, even blinding. Interestingly, however, Kyrillos’ condition is not really brought up in the dialogue. There are three instances where an impaired vision might be implied (lines 52 and 211: “τυφλὲ καὶ σκοτισμένε”; line 123: “τυφλὲ”), but it is not at all clear whether the words are used literally or in a metaphorical sense, the latter being clearly the case in lines 51, 55, and 317.
[ back ] 66. Gritsopoulos 1966:228 misdated the letter to 1673. Unavoidably, he drew mistaken conclusions about the dates of Germanos’ teaching at the Patriarchal Academy.
[ back ] 67. Giannoulis 1992:144.
[ back ] 68. Apparently, Kyrillos had even inherited a considerable amount of money upon Germanos’ death. Cf. Neophytos 1881:156 (lines 195-196), where Germanos comments bitterly that “μὲ τὸ πῶς εὗρε κάμποσα μπάνια ἐδικά μου, / κάμνει τρελλάδαις ἡ πομπὴ δίχως τὸ θέλημά μου”.
[ back ] 69. Cf. Hurmuzaki 1909:355-356.
[ back ] 70. Cf. Kyrillos’ own confession in line 85 where he admits that, “καὶ τὴν Κωνσταντινούπολιν ἐκαταμπέρδευσά την”. Kyrillos had been in Constantinople with Germanos in 1663: the latter is openly reproached by Giannoulis for his leniency toward his brother’s eccentric behavior and the phrasing in that section of his letter implies that they must have been living together. Germanos had moved to the city probably shortly before 1660. It was then that he was appointed professor at the Patriarchal Academy, and he held that position until his expulsion in 1663. We can assume, therefore, that Kyrillos could have also settled in Constantinople by the very beginning of the 1660s having followed his brother, as he probably did throughout his life. Unfortunately, however, it is not clear where was it exactly that Germanos spent the long period from the death of his teacher Korydaleas in Athens (1646) to his settlement in the Ottoman capital.
[ back ] 71. Cf. Hurmuzaki 1909:355. The letter is not dated but it can be inferred on the basis of the opening sentence of Germanos’ next letter to his brother that it was written in late October 1663; cf. ibid., 356. See also Manousakas 1950:20-21.
[ back ] 72. The letter is dated 16 May 1679 and was sent by Eugenios Giannoulis to Eustathios, Kyrillos’ brother, whom he informs that approximately two months earlier “ἐλάβαμεν γράμμα τοῦ κὺρ Γερμανοῦ […] ἀντάμα καὶ μὲ ἄλλο ἕνα τοῦ κὺρ Κυρίλλου, ἀλλὰ πολλὰ ὀλίγον, διὰ τοῦ ὁποίου μᾶς ἔγραφεν ὅτι ἔπεμψε καὶ ἄλλο πρωτύτερα περισσότερον μὲ κάποιους πραγματευτάδαις ἀπὸ τὰ Ἰωάννενα καὶ ἀκόμη δὲν τὸ ἐλάβαμεν…”; Giannoulis 1992:304. Giannoulis’ letter is ambiguous concerning Kyrillos’ whereabouts, but it can be read as suggesting that by mid May 1679 he was already in Bucharest, since it is mentioned that Germanos’ and Kyrillos’ letter arrived together. It seems plausible, I think, that Kyrillos had spent some time in Ioannina (from where he had supposedly dispatched the letter that was still expected by Giannoulis in May) before he moved to Wallachia. He could have at least passed through the city on his way there. In Ioannina he must have met or stayed with his brother Sylvestros, who has been identified in Tsourkas 1970:60 as a certain cleric of that name employed at the archdiocese of the city and corresponding with Ioannis Kariophyllis between 1678 and 1680.
[ back ] 73. Cf. n65 above.
[ back ] 74. In one of his letters to Neophytos of Adrianople, Germanos describes, among other things, the circumstances of his expulsion from Wallachia on 14 March 1680: “…καὶ τῇ ιδ´ μαρτίου στέλλει πρὸς με ὁ ἡγεμὼν ἐπανίστασθαι τῆς Βλαχίας. Καὶ ποῦ, ἔφην; Ἔνθα βούλει, φησίν. […] ἐγὼ δὲ εἶπον· ἀπέρχομαι εἰς Οὐγκρίαν, πλὴν δότε μοι τὸ ἀργύριόν μου· ἔλαβε γὰρ καὶ παρ’ ἐμοῦ πέρυσι μπρομοῦντα 250 ἀσλάνια. Ὁ δὲ ἀπελθέτω, φησί, καὶ δώσομεν τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ὕστερον”; cf. Gedeon 1913:125. The letter is not dated, but the phrase “καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Πρασόβιον [=Braşov] μαρτίου 20” indicates clearly that it must have been written soon after Germanos’ deportation and settlement in Braşov. It is possible that the brother mentioned (but not named) at the end of the quoted passage was Alexios, an unsuccessful merchant who had also been living in Bucharest with Germanos. But in the equally probable case that the brother in question was Kyrillos, we would have to accept that he had moved to Bucharest already by the beginning of 1680, if not earlier.
[ back ] 75. Cf. Tsourkas 1970:53-55; see also Dură 1977:171-177.
[ back ] 76. Cf. Tsourkas 1970:67.
[ back ] 77. Cf. Iorga 1995:64.
[ back ] 78. Cf. Tsourkas 1970:67.
[ back ] 79. Cf. Neophytos 1881:151 (lines 81-82): “σὲ κάθε ἁμάξι τῶν πτωχῶν ἔπαιρνα δέκα μπάνια, / ἐκεῖνο ποῦ δὲν κάμνουσι ’ς τ’ αὐθεντικὰ τὰ χάνια.” It is now much more clear what the imprisoned Kyrillos is actually referring to in the first scene of the dialogue, when he recalls the nasty things he had been doing in Plătăreşti. It should also be pointed out, however, that in Τὸ ἀχούρι the Plătăreşti incident is aluded to in very interesting terms. Germanos Lokros is presented as giving full justification to Dositheos for having appropriated the monastery from him on account of his brother’s abominable behavior. Kyrillos is considered responsible for everything that had taken place between Germanos and Dositheos, and the latter is actually called “ἐχθρὸς καταβλασφήμων [sic]” (line 194) and even Germanos’ “φίλος” (line 198). With Dositheos residing in Bucharest precisely at the point when the dialogue was being written (Dură 1977:51), the author – a monk in a monastery that was a dependency of the Holy Sepulcher and, therefore, under the patriarch’s direrct control – could not have wanted to step on the latter’s toes.
[ back ] 80. “Neophytos” was a very common monastic name in the Orthodox East. Several individuals by that name were active in the last decades of the seventeenth century but most of them are completely unknown to us. In most cases, no information has survived other than a passing mention in some document of the period.
[ back ] 81. Cf. Neophytos 1881:156 (line 191b).
[ back ] 82. Cf., for instance, ibid., 161 (lines 297-298).
[ back ] 83. Cf., in this respect, the emotionally charged conversation between Neophytos and his late “γέρων” in lines 225-250. See also the brief but poignant episode between Neophytos and the priest Athanasios in lines 289-296.
[ back ] 84. Cf. Legrand 1881:LXXVI.
[ back ] 85. There are, in fact, three manuscripts that contain encomia but two of them (copied by different hands) reproduce the same text.
[ back ] 86. The manuscripts contained in ff. 77r-86r and 135r-149v; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB5 1915:224.
[ back ] 87. Cf. ibid., 224-227 (nos. 3, 14, 10, 16 and 5, respectively).
[ back ] 88. Cf. Iorga 1995:63.
[ back ] 89. Cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB5 1915:224.
[ back ] 90. See Karathanasis 1982:59n3. Karathanasis claims that T. Gritsopoulos had also reached the same conclusion about the author of the dialogue, but gives no bibliographical reference. As far as I can tell, Gritsopoulos discussed Τὸ ἀχούρι only in his 1958 article on Kyrillos III Spanos (414-417) and, very briefly, in the first volume of his 1966 study on the Patriarchal Academy (230). In neither of these works is Neophytos Notaras mentioned as the author of the work.
[ back ] 91. Karanasios 2001:33n192.
[ back ] 92. Stathi 1999:51-53.
[ back ] 93. Cf. ibid., 51-52.
[ back ] 94. Cf. ibid., 54-56.
[ back ] 95. See, for instance, the two letters written by Kyminitis to Chrysanthos in February 1684 and March 1698, and published in Legrand 1888:1-2 and 9-10, respectively.
[ back ] 96. Prokopiou 1872:498.
[ back ] 97. For Chrysanthos’ travels and missions (Danubian Principalities, Russia, and Europe) and his steady ascendance in the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church, see Stathi 1999:56-63. For his studies in Constantinople, Padua, and Paris, see ibid., 79-91.
[ back ] 98. Sathas 1872:518 reports the existence of a letter that Sevastos Kyminitis had sent in 1689 from Trebizond to Neophytos. That letter contained perhaps information about the latter’s activities at that point. According to Sathas, it should have been preserved in the library of the MΠT, but it is not included in Papadopoulos-Kerameus’ 1915 catalogue, and I have not been able to locate it either.
[ back ] 99. The lavra of Saint Savas fell under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate and was located in the Judean desert. Neophytos’ presence there late in October 1696 was recorded on a spare page of a codex originally preserved in the lavra and later transferred to the patriarchal library in Jerusalem: “1696: -ὁκτωβρίω 28: † Τὴν αὐτὴν χρονήαν καὶ τὸν αὐτον μὴν ημέρα Πέμπτη ἔκαμεν εἰς τὴν εριμον εἰς τὴν λαύραν τοῦ ἁγίου Σάββα βροχὴν μεγάλην καὶ φωβερὴν· καὶ ἐκατέβην χείμμαρος μεγάλως καὶ ἐπίρεν τὸ μισῶν μωναστίριν ἀπὸ θεμελήου, ἐπιτρωπευωντος ὁ παπὰ Νεόφιτος ἀνεψηὼς τοῦ μακαριωτάτου Δοσιθέου καὶ ἡγουμενεύοντος Νικηφόρου τοῦ Κυπρήου”; Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB2 1894:650-651. The temporal participle “ἐπιτρωπευωντος” [= ἐπιτροπεύοντος] that precedes Neophytos’ name probably refers to his role as an overseer of the monastery. Not accidentally, Dositheos of Jerusalem, Neophytos’ uncle, had been particularly interested in the lavra and in 1686 he had authorized a thorough renovation that lasted more than four months and cost the Patriarchate a considerable amount of money; cf. Dositheos 1715:1236 and Papadopoulos 1910:563-564. One more piece of evidence that probably points to Neophytos’ relationship to the lavra is a 1674 manuscript of a didactic poem by Pseudo-Phocylides that was copied in the lavra and eventually came to Notaras’ possession; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB2 1894:595 (no. 576/3).
[ back ] 100. Neophytos Notaras should not be confused with the “πρωτοσύγκελλος Νεόφυτος” who is reported to have traveled extensively in search of money for the Holy Sepulcher; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB4 1899:298; and IB5 1915:164 (no. 66) and 166 (no. 78). The signatures of the two Neophytoi are found together in an official letter published in Papadopoulos-Kerameus ΑΙΣ2 1894:335-339. It is almost certain that the “γέρων Νεόφυτος,” for whom Dositheos wrote the two recommendation travel-letters listed in Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB5 1915:173 (no. 122) was that other Neophytos. He died in Tokat, deep in Anatolia, during a fund-raising expedition.
[ back ] 101. Cf. Papadopoulos 1907:133 and 1910:584-585. I follow Papadopoulos’ dating, although he does not give any information about his sources. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that the participle “ἐπιτρωπευωντος” in the sentence quoted in n99 above can be interpreted as alluding to Neophytos’ position at the Patriarchate which also involved the supervision of dependent establishments controlled by the Holy Sepulcher. In that case, we would have to accept that his appointment as patriarchal επίτροπος had taken place at least two years earlier than the suggested date. It may not be accidental, however, that the “ἁγιοταφικὰ ὑπομνήματα,” a series of semi-formal entries primarily registering financial transactions and legal disputes of the Patriarchate, begin exactly in 1698, which may in fact coincide with the beginning of Neophytos’ appointment; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus ΑΙΣ4 1897:15-38.
[ back ] 102. For additional evidence, see Papadopoulos 1911:326-327 (=1707); Papadopoulos-Kerameus ΑΙΣ4 1897:20 (no.13) (=1704) and 22 (no. 16) (=1715); and Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB5 1915:107 (= 1719).
[ back ] 103. For the situation in Palestine in that period, see mainly Papadopoulos 1910:569-625. It should also be kept in mind that Dositheos and Chrysanthos were hardly ever present in Jerusalem as they spent most of their time in Constantinople and the Danubian Principalities in constant search for funds and political support among the Ottoman officials or the Romanian aristocracy. Under those circumstances, the person chosen to stay behind in charge of the Patriarchate had to be not only an efficient and skilled administrator, but also someone absolutely trustworthy. Both Dositheos and his successor Chrysanthos had surely found in Neophytos the ideal candidate. Not surprisingly, in the “Τόμος συνοδικὸς” that Chrysanthos released in April 1707, exactly two months after his accession to the patriarchal throne, it was made clear that the authority of his επίτροπος in the Patriarchate was not to be disputed or opposed in any way; see Athanasiadis 1883:150 (articles Ι´, ΙΑ´, ΙΒ´, ΙΓ´, ΙΣΤ´). Moreover, in the long letter with which he dedicated the edition of Dositheos’ Δωδεκάβιβλος to Neophytos, Chrysanthos emphasized precisely the fact that his brother deserved more than anyone else the dedication of their late uncle’s opus magnum because “καθολικὸς ἐπίτροπος φρόνιμος καὶ πιστὸς ἐπὶ πολλὰ ἔτη τῆς ἐκείνου [=Δοσιθέου] μακαριότητος κατεστάθης ἐν τῷ ἀποστολικῷ πατριαρχικῷ αὐτοῦ θρόνῳ καθὼς καὶ τήμερον ἤδη ἐπὶ τῆς ἡμετέρας θείῳ ἐλέει πατριαρχείας τὸ αὐτὸ ὀφφίκιον ὑπάρχεις διατελῶν καὶ κοσμῶν, προσδεχόμενος διὰ τοὺς πολλούς σου κόπους καὶ μόχθους καὶ ἀγρυπνίας καὶ φροντίδας ἐν τοιαύτῃ σχεδὸν γηραλαίᾳ καὶ ἀσθενεῖ ἡλικίᾳ οὐκ ἄλλους μισθοὺς, ἐπιγείους δηλονότι καὶ φθειρομένους, ὡς ἔγνωσται τοῖς πολλοῖς, ἀλλὰ τοὺς οὐρανίους καὶ ᾀεὶ διαμένοντας…”; cf. Dositheos 1715:11.
[ back ] 104. In a letter that Alexandros Mavrokordatos sent to Neophytos on 25 February 1707 to inform him about his brother’s recent election, we read: “Καὶ ἡ πανοσιότης σου ἂν καλὰ ἠξεύρω πῶς πάντοτε ἐζήτει καὶ ἔγραφεν εἰς τὸν ἀείμνηστον πρώην Ἱεροσολύμων κὺρ Δοσίθεον νὰ τὴν μετακινήσῃ ἀπὸ τὴν ἐπιστασίαν αὐτὴν τῆς ἐπιτροπικῆς, καὶ δὲν το ἔστεργεν ἡ μακαριότης του, ὄμως διὰ τὴν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀγάπην καὶ εὐλάβειαν καὶ εὐπείθειαν δὲν ἀντέλεγεν, ἀλλ’ ἐδέχετο ἵνα ἔχῃ αὐτὴν τὴν φροντίδα καὶ τὸ βάρος τῆς ἐπιστασίας, καὶ λοιπὸν καὶ τώρα διὰ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ νῦν μακαριωτάτου πατριάρχου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ της […] θέλει ὑποφέρῃ αὐτῆς τῆς ἐπιστασίας τὴν φροντίδα, διὰ νὰ γίνεται καὶ ἡ πρέπουσα κυβέρνησις εἰς τὰ αὐτόθι”; cf. Legrand 1888:19.
[ back ] 105. Papadopoulos 1910:619 mentions that Neophytos shared the office with a certain Meletios, who had been co-elected with Notaras in 1698. Once again, Papadopoulos does not reveal his sources, but, as far as I can tell, this could not have been the case. Meletios was a distinguished member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher: he had been metropolitan of Cesareia for a number of years and in 1731 succeeded Chrysanthos on the patriarchal throne of Jerusalem from which he resigned in 1739. Nevertheless, I have not come across a single reference to him as ἐπίτροπος dating before Neophytos’ death at the end of 1722. On the contrary, in a letter of complaint that the Brotherhood sent to Patriarch Chrysanthos in 1714, Meletios signed specifically as “προηγούμενος” while Neophytos precedes him, signing as “ὁ τῆς ὑμετέρας μεγίστης μακαριότητος δοῦλος Νεόφυτος ἱερομόναχος καὶ ἐπίτροπος”; Papadopoulos-Kerameus ΑΙΣ2 1894:33. More importantly, two brief notes that were entered one after the other in the “ἁγιοταφικὰ ὑπομνήματα” make clear that Meletios succeeded Neophytos only in 1723, having never shared the office with him while the latter was alive; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus ΑΙΣ4 1897:32.
[ back ] 106. It is characteristic that both his immediate predecessors and his successors held the post for much shorter periods of time. For Neophytos’ predecessors, see the letter that Dositheos dispatched from Constantinople in 1687, expressing his frustration at the unsuccessful management of the consecutive ἐπίτροποι; Papadopoulos-Kerameus ΑΙΣ2 1894:287-292. Similarly, the appointed ἐπίτροποι after Neophytos’ death were replacing each other in relatively rapid succession. Meletios, for instance, who succeeded Neophytos in 1723, was succeeded by Kaisarios (a former interpreter at the Patriarchate who had worked with Neophytos) shortly before 1729, less than six years after his appointment; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus ΑΙΣ2 1894:335 and ΑΙΣ4 1897:22. In his turn, Kaisarios was replaced at some point before August 1737; cf. ΑΙΣ4 1897:37.
[ back ] 107. The decree of Neophytos’ initial appointment during Dositheos’ patriarchate has not survived, but in the synodic decree that was released shortly after Chrysanthos Notaras’ election on 8 February 1707 it is stated that, “πρῶτον μὲν ἐθέμεθα τὸν πανιερώτατον καὶ λογιώτατον κὺρ Χρύσανθον, δεύτερον δὲ τὸν πανιερώτατον Μητροπολίτην Πτολεμαΐδος κὺρ Ἰωάσαφ, καὶ τρίτον τὸν πανοσιώτατον ἀρχιμανδρίτην τοῦ αὐτοῦ Θρόνου Ἱεροσολύμων κὺρ Νεόφυτον”; cf. Delikanis 1904:467.
[ back ] 108. Papadopoulos 1910:619 suggests that Neophytos died a few months after the Synod that was convened in Constantinople at the end of 1722. Pinelopi Stathi gives two different dates for his death, 1722 and 1723; cf. Stathi 1999:75 and 123n384, respectively. Nevertheless, we are now in a position to know the exact date of Neophytos death: 18 December 1722. One of the four notes that were written on f. 221v of Cod. MΠT 672 records this event with precision: “† ͵αψ(κ)β. Δεκεμβρίου ιηη. † Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἀνεπαύθη καὶ ὁ μακαρίτης ἅγιος ἐπίτροπος κὺρ Νεόφυτος, ἀδελφὸς δὲ τοῦ μακαριωτάτου καὶ σοφωτάτου πατρὸς καὶ πατριάρχου τῶν Ἱεροσολύμων, κυρίου κυρίου κὺρ Χρυσάνθου”; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB5 1915:227.
[ back ] 109. In all the extant manuscripts and codices copied or signed by Notaras from 1678 onwards there is not a single one where his name is not explicitly related to the Holy Sepulcher. Neither the Brotherhood nor the Holy Sepulcher are mentioned anywhere in Cod. MΠT 672.
[ back ] 110. For the enmity between Dositheos and Neophytos Philaretos on the one hand and Dionysios Mouselimis on the other, see briefly Karathanasis 1982:108 and 104n5. As far as Germanos of Nyssa is concerned, their bitter hatred for each other dated long before Dositheos arranged Germanos’ banishment from Wallachia in 1680. It reached a climax late in 1686 when, upon his arrival to Bucharest, Dositheos requested (undoubtedly on purpose) to be received in confession by Germanos. The latter accepted the challenge but the whole thing ended up in a scandal as he stated publically that he could not grant forgiveness to Dositheos for all his sins unless he abdicated the patriarchal throne, of which he was clearly unworthy. In his turn, Dositheos sought revenge by depriving him of the monastery at Plătăreşti.
[ back ] 111. Cf. n108 above. The last page of Cod. MΠT 672 is in itself an intriguing piece of the puzzle. It contains four brief notes: the first records the death of Constantin Brâncoveanu and was probably written shortly after the ruler’s execution on 15 August 1714. It clearly dates from a much earlier period than the other notes, from which it is separated with a horizontal line drawn across the page. The other three entries register an equal number of deaths that had occurred between 7 December 1722 and 10 February 1723. Besides Neophytos Notaras, the deceased persons commemorated here are a certain monk Melchisedek and Parthenios, metropolitan of Gaza (1702-1723). According to Papadopoulos-Kerameus, the notes were written by the same hand that had copied the rest of the texts signed by Neophytos in the codex, including Τὸ ἀχούρι. There are indeed many similarities in the handwriting. There are also certain differences, but it must be kept in mind that these notes were written twenty to thirty years later than all the other manuscripts bound together in the codex.
[ back ] 112. A note similar to the one inserted at the end of Cod. MΠT 672 can be found, for instance, in Cod. Hier. 537, which belonged to the metropolitan of Gaza Christodoulos (1671-1702). In this case, however, the person who recorded the latter’s death on the last page of the codex clearly identified him as the former owner of the manuscript: “1702 ἰανουαρίου 15 ἐκοιμήθη ὁ ἄνωθεν ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Γάζης κῦρ Χριστόδουλος ἐν τῇ ἁγίᾳ πόλει Ἱερουσαλὴμ, καὶ ἐτάφη ἐν τῇ ἁγίᾳ Σιών, ἄνθρωπος ἀσκητικώτατος καὶ ἀγιώτατος, οὗ καὶ τὸ παρὸν ἦν ψαλτήριον”; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB1 1891:473.
[ back ] 113. To my knowledge, the only manuscript that can be safely credited to Neophytos Notaras is Cod. 158 of the Patriarchal Library in Jerusalem, which, unfortunately, I have not been able to examine. The following note is written on the last page: “Εἴληφε τέρμα ἐν πόλει Κωνσταντίνου/ἔσω τε μάνδρας ἣν ἔχει τάφος Λόγου [=Church of the Holy Sepulcher]./Γράφουσι χεῖρες Νεοφύτου διακόνου/ἔτει τ’ ͵αχηοʹ [=͵αχοηʹ] κηʹ ἰουνίου παύει.” Similarly in the lower margin of the first page: “εἰς χρῆσιν Νεοφύτου ἱεροδιακόνου καὶ τῶν φιλτάτων καὶ τέλος τοῦ παναγίου τάφου”; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB1 1891:254. Futhermore, the first of two manuscripts bound together in Cod. 589 of the same library was copied on 28 November 1709 by a monk called Neophytos, who might have been Notaras, but that would have to be determined upon autopsy of the codex; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB2 1894:602-603. Finally, there seems to be no reason to doubt that Neophytos’ four “κτητορικά σημειώματα” (in Cods. Hier. 145, 158, 581, and Cod. MΠT 643) were written by his hand; cf. Papadopoulos-Kerameus IB1 1891:247-248 and 254, IB2 1894:598, and IB5 1915:204-205.
[ back ] 114. In a letter that Chrysanthos Notaras wrote to the Wallachian courtier Giannaki it is mentioned that for an unspecified period of time before December 1709 a certain Serapheim was abbot at Saint Savas. In addition to that, however, Chrysanthos indicates that Serapheim had recently died and was succeeded by a high-ranking monk who had been abbot before him; cf. Stathi 1999:298 (lines 18-26). Unfortunately, Chrysanthos does not give the name of the monk but it is not unlikely that he is actually talking about Neophytos.
[ back ] 115. For Kyminitis’ presence in Bucharest during the last decade of his life (1693-1702), see mainly Karanasios 2001:24-33. For the history, function, and location of the Principal Academy in Bucharest at the end of the seventeenth century, see Camariano-Cioran 1974:20-37.
[ back ] 116. Cf. Karanasios 2001:205 (no. 174).