The “Wild Beast from the West”: Immediate Literary Reactions in Byzantium to the Second Crusade
Jeffreys, Elizabeth and Michael
The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C. (2001)
The purposes of this study are two: the first and more important is to draw attention to two scrappily published and largely ignored Byzantine poems on the Second Crusade. They were written for eyewitnesses of events, with a little hard information caught up in a web of allusive references that require interpretation, typical products of the propaganda machine of Manuel I Komnenos. But the rhetoric is worth analysis, for there is evidence that both poems were written and very likely given some kind of public performance within days, certainly within weeks, of the passage of the Crusade. They may thus be taken as examples of immediate Byzantine reactions to the Crusaders. The less significant purpose is to examine the operation of some of the rhetorical structures of the poems, which, it seems to us, give an unusual degree of insight into the way a twelfth-century rhetorician might use his skills to show his audience how to react to contemporary events.