The world view of the anonymous author of the Greek Chronicle of the Tocco, 14th-15th centuries
By Thekla Sansaridou-Hendrickx
PhD Dissertation, Rand Afrikaans University, 2000
Abstract: This is the study of an unknown man’s view of his contemporary Byzantine world how it was structured and functioned both socially and culturally. In other words, this is an attempt to reconstruct the world view of an unknown individual, through expression of his emotions, impressions, principles and norms in connection with various aspects of his environment.
By this approach, I trust, the anonymous author’s value system can be “re-created” and examined in association with the collective cultural norms, set and shared by his contemporary society. Thus, besides the author’s aesthetic perception of the external, physical aspects of his environment, collective and individual stereotypes found in ideologies (such as ethnocentrism, provincialism, patriotism, and class differentiation), as well as religious and social moral values (such as piety, faith, sin, generosity, divine intervention) will be identified and analysed. Our author’s perception of his world order may be seen “from the inside” through his concepts, opinions, impressions, criticisms and praises.
These are expressed either directly or indirectly throughout his narrative, and refer to certain situations, events, characters and the human condition in general (such as the eternal question of life and death). Certain values, which are expressed by the author through his concepts and opinions, may appear as contradicting one another.
These cases will be analysed according to the author’s perception of a certain event and measured against related collective ideology, i.e. generally-held conceptions and values, as well as factual information. Thus, in order to realise the purpose of our study, we shall:
• examine the relationship and interaction between individual and collective concepts in the Chronicle;
• establish the Chronicle’s value as a source of information g on the political, economic, social and cultural life in Western Greece during a significant section of the later Byzantine era (1375-1422);
• try to reach a better understanding of the mentality of multi-ethnic Byzantine society, especially in Western Greece during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Top Image: Conquests of Carlo I Tocco, 1376-1429. Image by Constantine Plakidas / Wikimedia Commons