She noted this status in the Alexiad, stating that that she was " born and bred in the purple. In his oration he said that she had to read ancient poetry, such as the Odyssey , in secret because her parents disapproved of its dealing with polytheism and other "dangerous exploits," which were considered "dangerous" for men and "excessively insidious" for women. Tornikes went on to say that Anna "braced the weakness of her soul" and studied the poetry "taking care not to be detected by her parents. Her father placed her in charge of a large hospital and orphanage that he built for her to administer in Constantinople.
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The Alexiad remains one of the few primary sources recording Byzantine reactions to both the Great Schism of and the First Crusade,  as well as documenting first-hand the decline of Byzantine cultural influence in both eastern and western Europe.
Book 2 addresses the Komnenian revolt. Book 4 addresses war against the Normans — Book 5 also addresses war against the Normans — , and their first clash with the "heretics". Book 6 addresses the end of war against the Normans and the death of Robert Guiscard. Byzantine relations with the Turks Books 6—7, 9—10, and 14—15 : Book 7 addresses war against the Scythians — Book 9 addresses operations against Tzachas and the Dalmatians — , and the conspiracy of Nicephorus Diogenes Book 10 addresses war against the Cumans and the beginning of the First Crusade — Book 14 addresses Turks, Franks, Cumans, and Manicheans — Book 15 addresses the last expeditions — The Bogomils — Death of Alexios — Pecheneg incursions on the northern Byzantine frontier Books 7—8 : Book 8 addresses the end of the Scythian war and plots against the Emperor.
Although Anna Komnene explicitly states her intention to record true events, important issues of bias do exist. Throughout the Alexiad, emphasis on Alexios as a "specifically Christian emperor," morally, as well as politically laudable, is pervasive. This distaste extends to the Turks and Armenians. Despite these issues, George Ostrogorsky nevertheless emphasizes the importance of the Alexiad as a primary document. She regarded the crusaders, whom she refers to as Celts, Latins and Normans, as uneducated barbarians.
Some historians believe her work to be biased because of her feelings towards the Crusaders, and how highly she regarded her father. Representations of gender[ edit ] In the Alexiad, Anna Komnene portrays gender and gender stereotypes in a unique way.
Like her male counterparts, she characterizes women along the typical stereotypes, such as being "liable to tears and as cowardly in the face of danger". Immediately, however, she informs the reader that she will stop crying in order to properly return to her duty of history, an episode which she repeats twice in the narrative.
Her opinions and commentary on particular events in an otherwise historical text have been assigned to her gender both positively and negatively.
The Alexiad of Anna Comnena Summary & Study Guide
Meet extraordinary women who dared to bring gender equality and other issues to the forefront. From overcoming oppression, to breaking rules, to reimagining the world or waging a rebellion, these women of history have a story to tell. Anna received a good education, studying, among other subjects, literature , philosophy , history, and geography. She married the leader of Bryennium, Nicephorus Bryennius , and joined her mother, the empress Irene, in a vain effort to persuade her father during his last illness to disinherit his son, John II Comnenus , in favour of Nicephorus. Later conspiring to depose her brother after his accession to the throne , Anna was, however, unable to obtain the support of her husband; the plot was discovered, and she forfeited her property, retiring to a convent, where she wrote the Alexiad.
It is in effect the foundation document upon which all subsequent historians have relied for either the First Crusade or for the history of Byzantium. It must be understood that history for the pre-modern era is essentially literary criticism. The historian of the modern era bases his or her account on archival sources. The historian of antiquity or the middle ages a consults a handful of contemporary chronicles and then presents his or her interpretation. She is certainly as intelligent as any modern historian. Moreover, in the E. Sewter translation of Penguin, she also writes as well.