John Geometres

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John Geometres or Kyriotes (Greek: Ιωάννης Γεωμέτρης/Κυριώτης, fl. 2nd half of 10th century), was a Byzantine poet, soldier, and monk. He is one of the main literary figures of the Macedonian Renaissance.

Biography and work[edit]

John was probably of noble descent, but other relatives have not been identified. He was well educated and served in the Byzantine army before retiring as a monk.[1] His career encompassed the eventful reigns of Nikephoros II Phokas (r. 963–969), John I Tzimiskes (r. 969–976) and the early years of Basil II (r. 976–1025). As a result, his poetry is full of references to the contemporary Byzantine conflicts with the Bulgarians and the Rus', as well as the rebellions of Bardas Skleros and Bardas Phokas. Among the Byzantine emperors, he singles out Nikephoros II Phokas for particular praise, while he denigrates his murderer and successor John Tzimiskes.[1][2] He was previously erroneously identified with another John, Bishop of Melitene.[1]

John Geometres wrote both in verse and in prose. His works include epigrams, including a collection on monasticism called Paradeisos ("Paradise"), hymns to the Virgin Mary, an encomium to an oak tree, as well as prose works on rhetoric, oratory and exegesis.[1][2]


The first edition of his poems was published by J. A. Cramer in 1841, based on the 13th-century Paris. suppl. gr. 352 manuscript,[3] but his edition contained many errors. A revised edition with a translation in French was published by Émilie Marlène van Opstall in 2008.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Kazhdan (1991), p. 1059
  2. ^ a b Vasiliev (1958), p. 365
  3. ^ J. A. Cramer, Appendix ad excerpta poetica: codex 352 suppl., Anecdota Graeca e Codd. Manuscriptis Bibliothecae regiae Parisiensis, vol. Ⅳ (Oxford, 1841, repr. Hildesheim, 1967), 265–352
  4. ^ E.M. van Opstall, Jean Géomètre: Poèmes en Hexamètres et en Distiques Elégiaques, BRILL 2008 doi:10.1163/ej.9789004164444.I-606, ISBN 9789047432586


Further reading[edit]