Leo, Diaconus, or the Deacon

Leo, Diaconus, Or The Deacon, a Byzantine historian of the 10th century, of whose personal history but little is known, except the incidental notices in his principal works (collected by C. B. Hase in his Praefitio to his edition of Leo), was born at Caloe, a town of Asia, beautifully situated at the side or foot of Mount Tmolus, near the sources of the Casstrus, in Asia Minor, and was at Constantinople pursuing his studies A.D. 966, where he was an admiring spectator of the firmness of the emperor Nicephorus 11, Phocas, in the midst of a popular tumult (4:7). Hase places his birth in or about A.D. 950. He was in Asia in or about the time of the deposition of Basilius I, patriarch of Constantinople, and the election of his successor, Antonius III. A.D. 973 or 974, and relates that at that time he frequently saw two Cappadocians, twins of thirty years' age, whose bodies were united from the armpits to the flanks (10, 3). Having been ordained deacon, he accompanied the emperor Basilius II in his unfortunate expedition against the Bulgarians, A.D. 981, and when the emperor raised the siege of Tralitza or Triaditza (the ancient Sardica), Leo barely escaped death in the headlong flight of his countrymen (10:8). Of his history after this nothing is known; but Hase observes he must have written his history after A.D. 989, as he adverts to the rebellion and death of Phocas Bardas (10:9), which occurred in that year. He must have lived later than Hase has remarked, and at least till A.D. 993, as he notices (10:10) that the emperor Basilius II restored "in six years the cupola of the great church (St. Sophia's) at Constantinople, which had been overthrown by the earthquake (comp. Cedren. Compend. 2:438, ed. Bonn) of A.D. 987." His works are, ῾Ιστορία Βιβλίοις ύor Historia libris decem: — Oratio ad Basiliaum Imperatforem: — and, unless it be the work of another Leo Diaconus, Hlomnilia in Michcelcem Achasgelium. The two last are extant only in MS. The history of Leo includes the period from the Cretan expedition of Nicephorus Phocas, in the reign of Romansus II, A.D. 959. to the death of John I, Tzimisces, A.D. 975. It relates the victories of the emperors Nicephorus and Tzimisces over the Mohammedans in Cilicia and Syria, and the recovery of those countries, or the greater part of them, to the Byzantine empire, and the wars of the same emperors with the Bulgarians and Russians. According to Hase, Leo employs unusual and unappropriate words (many of them borrowed from Homer, Agathias the historian, and the Septuagint) in the place of simple and common ones, and abounds in tautological phrases. His knowledge of geography and ancient history is slight, but with these defects his history is a valuable contemporary record of a stirring time, honestly and fearlessly written. Scylitzes and Cedrenus are much indebted to Leo, and Hase considers Zonaras also to have used his work. The Historia was first published at the cost of count Nicholas Romanof, chancellor of Russia, by Car. Bened. Hase (Paris, 1818). Combefis had intended to publish it in the Paris edition of Coryus Historie Byzanlinma, with the Historia of Michael Psellus, but was prevented by death. A.D. 1679. The Latin version which he had prepared was communicated by Montfaucon to Pagi, who inserted some portions in his Critice in Baronitnt (ad ann. 960, No. 9). The papers of Combefis were, many years after, committed to Michael le Quien, that he might publish an edition of Psellus and Leo, and part of the latter's work was actually printed. In the disorders of the French RevolutionI the papers of Combefis were finally lost or destroyed. Hase, in his edition, added a Latin version and notes to the text of Leo, and illustrated it by engravings from ancient gems: this edition is, however, scarce and dear, the greater part of the copies having been lost by shipwreck, but his text, preface, version, and notes (not engravings) have been reprinted in the Bonn ed. of the Corpus Hist. Byzantine (1828, 8vo). See Fabricius, Bibl. Graeca, 7:684, note 1; Cave, Hist. Litt. 2:106; Hase, Praestio ald Leon Diacon. Historianm. — Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. 2:743 sq.

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