KURYSHEVA M.A. Koitonites Niketas – The Donor of “Niketas Bible” of the 10th Century

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2019.6.10  

Marina A. Kurysheva

Candidate of Sciences (History), Senior Researcher,

Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Prosp. Leninskiy, 32a, 119334 Moscow, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article is devoted to the identification of the donor of the famous illuminated codex, which received the name “Niketas Bible” in historiography. The name of the donor Niketas, and his position as a ‘koitonites’ are known from the epigram in this manuscript. Until now, researchers cannot come to a decision about the date of the “Niketas Bible” and hesitate about the identification of its owner to one of the Niketas of the 10th century known to us. Dating to the 960s – 970s has until now been considered the most reasonable. However, all the arguments related to the paleography and the decoration of this manuscript are quite random and don’t make it possible to narrow down its dating on reasonable grounds. In the historiography there was no coherent research of the biographies of those men named Niketas, who could potentially be identified with the eponymous owner of this luxurious manuscript.

Methods. On the basis of the prosopographical and historical-cultural analysis, we proposed a new identification of the owner of the manuscript and restored his ‘cursus honorum’, which allows us to obtain a new “narrow” date for ordering the codex of the “Niketas Bible” and identify another manuscript that belonged to him.

Analysis. The only ‘koitonites’ Niketas, which would satisfy all the indirect indications of the personality of the donor of “Niketas Bible”, is the protospatharios and ‘koitonites’ Niketas. He was the addressee of one of the letters of Metropolitan of Nicaea Theodore. All the surviving letters of Metropolitan Theodore fit into the period from 956 to 959, and it is precisely this time period that his letter to ‘koitonites’ Niketas should be dated to. It turns out that the codex of “Niketas Bible” is associated with a person who is mentioned in the sources between 956 and 959. There is a solid ‘terminus ante quem’ to limit the residence of ‘koitonites’ Niketas in this position at the court. After the death of Emperor Constantine VII in November 959, his son Romanus II removed all of the courtiers that worked under his father from his posts. Obviously, Niketas had to lose his position along with all the other courtiers. It is possible to identify ‘koitonites’ Niketas with patrician, protospatharios, and droungarios of the fleet Niketas. Courtier Niketas is known as the donor of “Niketas Bible”, while the droungarios Niketas is known as a person who wrote the Paris. gr. 497 manuscript. The Paris. gr. 497 manuscript was written by him when he was in captivity in Africa; after his returning to Constantinople in 968 he decorated this manuscript and in 970 donated it to the church of St. George in Cyprus.

Results. ‘Koitonites’ Niketas ordered the manuscript of “Niketas Bible” in the second half of the 950s, ‘terminus ante quem’ – November of 959, or the very beginning of 960. Courtier Niketas is most likely the same person as patrician Niketas. The life story of the eunuch Niketas, the courtier, the commander and the bibliophile, is quite typical for the close circle of Emperor Constantine VII’s and Basil Lecapenos the Nothos.

Key words: “Niketas Bible”, ‘koitonites’ Niketas, patrician Niketas, Basil Lecapenos the Nothos, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus.

Citation. Kurysheva M.A. Koitonites Niketas – The Donor of “Niketas Bible” of the 10th Century. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2019, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 121-128. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2019.6.10.

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Koitonites Niketas – The Donor of “Niketas Bible” of the 10th Century by Kurysheva M.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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