A Den of Deceit? Forgery and the Court of Constantine VII
Presented by Carl Dixon (University of Nottingham)
The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham
5:15 PM 21st March 2018
Students of the ancient and medieval periods are often confronted with texts which are forged, or whose contexts are otherwise not what they initially seem. The implications that such texts have for our understanding of the past are well understood, but forgery is seldom studied in and of itself. This paper represents a starting point for such an endeavour within the confines of the tenth century. It focuses on two heresiological texts against the Paulicians, both of which I will argue were forged during the sole reign of Constantine VII (945-59): firstly, Peter of Sicily’s History of the Paulicians; and secondly, the Contra Manichaeos, which is conventionally attributed to the Patriarch Photios.
This presentation seeks to introduce these texts and explain why their purported ninth-century contexts are erroneous. It will then examine codicological strategies by which these forgeries could be substantiated. Finally, it will address these texts within their proper tenth-century context, positing reasons for their close relationship to one another and the significance that this has for our understanding of forgery at Constantine VII’s court.