Philosopher, Writer, Scholar, Historian, Theologist, Statesman (1018 – 1096?)
Michael Psellos was a Platonic philosopher, regarded as one of the wisest men of the Byzantine era who served as the Byzantine State Secretariat under the rule of Emperor Michael V and Constantine IX. He studied law and philosophy in Athens and was a student of John Xiphlinus. Michael Psellos was a polymath; his work spanned the field of numerous sciences: philosophy, mathematics, rhetoric, astronomy, physics, alchemy, law, medicine, poetry and history.
Psellos was a distinguished lawyer and judge of Philadelphia. During Emperor Constantine’s reign he was appointed professor of philosophy and Rector of the University of Constantinople. During his career, Psellos held several important positions in the administration of the empire such as Prime Minister, Chief Representative of the Komnenos dynasty and Supreme Philosopher of the Byzantine Empire.
He developed the Platonic studies, wrote books on philosophy, mathematics, theology, medicine and astronomy and was primarily interested in alchemy and mysticism. His studies on Theurgy and Hermetism as well as his attempts to revive the Ancient Greek mystery schools led him to conflicts with the Church. Nevertheless, his contributions were an important step towards the Renaissance because he revived the lost works of the Ancient Greek writers so that years later Georgius Gemistus Pletho could begin the Renaissance.
As Rector of the University of Constantinople, Psellos revised the curriculum and placed the classical studies, primarily Homer, Plato and Aristotle in the first line of education so that future generations were imbued with the Ancient Greek spirit initiating the downfall of the religious establishment.
- “Psellos, Michael”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print