Cover of Bibliotheca

The Bibliotheca (Greek: Βιβλιοθήκη) or Myriobiblos (Μυριόβιβλος, "Ten Thousand Books") was a ninth-century work of Byzantine Patriarch of Constantinople Photius, dedicated to his brother and composed of 279 reviews of books which he had read.


Bibliotheca was not meant to be used as a reference work, but was widely used as such in the 9th century, and is one of the first Byzantine works that could be called an encyclopedia.[1] Reynolds and Wilson call it "a fascinating production, in which Photius shows himself the inventor of the book-review,"[2] and say its "280 sections... vary in length from a single sentence to several pages".[2] The works he notes are mainly Christian and pagan authors from the 5th century BC to his own time in the 9th century AD. Almost half the books mentioned no longer survive. These would have disappeared in the Sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, in the final Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, or in the following centuries of Ottoman rule, during which wealth and literacy contracted dramatically in the subordinate Greek community.

Possible Abbasid link

Some older scholarship had speculated that Bibliotheca might have been composed in Baghdad at the time of Photius' embassy to the Abbasid court, since many of the mentioned works are rarely cited during the period before Photius, i.e. the so-called Byzantine "Dark Ages" (c. 630–800),[3] and since it was known that the Abbasids were interested in translating Greek science and philosophy.[4] However, modern specialists of the period, such as Paul Lemerle, have pointed out that this cannot be the case, since Photius himself clearly states in his preface and postscript to the Bibliotheca that after he was chosen to take part in the embassy, he sent his brother a summary of the works he had read previously "since the time that I learned how to understand and evaluate literature," i.e. from his youth.[5] A further difficulty with supposing that Bibliotheca was composed during rather than before the embassy, besides Photius' own explicit statement, is that the majority of the works in Bibliotheca are of Christian patristic theology, and most of the secular works are histories, grammars, and works of literature, particularly rhetoric, rather than works of philosophy or science, and the Abbasids showed no interest in having Greek history or Greek high literature like rhetoric translated, nor were they interested in translating Greek Christian works. Their interest in Greek texts was confined almost exclusively to science, philosophy and medicine.[6] In fact, "there is almost no overlap (other than some Galen, Dioscorides, and Vindonius Anatolius) between the inventory of secular works in Photius's Bibliotheca and those works that were translated into Arabic"[7] in the Abbasid period.



Author Title Religion Cons.
1 Theodore of Mopsuestia On the Genuineness of the works of Dionysius the Areopagite Christian Lost
2 Hadrian the monk Introduction to the Scriptures Christian Extant
3 Nonnosus History Christian Lost
4 Theodore of Mopsuestia For Basil Against Eunomius Christian Lost
5 Sophronius For Basil Against Eunomius Christian Lost
6 Gregory of Nyssa For Basil Against Eunomius 1 Christian Extant
7 Gregory of Nyssa For Basil Against Eunomius 2 Christian Lost
8 Origen De Principiis Christian Extant
9 Eusebius Praeparatio Evangelica Christian Extant
10 Eusebius Demonstratio Evangelica Christian Extant
11 Eusebius Praeparatio Ecclesiastica Christian Lost
12 Eusebius Demonstratio Ecclesiastica Christian Lost
13 Eusebius Refutation and defence Christian Lost
14 Apollinarius Against the Heathen Christian Lost
14 Apollinarius On Piety Christian Lost
14 Apollinarius On Truth Christian Lost
15 Gelasius of Cyzicus Acts of the First Council – Nicaea Christian Extant
16 Various Acts of the Third Council – Ephesus Christian Lost
17 Various Acts of the Fourth Council – Chalcedon Christian Lost
18 Various Acts of the Fifth Council – Constantinople Christian Lost
19 Various Acts of the Sixth Council – Constantinople II Christian Lost
20 Various Acts of the Seventh Council – Nicaea II Christian Lost
21 John Philoponus On the Resurrection Christian Lost
22 Theodosius the Monk Refutation of John Philoponus Christian Lost
23 Conon Refutation of John Philoponus Christian Lost
23 Eugenius Refutation of John Philoponus Christian Lost
23 Themistius Refutation of John Philoponus Pagan Lost
24 Anonymous Acts of a disputation between Tritheites and Hesitators Christian Lost
25 John Chrysostom Notes on Death Christian Lost
25 John Chrysostom Homilies on the Ascension Christian Extant
25 John Chrysostom Homilies on Pentecost Christian Extant
26 Synesius of Cyrene On Providence Christian Extant
26 Synesius of Cyrene On the Kingdom Christian Lost
27 Eusebius Ecclesiastical History Christian Extant
28 Socrates Ecclesiastical History Christian Extant
29 Evagrius Scholasticus Ecclesiastical History Christian Extant
30 Sozomen Ecclesiastical History Christian Extant
31 Theodoret Ecclesiastical History Christian Extant
32 Athanasius Letters Christian Extant
33 Justus of Tiberias Chronicle of the Kings of the Jews Jewish Lost
34 Julius Africanus Chronography Christian Lost
35 Philip of Side Christian History Christian Lost
36 Cosmas Indicopleustes Christian Topography Christian Extant
37 Anonymous On Government Christian Lost
38 Theodore of Mopsuestia Commentary on Genesis Christian Lost
39 Eusebius Against Hierocles Christian Extant
40 Philostorgius Ecclesiastical History Christian Lost
41 John of Aegae Ecclesiastical History Christian Lost
42 Basil of Cilicia Ecclesiastical History Christian Lost
43 John Philoponus On the Hexaemeron Christian Extant
44 Philostratus Life of Apollonius of Tyana Pagan Extant
45 Andronicianus Against the Eunomians Christian Lost
Theodoret Eranistes Christian Lost
Theodoret Polymorphos Christian Lost
47 Josephus The Jewish War Jewish Extant
48 Hippolytus On the Universe Christian Lost
49 Cyril of Alexandria Against Nestorius Christian Extant
50 Nicias the Monk Against the Seven Chapters of Philoponus Christian Lost
51 Hesychius On the Brazen Serpent Christian Lost
52 Anonymous Acts of the synod of Side, 383, against the Messalians Christian Lost
53 Anonymous Acts of the synod of Carthage, 412 or 411, against the Pelagians Christian Lost
54 Various Copy of the Proceedings taken against the Doctrines of Nestorius Christian Lost
55 John Philoponus Against the Fourth Council Christian Lost
56 Theodoret Against Heresies Christian Extant
57 Appian Roman History Pagan Extant
58 Arrian Parthica Pagan Lost
59 Various Acts of the Synod of the Oak, 403 Christian Lost
60 Herodotus History Pagan Extant
61 Aeschines Against Timarchus Pagan Extant
61 Aeschines On the False Embassy Pagan Extant
61 Aeschines Against Ctesiphon Pagan Extant
62 Praxagoras of Athens History of Constantine the Great Pagan Lost
Praxagoras of Athens The Kings of Athens Pagan Lost
Praxagoras of Athens Alexander King of Macedon Pagan Lost
63 Procopius History Christian Lost
64 Theophanes of Byzantium History Christian Lost
65 Theophylact Simocatta Histories Christian Extant
66 Nicephorus Historical Epitome Christian Lost
67 Sergius the Confessor History Christian Lost
68 Cephalion Historical Epitome Pagan Lost
69 Hesychius History Christian Lost
Hesychius On Justin Christian Lost
70 Diodorus Siculus Historical Library Pagan Extant
71 Cassius Dio History Pagan Extant
72 Ctesias Persica Pagan Lost
72 Ctesias History of India Pagan Lost
73 Heliodorus Aethiopica Pagan Extant
74 Themistius Political Orations Pagan Lost
74 Lesbonax Speeches Pagan Lost
75 John Philoponus On the Trinity against John Scholasticus Christian Extant
76 Josephus Antiquities of the Jews Jewish Extant
77 Eunapius Chronicle Pagan Extant
78 Malchus Byzantine History Pagan Lost
79 Candidus History Christian Extant
80 Olympiodorus Histories Pagan Lost
81 Theodore of Mopsuestia On Persian Magic Christian Lost
82 Dexippus History Pagan Lost
82 Dexippus Historical Epitome Pagan Lost
Dexippus Scythia Pagan Lost
83 Dionysius of Halicarnassus Histories Pagan Extant
84 Dionysius of Halicarnassus Synopsis Pagan Lost
85 Heraclian Against the Manichaeans Christian Lost
86 John Chrysostom Letters Christian Extant
87 Achilles Tatius Leucippe and Clitophon Pagan Extant
88 Gelasius of Cyzicus Proceedings of the Synod of Nicaea Christian Extant
89 Gelasius of Caesarea Continuation of the History of Eusebius Pamphili Christian Lost
90 Libanius Various works Pagan Extant
91 Arrian History of the Reign of Alexander Pagan Extant
92 Arrian Continuation Pagan Lost
93 Arrian Bithynica Pagan Lost
94 Iamblichus Dramaticon Pagan Lost
95 John Scythopolita Against Schismatics Christian Lost
John Scythopolita Against Eutyches and Dioscorus Christian Lost
96 George of Alexandria Life of St. Chrysostom Christian Extant
97 Phlegon of Tralles Collection of Chronicles and List of Olympian Victors Pagan Lost
98 Zosimus New History Pagan Extant
99 Herodian History Pagan Extant
100 The Emperor Hadrian Declamations Pagan Extant
101 Victorinus Panegyrics on the Emperor Zeno Christian Lost
102 Gelasius of Caesarea Against the Anomoeans Christian Lost
103 Philo Judaeus Allegories of the Sacred Laws Jewish Lost
103 Philo Judaeus On the Civil Life Jewish Lost
104 Philo Judaeus On the Essenes and Therapeutae Jewish Extant
105 Philo Judaeus Against Flaccus Jewish Extant
105 Philo Judaeus Against Gaius Jewish Extant
106 Theognostus of Alexandria Outlines Christian Lost
107 Basil of Cilicia Against John Scythopolita Christian Lost
108 Theodore of Alexandria Against Themistius Christian Lost
109 Clement of Alexandria Outlines Christian Lost
110 Clement of Alexandria The Tutor Christian Extant
111 Clement of Alexandria The Miscellanies Christian Extant
112-3 Clement of Rome Apostolic Constitutions and Recognitions Christian Extant
114 Leucius Charinus Circuits of the Apostles Christian Lost
115 Anonymous Against the Quartodecimans Christian Lost
115 Metrodorus On the date of Easter Christian Lost
116 Anonymous A Third Volume on the Holy Easter Feast Christian Lost
117 Anonymous In Defense of Origen Christian Lost
118 Pamphilus of Caesarea Defense of Origen Christian Extant
119 Pierius Homilies Christian Lost
120 Irenaeus Against Heresies Christian Extant
121 Hippolytus Against Heresies Christian Extant
122 Epiphanius Panarion Christian Extant
123 Epiphanius Ancoratus Christian Extant
124 Epiphanius On Weights and Measures Christian Extant
125 Justin Martyr Apology Christian Extant
126 Clement of Rome Letters to the Corinthians Christian Extant
126 Polycarp Letter to the Philippians Christian Extant
127 Eusebius Life of Constantine Christian Extant
128 Lucian Dialogues Pagan Extant
129 Lucius of Patrae Metamorphoses Pagan Lost
130 Damascius Incredible Stories Pagan Lost
131 Amyntianus On Alexander Pagan Lost
132-5 Palladius Declamations Pagan Lost
136 Cyril of Alexandria Thesauri Christian Extant
137 Eunomius of Cyzicus Apology Christian Lost
138 Eunomius of Cyzicus Against Basil Christian Lost
138 Eunomius of Cyzicus Letters Christian Lost
139 Athanasius Commentary on Ecclesiastes Christian Lost
139 Athanasius Commentary on the Song of Songs Christian Lost
166 Antonius Diogenes The Wonders Beyond Thule Pagan Lost
167 Joannes Stobaeus Anthology Pagan Extant
168 Basil of Seleucia Sermons Christian Extant
170 Anonymous Precursors of Christianity Christian Lost
171 Eustratios of Constantinople On the Status of Souls after Death Christian Extant
172-4 John Chrysostom Homilies on Genesis Christian Extant
175 Pamphile of Epidaurus Historical Commentaries Pagan Lost
176 Theopompus Philippica Pagan Lost
177 Theodore of Mopsuestia Against those who say that men sin by nature and not by intention Christian Lost
178 Pedanius Dioscorides De materia medica Pagan Extant
179 Agapius (Manichaean) Manichaean pamphlets Manichaean Lost
180 John the Lydian On Prodigies Christian Extant
180 John the Lydian On the months Christian Extant
180 John the Lydian On the Public Magistracies Christian Extant
181 Damascius Life of Isidore Pagan Lost

See also


  1. ^ Jenkins, Romilly J. H. (1963). "The Hellenistic Origins of Byzantine Literature". Dumbarton Oaks Papers. JSTOR. 17: 47. doi:10.2307/1291189. ISSN 0070-7546.
  2. ^ a b Reynolds, L. D. and N.G. Wilson (1991). Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature (3rd ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 321. ISBN 0-19-872145-5.
  3. ^ Paul Lemerle, Byzantine Humanism: The First Phase: Notes and Remarks on Education and Culture in Byzantium from its Origins to the 10th century. Canberra: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 1986, 81–84.
  4. ^ Jokisch, Islamic Imperial Law (2007), pp. 364–386)
  5. ^ As Lemerle says "it is clear that this was written, and therefore that the collection has been composed, before the completion of the embassy (Lemerle, Byzantine Humanism: The First Phase, 40).
  6. ^ As Paul Lemerle puts it, "while the renaissance in Hellenism in Byzantium extended progressively and more or less rapidly to all spheres of ancient literature including poetry, theatre, rhetoric, history, etc., Islam took an interest only in the sciences on the one hand, and philosophy on the other, Byzantine Humanism: The First Phase, 26–27
  7. ^ Dmitri Gutas, Greek thought, Arab Culture, 1998, 186.