The "Alexiad " of Anna Comnena
has long been used as a source of information by historians of the Byzantine
Empire and by writers on the First Crusade, and numerous extracts from it have
been quoted and translated, yet a complete English translation of it has not
been published before.
It was to supply what appeared to me a
regrettable omission that I attempted to fill the gap and, as I proceeded with
the work, I became more and more interested, for the book gives a_picture of
wonderful mental and physical energy in the person of its hero, the Emperor
Alexius, and helps us to realize the enormous difficulties which confronted a
Byzantine Emperor at this period.
Readers of Sir Walter Scott's Count Robert
of Paris may also be glad to have a full translation of a work to which he so
The present translation is not a free
adaptation of the original but is as literal as a translation can well be;
hence there is much repetition of words and phrases, for I have striven to
reproduce Anna's style as far as possible.
The text on which I have based my version
is that of Aug. Reifferscheid in the Teubner edition of 1884.
The proper names (with the exception of
those which have acquired a definite English form) I have in most cases
transliterated exactly and then added in a footnote the spelling of them as
found in Bury's edition of Gibbon, e.g. Apelchasem = Abul-kassim.
I have dispensed with an historical
introduction in view of the fact that the Oxford University Press is shortly
publishing a book by Mrs. Georgina Buckler, Ph.D., entitled Anna Comnena : a
Study, which deals exhaustively with the chief points of interest raised by the
In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge my
deep indebtedness to Professor F. H. Marshall, for he looked over my work in
manuscript, and gave me many valuable suggestions and kind help in the
elucidation of difficulties. And I must also express my grateful thanks to my
sister, Mary C. Dawes, M.A., for her patient help in the revision and in the
perusal of the proof-sheets.
ELIZABETH A. S. DAWES.