Living as a Sphinx: Composite Being and Monstrous Interpreter in the ‘Middle Life’ of Michael Psellos

  • Graeme MilesEmail author
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 15)


In the works of the Byzantine philosopher Michael Psellos (1018–c.1080) appear several discussions of the relation of soul and body. On several occasions these issues arise in the context of allegorical reading. Some of these are interpretations of Biblical texts (the Song of Songs), others of Hellenic myth and the literature in which it is contained (Euripides, Homer). All of these discussions occur within a Neoplatonic conceptual framework, from which Psellos draws the hermeneutic tools which he employs. This method of reading, developed in quite different circumstances in antiquity, allows Psellos to meet the conflicting demands of Christian orthodoxy and his Neoplatonic, philosophical convictions. In each instance, the goal of reading is to extract encoded teachings regarding the Intelligible world and the relationship of the soul to it. This chapter will discuss the related tensions in these readings between text and meaning, body and soul, pagan and Christian.


Michael Psellos Byzantine Neoplatonism Byzantine reading practices Body and emotions (Byzantine) 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of HumanitiesUniversity of TasmaniaTasmaniaAustralia

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