Georgius Pisida, (the Pisidian). The name of this writer occurs in the genitive
case, in which it is commonly found, under the various forms, Pissidon, Pisidou,
Pisidiou, Pesidou, Peside, Pissidous, Pisidons: in Latin it is written Pisides
and Pisida. He was, as his name indicates, a Pisidian by birth, and flourished
in the time of the emperor Heraclius (who reigned from A. D. 610 to 641), and
of the patriarch Sergius (who occupied the see of Constantinople from A. D. 610
to 639). In the MSS. of his works he is described as a deacon, and Charotophulax,
Chartophylax, " record keeper," or Skeuophulax, Sceuophylax, " keeper of the sacred
vessels," of the Great Church (that of St. Sophia) at Constantinople. By Nicephorus
Callisti he is termed " Refendarius" (Hpephendarios a designation not equivalent,
as some have supposed, to Chartophylax, but describing a different office. We
have no means of determining if he held all these offices together or in succession,
or if any of the titles are incorrectly given, He appears to have accompanied
the emperor Heraclius in his first expedition Against the Persians, and to have
enjoyed the favour both of that emperor and of Sergius, but nothing further is
known of him.
The works of George the Pisidian are as follows: --1. Eis ten kata
Person Ekstrateian Herakleion tou Basileos, akroaseis treis, De Expeditione Heraclii
Imperatoris contra Persas Libri tres. This work is mentioned by Suidas, and is
probably the earliest of the extant works of this writer. The three books are
written in trimeter iamnbics, and contain 1098 verses. They describe the first
expedition of Heraclius, whose valour and piety are immoderately praised, against
the Persians, A. D. 622, when he attacked the frontier of Persia, in the neighbourhood
of the Taurus. The descriptions of the author lead us to regard him as an eye-witness;
and the poem was probably written not long after the events he records. 2. Polemos
Abarikos, or Abarika, Bellum Avaricum, or Avarica; more fully, Eis ten genomenen
ephodon ton Barbaron kai eis ten auron astuchian etoi ekthesis tou psenomenou
polemou eis to teichos tes Konstantinoupoleos metaxu Abaron kai ton Politon, De
invasione facta a barbaris ac de frustrato eorum consilio, sive expositio belli
quod gestum est ad moenia Constantinopoleos inter Abares et Cives. This poem consists
of one book of 541 trimeter iambic verses, and describes the attack of the Avars
on Constantinople, and their repulse and retreat (A. D. 626), while Herachus was
absent, and a Persian army occupied Chalcedon, opposite Constantinople. 3. Akathistos
Humnos, Hymnus Acathistus, was composed on occasion of the victory over the Avars,
commemorated in No. 2. It is ascribed to George by his editor Quercius on internal
evidence, which cannot, however, be regarded as conclusive. 4. Eis tes hagian
to Christon tou Theon hemon anastasin In Sanetam Jesu Christi, Dei Nostri, Resurrectionem.
This poem consists of 129 trimeter iambic verses, in which George exhorts Flavius
Constantine, the son of Heraclius, to emulate the example of his father. It was
probably written about A. D. 627. 5. Eis Herakleion ton Basilea, De Heraclio Imperalore,
commonly cited by the title Heraklias Heraclias, or Herakliados Akroaseis duo,
Heracliadis Libri Duo. It has the second title, etoi eis ten teleian ptosin Chospoou
Basileos Person sive de Extremeo Chosroae Persarum Regis Eacidio. But this title
does not correctly describe it, for it takes a hasty survey of the transactions
and exploits of Heraclius at home and abroad, and only slightly touches on the
final overthrow of Chosroes. It was perhaps written when the intelligence of that
monarch's death first reached Constantinople, about the end of A. D. 628, and
before the return of Heraclius. 6. Hexaemeron etoi Kosmourgia, Opus Sex Dierum
seu Mundi Opificium. This poem consists of 1910 trimeter iambic verses in the
edition of Quercius, who restored some lines omitted by previous editors. It has
been supposed that this work has come down to us in a mutilated condition, for
Suidas speaks of it as consisting of 3000 verses. But it is possible that the
text of Suidas is corrupt, and that we should read eis epe dischilia, instead
of trischilia. The poem has no appearance of incompleteness. The Hexaemeron contains
a prayer as if by the patriarch Sergius, for Heraclius and his children. The poem
was probably written about A. D. 629. 7. Eis ton mataion Bion, De Vanitate Vitae.
This poem consists of 262 iambic verses, but has no internal mark of the time
when it was written. 8. Kata Seueron Contra Severum or Kata dussebous Seueron
Antiocheias, Contra Imperium Severum Antiochiae This poem consists of 731 iambic
verses. A passage of Nicephorus Callisti (Hist. Eccl. xviii. 48) has been understood
as declaring that George wrote a poem against Johannes Philoponus, and it has
been supposed that Philoponus is aimed at in this poem under the name of Severus,
while others have supposed that Nicephorus refers to the Hexaemeron, and that
Philoponus is attacked in that poem under the name of Proclus. But the words of
Nicephorus do not require us to understand that George wrote against Philoponus
at all. This poem against Severus contains the passage to which Nicephorus refers,
and in which the Monophysite opinions which Philoponus held are attacked. 9. Enkomion
eis ton hagion Anastasion martura, Encomium in Sanctum Anastasium Martyrem; or,
more fully, Bios kai politeia kai athledis tou hagiou kai endosou hosion marturos
Anastasiou tou marturesantos en Persidi, Vita, Institutum, et Certamen Sancti,
Gloriosi, et Venerabilis Martyris Anastasii, qui in Perside Martyrium passes est.
This piece is in prose. 10. Eis ton en Blachernais naon In Templum Deiparae Constantinopoli
in Blachernis situm; a short poem in iambic verse.
These are all the extant works of George; but that he wrote others
appears from the quotations which are found in ancient writers, and of which a
considerable number have been collected from the Chonographia of Theophanes, the
Lexicon of Suidas, the Compendium of Cedrenus, the Historia Ecclesiastica of Nicephorus
Callisti, and the Commentaries of Isaacius Tzetzes. George is mentioned also by
Some works known or asserted to be extant have been ascribed to George,
but without sufficient reason. Usher and others have conjectured that he was the
compiler of the Chronicon Puschale, but Quercius refutes the supposition. Possevino
mentions a MS. work of his, De Gestis Imperatorum Constantinopolitanorum; but
the supposition of the existence of such a work probably originated in a mistake.
A MS. in the Imperial Library at Vienna is described by Nesselius and Reimannus
as Georgii Pisidae Diaconi et Chartophylacis magnae Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae
et Cyrilli Monachi Breviarium Chronographicum ex Variis Historiis concinnatumn,
&c. This MS. is probably the same which Raderus mentions as having been read by
him. It is a modern MS., probably of the latter part of the sixteenth century
and an examination of the title of the MS. itself shows that the Chronological
Compendium is ascribed to Cyril alone. But to the proper title of this work is
prefixed the inscription Georpsiou tou Pisidou kai Kurillou; an indication, perhaps,
that the writer of the Codex intended to transcribe some of the works of George.
The astronomical poem known as Empedoclis Sphaera, consisting of 168 iambic verses,
has been conjectured to be George's; but it has been observed by Fabricius, that
the writer speaks in one place like a polytheist, while all the known writings
of George are distinct expressions of Christian belief; and Quercius thinks this
objection is decisive. Le Long speaks of Greek Commentaries on the Epistles of
Paul by George of Pisidia as being extant in the Imperial Library at Vienna, but
they are not noticed in the catalogues of Lambecius and Reimannus; and it is probable
that Le Long's statement is erroneous. Some persons have improperly confounded
George of Pisidia with George of Nicomedeia, who lived two centuries later; and
Cave erroneously makes George of Pisidia archbishop of Nicomedeia, although he
correctly fixes the time in which he lived.
The versification of George is correct and elegant, and inharmonious
verses are very rare. He was much admired by the later Byzantine writers, and
was very commonly compared with Euripides, to whom some.did not hesitate to prefer
him. But his poems, however polished, are frequently dull, though in the Hexaemeron
there are some passages of more elevated character.
The Hexaemeron and De Vanitate Vitae with such fragments as hao been
then collected, with a Latin version by Fed. Morel, were first published in 4to.
Paris, 1584. Some copies of the edition have the date 1585 in the title-page.
The Hexaemeron was also published by Brunellus, as a work of Cyril of Alexandria,
together with some poems of Gregory Nazianzen and other pieces, 8vo. Rome, 1590.
Both pieces, with the fragments, were reprinted in the appendix to the Bibliotheca
Patrum of La Bigne, fol. Paris, 1624, and with the version of Morel, and one or
two additional fragments, in the Paris edition of the Bibliotheca Patrum, fol.
1654, vol. xiv. The Latin version of Morel is in the edition of the Bibliotheca,
fol. Lyon. 1677, vol. xii. The De Expedilione Imperatoris Heraclii contra Persas,
the Bellum Acaricum, the Hymnus Acathistus, the In Sanctam Jesu Christi D. N.
Resurrectionem, the Heraclias, the Hexaemeron, the De Vanitate Vitae, the Contra
Severum, the Encomium in S. Anastasium Martyrem, and a much-enlarged collection
of fragments, with a valuable preface, introductions to the several pieces, a
Latin version and notes by Joseph Maria Quercius of Florence, were published in
the Corporis Historiae Byzantinae Nora Appendix, fol. Rome, 1777. The Appendix
comprehends also the works of Theodosius Diaconus and Corippus Africanus Grammaticus
by other editors. The De Expeditione contra Persas, Bellum Avaricem, and Heraclias
are edited by Bekker and included in the Bonn reprint of the Byzantine writers.
The little poem In Templum Deiparae, &c., was printed by Ducange in p. 65 of the
notes to his Zonaras, in the Paris edition of the Byzantine historians. Bandurius
printed it with a Latin version in his Imperium Orientale, lib. vii. ; and Fabricius,
with another Latin version, in his Bibl. Gr. vol. viii. (Quercius, ut sup.; Fabric.
Bill. Gr. vol. i., vol. vii., vol. viii.; Cave, Hist. Litt. vol. i.)
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks