Addressed to Photius’ uncle Tarsius, the Myriobiblon or Bibliotheca is a collection of 279 short book reviews written by the ninth century Byzantine Patriarch Photius. Some reviews simply instruct Tarsius to read a certain book, while others go into more detail about the author’s style and the nature and subject of book’s argument. Photius’ reviews include both pagan and Christian works, and examine titles written as early as the fifth century and as late as Photius’ own day, the ninth century. Roughly half of the titles discussed no longer survive. The historical value of this book is enormous—it serves as independent verification for other important resources and it demonstrates that the early to middle medieval era was an age of great literary production and consumption.
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Photios I, also spelled Photius or Fotios, was Patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886. He is recognized in the Eastern Orthodox churches as St. Photios the Great. Photios is widely regarded as the most powerful and influential Patriarch of Constantinople since John Chrysostom, and as the most important intellectual of his time, “the leading light of the ninth-century renaissance”.