Michael Choniates

Michael Choniates (or Acominatus) (Greek: Μιχαήλ Χωνιάτης or Ἀκομινάτος) (c. 1140 – 1220), Byzantine writer and ecclesiastic, was born at Chonae (the ancient Colossae). At an early age he studied at Constantinople and was the pupil of Eustathius of Thessalonica. Around 1175 he was appointed archbishop of Athens, which position he retained until 1204.[1] In 1204, he defended the Athenian Acropolis from attack by Leo Sgouros, holding out until the arrival of the Crusaders in 1205, to whom he surrendered the city.[2] After the establishment of Latin control, he retired to the island of Ceos. Around 1217 he moved again to the monastery of Vodonitsa near the Thermopylae, where he died.

Though he is known to classical scholars as the last possessor of complete versions of Callimachus' Hecale and Aitia,[3] he was a versatile writer, and composed homilies, speeches and poems, which, with his correspondence, throw considerable light upon the miserable condition of Attica and Athens at the time. His memorial to Alexios III Angelos on the abuses of Byzantine administration, the poetical lament over the degeneracy of Athens and the monodies on his brother Nicetas and Eustathius, archbishop of Thessalonica, deserve special mention.

It is believed that his daughter Constantina tutored, in Greek and science, John of Basingstoke, Archdeacon of Leicester known for his fluency in and advocacy of the Greek language.[4] Michael's pupil George Bardanes, who had accompanied him during his exile on Ceos, became a distinguished bishop in subsequent years.[5]


  1. Kenneth M. Setton, "A Note on Michael Choniates, Archbishop of Athens (1182-1204)", Speculum, 21 (1946), pp. 234-236
  2. N.G. Wilson, Scholars of Byzantium 1983:204-06.
  3. A.S. Hollis, "A New Fragment on Niobe and the Text of Propertius 2.20.8". The Classical Quarterly, New Series, 47.2 (1997:578-582).
  4.  Archer, Thomas Andrew (1885). "Basing, John". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  5. Macrides, R. J. (1991). "Bardanes, George". In Kazhdan, Alexander. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.


Eastern Orthodox Church titles
Preceded by
George IV
Metropolitan bishop of Athens
(in exile after 1205)
Title next held by
Meletius I

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