A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἄννα Κομνηνά), the daughter of Alexis I. Comnenus, and the empress Irene, was born in A. D. 1083. She was destined to marry Constantine Ducas, but he died while she was still a child; and she was subsequently married to Nicephorus Bryennius, a Greek nobleman distinguished by birth, talents, and learning. Anna, gifted by nature with beauty and rare talents, was instructed in every branch of science, and she tells us in the preface to her Alexias, that she was thoroughly acquainted with Aristotle and Plato. The vanity of a female philosopher was flattered with the homages she received from the Greek scholars and artists, and during a long period hers and her husband's house was the centre of the arts and sciences of Constantinople. Her love for her husband was sincere and founded upon real esteem, and she and the empress tried, although in vain, to persuade the dying Alexis to appoint Bryennius his successor. The throne was inherited by John, the son of Alexis. (A. D. 1118.) During his reign Anna persuaded Bryennius to seize the crown; but the conspiracy failed at the moment of its execution, and Anna and Bryennius were punished with exile and the confiscation of the greater part of their property. Bryennius died some time afterwards, and Anna regretted his loss with deep and sincere affliction. During her retirement from the world she composed her Alexias (Ἀλεξίας).