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Who Writes the History of the Romans? Agency and Causality in Nikephoros Gregoras’ Historia Rhōmaïkē (2014-2015)

Field of study: Byzantine Studies

The present article inquires into the philosophical conceptions of spontaneity and chance, fate and necessity, free will and divine providence employed by Nikephoros Gregoras (d. ca. 1360) in his historiographical project Historia Rhōmaïkē. Based on examples from Gregoras’ letters, First Antirrhetics and his History, the author argues that Gregoras drew on Aristotle and Ptolemy for his
views on chance and spontaneity, whereas with respect to historical agency and causality, he emphasized the role of the free individual will which he understood as independent from necessity and fate and reconciled with divine foreknowledge.

Keywords: Nikephoros Gregoras, Historia Rhōmaïkē, Byzantine historiography, agency, causality, spontaneity, chance, fate, free will, divine providence

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