Enemy of All Virtues: Once Again on the Image of Simeon the Great in the Oration “On the Treaty with the Bulgarians”

Kirił Marinow

University of Lodz , Poland


This article focuses on the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon I the Great (893-927), who in the second half of his reign entered into a protracted military and ideological conflict with the Byzantine Empire. He wished not only to extend his dominions at the expense of his southern neighbour, but also to equal him in titular power, and it is possible - although scholars differ on this point - that his aspirations reached even further, namely Constantinople itself. Either way, Bulgaria under his reign posed a serious threat to Byzantium and its main antagonist. The death of the Tsar in 927 and the conclusion of peace with the Empire by his son, Peter I (927-969), finally put an end to the conflict between both the states. The celebrations marking the conclusion of the agreement provided an opportunity to take stock. In a rhetorical speech written for the occasion, Simeon's actions and aspirations were severely criticised – through comparisons to figures from ancient literature and biblical texts, the Byzantine speaker discredited the attitude of this ruler. Comparisons to those of them who aroused negative connotations in listeners and readers deprived Simeon of all the virtues belonging to a Christian ruler and, above all, of the cardinal ones by which he should, above all, legitimise himself.


cardinal virtues, Simeon I the Great (893–927), medieval Bulgaria, Byzantine-Bulgarian relations, Byzantine rhetoric, Byzantine ideology, the image of Bulgarians in Byzantine sources, the others in medieval sources, medieval biblical exegesis

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Marinow, K. (2022). Enemy of All Virtues: Once Again on the Image of Simeon the Great in the Oration “On the Treaty with the Bulgarians”. Vox Patrum, 84, 105–122. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.14058


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