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Byzantines were well aware that Symeon I, Bulgarian sovereign (893–927), was an educated man, deeply rooted in his own culture and not devoid of the knowledge of their world. Such awarness is an undertone of the letters by Nicholas the Mysticus, and was the most emphatically expressed – as the majority of scholars assume – by Liutprand of Cremona. The latter, in his Antapodosis, called Symeon an emiargos, which is supposed to mean semigrecus, ‘a half-Greek.’ However, this meaning is far from established. Michele Bandini has recently suggested that the word may have been a corrupt Latin version of ἡμίεργος, ‘half-developed, unfinished,’ being a negative description of the tsar of Bulgaria. Nevertheless, if one accepts M. Bandini’s idea or assumes the traditional understanding of emiargos as semigrecus, it should be noted that the term should not be understood as an expression of recognition, but rather as Irony, acerbity or even hostility. This interpretation matches far more accurately the overall perception of Symeon’s image in the Byzantine eyes, yet, by no means does it change the present assessment of his accomplishments and legacy.
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Leszka, M. (2013). A few remarks on the term Emiargos (Liutprand of Cremona, Antapodosis, III, 29). Balcanica Posnaniensia. Acta Et Studia, 20, 19-24. https://doi.org/10.14746/bp.2013.20.2
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