Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Anna Comnena
of poetry, science, and Greek philosophy. With a mind superior to the effeminacy and voluptuousness of the court in which she was educated, she cultivated literature and sought the acquaintance of the more eminent philosophers of the period. But wise and studious as she was, she was also intriguing and ambitious. Having married an accomplished young nobleman, Nicephorus Bryennius, she united with the Empress Irene in attempting to prevail upon her father during his last illness to disinherit his son, and give the crown to her husband. The affectionate virtue of the father prevailed over female address and intrigue; but this only stimulated the ambition of Anna. She entered into a conspiracy to depose her brother; and when her husband displayed timidity in the enterprise, she exclaimed that “nature had mistaken their sexes, for he ought to have been the woman.” The plot being discovered, Anna forfeited her property and her fortune, though, by the clemency of her brother, she escaped with her life. Excluded by her base conduct from the enjoyments of court, she employed her solitude in writing the Alexiad—a history, in Greek, of her father's life and reign. The production is still extant, and forms part of the celebrated collection of the Byzantine Historians. Her style is extravagantly rhetorical, diffuse, and panegyrical. In her account of the first Crusade she is often at variance with the Latin authorities. The Alexiad, in fifteen books, was first published at Augsburg in 1610; but the best edition is that of Schopen, with a Latin translation (Bonn, 1839, 2 vols. 8vo), and Schiller in his Historic Memoirsgives a German translation.