The story of Theodota, then, is at least in part the story of what happens to an intellectually gifted Byzantine woman in such circumstances: she is not permitted to go to school, but she educates herself; and the only kind of learning that a woman in her position may pursue without attracting blame is religious learning.
This climate of increasing tension, then, is an essential part of the rhetorical situation in which Psellos composes the Encomium of His Mother, and defends his way of life and his devotion to philosophy and rhetoric . Rather, some destiny I do not know has seized me from the beginning and has fastened me to my books, and I will never be torn away from them.
The chief reason is that almost none of his many surviving works have been translated into English (or any other modern language).
The only important work by Psellos available in English is the Chronographia — an acknowledged masterpiece of Byzantine historiography, and in itself a rhetorical and literary masterpiece as well — in which he portrays fourteen Byzantine emperors from Basil II to Michael VII Doukas (976-1078), a series of (after Basil) mostly inept fools who brought the empire to disaster, and most of whom he had personally known or served. This speech is also important — in the second place — because in it Psellos makes a case for his own life and career as a “Byzantine sophist.” I have argued this point at length elsewhere, and will not belabor it here, except to note that a key to understanding this speech is the concept of the “figured problem,” as discussed in “Hermogenes” On Invention (4.13), a text with which any well-educated Byzantine would have been familiar, and which Psellos himself summarized in a verse synopsis for the young Michael Doukas.
The Calenders was inspired by Edward Lane’s nineteenth-century translation of a collection of traditional Arabic stories, dating back to the medieval period, called “The Thousand and One Nights.” Three princes disguised as Calenders (a Sufic order of wandering mendicant dervishes), who each had but one eye, shaven chins, and thin, twisted mustaches, entertain a group of Baghdad ladies with tales of their recent misfortunes. 1984-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA) Third Annual Art Loan Exhibition of the New York Athletic Club.
Mowbray also worked interchangeably with Greek, Oriental, and Italian Renaissance themes.