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Mazaris (Greek: Μάζαρις) (fl. c. 1415) was a late Byzantine Greek writer. He is only known as the author of a satirical text, Mazaris' Journey to Hades. His identity and first name are unknown. He has been tentatively identified with at least two known historical personalities of the same name, one Manuel Mazaris, who was a hymnographer and served as Protonotarius of Thessaloniki, and one Maximus Mazaris, who was a monk and author of a text of grammatical rules.[1] According to yet another hypothesis, however, these two were actually the same person.[2] Because of this uncertainty, the author of the Journey is mostly referred to simply by his family name.

The Journey to Hades is believed to have been written between 1414 and 1415. It contains elements of social satire targeting the Byzantine ruling elite, but also some information about the lower classes in the Peloponnese, including some remarks about the various ethnic groups that made up its population. In a fictional letter, Mazaris lists "Lacedaemonians, Italians, Peloponnesians, Slavs, Illyrians, Egyptians, and Jews" as inhabiting the region of Mystras. Each of these groups is then described with (mostly negative) ethnic characteristics. Of these groups, the "Lacedaemonians" can easily be identified as Tsakonians, the "Italians" as members of various Western colonial groups, particularly Venetian and Genovese; the "Peloponnesians" as Greeks, the "Illyrians" as Albanians (i.e. modern Arvanites), and the "Egyptians" as Roma (Gypsies).


  1. ^ Romano, La satira bizantina, quoting E. Trapp, Prosopogr. Lex.
  2. ^ http://www.gnosinet.gr/ez/ShowCategory.asp?CatID=124&Skip=560


  • Mazaris: Mazaris' Journey to Hades: or, Interviews with dead men about certain officials of the imperial court. Greek text with translation, notes, introduction and index. (Seminar Classics 609). Buffalo NY: Dept. of Classics, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1975.
  • R. Romano (ed.): La satira bizantina dei secoli XI-XV. Turino: Unione Tipografica, 1999
  • E. Trapp: Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit. Vienna, 1985.


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