Dr Speros Vryonis Jr (1928-2019), the son of Greek emigrants from the island of Cephalonia, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He was educated at the Christian Brothers School and Southwestern College in Memphis, the American School of Archaeology in Athens, and Harvard University. He taught at Harvard and in 1960 joined the Department of History at the University of California at Los Angeles. He was Professor of History from 1966 to 1988 and for several years Director of the Gustave E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies. He was also Professor of Medieval and Modern History at the University of Athens (1976–84). In 1988 he was appointed the first Director of the Alexander S. Onassis Center for Hellenic Studies at New York University. From 1996 to 2000 he was Director of the Speros Basil Vryonis Center for the Study of Hellenism at Rancho Cordova, California.
Among Vryonis’s many books are:
Byzantium: Its Internal History and Relations with the Muslim World: Collected Studies (1971)
The Decline of Hellenism in Asia Minor and the Process of Islamization from the Eleventh to the Fifteenth Centuries (1971)
The Turkish State and History: Clio Meets the Grey Wolf (1991)
Byzantine Institutions, Society and Culture (1994)
The Vryonis Collection was purchased by the Library in 1969 from Professor Vryonis.
The Vryonis Collection comprises about 1540 books and 60 periodicals relating mainly to Byzantine history, art and literature, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the relations between Byzantium and Islamic and Slavic cultures. There are also some general works on classical, medieval and Islamic history and the modern history of Greece and Turkey. The books are in English, French, German, Greek, Turkish and a number of Slavic languages. Most of them were published in the twentieth century, but there are about 100 nineteenth-century imprints and 13 pre-1801 imprints.
Writers represented in the collection include Norman Baynes, Louis Brehier, Apostolos Darcalakis, Charles Diehl, Johann Droysen, Tryphonos Euangelidos, Manoel Gedeon, Charles Hopf, Phaidonos Koukoles, Spyridion Lampros, George Ostrogorsky, Steven Runciman, Georgio Soterios, Ernest Stein, Perikleos Zerlentos and Johann Zinkeisen.
The following are some of the early items in the collection:
Dimitrie Cantemir, Voivode of Moldavia. Histoire de l’empire othoman (edited by P.N. Desmolets, 1743)
Knolles, Richard, The Turkish History, from the Original of that Nation to the Growth of the Ottoman Empire (2 vols, 1687)
Lucas, Paul, Voyage du Sieur Paul Lucas, fait par ordre du Roi dans la Grèce, l’Asie Mineure, la Macédonie et l’Afrique (2 vols, 1714)
Maurokordatos, Joannes Nikolaos, Peri kathekonton biblos syngrapheisa para tou eusebestatou (1724)
Metropolitan of Athens Meletios, Ekklesiastike historia Meletioy (4 vols, 1783)
Photius Saint, Patriarch of Constantinople, Consolatione ad Evsebiam libellus (1601)
Polyaenus, Polyainoy Strategematon bibloi okto = Polyaeni Strategematum libri octo (1756)
Psellus, Michael, Toy sophotatoy Psellou, syntagma eysyno (1545)
Rycaut, Paul, The Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches (1679)
The collection is especially strong in periodicals. They include
Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae (1828–78)
l’Hellenisme contemporain (1947–56)
Neos hellenomnemon (1904–27)
Pravoslavnyi palestinskii sbornik (1883–1914)
Revue des études Byzantines (1943–63)
Revue des études islamiques (1927–63)
Turkiyat mecmuasi (1920–58)
Vakiflar dergisi (1938–62)
The periodicals, rare books and Greek books have been catalogued individually and integrated in the general and Rare Books collections. The call numbers of the Greek works have the prefix GK. The rest of the collection has been kept together as a formed collection within the general collection. About a quarter of the books have been catalogued and the call numbers have the prefix BYZ.
The Library published a listing of the entire collection in 1978.
National Library of Australia. Vryonis Collection: An Author/Title Listing of Monographs and Serials on the Byzantine Civilisation Formerly in the Collection of Professor Speros Vryonis and Now in the National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1978.
Speros Vryonis, The Vyronis Family: Four Generations of Greek-American Memories, National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, 2000.