Between Statues and Icons: Iconic Persons from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages 350679082X, 9783506790828, 9783657790821

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Between Statues and Icons: Iconic Persons from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages
 350679082X, 9783506790828, 9783657790821

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Abbreviations
Figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Methodological Considerations
Status Quaestionis
Chapter 1: Setting the Stage
1.1 Body Language in Early Imperial Society
1.2 Sieging Olympus: Humankind Claims Immortality
1.3 Knowing the Gods: From Cult Statues to Iconic Persons
1.4 Conclusions
Chapter 2: Emperors
2.1 Negotiating Divinity in Rome
2.2 Constructing Iconicity
2.3 From Image of Jupiter to Image of Christ
2.4 Conclusions
Chapter 3: Martyrs
3.1 Paul’s Concept of Iconic Living
3.2 Performing Christ in the Arena
3.3 God’s Living Temples
3.4 Preserving the Martyrs’ Iconicity: Relics
3.5 Preserving the Martyrs’ Iconicity: People
3.6 Conclusions
Chapter 4: Initiates
4.1 Visions, Ascensions, and Transformations in Late Antique Initiations
4.2 New Bishops for a New Church
4.3 Making Golden Statues of Christ
4.4 Beyond Baptism
4.5 Conclusions
Chapter 5: Bishops
5.1 From Martyr-bishops to Teacher-bishops
5.2 Rome’s Aristocratic Bishops
5.3 Emperor Justinian’s Living Mirrors
5.4 Beyond the Living Bishop
5.5 Conclusions
Chapter 6: Stylites
6.1 Living vs. Animated Statues
6.2 Multiplying the Stylite’s Body: Eulogia, Relics, Columns
6.3 Preserving the Iconic Body: Icons
6.4 Conclusions
Chapter 7: Conclusion
Bibliography
Index of Ancient Names
Index of Places

Citation preview

Between Statues and Icons

Contexts of Ancient and Medieval Anthropology Editors Anna Usacheva, Jörg Ulrich, Siam Bhayro Advisory Board José Filipe Pereira da Silva, Barbara Crostini, Andrew Crislip, Samuel Fernandez, Annette Weissenrieder

Vol. 5

Vladimir Ivanovici

Between Statues and Icons Iconic Persons from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages

Cover illustration: Priest performing a dance while believers address him with gestures that point to him embodying a god. Fresco, 1st century, Herculaneum. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Napoli (inv. 8919). (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici, su concessione del Ministero della Cultura – Museo Archeologico di Napoli)

Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data available online: http://dnb.d-nb.de All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. © 2023 by Brill Schöningh, Wollmarktstraße 115, 33098 Paderborn, Germany, an imprint of the Brill-Group (Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands; Brill USA Inc., Boston MA, USA; Brill Asia Pte Ltd, Singapore; Brill Deutschland GmbH, Paderborn, Germany; Brill Österreich GmbH, Vienna, Austria) Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Hotei, Brill Schöningh, Brill Fink, Brill mentis, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Böhlau, V&R unipress and Wageningen Academic. www.schoeningh.de Cover design: Evelyn Ziegler, Munich Production: Brill Deutschland GmbH, Paderborn ISSN 2698-3079 ISBN 978-3-506-79082-8 (hardback) ISBN 978-3-657-79082-1 (e-book)

Ἄνθρωπός εἰμι, πλάσμα καὶ εἰκὼν Θεοῦ. I am a human, the artefact and image of God. Gregory of Nazianzus, Poemata moralia 1.2.34

Table of Contents Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

ix

Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiii Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxv Methodological Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxvii Status Quaestionis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxi Chapter 1: Setting the Stage  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1 Body Language in Early Imperial Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.2 Sieging Olympus: Humankind Claims Immortality  . . . . . . . . . . . 1.3 Knowing the Gods: From Cult Statues to Iconic Persons . . . . . . . 1.4 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 2 10 19 33

Chapter 2: Emperors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1 Negotiating Divinity in Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.2 Constructing Iconicity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.3 From Image of Jupiter to Image of Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.4 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

37 38 41 55 69

Chapter 3: Martyrs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1 Paul’s Concept of Iconic Living . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2 Performing Christ in the Arena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.3 God’s Living Temples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.4 Preserving the Martyrs’ Iconicity: Relics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.5 Preserving the Martyrs’ Iconicity: People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

71 73 75 80 88 93 97

Chapter 4: Initiates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 4.1 Visions, Ascensions, and Transformations in Late Antique Initiations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 4.2 New Bishops for a New Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 4.3 Making Golden Statues of Christ  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111 4.4 Beyond Baptism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 4.5 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

viii

Table of Contents

Chapter 5: Bishops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.1 From Martyr-bishops to Teacher-bishops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2 Rome’s Aristocratic Bishops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.3 Emperor Justinian’s Living Mirrors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.4 Beyond the Living Bishop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.5 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

125 125 128 141 157 157

Chapter 6: Stylites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.1 Living vs. Animated Statues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 Multiplying the Stylite’s Body: Eulogia, Relics, Columns . . . . . . . 6.3 Preserving the Iconic Body: Icons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.4 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

159 160 166 174 180

Chapter 7: Conclusion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183 Bibliography  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Index of Ancient Names  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233 Index of Places . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 236

Abbreviations

Ancient Authors and Works

A. Carpi – Acta Carpi A. Cyp. – Acta Cypriani A. Jo. – Acta Johannis A. Max. – Acta Maximiliani A. Paul. – Acta Pauli A. Phil. – Acta Phileae A. Thom. – Acta Thomae Agap., exp. cap. adm. – Agapetus, expositio capitum admonitionum Agn., lib. pont. rav. – Agnellus, liber pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis Ambr., d.m. – Ambrose of Milan, de mysteriis Ambr., exp. Ps. CXVIII – Ambrose of Milan, expositio in Psalmum CXVIII Ambrosiast., quae. vet. nov. test. – Ambrosiaster, quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti Amm. Marc., r.g. – Ammianus Marcellinus, rerum gestarum libri XXXI ANF – Ante-Nicene Fathers Anton. Hag., v. Sym. Styl. – Antonius Hagiographicus, vita Symeonis Stylitis Apophth. Patr. – Apophthegmata Patrum Apul., m. – Apuleius, metamorphoses Arist., e.n. – Aristoteles, ethica nicomachea Aristid., h.l. – Aristides, hieroi logoi Aug., c. – Augustinus Hipponensis, confessiones Aug., c.d. – Augustinus Hipponensis, de civitate dei Aug., s. – Augustinus Hipponensis, sermones Bas. Anc., d. virg. – Basilius Ancyranus, de virginitate Bas., bapt. – Basilius Caesarensis Cappadociae, de baptismo Bas., ep. – Basilius Caesarensis Cappadociae, epistulae Bas., hom. Mart. Jul. – Basilius Caesarensis Cappadociae, homilia in martyrem Julittam Bas., hom. in Ps. CXV – Basilius Caesarensis Cappadociae, homilia in Psalmum CXV Bas., Spir. – Basilius Caesarensis Cappadociae, liber de Spiritu Sancto C.D., h.r. – Cassius Dio, historia romana Charit., C. – Chariton, Callirhoe Chor., or. – Choricius Gazaeus, orationes Chrom. Aquil., in M. – Chromatius Aquileiensis, tractatus in Matthaeum Chrys., ad illum. cat. – Joannes Chrysostomus, ad illuminandos catechesis

x

Abbreviations

Chrys., hom. I – Joannes Chrysostomus, homilia I (dicta postquam reliquiae martyrum) Chrys., hom. in Col. – Joannes Chrysostomus, homilia in epistulam ad Colossenses Chrys., hom. in I Cor. – Joannes Chrysostomus, homilia in epistulam I ad Corinthios Chrys., hom. s. mart. – Joannes Chrysostomus, de sanctis martyribus sermo Chrys., i.g. – Joannes Chrysostomus, de inani gloria Chrys., Melet. – Joannes Chrysostomus, homilia in S. Patrem nostrum Meletium Cic., Att. – Cicero, epistulae ad Atticum Cic., fam. – Cicero, epistulae ad familiares Cic., Q.f. – Cicero, epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem Cic., n.d. – Cicero, de natura deorum Cic., orat. – Cicero, orator Claudian., IV cons. – Claudianus, de IV consulatu Honorii Augusti Claudian., VI cons. – Claudianus, de VI consulatu Honorii Augusti Clem., prot. – Clemens Alexandrinus, protrepticus Clem., str. – Clemens Alexandrinus, stromateis Cod. Iust. – Codex Iustinianus Cod. Thds. – Codex Theodosianus Const. Porph., d. cer. – Constantinus Porphyrogennetus, de cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae libri duo Cor., in laud. – Corippus, in laudem Iustinii Augusti Minoris Cypr., ep. – Cyprianus Carthaginiensis, epistula Cyr., in Jo. – Cyrillus Alexandrinus, in Joannis evangelium Cyr. H., catech. m. – Cyrillus Hierosolymitanus, catecheses mystagogicae D. Chr., o. – Dio Chrysostomus, orationes Ed. dioc. – Edictum Diocletiani de pretiis rerum venalium ep. Barn. – epistula Barnabae Ephr., h.e. – Ephraem Syrus, hymnen de epiphania Ephr., h.v. – Ephraem Syrus, hymnen de virginitate Eun., v. – Eunapius, vitae philosophorum et sophistarum Eus., ep. Constant. – Eusebius Caesariensis, epistula ad Constantiam Eus., h.e. – Eusebius Caesariensis, historia ecclesiastica Eus., l.C. – Eusebius Caesariensis, de laudibus Constantini Eus., v.C. – Eusebius Caesariensis, de vita Constantini Evagr., h.e. – Evagrius Scholasticus, historia ecclesiastica Ev. Phil. – Evangelia Philippi Fronto, e. – Marcus Cornelius Fronto, epistulae Germ. CP, h.e. – Germanus Constantinopolitanus, historia ecclesiastica et mystica contemplatio Gr. Naz., carm. – Gregorius Nazianzenus, carmina

Abbreviations Gr. Nyss., mart. – Gregorius Nyssenus, in xl martyres Gr. Naz., or. – Gregorius Nazianzenus, orationes Gr. Naz., p.m. – Gregorius Nazianzenus, poemata moralia Gr. Tur., h.f. – Gregorius Turonensis, historia francorum Gr. Mag., r.e. – Gregorius I Papa (Magnus), registri epistolarum Hes., Th. – Hesiodus, Theogonia Hieron., c.Vigil. – Hieronymus, contra Vigilantium Hieron., e. – Hieronymus, epistulae Hist. Aug. – Historiae Augustae Scriptores h. Ch. et D. – historia Chrysanti et Dariae h. mon. – historia monachorum in Aegypto Iamb., d.m. – Iamblichus, de mysteriis Ign., Eph. – Ignatius Antiochenus, epistula ad Ephesios Ign., Magn. – Ignatius Antiochenus, epistula ad Magnesios Ign., Rom. – Ignatius Antiochenus, epistula ad Romanos Ign., Smyrn. – Ignatius Antiochenus, epistula ad Smyrnaeos Ign., Trall. – Ignatius Antiochenus, epistula ad Trallianos Iren., haer. – Irenaeus Lugdunensis, adversus haereses Isid. Pel., epp. – Isidorus Pelusiota, epistularum libri quinque It. Eger. – Itinerarium Egeriae Jo. Cass., c.N. – Joannes Cassianus, de incarnatione Christi contra Nestorium Joh. Eph., v.s. – Joannes episcopi Ephesi, Vitae Sanctorum Orientalium Jo. H., v.G.M. – Joannes Hymonides, Vita Gregorii Magni Lact., i.d. – Lactantius, institutiones divinae Leont., c.J. – Pseudo-Leontios, sermo contra Judeos Lib., or. – Libanius, orationes L.P. – Liber pontificalis Lucianus, Alex. – Lucianus Samosatensis, Alexander Lucianus, deor. conc. – Lucianus Samosatensis, deorum concilium Lucianus, im. – Lucianus Samosatensis, imagines Lucianus, Peregr. – Lucianus Samosatensis, de morte Peregrini Lucianus, salt. – Lucianus Samosatensis, de saltatione Lucianus, Z.t. – Lucianus Samosatensis, Zeus tragoedus Lucr., r.n. – Lucretius de Rerum Natura Macr., s.S. – Macrobius, commentarii in somnium Scipionis Man., a. – Manilius, astronomica Mart., epig. – Martialis, epigramme Mart. Lugd. – Epistula Ecclesiarum Viennensis et Lugdunensis Mart. Mar. – Passio Mariani et lacobi Mart. Pion. – Martyrium Pionii

xi

xii

Abbreviations

Mart. Poly. – Martyrium Polycarpi Max. Taur., s. – Maximus Taurinensis, sermones Meth., symp. – Methodius Olympius, symposium Michael Ital., l.b. – Michael Italikos, Logos Basilkos Min. Felix., O. – Minucius Felix, Octavius Mir. Cosm. Dam. – Miracula Cosmae et Damiani Nar., hom. – Narsai, homiliae Nic. Dam., v.C. – Nicolaus Damascenus, vita Caesaris Nik. Chon., h. – Niketas Choniates, historia NPNF – Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Nov. – Novellae Optatus M., c.P. – Optatus Milevitanus, contra Parmenianum Or., Cels. – Origenes, contra Celsum O.R.P. – Ordo Romanus Primus Pacatus, pan. – Pacatus, panegyricus Pan. Lat. – Panegyrici Latini Pass. Eupli – Passio sancti Eupli diaconi Catanae martyris Pass. Fruct. – Passio sanctorum martyrum Fructuosi episcopi, Auguri et Eulogi diaconorum Pass. Perp. – Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis Paul. Nol., c. – Paulinus Nolanus, carmina Paus., Hell. pell. – Pausanias Periegeta, Hellados periegesis Petron., s. – Petronius, satyricon Petr. Chrys., s. – Petrus Chrysologus, sermones Ph., ad G. – Philo Judaeus, legatio ad Gaium Ph., p.p. – Philo Judaeus, de praemiis et poenis Ph., v.M. – Philo Judaeus, de vita Moysis Phot., eis. – Photius Constantinopolitanus, eisagoge (epanagoge) Pl., Phdr. – Plato, Phaedrus Plin., h.n. – Plinius, historia naturalis Plin. m., ep. – Plinius minor, epistulae Plot., e. – Plotinus, enneads Plu., p.i. – Plutarchus, ad principem ineruditum Plu., P.or. – Plutarchus, de Pythiae oraculis Plu., q.r. – Plutarchus, quaestiones romanae Plu., l.ed. – Plutarchus, de liberis educandis Plu., s.n.v. – Plutarchus, de sera numinis vindicta Plu., v.p. – Plutarchus, vitae parallelae Pontius, v.C. – Pontius, vita Caecilii Cypriani Proc. Caes., d.b. – Procopii Caesariensis, de bellis

Abbreviations

xiii

Proc. Caes., d.ae. – Procopii Caesariensis, de aedificiis Procl., h.s. – Proclus, hymnus soli Prud., perist. – Prudentius, peristephanon (Ps.)Arist., p. – Pseudo-Aristoteles, physiognomonica (Ps.)Dion. Ar., c.h. – Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagia, de caelesti hierarchia (Ps.)Dion. Ar., e.h. – Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagia, de ecclesiastica hierarchia (Ps.)Hieron., e. – Pseudo-Hieronymus, epistula Quint., inst. – Quintilianus, institutio oratoria Sen., ep. – Seneca, epistulae Sever., creat. – Severianus Gabalensis, orationes in de mundi creatione Sophr. H., liturg. – Sophronius Hierosolymitanus, fragmentum commentarii liturgici Stat., silv. – P. Papinius Statius, siluae Steph. H.M., p.a. – Stephen of Heracleopolis Magna, A Panegyric on Apollo Suet., v.c. – Suetonius, de vita caesarum Symm., rel. – Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, relatio Synes., regn. – Synesius Cyrenensis, oratio de regno Tac., ann. – Tacitus, annales Tert., apol. – Tertullianus, apologeticum Tert., de cor. – Tertullianus, de corona militis Tert., de pud. – Tertullianus, de pudicitia Thdr. Mops., fr.s. – Theodorus Mopsuestenus, fragmenta syriaca Thdr. Mops., h.b. – Theodorus Mopsuestenus, homilia de baptismo Thdr. Mops., On the Lord’s Prayer – Theodorus Mopsuestenus, On the Lord’s Prayer Thdt., h.r. – Theodoretus Cyrrhensis, historia religiosa Ven. Fort., carm. – Venantius Fortunatus, carmina Ven. Fort., v.M. – Venantius Fortunatus, de vita Sancti Martini Vict., laud.s. – Victricius, de laude sanctorum V. Pach. – Vita Pachomii Wis – Wisdom of Sirach Zeno, tract. – Zeno Veronensis, tractatus



Journals

AAAHP – Acta ad Archaeologiam et Artium Historiam Pertinentia AAH – Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae ACLS Occasional Papers – American Council of Learned Societies Occasional Papers ACr – Arte cristiana. Rivista int. di storia dell’arte e di arti liturgiche AH – Art History AJA – American Journal of Archaeology

xiv

Abbreviations

ALW – Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft AJP – The American Journal of Philology AnBoll – Analecta Bollandiana. Revue critique d’hagiographie Annu. Br. Sch. Athens – Annual of the British School of Archaeology at Athens APSP – Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society AR – Archiv für Religionswissenschaft ARelG – Archiv für Religionsgeschichte Arion – Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics ArtB – Art Bulletin ARYS – ARYS. Antigüedad: Religiones y Sociedades AT – Antiquité Tardive. Revue Internationale d’Histoire et d’Archéologie (IV e-VIIe siècle) AuC – Antike und Christentum Byz. – Byzantion ByzZ – Byzantinische Zeitschrift Cah. Arch. – Cahiers archéologiques: fin de l’Antiquité et Moyen-Age CBQ – Catholic Biblical Quarterly ChH – Church History Class. Q. – The Classical Quarterly Conc(D) – Concilium: International Journal for Theology CONVI – Convivium: Exchanges and Interactions in the Arts of Medieval Europe, Byzantium, and the Mediterranean DOP – Dumbarton Oaks Papers EDL – Études de lettres EMEu – Early Medieval Europe GaR – Greece & Rome GRBS – Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies Gym. – Gymnasium: Zeitschrift für Kultur der Antike und humanistische Bildung HAM – Hortus Artium Medievalium Horti Romani – Horti Romani. Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma HPT – History of Political Thought HTR – Harvard Theological Review HZ – Historische Zeitschrift Int J Risk Saf Med – International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine JAAR – Journal of the American Academy of Religion JECS – Journal of Early Christian Studies JHRMC – Journal on Hellenistic and Roman Material Culture JHS – Journal of Hellenic Studies JPNP – Journal de Psychologie

Abbreviations

xv

JR – Journal of Religion JRS – Journal of Roman Studies JSNT – Journal for the Study of the New Testament JThS – Journal of Theological Studies Late Antiq. Archaeol. – Late Antique Archaeology LRB – London Review of Books MAAR – Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome MDAI.R – Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts – Römische Abteilung Mn. – Mnemosyne. A Journal of Classical Studies MNIR – Mededelingen van het Nederlands Instituut te Rome Numen – Numen. International Review for the History of Religions Opuscula – Opuscula. Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome PaP – Past and Present. A Journal of Scientific History Perform. Res. – Performance Research PSPB – Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin Psychol. Sci. – Psychological Science RHR – Revue de l’histoire des religions RIHA Journal – RIHA Journal of the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art RM – Römische Mitteilungen SCH – Studies in Church History Spec. – Speculum StPatr – Studia Patristica TAPA – Transactions of the American Philological Association TMCB – Travaux et mémoires Tüba-ar – Tüba-ar: Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi arkeoloji dergisi VC – Vigiliae Christianae VT – Vetus Testamentum WZ(B) – Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Gesellschafts- und Sprachwissenschaftliche Reiche ZAC – Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum ZAW – Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft

Figures Fig. 1

Seven rings from across the Roman world showcasing the god Mercury, a man riding a dolphin, the portrait of a woman, and the representation of a man in Sassanian style under two stars. Gold, mother-of-pearl, cornelian, rock crystal, agate, 250–400. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California (inv. no. 83 AM.228). (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program) Fig. 2 Portrait of Terentius Neo and his wife. Fresco, 1st century, Pompeii. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Napoli (inv. 9058). (Photo: Wikipedia, CC0 1.0, su concessione del Ministero della Cultura – Museo Archeologico di Napoli) Fig. 3 Ring stone showing a seated man reading a scroll in front of a herm statue. Carnelian, 1.6 cm, 1st century BCE–3rd century CE. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. no. 81.6.49) Fig. 4 Statue of Venus with dolphin (the Mazarin Venus). Marble, 184 cm, 2nd century, from Rome. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California (inv. no. 54.AA.11). (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program) Fig. 5 Funerary stele of Gaius Julius Helius, shoemaker from Porta Fontinalis. Marble, late 1st century, Rome. Roma, Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini (Inv. M.C. 930) (Photo: © Roma, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali) Fig. 6 Relief showing man feeding grapes(?) to a herm statue. Terracotta, 1st century, Italy. Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités grecques, étrusques et romaines (inv. no. Cp 4038) (https://collections.louvre.fr/ ark:/53355/cl010288169) Fig. 7 Funerary relief of high priest (archigallus) of Cybele shown sacrificing to the goddess. Marble, 0,62 × 0,40 m, 3rd century, from the Isola Sacra necropolis, Ostia. Museo Archeologico, Ostia. (Photo: Sailko – Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0) Fig. 8 Masked priest performs a dance under the monumental threshold of a sacred precinct. Fresco, 1st century, Herculaneum. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Napoli (inv. 8919). (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici, su concessione del Ministero della Cultura – Museo Archeologico di Napoli) Fig. 9 Bust portrait of follower of Atargatis. Marble, 0,48 × 0,45 m, 3rd century, unknown provenance. Roma, Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini (inv. S 2971) (Photo: © Roma, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali) Fig. 10 Relief showing the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva) along with Hercules (left) and Mercury (right) welcoming Emperor Trajan. Jupiter is handing Trajan (represented on the facing panel) the symbol of his power,

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Fig. 14 Fig. 15a

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Figures i.e., the lightning bolt. Parian marble, ca. 104, Benevento. (Photo: Anca Cezarina Fulger) Detail from floor mosaic depicting the history of Apamea on the Orontes. Syria, 4th century. Discovered in illegal dig and sold on the black market in 2011. (Photo: Interpol) Collar with medallion and pendants. The medallion is set around a coin with the laureate bust of Emperor Commodus (r. 180–192) while the pendants represent Isis-Fortuna and possibly characters related to her cult. Gold, 3rd century, Alexandria, Egypt. Cleveland Museum of Art (inv. no. 1948.419) Sculpted tondi from the reign of Hadrian showing boar hunt (left) and sacrifice to Apollo (right), integrated above newly sculpted marble relief showing Emperor Constantine’s (r. 306–337 CE) adlocutio from the tetrarchic rostra. Arch of Constantine, ca. 320, Rome. (Photo: ‘Following Hadrian’ – CC BY-SA 2.0) Reception courtyard of Emperor Diocletian’s (r. 284–305 CE) palace, with view of the prothyron. 4th century, Split. (Photo: Stefan Pijanowski) Coin with portrait of Philip the Arab (r. 244–259) wearing the crown of Sol on the obverse and with the temple of Zeus Katabaites on the reverse. Bronze, 244–249, 29 mm diameter, Syria. © Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, inv. no. 18259953. (Photo: Bernhard Weisser, in the public domain) Coin with portraits of Diocletian (left) and Maximian (right) on the obverse, and the two emperors in an elephant-drawn chariot on the reverse. Gold, 287, 30 mm diameter, Italy. © Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, inv. no. 18200802 (Photo: Lutz-Jürgen Lübke, in the public domain) Coin with portrait of Hadrian on the obverse and of Sol on the reverse. Gold, 117, 20 mm diameter, Italy. © Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, inv. no. 18200596 (Photo: Lutz-Jürgen Lübke, in the public domain) Coin showing portrait of Hadrian on the obverse. The reverse shows Hadrian and his wife Sabina meeting Isis and Serapis in front of an altar. Hadrian and Serapis shake hands while Sabina raises her hand in salutation of Isis who holds the sistrum. Gold, ca. 130, 19 mm diameter, Rome. Bibliothèque nationale de France (inv. no. FRBNF41982443) Two priests carrying a naiskos-shrine of Harpocrates. Clay, first half of the 1st century BCE, 15,6 cm. Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (inv. no. H 796). (Photo: Thomas Goldschmidt) Constantius II as consul of 354. Drawing after 17th-century copy of manuscript illumination from the Calendar of Filocalus. MS Romanus 1,

Figures

Fig. 18

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Fig. 20

Fig. 21

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Fig. 23 Fig. 24 Fig. 25

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Barb. lat. 2154 fol. 13r in the Biblioteca Vaticana. (Drawing by Vladimir Ivanovici) Cavalry mask with protomes showing two men and three women pertaining to the cult of Bacchus. Iron and bronze with silver veneer, late 1st century, Nijmegen. Collection Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen, on loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Photo: Thijn van de Ven) Relief at the base of the Obelisk of Theodosius showing Theodosius (r. 379–395) in the Hippodrome loggia in Constantinople next to Valentinian II (to his left) and his sons and future emperors of the West and East, Honorius and Arcadius (to his right). Members of the guard, court, and high society are depicted around, while representatives of barbarian tribes kneel below bringing tribute. Marble, 390, Constantinople. (Photo: © The Byzantine Legacy) Pottery bowl with scene of damnatio ad bestias showing a man tied to a pole and exposed to a male lion. Terra sigillata, ca. 350–430, 18.2 cm diameter, produced in north Africa. Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (inv. no. 68/28). (Photo: Peter Gaul) Mural showing Andromeda chained to a rock as Perseus and the sea monster approach. Fresco, late 1st century, from the villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 20.192.16) Late antique reliquary. Silver with traces of niello, 6.8 × 7.2 × 7.2 cm, early 5th century, from Kaper Koraon, Syria. The Walters Art Museum (inv. no. 57.638) Zachariah holding a censer and reliquary. Mosaic, apse of the Basilica Euphrasiana, Poreč, ca. 559. (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici) Deacon carrying a coal container while censing. Nocturnal liturgical service, Vatopedi Monastery, Mount Athos. (Photo: www.pemptousia.com) Relief showing Mithras as a child opening a passageway through the cosmos. The zodiac ring marks the threshold between the upper and the lower cosmic regions, while the personified winds represent the lower regions or Earth. Below, watching the god’s descent, are characters of his myth. Limestone, 94 cm, second half of the 2nd century. © Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier. (Photo: Th. Zühmer) Frontal side of the Seasons Sarcophagus. Marble, 112 cm × 224 cm × 116 cm, ca. 330, possibly from Rome. © Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C. (inv. no. BZ.1936.65). (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici) Relief showing followers of Mithras impersonating the god and the characters of his myth during the celebration the ritual banquet. Limestone,

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Fig. 32 Fig. 33 Fig. 34

Fig. 35 Fig. 36

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Figures 59 × 85 cm, likely of the 4th century, Konjica. Zemaljski Muzej Bosne I Hercegovine / National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mosaic decoration of domed ceiling inside the San Giovanni in Fonte baptistery in Naples. Ca. 400. (Photo: Domenico Ventura) Drawing showing the location of golden mosaic tesserae in the decoration of the domed ceiling inside the San Giovanni in Fonte baptistery in Naples. Ca. 400. (Graphic development by Lorenzo R. Pini) Mosaic decoration of the domed ceiling of the Orthodox Baptistery. Mosaic, ca. 458, Ravenna. The blue mosaic tesserae of the background faded over the centuries, thus the contrast was a lot stronger initially. (Photo: Longo Editore, with the kind concession of the Opera di Religione della Diocesi di Ravenna) Plan and section of the church San Vitale in Ravenna (ca. 548) showing the spaces converging in the episcopal cathedra (Plan: Jäggi 2013: 241, section: Johnson 2018, fig. 7.43) Axonometric model of the Lateran Basilica (320) showing the fastigium. (Image: Bosman / Haynes / Liverani [eds.], 2020, fig. 8.19) View from the main doors towards the apse. Virtual reconstruction of the interior of Santa Maria Maggiore, ca. 432, Rome. (Image: © Bernard Frischer) View from the former temple of one of the two stoas that flanked the interior courtyard of the Sebasteion and of the remains of the propylon. Marble, 1st century, Aphrodisias. (Photo: ‘Following Hadrian’ – CC BY-SA 2.0) Apse mosaic showing Christ as a theophanic vision. Late 5th century, Church of Hosios David, Thessaloniki. (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici) View of the nave towards the apse. Hagia Sophia, 537, Constantinople. Study of light in apse, 1948. Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork records and papers, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C. Apse of the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna (ca. 548). (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici, with the kind concession of the Opera di Religione della Diocesi di Ravenna) Cathedra and part of the flanking synthronon in the Basilica Euphrasiana. Ca. 559, Poreč. The bishop received a red porphyry, round halo topped by a cross, while the two priests who sat to his sides received rectangular haloes. (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici) Main nave and apse of the Church of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (549). (Photo: Steven Zucker, Smarthistory, by concession of the Ministero della Cultura – Direzione regionale Musei dell’Emilia-Romagna. All rights reserved)

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Fig. 40 Detail from larger mural showing a simple shrine consisting of a statue set on a column, placed on a rock on the seashore. Such shrines were found across the Roman world. Fresco, late 1st century, from the villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 20.192.17) Fig. 41 Stylite tower, early 6th century, 13.5 m, Umm ar-Rasas (Jordan). (Photo: Hubert Bartkowiak – Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0) Fig. 42 Herm of Hermes, late 1st century, 149 × 24 × 21 cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California (inv. no. 79.AA.132). (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program) Fig. 43 Watercolour of lost mosaic showing devotee present small girl to St Demetrius. North inner aisle, Church of Saint Demetrius, Thessaloniki, 7th century. (British School at Athens, with kind permission) Fig. 44 Pilgrim token with the image of Symeon Stylites the Elder. Angels carrying crowns flank the saint. The Baptism of Jesus and the Adoration of the Magi are shown below. Red clay, 6th century, from Qal’at Sem’an, Syria. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (inv. no. 48.1939) Fig. 45 Portrait of a bearded man. Tempera on wood, 36 × 37.5 × 0.3 cm, 1st century, Egypt. The J. Paul Getty Museum (inv. no. 74.AP.20). (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program) Fig. 46 Painted panel with a saint/martyr called Victor. Encaustic(?) on wood, possibly 6th century. (Photo: su concessione del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze, Direzione regionale Musei della Toscana)

Acknowledgments This book was many years in the making, with it being the result of an interest that began in 2004, when I first read Plotinus’s recommendation to treat ourselves as sculptors do with statues. Over this long period, several friends, colleagues, and family members have helped in various ways. For making the research possible and offering feedback on the manuscript, I would like to thank Michele Bacci, Sible de Blaauw, Barbara Crostini, Francesca Dell’Acqua, James Francis, Christoph Frank, Georgia Frank, Herbert Kessler, Susanne Kubersky-Piredda, Tanja Michalsky, Daniela Mondini, Valerio Neri, Christiane Schroeder, Salvatore Settis, and Antoine Turner. I would also like to thank the series editors, Jörg Ulrich, Anna Usacheva, and Siam Bhayro, for their feedback and support. Rebekka Föste, Kai Klemm-Lorenz, and Janna Rieke Lüttmann did an incredibly fast and thorough check of the manuscript, which assured its stylistic coherence. I thank them for it. Finally, I would like to thank Martina Kayser for assuring a quick and smooth production of the book.

Introduction In 695, having managed to anger all social strata, twenty-six-year-old emperor Justinian II was dethroned, had his nose cut off, and was sent into exile. Playing on the same concept that led to his disfigurement – namely, that the emperor was the image of the Christian God in the earthly realm, and, as such, his body had to be whole – Justinian made a gold prosthesis for his nose and retook the throne.1 The Christian God was the last in a series of personifications of the divine that Roman emperors imaged since the turn of the millennium. This book discusses how Romans came to credit humans with the capacity to render the divine visible through their bodies, analyses several manifestations of this ‘iconic’ state, and considers how the Romans’ desire to attain this state influenced Roman culture from the reign of Octavian Augustus (27 BCE– 14 CE) to that of Justin II (565–574).2 Those whom I call ‘iconic’ – i.e., persons whose bodies were held to represent the divine – are emblematic of a consequential process. Rome’s accomplishments encouraged people to reconsider humanity’s place in the cosmic order. The phenomenon eventually led the Romans to abandon a worldview rooted in the Homeric hymns in favour of a synthesis of Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian elements that promised the possibility of attaining immortality and, thus, becoming like the gods. This newfound confidence was expressed through the understanding of humans as the preferred locus for the divine on Earth. This state could be achieved by having a divine spirit take residence within one’s body or by consecrating one’s soul through a virtuous way of life or through ritual actions. Since the Romans thought that one’s character was revealed through their body, the bodies of persons who had become loci of the divine turned into images of the divine. Emperors, philosophers, priests, and other categories on which this study focuses were thought to embody distinct expressions of this state. 1 Agn., lib. pont. rav. 137 (D. Mauskopf Deliyannis [ed.], Agnellus of Ravenna. Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiae Ravennatis, CCCM  199, Turnhout 2006, 312–313). On Justinian’s reign, see J.F.  Haldon, Byzantium in the Seventh Century: The Transformation of a Culture, New York ²1997. On mutilation in the Byzantine period, see E. Patlagean, Byzance et le blason pénal du corps, in: Du châtiment dans la cité. Supplices corporels et peine de mort dans le monde antique. Table ronde de Rome (9–11 novembre 1982), Rome 1984, 405–427; J. Lascaratos / P. Dalla-Vorgia, The Penalty of Mutilation for Crimes in the Byzantine Era (324–1453), in: Int J Risk Saf Med 10 (1997), 51–56. 2 Throughout, I use ‘Romans’ to refer to those who lived within the confines of the Roman state, regardless of their ethnicity, cultural background, or religious affiliation.

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This book, therefore, traces the emergence, dissemination, and implications of an anthropological model specific to Roman society. As we will see, the capacity to become a vessel and image of the divine was gained thanks to phenomena that affected the whole of Roman society, but the expressions this iconic capacity took were shaped by specific contexts. A common feature of these persons is represented by their competition with temples and cult statues, whose functions they usurped. Over time, the need to preserve and multiply the presence of iconic people led to the creation of new ways of accessing the divine – such as relics, icons, and eulogia.3 Thus, in addition to shedding light on the change in worldview taking place as Graeco-Roman Antiquity gave way to the early Middle Ages in the Mediterranean area, the study of iconic persons allows us to observe how a culture developed new mechanisms for interacting with the divine. None of the three categories of media on which this study focuses – i.e., cult statues / iconic persons / relics, icons, and eulogia – can be fully understood without a careful consideration of the other two. From the beginning, the figure of the iconic person was influenced by the perception of cult statues since, on the one hand, in ascribing to people the functions of cult statues, Romans addressed them with gestures borrowed from their interaction with statuary. On the other, those who sought iconic status invited the association by imitating the statues’ immobility, adopting their aesthetics and architectural settings, and claiming identification with the gods the statues represented. Competition with iconic persons also shaped the development of cult statues. In addition to the emergence of a category of cult statue that reproduced the presence of iconic humans – i.e., cult statues of living emperors – new ways of enhancing the statues’ power were developed to maintain their appeal in a religious marketplace that now also offered living, human statues.4 Relics, icons, and eulogia were conceptually in-between cult statues and iconic persons. Said to reproduce the presence and power of iconic persons, these new mechanisms posed the same problems and advantages as cult statues, as they were material and inanimate but could be easily multiplied and distributed. As such, they need to be studied in relation to both iconic persons and cult statues. Caught in a dynamic of mutual influence with these objects, iconic persons toed the line between living person and animated artefact. Therefore,

3 Eulogia (lit. blessings) were objects held to contain the power of a holy place or person. They could be artefacts, as well as substances such as dust, oil, water, or human parts, such as hair. 4 On animating statues in Late Antiquity, see S.I. Johnston, Animating Statues. A Case Study in Ritual, in: Arethusa 41 (2008), 445–477. On imperial statues, see below.

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studying these figures is as much an art historical endeavour as it is a study of religious anthropology. Iconic persons bridged not only cult statues with icons, but also the two worlds these artefacts represent. Despite having dedicated loci in temples and statues, the divine permeated all aspects of life, from the food market in Pompeii, which included a space dedicated to the cult of the emperor, to Roman bedrooms decorated with images of the goddess Venus caught up in amorous games. A change in how humans related with the divine thus involved a reconsideration of every aspect of life. Peter Brown has pointed out that Christianity’s greatest challenge and biggest accomplishment was to change not the god at the top of the hierarchy, but the myriad expressions of divinity that populated the Roman world.5 As shown by the studies of Brown and David Frankfurter, iconic individuals offered themselves as alternatives to old ways of interacting with the gods.6 By further attesting to this, my book supports Brown’s view that “the rise of the holy man is the Leitmotiv of the religious revolution of late antiquity.”7

Methodological Considerations

Historians of Roman society had pointed out the cultural instrumentalisation of bodies as early as the 1890s. Nevertheless, the wave of scholarly interest in the body’s role in social interaction that began in the 1960s and manifested across the social and humanistic sciences significantly enriched our understanding of Roman bodies. A side-effect of this increased attention was that due to the abundance and diversity of sources documenting Roman culture, its various aspects had to be studied separately. Thus, analyses of social, political, religious, and philosophical phenomena have shown the emergence of a new anthropological model in Roman imperial culture, but there lacks a study that considers the cumulative implications of these finds.

5 P.  Brown, Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianisation of the Roman World, Cambridge 1995, 8–11. 6 Esp. P. Brown, The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity, in: JRS 61 (1971), 80–101; id., The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, New York 1988; id., Enjoying the Saints in Late Antiquity, in: EMEu 9 (2000), 1–24; D. Frankfurter, Syncretism and the Holy Man in Late Antique Egypt, in: JECS  11 (2003), 339–385; id., Christianizing Egypt: Syncretism and Local Worlds in Late Antiquity, Princeton 2018. 7 Brown, The Rise, 1971, 99. The process was not without opposers, see M. Dal Santo, Debating the Saints’ Cult in the Age of Gregory the Great, Oxford 2012.

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In this book, I seek to summarise and combine the results of these fields, pursuing a double goal. On the one hand, I wish to show that phenomena such as the tendency to ascribe divine status to humans, the popularity of divine intermediaries in several religions, or the loss of confidence in ancient sanctuaries and cult statues were facets of a wider process, which produced a new way of perceiving the cosmic order and humanity’s place in it.8 On the other hand, the book proposes a way to integrate such phenomena and thus come closer to understanding the complexity and effects of this process that shaped medieval culture. Previous attempts to offer a comprehensive explanation of the phenomenon that produced the anthropological model represented by living ‘iconic’ persons have fallen short of offering a working model. In the early 1900s, members of the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule introduced the artificial category of the “divine men” to draw attention to the novelty of crediting people with super-human powers in Roman society.9 However, the concept’s reference to ‘divinity’ seemed inadequate since these persons’ relationship with the divine varied greatly. As a result, the notion of ‘divine men’ was widely criticised.10 Peter Brown focused instead on the Christian expression of the process, which he used to argue that the period saw a revolution in how humans related with the divine.11 To explain the appeal of the Christian ‘holy man,’ Brown looked to some of the main functions he took up, such as patron and exemplary figure. The constant revisions of Brown’s concept of ‘holy man’ and critiques of Bieler’s notion of ‘divine men’ showed the need for a flexible definition, which allows us to recognise the expressions this human potentiality took, without restraining them to categories proposed by specific religions or cultural contexts.12 8

I call here ‘religion’ any system that claimed to offer a formula for regulating humandivine relations. This includes the philosophical schools of the time. 9 R.R. Reitzenstein, Hellenistische Wundererzählungen, Leipzig 1906; L. Bieler, Theios Aner. Das Bild des göttlichen Menschen in Spätantike und Frühchristentum, 2 vols., Vienna 1935/1936. 10 For an overview of the concept’s afterlife, see J.-J.  Flinterman, The Ubiquitous “Divine Man”, in: Numen 43 (1996), 82–98. 11 Esp. Brown, The Rise, 1971; id., Enjoying, 2000. 12 Brown revised the image of his ‘holy man’ several times, from patron to imitator of Christ and exemplary figure. Revisions were made also by others: G. Fowden, The Pagan Holy Man in Late Antique Society, in: JHS  102 (1982), 33–59; M.  Whitby, Maro the Dendrite: an Anti-Social Holy Man?, in: M.  Whitby / P.  Hardie / M.  Whitby (eds.), Homo Viator, Classical Essays for John Bramble, Bristol 1987, 309–317; G.W. Bowersock, Hellenism in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 1990; G. Anderson, Sage, Saint and Sophist, London 1994; C. Rapp, “For Next to God, You Are My Salvation”: Reflections on the Rise of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity, in: J. Howard-Johnston / P.A. Hayward (eds.), The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Essays on the Contribution of Peter Brown, New York 1999, 63–81;

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As a solution, I propose to recognise the period as characterised by a willingness to credit living humans with the capacity to reveal the divine to the senses, and to analyse the distinct expressions of this potential in their immediate contexts. The book tests this approach: the first chapter discusses the origin of the figure of the iconic person, while the rest of the chapters focus on various ways in which one could become an image of the divine. Although overused in both scholarship and popular culture, I chose the term ‘iconic’ to describe this ontological state because the term’s roots in the Greek term εἰκών draw attention to the fact that in this cultural context, a privileged relationship with the divine implied a visual expression.13 Whether one was thought to be inhabited by a divine spirit or to have been consecrated through virtuous living, contemplation, or rituals, the resulting state was expected to manifest through the person’s body. As Celsus, the secondcentury critic of Christianity, pointed out, such a person would be distinguishable through the size, beauty, or strength of their body, or through their voice or persuasiveness.14 Even when persons imparted the divine through odour or wisdom, the state had a visual component because in Roman culture such individuals were perceived as models to imitate.15 Thus, whether they revealed the divine through their transformed physical features, healing abilities, or advice offered, iconic persons were spectacles to be witnessed and imitated. The instances I chose to focus on are the better documented and more consequential ones – such as, emperors, martyrs, and bishops – as well as those that, in my opinion, shed the most light on the phenomenon, namely, initiates and stylite ascetics. Since these categories have been extensively studied, my analysis is limited to their functioning as vessels and images of the divine. For

13 14 15

ead., Saints and Holy Men, in: A. Casiday / F.W. Norris (eds.), The Cambridge History of Christianity. Vol. 2 Constantine to c. 600, Cambridge 2007, 548–566; Frankfurter, 2003; id., 2018; S. Panayotakis / G. Schmeling / M. Paschalis (eds.), Holy Men and Charlatans in the Ancient Novel, Groningen 2015. See the overview in R. Kosinski, Holiness and Power. Constantinopolitan Holy Men and Authority in the 5th Century, Boston 2016, 6–16. On the meaning of εἰκών in the Greek philosophical and patristic traditions, see A. Vasiliu, Eikôn: L’image dans le discours des trois Cappadociens, Paris 2010. Or., Cels.  6.75 (M.  Marcovich [ed.], Origenes: Contra Celsum Libri VIII, Leiden 2015, 451–452). On odour, see S.A.  Harvey, Scenting Salvation. Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination, TCH 42, Berkeley 2006; M. Roch, The “Odor of Sanctity”: Defining Identity and Alterity in the Early Middle Ages (Fifth to Ninth Century), in: A. Marinković / T. Vedriš (eds.), Identity and Alterity in Hagiography and the Cult of Saints, Zagreb 2010, 73–88. See Bieler, 1935/1936, vol. 1 for the ways in which a privileged relationship with the divine was thought to manifest.

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each category, I tried to identify the origin of their iconic quality, the forms it took, and how it was eventually passed on to artefacts. The decision to not analyse the instances in depth is prompted by two considerations. First, the simplification of the process allows us to discern its main features, with the zooming-out effect revealing the evolution from cult statues to iconic persons and eventually to relics, icons, and eulogia. Second, the literature on each of the instances I address is extensive and growing exponentially.16 To explore the iconic quality of these categories, it is necessary to draw on textual, visual, and material sources and analyse dynamic performances in relation to the views held by various communities. A systematic treatment of all these aspects would result in a very long text in danger of never being finished because useful perspectives and methodologies continue to be developed (e.g., affect theory). Thus, I opted for an essay-like form that places the figure of the iconic person at the centre of several consequential phenomena present in Roman culture. The result is inevitably lacunary, but my hope is that the study will be received as an exercise in interdisciplinarity and a plea for a bottom-up approach in which the studied phenomenon dictates the methodology, rather than the field of study in which one activates. To compensate for the simplification of the case studies in this book, an accompanying volume was published that addresses the phenomenon from a complementary perspective.17 While here I focus on iconic ‘types’, contributions to this open-access anthology explore the main ways in which iconicity manifested, namely, through beauty, luminosity, gender, ugliness, movement, and immobility. Jesus of Nazareth and the desert ascetics, two instances that would have made obvious case studies, are missing from this study. Georgia Frank’s monograph The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity makes a chapter on ascetics redundant because she showed the ways in which their bodies became screens for the divine.18 Similarly, the figure of Jesus was analysed by Michele Bacci in his The Many Faces of Christ. Portraying the Holy in the East and West, 300 to 1300.19 Bacci shows how the constant reworking of Jesus’s image in the Christian tradition originated in a conflict between a tendency to imagine Jesus as physically unattractive – following Isaiah’s “ugly 16 17 18 19

A search on Emperor Constantine I in a database of historical publications reveals 1026 titles. See: https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/rihajournal/issue/view/4899. G.  Frank, The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity, TCH 30, Berkeley 2000. M. Bacci, The Many Faces of Christ: Portraying the Holy in the East and West, 300 to 1300, London 2014.

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servant” prophecy (Isa. 52:14) – and the expectation of physical beauty that his divine status generated in Roman culture. Bacci’s study has also shown that most Christians agreed with Celsus, that the body of a holy person should indicate the divine inhabiting them. Available sources focused my analysis on Christian expressions of the phenomenon, but I have tried to place them in context in order to show how iconicity was a Mediterranean rather than a Christian phenomenon. Christianity and polytheism, the early and late Roman imperial periods, written and material culture, theology and ritual practice have often been studied separately. Nevertheless, they are mutually dependent facets of the same cultural flux. Found at their intersection, the figure of the iconic person provides us with a fil rouge that allows us to consider these categories together and illuminates the dynamic of this flux.

Status Quaestionis

Scholarly interest in the use of the body as signifier in Graeco-Roman Antiquity began with Karl Sittl’s Die Gebärden der Griechen und Römer, published in the now distant 1890.20 Since then, an impressive number of studies has been dedicated to the symbolism of ancient bodies. Most analyses focus on rulers. A first wave of research was done between the World Wars. Elias Bickerman studied imperial apotheosis; Lily Ross Taylor opened the discussion on imperial divinity; and Richard Delbrueck analysed imperial self-presentation strategies.21 Andreas Alföldi showed how Roman emperors borrowed elements from representations of the gods to construct themselves as divine presences.22 Art historian André Grabar made the same argument with regards to imperial representations.23 During the same years, Ludwig Bieler popularised the concept of “divine men”, discussed above.24 Despite being widely criticised, the syntagm “divine men” continues to be 20 21 22

23 24

K. Sittl, Die Gebärden der Griechen und Römer, Leipzig 1890. E.  Bickermann, Die römische Kaiserapotheose, in: AR  27 (1929), 1–31; L.R.  Taylor, The Divinity of the Roman Emperor, Middletown 1931; R. Delbrueck, Spätantike Kaiserporträts von Constantinus Magnus bis zum Ende des Westreichs, Berlin 1933. A. Alföldi, Die Ausgestaltung des monarchischen Zeremoniells am romischen Kaiserhofe, in: RM 49 (1934), 1–118; id., Insignien und Tracht der römischen Kaiser, in: RM 50 (1935), 1–171 (republished together as id., Die monarchische Repräsentation im römischen Kaiserreiche, Darmstadt 1970). A. Grabar, L’empereur dans l’art byzantin: recherches sur l’art officiel de l’empire d’Orient, Paris 1936. Bieler, 1935/1936.

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used, which attests to the phenomenon’s relevance and to the need to find a better way to approach it. Ernst Kantorowicz’ research popularised among medievalists the idea that Roman emperors and medieval kings functioned as images of the divine.25 In the 1980s, the scholarly focus shifted from the mise-en-scène of imperial personas to the conceptual grounds of their divinity.26 Of particular relevance for our study is Ittai Gradel’s analysis, which showed that Romans understood divinity (also) as a status issue. This allowed emperors to claim divine status on account of their godlike authority.27 As historians of imperial self-presentation debated these issues, developments in sociological and anthropological studies stressed the cultural dimension of human bodies. Beginning in the 1970s, interest in the body’s role in social interaction grew, as taboos on topics like sexual orientation were slowly lifted.28 As a result, societal regulation of corporeal behaviour and the body’s use in communicating identity were recognised and explored. Influenced by Erwin Goffman’s theory of social dramaturgy and by Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus – both drawing on Marcel Mauss’s considerations on the techniques du corps – classicists explored the connotations of Greek and Roman bodies.29 Michel Foucault’s interest in the cultural conditioning of corporeal habits found echoes in Peter Brown’s studies on late antique bodies.30 Brown’s work shaped a generation of 25

E.H. Kantorowicz, Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite, Berlin 1927; id., The “King’s Advent”: And the Enigmatic Panels in the Doors of Santa Sabina, in: ArtB 26 (1944), 207–231; id., The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology, Princeton 1957; id., Gods in Uniform, in: APSP 105 (1961), 368–393; id., Oriens Augusti – Lever du Roi, in: DOP 17 (1963), 119–177. 26 E.g., S.R.F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor, Cambridge 1984. See the bibl. in J. Bardill, Constantine, Divine Emperor of the Christian Golden Age, Cambridge 2012. 27 I.  Gradel, Emperor Worship and Roman Religion, Oxford 2002, esp. 27–53. His view is shared by Simon Price, Spencer Cole, and others, but contested by M. Koortbojian, The Divinization of Caesar and Augustus: Precedents, Consequences, Implications, Cambridge 2013. 28 See B.E. Schneider / P.M. Nardi (eds.), Social Perspectives in Lesbian and Gay Studies: A Reader, London 1998. 29 M.  Mauss, Les Techniques du corps, in: JPNP  32 (1936), 271–293; E.  Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Edinburgh 1956; P. Bourdieu, Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique, précédé de trois études d’ethnologie kabyle, Geneve 1972. 30 M. Foucault, Histoire de la sexualité, tome 3: Le souci de soi, Paris 1976; id., Technologies of the Self, in: L.H. Martin / H. Gutman / P.H. Hutton (eds.), Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault, Amherst 1988, 16–49; id., L’herméneutique du sujet. Cours au College du France, 1981–2, Paris 2001; Brown, The Rise, 1971; id., The Cult of the Saints: its Rise and Function in Late Antiquity, Chicago 1981; id., 1988. The two influenced each other’s thinking through discussions “over coffee” cf. M. Foucault / R. Sennett, Sexuality and Solitude,

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scholars who pursued related topics.31 Thanks to these studies we know now how corpulence, beauty, physiognomy, gestures, body alterations, gender, and costume were perceived in Antiquity and Late Antiquity.32 Consequently, the cultural context in focus here is one of the best studied in terms of the semiotics of living bodies. Some of these studies dealt with the image-like quality ascribed to living people and have prepared the way for the present analysis. James Francis studied the association of living persons with images by second- and third-century

31

32

in: LRB 3 (1981), 3–7; P. Brown, A Life of Learning, in: ACLS Occasional Papers 55 (2003), 1–20 (2–3). On Brown’s impact, see S.  Elm / N.  Janowitz (eds.), Charisma and Society: The 25th Anniversary of Peter Brown’s Analysis of the Late Antique Holy Man, JECS special issue, 6 (1998); J.  Howard-Johnston / P.A.  Hayward (eds.), The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Essays on the Contribution of Peter Brown, New York 1999; J. Kreiner / H.  Reimitz (eds.), Motions of Late Antiquity: Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society in Honour of Peter Brown, Turnhout 2016. R.  Brilliant, Gesture and Rank in Roman Art. The Use of Gestures to Denote Status in Roman Sculpture and Coinage, MCAAS 14, New Haven 1963; E.C. Evans, Physiognomics in the Ancient World, Philadelphia 1969; F. Graf, Gestures and Conventions: The Gestures of Roman Actors and Orators, in: J. Bremmer / H. Roodenburg (eds.), A Cultural History of Gesture, Ithaca 1992, 36–58; J.L. Sebesta / L. Bonfante (eds.), The World of Roman Costume, Madison 1994; M.W. Gleason, Making Men: Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome, Princeton 1995; T.S. Barton, Power and Knowledge: Astrology, Physiognomics, and Medicine under the Roman Empire, Ann Arbor 1995; P. Zanker, The Mask of Socrates: The Image of the Intellectual in Antiquity, Berkeley 1995; G.S. Aldrete, Gestures and Acclamations in Ancient Rome, Baltimore 1999; E. Gunderson, Staging Masculinity: The Rhetoric of Performance in the Roman World, Ann Arbor 2000; A. Corbeill, Nature Embodied. Gesture in Ancient Rome, Princeton 2004; V. Neri, La bellezza del corpo nella società tardoantica. Rappresentazioni visive e valutazioni estetiche tra cultura classica e cristianesimo, Bologna 2004; D. Cairns (ed.), Body Language in the Greek and Roman Worlds, Swansea 2005; M.B. Roller, Dining Posture in Ancient Rome: Bodies, Values, and Status, Princeton 2006; id., Models from the Past in Roman Culture: A World of Exempla, Cambridge 2018; S. Swain (ed.), Seeing the Face, Seeing the Soul: Polemon’s Physiognomy from Classical Antiquity to Medieval Islam, Oxford 2007; C.M.  Conway, Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco Roman Masculinity, Oxford 2008; J. Edmondson / A. Keith (eds.), Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture, Toronto 2008; T. Fögen / M.M. Lee (eds.), Bodies and Boundaries in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, Berlin 2009; D. Frère / L. Bodiou / V. Mehl (eds.), L’expression des corps: gestes, attitudes, regards dans l’iconographie antique, Rennes 2006; L. Bodiou / V. Mehl / M Soria (eds.), Corps outragés, corps ravagés de l’Antiquité au Moyen Âge, Turnhout 2011; L. Bodiou / F. Gherchanoc / V. Huet / V. Mehl (eds.), Parures et artifices: le corps exposé dans l’antiquité, Paris 2011; T.M. O’Sullivan, Walking in Roman Culture, Cambridge 2011; K. Upson-Saia / C. Daniel-Hughes / A.J. Batten (eds.), Dressing Judeans and Christians in Antiquity, Farnham 2014; L. Gawlinski, Dress and Ornaments, in: R.  Raja / J.  Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World, Oxford 2015, 96–106.

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authors.33 Georgia Frank shed light on the theophanic quality attributed to desert ascetics.34 Valerio Neri showed the iconic implications of beauty.35 Laura Nasrallah discussed Clement of Alexandria’s (d. ca. 215) use of statues as analogy for living persons.36 Like Alföldi, Ramsey MacMullen, and others before him, Tonio Hölscher showed that Roman emperors and other prominent figures imitated images to create symbolic associations.37 In parallel, scholars working on Jewish and Christian theology recovered the ways in which the text in Genesis 1:26 and 2:7 – where humankind is said to have been made out of dust into the image of God – was interpreted by certain communities. Their studies showed that in several contexts the image of God was thought to reside in the body.38 As we will see, the early Christian belief in the body’s iconic potential was rooted in these discussions about Adam’s creation in the image of God. In recent studies, Patricia Cox Miller, Hannah Hunt, and Bissera V. Pentcheva address the iconic potential late antique Christians ascribed to living humans. Miller notes that late antique society was characterised by a willingness to believe that “the sensible world, including human sense perception, the body, and objects in the material realm, could be viewed not as distractions but as theophanic vehicles.”39 In this context, certain living bodies gained a 33

34 35 36 37 38

39

J.A. Francis, Subversive Virtue: Asceticism and Authority in the Second-century Pagan World, University Park 1995; id., Living Icons: The Metaphor of Imaging from the Second to Fourth Centuries CE, in: StPatr  40 (2006), 209–214; id., Verbal and Visual Representation: Art and Text, Culture and Power in Late Antiquity, in: P. Rousseau (ed.), A Companion to Late Antiquity 285–305, Oxford 2009, 285–305. Frank, 2000. Neri, 2004. L.S. Nasrallah, The Earthen Human, the Breathing Statue: The Sculptor God, Greco-Roman Statuary, and Clement of Alexandria, in: K. Schmid / C. Riedweg (eds.), Beyond Eden: The Biblical Story of Paradise [Genesis 2–3] and its Reception History, Tübingen 2008, 110–140. T.  Hölscher, Visual Power in Ancient Greece and Rome: Between Art and Social Reality, Oakland 2018, 12 cf. R. MacMullen, Some Pictures in Ammianus Marcellinus, in: ArtB 46 (1964), 435–455. W.J. Burghardt, The Image of God in Man According to Cyril of Alexandria, Woodstock 1957; C.H.T. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls, STDJ 42, Leiden 2002; A. Schüle, Made in the ‘Image of God’: The Concepts of Divine Images in Gen  1–3, in: ZAW  117 (2005), 1–20; G.H.  van  Kooten, Paul’s Anthropology in Context: The Image of God, Assimilation to God, and Tripartite Man in Ancient Judaism, Ancient Philosophy and Early Christianity, WUNT  232, Tübingen 2008; C.  Markschies, Gottes Körper. Jüdische, christliche und pagane Gottesvorstellungen in der Antike, Munich 2016; A.A. Orlov, Living Mysteries: Embodiment of Divine Knowledge in Jewish Apocalypticism, in: Gnosis 7 (2022), 17–52. P.C.  Miller, The Corporeal Imagination: Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity, Philadelphia 2009, 41 (emphasis mine).

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theophanic quality that made them the focus of their contemporaries. Her research also stressed that in searching for a way to focus devotion on something perceivable through the senses, living persons, icons, and relics posed the same problem of materiality, but she did not explore the relationship between the three media further.40 Hunt and Pentcheva both studied how the biblical idea of being made “in the image of God” was contextualised in Late Antiquity. Hunt traced the evolution of the notion in the Christian Syriac tradition up to the seventh century, showing how it shaped the perception of living bodies in general and of ascetic ones in particular.41 Pentcheva, who introduced the concept of corporeal iconicity, defined it as a non-representational state that was partially performative and partially the result of receiving the spirit of God within.42 As such, the state characterised both persons and inanimate matter, such as churches or the Eucharistic bread and wine, which had been imbibed with the divine pneuma.43 Pentcheva’s iconic Christians do not become visual images of God, but vessels through which the divine pneuma flowed into the world.44 In what follows, I argue instead that cohabitation with the divine was held to alter one’s body, transforming it into an image of the divine, and I show that the Church Fathers constructed themselves and select others as material images of the divine. My analysis of living persons as images thus sheds new light on the Patristic ‘image theory’ that art historians and theologians struggled to reconstruct in order to understand why cult images were so disputed in the medieval offshoots of Roman culture. As pointed out by art historian Hans Belting, the concept of image is essentially an anthropological one.45 Thus, the new categories of cult images created in Late Antiquity can only be understood in relation with the anthropological paradigm that emerged in the same period. The Graeco-Roman preference for anthropomorphism and the abundance of textual and material sources available for this context allow us to discern when 40 Ead., Shifting Selves in Late Antiquity, in: D.  Brakke / M.L.  Satlow / S.  Weitzman (eds.), Religion and the Self in Antiquity, Bloomington 2005, 15–39; ead., On the Edge of Self and Other: Holy Bodies in Late Antiquity, in: JECS 17 (2009b), 171–193; ead., The Corporeal, 2009. 41 H. Hunt, Clothed in the Body: Asceticism, the Body and the Spiritual in the Late Antique Era, Surrey 2012. 42 B.V.  Pentcheva, Performing the Sacred in Byzantium: Image, Breath and Sound, in: Perform. Res. 19 (2014), 120–128; ead., Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium, University Park 2017, 11.76–84; ead. (ed.), Aural Architecture in Byzantium. Music, Acoustics, and Ritual, London 2017. 43 Ead., Hagia, 2017, passim. 44 Ead., 2014; ead., Hagia, 2017, 11.76–84. 45 H. Belting, An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body (T. Dunlap, trans.), Princeton 2014.

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and why Greeks and Romans ascribed animated character to images, how humans reclaimed those functions when an anthropological model emerged that held humans capable of mediating themselves between humanity and the divine, and how a new class of artefacts was eventually created to complement and preserve the functioning of these humans. The process attests to the pull of matter in human worship. Indeed, the “web of humans and things, permeated by a deep incarnational theology” specific to Byzantine society has its roots in the context we will look at, which documents the survival of animism against all odds amid a literate and sophisticated society.46 Belief in the iconic quality of living persons was preserved in the eastern, so-called ‘Byzantine’ offshoot of Roman culture.47 As pointed out by Katherine Marsengill, “[scil. in Byzantium] a man or woman who had accomplished a greater spiritual degree of enlightenment, who had experienced God, simply could not exist without such a state physically and visibly revealed.”48 Marsengill further argues that icon worship shaped the visual expression of this iconic state in Byzantium, with living saints imitating the icons of previous saints.49 Thus, a later phase of the phenomenon we are studying here involved living people seeking iconic status by imitating icons, in the way that, we will see, they imitated cult statues in the early centuries CE. For the Latin West, Martino Rossi Monti shows how the idea that a holy person’s body was rendered luminous by the indwelling grace was preserved by medieval theologians.50 This short and inevitably incomplete historiographic sketch indicates the complexity of studying the body as living image of the divine in this cultural context. The topic has been addressed as a philological, theological, philosophical, art historical, and ritual phenomenon. The extensive bibliography and the variety of possible approaches make a comprehensive study unfeasible. Thus, 46

G. Peers, Animism, Materiality, and Museums: How Do Byzantine Things Feel?, Amsterdam 2020, 1. On the debate on images in the early Middle Ages, see now F.  Dell’Acqua, Iconophilia. Politics, Religion, Preaching, and the Use of Images in Rome, c.680–880, BBOS 27, London 2020. 47 On what we grew accustomed to call ‘Byzantium’ being the Roman state, see A. Kaldellis, Romanland: Ethnicity and Empire in Byzantium, Cambridge 2019. 48 K.  Marsengill, The Influence of Icons on the Perception of Living Holy Persons, in: J. Bogdanović (ed.), Encounters with the Holy: Perceptions of Body and Space in the Medieval Mediterranean, Abingdon 2018, 87–103 (87). 49 Ead., Portraits and Icons: Between Reality and Spirituality in Byzantine Art, Turnhout 2013; ead., 2018. 50 M. Rossi Monti, “Opus es magnificum”: The Image of God and the Aesthetics of Grace, in: C.S.  Jaeger (ed.), Magnificence and the Sublime in Medieval Aesthetics, New York 2010, 17–29.

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I constructed my argument as a development of previous analyses. Sharing Miller’s conviction that the late antique period is characterised by unprecedented optimism regarding the capacity of matter to represent the divine, I further her exploration about the theophanic potential of living bodies. In this, my study is not novel. As we have seen, the iconic dimension of Roman emperors and Christian ascetics are well-established topics. Nevertheless, I believe that it is important to recognise the diverse types of iconic living as pertaining to the same phenomenon and that part of the functions of private and public settings designed in this timeframe was to establish the iconic quality of the persons at their centre. In this, I integrate the living persons in the art historical analysis of the spaces. The context that gave rise to the idea that humans can become vessels and images of the divine is addressed in the following chapter, which is followed by an analysis of how this potential was embodied by emperors, martyrs, initiates, bishops, and stylite ascetics, and passed on by them to objects.51

51

Andrei Orlov’s monograph on the iconic quality ascribed to the bodies of Adam, Enoch, Jacob, and Moses in early Judaism came out too late for its finds to be integrated in the present study. Orlov’s analysis attests to how popular the belief in the capacity of living humans to become living images of god was in Jewish milieux in the Near East around the turn of the millennium—the cultural matrix of the Christian movement. It also showed that the biblical passages Christians interpreted to develop an iconic view of humans, which we will discuss in the following pages, were used in similar manner in Jewish communities. See A.A. Orlov, Embodiment of Divine Knowledge in Early Judaism, Abingdon 2022.

Chapter 1

Setting the Stage Standing unknowingly at the crossroad between Antiquity and the Middle Ages, young Augustine of Hippo (354–430) pondered the choice Roman society offered him.1 The old world tempted him with a rewarding social position based on his training in rhetoric. Concurrently, the siren call of the new world allured him to a life dedicated to God. His doubts, Augustine tells us, ended as he opened the Christian Scriptures and his eyes fell upon Paul’s advice to “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not take forethought for the flesh…”2 Paul had borrowed the notion of “putting on” from the language of clothing and used it twice in his writings to define the relationship between Jesus and his followers.3 In his epistle to the Romans, which ended up deciding Augustine’s future, Paul called on his readers to “put on” Jesus by imitating his behaviour, thus promoting a performative notion of following.4 In Galatians, the Apostle argued that those who had been baptised had “put on” Christ, thus reworking the biblical notion that humans had been made in the image of God.5 Whether performative as in Romans or ontological as in Galatians, the “putting on” or “dressing” with Christ was a state that others were supposed to be able to see in one’s actions and, in the case of Paul, in the physical marks left by his tribulations.6 Thus, Paul urged Christians to become images of Christ. 1 On the life of Augustine, see P.  Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, Berkeley ²2000; J.J. O’Donnell, Augustine, a New Biography, New York 2005. 2 Rom  13:14 ἀλλὰ ἐνδύσασθε τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς πρόνοιαν μὴ ποιεῖσθε εἰς ἐπιθυμίας. cf. Aug., c. 8.12 (W.H.D.  Rouse [ed.], St. Augustine’s Confessions. Vol. 1: Books 1–8, LCL 26, Cambridge 1912, 464–465). Quotes from the Old Testament follow Swete’s Septuagint (2010) and those from the New Testament the SBL Greek New Testament (2010). Translations into English follow Young’s Literal Translation (1862), amended at times. 3 On the meaning of the verb ἐνδύω and its transformative implications, see M.F. Hull, Baptism on Account of the Dead (1Cor 15:29): An Act of Faith in the Resurrection, Atlanta 2005, 245– 246. On clothing imagery in Paul, see J.H. Kim, On the Significance of Clothing Imagery in the Pauline Corpus, London 2004; R. Canavan, Clothing the Body of Christ at Colossae: A Visual Construction of Identity, WUNT 2.334, Tübingen 2011. 4 Cf. the immediate context of the concept in Rom 14. 5 Gal  3:27 “for as many as to Christ were baptized did put on Christ;” / ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε. 6 On the idea of “putting on Christ,” see E. Haulotte, Symbolique du vêtement selon la Bible, Paris 1966; S.P. Brock, Clothing Metaphors as a Means of Theological Expression in Syriac Tradition,

© Brill Schöningh, 2023 | doi:10.30965/9783657790821_002

2

Chapter 1

In Augustine’s time, several types of Christians were credited with having “put on” Christ. In the fourth century, bishops, hermits, martyrs, and the now Christian emperors were all considered images of Christ, with each representing the Christian God in a different form. These alternatives had developed out of a notion of iconicity that crystallised around the turn of the millennium and which Paul himself referenced when he wrote to the Christians in Rome to “put on” Christ. In this chapter, we will travel back to Paul’s Rome to see what “putting on” a god meant to first-century Romans and then follow how the concept evolved during the first three centuries. The origin of the anthropological model at the core of this study – which held humans capable of containing and displaying the divine – appears related to the encounter between a particular culture of public self-presentation and a growing belief in the human potential to attain divinity. A third element, the cult statue, stands in the background of the phenomenon, shaping its vocabulary, aesthetic, and gestures. In what follows I introduce the three elements – the Roman culture of self-presentation, the Roman notion of deification, and the pairing of iconic persons with cult statues – and ponder how they contributed to the figure of the iconic person. 1.1

Body Language in Early Imperial Society

In Antiquity, most people signalled their social status through garments and insignia. In addition, communities around the Mediterranean held the body capable of disclosing the person’s character. Five centuries apart, the anonymous author of the Book of Sirach and Bishop Basil of Ancyra (d. 362) attest to the resilience of this belief, with the former arguing that “One can tell a man by his appearance; a wise man is known as such when first met. A man’s attire, his hearty laughter and his gait, proclaim him for what he is;” and the latter confirming that “it is not only the voice or even the look that displays the image of the soul as if in a mirror; but even a man’s dress and laugh and gait testify concerning it.”7 in: M. Schmidt / C.F. Geyer (eds.), Typus, Symbol, Allegorie bei den östlichen Vätern und ihren Parallelen im Mittelalter. Internationales Kolloquium, Eichstätt 1981, Regensburg 1982, 11–38. 7 Wis 19:28–29 (A. Rahlfs [ed.], Septuaginta, Stuttgart ⁹1971; trans. New American Bible 2002) ἀπὸ ὁράσεως ἐπιγνωσθήσεται ἀνήρ, καὶ ἀπὸ ἀπαντήσεως προσώπου ἐπιγνωσθήσεται νοήμων· στολισμὸς ἀνδρὸς καὶ γέλως ὀδόντων καὶ βήματα ἀνθρώπου ἀναγγελεῖ τὰ περὶ αὐτοῦ. Bas. Anc., d. virg. 36 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 30, Paris 1888, coll. 741AB; trans. T.M. Shaw, Askesis and the Appearance of Holiness, in: JECS 6 [1998], 485–499, [491]) Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ αἱ ἐν σώματι ψυχαὶ ἀδυνατοῦσαι ἀλλήλαις γυμνῶς περὶ ἀρετῆς ὁμιλεῖν, τοῖς

Setting the Stage

3

Over time, communities developed detailed sartorial, behavioural, and physiognomic codes that allowed them to assess their interlocutors.8 Body and deportment indicated one’s character and, through moles and other signs used in divination, one’s destiny.9 Garments and jewellery communicated one’s age group (i.e., child, young adult, adult), social standing, political function, clerical role, and religious affiliation.10 (see Fig.  1) One could complement their public image with portraits, which allowed Romans to depict themselves with desired qualities, as well as to create visual associations with revered humans or gods. Thus, Roman self-presentation was a combination of embodied performances and of representations, with the two media influencing each other. Physiognomics were attested in ancient Mesopotamia, the Greek poleis in the fourth century BCE, and Ancient Near Eastern communities in the second century BCE.11 In Roman society physiognomics were recognised as a science and came to shape social interaction at every level.12 Thus, most Romans shared Cicero’s (106–43 BCE) belief in a direct correspondence between body and character. As the famous orator put it, “every motion of the soul has its natural appearance, voice, and gesture; and the entire body of man, all his περικειμένοις σώμασιν ὀργάνοις πρός τε τὴν φωνὴν καὶ τὴν θέαν ἀναγκάζονται χρῆσθαι, καὶ ὁ μὴ δυνάμενος ψυχῆς ἐνδεδεμένης σώματι κάλλος ἰδεῖν, ἢ λόγῳ ταύτης ἀκοῦσαι, τὸ τοῦ σώματος κίνημα ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ὁρᾷ, καὶ τῆς διὰ τούτου φωνῆς ἐπακούων, τὸ κάλλος αὐτῆς διὰ τούτων ἀναλογίζεται, καὶ οὐ φωνὴ μόνον ἢ καὶ βλέμμα, ὥσπερ ἐν κατόπτρῳ τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς εἶδος δεικνύει· ἀλλὰ καὶ στολισμὸς ἀνδρὸς, καὶ γέλως, καὶ βῆμα ποδὸς, ἀναγγέλλει περὶ αὐτοῦ. 8 Quint., inst. 11.3 (H.E.  Butler [ed. / trans.], Quintilian. The Orator’s Education. Vol. 1: Books 1–2, LCL 124, London 1980) exemplifies the extent to which Romans codified body language. 9 On physiognomy, see Evans, 1969; Barton, 1995; Swain (ed.), 2007; J.  Trimble, Corpore enormi: The Rhetoric of Physical Appearance in Suetonius and Imperial Portrait Statuary, in: J. Elsner / M. Meyer (eds.), Art and Rhetoric in Roman Culture, Cambridge 2014, 115– 154. On divinatory markers, see V. Dasen, Le langage divinatoire du corps, in: V. Dasen / J.  Wigaux (eds.), Langages et métaphores du corps dans le monde antique, Rennes 2008, 223–242; ead., Body Marks-Birthmarks. Body Divination in Ancient Literature and Iconography, in: D.  Boschung / A.  Shapiro / F.  Wascheck (eds.), Bodies in Transition. Dissolving the Boundaries of Embodied Knowledge, Paderborn 2015, 153–177. On deportment, see Gleason, 1995; Corbeill, 2004; Conway, 2008. 10 Sebesta / Bonfante (eds.), 1994; Edmondson / Keith (eds.), 2008; Upson-Saia / DanielHughes / Batten (eds.), 2014. 11 On Mesopotamia, see B. Böck, Physiognomy in Ancient Mesopotamia and Beyond: From Practice to Handbook, in: A.  Annus (ed.), Divination and Interpretation of Signs in the Ancient World, OIS 6, Chicago 2010, 199–224; on the Near East, see M. Popović, Reading the Human Body. Physiognomics and Astrology in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Hellenistic– Early Roman Period Judaism, Leiden 2007; on Greece, see M.L. Catoni, La comunicazione non verbale nella Grecia antica. Gli schemata nella danza, nell’arte, nella vita, Turin 2008. 12 Evans, 1969; Swain (ed.), 2007.

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Figure 1

Seven rings from across the Roman world showcasing the god Mercury, a man riding a dolphin, the portrait of a woman, and the representation of a man in Sassanian style under two stars. Gold, mother-of-pearl, cornelian, rock crystal, agate, 250–400. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California (inv. no. 83 AM.228). (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program)

facial and vocal expressions, like the strings of a harp, sound just as the soul’s motion strikes them.”13 A generation later, Ovid (43 BCE–ca. 18 CE) rewrote 13

Cic., orat. 3.216 (F.T. Ellendt [ed.], M. Tullii Ciceronis De oratore libri tres. Vol. 1, Königsberg 1840, 571; trans. F.  Graf, Gestures and Conventions: The Gestures of Roman Actors and Orators, in: J. Bremmer / H. Roodenburg [eds.], A Cultural History of Gesture, Ithaca 1992, 36–58 [40]) Omnis enim motus animi suum quendam a natura habet vultum et sonum et gestum; corpusque totum hominis et eius omnis vultus omnesque voces, ut nervi in fidibus, ita sonant, ut a motu animi quoque sunt pulsae.

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Rome’s foundational myths around this principle, with the leitmotif of his Metamorphoses being the heroes’ transformation into shapes that reflected their characters.14 Attesting to the weight placed on this aspect is the industry that quickly developed around it. Makeup helped one hide a pallor that would have undermined their credibility; fake moles allowed one to claim being born under good auspices; hair dye cancelled the signs of age; and wigs compensated for a stingy nature.15 As Romans were becoming accustomed to reading one’s identity in their public persona, social interaction became increasingly theatrical.16 Two unrelated phenomena seem to have promoted the body as the main conveyor of identity, instead of garments, thus preparing its recognition as a theophanic screen. The first was the social mobility generated by Rome’s conquests.17 Terentius Neo, a first-century baker, had himself and his wife depicted in the tablinum of the domus they bought in the vicinity of Pompeii’s forum. (see Fig.  2) In the portrait Terentius wears a toga and holds a rotulus, symbolising his citizenship and successful business, respectively. His wife wears a purple dress – the most expensive textile of the time – and pairs it with gold and pearl earrings; she also holds writing tablets and a stylus to indicate her literacy.18 Crowning this tableau that features so many expensive commodities are the pensive glances of the two. These indicate a detachment from mundane concerns that had long been the prerogative of wealthy patricians. The opportunities offered by early imperial society allowed individuals such as our baker to acquire the traditional markers of high status: wealth, a domus, public functions, and social connections. Naturally, changes in status were signalled on the body, with the nouveau riche adopting the garments 14 15

16

17 18

On bodies in Ovid, see P. Murray, Bodies in Flux: Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in: D. Montserrat (ed.), Changing Bodies, Changing Meanings: Studies on the Human Body in Antiquity, London 1998, 80–96. Suet., v.c.: Otho 12.1 (J.C. Rolfe [ed. / trans.], Suetonius. Lives of the Caesars, Vol. II: Claudius. Nero. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. Vespasian. Titus, Domitian. Lives of Illustrious Men: Grammarians and Rhetoricians. Poets (Terence. Virgil. Horace. Tibullus. Persius. Lucan). Lives of Pliny the Elder and Passienus Crispus, LCL 38, Cambridge 1959, 244–246). S. Bartsch, The Mirror of the Self. Sexuality, Self-knowledge, and the Gaze in the Early Roman Empire, Chicago 2006, esp. Chapter 4 “The Self on Display”; J.A. van Waarden, Episcopal Self-Presentation: Sidonius Apollinaris and the Episcopal Election in Bourges AD 470, in: J. Leemans (ed.), Episcopal Elections in Late Antiquity, Berlin 2011, 555–562 (556–557). On social mobility in this period, see S. Treggiari, Social Status and Social Legislation, in: A.K. Bowman / E. Champlin / A. Lintott (eds.), The Cambridge Ancient History. Vol. 10: The Augustan Empire, 43 BC–AD 69, Cambridge 1996, 873–904. On the portrait, see J.R. Clarke, Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans: Visual Representation and Non-elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.–A.D. 315, Berkeley 2003, 261–268.

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Figure 2

Portrait of Terentius Neo and his wife. Fresco, 1st century, Pompeii. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Napoli (inv. 9058). (Photo: Wikipedia, CC0 1.0, su concessione del Ministero della Cultura - Museo Archeologico di Napoli)

and jewellery of the wealthy. Patricians retaliated by identifying as symbols of high social status characteristics that required life-long dedication, rather than things that could be bought. Erudition, self-control, and the practice of virtues thus became the markers par excellence of the Roman aristocrats. This contributed to shifting the focus away from garments to the physical bodies of those seeking public offices, since these characteristics manifested through physiognomy, deportment, and speech. As a result, paideia – i.e., the formation of the male patrician – became a finely tuned mechanism that shaped the ideal man.19 The belief that a person’s 19

On this, see Gleason, 1995; Corbeill, 2004; Conway, 2008. On paideia more generally, see H.I. Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity, New York 1956; W. Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek Paideia, Cambridge 1985; R.A. Kaster, Guardians of Language: The Grammarian

Setting the Stage

7

character alters the outlook of their body and vice-versa – that one can affect character by shaping the body – was central to the process.20 Nursemaids massaged the bodies of babies to give them harmonious shapes in the hopes of influencing their personalities.21 Later, young adults had to surround themselves with portraits of exemplary figures because looking at something was thought to result in the imprinting of its image on the person’s retina.22 Thus, “to gaze continuously upon noble models imprints their likeness in souls which are not entirely hardened and stony.”23 (see Fig. 3) Paideia thus became an exercise in fashioning and, as one became an adult, self-fashioning, with the philosopher Plotinus (203–270) recommending his students to consider themselves as artisans chiselling statues.24

20

21

22

23

24

and Society in Late Antiquity, TCH 11, Berkeley 1988; R. Browning, Education in the Roman Empire, in: A. Cameron / B. Ward-Perkins / M. Whitby (eds.), Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 14. Late Antiquity: Empire and Successors, AD 425–600, Cambridge 2000, 855–883; R.  Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, Princeton 2001. Cf. a popular treatise attributed to Aristotle, which claimed that “Soul and body, as it seems to me, are affected sympathetically by one another: on the one hand, an alteration of the state of the soul produces an alteration in the form of the body, and contrariwise an alteration in bodily form produces an alteration in the state of the soul.” / Δοκεῖ δέ μοι ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ τὸ σῶμα συμπαθεῖν ἀλλήλοις· καὶ ἡ τῆς ψυχῆς ἕξις ἀλλοιουμένη συναλλοιοῖ τὴν τοῦ σώματος μορφήν, πάλιν τε ἡ τοῦ σώματος μορφὴ ἀλλοιουμένη συναλλοιοῖ τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς ἕξιν. (Ps.)Arist., p. 2.35 (R. Foerster [ed.], Scriptores physiognomonici Graeci et Latini. Vol. 1, Leipzig 1893, 40; T. Loveday / E.S. Forster [trans.], Physiognomonics in Complete Works of Aristotle. Vol. 1: The Revised Oxford Translation, Princeton 2014, 1237–1250, [1242]). Plu. (d. ca. 119), l.ed. 3 (F.C. Babbitt [ed. / trans.], Plutarch. Moralia. Vol. 1: The Education of Children. How the Young Man Should Study Poetry. On Listening to Lectures. How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend. How a Man May Become Aware of His Progress in Virtue, LCL 197, Cambridge 1927, 14); Gleason, 1995, 70–71. Quint., inst. 1.11.2–3 (Butler [ed. / trans.], 1980, 182–184); A.M.  Riggsby, Pliny on Cicero and Oratory: Self-Fashioning in the Public Eye, in: AJP 116 (1995), 123–135; P. Zanker, The Functions of Roman Art, in: C. Marconi (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Art and Architecture, Oxford 2015, 310–325 (311–312). Ph., p.p. 114 (F.H. Colson [ed. / trans.], Philo. On the Special Laws, Book 4. On the Virtues. On Rewards and Punishments, LCL 341, Cambridge 1939, 380–381) αἱ γὰρ συνεχεῖς τῶν καλῶν παραδειγμάτων φαντασίαι παραπλησίας εἰκόνας ἐγχαράττουσι ταῖς μὴ πάνυ σκληραῖς καὶ ἀποκρότοις ψυχαῖς. On the transformative nature of sight in Roman culture, see D. Fredrick (ed.), The Roman Gaze. Vision, Power, and the Body, Baltimore 2002; B. Maire, L’imprégnation par le regard ou l’influence des simulacres sur l’embryon, in: P. Mudry / O. Bianchi / O. Thévenaz (eds.), “Mirabilia”. Conceptions et représentations de l’extraordinaire dans le monde antique, Bern 2004, 279–294. Plot., e. 1.6.9 (A.H. Armstrong [ed. / trans.], Plotinus. Ennead. Vol. 1: Porphyry on the Life of Plotinus. Ennead I, LCL 440, Cambridge 1989, 258) cf. Pl., Phdr. 252 (H.N. Fowler [ed. / trans.], Plato. Euthyphro. Apology. Crito. Phaedo. Phaedrus, LCL 36, Cambridge 2005, 490).

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Figure 3 Ring stone showing a seated man reading a scroll in front of a herm statue. Carnelian, 1.6 cm, 1st century BCE – 3rd century CE. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. no. 81.6.49)

Being in the shape of Plato (ca. 427–347 BCE), for example, implied sharing the philosopher’s virtues. This is a principle attested throughout Roman society, from aficionados of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180) to members of Bishop Basil of Caesarea’s congregation, who reproduced their leaders’ external appearance in the hopes of being credited with similar qualities.25 In addition to gazing upon portraits, young patricians were expected to also imitate dead and alive exemplary figures. As a result, teachers, philosophers, statesmen, and religious overachievers constructed and displayed their public personae as spectacles for others to imitate.26 The system is best visible during the tirocinium fori, the year preceding one’s debut in social life, which was spent observing an older peer.27 The young adult learned to imitate the proper gait, gesticulation, tone of voice, direction of gaze, and even how to hold the 25 26

27

On Basil, see Gr. Naz., or. 43.77 (J. Bernardi [ed.], Grégoire de Nazianze, Discours 42–43, SC 384, Paris 1992, 294–296), quoted below, p. 126. On exempla in Roman society, see Quint., inst. 12.2.29–31 (D.A.  Russell [ed. / trans.], Quintilian. The Orator’s Education. Vol. 5: Books 11–12, LCL 494, Cambridge 1922, 236–237); J. Leemans, Christus Agonothetes: An Exploration of an Agonistic Image to speak about God and Christ, in: E. Moutsoulas (ed.), Jesus Christ in the Theology of Gregory of Nyssa. Minutes of the Ninth Conference on St. Gregory of Nyssa (Athens, 7.–12. September  2000), Athens 2005, 529–556; Bartsch, 2006, ch. 4; J. Petitfils, Mos Christianorum: The Roman Discourse of Exemplarity and the Jewish and Christian Language of Leadership, Tübingen 2016; M.B.  Roller, Constructing Autocracy: Aristocrats and Emperors in Julio-Claudian Rome, Princeton 2001; id., 2006; id., 2018, ch. 8. On the tirocinium fori, see W. Eder, Tirocinium fori, in: Der Neue Pauly, (2003), online.

Setting the Stage

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toga.28 Thus, the public personae of Romans were chiselled into desired shapes that signalled one’s class, education, and character, with their bodies displayed and assessed as “finished artifacts.”29 The second phenomenon that brought the physical body to the forefront of social interaction was the introduction of large bath complexes. As they grew popular and multiplied, the thermae became the preferred venues for social interaction, competing with the fora.30 In the nude or with minimal garments, characteristics such as corpulence, and control of gestures and voice became essential in communicating identity. Thus, the popularity of physiognomics made Romans pay attention to other bodies; social mobility allowed more people to adopt the external markers of success; and public baths intensified the mingling of social categories in settings where the role of garments was reduced. As a result, public interaction became increasingly theatrical and, as put by Rabun Taylor, “to most Romans, regardless of rank, everyday life was a sequence of performances, rehearsed or extemporaneous.”31 Roman imperial society thus fits Goffman’s interpretation of social interaction as an exchange of theatrical performances staged to convince others and Foucault’s observations on the body as the meeting place of societal norms and individual desires.32 Thanks to this cultural dynamic, Romans developed an art critic’s gaze to assess the personae of private and public figures. Stimulated by the role representations played in constructing one’s public image, Romans applied in social interaction appraisal criteria formerly used for artefacts. In the mise-en-scène of their public personae, Romans typically sought visual associations with past figures of authority, whose images were represented in marble. Whether it was a victorious general displaying himself in front of Jupiter’s statue or a parvenu baker wearing a toga in front of statues 28 29 30 31 32

On these aspects, see Aldrete, 1999; Gunderson, 2000; Gleason, 1995; Corbeill, 2004; Conway, 2008; O’Sullivan, 2011. D.  Burchell, Civic Personae: MacIntyre, Cicero and Moral Personality, in: HPT  19 (1998), 101–118 (7–8). On the phenomenon of the thermae, see F.K.  Yegül, Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity, New York 1992; ead., Bathing in the Roman World, New York 2010. R. Taylor, The Moral Mirror of Roman Art, Cambridge 2008, 20. For Foucault’s view of the body as “the place where the most minute and local social practices are linked up with the large scale organisation of power”, see H.L.  Dreyfus / P.  Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, Chicago 1983, xxvi. On the legacy of Goffman’s social performativity, see P.  Burke, The Performative Turn in Recent Cultural History, in: A. Öztürkmen / E.B. Vitz (eds.), Medieval and Early Modern Performance in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turnhout 2014, 541–561; M. Carlson, Performance. A Critical Introduction, London 2018.

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of like-dressed illustrious citizens, visual alignment with representations of the gods and ancestors was a common practice for those seeking authority.33 Portraits added to this by allowing Romans to overcome certain limitations of living bodies. Through representations, one could permanentise the prestige of a function they held temporarily, display simultaneously functions with distinct looks, or bring to the forefront certain physiognomic features (whether real or invented).34 The search for prestige and social recognition thus led to a rapprochement between living persons and the gods, as the visual characteristics of the latter were adopted by the former. Since beauty was seen as a visual expression of virtue and goodness in Graeco-Roman culture, the gods were represented as idealised humans.35 (see Fig. 4) By altering the outlook of their bodies with the help of makeup, garments, and insignia, and by having themselves represented with young, symmetrical, and unblemished bodies to claim an internal state that matched those external features, Romans drew nearer to the visual canon of divinity. As these processes unravelled, changes in Roman society opened the discussion on the human potential to attain divine or quasi-divine status. As a result, Romans came to canvas bodies in search not only of the person’s social standing and character, but also of an intimate relationship with the divine. 1.2

Sieging Olympus: Humankind Claims Immortality

In a short satirical dialogue, Lucian of Samosata (ca. 125–ca. 180) had the Olympian gods lament the crowding of their court.36 The gods of the provinces, whom the Romans generously welcomed into their pantheon, had joined the 33 34

35

36

On the practice, see Hölscher, 2018, with bibl. On Roman portraits, see, e.g., J. Fejfer, Roman Portraits in Context, Berlin 2008; K. Fittschen / P.  Zanker, Katalog der römischen Porträts in den Capitolinischen Museen und den anderen kommunalen Sammlungen der Stadt Rom, tome IV. Kinderbildnisse. Nachträge zu den Bänden  I–III. Neuzeitliche oder neuzeitlich verfälschte Bildnisse. Bildnisse an Reliefdenkmälern, 2 vols., Berlin 2014, with bibl. The connection between beauty and goodness is found already in Homer, whose gods and heroes are described as καλὸς κἀγαθός. See J.-P. Vernant, Mortals and Immortals: The Body of the Divine, in: F.I. Zeitlin (ed.), Mortals and Immortals: Collected Essays, Princeton 1991, 27–49; I. Jenkins, The Human Body in Greek Art and Thought, in: id. (ed.), Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art, London 2015, 16–29. Lucianus, deor. conc. 2 (A.M. Harmon [ed. / trans.], Lucian. Vol. 5: The Passing of Peregrinus. The Runaways. Toxaris or Friendship. The Dance. Lexiphanes. The Eunuch. Astrology. The Mistaken Critic. The Parliament of the Gods. The Tyrannicide. Disowned, LCL  302, Cambridge 1936, 420).

Setting the Stage

Figure 4

Statue of Venus with dolphin (the Mazarin Venus). Marble, 184 cm, 2nd century, from Rome. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California (inv. no. 54.AA.11). (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program)

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Olympians and brought with them countless human followers who made the divine mountaintop claustrophobic. Allegiance to a ‘saviour god’ was one of several ways through which Romans could gain immortality and, with it, quasi-divine status.37 I believe that the possibility to cross over to the realm of the gods was created by the feats of prominent Romans who bridged the gap between humans and gods, thus opening the gates of Olympus. The extraordinary lives of Marius (157–86 BCE), Sulla (138–78 BCE), Pompey the Great (106–48 BCE), and Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) entitled them to immortality. These individuals stood out from a number of peers who, as Cicero put it, had “from boyhood aspired ‘far to excel, and alone to be leader of others.’”38 In quoting the Iliad to express his youth’s aspirations, Cicero draws our attention to the formative role Homer’s poems had on Romans.39 A key part of paideia, the Iliad and the Odyssey set the parameters of human existence during the period before the turn of the millennium. Within these margins, humans could achieve divinity through immortal fame, itself attainable through extraordinary achievements. Perseus, Theseus, Achilles, and Hercules had gained their places among the gods through this method. Later, Alexander the Great (r. 336–323 BCE) confirmed the possibility by carving for himself a place in human memory. Following the same logic, Julius Caesar, “[scil. having] exulted in his many glorious victories, not unreasonably thought himself to be something more than human.”40 Caesar’s contemporaries agreed and conferred 37

38 39

40

On immortality being the characteristic of divinity, see A.D. Nock, Review of H.G. Meecham, The Epistle to Diognetus: The Greek Text with Introduction, Translation and Notes (Manchester 1949), in: JR  31 (1951), 214–216 (214–215); N.  Janowitz, Magic in the Roman World: Pagans, Jews and Christians, New York 2001, 71. Janowitz, 2001, 71–72 noted that “In Jewish, Christian and Greco-Roman texts the transformation of a human into a divine being was thought to be effected by a stunning variety of techniques and combinations of techniques: burial, a vision of the deity, an ascent through the heavenly realm, being a vegetarian, and being drenched in blood, dipped in water, or drowned in the Nile.” On self-deification, see also M.D. Litwa, Desiring Divinity: Self-Deification in Early Jewish and Christian Mythmaking, New York 2016. Iliad 6.208 cf. Cic., Q.f. 3.5.4 (W.G. Williams [ed. / trans.], Cicero: The Letters to His Friends. Vol. 3, LCL 230, Cambridge 1960, 592–593) illud vero, quod a puero adamaram, πόλλ’ ἐπέτελλεν αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων, totum occidisse. On Homer in Roman culture, see J.  Farrell, Roman Homer, in: R.  Fowler (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Homer, Cambridge 2004, 254–271. Homer remained the mark of high education until the dawn of the medieval period, with Chor. (6th ct.), or. 2.23 (R. Foerster / E. Richtsteig [eds.], Choricii Gazaei opera, Leipzig 1929, 34–36) describing bishop Marcianus of Gaza by likening him to Homer’s Nestor and quoting the Iliad. Nic. Dam. (b. ca. 64 BCE), v.C. 130.64 (M. Toher [ed. / trans.], Nicolaus of Damascus: The Life of Augustus and the Autobiography, Cambridge 2017, 102–103) Αὐτός τε ἐκεῖνος ἐπὶ πολλαῖς καὶ καλαῖς νίκαις ἀγαλλόμενος οὐκ ἀπεικότως, πλέον τε ἢ ἄνθρωπος ἀξιῶν ἤδη εἶναι, τοῖς μὲν πολλοῖς ἐθαυμάζετο.

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to him the right to have a priest of his cult, to render his house temple-like by adding a pediment to the facade, and to display his statue alongside those of the gods during processions.41 In the following period, the de facto beginning of the imperial system institutionalised the process by investing a living person with godlike authority.42 In addition, the remarkable dynamism of early imperial society, which allowed even persons of low origin such as Vespasian (r. 69–79) to accede to the imperial throne, permitted any (male) Roman to dream of achieving similar status, match the feats of mythical heroes, and assure his immortality.43 Those like Cicero, who could not claim a spot on Olympus based on their extraordinary accomplishments, found different paths to the gods’ mountain. Given Cicero’s search for fame and failure to obtain it, it is telling that the earliest theorisation of the deifying effect of virtues in the Latin-speaking provinces is found in his writings. When Cicero’s daughter Tullia died, the grieving father decided that her merits set her above the women of the past whose virtues had “raised them to heaven through fame.”44 As pointed out by Naomi Janowitz, Cicero’s desire to have the divinity of his daughter recognised “carried none of the political implications that divine honours for Caesar did, but it required a similar view of human possibility.”45 A novelty in Cicero’s own time, the notion quickly caught on. Children and adults alike came to be praised in their epitaphs as embodiments of deified virtues.46 Their funerary monuments – like the one Cicero wanted for his daughter – gained a cultic quality, with their designs imitating temples.47 In such instances, the portrait of the deceased replaced the statue of a god. The best-known case, a sculpted relief that decorated the tomb of the Haterii family on the Via Labicana in Rome, is also the most detailed.48 The tomb for the family matriarch is depicted in the shape of a temple, with her 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

On Julius Caesar’s divine status, see Taylor, 1931; Koortbojian, 2013. Cf. Gradel, 2002. On his low origin, see Suet., v.c.: Vesp. 1 (Rolfe [ed. / trans.], 1959, 280). Cicero, Cons. cf. Lact., i.d. 1.15.20 (P.  Monat [ed.], Lactance. Institutions divines. Livre  I, SC 326, Paris 1986, 160) in caelum tollenda fama fuit. Janowitz, 2001, 75. On deification in Cicero, see S. Cole, Cicero and the Rise of Deification at Rome, New York 2013. In this period, the deification of deceased children was attested among followers of traditional Roman deities, as well as Christians and Jews cf. Janowitz, 2001, 74–75. Cic., Att.  12.36 (E.O.  Winstedt [ed. / trans.], Cicero. Letters to Atticus. Vol. 3, LCL  9, Cambridge 1918, 72) refers to the tomb as fanum (lit. shrine). E.W.  Leach, Freedmen and Immortality in the Tomb of the Haterii, in: E. D’Ambra / G. Metraux (ed.), The Art of Citizens, Soldiers and Freedmen in the Roman World, Oxford 2006, 1–18; J.  Trimble, Figure and Ornament, Death and Transformation in the Tomb of

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bust decorating the tympanum. Similar, if less adorned cases are known from across the Roman world.49 In the same period, the popularity of Stoic philosophy increased. Stoics held that the divine was an essence that permeated also the earthly realm, and that humans could tap into this essence by living virtuously.50 As put by Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE), the sage and the god were ‘produced’ in the same way, namely by acting rationally.51 Thus, what Cicero and others felt to be right – namely that the virtuous life of certain persons put them on par with deified personifications of those qualities – received ‘scientific’ support in Stoicism.52 As a result of these developments in the political and philosophical spheres, the process of self-formation that paideia was becoming at the time turned to a certain extent into a self-divinisation mechanism. Attesting to this is Seneca’s confession that the imitation of exemplary figures required by paideia made him feel that he was being mystically transformed, rather than just morally reformed.53 Whether one cultivated virtues in view of a political career or in search of a contemplative life, these were now held to confer a spiritual status that toed the line between human and divine.54 As expected in the physiognomic culture of the time, one’s virtuousness reflected through their body. Physical features that Romans thought to indicate virtue and rationality became symbols of one’s privileged relationship with the divine. Thus, Seneca insisted that the wise person “has an element of godliness, heavenliness, grandeur.”55

49 50

51 52

53 54 55

the Haterii, in: N. Dietrich / M. Squire (eds.), Ornament and Figure in Graeco-Roman Art: Rethinking Visual Ontologies in Classical Antiquity, Berlin 2018, 327–352. On Roman temple tombs and their meaning, see B.E. Borg, Roman Tombs and the Art of Commemoration: Contextual Approaches to Funerary Customs in the Second Century CE, Cambridge 2019, 239–290. Already Arist. (384–322 BCE), e.n. 7.1.2 (H. Rackham [ed. / trans.], Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics, LCL 73, Cambridge 1926, 374) argued that the practice of virtues transforms men into gods. On Stoic thought in general, see B. Inwood (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics, Cambridge 2003. Sen., ep. 87.19 (R.M. Gummere [ed. / trans.], Seneca. Epistles. Vol. II: Epistles 66–92, LCL 76, Cambridge 1920, 334) Quaeris, quae res sapientem faciat? Quae deum. On the deification of virtues and their consecrating effects, see Fowden, 1982, 50; A.J. Clark, Divine Qualities. Cult and Community in Republican Rome, New York 2007; E. Mayer, The Ancient Middle Classes: Urban Life and Aesthetics in the Roman Empire, 100 BCE–250 CE, Cambridge 2012, 129. Sen., ep. 6.1 (R.M. Gummere [ed. / trans.], Seneca. Epistles. Vol. I: Epistles 1–65, LCL 75, Cambridge 1925, 24–25) Intellego, Lucili, non emendari me tantum sed transfigurari. Sen., ep. 48.11 (Gummere [ed. / trans.], 1925, 320). Sen., ep. 87.18 (Gummere [ed. / trans.], 1920, 334–335) Des oportet illi divinum aliquid, caeleste, magnificum. cf. also ep. 115.4.

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In the following period, the idea that virtue could confer quasi-divine status spread in Roman society. At the beginning of the second century, Marcus Ulpius Crotonensis, a private citizen, praised his deceased wife’s qualities by representing her in the guises of the goddesses Venus, Fortuna, and Spes.56 In another area of Rome, Gaius Julius Helius, a shoemaker at Rome’s Porta Fontinalis, commissioned a funerary stele for his tomb. Now in the Centrale Montemartini Museum, the stele depicts Helius in heroic nudity. (see Fig. 5) What prompted the shoemaker’s confidence was apparently his generosity, to which he alluded in his epitaph.57 In both cases, the same logic Cicero had used for his deceased daughter supported the claim of quasi-divine status.58 The deifying effect of virtues manifested also while a person was alive. Those who excelled in a particular virtue came to be identified with the deity associated with that quality. For his skill in curing, Octavian Augustus’s doctor received a statue next to that of Aesculapius, the god of medicine.59 It results from this gesture that Antonius Musa had become a material vessel for the healing power of the god, just as Aesculapius’ cult statues. In such cases people began addressing the living bodies of the persons the same way they did the cult statues of the gods. This is a recurrent topic in novels of the time. The heroine of the story of Cupid and Psyche – included in the second-century bestseller Metamorphoses – renders the cult statues of Venus obsolete. The young girl’s incredible beauty made people redirect their attention from Venus’s statues towards Psyche.60 The beauty of another literary heroine, Callirhoe, had people prostrate themselves to her; a gesture typically reserved for statues of the gods and divinised rulers.61 Humans who embodied the defining feature of a deity, whether it was the healing power of Aesculapius or the beauty of Venus, tended thus to be assimilated to their statues, and Romans utilised the 56

57 58 59 60 61

H. Wrede, Das Mausoleum der Claudia Semne und die bürgerliche Plastik der Kaiserzeit, in: MDAI.R 78 (1971), 125–166; id., Consecratio in forma deorum. Vergottliche Privatpersonen in der romischen Kaiserzeit, Mainz 1981, 99; E. Mayer, The Ancient Middle Classes: Urban Life and Aesthetics in the Roman Empire, 100 BCE–250 CE, Cambridge 2012, 124–126. For other interpretations of the portrait, see E. D’Ambra, Roman Art, Cambridge 1998, 46–48; Mayer, 2012, 116–117. For other cases, see, e.g., Koortbojian, 2013, 219–226. Suet., v.c.: Aug.  59 (J.C.  Rolfe [ed. / trans.], Suetonius. Lives of the Caesars. Vol. I: Julius. Augustus. Tiberius. Gaius. Caligula, LCL 31, Cambridge 1979, 214). Apul., m. 4.29–30 (S.  Gaselee [ed.], The Golden Ass being the Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius, LCL 44, London 1924, 186–190). Charit., C. 1.1 and 3.2 (G.P. Goold [ed.], Chariton. Callirhoe, LCL 481, Cambridge 1995, 34 and 142). The godlike beauty of heroines is a trope in novels of the time. See M.J. Warren, A Robe Like Lightning: Clothing Changes and Identification in Joseph and Aseneth, in: Upson-Saia / Daniel-Hughes / Batten (eds.), 2014, 137–153.

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Figure 5

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Funerary stele of Gaius Julius Helius, shoemaker from Porta Fontinalis. Marble, late 1st century, Rome. Roma, Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini (Inv. M.C. 930) (Photo: © Roma, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali)

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vocabulary and gestures meant to describe and interact with statuary for these iconic figures.62 As it is often the case with bestsellers, these heroines embodied a state that readers desired for themselves. When it comes to the statue-like quality of early imperial literary characters, this is confirmed by the fact that most en vogue cults promised similar status to those who joined, as we will see in Chapter 4. Over time, as Romans got comfortable with associating certain living persons with statues, the distance between the two media disappeared. Although a Christian, the rhetor Prohaeresius (d. ca. 368) was hailed by the people of Rome as an embodiment of Mercury on account of his eloquence, with the effect that they treated his living body like a statue, licking his breast and kissing his feet and hands.63 Those who were not blessed with incredible beauty, did not have a particular talent, nor could dedicate their lives to the practice of virtues could still attain immortality through the following of certain gods. Initiations had been performed since the Archaic period in sanctuaries across the Mediterranean world with the purpose of assuring one’s immortality or divine protection over specific aspects of life, such as sea travel.64 Under Roman rule one did not have to travel anymore to Eleusis or Samothrace to assure their salvation, as countless local shrines promised similar results.65 In addition, representatives of deities began to roam the empire, seeking out the allegiance of Romans and promising not only salvation of the soul but also iconic status on earth. Iconicity gained through initiation or the following of a specific deity was signalled through insignia, garments, or body alterations. These features informed interlocutors of the central role piety played in the person’s life and of the divine protection they enjoyed. The practice caused a revolution in the Roman system of social interaction, as it introduced a criterion of prestige that did not previously exist, since priesthoods had been treated before like other temporary offices.66 As Peter Brown points out regarding the Christian expression of this process, “By ‘conversion’ he [scil. the average man] gained a moral excellence which had previously been reserved for the classical Greek 62 63

64 65 66

Apul., m. 4.32 (Gaselee [ed. / trans.], 1924, 192) mirantur quidem divinam speciem, sed ut simulacrum fabre politum mirantur omnes. Eun., v. 12. (W.C. Wright [ed.], Philostratus. Eunapius. Lives of the Sophists. Eunapius: Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists, LCL  134, Cambridge 1921, 496). On Prohaeresius, see E.J. Watts, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, TCH 41, Berkeley 2006, 48–78. H. Bowden, Mystery Cults in the Ancient World, London 2010; J.N. Bremmer, Initiation into the Mysteries of the Ancient World, MVAW 1, Berlin 2014. Pausanias (d. ca. 180) mentions eleven such shrines in Arcadia. See  R.  Garland, Greek and Roman Priests and Religious Personnel, in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (2016), online, on priesthood in Roman culture.

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and Roman gentleman because of his careful grooming and punctilious conformity to ancient models.”67 Living bodies, thus, came to be canvassed in search of indicators of both social and spiritual status, with Romans seeking signs of virtue (e.g., selfcontrol, beauty), divine election (e.g., birthmarks, beauty), initiation or religious office (e.g., markings, insignia, or particular looks). Because features that characterised statuary – i.e., beauty, symmetry, size, and luminosity – ranked high in the indicators of spiritual excellence, the reflex to address such living persons with gestures meant for statues came naturally. When he argued in the second century that Jesus of Nazareth’s body was supposed to display his special relationship with the divine, the philosopher Celsus did a rare thing for ancient sources: he took the time to state the obvious.68 This was possibly due to his wonderment at the Christians’ obvious error in worshipping Jesus, for his body did not match this fundamental principle. More than a century before Celsus, Paul’s audience in Corinth had raised similar concerns vis-à-vis the apostle. His critics denounced the contrast between the spiritual authority claimed by Paul and his feeble appearance and unrefined rhetoric: “the letters indeed – said one – are weighty and strong, and the bodily presence weak, and the speech despicable.”69 In response, Paul did not challenge the principle underlying his critique, but argued that the presence of Jesus manifested in the form of tribulations, rather than beauty, strength, or eloquence. Paul belonged to a particular category of religious overachiever, namely that of the “chosen vessels.”70 Rather than enriching their public personae with piety towards one god or another, such individuals subjected their identities to their gods. As such, they became living instruments of these deities. In the words of Paul, “I no longer live, and Christ lives in me.”71 Such “chosen vessels” made their bodies vehicles through which the gods moved on earth and mingled with humans, as several cults and philosophical schools of the time

67 68 69 70 71

P. Brown, The World of Late Antiquity, London 1971, 53. See above, p. xxix n. 14. 2 Cor 10:10 ὅτι Αἱ ἐπιστολαὶ μέν, φησίν, βαρεῖαι καὶ ἰσχυραί, ἡ δὲ παρουσία τοῦ σώματος ἀσθενὴς καὶ ὁ λόγος ἐξουθενημένος. Acts 9:15 “… a choice vessel to me is this one [Paul], to bear my name before nations and kings …” / ὅτι σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς ἐστίν μοι οὗτος τοῦ βαστάσαι τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐνώπιον ἐθνῶν τε καὶ βασιλέων υἱῶν τε Ἰσραήλ, Gal  2:20 Χριστῷ συνεσταύρωμαι. ζῶ δὲ οὐκέτι ἐγώ, ζῇ δὲ ἐν ἐμοὶ Χριστός. On Paul as “the body of Christ”, see A. Segal, Some Observations about Paul and Intermediaries, in: PSCO Minutes February 4 (1988), online.

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claimed regarding their own overachievers. This put them on a par with cult statues. Thus, as the human potential to mingle with the divine became accepted, the various ways to obtain this status generated myriad iconic types. Emperors embodied the Homeric notion of divinisation, with them claiming divinity on account of their godlike authority and heroic feats.72 Those who excelled in areas associated with the patronage of a certain deity were identified with the respective gods’ statues. Philosophers and patricians who practiced virtuous living embodied a more generic notion of iconicity, which was now ascribed also to the great philosophers of the past, in primis Plato. Finally, those who subjected their lives to a specific deity became living vessels of their power. Because they fulfilled similar functions – that is, providing anthropomorphic containers and images of the divine – the radical expressions of this anthropological model came to compete with cult statues. 1.3

Knowing the Gods: From Cult Statues to Iconic Persons

Romans shared both public and private spaces with a population of statues.73 (see Fig. 13) These were used to preserve the image and reproduce the physical presence of the deceased; to honour the living; and to flesh out the presence of the divine.74 Thus, statues brought together the living, the dead, and the gods within a single, anthropomorphic community.75 Depending on the context and function of the statue, the ways in which people interacted with it differed. Since what interests us here is the human capacity to function as a cult statue, I will focus on this category. What I refer to as ‘cult statues’ were typically anthropomorphic images credited with the capacity to enclose, but not restrict, the presence of the god they represented.76 Some of the statues in this category were also thought to showcase the actual image of the god and 72 73 74 75 76

See below, Chapter 2. P. Stewart, Statues in Roman Society. Representation and Response, Oxford 2003, 118. Hölscher, 2018, 10. Not all statues of the gods were anthropomorphic, but in general they followed the human form. On cult statues, see C.  Malamoud / J.-P.  Vernant (eds.), Corps des dieux, Paris 1986; A.A. Donohue, Xoana and the Origins of Greek Sculpture, ACS 15, Atlanta 1988; T. Scheer, Die Gottheit und ihr Bild: Untersuchungen zur Funktion griechischer Kultbilder in Religion und Politik, Munich 2000; D.T. Steiner, Images in Mind: Statues in Archaic and Classical Greek Thought, Princeton 2001; J.  Mylonopoulos (ed.), Divine Images and Human Imaginations in Ancient Greece and Rome, RGRW 170, Leiden 2010.

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discharge its power.77 Such artefacts were at the core of the most important collective religious practices. Although the divine was thought to be present on Earth in various forms, its more ancient manifestations were found in temples that hosted statues.78 Inside towns, temples were the focus of public rituals that gathered the local population, as specialised or temporary personnel sacrificed animals to assure the deity’s benevolence towards the community.79 Outside towns, sanctuaries tended to specialise in the fulfilling of specific functions (e.g., healing, prophecy).80 Some temples allowed people to see and touch the statue, others restricted access to those who sacrificed specific animals or performed purification rituals, while others let only members of the cultic personnel see the god. Romans could also interact with cult statues in less complex settings.81 Roman houses often had areas dedicated to cultic actions, where simple shrines (lararia) hosted statuettes and painted images of the household gods (lares), as well as of deities toward which the pater familias had piety.82 Thus, one could create their own pantheon by combining old, new, local, or foreign gods, as well as divinised humans.83 Statues of the gods were also found in simple shrines set up in nature, which signalled the belief in the place’s inhabitation by a god. (see Fig. 40) Nevertheless, a statue did not have to be located in a space dedicated to ritual to be recognised as an instrument of the divine. 77

78 79 80 81

82 83

Scheer, 2000; P.  Eich, Gottesbild und Wahrnehmung: Studien zu Ambivalenzen früher griechischer Götterdarstellungen (ca. 800 v.Chr.–ca. 400 v.Chr.), Stuttgart 2011; V.J.  Platt, Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion, Cambridge 2011. On temples, see H. von Hesberg, Temples and Temple Interiors, in: R. Raja / J. Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World, Hoboken 2015, 320–333, with bibl. T. Luginbühl, Ritual Activities, Processions and Pilgrimages, in: R. Raja / J. Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World, Oxford 2015, 41–59, with bibl. R. Raja, The Archaeology of Ancient Sanctuaries, in: R. Raja / J. Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World, Oxford 2015, 29–40, with bibl. In recent years, there has been a sustained interest in ‘lived religion’, with an important number of publications showing the various ways in which Romans performed their faith. See, e.g., V. Gasparini / M. Patzelt / R. Raja / A.-K. Rieger / J. Rüpke / E. Urciuoli (eds.), Lived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Approaching Religious Transformations from Archaeology, History and Classics, Berlin 2020. K. Bowes, At Home, in: R. Raja / J. Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World, Oxford 2015, 209–219, with bibl. Hist. Aug.: Alexander Severus  29.2–3 (D.  Magie [ed. / trans.], Historia Augusta, Vol. 2: Caracalla. Geta. Opellius Macrinus. Diadumenianus. Elagabalus. Severus Alexander. The Two Maximini. The Three Gordians. Maximus and Balbinus, LCL  140, Cambridge 1993, 234).

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In fact, several statues of gods or divinised humans found in public and private spaces were credited with divine agency. Thus, the notion of cult statue was not restricted to the large objects found in temples, although it is safe to assume that they were the model for the others, on account of being the older and more prominent formula. This flexibility in recognising an image as a cult statue is reflected in the terminology, which allowed Romans to apply the terms typically used for cult statues to other types of images (and to humans).84 The human form had been used in the Archaic period (ca. 700–ca. 500 BCE) to render approachable the dangerous phenomena the first gods represented, and continued to be used for ‘softer’ personifications of the divine, such as virtues or abstract notions like ‘peace’ and ‘abundance.’85 The statues’ anthropomorphism invited interaction inspired by inter-human relations, such as washing, feeding, dressing, speaking to, caressing, kissing, and even intercourse.86 Through physical proximity, touch, or by looking at cult statues, Romans interacted with the divine. Despite objections raised by some of the better educated Greeks and Romans, who were bothered by the ways in which the materiality and shape of the statues tended to trivialise interaction with the divine, statues continued to be used as a mediator between the human and the divine, thus attesting to Romans being “eager in every possible way to be with them and to hold converse with them.”87 (see Fig. 6)

84

85 86

87

Both Greek and Latin had several terms for images. The terms typically used for cult statues were agalma and xoanon (Greek) and simulacrum and signum (Latin). On the terminology, see J.-P. Vernant, Figures, idoles, masques, Paris 1990; Stewart, 2003, 20–35; S. Estienne, Simulacra deorum versus ornamenta aedium: The Status of Divine Images in the Temples of Rome, in: Mylonopoulos (ed.), 2010, 257–271. On this process, see R.L. Gordon, The Real and the Imaginary: Production and Religion in the Graeco-Roman World, in: AH  2 (1979), 5–34; E.-J.  Graham, Reassembling Religion in Roman Italy, Abingdon 2020, 149–153. On the treatment of statues as persons, see Lucr., r.n. 1.316–318 (W.H.D. Rouse / M.F. Smith [ed. / trans.], Lucretius. On the Nature of Things, LCL 181, Cambridge 1959, 24); P. Weddle, Touching the Gods: Physical Interaction with Cult Statues in the Roman World, PhD diss., Durham 2010; E.E.  Perry, Human Interactions with Statues, in: E.A.  Friedland / M.  Grunow  Sobocinski / E.K.  Gazda (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Roman Sculpture, Oxford 2015, 653–666; P. Kiernan, Roman Cult Images: The Lives and Worship of Idols from the Iron Age to Late Antiquity, Cambridge 2020. D. Chr., o. 12.53 (J.W. Cohoon [ed. / trans.], Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 12–30, LCL 339, Cambridge 1939, 64–65) οὕτω καὶ θεοῖς ἄνθρωποι ἀγαπῶντες δικαίως διά τε εὐεργεσίαν καὶ συγγένειαν, προθυμούμενοι πάντα τρόπον συνεῖναί τε καὶ ὁμιλεῖν.; D. Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, Chicago 1989, 188–190. On objections, see J.  Geffcken, Der Bilderstreit des heidnischen. Altertums, in: AR  19 (1916/1919), 286–315; C. Ando, The Matter of the Gods: Religion and the Roman Empire, Berkeley 2009.

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Figure 6

Relief showing man feeding grapes(?) to a herm statue. Terracotta, 1st century, Italy. Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités grecques, étrusques et romaines (inv. no. Cp 4038) (https://collections.louvre.fr/ark:/53355/cl010288169)

Whether in complex or simple settings, the moment of interaction was prepared through architectural setting, decoration, lighting, and ritual actions; all of which imbued the artefact with agency. Reflective materials were preferred due to their capacity to reproduce the luminosity associated with divine manifestations. At temples, such materials allowed the cultic personnel to animate the statue by displaying it in the penumbra of the cella and in combination with controlled sources of natural and artificial light that bounced off the statue’s surface.88 Although the power and preciousness of cult statues cannot be related in absolute terms because some of the oldest and most revered statues of the Graeco-Roman world were non-anthropomorphic pieces of stone or wood, in general, the materiality and workmanship contributed to the power 88

On the interior of temples, see Von Hesberg, 2015, with bibl. On ‘ritual viewing’ and how it affected the perception of the artefacts, see J. Elsner, Roman Eyes. Visuality and Subjectivity in Art and Text, Princeton 2007.

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of the statue.89 Several other artifices were used in specific settings to make the statues appear alive by making them levitate, speak, or move. Thanks to these strategies, by the time Romans recognised the human potential to embody the divine, statues were established as a distinct ontological category. A statue’s agency differed from one case to another and, likely, from one onlooker to the next.90 To reflect the perfection of the gods, their statues depicted them with idealised human bodies. This, as we have seen, allowed for beautiful people to be mistaken for embodiments of the divine. Written sources show how throughout Roman history, those who wished to compliment the beauty of rulers or lovers likened them to statues of the gods.91 Thus, the splendour of monarchs and beauty of private people kept statues of the gods and living humans in close vicinity, inviting the transfer of attributes from one media to another. Around the turn of the millennium, the capacity of living bodies to function as cult statues turned from a rhetorical artifice into a reality. Physical characteristics that had been given to the gods in their statues – e.g., beauty, stature, symmetry of features, and luminosity – came to be sought in humans who claimed or were suspected of toeing the line between the human and divine. With these features also came the gestures traditionally used for statues, as we have seen in the cases of Prohaeresius, Psyche, and Callirhoe. Because the notion that humans can become images of the divine developed at different rates in the various cultural areas of the Roman world, we find 89

90

91

See the hierarchy in Lucianus (d. ca. 180), Z.t. 7–12 (A.M. Harmon [ed. / trans.], Lucian. Vol. 2: The Downward Journey or The Tyrant. Zeus Catechized. Zeus Rants. The Dream or The Cock. Prometheus. Icaromenippus or The Sky-man. Timon or The Misanthrope. Charon or The Inspectors. Philosophies for Sale, LCL 54, Cambridge 1915). On non-anthropomorphic xoana, see A.A. Donohue, Xoana and the Origins of Greek Sculpture, ACS 15, Atlanta 1988. On the agency of statues, see R. Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians in the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine, London 1986, 102–105; H. Belting, Bild und Kult: Eine Geschichte des Bildes vor dem. Zeitalter der Kunst, Munich 1990; P. Chuvin, Chronique des derniers païens. La disparition du paganisme dans l’Empire romain, du règne de Constantin â celui de Justinian, Paris 1990, 246; G.L. Hersey, Falling in Love with Statues: Artificial Humans from Pygmalion to the Present, Chicago 2009; Stewart, 2003; id., Gell’s Idols and Roman Cult, in: R. Osborne / J. Tanner (eds.), Art’s Agency and Art History, Oxford 2007, 158–178; J.N. Bremmer, The Agency of Greek and Roman Statues from Homer to Constantine, in: Opuscula 6 (2013), 7–21; J. Rüpke, Representations or Presence? Picturing the Divine in Ancient Rome, in: ARelG 12 (2010), 181–196. E.g., Lucianus, im. 1–8 (A.M. Harmon [ed. / trans.], Lucian. Vol. 4: Anacharsis or Athletics. Menippus or The Descent into Hades. On Funerals. A Professor of Public Speaking. Alexander the False Prophet. Essays in Portraiture. Essays in Portraiture Defended. The Goddesse of Surrye, LCL 162, Cambridge 1925, 256–270), where the author likens the lover of Emperor Lucius Verus (r. 161–169) with several famous statues. On the practice, see Francis, 2006.

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organic and staged forms of iconic living coexisting. The former were represented by contexts who were developing the concept ex novo, as we have seen in the case of Cicero and Stoicism, for example. The latter involved staging iconicity by using the experience of contexts who had developed the concept earlier. This book focuses on the latter scenario, which is better documented by extant sources and easier to reconstruct, but we must keep in mind that such mises-en-scène would not have been successful if the concept they embodied had not been popular among their audiences. Thus, the successful impersonation of the divine by emperors, martyrs, initiates, bishops, and ascetics – the categories we will focus on – is rooted in the popularity of the anthropological model they embodied. During the first three centuries, Romans witnessed several types of individuals who claimed to function as living containers and images of the divine. While those in the capital had the privilege of seeing the emperor, other communities interacted with religious specialists who accustomed them with the idea that a human could function as an image of the divine. As we will now see, these had various ways of claiming to represent their gods. Reliefs from a third-century tomb in the necropolis of Isola Sacra at Ostia depict a priest of the goddess Cybele.92 (see Fig. 7) The man is shown wearing a large bracelet decorated with the image of the goddess that covers most of his right forearm. Bust images of the goddess and of her divine consort, Attis, are featured also on the crown of the tomb-owner.93 Our priest represents a popular category, namely Romans who enriched their identities through the service of a deity. In his case, this is indicated by the combination of the toga with the symbols of his priesthood. Both honorary and de facto priesthoods and other clerical functions were used in early imperial society as a source of social prestige. Even Petronius (ca. 27–66) had Trimalchio – his imagined parvenu – mention in his epitaph a priesthood in the imperial cult.94 In a social context where, as put by Diane Favro, “to be, was to be seen,” the right to distinctive garb and to impressive insignia such as our priest’s crown and bracelet constituted important social advantages.95 The practice caught such momentum 92 93 94 95

On the reliefs, see A. Klöckner, Tertium genus? Representations of Religious Practitioners in the Cult of Magna Mater, in: R.L. Gordon / G. Petridou / J. Rüpke (eds.), Beyond Priesthood: Religious Entrepreneurs and Innovators in the Roman Empire, Berlin 2017, 343–384. Such a gold-plated bronze crown, dated ca. 300, was found in Latium and is now in the Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin (inv. no. 8169). Petron., s. 71.12 (M. Heseltine [ed. / trans.], Petronius. Satyricon, LCL 15, London 1925, 140). D.  Favro, The Festive Experience: Roman Processions in the Urban Context, in: S. Bonnemaison / C. Macy (eds.), Festival Architecture, London 2008, 10–42 (14). On the look of priests in the period, see S. Schrenk / K. Vössing / A. Wieczorek / M. Tellenbach

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Figure 7

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Funerary relief of high priest (archigallus) of Cybele shown sacrificing to the goddess. Marble, 0,62 x 0,40 m, 3rd century, from the Isola Sacra necropolis, Ostia. Museo Archeologico, Ostia. (Photo: Sailko – Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0)

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that buyable priesthoods became a common phenomenon, forcing the state to intervene and regulate the practice.96 We can safely assume that most Romans who took up clerical functions adopted this type of relationship, in which the religious office was part of their public persona rather than the totality of it. This allowed them to display themselves with insignia that “make the god sacramentally present in the priest who wears it.”97 Some of these religious specialists literally “put on” their gods during ritual celebrations. A first-century fresco from Herculaneum shows a man wearing what appears to be a mask of the Egyptian god Bes.98 (see Fig. 8) Standing at the top of a flight of stairs, in the monumental entrance to a sanctuary, the man performs a dance, a part of a ritual identified as Isiac. Around him are men and women depicted in various stances. Kneeling and extending their hands in supplication, the figures seem to recognise the priest as a surrogate for the god; or, rather, the purpose of the fresco was to establish the performer as the god’s embodiment.99 A similar but better documented case is that of the anubophoroi; Isiac clerics who impersonated the dog-headed god Anubis. Depictions and extant masks teach us how these persons “put on” the god.100 In a scene stamped on a terracotta vase, the anobophoros leads a procession whose focus is a priest standing on a decorated chariot, holding what appears to be the symbol, cult (eds.), Kleidung und Identität in religiösen Kontexten der römischen Kaiserzeit, Regensburg 2012. On regulating the look of priests during processions, see E. Stavrianopoulou, The Archaeology of Processions, in: R. Raja / J. Rüpke (eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World, Hoboken 2015, 349–361 (357). 96 C.P. Jones, Processional Color, in: Bergmann / Kondoleon (eds.), 1999, 247–257 (248–249). 97 A.  Brent, Ignatius of Antioch. A Martyr Bishop and the Origin of Episcopacy, London 2007, 75. 98 R.K. Ritner, Osiris-Canopus and Bes at Herculaneum, in: R. Jasnow / K.M. Cooney (eds.), Joyful in Thebes: Egyptological Studies in Honor of Betsy M. Bryan, Atlanta 2015, 401–406; E.M. Moormann, Ministers of Isiac Cults in Roman Wall Painting, in: Gasparini / Veymiers (eds.), 2018, 366–383 (367–371), with discussion of previous interpretations. 99 On dancers/actors who imitated the gods during initiations, see N. Deshours, Les Mystères d’Andania. Étude d’épigraphie et d’histoire religieuse, Bordeaux 2006, 135–136; A. Chaniotis, Θεατρικότητα καὶ δημόσιος βίος στὸν ἑλληνιστικὸ κόσμο, Iraklion 2009, 34. On priests impersonating gods for initiates, see Paus., Hell. pell. 8.15.3 (W.H.S.  Jones [ed.], Pausanias. Description of Greece. Vol. 3: Books 6–8.21 (Elis 2, Achaia, Arcadia), LCL  272, Cambridge 1933, 420); P. Martzavou, Isis Aretalogies, Initiations and Emotions: The Isis Aretalogies as a Source for the Study of Emotions, in: A. Chaniotis (ed.), Unveiling Emotions: Sources and Methods for the Study of Emotions in the Greek World, Stuttgart 2012, 267–291 (279). 100 V.  Gasparini, Negotiating the Body: Between Religious Investment and Narratological Strategies. Paulina, Decius Mundus and the Priests of Anubis, in: R.L. Gordon / G. Petridou / J. Rüpke (eds.), Beyond Priesthood. Religious Entrepreneurs and Innovators in the Roman Empire, Berlin 2017, 385–416 gathers the evidence.

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Figure 8

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Masked priest performs a dance under the monumental threshold of a sacred precinct. Fresco, 1st century, Herculaneum. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Napoli (inv. 8919). (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici, su concessione del Ministero della Cultura - Museo Archeologico di Napoli)

vessel, or image of Isis. In this instance, the function of the anubophoros seems to have been to draw attention to the group through his exotic appearance.101 Those whom I called “chosen vessels” embodied this iconic state permanently, rather than for specific rituals. A third-century bust from Rome shows a follower of the Syrian goddess Atargatis.102 (see Fig. 9) The man’s feminine garb, jewellery, long hair, and hairless face emphasise his status as a eunuch. The main jewellery piece, a large medallion with the bust image of Atargatis, 101 For such Inszenierungen in the cult of Isis, see V.  Gasparini / Richard Veymiers (eds.), Individuals and Materials in the Greco-Roman Cults of Isis, 2 vols., RGRW 187, Leiden 2018. 102 On the portrait, see Klöckner, 2017.

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Figure 9

Chapter 1

Bust portrait of follower of Atargatis. Marble, 0,48 × 0,45 m, 3rd century, unknown provenance. Roma, Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini (inv. S 2971) (Photo: © Roma, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali)

hangs from a thick torque with lion heads. The goddess wears a mural crown and a round medallion. A flying putto points to the goddess’s medallion, thus drawing attention to it. Thanks to the medallions they wear, the man and the goddess are placed in a mise-en-abîme dynamic that establishes the priest as an image of the goddess. Through physical alterations, garments, and insignia, the priest had been “conformed to the image” of his god, as Paul claimed the apostles of Christ had been through divine intervention.103 The radical

103 Rom 8:29 συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ. See also 2 Cor 3:18, on the followers of Christ. See V. Rabens, Pneuma and the Beholding of God: Reading Paul in the Context of Philonic Mystical Traditions, in: J. Frey / J.R. Levison (eds.), The Holy Spirit, Inspiration, and

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physical transformation drew attention to the person and attested to the goddess’s power.104 By renouncing all elements that signalled individual identity – e.g., gender, garments, jewellery, and behaviour – such persons could now state, as Paul did, that they no longer live and it is their god who lives through them.105 Their bodies, therefore, functioned like cult statues because they became anthropomorphic images of their gods. The relationship these “chosen vessels” had with the images of their gods fuelled the analogy further. Typically, such individuals displayed the deity’s image in prominent fashion. Dated to the late second century, the statue of a worshipper of Cybele now hidden in the deposits of the Capitoline Museums in Rome depicts the person carrying a large plaque across his chest.106 On the plaque, two standing males flank Cybele, shown under the reclining figure of Attis. Such objects survive in important numbers and depict eastern deities like Cybele or Mithras.107 The plaque does not adorn the person as a piece of jewellery would, but rather makes its carrier look like the human billboards from modern U.S. cities. The Roman poet Martial (ca. 40–ca. 102) helps us complete the picture by describing the busy streets of early imperial Rome like an ancient Manhattan, where the human advertisement of Cybele fits right in: “On this side the money-changer idly rattles on his dirty table Nero’s coins, on that the hammerer of Spanish gold-dust beats his well-worn stone with burnished mallet; and Bellona’s [scil. a deity with self-immolating followers] raving throng does not rest …”108 Unfortunately, the statue’s head was lost, making it impossible to assess the relationship between the person’s physiognomy and that of his

104

105 106 107 108

the Cultures of Antiquity: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Berlin 2014, 293–330 on these passages and their meaning. Klöckner, 2017, 361 and J.A.  Latham, Roman Rhetoric, Metroac Representation: Texts, Artifacts, and the Cult of Magna Mater in Rome and Ostia, in: MAAR 59 (2014/2015), 51–80 pointed out that the purpose was not to cancel the initial gender, but rather to draw attention to the transformation. On the reification of living and dead human bodies and on bodily modifications in general, see Y. Hamilakis / M. Pluciennik / S. Tarlow (eds.), Thinking Through the Body: Archaeologies of Corporeality, London 2002. Gal 2:20, quoted above, p. 18 n. 71. Musei Capitolini, Centrale Montemartini, Rome (inv. MC 3047). On the statue, see Latham, 2014/2015; Klöckner, 2017. On the plaques, see E.D. Reeder, The Mother of the Gods and a Hellenistic Bronze Matrix, in: AJA 91 (1987), 423–440. Mart., epig. 12.57.7–11 (W.C.A. Ker [ed. / trans.], Martial. Epigrams. Vol 2, LCL 95, London 1920, 358–359) hinc otiosus sordidam quatit merisam Neroniana nummularius massa, illinc paucis malleator Hispaniae tritum nitenti fuste verberat saxum; nec turba cessat entheata Bellonae.

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goddess, but his feminine garb points to a dynamic of identification similar to that found in other contemporary representations. Such odd appearances were likely a means to strike-up a conversation and to introduce their gods, as well as to show their devotion and attest to the power of the deity who could convince humans to renounce worldly desiderates and dedicate their lives to them. In addition, the prominent display of the deity’s image and the peculiar looks of the priests could have established a visual analogy between the person and the deity. Some found solutions that did not require bodily alterations and combined the functions with the aesthetic of statuary. Alexander of Abonouteichus (d. ca 170), the founder of the cult of the serpent god Glykon, staged reveals of one of his thighs – which was painted golden – and had his lover impersonate the moon goddess and descend during a ritual to kiss him.109 The intimate interaction with the goddess attested to Alexander’s quasi-divine status and his gilded thigh established his iconicity. Thus, we find in early imperial society clerics who made themselves into ambulant bearers of their deity’s image; clerics who brought their gods to life with the use of masks during rituals; and clerics who claimed for themselves the status of image of their gods. In all instances, analogies with cult statues enabled them to construct themselves as living images of their gods. The instrumental role played by cult statues within this phenomenon is confirmed by the fact that, as we will see in Chapter 3, even the image of Christian martyrs was eventually adapted to fit the splendid, luminous model of the golden cult statue. Paul’s image, too, was retouched to fit this model. In the last years of the second century, a presbyter offered Christians the Paul they wanted by rewriting his vita to give him the typical attributes of iconic persons.110 In these imagined Acta, Paul’s presence exerts a type of hypnotic effect that other iconic figures of the time were credited with stimulating. Furthermore, the Moses-like luminosity desired by the Corinthians was now ascribed to the Apostle, whose face was said to glow like that of an angel. The text became an immediate bestseller, which attests to contemporary Christians longing for spiritual leaders whose bodies translated their power in the usual ways mentioned by Celsus,

109 Lucianus, Alex. 39–40 (A.M. Harmon [ed. / trans.], Lucian. Vol. 5: The Passing of Peregrinus. The Runaways. Toxaris or Friendship. The Dance. Lexiphanes. The Eunuch. Astrology. The Mistaken Critic. The Parliament of the Gods. The Tyrannicide. Disowned, LCL  302, Cambridge 1936, 224–227). 110 A. Paul. (C. Schmidt [ed.], Acta Pauli aus der Heidelberger koptischen Papyrushandschrift Nr. 1, Leipzig 1904). On the text, see J.  Barrier, The Acts of Paul and Thecla: A Critical Introduction and Commentary, WUNT 2.270, Tübingen 2009.

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31

just as their first-century predecessors did. This resilience of the splendid iconic model during the golden age of Christian martyrs – which seemed to confirm the opposing, suffering model proposed by Paul – attests to its popularity in Roman society of the time. The credibility of such living persons as images of the divine was likely increased by other types of ‘living statues’ that Romans could enjoy. The growing popularity of theatrical spectacles caused impersonations of the gods to become very common.111 In addition, new ways of staging myths were introduced. Among these were the so-called “fatal charades,” that is performances in which déclassés were made to interpret famous moments that ended in the protagonists’ deaths.112 Death instilled meaning in the impersonations, with the result that the spectacles actively blurred the lines between myth and reality.113 Pantomime, a new type of danced theatrical performance that had a single actor silently impersonate the characters of a play, proposed yet another type of ‘living statues.’114 An ode to the body’s expressive potential, pantomime owed its allure, I believe, to the actors’ capacity to escape the constraints of physiognomy. Their ability to quickly slip from one character into another transgressed the law underlying social interaction and rendered them fascinating to people whose lives were, in a sense, ruled by their physiognomies. In texts of the time, pantomimes were praised for their capacity to “animate 111 On spectacles, see B. Bergmann / C. Kondoleon (eds.), The Art of Ancient Spectacle, New Haven 1999, with bibl. 112 On fatal charades, see Plu., s.n.v. 9 cf. Mor. 554B (P.H. De Lacy / B. Einarson [eds. / trans.], Plutarch. Moralia. Vol. 7: On Love of Wealth. On Compliancy. On Envy and Hate. On Praising Oneself Inoffensively. On the Delays of the Divine Vengeance. On Fate. On the Sign of Socrates. On Exile. Consolation to His Wife, LCL 405, Cambridge 1959, 216); K. Coleman, Fatal Charades: Roman Executions Staged as Mythological Enactments, in: JRS 80 (1990), 44–73; T. Wiedemann, Emperors and Gladiators, London 1992, 86–89; D.G. Kyle, Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome, New York 1998, 53–55. 113 B.  Bergmann, Introduction, in: Bergmann / Kondoleon (eds.), 1999, 9–35 (20); A.  Bell, Spectacular Power in the Greek and Roman City, Oxford 2004, 174. See P. Zanker, Roman Art, Los Angeles 2010, 82, on the games’ capacity to make fantasy real. 114 On pantomime, see Tac., ann. 1.77.4 (C.H.  Moore / J.  Jackson [eds. / trans.], Tacitus. Histories: Books 4–5. Annals: Books 1–3, LCL 249, Cambridge 1931); R. Webb, Rhetorical and Theatrical Fictions in Choricius, in: S.F. Johnson (ed.), Greek Literature in Late Antiquity: Dynamism, Didacticism, Classicism, Aldershot 2006, 107–126; ead., Demons and Dancers: Performance in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 2008; M.-H. Garelli, Danser le mythe. La pantomime et sa réception dans la culture antique, Louvain 2007; E. Hall / R. Wyles (eds.), New Directions in Ancient Pantomime, Oxford 2008; E. Hall, Pantomime: Visualising Myth in the Roman Empire, in: G. Harrison / V. Liaps (eds.), Performance in Greek and Roman Theatre, Leiden 2013, 451–473.

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statues,” possibly on account of their silence, which provided the illusion that a statue had come to life when they played a character the audience knew from art.115 Finally, gladiators and a new type of cavalry corps, the cataphractarii, accustomed Romans to seeing statue-like people perform in their arenas and parade their streets. Completely covered in metallic armours with gilded elements that likened them to the statues of the gods, certain types of gladiators and cataphracts created yet another intermediary category that bridged living persons with statues.116 In the following chapters, I discuss the iconicity of a select number of instances. Each owed its iconic quality to different circumstances, but they all emerged out of this late Republican/early Imperial culture of self-presentation that produced carefully orchestrated public personae, as well as impersonations that imitated the aesthetic and borrowed the subjects of statuary. Belief in the correspondence between character and body was essential for this phenomenon. After all, the gods had manifested through living persons throughout Antiquity. Oracles and prophets allowed the divine to flow into the human world without their bodies being transformed by it.117 On the contrary, in the first six centuries CE, a characteristic of the phenomenon is the insistence on the transformative effect that cohabitation with a divine spirit or a deified soul had on bodies. As a result, the ideal human became one who embodied, displayed, and performed the divine for others to see and interact with. Jesus was said by John to reproduce the things he had seen God the Father do and to have functioned as the Father’s image.118 Similarly, Philo of Alexandria (d. ca. 50) argued that Moses “beheld what is hidden from the sight of mortal nature, and, in himself and his life displayed for all to see, he has set before us, like some

115 Lib., or. 64.116–120 (R.  Foerster [ed.], Libanii Opera, Vol. 4: Orationes LI–LXIV, Leipzig 1908, 495–498); Lucianus, salt. 35 (Harmon [ed.], 1936, 246); Webb, 2008, 69–70.77; I. Lada-Richards, Mythôn eikôn: Pantomime Dancing and the Figurative Arts in Imperial and Late Antiquity, in: Arion 12 (2004), 111–140. 116 On such armours, see Hist. Aug.: Pertinax 8.1–5 (D. Magie [ed. / trans.], Historia Augusta, Vol. 1: Hadrian. Aelius. Antoninus Pius. Marcus Aurelius. L.  Verus. Avidius Cassius. Commodus. Pertinax. Didius Julianus. Septimius Severus. Pescennius Niger. Clodius Albinus, LCL 139, Cambridge 1921, 330); Wiedemann, 1992, 14. 117 Plu., P.or. 398AB (S. Schröder [ed.], Plutarchs Schrift De Pythiae oraculis: Text, Einleitung und Kommentar, Berlin 2015, 87) on the oracle of Apollo at Delphi being a monthly incarnation of the god in a mortal body. 118 John 5:19, 12:45, and 14:9.

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well-wrought picture, an artefact beautiful and godlike, a model for those who are willing to copy it.”119 Written in the period when Emperor Caligula (r. 37–41) attempted to install his statue in the Temple in Jerusalem, Philo’s text avoids nominating statues as the type of artefact embodied by Moses. A generation later, Plutarch (ca. 46–ca. 120), did not shy away from the analogy and argued that “the ruler is the image of God who orders all things. Such a ruler needs no Pheidias nor Polycleitus nor Myron to model him, but by his virtue he forms himself in the likeness of God and thus creates a statue most delightful for all to behold and most worthy of divinity.”120 1.4

Conclusions

As this short overview showed, social interaction in Roman cities and towns became increasingly theatrical during the first centuries, with the result that public personae gained a staged, statue-like quality in a world where the divine was rendered present and visible through various types of anthropomorphic images, whether material or living. Actors and emperors adopted the look of the gods; sages displayed their bodies as artefacts chiselled through virtuous living; religious specialists showcased their gods’ images or symbols; and religious overachievers sought corporeal conformation to their gods, whether through an aesthetic of luminosity that referenced theophanies and gilded statues or through physical alterations and suffering. When the sources are considered together, it emerges that during the first three centuries, Romans came to accept the idea that “heaven exists in their very beings and each human is an example of God in a small-scale image.”121 119 Ph., v.M.  1.28.158 (F.H.  Colson [ed. / trans.], Philo. On Abraham. On Joseph. On Moses, LCL 289, Cambridge 1984, 358–359) καθάπερ τε γραφὴν εὖ δεδημιουργημένην ἑαυτὸν καὶ τὸν ἑαυτοῦ βίον εἰς μέσον προαγαγὼν πάγκαλον καὶ θεοειδὲς ἔργον ἔστησε παράδειγμα τοῖς ἐθέλουσι μιμεῖσθαι. 120 Plu., p.i. 3 cf. Mor. 780 (H.N. Fowler [ed. / trans.], Plutarch. Moralia, Vol. 10: Love Stories. That a Philosopher Ought to Converse Especially with Men in Power. To an Uneducated Ruler. Whether an Old Man Should Engage in Public Affairs. Precepts of Statecraft. On Monarchy, Democracy, and Oligarchy. That We Ought Not to Borrow. Lives of the Ten Orators. Summary of a Comparison Between Aristophanes and Menander, LCL 321, Cambridge 1960, 58–59) ἄρχων δ’ εἰκὼν θεοῦ τοῦ πάντα κοσμοῦντος, οὐ Φειδίου δεόμενος πλάττοντος οὐδὲ Πολυκλείτου καὶ Μύρωνος, ἀλλ’ αὐτὸς αὑτὸν εἰς ὁμοιότητα θεῷ δι’ ἀρετῆς καθιστὰς καὶ δημιουργῶν ἀγαλμάτων τὸ ἥδιστον ὀφθῆναι καὶ θεοπρεπέστατον. 121 Man. (1st ct.), a. 4.893–895 (G.P.  Goold [ed. / trans.], Manilius. Astronomica, LCL  469, Cambridge 1977, 292–295, amended) quid mirum, noscere mundum si possunt homines, quibus est et mundus in ipsis exemplumque dei quisque est in imagine parva?

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George van Kooten has shown that the Greek world underwent a similar process during the Classical period, when “the notion of the image of God appears to occur on a sliding scale from identification of this image with the ruler, through identification with the wise and virtuous, to recognition, similar to that in Jewish thought, that every human being is, in principle, an image of God.”122 Having developed the concept earlier, societies and cults in the provinces on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean offered several civic and religious strategies for expressing iconicity. Thus, Roman emperors adopted their Hellenistic predecessors’ practice of “playing the god” during staged public appearances, and cults from the east won adepts across the empire by offering iconic status to neophytes. One of these cults would gain prominence and its notion of iconicity – or, rather, a hybrid variant resulted from its mingling with other motifs – became the dominant one. Christianity appeared in a context where Near Eastern, Hellenistic, and Roman notions regarding the iconic potential of human bodies met and merged. By the time Jesus was born, various Jewish groups read the story of Adam’s creation “in the image” of God in iconic terms. While some of these groups ascribed iconic status to biblical patriarchs or the High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, others sought to attain the status themselves and become living images of YHWH’s glory.123 As a divine being who took a human body and lived among humans, Jesus pertained to the phenomenon explored within this book.124 Early sources on Jesus establish his iconicity in various ways. The moment of the Transfiguration referenced luminous theophanies of gods in the Graeco-Roman and Ancient Near Eastern traditions, as well as the iconic status of figures such as Moses. In addition, by having Jesus claim that “whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” Paul and John established his human form – rather than the transfigured one revealed on Tabor – as the anthropomorphic image of God.125 122 Van Kooten, 2008, 96 cf. the notion found in Manilius, just quoted. 123 See Schüle, 2005; S.L. Herring, A ‘Transubstantiated’ Humanity: The Relationship Between the Divine Image and the Presence of God in Gen. 1.26f, in: VT 58 (2008), 480–494; Orlov, 2022. 124 See B. Blackburn, Theios Anër and the Markan Miracle Traditions: A Critique of the Theios Anër Concept as an Interpretative Background of the Miracle Traditions Used by Mark, WUNT 40, Tübingen 1991, who despite placing unwarranted accent on the Jewish tradition, proves Jesus’ belonging to both the Hellenistic and the Jewish traditions of iconic individuals. 125 John 14:9 ὁ ἑωρακὼς ἐμὲ ἑώρακεν τὸν πατέρα. cf. Col 1:15 ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως / “who is the image of the invisible God, first-born of all creation.”

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In the following centuries, Christian leaders combined the passages in Genesis that established Adam’s iconicity with those in the Gospels regarding Jesus’s iconic status, Paul’s notion of “putting on” Christ, and other traditions to promise similar status to those who joined the faith. Despite its conciseness, the statement quoted in the opening of this book attests to this willingness to interweave distinct traditions of iconic living by referring to humans as God’s πλάσμα – the term Hesiod used to describe Pandora, whom the gods created as a living statue – and God’s εἰκὼν, as in Genesis.126 In writing to the Christians in Rome to “put on” Christ, Paul used one of his favourite rhetorical strategies, that is he borrowed a motif specific to the community he addressed in order to support his argument. In this case, he referenced the practice of embodying one’s god, with which those living in the city of Rome during the rule of Nero (r. 54–68) had been familiarised by the priests of various deities who roamed the streets of the capital, by actors, and by emperors who, as we will see in the following chapter, “put on” the gods in complex ways. The imperial case to which I will now turn represents the oldest, most versatile, and visually consequential instance of this phenomenon.

126 Hes., Th. 570–584 (G.W. Most [ed.], Hesiod. Theogony. Works and Days. Testimonia, LCL 57, Cambridge 2006, 48–50); J.A. Francis, Metal Maidens, Achilles’ Shield, and Pandora: The Beginnings of “Ekphrasis”, in: AJP 130 (2009), 1–23.

Chapter 2

Emperors In the wake of the Battle of Ankara (1402), when the Ottoman ruler Bayezid I (r. 1389–1402) was brought in shackles before Tamerlane (1336–1405), the latter supposedly burst into laughter and pointed out that Allah has a great sense of humour if he entrusted the fate of the world to such deformed men.1 Bayezid was blind in one eye, while the Mongol was called “The Lame” due to his many injuries. At that time, the Byzantine state was living its last years, yet its imperial concept still set the rule, and since as early as the sixth century, corporeal integrity had been a sine qua non requirement for acceding to the throne. The strange requirement was related to the Byzantine emperor’s function as living image of God. Since God was perfect, the ruler, too, had to be physically perfect in order to fulfil his function as the “living and moving statue of the King above.”2 Byzantine rulers, thus, were iconic par excellence. This status was the result of a process with roots in the Roman monarchy that preceded the Republic, with debts to Hellenistic, Ancient Near Eastern, and Sassanian imperial ideologies, but displayed in Christian guise. In the period between the reigns of Octavian Augustus and Justin II, iconicity was a constant yet evolving feature of rulers. Their carefully constructed iconicity first referenced Jupiter, then Sol and, eventually, Christ. Despite changes in heavenly counterpart, the same strategies were used to establish rulers as images of these gods.3 1 M.I.  Ivanin, On the Art of War and the Conquests of the Mongol-Tatars and Central Asian Peoples Under Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, St. Petersburg 1875, 315. 2 Michael Ital., l.b., writing to Manuel I Komnenos (r. 1143–1180) (P. Gautier [ed.], Michel Italikos: Lettres et Discours, Paris 1972, 294; trans. P.  Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, 1143–1180, New York 1993, 437) Τοῦ δ’ ἄνω βασιλέως καὶ σὲ βασιλεύσαντος ἄγαλμα περινοστεῖς ἐνταῦθα, βασιλεῦ, ἔμπνουν τε καὶ κινούμενον καὶ οὐκ οἶδα εἴ τις τούτῳ γέγονε τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς ὁμοιότερος. On this aspect of Byzantine rulership, see G. Dagron, Empereur et prêtre. Étude sur le “césaropapisme” byzantin, Paris 1996; M.  Hatzaki, Beauty and the Male Body in Byzantium: Perceptions and Representations in Art and Text, New York 2009, esp. 52–58. 3 Imperial self-presentation is one of the most studied aspects of Roman culture. Expressed through media ascribed in modern scholarship to diverse research fields, the imperial image has been studied from several perspectives. Closest to my focus here are H.S. Versnel, Triumphus. An Inquiry into the Origin, Development and Meaning of the Roman-Triumph, Leiden 1970, on Roman triumph; Bardill, 2012, on Constantine’s self-presentation; Bell, 2004, who draws a parallel between the staging of one’s public self in fourth-century BCE Athens and in Republican Rome; Alföldi, 1970, who analyses the imperial ‘look’; and M. Bergmann, Die Strahlen der Herrscher. Theomorphes Herrscherbild und politische Symbolik im Hellenismus

© Brill Schöningh, 2023 | doi:10.30965/9783657790821_003

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Chapter 2

The divinity of Roman rulers is a phenomenon on whose many facets hundreds of publications appeared in the last decades. These studies indicate that imperial self-presentation functioned as a barometer and a catalyst of a growing tendency to credit living humans with an iconic potential. In what follows, I first discuss the origin of the ruler’s divine status, then the main strategies emperors used to construct themselves as iconic, before finally considering the evolution of imperial iconicity in the context of a Christian empire. 2.1

Negotiating Divinity in Rome

The imperial case occupies a special place within the phenomenon we are following here because rulers were the first credited with the ability to function as a living image of the divine. Developed both in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, this concept of kingship reached the Greek world in the Hellenistic period.4 Hellenistic rulers indulged in what Henk Versnel called “playing the god,” with them using theatre props to adopt the outward appearance of certain gods and mimicking their behaviour in public ceremonies.5 Roman generals, governors, and emperors were introduced to this practice when they conquered the lands on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Local communities found it useful to praise their conquerors in the same terms, thus nourishing a gusto that was difficult to resist.6 While Cicero claims to have und in der römischen Kaiserzeit, Mainz 1998, on imperial associations to Sol. The relationship between imperial representations, built space, and ritual in ancient Rome was studied through the prism offered by concepts developed in sociology and anthropology. See the summary by B.C. Ewald / C.F. Noreña (eds.), The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation, and Ritual, YCS 35, Cambridge 2010, with bibl. How imperial self-presentation changed in the fourth century, partly due to Christian influence, is discussed in Miller, The Corporeal, 2009; ead., On the Edge, 2009; H.A. Drake, Topographies of Power in the City, in: C. Rapp / H.A.  Drake (eds.), The Classical and Post-Classical World: Changing Contexts of Power and Identity, New York 2014, 217–239. 4 N. Brisch (ed.), Religion and Power: Divine Kingship in the Ancient World and Beyond, OIS 4, Chicago 2008. 5 H.S. Versnel, Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology, RGRW 173, Leiden 2011, 439–492 cf. A.  Chaniotis, The Divinity of Hellenistic Rulers, in: A.  Erskine (ed.), A Companion to the Hellenistic World, Oxford 2003, 431–445. On the strategies that were used, see, e.g., Alföldi, 1970; R.R.R.  Smith, Hellenistic Royal Portraits, Oxford 1988; D.  Svenson, Darstellungen hellenistischer Könige mit Götterattributen, Frankfurt 1995; H. von Hesberg, The King on Stage, in: Bergmann / Kondoleon (eds.), 1999, 65–75; Bell, 2004, 114–151; C.H. Hallett, The Roman Nude: Heroic Portrait Statuary 200 B.C.–A.D. 300, Oxford 2005, 57; Bardill, 2012. 6 Several statues of Emperor Claudius (r. 41–54) in the guise of Zeus survived, which seem to have been dedicated to him while alive. See Hallett, 2005, 168–172.

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rejected such offerings while acting as governor of Cilicia in Asia Minor, his predecessor Appius Claudius Pulcher took pride in having a temple dedicated to him and pressured Cicero to supervise its completion.7 Future Emperor Vespasian’s experience in Egypt exemplifies how the notion of divine kingship present in the eastern provinces contributed to the image of Roman emperors.8 During his visit of Alexandria, two men asked him to heal their infirmities. Tacitus (58–120), our source, notes Vespasian’s reticence to attempt such an endeavour, as well as the successful healing of the two with his touch and saliva.9 Possibly staged by local priests, the episode captures the divergence between local and Roman concepts of rulership. The Alexandrians approached the ruler as an epigeios theos, a god on earth, who could perform a range of activities commonly associated with gods and people held to function as their embodiments, as attested by the fact that around the same date Mark presented Jesus as capable of healing with his touch and saliva.10 In Rome, imperial subjects also recognised the divinity of their ruler, but understood it to manifest in the form of authority rather than as the power to perform miracles. As shown by Ittai Gradel, it was the difference between regular and imperial authority that made emperors godlike in the capital’s culture.11 Following this logic, Augustus and those who followed him on the throne “burst out of the top of the social structure, into the level of the gods.”12 Just like Antonius Musa had become a human embodiment of the divine power of healing and the human correspondent of Aesculapius, emperors embodied Jupiter’s authority. This notion was not new in Rome, where for centuries victorious generals had been temporarily identified with Jupiter. Dressed in a purple garment inherited from the Tarquinian dynasty that preceded the Republic, returning generals paraded the streets of the capital with their faces painted red.13 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Cic., fam. 3.7 (W.G. Williams [ed. / trans.], Cicero: The Letters to His Friends. Vol. 1, LCL 205, Cambridge 1957, 188–190) cf. also Cic., Att. 5.21 (E.O. Winstedt [ed. / trans.], Cicero. Letters to Atticus. Vol. 1, LCL 7, Cambridge 1912, 404); Price, 1984, 48. See M. Beard / J. North / S. Price, Religions of Rome, 2 vols., Cambridge 1998, vol. 1, 140–149 on how organically developed phenomena and borrowed practices contributed to the divinisation of late Republican generals. Tac., ann. 4.81 (J. Jackson [ed. / trans.], Tacitus. Annals: Books 4–6, 11–12, LCL 312, Cambridge 1937, 158–160). On the date of the Gospel of Mark, see J.R. Donahue / D.J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, Collegeville 2002, 41–46. Gradel, 2002, 27–53. Ibid., 101. Plin. (23–79), h.n. 33.36 (H. Rackham [ed. / trans.], Pliny. Natural History. Vol. 9: Books 3–35, LCL 394, Cambridge 1961, 84).

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The paint referenced Jupiter’s terracotta statue in Rome’s main temple on the Capitoline Hill. The procession ended at the temple as a symbolic statement of Jupiter’s return home from war. The celebration rendered generals iconic, with their bodies prepared to visually match the statue of the god they represented. Divinity was not on the table at this time and a servant stood behind the general during the procession and whispered in his ear to not forget his human nature.14 Thus, early Roman emperors inherited a ritual that placed the accent on their capacity to function as a surrogate for the statue of Jupiter.15 This celebration was presented in modern scholarship as either an Etruscan element that survived or as an eastern import; thus, something ultimately alien to Roman culture.16 This is likely because the dossier of imperial divinity was distorted by the phenomenon’s description by Roman historians. Reproducing the view of the aristocracy, written sources criticised those who claimed divine status as a way to expand their authority over peers.17 In an attempt to discourage and discredit it, authors presented imperial divinity as an eastern, decadent motif: Tacitus’s graeca adulatio.18 Nevertheless, the triumph celebration that rendered generals alike to Jupiter’s statue had been a defining aspect of Roman culture. As shown by Diane Favro, the triumphal procession shaped the outlook of the capital, with the urban structure eventually revolving around the Via Triumphalis.19 Thus, long before the Julio-Claudians seized power, Rome had developed its own notion of iconicity and a complex ritual to confer it. Early imperial efforts to establish rulers as divine are, as argued by Alföldi, best understood as attempts to render permanent this temporary status.20

14 15 16 17

18 19 20

Tert., apol. 33.4 (T.R. Glover / G.H. Rendall [eds. / trans.], Tertullian: Apology. De Spectaculis. Minucius Felix: Octavius, LCL 250, Cambridge 1931, 156). On the triumphator as statue, see J.  Rüpke, Triumphator and Ancestor Rituals: Between Symbolic Anthropology and Magic, in: Numen 53 (2006), 251–289. Versnel, 1970, with discussion of the various theories. See C. Witschel, Verrückte Kaiser? Zur Selbststilisierung und Außenwahrnehmung nonkonformer Herrscherfiguren in der römischen Kaiserzeit, in: C. Ronning (ed.), Einblicke in die Antike. Orte – Praktiken – Strukturen, Munich 2006, 87–129 on the ‘bad press’ of the socalled ‘crazy emperors.’ Tac., ann. 6.18 (J. Jackson [ed. / trans.], Tacitus. Annals: Books 4–6, 11–12, LCL 312, Cambridge 1937, 184). D. Favro, Rome. The Street Triumphant: The Urban Impact of Roman Triumphal Parades, in: Z.  Çelik / D.  Favro / R.  Ingersoll (eds.), Streets. Critical Perspectives on Public Space, Berkeley 1994, 151–164. Alföldi, 1970. Koortbojian, 2013 instead sees Hellenistic models of divine monarchy as the main catalyst of Julius Caesar’s and Octavian Augustus’ divinisation.

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The extraordinary feats of late Republican generals and of Octavian Augustus supported a claim to divine status, which was later institutionalised in the imperial office. Some of Augustus’s successors further reinforced the claim through their accomplishments. Some turned to artifices that made their bodily presence more godlike; others enriched imperial iconicity with that of philosophers or religious specialists; finally, some rejected the divine honours offered to them, stalling the process. The constant negotiation between rulers and other members of the Roman elite regarding the divinity of the former, as well as of what type of authority it conferred over the latter was intrinsically related to the staging of imperial iconicity. Nevertheless, as several strategies for deification were becoming popular among Romans, those who contested imperial divinity grew fewer. In what follows, I will focus on the main strategies emperors used to establish themselves as living images of the divine. 2.2

Constructing Iconicity

While related to the issue of imperial divinity, imperial iconicity is less problematic because, regardless of where a community placed the emperor on the continuum between humanity and the utmost divine, his privileged relationship with the divine was expected to manifest corporeally. Auctoritas principis was not associated with a specific bodily feature but signalled by the insignia of the supreme gods, namely Jupiter’s lightning bolt and Sol’s radiant crown.21 Nevertheless, those who carried these symbols were supposed to showcase one or more of the physical features Celsus mentioned: above-average stature, strength, or beauty. Rulers obliged and carefully constructed their physical images and staged their public appearances. As a result, the emperor became one of the most common images of the divine and, consequently, the iconic Roman par excellence. Three visual media emerge as essential to this process: representations of the gods, imperial portraits, and imperial performances. The first medium established the looks of the gods, thus allowing rulers to adopt them.22 In addition, by altering the representations of the gods to match 21

22

Ph., ad G. 13.93–14.105 (F.H. Colson [ed. / trans.], Philo. On the Embassy to Gaius. General Indexes, LCL 379, Cambridge 1962, 46–52); Alföldi, 1970; G. Benedetti, Quando gli attributi travalicano il signum. Riflessioni sull’identità visuale degli dèi a Roma, in: ARYS 17 (2019), 105–137. Cic., n.d. 1.81 (H.  Rackham [ed. / trans.], Cicero. On the Nature of the Gods. Academics, LCL 268, Cambridge 1933, 78) pointed out that people learned from statues how the gods look like.

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their own – i.e., by showing gods in imperial attire, fulfilling imperial activities, or with the facial features of the rulers – emperors could stress the divine dimension of their office and the revelatory quality of their personae.23 Finally, symbolic statements could be made through art, such as Emperor Trajan (r. 98–117) having Jupiter hand him the lightning bolt in a relief on the Arch of Beneventum (ca. 104).24 (see Fig. 10) The success or failure of one’s reign decided whether such gestures had been indicators of hubris or correct assessments of his virtues, with damnatio memoriae or apotheosis closing the case by either erasing the public memory of the ruler or by allowing him to join the Olympians, respectively. The second medium – the emperor’s own portraits – confirmed and reinforced the ruler’s identification with specific gods by showing him wearing the gods’ insignia or fulfilling activities traditionally associated with them.25 In addition, by having themselves represented as exceedingly beautiful or with physiognomic features that indicated virtues, rulers supported their claim to divine status.26 Such strategies can be seen in all types of media. Travelling far and reaching all, coins were an extremely efficient way of popularising 23

24 25

26

Kantorowicz, 1961; D. Shotter, Gods, Emperors, and Coins, in: GaR 26 (1979), 48–57; J. Pollini, Man or God: Divine Assimilation and Imitation in the Late Republic and Early Empire, in: K.A. Raaflaub / M. Toher (eds.), Between Republic and Empire: Interpretations of Augustus and his Principate, Berkeley 1990, 333–363 (355); Hallett, 2005, 238–240; E.  Rosso, Des empereurs aux traits isiaques? Images et contextes, in: Gasparini / Veymiers (eds.), 2018, 539–567 (552–554). On the Arch, see K.  Fittschen, Das Bildprogramm des Trajanbogens zu Benevent, in: Archäologischer Anzeiger 4 (1972), 742–788. On imperial images, see S. Sande, The Icon and its Origin in Graeco-Roman Portraiture, in: L.  Rydén / J.O.  Rosenqvist (eds.), Aspects of Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium, Stockholm 1993, 75–84 (80–84); A. Eastmond, Between Icon and Idol: The Uncertainty of Imperial Images, in: A. Eastmond / L. James (eds.), Icon and Word: The Power of Images in Byzantium. Studies Presented to Robin Cormack, Aldershot 2003, 73–85; Francis, Verbal, 2009; M. Kahlos (ed), Emperors and the Divine – Rome and its Influence, Helsinki 2016. On borrowing the look of the gods, see Kantorowicz, 1963; Alföldi, 1970; G.H. Halsberghe, The Cult of Sol Invictus, Leiden 1972; Bergmann, 1998; M.  Radnoti-Alföldi, Bild und Bildersprache der römischen Kaiser. Beispiele und Analysen, Mainz 1999; Hallett, 2005; Bardill, 2012; Koortbojian, 2013, 211–226. For a critique of the view that such portraits were supposed to assimilate rulers to the respective gods, see A. Dimartino, Settimio Severo e il “Serapistypus”: forme di autorappresentazione del potere imperiale, in: F. De Angelis (ed.), Lo sguardo archeologico. I normalisti per Paul Zanker, Pisa 2007, 129–148 (129–130). E.g., D. Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Augustus. Das römische Herrscherbild, vol. 1.2, Berlin 1993. Concurrently, members of the elite went through pains to underline the rulers’ physical defects and thus anchor them firmly into humanity. See Hist. Aug.: L. Verus. 10.6–7 and Comm. 17.3 (Magie, 1921, 230 and 304); Trimble, 2014; V. Neri, The Emperor as Living Image in Late Antique Authors, in: Bacci / Ivanovici (eds.), 2019, online.

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Figure 10

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Relief showing the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva) along with Hercules (left) and Mercury (right) welcoming Emperor Trajan. Jupiter is handing Trajan (represented on the facing panel) the symbol of his power, i.e., the lightning bolt. Parian marble, ca. 104, Benevento. (Photo: Anca Cezarina Fulger)

the identification of a ruler with a certain god or deified virtue.27 Coins often showed the ruler on one side with the god on the other, or showed the ruler together with a god, thereby as equals.28 (see Figs. 15a, 15c, 15d) Paintings, reliefs, and statuary groups allowed for more complex iconographies. The portrait of the ruling emperor was, as put by Marcus Cornelius Fronto (d. ca. 168), “anywhere and everywhere.”29 Public squares, markets, baths, shops, and private 27 28 29

Shotter, 1979. Kantorowicz, 1963; Alföldi, 1970; Halsberghe, 1972; Radnoti-Alföldi, 1999; Bardill, 2012. Fronto, e. 4.12.4 (C.R.  Haines [ed. / trans.], Fronto. Correspondence. Vol. 1, LCL  112, Cambridge 1919, 206) in omnibus argentariis mensulis pergulis tabernis protectis vestibulis fenestris usquequaque ubique imagines vestrae sint volgo propositae; Grabar, 1936, 4–30; P. Zanker, Prinzipat und Herrscherbild, in: Gym. 86 (1979), 353–368 (361); C. Ando, Imperial

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residences displayed the figure of the ruler. A recently discovered (and stolen) mosaic depicted the thermae of Apamea on the Orontes, in Syria.30 (see Fig. 11) Above the entrance a clipeus with the bust image of the emperor is displayed, as was customary. A woman and her daughter (or servant) look up toward the portrait and raise their hands in a gesture that was used for both reverence and worship, while others enjoy a waterslide.31 The two women likely represent the local community, who is shown expressing its gratitude for the imperial gift of the baths, recognition of the ruler’s divinity, or both. This ambiguity that imperial portraits prompted also existed within private contexts. A third-century medallion from Alexandria in Egypt, now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, contains a coin with the laureate bust of Emperor Commodus (r. 180–192). The medallion hangs on a gold collar, next to several pendants with Isis-Fortuna and other figures, possibly characters related to her cult. (see Fig. 12) Jewellery pieces that included coins with ruler portraits were common in Late Antiquity.32 It is difficult to establish with certainty the function(s) of the imperial image in such cases, whether it was a political statement, a religious one, or both. In addition, upon his death the ruler joined the ranks of the gods through apotheosis, which changed the implications of his image. Nevertheless, Vespasian’s adventure in Alexandria, discussed above, indicates that it might not have been essential to the object’s owner if Commodus was alive or dead when they commissioned the piece. This ontological ambiguity

30 31

32

Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire, CCT 6, Berkeley 2000, 207–273. On their number, see C. Machado, Building the Past: Monuments and Memory in the Forum Romanum, in: Late Antiq. Archaeol. 3 (2006), 157–192; K. Fittschen, The Portraits of Roman Emperors and their Families: Controversial Positions and Unsolved Problems, in: Ewald / Noreña (eds.), 2010, 221–246 (221). See: https://www.interpol.int/News-and-Events/News/2012/INTERPOL-calls-for-vigilanceon-looting-of-ancient-mosaics-in-Syria (accessed 28.6.2022). On people saluting benefactors of the city with raised hands, see Chrys., i.g. 4–5 (A.-M.  Malingrey [ed.], Jean Chrysostome. Sur la vaine gloire et l’éducation des enfants, SC 188, Paris 1972, 74–79). On praying with raised hands, see Plin. m., ep. 6.20.15 (B. Radice [ed. / trans.], Pliny the Younger. Letters. Vol. 1: Books 1–7, LCL 55, Cambridge 1969, 444); V.  Fyntikoglou / E.  Voutrias, Das römische Gebet, in: J.  Balty (ed.), Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum 3, Los Angeles 2006, 151–179 (161–162). On private devotion towards emperors, see Pacatus, pan. 12(2)6.4 (C.E.V. Nixon / B.S. Rodgers / R.A.B. Mynors [eds. / trans.], In Praise of Later Roman Emperors: The Panegyrici Latini, Berkeley 1994, 650); Price, 1984, 120–121; Gradel, 2002, 140–161; C.F. Noreña, Imperial Ideals in the Roman West: Representations, Circulation, Power, New York 2011, 203 n. 45.209–210.303–304.456 n. 26. K. Weitzmann (ed.), The Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century, exh. cat., New York 1979, 318–319; A.M. Stout, Jewelry as a Symbol of Status in the Roman Empire, in: Sebesta / Bonfante (eds.), 1994, 77–100 (78–79).

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Figure 11

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Detail from floor mosaic depicting the history of Apamea on the Orontes. Syria, 4th century. Discovered in illegal dig and sold on the black market in 2011. (Photo: Interpol)

of the imperial persona and its images was bred by the state through the imperial cult. In temples identical to those of the gods, the emperor’s genius (i.e., personal spirit) received worship through its statues.33 Along with the setting and aesthetic, also the clerical orders and worship gestures were borrowed from traditional cults, thus stimulating the identification of the emperor with a god. Few communities outside the capital seem to have bothered to make the distinction between worship of the emperor and his divine spirit.34 In the eastern provinces, the praising of an individual as divine was common practice. In the 33 34

On the imperial genius, see S.G. MacCormack, Roma, Constantinopolis, the Emperor, and his Genius, in: Class. Q. 25 (1975), 131–150; Gradel, 2002. Outside the capital and especially in the eastern provinces where, as noted by N. Russel, The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition, Oxford 2004, 18, the distinction between deus and divus was missing, the rulers’ divinity was accepted without problems. On Rome, see R. Lim, In the ‘Temple of Laughter’: Visual and Literary Representations of Spectators at Roman Games, in: Bergmann / Kondoleon (eds.), 1999, 342–365 (343). On the imperial cult in the West, see D. Fishwick, The Imperial Cult in the Latin West, Studies in the

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Figure 12

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Collar with medallion and pendants. The medallion is set around a coin with the laureate bust of Emperor Commodus (r. 180–192) while the pendants represent Isis-Fortuna and possibly characters related to her cult. Gold, 3rd century, Alexandria, Egypt. Cleveland Museum of Art (inv. no. 1948.419)

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western regions, recognition of certain persons’ godliness also became increasingly common. Already the Republican general Marius had been given divine honours while alive, and the images of the Gracchi brothers – assassinated in 133 BCE for their support of the plebs – received a treatment alike to those reserved to statues dedicated to the gods.35 Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Octavian Augustus stimulated these tendencies, as did the rulers who followed. To further blur the boundaries between his living person, his statue in his temple in Rome, and the gods, Caligula (r. 37–41) altered an existing temple to serve as entrance to his residence and had servants match the daily outfit of his statue with his own.36 Through these and other visual strategies, rulers established themselves as images of the specific gods whose look they borrowed, as well as living counterparts of their own cult images. The third medium, namely the rulers’ physical appearance and behaviour, reinforced the confluence of their bodies, statues, and the statues of the gods. Rulers wore garments, jewellery, hair dye, and gold speckles to reproduce the look and aesthetic of statuary, while also performing actions associated with certain gods.37 Emperors could choose whether to stress their divinity or their humanity, the ways in which to do it, and whether to seek identification with a single god or with several. Like the religious specialists discussed in the previous chapter, emperors could also decide for episodic ‘putting on’ of a god or attempt a permanent identification with one. Some asserted their godlike auctoritas by adopting a behaviour as capricious as that of the Olympians. Caligula, we are told, practiced savage expressions in front of a mirror at home, while Caracalla’s (r. 198–217) angry frown became the mark of his official portraits.38 As a result, those around rulers turned to physiognomics to assess their characters and moods, with them ‘reading’

35

36

37 38

Ruler Cult of the Western Provinces of the Roman Empire, 3 vols., Leiden 1987–2005. For a study of the imperial cult in an eastern province, see Price, 1984. Plu., v.p.: Marius 27.5 (B. Perrin [ed. / trans.], Plutarch. Lives. Vol. 9: Demetrius and Antony. Pyrrhus and Gaius Marius, LCL  101, Cambridge 1959, 538) and Caius Gracchus 18.2 (B.  Perrin [ed. / trans.], Plutarch. Lives. Vol. 10: Agis and Cleomenes. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. Philopoemen and Flamininus, LCL 102, Cambridge 1959, 238). C.D., h.r. 59.28.5 (E.  Cary [ed. / trans.], Dio Cassius: Roman History. Vol. 7. Books 56–60, LCL 175, Cambridge 1955, 352) information on the palace was confirmed by archaeological finds cf. J. Sanford, Did Caligula Have a God Complex?, in: Stanford Report, Sept. 10, 2003. On imperial beauty, its symbolism, and staging, see Neri, 2004, 109–218. Suet., v.c.: Calig 50.1 (Rolfe [ed.], 1979, 480).

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on their faces the fate of the day and of the state.39 These fickle, Olympian personalities were performed in spaces that reproduced the aesthetic of the gods’ mythical palaces and borrowed the architectural setting of cult statues.40 Nero’s residence aligned with his claimed iconic status. On the space between the Palatine and the Esquiline hills in Rome, Nero had the world reproduced in small scale. Overlooking this artificial Earth was his palace, decorated with lustrous surfaces and lavishly lit to imitate Sol’s heavenly palace.41 In case anyone missed the reference, a colossal statue depicting Nero as Sol rose in front of the palace, at the centre of this fantasy land. Other emperors chose different strategies. Hadrian (r. 117–138) and Marcus Aurelius combined their auctoritas with the virtus and dignitas that derived from a philosopher’s life and adopted the outward appearance of sages.42 In contrast, Commodus used the arena’s power to collapse myth and reality: Before entering the amphitheatre he would put on a long-sleeved tunic of silk, white interwoven with gold, and thus arrayed he would receive our greetings; but when he was about to go inside, he put on a robe of pure purple with gold spangles, donning also after the Greek fashion a chlamys of the same colour, and a crown made of gems from India and of gold, and he carried a herald’s staff like that of Mercury. As for the lion-skin and club, in the street they were carried before him, and in the amphitheatres they were placed on a gilded chair, whether he was present or not. He himself would enter the arena in the garb of Mercury, and casting aside all his other garments, would begin his exhibition wearing only a tunic and unshod.43 39 40

41 42 43

Amm. Marc., r.g. 15.8.15–16 (J.C. Rolfe [ed.], Ammianus Marcellinus. History. Vol. 1: Books 14–19, LCL 300, Cambridge 1935, 172); P. Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire, Madison 1992, 59–60. On the Domus Flavia, see Stat., silv. 4.2.18–37 (J.H.  Mozley [ed. / trans.], Statius. Vol. 1: Silvae. Thebaid, books I–IV, London 1928, 212–214). On the palace in Constantinople, see S.G. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity, TCH 1, Berkeley 1981; M.C. Carile, The Vision of the Palace of the Byzantine Emperors as a Heavenly Jerusalem, Spoleto 2012; H.A. Drake, Topographies of Power in the City, in: C. Rapp / H.A. Drake (eds.), The Classical and Post-Classical World: Changing Contexts of Power and Identity, New York 2014, 217–239. H.P. L’Orange, Likeness and Icon: Selected Studies in Classical and Early Mediaeval Art, Odense 1973, 278–297; E.J. Champlin, God and Man in the Golden House, in: Horti Romani 6 (1998), 333–344. Roller, 2001. C.D., h.r. 73.17 (E. Cary / H.G. Foster [eds. / trans.], Dio Cassius: Roman History. Vol. 9. Books 71–80, LCL 177, Cambridge 1927, 106–107) ἐνέδυνε δέ, πρὶν μὲν ἐς τὸ θέατρον ἐσιέναι, χιτῶνα χειριδωτὸν σηρικὸν λευκὸν διάχρυσον (καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γε αὐτὸν τῷ σχήματι ὄντα ἠσπαζόμεθα), ἐσιὼν δὲ ὁλοπόρφυρον χρυσῷ κατάπαστον, χλαμύδα τε ὁμοίαν τὸν Ἑλληνικὸν τρόπον λαμβάνων, καὶ στέφανον ἔκ τε λίθων Ἰνδικῶν καὶ ἐκ χρυσοῦ πεποιημένον, κηρύκειόν τε τοιοῦτον φέρων ὁποῖον ὁ Ἑρμῆς. ἡ γὰρ λεοντῆ τό τε ῥόπαλον ἔν τε ταῖς ὁδοῖς προεφέρετο αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐν τοῖς

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Thus, rulers exploited the symbolic affordances of various settings, both private and public, to establish themselves as iconic.44 Roman public and private settings were typically designed to confer authority to the person at their centre.45 Inside Roman houses, images depicted on the walls, on the furniture, and on small objects, together with the statues, herms, statuettes, servants, clientes, friends, and family members represented as many symbolic layers. The pater familias brought these elements together in various ways through his outward appearance, actions, and speech.46 Public spaces were similarly layered stages, with buildings, shrines, statues, and a hierarchically structured audience framing the person at the centre. A relief decorating the Arch of Constantine in Rome (ca. 315) shows the emperor’s adlocutio (speech) in the Forum. (see Fig.  13) In the relief, Constantine stands at the centre of a symmetrical space created by the Rostra – i.e., a podium from which official announcements were made – the Arches of Septimius Severus and Tiberius, and the Basilicas Aemilia and Julia. Flanking the ruler are statues of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, both exemplary rulers. Behind, statues of the initial tetrarchs and of Jupiter, the latter aligned with Constantine, stand atop columns. The senators and other Romans in the audience are displayed hierarchically on both sides of the ruler. As pointed out by Tonio Hölscher, the people are an integral part of this layered image.47 Thus, while the setting invested Constantine with the prestige of the Republican, Augustan, Hadrianic, Severan, and tetrarchic state, the audience placed him at the top of the social hierarchy, where humanity and the divine met.

44 45 46

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θεάτροις ἐπὶ δίφρου ἐπιχρύσου, εἴτε παρείη εἴτε καὶ ἀπείη, ἐτίθετο· αὐτὸς δὲ ἐν τῷ τοῦ Ἑρμοῦ σχήματι ἐσῄει τε ἐς τὸ θέατρον, καὶ ἀπορρίψας τὰ ἄλλα οὕτως ἐν τῷ χιτῶνι ἀνυπόδητος ἔργου εἴχετο. On “relational space”, see M. Löw, Raumsoziologie, Frankfurt 2001. On this in Rome, see Hölscher, 2018, ch. 1. As argued by J. Elsner, Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: The Art of the Roman Empire AD 100–450, Oxford 1998, 25–114, both at home and in public spaces, art and architecture created a backdrop against which individuals negotiated their identity. On art and power dynamics inside the domus, see A. Wallace-Hadrill, Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum, Princeton 1994; Elsner, 1998, 44–50; M. Grahame, Material Culture and Roman Identity: The Spatial Layout of Pompeian Houses and the Problem of Ethnicity, in: R. Laurence / J. Berry (eds.), Cultural Identity in the Roman Empire, London 1998, 156–178; S. Hales, The Roman House and Social Identity, Cambridge 2003; K. Cooper, Closely Watched Households: Visibility, Exposure and Private Power in the Roman ‘Domus’, in: PaP  197 (2007), 3–33; P.  Stewart, The Social History of Roman Art, Cambridge 2008; H. Platts, Multisensory Living in Ancient Rome: Power and Space in Roman Houses, London 2020. Hölscher, 2018, 58–59.

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Figure 13

Sculpted tondi from the reign of Hadrian showing boar hunt (left) and sacrifice to Apollo (right), integrated above newly sculpted marble relief showing Emperor Constantine’s (r. 306–337 CE) adlocutio from the tetrarchic rostra. Arch of Constantine, ca. 320, Rome. (Photo: ‘Following Hadrian’ – CC BY-SA 2.0)

The capacity to create coherent mises-en-scène inside one’s home or to add to communal ones by gifting public buildings played a central role in one’s public image. Nevertheless, equally important was one’s capacity to master such stages, whether self-commissioned or inherited. Trimalchio’s ignorance caused him to pair scenes from the Iliad and the Odyssey with representations of gladiator fights in his atrium, and to mix up his mythological references over dinner.48 One was expected not to simply afford such mechanisms of selfaffirmation, but to ‘own’ them. Thus, orators commonly included elements from their surrounding in their speeches – whether by referencing historic moments that had taken place on that spot or by calling upon a deceased public figure whose statue was in sight – to attest to their erudition and support their argument. Constantine’s decision to address the people from the layered space of the old Forum both attested to his respect for Roman customs and legitimised his rule with the authority the space conferred. Fora, amphitheatres, basilicas, and palaces were such complex mechanisms in which the architecture, aesthetic, decoration, performance, and audience came together to invest authority into the person (or group of people) at the 48

Petron., s. 29.9 (Heseltine [ed.], 1925, 42).

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centre. In ancient Rome, the tradition of using public buildings as backdrop seems to have started with temples, as the triumphator displayed himself in front of the temple of Jupiter and the Senate convened inside temples, in front of the gods’ statues.49 As emperors gained unprecedented control over resources, they orchestrated their iconicity in increasingly coherent ways that included shaping their outward appearance to mirror the gods’, having depictions of the gods match their own countenances, setting up their own cult images, and designing for themselves spaces that resembled temples. Due to its use of the aesthetic and mise-en-scène of cult statues, the result of this multifaceted strategy was similar to that of the triumph: the living emperor appeared as if a god’s statue had come to life. Efforts to popularise the rulers’ iconicity went hand in hand with other phenomena particular to early imperial society. When Commodus was performing Hercules in the Flavian amphitheatre, the cults that allowed their members to ‘put on’ their gods were gaining momentum across the empire.50 By the third century, the iconicity of emperors and, more generally, the divine potential of humans were well established across Roman society.51 As a result, emperors of the period appear convinced of their own divinity rather than using it as a political strategy, in the manner of their predecessors.52 In a rather short period of time, the throne was occupied by a believer in astrology, convinced of his divine predestination to rule over humanity (Septimius Severus, r. 193– 211); a priest of the Syrian sun god who attempted to spawn “godlike children” with a vestal (Elagabalus, r. 218–222); and the son of a priestess of Sol (Aurelian, r. 270–275).53 Ruler biographies of the period emanate a sense of divine election that, rather than being “striking,” as one scholar put it, reflects the religious Zeitgeist of a period when people, regardless of social status, sought to achieve their divine potential.54 Imperial iconicity received a coherent form towards the end of the third century. During the reign of Diocletian (r. 284–305), the aesthetic of the ruler’s body, the protocol surrounding it, and the spaces used by emperors were adapted to reflect a now uncontested divine status. Rather than being a

49 50 51 52 53 54

On the Senate, see Hölscher, 2018, 55. See below, Chapter 4. On divinisation becoming a common topic, see Russel, 2004, 102. See also above, p. 12 n. 37. According to Suet., v.c.: Aug.  99 (Rolfe [ed. / trans.], 1979, 280–281), on his deathbed Augustus had asked those present if he had put on a believable performance. C.D., h.r. 80.9 (Cary / Foster [eds. / trans.], 1927, 458) θεοπρεπεῖς παῖδες. J. Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century, Oxford 2000, 3–4.

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conceptual turning point, this reform appears to be an update of the visual and ritual aspects of the imperial office, meant to catch up with the ruler’s divinity. Diocletian and his fellow rulers of the initial tetrarchy – i.e., the co-rule of four emperors that Diocletian introduced to deal with the numerous problems the state faced at the time – displayed themselves as luminous presences by monopolising purple and porphyry – considered to be the most luminous hue and material, respectively – and by wearing gold and jewels. The palace of Diocletian at Spalathos (Split) and panegyrics of the time allow us to reconstruct how the emperor’s physical presence was staged. At Split, the palatial complex is set around a rectangular courtyard (ca. 27 × 13.5 m) where the retired ruler seems to have received important guests.55 (see Fig. 14) The long sides of the courtyard open towards areas that contain a temple of Jupiter and two shrines on one side, and Diocletian’s mausoleum on the other. One of the short sides opens towards the intersection of the complex’s main streets, the other towards the interior of the palace. The threshold between the courtyard and the palace was shaped like the facade of a tetrastyle temple.56 This type of framing would rapidly become a favourite of Roman rulers, who used it for palace gates, circus balconies, and their official portraits. Whether they sat or stood underneath such frames, they appeared akin to a god’s statue in a temple.57 Typically present on coins, representations of temple entrances framing the statues of their gods were the most common image in the Roman world, which assured the recognisability of the imperial Inszenierung. (see Fig. 15a) Formal speeches praising the ruler’s qualities and accomplishments allow us to relate material settings such as the one in Split with the ceremonies for which they were built. Such panegyrics reflect court culture and shed light on the desired effect of imperial settings.58 A recurrent motif in panegyrics of the fourth century is the ruler as a deus praesens whose power exceeds that of traditional gods.59 This concept was embedded in the design of the palace at Split, 55 56 57

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On the space and its various interpretations, see S.  McNally, Introduction: State of Scholarship, in: S.  McNally / J.  Marasović / T.  Marasović (eds.), Diocletian’s Palace, Minneapolis 1989, 3–43 (17–21). The oculus in the dome of the space behind the entrance, which creates an analogy with the Pantheon in Rome, is considered a later addition cf. J.J. Wilkes, Diocletian’s Palace, Split: Residence of a Retired Roman Emperor, Exeter 1993, 50–56. On the lintel’s cultic implications, see B.  Kiilerich, Representing an Emperor: Style and Meaning in the Missorium of Theodosius I, in: M. Almagro Gorbea (ed.), El disco di Teodosio, Madrid 2000, 273–280; H.W. Dey, The Afterlife of the Roman City: Architecture and Ceremony in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Cambridge 2015, 51. As with ekphraseis of late antique buildings, these texts were meant to educate their audiences on the ‘correct’ way to perceive what was described. E.g., Stat., silv. 5.2.170 (Mozley [ed. / trans.], 1928, 302) proximus ille deus; Pacatus, pan. 12(2)4.5 (Nixon / Rodgers / Mynors [eds.], 1994, 649) deum […] quem uidemus.

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Figure 14

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Reception courtyard of Emperor Diocletian’s (r. 284–305 CE) palace, with view of the prothyron. 4th century, Split. (Photo: Stefan Pijanowski)

where the emperor’s mausoleum is more than twice the size of the temple of Jupiter in front of it. In addition, a text describing Diocletian’s interaction with subjects in the palace in Mediolanum (Milan) allows us to glean the effect of his appearance under the temple-like threshold of his palace and see the central role played by statuary in shaping the iconicity of late Roman rulers: What a sight did your piety grant to us, when in the palace of Milan you [scil. Diocletian and his co-ruler Maximian] were both beheld by those who were given admission to adore your sacred countenances, and when of a sudden by the fact of your holy presence being twofold you bewildered our custom of venerating one divinity at a time! […] And this secret worship rendered to you, as it were within the innermost sanctuary, stunned and amazed the minds of those to whom their rank granted access.60

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Pan. Lat. 11(3)11.1–5 (Nixon / Rodgers / Mynors [eds.], 1994, 538; trans. MacCormack, 1981, 25–26) Quale pietas vestra spectaculum dedit, cum in Mediolanensi palatio admissis qui sacros vultus adoraturi erant conspecti estis ambo, et consuetudinem simplicis venerationis geminato numine repente turbastis! Nemo ordinem numinum solita secutus est disciplina; omnes adorandi mora restiterunt duplicato pietatis officio contumaces. Atque haec quidem

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a

b

c

d Figure 15a

Coin with portrait of Philip the Arab (r. 244–259) wearing the crown of Sol on the obverse and with the temple of Zeus Katabaites on the reverse. Bronze, 244–249, 29 mm diameter, Syria. © Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, inv. no. 18259953. (Photo: Bernhard Weisser, in the public domain) Figure 15b Coin with portraits of Diocletian (left) and Maximian (right) on the obverse, and the two emperors in an elephant-drawn chariot on the reverse. Gold, 287, 30 mm diameter, Italy. © Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, inv. no. 18200802 (Photo: Lutz-Jürgen Lübke, in the public domain) Figure 15c Coin with portrait of Hadrian on the obverse and of Sol on the reverse. Gold, 117, 20 mm diameter, Italy. © Münzkabinett der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz, inv. no. 18200596 (Photo: Lutz-Jürgen Lübke, in the public domain) Figure 15d Coin showing portrait of Hadrian on the obverse. The reverse shows Hadrian and his wife Sabina meeting Isis and Serapis in front of an altar. Hadrian and Serapis shake hands while Sabina raises her hand in salutation of Isis who holds the sistrum. Gold, ca. 130, 19 mm diameter, Rome. Bibliothèque nationale de France (inv. no. FRBNF41982443)

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As the living emperors took the place of cult statues and became the main points of physical and visual interaction with the divine in the Roman world, their representation changed.61 The role of individual facial and corporeal features was reduced, and the focus shifted to representing the ruler with the characteristics that society needed in the moment. Thus, when the state faced military attacks, emperors were represented with large, muscular bodies. Later, during the Tetrarchy, their facial features were morphed together to stress their harmony as co-rulers. (see Fig. 15b) With the ruler’s divinity now uncontested, his form could be adapted to make complementary statements. This announced the further instrumentalisation of the rulers’ bodies in the following centuries. In Diocletian’s time, three centuries of constructed analogies between living emperors and cult statues were put in a coherent form with the result that palaces became temple-like; emperors became statue-like; and subjects turned into worshippers. The iconicity of emperors would continue in the following period. Nevertheless, the growing popularity of Christianity – religion which the rulers came to adopt – would shape the way in which their iconicity was conceptualised and expressed. Paradoxically given that statues had been a symbol of idolatry in early Christianity, it was the ruler’s statue-like quality that survived. 2.3

From Image of Jupiter to Image of Christ

The Roman emperors’ adoption of the Christian faith in the fourth century caused them to lose their divinity. This did not prevent them from expecting to be worshipped by individuals, on account of them being images of God.62 Monotheistic, the religion did not recognise gods apart from Christ but had a tradition of revering iconic persons. In addition, during the fourth century, Roman society became increasingly hierarchical, with it striving towards a pyramidal structure that reflected how most cults of the time had come to imagine the structure of the cosmos and heavens.63 This alignment of the

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velut interioribus sacrariis operta veneratio eorum modo animos obstupefecerat quibus aditum vestri dabant ordines dignitatis. On scenes that attest to the theophanic quality of tetrarchic emperors, see MacCormack, 1981, 22–33. On the Constantinians and Theodosians inviting the worship of their persons, see Nixon / Rodgers / Mynors, 1994, 456 n. 26. A. Winterling, Aula Caesaris: Studien zur Institutionalisierung des römischen Kaiserhofes in der Zeit von Augustus bis Commodus (31 v.Chr.–192 n.Chr.), Munich 1999; P.  Eich, Zur Metamorphose des politischen Systems in der römischen Kaiserzeit: Die Entstehung

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human and divine communities allowed the identification of the imperial court with the upper part of the pantheon and of the emperor with the dominant god. As Christianity was adopted by increasingly more Romans and society came to dress its imaginative structures in Christian garb during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, the emperor in Constantinople officially became a living image of Christ; a feature that would define his identity throughout the Byzantine period.64 In the space of two centuries – from the edict of Milan of 313 that legalised Christianity to the death of Anastasius I (r. 491–518) – being the living image of the Christian God became the main feature of the imperial office. In 518, upon Anastasius’s death, the eunuchs in charge of the imperial bedroom blocked the proclamation of a new emperor by withholding the imperial insignia.65 Therefore, people recognised as ruler the one who wore the insignia, rather than a specific person. A few years later, during the riot of 532, Justinian I (r. 527–565) refused to leave the city because losing control of the palace would have forfeited his chances of retaining the throne.66 Like imperial garments, the symbolic spaces of the palace were essential in establishing the ruler as a living image of God. Both examples prove that imperial iconicity had been transferred to specific material settings and props, and the ruler’s identity had become secondary. There had to be a ruler in Constantinople whose body functioned as a living image of the Christian God in order to make Byzantine society into a human replica of Christ’s court, but his iconicity was conferred

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einer ‘personalen Bürokratie’ im langen dritten Jahrhundert, Berlin 2005; V.  Ivanovici, Pseudo-Dionysius and the Staging of Divine Order in Sixth-century Architecture, in: F.  Dell’Acqua / E.  Mainoldi (eds.), Pseudo-Dionysius and the Origins of Christian Visual Culture, London 2020, 177–210. Eus., l.C. 3 (I.A.  Heikel [ed.], Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte, Leipzig 1902, 201), for Constantine. Agap., exp. cap. adm. 21 (R. Riedinger [ed.], Agapetos Diakonos. Der Fürstenspiegel für Kaiser Iustinianos, Athens 1995, 38); for Justinian I. Cor., in laud. 2.427–428 (A. Cameron [ed. / trans.], Flavius Cresconius Corippus. In Laudem Iustinii Augusti Minoris, London 1976, 60); for Justin II. See Grabar, 1936; Kantorowicz, 1963, 151; A. Carile, Produzione e usi della porpora nell’impero bizantino, in: O. Longo (ed.), La porpora: Realtà e immaginario di un colore simbolico: Atti del convegno interdisciplinare di studio dell’Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (Venezia 24–25 Ottobre 1996), Venezia 1998, 243–269; id., La prossemica del potere: spazi e distanze nei cerimoniali di corte, in: Uomo e spazio nell’alto medioevo, 2 vols., Spoleto 2003, vol. 1, 589–653; Carile, 2012, 173–176. Const. Porph., d. cer. 1.93 (A. Moffatt / M. Tall [ed. / trans.], Constantine Porphyrogennetos: The Book of Ceremonies. With the Greek Edition of the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae [Bonn, 1829], 2 vols., Canberra 2012, 426–428). On the riot, see Proc. Caes., d.b. 1.24 (G. Wirth [ed.], Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia. Vol. 1, Leipzig 1962, 123–134).

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by the imperial function and the spaces and accoutrements, rather than by his character and actions. The process through which this change came into being was complex, but extant sources allow us to identify its main stages. Emperor Constantine and his successors used all three visual strategies we discussed above to construct their iconicity, though they claimed to represent Christ rather than Jupiter, Sol, or Hercules. Thus, Constantine’s portrait over the gate of the imperial palace in Constantinople amounts to a reworking, in Christian terms, of his self-presentation as the human counterpart of Sol in the earlier part of his reign.67 According to Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 265–339), above the monumental palace gate, Constantine had himself depicted treading a snake, with a chi-rho appearing above him.68 By reproducing the god as a symbol and showing the ruler as the one crushing the devil, the image indicated Constantine as Christ’s long arm and human face. A similar relationship between Christ and Constantine can be identified in the ruler’s desire to be buried flanked by the tombs of the twelve apostles.69 The image on the gate and his tomb point to Constantine using his body (both while alive and after death) to fill the void left on Earth by the ascended body of Jesus. In art, rather than adopting the poor garment of Jesus, Constantine and later rulers lent him their own, purged now of the symbols of other deities. Thus, the representation of Christ as a ruler with a throne, purple garments, and insignia was added to his other looks and would soon take precedence over them.70 Concurrently, the members of his heavenly entourage were recast to mirror the order and dress of the imperial court.71 (see Fig. 37) When it came to the miseen-scène of imperial personae, the aesthetic of light that referenced the divine was used, but its effect was amplified through a more careful and less frequent display of the ruler. Two instances emerge from the sources as fundamental for imperial self-presentation in this period, namely the adventus and the ruler’s appearance in the circus balcony.

67 68 69 70 71

On Constantine and Sol, see M.  Wallraff, Christus verus Sol: Sonnenverehrung und Christentum in der Spätantike, Münster 2001; Bardill, 2012. Eus., v.C. 3.2–3 (F. Winkelmann [ed.], Eusèbe de Césarée, Vie de Constantin, SC 559, Paris 1955, 354); Carile, 2012, 16. M.J. Johnson, The Roman Imperial Mausoleum in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 2009, 119–129. On Christ as emperor in Roman art, see Grabar, 1936. On Christ as teacher, healer, and philosopher, see T.F. Mathews, The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art, Princeton 1993. See Grabar, 1936; C. Kelly, Emperors as Gods, Angels as Bureaucrats: The Representation of Imperial Power in Late Antiquity, in: ARYS 1 (1998), 301–326.

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The adventus was an emperor’s arrival into a town. As pointed out by Sabine MacCormack, the ceremony constituted a synthesis of late Roman society.72 During the arrival the population of a town could behold the uppermost part of the human hierarchy, which reproduced the order of the heavenly court and where the human and the divine met and merged in the person of the ruler. Thus, the event was staged as a theophany, with the emperor as focus.73 As such, the ceremony represents an ideal case for studying the staging of imperial iconicity. Two texts allow us to catch a glimpse of the careful interplay of spaces, garments, entourage, and ceremony. The first text discusses the ruler’s image as he travels between towns, while the second deals with the entrance proper. Praising emperor Honorius’s (r. 393–423) consulship in 398, court poet Claudian described the ruler’s procession through Liguria: And also what robes, what wonderful procession did we see, when wearing the Ausonian raiment [scil. the consular garment] you advanced, a more wonderful sight than ever, among the peoples of Liguria, carried high among your troops clad in white and carried upon the shoulders of chosen warriors who so proudly upheld their godlike burden! ‘Tis thus that Egypt brings forth her gods to the public gaze. The image issues from its shrine; small it is, indeed, yet many linenclad priests pant beneath the pole, and by their sweat testify that they bear a god; […] Borne upon the necks of youths go the golden chair and the god who sits upon it, heavier now in his new finery.74

The image of a throne carried by men is reminiscent of the fercula (lit.: platforms), which Romans traditionally used to carry cult statues during processions.75 Nevertheless, to further stress the cultic dimension of the scene, Claudian refers to the Egyptian custom of carrying the gods’ statues in aediculae. Known from representations – such as the first-century BCE statuette 72

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MacCormack, 1981, 18.22–55. On the adventus, see also M.  McCormick, Eternal Victory: Triumphal Rulership in Late Antiquity, Byzantium, and the Early Medieval West, New York 1986; P.  Dufraigne, Adventus Augusti, adventus Christi: Recherche sur l’exploitation idéologique et littéraire d’un cérémonial dans l’antiquité tardive, Paris 1994. As pointed out by Kantorowicz, 1944, 212–213; MacCormack, 1981, 17–18.28–36. Claudian., IV cons. 564–585 (M.  Platnauer [ed. / trans.], Claudian. On Stilicho’s Consulship  2–3. Panegyric on the Sixth Consulship of Honorius. The Gothic War. Shorter Poems. Rape of Proserpina, LCL 136, Cambridge 1922, 328–329, amended) Nunc quoque quos habitus, quantae miracula pompae vidimus, Ausonio cum iam succinctus amictu per Ligurum populos solito conspectior ires atque inter niveas alte veherere cohortes, obnixisque simul pubes electa lacertis sidereum gestaret onus. sic numina Memphis in vulgus proferre solet; penetralibus exit effigies, brevis illa quidem: sed plurimus infra liniger imposito suspirat vecte sacerdos testatus sudore deum; […] portatur iuvenum cervicibus aurea sedes ornatuque novo gravior deus. On fercula, see B. Madigan, The Ceremonial Sculptures of the Roman Gods, Leiden 2012.

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currently in the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe – these litters were temples made for the road in which the cult statue was enshrined during processions. (see Fig. 16)

Figure 16

Two priests carrying a naiskos-shrine of Harpocrates. Clay, first half of the 1st century BCE, 15,6 cm. Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (inv. no. H 796). (Photo: Thomas Goldschmidt)

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The garment referenced by the poet, too, can be gleaned from extant sources. As reigning emperor, Honorius was consul prior and wore the maiore toga. Texts and representations indicate that this garment was covered in jewels.76 Depictions of the 354 consuls in the Calendar of Filocalus show Constantius II (r. 337–361) as consul prior, wearing the maiore toga, and Gallus (326–354) as his co-consul. Countless jewels stud the ruler’s garment, while embroidered images adorn his cousin’s outfit. Thus, the consul prior’s garment combined the purple and gold of the consular trabea with jewels. The combination between the hues and materials considered to be most luminous and the lightreflecting jewels rendered the ruler a luminous presence. (see Fig. 17) The consular garment left little of the ruler’s body visible and, as pointed out by Bishop Ambrose of Milan (sed. 374–ca. 397), during official processions, the audience did not get to see the emperor’s face but rather the luminous splendour of his garment, which they credited to his person.77 From now on, imperial costumes hid the ruler’s body under several layers of gold- and jewel-clad garments and insignia that enveloped him in a luminous haze. Such a glow was the mark of theophanies and of cult statues set in the penumbra of temple cellae.78 The procession, the litter, the aesthetic of the imperial person and, as will be discussed later, the ruler’s immobility created a systematic analogy between the living emperor and a cult statue. The interpretation of the imperial litter as an Egyptian cult statue aedicula can be ascribed to Claudian’s polytheism. Nevertheless, even Honorius’s father, the most Christian emperor Theodosius I (r. 379–395), had himself depicted in the manner of a god (or god’s statue). The famous missorium of Theodosius (a large silver plate) was made in an imperial workshop in Constantinople as a gift for an important person from Hispania.79 On the plate, the ruler is depicted as larger than life-size, haloed, and framed by the same architectural element borrowed from temple facades that was at the centre of Diocletian’s palace; all features adopted from representations of the gods. No Christian symbol is present in the scene, but Tellus – the Roman personification of the Earth – reclines in a lower register, surrounded by flying putti. A similar reliance on 76 77

78 79

See the analysis in V. Ivanovici, Iconic Presences. Late Roman Consuls as Imperial Images, in: CONVI 6 (2019), 128–147. Ambr., exp. Ps. CXVIII  8.19 (M.  Petschenig [ed.], Ambrosius. Expositio psalmi CXVIII, CSEL 62, Vienna 1913, 161–162). See also Chrys., hom. s. mart. 3 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 50, Paris 1862, coll. 650B; my trans) Ἱμάτιόν ἐστι βασιλικὸν τὸ σῶμα τὸ δεσποτικόν./ “the garment is the emperor’s body.” On theophanies of the old gods being luminous, see Platt, 2011. On the missorium, see Kiilerich, 2000.

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Figure 17

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Constantius II as consul of 354. Drawing after 17th-century copy of manuscript illumination from the Calendar of Filocalus. MS Romanus 1, Barb. lat. 2154 fol. 13r in the Biblioteca Vaticana. (Drawing by Vladimir Ivanovici)

polytheistic imagery to establish the iconicity of the imperial person is evident in the best-known scene of adventus. As pointed out by Peter Brown, Constantius’s II visit of Rome in 357 represented an encounter between the new, Constantinopolitan notion of rulership

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and the old capital.80 In Rome, the Senatorial aristocracy had restored many of the city’s late Republican traditions after the emperors’ relocation.81 Thus, Constantius’s arrival could have produced a clash between the polytheistic, self-governing old capital and the autocratic, Christian ruler. Nevertheless, his triumph-inspired performance made full use of Rome’s polytheistic landscape, with the result that the hosts and guests were brought together by the ruler’s iconicity.82 Late Roman emperors had abandoned the triumphator’s chariot in favour of a cart (carpentum), similar to the ones used in the past for statues of the goddess Cybele. Enthroned in the jewelled wagon, Constantius displayed himself to a diverse audience.83 Wearing their ceremonial clothes, the Romans had brought with them the portraits of their ancestors.84 They had probably also dressed up the statues present on the path of the procession and opened the gates of temples to allow the gods to see the emperor, a custom still visible in the depiction of an adventus on the 303 Arch of Galerius in Thessaloniki.85 While these practices are also attested in triumphs, the bringing of the gods’ statues to the side of the street is particular to the adventus and made the same point as panegyrists of the time and Diocletian’s architect at Split did: the living emperor gained precedence over traditional gods and his living body over cult statues.86 This audience – composed of persons, ancestor portraits, and statues of the gods – was offered a marvellous sight as the statue-like emperor advanced, surrounded by an entourage of seemingly animated statues:

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82 83 84 85 86

P. Brown, The Making of Late Antiquity, Cambridge 1978, 115. On the culture of the city in this period, see C. Machado, Urban Space and Power in Late Antique Rome, Oxford 2006; id., Building the Past: Monuments and Memory in the Forum Romanum, in: Late Antiq. Archaeol.  3 (2006), 157–192; id., Religion as Antiquarianism: Pagan Dedications in Late Antique Rome, in: J. Bodel / M. Kajava (eds.), Dediche sacre nel mondo greco-romano: diffusione, funzioni, tipologie, Rome 2009, 331–354; id., City as Stage: Aristocratic Commemorations in Late Antique Rome, in: É. Rebillard / C. Sotinel (eds.), Les frontières du profane dans l’antiquité tardive, Rome 2010, 287–317. On the relationship triumph-adventus, see Dufraigne, 1994; Drake, 2014, 221–222; F. Goldbeck / J. Wienand (eds.), Der römische Triumph in Prinzipat und Spätantike, Berlin 2017. See the wagon depicted on the Arch of Constantine in Rome and on a recently discovered tetrarchic relief from Nicomedia cf. T.Ş. Ağtürk, A New Tetrarchic Relief from Nicomedia: Embracing Emperors, in: AJA 122 (2018), 411–426. Cf. Amm. Marc., r.g. 16.10.5 (Rolfe [ed.], 1935, 244). On the practice, see Pan. Lat. 5(8)4 (Nixon / Rodgers / Mynors [eds.], 1994, 278); MacCormack, 1981. Cf. also Pan. Lat. 8(5)19, 7(6)8.7–8, 12(11)7.5–7 and 19 (Nixon / Rodgers / Mynors [eds.], 1994).

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[scil. Constantius] sat alone upon a golden car in the resplendent blaze of various precious stones whose mingled glitter seemed to form a sort of second daylight. […] And there marched on either side twin lines of infantrymen with shields and crests gleaming with glittering light, clad in shining mail; and scattered among them were the full-armoured cavalry, all masked, furnished with protecting breastplates and girt with iron belts, so that you might have supposed them statues polished by the hand of Praxiteles, not men. […] And, as if the neck were in a vice, he [scil. Constantius] kept the gaze of his eyes straight ahead, and turned his face neither to the right nor to the left. Like a graven image of a man, he neither allowed his head to shake when the wheel of the carriage jolted, nor was he at any time seen to spit, wipe or rub his nose, or to move his hands.87

The living statues surrounding the emperor were the clibanarii, a cavalry corps characterised by the armour that covered them and their horses completely, like the cataphractarii we discussed in the previous chapter. The clibanarii are recurrently mentioned as living statues in fourth-century descriptions of adventus.88 Apart from them, whose prominence in the sources can be ascribed to their recent addition to the Roman army, other members of the cavalry accompanying Constantius might have worn the metal masks mentioned by Ammianus. As early as the first century, officers of the Roman cavalry wore masks during training sessions and parades.89 Spectacular, these masks often 87

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Amm. Marc., r.g. 16.10.2–10 (C.U. Clark [ed.], Ammiani Marcellini Rerum gestarum libri qui supersunt, Berlin 1910, 244–246; trans. Elsner, 1998, 34) insidebat aureo solus ipse carpento, fulgenti claritudine lapidum variorum, quo micante lux quaedam misceri videbatur alterna. eumque post antegressos multiplices alios, purpureis subtegminibus texti, circumdedere dracones, hastarum aureis gemmatisque summitatibus inligati, hiatu vasto perflabiles, et ideo velut ira perciti sibilantes, caudarumque volumina relinquentes in ventum. et incedebat hinc inde ordo geminus armatorum, clipeatus atque cristatus, corusco lumine radians, nitidis loricis indutus, sparsique catafracti equites (quos clibanarios dictitant) personati thoracum muniti tegminibus, et limbis ferreis cincti, ut Praxitelis manu polita crederes simulacra, non viros: quos laminarum circuli tenues, apti corporis flexibus ambiebant, per omnia membra diducti, ut quocumque artus necessitas commovisset, vestitus congrueret, iunctura cohaerenter aptata. Augustus itaque faustis vocibus appellatus, non montium litorumque intonante fragore cohorruit, talem se tamque immobilem, qualis in provinciis suis visebatur, ostendens. nam et corpus perhumile curvabat, portas ingrediens celsas, et velut collo munito, rectam aciem luminum tendens, nec dextra vultum nec laeva flectebat, et (tamquam figmentum hominis) nec cum rota concuteret nutans, nec spuens, aut os aut nasum tergens vel fricans, manumve agitans visus est umquam. E.g., Claudian., VI cons. 564–577 (Dewar [ed.], 1996, 38). On Roman cavalry equipment, see M.C.  Bishop / J.C.  Coulston, Roman Military Equipment from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome, London 2006. On masks cavalry, see M. Kohlert, Zur Entwicklung, Funktion und Genesis römischer Gesichtsmasken in Thrakien und Niedermösien, in: WZ(B) 25 (1976), 509–516; id., Bemerkungen zur Typologie und Chronologie römischer Gesichtsmasken, in: AAH 29 (1981), 393–401; id., Maske als Porträt? Funktionelle und ästhetische Besonderheiten der römischen Gesichtsmasken, in: WZ(B) 31

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reproduced physiognomic features and invited symbolic associations to statues. (see Fig. 18) Thanks to recent reconstructions of Roman armour and of the chromatics of statuary, we can now better appreciate the similarities between the two, especially in the case of armours that covered the face.90 Thus, the immobile emperor sitting on the chariot appeared at the centre of a similarly statuesque group with the scene creating, as put by Ramsey MacMullen, a tableau vivant.91 A second key venue of self-presentation for Christian emperors was the circus balcony. The presence of the ruler in the balcony grew in importance over time, as late Roman rulers tended to travel less and remain within the confines of their palaces. The reason behind this reluctance to show themselves is given by Synesius (d. ca. 414), a classically trained sophist who later became bishop of Ptolemais in Cyrenaica, Libya.92 Writing to emperor Arcadius (r. 395–408), Synesius pointed out that “since the ceremonial was introduced around emperors, you hide like lizards that rarely come outside towards the heat of the sun, so that you are not revealed as humans to other humans.”93 This self-isolation

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(1982), 229–232; M. Junkelmann, Reiter wie Statuen aus Erz, Mainz 1996. On the parades, see A. Busetto, War as Training, War as Spectacle: The hippika gymnasia from Xenophon to Arrian, in: G. Lee / H. Whittaker / G. Wrightson (eds.), Ancient Warfare: Introducing Current Research, Newcastle 2015, 147–171. For the reconstructed aesthetic of statuary, see S. Haag / V. Brinkmann / U. Koch-Brinkmann (eds.), Bunte Götter: Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur, Vienna 2012; V.  Brinkmann, Art of Many Colors: Classical Statues in their Original Appearance, in: S. Settis / A. Anguissola / D.  Gasparotto (eds.), Serial/Portable Classic: Multiplying Art in Greece and Rome, Milan 2015, 95–100; A. Skovmøller, Facing the Colours of Roman Portraiture, Berlin 2020. Armours were reconstructed by various museums. R. MacMullen, Some Pictures in Ammianus Marcellinus, in: ArtB 46 (1964), 435–455. On “animate immobility” and its symbolism, see Miller, The Corporeal, 2009, 136–142. On Synesius, see J. Bregman, Synesius of Cyrene: Philosopher-Bishop, TCH 2, Berkeley 1982. Synes., regn. 15.7 (J. Lamoureux / N. Aujoulat [eds.], Synésios de Cyrène. Tome V: Opuscules II. Collection des Universités de France, Paris 2008, 112–113; trans. C. Bordino) Νῦν οὖν ἆρ’ ἄμεινον πράττετε, ἀφ’ οὗ περὶ τοὺς βασιλέας ἡ τελετὴ συνέστη, καὶ θαλαμεύεσθε καθάπερ αἱ σαῦραι μόλις, εἴ πῃ, πρὸς τὴν εἵλην ἐκκύπτουσαι, μὴ φωραθείητε ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὄντες ἄνθρωποι; cf. also Chrys., hom. I 1 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 63, Paris 1862, coll. 469; trans. W. Mayer / P. Allen, John Chrysostom, London 2000, 87), who praises the empress that she joined the people of the capital during a procession with relics and “she allowed herself to be seen by the crowd at the midst of the vast spectacle – she upon whom it’s forbidden for even all the eunuchs who serve in the imperial palace to gaze. Instead, her desire for the martyrs, the tyranny and flame of love persuaded her to cast of all her masks …”/ καὶ ἐν μέσῳ θεάτρῳ τοσούτῳ φαινομένη δήμῳ, ἣν οὐδὲ εὐνούχοις ἅπασι τοῖς ἐν ταῖς βασιλικαῖς στρεφομένοις αὐλαῖς θέμις ἰδεῖν; Ἀλλ’ ὁ τῶν μαρτύρων πόθος καὶ ἡ τυραννὶς καὶ ἡ τῆς ἀγάπης φλὸξ ἅπαντα ταῦτα τὰ προσωπεῖα ῥῖψαι ἀνέπεισε, καὶ γυμνῇ τῇ προθυμίᾳ τὸν ζῆλον ἐπιδείξασθαι τὸν περὶ τοὺς ἁγίους μάρτυρας.

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Figure 18

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Cavalry mask with protomes showing two men and three women pertaining to the cult of Bacchus. Iron and bronze with silver veneer, late 1st century, Nijmegen. Collection Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen, on loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Photo: Thijn van de Ven)

invested moments of public appearance with a theophanic quality that was catalysed through the careful staging of each detail of the performance. Older practices – such as the coming to the circus loggia dressed in purple and with an entourage wearing white for contrast – were now perfected.94 As a result, 94

On this strategy in late Republican/early imperial times, see C.P. Jones, Processional Color, in: Bergmann / Kondoleon (eds.), 1999, 247–257, 249.

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early Byzantine emperors wore an increasingly peculiar costume, in both form and chromatic, and utilised guards wearing white for contrast, selected on account of their beauty for a “cheerleader effect.”95 The loggias in the main circuses (or hippodromes) in Rome and Constantinople are known from several representations. These indicate that the imperial balconies borrowed the outlook of temples, with them framing the ruler in a similar manner to Diocletian’s palace in Split, thus putting him in the position of a cult statue. In Rome, the imperial balcony grew out of the platform on which statues of the gods had traditionally been placed to witness the games. Remade by Trajan, the pulvinar was shaped like a tetrastyle temple.96 The Constantinopolitan counterpart, the kathisma, lacked the triangular pediment but retained its framing quality.97 (see Fig. 19) Connected directly to the imperial palace, the kathisma allowed emperors to display themselves to the people gathered in the hippodrome, who, throughout Byzantine history, praised the ruler’s appearance as a ‘sunrise’, thus as a sort of luminous theophany reminiscent of the ruler’s impersonation of Sol during the early centuries CE.98 As we have just seen, two of the main venues of imperial self-presentation of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries – the adventus and the circus balcony – had the ruler appear as a sort of animated cult statue, framed by spaces that imitated temples and enveloped in an aesthetic of light that spoke of revelation. Such strategies rendered the ruler statue-like over time and made interaction with him a mainly visual experience. This is best noticeable in Justin II’s (r. 565–574) reception of foreign emissaries.99 Sitting on a golden throne placed 95

96 97 98 99

On the beauty of the guards, see Synes., regn. 16.6–7 (Lamoureux / Aujoulat [eds.], 2008, 116); Cor., in laud. 3.194–205 (Cameron [ed.], 1976, 66–67). Fol.  16 in the sixth-century Vienna Genesis (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. theol. gr. 31) shows the Philistine King Abimelech in the guise of a Byzantine emperor of the time, with blonde guards in splendid attire. On the “cheerleader effect” that makes individuals appear more attractive when displayed together with attractive people, see D. Walker / E. Vul, Hierarchical Encoding Makes Individuals in a Group Seem More Attractive, in: Psychol. Sci. 25 (2013), 230–235; Y. van Osch / I. Blanken / M.H.J. Meijs / J. van Wolferen, A Groups Physical Attractiveness is Greater Than the Average Attractiveness of Its Members: The Group Attractiveness Effect, in: PSPB 41 (2015), 559–574. On the pulvinar’s history and cultic implications, see C. Van Den Berg, The ‘Pulvinar’ in Roman Culture, in: TAPA 138 (2008), 239–273. On it, see L. Safran, Points of View: The Theodosian Obelisk Base in Context, in: GRBS 34 (1993), 409–435. On this chant, see Kantorowicz, 1963, esp. 155. Described by Cor., in laud. 3.194–205 (Cameron [ed.], 1976, 66–67) and discussed by A. Cameron, The Artistic Patronage of Justin II, in: Byz. 50 (1980), 62–84; M. Featherstone, The Great Palace as Reflected in De Ceremoniis, in: F.A. Bauer (ed.), Visualisierungen von

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Figure 19

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Relief at the base of the Obelisk of Theodosius showing Theodosius (r. 379–395) in the Hippodrome loggia in Constantinople next to Valentinian II (to his left) and his sons and future emperors of the West and East, Honorius and Arcadius (to his right). Members of the guard, court, and high society are depicted around, while representatives of barbarian tribes kneel below bringing tribute. Marble, 390, Constantinople. (Photo: © The Byzantine Legacy)

under a canopy, wearing gold and purple, and surrounded by beautiful guards, Justin neither flinched nor addressed the Avar embassy.100 The reception was, in fact, the privilege of gazing at the ruler, displayed in the Chrysotriklinos as a living image of the divine.101 Thus, at least for some people, the palace in Constantinople had come to function in the same way as ancient temples did, namely as a place where access to the cella and sight of the anthropomorphic, animated image of the divine represented the apex of the experience.

Herrschaft: frühmittelalterliche Residenzen, Gestalt und Zeremoniell. Internationales Kolloquium 3./4. Juni 2004 in Istanbul, Istanbul 2006, 47–60 (50–55); Carile, 2012, 173–176. 100 On emperors under ciboria and the symbolism of the stance, see G. Hornbostel-Hüttner, Studien zur römischen Nischenarchitektur, Leiden 1979, 51–52. 101 On the audience as a theophany replete with cosmic analogies, see Carile, 2012, 175.

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Established through personal merits in the early centuries CE and expanded through carefully choreographed displays, the iconicity of living rulers became fully institutionalised at the dawn of the Byzantine era. In the process, the iconic quality passed from the person of the ruler to the artifices that gave his body its revelatory quality. Seeking to preserve this effect, early Byzantine rulers backed themselves into a corner, with their isolation and reliance on strategies eventually annulling their individuality, as we have seen from the events following the death of Anastasius.102 Few would manage to work their way out of this corner, with Justinian’s II adventure showing both determination and ingenuity in ‘working the system.’103 His gold nose reflected imperial iconicity even better than his flesh one, thus his mutilation could not be held against him. Over time, iconicity came to play such a central role in Byzantine rulership that Manuel Komnenos (r. 1143–1180) imprisoned Andronikos Komnenos (r. 1183–1185) due to “his constant outspokenness and the fact that he excelled most men in bodily strength; his perfect physique was worthy of empire.”104 As our source goes on to point out: Should there exist someone endowed with the beauty of a statue and the lyrical eloquence of a nightingale in song, gifted, moreover, with ready wit, then the wearer of the crown can neither sleep nor rest, but his sleep is interrupted, his voluptuousness suppressed, his appetite for pleasure lost, and he is filled with grave apprehensions; with wicked tongue he curses the creator nature for fashioning others suitable to rule and for not making him the first and last and the fairest of men.105

102 See Dagron, 1996; S. Elm, Eutropius the Eunuch – An Icon of Ugliness, in: Bacci / Ivanovici (eds.), 2019, online. MacMullen, 1964, 439 spoke of emperors being “increasingly forced into an ideal impersonal mold.” 103 See above, p. xxv n. 1. 104 Nik. Chon. (d. 1217), h. 3 (J.L.  van  Dieten [ed.], Nicetae Choniatae Historia. Pars Prior: Praefationem et textum continensed, Berlin 1975, 103; trans. H.J. Magoulias [trans.], O, City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates, Detroit 1984, 59) οὐδὲν δὲ ἧττον τὸ ἐλευθεροστομεῖν ἀεὶ καὶ τὸ τῇ ῥώμῃ τῶν πολλῶν διαφέρειν καὶ ἡ εὖ ἔχουσα πλάσις τοῦ σώματος ἀξία οὖσα τοῦ τυραννεῖν καὶ τὸ τοῦ φρονήματος ἀταπείνωτον. 105 Ibid., 4 (Van Dieten [ed.], 1975, 143; Magoulias [trans.], 1984, 81) κἂν εἴη τις τὸ κάλλος ἀγαλματίας καὶ τὴν γλῶτταν ὡς ὄρνις μουσηγέτης ἐστόμωται, κἂν τὸ ἦθος ὁρῷτο εὐτράπελος, οὐκ ἐᾷ καθεύδειν τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ στέφους οὐδ’ ἠρεμεῖν, ἀλλὰ γίνεται τούτῳ τῶν ὕπνων ἐγκοπή, τῆς τρυφῆς ἀνατροπή, ἡδονῆς ὑφαίρεσις, φροντίδων ὑπόθεσις· καὶ κακῶς λέγων εὐλογεῖ τὴν φύσιν τὴν πλάστριαν, ὅτι καὶ ἑτέρους εἰς τὸ ἄρχειν ἐπιδόξους ἐπαλαμήσατο καὶ μὴ πρῶτον αὐτὸν καὶ ὕστατον κάλλιστον ἀνθρώπων ἐφύτευσεν.

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Thus, in the eastern continuation of the Roman Empire, physical beauty, stature, and eloquence continued to recommend one for the throne since one of the main functions of the ruler was to be Christ’s statue on Earth. At this point, a question arises. How could this quality of rulers, which drew directly on polytheistic worship mediated by statues, appear legitimate for them as images of Christ? The answer appears related to the way in which Romans of the fourth century came to envision the divine. During this century of transition, the image of the divine came to be given by rulers rather than by statues.106 This is indicated by imperial panegyrists praising rulers as more powerful than the gods; by Diocletian’s mausoleum dwarfing the temple of Jupiter in Split; by the gods’ statues being brought to the side of the Via Triumphalis to ‘see’ the living rulers; and by Christ’s ‘adoption’ of the imperial look. The immobile but living emperor became the more credible image of the divine, with the reified bodies of rulers gaining precedence over animated statues. Assimilated into the ruler’s performance, the statue motif was carried into the hybrid Roman-Christian culture that began to form in the fourth century. In addition, since as early as the third century, living Christians came to be likened to statues, as we will see in the following chapters. 2.4

Conclusions

Roman emperors gradually permanentised the iconicity that Republican generals enjoyed during triumphal celebrations. While the Republican reference to Jupiter was maintained, other forms of the divine – Sol, Hercules, Christ – were added over time to the imperial repertoire. Along with this diversification of divine counterparts, the ways in which rulers obtained their divinity also multiplied. To the Homeric, achievement-rooted way of attaining divinity, emperors added divine election and the embodying of deified virtues. Throughout this process, which would lead to rulers becoming images of Christ, the analogy to statues remained essential. The red body paint used by Republican generals to look like Jupiter’s cult statue was replaced by more complex mises-enscène that, nevertheless, functioned in the same manner, with them likening the emperor to statues. From palaces that imitated the shape and aesthetic of temples, emperors emerged in the guise of the gods. Their audiences, thus, could catch a glimpse of the splendour that the myths and stories had attributed to the Olympians and which, for the longest time, cult statues had reproduced in the human world. Like their Hellenistic predecessors, Roman rulers 106 As argued already by Brown, The World, 1971, 101.

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“played the god” in increasingly complex performances. These both reflected and stimulated the theatricalisation of Roman social interaction that we discussed in the previous chapter. All this is old news. Already in 1963, Ernst Kantorowicz was pointing out that “The Christian emperor – the supreme God’s hyparchos [scil. prefect] on earth, next to Christ as God’s hyparchos in heaven – became the christomimetes [scil. imitator of Christ] above all others, that is, the one imitating and impersonating, even ceremoniously staging, Christ, the ruler of the universe.”107 What I tried to show in this sketch of imperial self-presentation was that the iconic quality of Roman and early Byzantine rulers was shaped by statue worship, that their image-like quality had ancient roots, and that the iconic quality of emperors had become natural to Romans. The complementarity existing between private and imperial representations in forma deorum – with private individuals avoiding to show themselves in the guise of Jupiter or Sol, the rulers’ preferred associations – attests to imperial iconicity being one aspect of a wider cultural phenomenon.108 By providing a coherent, omnipresent, and durable expression of iconicity, emperors championed a process that characterised the whole of Roman society.109 It is safe to assume that the various manifestations taken by this belief in the human potential to embody the divine reinforced, legitimised, and influenced each other. Thus, each context where iconicity manifests should be studied against the wider background represented by self-presentation in Roman culture and in relation to the imperial expression of the phenomenon, which represented its most visible and coherent image across the empire. I will now turn to a formula of iconic living that was closely related, if aesthetically opposed, to the imperial one, namely that of early Christian martyrs.

107 Kantorowicz, 1963, 151. 108 On private persons, see Wrede, 1981, 160–164; A. Alexandridis, Die Frauen des römischen Kaiserhauses. Eine Untersuchung ihrer bildlichen Darstellung von Livia bis Iulia Domna, Mainz 2004, 83. 109 J. Rüpke, Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion, Princeton 2018, 211 pointed out the relationship between imperial religious actions and popular ones.

Chapter 3

Martyrs For inasmuch as the Apostle Paul says again, ‘Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?’ – even although love urged us less to bring help to the brethren, yet in this place we must have considered that it was the temples of God which were taken captive, and that we ought not by long inactivity and neglect of their suffering to allow the temples of God to be long captive, but to strive with what powers we can, and to act quickly by our obedience, to deserve well of Christ our Judge and Lord and God. For as the Apostle Paul says, ‘As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ,’ Christ is to be contemplated in our captive brethren.1

This chapter argues that the establishing of the imperial cult stimulated the development of a particular type of iconic individual within Christian communities. By having those living within the confines of the empire sacrifice to the gods for the welfare of the emperor, the state forced Christianity’s radicalisation. Those who refused to sacrifice and were therefore punished through imprisonment and torture (i.e., confessors), or death (i.e., martyrs), became iconic through suffering, as indicated by Paul. Their struggles were seen as mirroring those of Jesus, with martyrs putting on a performance that allowed other Christians to witness his sufferings.2 In this, martyrs gained a performative iconic quality. In addition, since it was believed that the Holy Spirit 1 Cypr., ep. 62.3 (W. de Hartel [ed.], S. Thasci Caecili Cypriani Opera Omnia. Vol. 3, CSEL 3/2, Vienna 1871, 699; trans. ANF  5, 200) Nam cum denuo apostolus Paulos dicat: nescitis quia templum Dei estis et spiritus Dei habitat in vobis? etiamsi caritas minus adegerit ad opem fratribus ferendam, considerandum tamen hoc in loco fuit Dei templa esse quae capta sunt, nec pati nos longa cessatione et neglecto dolore debere ut diu Dei templa captiva sunt, sed quibus possumus elaborare viribus et velociter gerere ut Christum iudicem et Dominum Deum nostrum promereamur obsequiis nostris. Nam cum dicat Paulus apostolus: quotquot in Christo baptizati estis, Christum induistis, in captivis fratribus nostris contemplandus est Christus  … Cyprian refers here to Christians kidnapped by barbarian tribes and seeks to mobilise communities to donate for their ransom. To this end, he identifies the prisoners as confessors and summarizes the reasons why confessors were to be appreciated. 2 On imitatio christi in early Christianity and martyrdom, see M.  Pellegrino, L’imitation du Christ dans les actes des martyrs, in: La Vie Spirituelle  98 (1958), 38–54; M.  Franzmann, Imitatio Christi: Copying the Death of the Founder and Gaining Paradise, in: Z.  Rodgers / M. Daly-Denton / A. Fitzpatrick McKinley (eds.), A Wandering Galilean: Essays in Honour of Seán Freyne, SJSJ 132, Leiden 2009, 370–372; C.R. Moss, The Other Christs: Imitating Jesus in Ancient Christian Ideologies of Martyrdom, New York 2010; M. Taveirne, Das Martyrium als imitatio Christi: Die literarische Gestaltung der spätantiken Märtyrerakten und passionen nach der Passion Christi, in: ZAC 18 (2014), 167–203.

© Brill Schöningh, 2023 | doi:10.30965/9783657790821_004

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inhabited confessors and Christ inhabited martyrs, they came to be perceived as material vessels of the divine, akin to temples and cult statues. The fragment I quoted in the beginning of this chapter attests to both the iconic and vessellike quality ascribed to confessors, as well as to the central role Paul’s writings played in shaping the image of martyrs as living temples and persons who “put on” Christ. Although in functioning as material images and vessels of the divine martyrs drew close to cult statues, Christians writing before 313 preferred the analogy of the ‘temple’ because of the central role statues played in the sacrifices the martyrs refused to perform. Despite a reluctance to compare martyrs to statues, their presentation as living temples and insistence that they display the divine created an obvious association. Christian martyrdom provides a clear expression of the iconic phenomenon because it documents the competition between cult statues and living persons, the crediting of the latter with mediatory functions of the former, and the transfer of those functions from living bodies to other forms of interaction with the divine (in this case, relics).3 After discussing Paul’s concept of iconic living, which shaped the perception of martyrs during the first three centuries, I address why martyrs were seen as images of the divine and how their iconicity manifested. Finally, I argue that after 313, the martyrs’ iconicity was transferred to other types of Christian overachievers and to relics.4

3 H.D.  Betz, Hero Worship and Christian Beliefs: Observations from the History of Religion on Philostratus’s Heroikos, in: E. Bradshaw Aitken / J.K. Berenson Maclean (eds.), Philostratus’s Heroikos: Religion and Cultural Identity in the Third Century  C.E., Atlanta 2004, 25–47; J.P. Hershbell, Philostratus’s Heroikos and Early Christianity: Heroes, Saints, and Martyrs, in: Bradshaw Aitken / Berenson Maclean (eds.), 2004, 169–179; J.C. Skedros, The Heroikos and Popular Christianity in the Third Century CE, in: Bradshaw Aitken / Berenson Maclean (eds.), 2004, 181–193 analysed martyrs in relationship with the notion of “divine men.” 4 For an overview of early Christian martyrdom, the cult of martyrs, and relics, see H. Delehaye, Les origines du culte des martyrs, Brussels 1933; V.  Saxer, Morts martyrs reliques en Afrique chrétienne aux premiers siècles: les témoignages de Tertullien, Cyprien et Augustin à la lumière de l’archéologie, Paris 1980; L.  Grig, Making Martyrs in Late Antiquity, London 2004; Moss, 2010. I focus here on pre-313 accounts because later ones reflect a new dynamic between Christianity and Roman society.

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3.1

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Paul’s Concept of Iconic Living

As mentioned previously, Christians in Corinth complained about how Paul’s feeble body did not suggest that he was the representative for an omnipotent god. Since, after all, he preached about the same god who had given Moses his luminous face, Paul was asked by some of the Corinthian Christians to showcase similar corporeal signs. The Apostle’s response to the Corinthians would shape the early Christian definition of iconicity: “He [scil. Christ] said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for My power in infirmity is perfected;’ most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of the Christ may rest on me.”5 Similar to priests of Atargatis, Cybele, or Isis, who altered their bodies to proclaim their devotion, Paul’s scarred body attested to the power of his god. Contravening Jewish and Graeco-Roman religious practices, which required physical integrity for priestly functions, this new type of iconicity was rooted in a rhetoric of power, where a follower’s willingness to suffer for their faith attested to the power of the deity.6 By identifying resistance to suffering as the marker of Christ’s indwelling presence, Paul created the conditions for an iconic appreciation of the martyrs who followed. Because Jesus had suffered, undergoing sufferings for their righteousness likened Christians to their god. As Paul put it, his sufferings resulted in him being “co-crucified with Christ.”7 Paul’s iconicity was not solely a performative matter because his troubles left traces on his body, which he identified as “the marks of Jesus.”8 Since he introduced Jesus as “the image of the invisible God,”9 his imitation of Jesus turned Paul into an image of the image, with Paul thus claiming a function that was not unlike that of a cult image. 5 2 Cor 12:9 καὶ εἴρηκέν μοι· Ἀρκεῖ σοι ἡ χάρις μου ἡ γὰρ δύναμις μου ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ τελειοῦται ἥδιστα οὖν μᾶλλον καυχήσομαι ἐν ταῖς ἀσθενείαις μου· ἵνα ἐπισκηνώσῃ ἐπ’ ἐμὲ ἡ δύναμις τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 6 On corporeal integrity, see Lev  21:17 and Plu., q.r. 73 (F.C.  Babbitt [ed. / trans.], Plutarch. Moralia. Vol. 4: Roman Questions. Greek Questions. Greek and Roman Parallel Stories. On the Fortune of the Romans. On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander. Were the Athenians More Famous in War or in Wisdom?, LCL 305, Cambridge 1962, 110), respectively. 7 Gal 2:20, quoted above, p. 18 n. 71. 8 Gal 6:17 Τοῦ λοιποῦ κόπους μοι μηδεὶς παρεχέτω, ἐγὼ γὰρ τὰ στίγματα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματί μου βαστάζω. / “Let no one give me trouble, for I bear the scars of the Lord Jesus in my body.” On Paul’s and others’ stigmata hiera, see S. Elm, Pierced by Bronze Needles: Anti-Montanist Charges of Ritual Stigmatization in their Fourth-century Context, in: JECS 4 (1996), 409–439; C. Rainier (ed.), Ancient Marks: The Sacred Origins of Tattoos and Body Marking, San Rafael 2004. 9 Col 1:15 εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου.

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Towards the end of the first century, the author of Revelations confirmed the extraordinary status of those who suffered and died for the faith. In stating that martyrs will share Christ’s throne in heaven, he promised martyrs a status like that of the Son of God, which confirmed Paul’s earlier claim that he no longer lives, and instead, Christ lives inside him.10 Nevertheless, Paul’s notion of iconicity was not restricted to those who suffered. By presenting Jesus as the second Adam and identifying baptism as the mechanism through which one “put on” Christ, the Apostle extended Jesus’s iconic status – as the human image of God – to his baptised followers.11 This “putting on” occurred by imitating his behaviour in daily life, which established Christianity as a “mimetic movement.”12 Tribulations were signs of one’s successful imitation since Jesus, too, had suffered. For this reason, Paul’s sufferings were “his pride.”13 Those who did not get to know Jesus during his life on Earth could ‘see’ him in his imitators. These had initially been the apostles who, Paul said, had been “conformed to the image of the Son.”14 Their audiences were required to imitate them on account of their own imitation of Jesus. Paul’s call to “imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” – a leitmotif of the writings attributed to him – created what Van Kooten called a “mimetic chain.”15 The human links in this performative chain were, I argue, iconic, as they became living images of God both through their daily lives and, especially, through their sufferings. Rather than symbolic, Paul’s references to the body and its relationship with the divine

10 11

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Rev 3:21. See also A. Phil. (A.A.R. Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], Atti e Passioni dei Martiri, Milan 1987, 308). Unless otherwise indicated, all martyr Acta references are from the edition by Bastiaensen et al., 1987. On baptism, see Gal  3:27. On its effects, see 1 Cor  15:22; J.D.G.  Dunn, Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, London ²1989, 114–121. Paul’s decision to extend the iconic status of Jesus to His followers fits a process M. Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, New York 1947 called “the routinization of charisma.” Van Kooten, 2008, 214. See Ign., Eph. 1.1 (P.-T. Camelot [ed.], Ignace d’Antioche, Polycarpe de Smyrne, Lettres, Martyre de Polycarpe, SC 10bis, Paris 1969, 56, my trans.) μιμηταὶ ὄντες θεοῦ / “You are imitators of God”; Mart. Lugd. 2.2 (Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], 1987, 90, my trans.) ζηλωταὶ καὶ μιμηταὶ Χριστοῦ / “[martyrs are] emulators and imitators of Christ.”. 2 Cor  12:9–10; M.J.  Gorman, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology, Grand Rapids 2009, 92; V.  Rabens, Pneuma and the Beholding of God: Reading Paul in the Context of Philonic Mystical Traditions, in: J.  Frey / J.R.  Levison (eds.), The Holy Spirit, Inspiration, and the Cultures of Antiquity: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Berlin 2014, 293–330 (321–322). Rom 8:29 συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ Υἱοῦ; Rabens, 2014. 1 Cor 11:1 cf. also 4:16, 1 Thes 1:6; 2 Thes 3:7; 1 Tim 1:16; Phil 3:17. See Van Kooten, 2008, 214.

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were ‘technical’, with recent researchers emphasising the literalness of his statements regarding the body. Jane Heath demonstrated that the Apostle’s concept of conformation to God’s image was based on contemporary belief in the power of the gaze to transform one into the object of sight.16 By keeping one’s gaze fixed on Christ (or on his imitators) and imitating his behaviour, “we all, with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord beholding in a mirror, to the same image are being transformed, from glory to glory.”17 Self-transformation through the contemplation of exemplary figures was a key principle of paideia, which Paul adapted for Christian use by substituting exempla with Jesus and his imitators. As we have seen, this process of spiritual conformation was supposed to reflect through one’s body. Nevertheless, as indicated by his terminology, Paul did not expect one to become a doppelgänger of Jesus. By using εἰκών rather than μορφή when describing the type of image of the divine Christians would become, Paul conceded a loose visual correspondence, as μορφή denoted bodily shape while εἰκών stood for a generic notion of image. This flexible notion of Christ-like living allowed Paul to liken his tribulations to the Crucifixion and establish as iconic the persons suffering for the faith. Thus, Paul called Christians to become performative images of Christ by imitating his behaviour, like the religious overachievers of other contemporary cults, thus establishing Christianity as a mimetic movement where one’s successful imitation of their god was indicated by sufferings. Roman authorities gave Paul’s concept of iconic living a wider spread than the Apostle could have hoped. By persecuting the followers of Jesus and targeting the heads of their communities, Roman authorities allowed the martyrs to complete their imitation by dying. 3.2

Performing Christ in the Arena

Being executed for worshipping Christ shifted one’s iconic quality from performative to theophanic. As martyrs were “co-crucified with Christ” in imperial arenas, miracles such as superhuman resistance to pain, an otherworldly light, or a heavenly odour manifested through their bodies.18 This turn towards the 16 17 18

J.M.F. Heath, Paul’s Visual Piety: The Metamorphosis of the Beholder, Oxford 2013. 2 Cor  3:18 ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες ἀνακεκαλυμμένῳ προσώπῳ τὴν δόξαν κυρίου κατοπτριζόμενοι τὴν αὐτὴν εἰκόνα μεταμορφούμεθα ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν καθάπερ ἀπὸ κυρίου πνεύματος. See Rabens, 2014, with bibl. The notion of resistance is recurrent in martyr Acta. On luminosity, see Mart. Pion. 4.2, 22.3; Pass. Perp. 18.1; Mart. Mar. 9.2 (H. Musurillo [ed. / trans.], The Acts of the Christian

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miraculous in Christian accounts of martyrdom might have been imposed by the need to counteract the debasing ways in which most of them were put to death. Roman authorities controlled how martyrs died. Many Christians were executed as noxii – the lowest category of prisoner – and thus not allowed to interact with the audience.19 Some of the ways in which they were executed included being dressed in tar-covered garments and burned, as well as being tied to poles to be consumed by animals.20 (see Fig. 20) These ways to die were considered degrading and prevented Christians from showcasing courage. The rare opportunity to interact with the audience was also problematic because, while it allowed martyrs to stress the Christ-like dimension of their sufferings through the imitation of Jesus’s gestures and words, freedom of movement would have also implied active involvement in the games.21 Given the polytheistic component of the spectacles and their reliance on the victims’ cooperation, martyrs needed to make clear their refusal to participate. Even courage had to be expressed in ways that contravened the models accepted by Romans so as not to be mistaken for playing along. Thus, martyrs often displayed what Romans considered to be dishonouring behaviour: refusing to perform or to defend themselves, or seeking out a quick death.22 To compensate, Christian communities developed their own perspective on the phenomenon and taught their members to recognise the martyrs’ behaviour as courageous and Christ-like.23 The focus fell on what could be embellished, namely resilience to pain and divine manifestations, elements that were ultimately in the eye of the beholder. As a result, Christians and non-Christians in the audience ‘saw’ different events. While non-Christians witnessed the punishing of religious fanatics who behaved in a contemptible manner, Christians held martyrdom to be organised by God. According to Christian authors of the time, God used Roman authorities as a tool to ensure that these overachievers could complete their imitation of Jesus in front of an audience composed of their communities, angels, and

19 20 21 22 23

Martyrs, Oxford 1972, 206); Mart. Mont. 4.2 (Musurillo [ed.], 1972, 216); A.  Paul. 3.34 (Schmidt [ed.], 1904). On odour, see Mart. Poly. 15; Mart. Lugd. 1.35; Harvey, 2006, 11–21. Kyle, 1998. Tac., ann. 15.44.4 (M. Owen / I. Gildenhard [eds. / trans.], Tacitus, Annals, 15.20–23, 33–45. Latin Text, Study Aids with Vocabulary, and Commentary, Cambridge 2013, 70). On imitating Christ, see Acts 7:60 and Mart Lugd. 2.5 cf. Luke 23:34; Franzmann, 2009, 378. Mart. Poly. 3.2; Mart. Pion. 6.3–4.; Pass. Perp. 18.4; Mart. Pion. 2.4, 6.3, 15.7 and 18.4. E.g., Prud., perist. 2.381–388 (M.P. Cunningham [ed.], Aurelii Prudentii Clementis Carmina, CCSL 126, Turnhout 1966, 270).

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Figure 20

Pottery bowl with scene of damnatio ad bestias showing a man tied to a pole and exposed to a male lion. Terra sigillata, ca. 350–430, 18.2 cm diameter, produced in north Africa. Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (inv. no. 68/28). (Photo: Peter Gaul)

Himself.24 Blandina’s execution illustrates this idea. To non-Christians present in the amphitheatre of Vienne (Lyon) in 177, the execution of the young maid – where persecutors tied her to a pole in cruciform posture and exposed her to animals – would have likely referenced Andromeda. According to legend, Andromeda had been sacrificed to a sea monster and saved by Perseus in the nick of time. A popular topic in early imperial art, the episode was often represented as a young girl chained to a rock in cruciform pose, as depicted in a splendid mural from Boscotrecase, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. (see Fig. 21) 24

Pass. Perp. 10.8; Cypr., ep. 58.8 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 663–664); Mart. Lugd. 1.27; Mart. Poly. 14; Gr. Nyss., mart. (O. Lendl [ed.], Gregory of Nyssa. Sermones. Pars II, GNO 10/1, Leiden 1990, 137–142); E. Ferguson, The Early Church at Work and Worship. Vol. 2: Catechesis, Baptism, Eschatology, and Martyrdom, Cambridge 2014, 271 n. 19.

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Mural showing Andromeda chained to a rock as Perseus and the sea monster approach. Fresco, late 1st century, from the villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 20.192.16)

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In contrast to Roman perceptions, the Christians in Vienne had been taught to recognise Christ in Blandina’s struggle: She seemed to hang in there in the form of a cross, and by her fervent prayer she aroused intense enthusiasm in those who were undergoing their ordeal, for in their torment with their physical eyes they saw in the person of their sister Him who was crucified for them …25

The editor of her Acta goes on to tell us that by “putting on Christ, that mighty and invincible athlete,” Blandina became an inspiration for her brethren.26 Her determination allowed the Christians in the audience to see “with their physical eyes” the Crucifixion of Jesus; as Paul’s sufferings in Galatia did for the local Christians.27 Because imitation was credited in Antiquity with rendering one identical to their model and because Christian worshippers believed martyrs to have Christ inside their bodies (to be discussed later), it was difficult to assess where the mortal person ended and the god began. Some communities took measures to distinguish between martyrs and Christ. In the opening of the Passio of Polycarp of Smyrna (d. 155), the author stressed that “we revere [scil. Jesus] as the Son of God, whereas we love the martyrs as the disciples and imitators of the Lord.”28 Despite this formal separation between martyrs and Christ, the presence of Christ inside martyrs during their final moments consecrated their bodies and transformed their remains into relics. Concomitantly, cohabitation with the Holy Spirit and Christ in one’s body added a different type of iconicity to the performative one.

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Mart. Lugd. 1.41 (Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], 1987, 80; Musurillo [trans.], 1972, 75) ἣ καὶ διὰ τοῦ βλέπεσθαι σταυροῦ σχήματι κρεμαμένη διὰ τῆς εὐτόνου προσευχῆς πολλὴν προθυμίαν τοῖς ἀγωνιζομένοις ἐνεποίει, βλεπόντων αὐτῶν ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι καὶ τοῖς ἔξωθεν ὀφθαλμοῖς διὰ τῆς ἀδελφῆς τὸν ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἐσταυρωμένον. Mart. Lugd. 1.42 (Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], 1987, 80; Musurillo [trans.], 1972, 75) μέγαν καὶ ἀκαταγώνιστον ἀθλητὴν Χριστὸν ἐνδεδυμένη. By using the verb ἐνδύω, the editor attests to the role played by Paul’s concepts in perceiving Blandina as iconic. On Paul, see Gal 3:1; S.A. Cummins, Paul and the Crucified Christ in Antioch: Maccabean Martyrdom and Galatians 1 and 2, SNTSMS 114, Cambridge 2001, 102. Mart. Poly. 17.3 (Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], 1987, 26; Musurillo [trans.], 1972, 17) τοῦτον μὲν γὰρ υἱὸν ὄντα τοῦ θεοῦ προσκυνοῦμεν, τοὺς δὲ μάρτυρας ὡς μαθητὰς καὶ μιμητὰς τοῦ κυρίου ἀγαπῶμεν.

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God’s Living Temples And when they may lead you, delivering [scil. you] up, be not anxious beforehand what you may speak, nor premeditate, but whatever may be given to you in that hour, that speak, for it is not you who are speaking, but the Holy Spirit.29

In virtue of Jesus’s promise that the Holy Spirit will speak through his followers when persecuted, upon being arrested one was held to be inhabited by the divine. Likewise, indifference to pain at the moment one was put to death popularised the idea that Christ came down to inhabit the martyr during the ordeal.30 As the young confessor Felicitas put it, “What I am suffering now [scil. in childbirth], I suffer by myself. But then [scil. in the arena] another will be inside me who will suffer for me, just as I shall be suffering for him.”31 Thus, from the moment one was arrested and continuing through to their death, one became a physical vessel of the divine; first of the Holy Spirit and later of Christ. Identified as ‘living temples’ in Christian texts of the time, confessors and martyrs were addressed as mouthpieces of God and, I argue, relics in spe. The analogy between living bodies and temples originated in Paul’s epistles, where the Apostle identified the believers’ bodies as temples in which the Holy Spirit lived.32 Given its use in Jewish practice, the temple was less problematic to Paul than the statue, which contradicted the second biblical commandment. The temple also better fit Paul’s concept of iconicity, as a state revealed by the sturdiness of the body through sufferings, rather than through its beauty. References to people as living temples are common in early Christian texts, where they appeared alongside rejections of polytheistic temples. Historians of the Church focused on the latter aspect, which they held to indicate a denial of the possibility to circumscribe the divine. By failing to recognise that the promotion of Christians as living temples and the rejection of built temples were different sides of the same argument, modern scholars produced an image of early Christianity as a movement characterised by a

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Mark 13:11 cf. Matt 10:19–20; Luke 21:14–15. Mart. Poly. 2.2; Mart. Lugd. 1.23; Ign., Smyrn. 4.2 (Camelot [ed.], 1969, 136); Tert., de pud. 22 (C. Munier [ed.], Tertullien. La pudicité. Tome I, SC 394, Paris 1993, 275–280); Pass. Perp. 15.6 and 20.8; A. Paul. 7, 24, 40 (Schmidt [ed.], 1904). Contrastingly, torturers were ‘filled’ by the devil cf. Mart. Lugd. 1.27. Pass. Perp. 15.6 (Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], 1987, 136; Musurillo [trans.], 1972, 123–125) Modo ego patior quod patior; illic autem alius erit in me qui patietur pro me, quia et ego pro illo passura sum. 1 Cor 6:19 cf. 1 Cor 3:16 and 2 Cor 6:16.

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“distaste for localised sanctity.”33 As a result, the adoption of the concept of temple in the fourth century, when it was applied to churches, was seen as a radical change in how the religion related to the material world.34 This view of early Christianity hindered our recognition of the iconic dimension of its holy individuals, as perfectly exemplified by Paul Corby Finney’s analysis of the figure of the ideal Christian sketched by Clement of Alexandria. According to Finney, for Clement the ideal Christian was “God-like, a kind of sacramental presence in the world, a temple, a divine image, a dwelling place of God” but, Finney concludes, this state was somehow detached from spatial reality: “Clement’s discussion of the Gnostic Christian as sacred topos and metatopos borders on mystification and is as close as pre-Constantinian Christianity comes to principled rejection of topos hieros, understood as real-world place on the ground.”35 Working in parallel, theologians recognised the literalness of John’s identification of the body of Jesus as the temple of God, and of Paul’s identification of Christian bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit.36 The identification of confes33

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36

V. Marinis, The Historia ekklesiastike kai mystike theoria: A Symbolic Understanding of the Byzantine Church Building, in: ByzZ 108 (2015), 753–770 (756) cf. also A.-M. Yasin, Saints and Church Spaces in the Late Antique Mediterranean: Architecture, Cult and Community, Cambridge 2009, 16, who spoke of “an outright rejection of sacred space as hierophanic ‘center’ in the Eliadan sense.” The idea that pre-Constantinian Christianity was opposed to localised devotion is a trope in modern scholarship. See P.C. Finney, Sacred Place Again, in: Antigüedad y Cristianismo 21 (2004), 69–76 (69–74) for a summary. R.A. Markus, How on Earth Could Places Become Holy? Origins of the Christian Idea of Holy Places, in: JECS  2 (1994), 257–271 (259–261) spoke of a “volte-face” and “extraordinary sea-change.” Finney, 2004, 73. After identifying a process he calls “the personalisation of the hieros” through which, as in the case of Jesus, the individual becomes “its own hieros topos” and “a messiah becomes the primary topos of the holy”, Finney fails to recognise the spatial and material dimension of the holy person’s body. The relationship between the body of Jesus and the Temple was cast in terms of “spiritualisation” (H.  Wenschkewitz, Die Spiritualisierung der Kultusbegriffe Tempel, Priester und Opfer im Neuen Testament, Leipzig 1932; B. Gärtner, The Temple and the Community in Qumran and the New Testament: A Comparative Study in the Temple Symbolism of the Qumran Texts and the New Testament, SNTSM  1, London 1965; R.J.  McKelvey, The New Temple: The Church in the New Testament, London 1969) and then “transference” (G. Klinzing, Die Umdeutung des Kultus in der Qumrangemeinde und im Neuen Testament, SUNT 7, Göttingen 1971; E. Schüssler-Fiorenza, Cultic Language in Qumran and in the New Testament, in: CBQ 38 (1976), 159–177). Both concepts diluted the physical implications of Jesus’ body as temple. More recently, M. Coloe, God Dwells with Us: Temple Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel, Collegeville 2001, 115.219; A.R.  Kerr, The Temple of Jesus’ Body: The Temple Theme in the Gospel of John, JSNTS 220, Sheffield 2002, 6; P. Borgen, The Gospel of John and Philo of Alexandria, in: J.H. Charlesworth / M.A. Daise (eds.), Light in a Spotless Mirror. Reflections on Wisdom Traditions in Judaism and Early Christianity, Harrisburg

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sors and martyrs as temples by early Christian authors is made, I argue, along the same lines. What ensues is that these authors contrasted built temples with the living ones represented by good Christians, rather than rebutting the concept of temple and, with it, the possibility to circumscribe the divine in material vessels. The rejection of built temples was a “contrast imitation” – a mechanism often used by followers of Christ during the first centuries to simultaneously rebut aspects of Jewish or Roman culture and assert the superiority of the alternatives their faith proposed.37 Thus, the rejection of built temples and the promotion of living ones was typical of the “dialectic of appropriation and rejection” that characterised Christian-Roman relations in this period.38 Clement of Alexandria, Origen (184–253), Minucius Felix (d. ca. 250), Tertullian (d. ca. 240), and Prudentius (348–ca. 410) – the sources usually cited to support the view of early Christianity as opposed the possibility of holy places – underlined in their writings the impossibility to enclose the divine in structures “made by hands.”39 The formula “made by hands” referenced the text of the Acts of the Apostles, where the Temple in Jerusalem was identified as “made by hands” and, as such, denounced as idolatrous.40 In the same context, the author of Acts presented the body of the proto-martyr Stephen as an alternative to the Temple. Just before his lapidation, Stephen’s body was “filled” by the Holy Spirit – the same language used in the description of the Tabernacle

37 38 39

40

2003, 45–76; D. Lee, In the Spirit of Truth: Worship and Prayer in the Gospel of John and the Early Fathers, in: VC 58 (2004), 277–297 (285) (for John) and R.H. Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology: With Emphasis on Pauline Anthropology, SNTSMS 29, Cambridge 1976, 77; G.D.  Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Grand Rapids 1987, 263–264 (for Paul) argued that the bodies mentioned by John and Paul functioned in the same ‘locative’ manner as the Temple. Term coined by A.A.R. Bastiaensen, Prudentius in Recent Literary Criticism, in: J. den Boef / A. Hilhorst (eds.), Early Christian Poetry: A Collection of Essays, Leiden 1993, 101–134 (123). On this dialectic, see R. Elior, On the Changing Significance of the Sacred, in: D.B. Capes et  al. (eds.), Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children: Christology and Community in Early Judaism and Christianity, Wako 2007, 277–302 (292). Clem., str. 7.5 (A.  le  Boulluec [ed.], Clément d’Alexandrie: Les Stromates. Stromate VII, SC 428, Paris 1997, 105–110); Or., Cels. 8.17 and 8.20 (Marcovich [ed.], 2015, 534–535.537– 538); Min. Felix., O. 32 (K.F. Halm [ed.], Firmicus Maternus: De errore profanarum religionorum. Minucius Felix: Octavius, CSEL 2, Vienna 1867, 45–47); Tert., de cor. 9 (E. Kroymann [ed.], Tertulliani opera. Opera montanistica, CCSL  2, Turnhout 1954, 1052–1053); Prud., perist. 3.78 (Cunningham [ed.], 1966, 280) cf. also the less quoted ep. Barn. 16.1–2 and 16.7 (R.A. Kraft [ed.], Épître de Barnabé, SC 172, Paris 1971, 190 and 194). Acts  17:24. On being “made by hands” denoting idolatry, see K.  Derry, One Stone on Another: Towards an Understanding of Symbolism in The Epistle of Barnabas, in: JECS 4 (1996), 515–528 (527); Finney, 2004, 72 C. Rowland, The Temple in the New Testament, in: J. Day (ed.), Temple and Worship in Biblical Israel, London 2007, 469–483 (474).

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and Temple when the Divine Presence took residence inside.41 A decade or two later, John made the idea central to his gospel by associating the body of Jesus with the itinerant tabernacle of Moses and contrasting it with the fixed stone temple in Jerusalem.42 John’s Jesus was an itinerant vessel of God, who “tabernacled” among humans. In the following centuries, Christian authors used the same strategy, with them rebutting temples “made by hands” and contrasting them with living Christians, whom they identified as ‘true’ temples. This amounted not to a denial of the possibility to enclose the divine but rather to a rejection of the way it was done outside Christianity, consequently allowing for the promotion of living Christians as the ‘true’ temples.43 Martyrs and confessors represented the most extreme and visible expression of this anthropological model. As in other cults of the time, rather than a binary division between priests and lay members, Christian communities contained a variety of religious overachievers. Prophecy, the power to exorcise, the receiving of premonitory dreams, and the speaking in tongues were gifts ascribed to distinct individuals.44 These people, like martyrs and confessors, had a vessel-type relationship with the Holy Spirit. Adopting the vocabulary of polytheistic cults in yet another “contrast imitation”, early Christians celebrated their own christophoroi, theophoroi, naophoroi, and agiophoroi.45 Unlike their polytheistic counterparts, who received their titles from the ritual objects they carried during religious processions, these Christ-bearers, God-bearers, temple-bearers, and sacred-bearers carried the divine inside their bodies. The concept is discussed in detail by the author of the second-century Epistle of Barnabas: I find that a temple exists. […] When we received the remission of sins, and put our hope on the Name, we became new, being created again from the beginning; wherefore God truly dwells in us, in the habitation which we are. […] himself prophesizing in us, himself dwelling in us, by opening the door of the temple (that is the mouth) […] For he who desires to be saved looks not at the man, but 41 42 43

44 45

Acts 7:55 ὑπάρχων δὲ πλήρης πνεύματος ἁγίου cf. Ex 40:34; 2 Chr 7:1–2; 1 Kgs 8:10–11. E.g., John 1:14. On ‘true temples’, see Mart. Mar. 5.8 (Musurillo [ed.], 1972, 200); Cypr., ep. 62.3 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 699); A. Jo. 95.37–42 (E. Junod / J.-D. Kaestli [eds.], Acta Johannis, CCSA 1, Turnhout 1983, 203); J.N. Rhodes, The Epistle of Barnabas and the Deuteronomic Tradition, WUNT 2.188, Tübingen 2004, 149 n. 42. E.g., 1 Cor 14; Brown, 1978, 66–67. Ign., Eph. 9.1 (Camelot [ed.], 1969, 66); A. Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order: Concepts and Images of Authority in Paganism and Early Christianity before the Age of Cyprian, SVigChr  45, Leiden 1999, 210–250; P.A.  Harland, Christ-Bearers and Fellow-Initiates: Local Cultural Life and Christian Identity in Ignatius’ Letters, in: JECS 11 (2003), 481–499.

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Chapter 3 at him who dwells and speaks in him, and is amazed at him, for he has never either heard him speak such words with his mouth, nor has he himself ever desired to hear them. This is a spiritual temple being built for the Lord.46

Barnabas’s Christian temples were spiritual not because they lacked physical reality, but because they indicated a spiritual state. Further confirmation comes from Clement of Alexandria’s writings, where the Christians as statues of God are contrasted with persecutors, whom Clement presents as automata of the Devil.47 In the manner of Paul and the martyrs, who ‘gave’ their bodies to Christ, thus allowing him to manifest in the world, those who persecuted Christians allowed the Devil to “walk along with us in the person of men.”48 In this context, Clement introduced the statue as an analogy for living Christians. Seeking a perfectly balanced and thus more effective contrast between the Devil’s and God’s automata, he identified Christians as those who “carry around the image of God in this living and moving statue – that is, in our person.”49 According to him, perfected Christians, “who listen to the Lord, and follow the prophecy given by him, will be formed perfectly in the likeness of the teacher; a god going about in the flesh.”50 Clement thus combined the 46

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ep. Barn. 16.7–10 (Kraft [ed.], 1971, 194; K.  Lake [trans.], The Apostolic Fathers. Vol. 1: 1 Clement. 2 Clement. Ignatius. Polycarp. Didache. Barnabas, LCL 24, Cambridge 1965, 399) Εὑρίσκω οὖν, ὅτι ἔστιν ναός. […] λαβόντες τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν καὶ ἐλπίσαντες ἐπὶ τὸ ὄνομα ἐγενόμεθα καινοί, πάλιν ἐξ ἀρχῆς κτιζόμενοι· διὸ ἐν τῷ κατοικητηρίῳ ἡμῶν ἀληθῶς ὁ θεὸς κατοικεῖ ἐν ἡμῖν. […] αὐτὸς ἐν ἡμῖν προφητεύων, αὐτὸς ἐν ἡμῖν κατοικῶν, τοὺς τῷ θανάτῳ δεδουλωμένους ἀνοίγων ἡμῖν τὴν θύραν τοῦ ναοῦ, […] Ὁ γὰρ ποθῶν σωθῆναι βλέπει οὐκ εἰς τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλ’ εἰς τὸν ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικοῦντα καὶ λαλοῦντα, ἐπ’ αὐτῷ ἀλλ’ εἰς τὸν ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικοῦντα καὶ λαλοῦντα, ἐπ’ αὐτῷ ἐκπλησσόμενος, ἐπὶ τῷ μηδέποτε μήτε τοῦ λέγοντος τὰ ῥήματα ἀκηκοέναι ἐκ τοῦ στόματος μήτε αὐτός ποτε ἐπιτεθυμηκέναι ἀκούειν. Τουτέστιν πνευματικὸς ναὸς οἰκοδομούμενος τῷ κυρίῳ. Clement’s references to the statue-like quality of humans are gathered and discussed by Nasrallah, 2008. See also B.G. Bucur, Angelomorphic Pneumatology: Clement of Alexandria and Other Early Christian Witnesses, SVigChr 95, Leiden 2009, 48–49; A.C. Itter, Esoteric Teaching in the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria, SVigChr 97, Leiden 2009, 198–199. Clem., str. 4.14.2 (A. van den Hoek / C.  Mondésert [eds.], Clément d’Alexandrie: Les Stromates. Stromate IV, SC 463, Paris 2001, 216; trans. ANF 2, 182) ἀντίδικος δὲ οὐ τὸ σῶμα, ὥς τινες βούλονται, ἀλλ’ ὁ διάβολος καὶ οἱ τούτῳ ἐξομοιούμενοι, ὁ συνοδεύων ἡμῖν δι’ ἀνθρώπων τῶν ζηλούντων τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ ἐπιγείῳ τῷδε βίῳ. Clem., prot. 4.59.2 (C.  Mondésert [ed.], Clément d’Alexandrie: Le Protreptique, SC 2bis, Paris 1949, 123; trans. Nasrallah, 2008, 130) ἡμεῖς ἐσμὲν οἱ τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ θεοῦ περιφέροντες ἐν τῷ ζῶντι καὶ κινουμένῳ τούτῳ ἀγάλματι, τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ, σύνοικον εἰκόνα. Clem., str. 7.16.4(101) (Le Boulluec [ed.], 1997, 304; trans. Itter, 2009, 198) οὕτως ὁ τῷ κυρίῳ πειθόμενος καὶ τῇ δοθείσῃ δι’ αὐτοῦ κατακολουθήσας προφητείᾳ τελέως ἐκτελεῖται κατ’ εἰκόνα τοῦ διδασκάλου ἐν σαρκὶ περιπολῶν θεός.

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mimetic iconicity preached by Paul with the motif of the statue and the paideia notion of divinisation through the practice of virtues, arguing that by following Christian precepts one regained the statue state in which humankind had been created. The localisation of the divine and the ways to interact with it were central issues to ancient communities. For Christians and sympathisers of the Christian movement, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 appeared to support the claim that traditional cult structures were obsolete, while persecutions made confessors and martyrs a common presence, thus helping support the notion that the divine inhabited living persons. As a result, Christian communities addressed the bodies of confessors and martyrs as material containers of God and credited them with the capacity to impart divine power. I would thus propose that the earliest de facto Christian sacred topography was made of the living bodies of religious overachievers. My analysis of the phenomenon contradicts the established view of early Christianity as characterised by a denial of the notion of ‘holy place.’ It also points to the living bodies of the confessors and martyrs as the origin of the cult of relics.51 Even before his arrest, Polycarp of Smyrna had grown accustomed to untying his sandals because members of his community were always eager to touch his body.52 Consecrated by his holy life, his flesh eventually became perfected through martyrdom, and after his death, the brethren carefully collected his “holy flesh.”53 Thus, in one of the earliest testimonies of relic veneration, the living body had been treated as a relic in spe prior to the martyr’s death. Similar habits can been noted in Roman North Africa, where confessors held a prominent position in the lives of Christian communities of the third century. The brethren tended to the confessors’ needs while they were imprisoned and sought their intermediation with God.54 Recurrently identified as “temples” by Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258), confessors appear aware of their privileged status.55 Thus, Perpetua (d. 202) knew she would be successful in asking God for a vision of heaven and the salvation of her dead brother’s 51 52 53 54 55

Delehaye, 1933, 42 pointed out the continuity existing between the ways in which the living bodies of holy Christians and their relics were approached, but the matter was not studied. Mart. Poly. 13.2 cf. also Pass. Fruct. 3.4 (Musurillo [ed.], 1972, 180). Mart. Poly. 17.1–2 (Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], 1987, 24; Musurillo [trans.], 1972, 17) τῷ ἁγίῳ αὐτοῦ σαρκίῳ. Pass. Perp. 3.7 and 9.1–2; Cypr., ep. 15 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 513–516); Lucianus, Peregr. 12–13 (Harmon [ed.], 1936, 12–17); Tert., de pud. 22 (Munier [ed.], 1993, 275–280). Cypr., ep. 6.1 and 62.3 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 480–481.699).

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soul.56 More important still for our purpose, confessors seem aware of the consecrated character of their own bodies, which they treat as living relics.57 Saturus, one of Perpetua’s companions, asked for his torturer’s ring, dipped it in the blood running from one of his wounds and returned it to him as a “pledge and reminder.”58 Whether or not the editor of the Acta invented the episode, the act attests to a mindset found also in the account of the martyrdom of Pionius (d. ca. 250). As he descended unharmed from the pyre, the old man realised “the holiness and dignity of his own body.”59 Such momentary glimpses received a thorough contextualisation in the correspondence of Cyprian of Carthage. Elected bishop only four or five years after his baptism due to his potential to give the community its first bishop martyr, Cyprian hid during a first wave of persecution.60 During the next wave, he fled again but wrote to reassure the brethren that his flight was calculated so that he could be executed in front of them rather than elsewhere. He had done so, he tells us, in order to make sure that “the whole people should be glorified by the confession of their prelate in their presence.”61 Disconcerting to the modern reader, this placid negotiation of the terms of one’s own death was grounded in a view of the martyr’s body as the shared property of the community. North African confessors who were not put to death and who returned to their communities after being imprisoned had to preserve the sanctity of their bodies by abstaining from intercourse (and likely from other practices

56 57 58 59

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Pass. Perp. 4.1–2 and 7.1–10. The martyrs’ awareness of their role is attested especially by the several cases when they sought out martyrdom. See Mart. Poly. 4; Cypr., ep. 81.2 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 842); P.L. Buck, Voluntary Martyrdom Revisited, in: JThS 63 (2012), 125–135. Pass. Perp. 21.5 (Bastiaensen et  al. [eds.], 1987, 144; trans. Rizos, Cult of Saints, E01668) Simulque ansulam de digito eius petiit, et vulneri suo mersam reddidit ei hereditatem, pignus relinquens illi et memoriam sanguinis. Mart. Pion. 21.2 (Bastiaensen et al. [eds.], 1987, 188; Musurillo [trans], 1972, 163) Εἶτα κατανοήσας τὸ ἁγνὸν καὶ εὔσχημον τοῦ σώματος ἑαυτοῦ πολλῆς ἐπλήσθη χαρᾶς, ἀναβλέψας δὲ εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ εὐχαριστήσας τῷ τοιοῦτον αὐτὸν διατηρήσαντι θεῷ ἥπλωσεν ἑαυτὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ ξύλου. Although imprecise, the translation captures the meaning of Pionius’s reaction to his own body. Pontius, v.C. 11–12 (W. de Hartel [ed.], Cyprianus (Pseudo-Cyprianus), Opera omnia (pars 3): Opera spuria. Indices. Praefatio, CSEL  3/3, Vienna 1871, ci–civ). Ordination of those whose lives seemed to invite martyrdom is a characteristic of the community in Carthage cf. Cypr., ep. 29, 38, 39 and 40 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2). Cypr., ep. 81.1 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 841; trans. ANF  5, 843) eo quod congruat episcopum in ea civitate in qua ecclesiae dominicae praeest illic Dominum confiteri et plebem universam praepositi praesentis confessione clarificare.

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considered polluting).62 Thus, their bodies seem to have become living relics that belonged both to God and to the community, with the confessors themselves designated to preserve them. The rest of the brethren sought to have physical contact with them through touch, kiss, or even intercourse; a mindset that conflicts with the notion of spiritual worship (as does contemporary interest in relics).63 The executed confessors became martyrs and had the sanctity of their bodies enhanced by the presence of Christ inside them during their final moments. Their remains became proper relics. As we have seen in the previous chapters, becoming a vessel for the divine usually implied a change of the exterior of one’s body. Thus, accounts of early martyrdom often mention ways in which the divine manifested through the martyrs’ bodies. Along with non-visual effects – such as knowledge of divine secrets or discharge of miraculous odour – the most common miracles were the superhuman resistance to pain, preservation of corporeal integrity despite numerous tortures, and the effusion of an otherworldly light. The latter is of particular interest because it bridges the suffering iconic model introduced by Paul with the statue-like one embodied by emperors. The precise source of the light was not mentioned but it can be inferred that the presence of Christ within the martyr became manifest, with it pervading and shining through the human flesh. Thus, Christians who imitated Jesus in their daily lives and became performative images of him would have their iconicity confirmed through the miracles that happened as they suffered and died. After 313, the two strains of martyrial iconicity – that is, the performative one deriving from the imitation of Jesus and the theophanic one resulting from the indwelling of Christ – were passed on to other elements of the cult.

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Cypr., ep. 13.5 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 507–508; trans. A.  Brent, Cyprian and Roman Carthage, New York 2010, 253) qui Dei templa et post confessionem sanctificata et inlustrata plus membra turpi et infami concubitu suo maculent, cubilia cum feminis promiscua iungentes / “[scil. those] who defile the temples of God and the members of their bodies, sanctified after making their confession, and made the more renowned by their vile and disgraceful sleeping together, associating their beds with sexual activity with females.” On intercourse, see above. On touching and kissing, see Cypr., ep. 6.1 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, 480–481).

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Preserving the Martyrs’ Iconicity: Relics and all the multitude were seeking to touch him, because power from him was going forth, and he was healing all.64

The desire to touch the confessors’ bodies continued after their deaths. Part of the martyrs’ remains went into private possession; another part was buried by communities and became the embryos of a fixed sacred topography.65 The place of interment became the locus of the community’s veneration of the martyr, usually through an annual celebration of their death.66 Most scholars ascribe the beginning of the cult of relics to the fourth century.67 Then, containers (i.e., reliquaries) and buildings (i.e., martyria) were made specifically to enclose relics, and Christians debated and clarified their status.68 Nevertheless, interest in the remains of martyrs can be seen as early as the Acts of the Apostles and throughout the first three centuries.69 Available sources do not clarify whether the desire to have access to the martyrs’ remains had 64 65

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Luke  6:19 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἐζήτει ἅπτεσθαι αὐτοῦ ὅτι δύναμις παρ’ αὐτοῦ ἐξήρχετο καὶ ἰᾶτο πάντας. On private possession, see Pass. Fruct. 6.1–2 (Musurillo [trans], 1972, 182); Test. XL Mart. 1.3; Optatus M., c.P. 1.16–17 (M. Labrousse [ed.], Optat de Milève. Traité contre les donatistes, SC  412, Paris 1995, 208). On communal care of remains, see Ign., Rom.  4.1–2 (Camelot [ed.], 1969, 112); Mart. Poly. 17.1–2, 18.2–3; A. Carpi 47; Pass. Fruct. 6.1–2 (Musurillo [ed.], 1972, 182–184); A. Cyp. 5 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, cix); Hieron. (ca. 347–420), c.Vigil. 5 (J.L. Feiertag [ed.], S. Hieronymi Presbyteri opera. Opera III. Opera polemica 5. Adversus Vigilantium, CCSL 79, Turnhout 2005, 12). Mart. Poly. 18.3; Mart. Pion. 2.1–3; A. Cyp. 4 (De Hartel [ed.], 1871, 3/2, cxiii); Vict., laud.s. (R. Demeulenaere / J. Mulders [eds.], Foebadius, Victricius, Leporius, Vincentius Lerinensis, Evagrius, Ruricius, CCSL 64, Turnholt 1985, 69–93); H. Delehaye, Les passions des martyrs et genres littéraires, Brussels ²1966; V.M.  Limberis, Architects of Piety: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs, New York 2011. Delehaye, 1933; B.  Kötting, Der frühchristliche Reliquienkult und die Bestattung im Kirchengebäude, Köln 1965; Saxer, 1980; R. Wiśniewski, The Beginnings of the Cult of Relics, Oxford 2018. On reliquaries, see Hieron., c.Vigil. 5 (Feiertag [ed.], 2005, 12); G. Noga-Banai, The Trophies of the Martyrs: An Art Historical Study of Early Christian Silver Reliquaries, Oxford 2008; ead., Visual Rhetoric of Early Christian Reliquaries, in: D.K.  Pettegrew / W.R.  Caraher / T.W.  Davis (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Archaeology, Oxford 2019, 221–236; E. Thunø, Reliquaries and the Cult of Relics in Late Antiquity, in: R.M. Jensen / M.D. Ellison (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art, London 2018, 150–168. On martyria, see A. Grabar, Martyrium. Recherches sur le culte des reliques et l’art chrétien antique, 2 vols., Paris 1946; Yasin, 2009; ead., Reassessing Salona’s Churches: Martyrium Evolution in Question, in: JECS 20 (2012), 59–112. Acts 8:2; Pass. Poly. 17.1, 18.1–3; A. Carpi 47; A. Max. 3.4; Pass. Fruct. 6.1–2 (Musurillo [ed.], 1972, 182); Pass. Eupli (Lat. Rec. B) 3.3 (Musurillo [ed.], 1972, 318).

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venerational, mnemonic, or apotropaic connotations. It is likely, though, that this desire reflected a belief in the relic’s capacity to discharge divine power in the same manner as the bodies of living confessors did, since touching relics and their material setting is indicated as a way of accessing the power residing inside them.70 The Scriptural passage quoted in the opening of this section and the ones describing the healing of the woman with the blood loss established this haptic principle among early followers of Jesus. The hemorrhoissa was said to have been healed without Jesus’s intention, thanks to the power inhabiting him, which was accessible through contact with his garment.71 Jesus’s healing power was inherited by the apostles, with Paul’s aprons working miracles and Peter’s shadow healing those it fell on.72 Belief that “the holy man is altogether holy, including his body, for if he has received the bread, he will make it holy, or the cup or anything else that he receives, purifying them” appears common in early Christianity.73 It is thus likely that corporeal remains of martyrs were credited with the same power ascribed to such living persons. Victricius of Rouen (d. 407) tells us that reliquaries functioned in the same manner as Christ’s garment healing the hemorrhoissa: “If the hem of the Saviour’s garment cured when lightly touched, it is beyond doubt that the dwelling places of martyrdoms will cure when we take them in our arms.”74 70

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A. Thom. 170 (M. Bonnet [ed.], Acta apostolorum apocrypha. Vol. 2.2, Leipzig 1903, 286– 287); Vict., laud.s. (Mulders / Demeulenaere [eds.], 1985, 69–93); Bas., hom. Mart. Jul. 2 (J.-P.  Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 31, Paris 1857, coll. 241AB) and id., hom. in Ps. CXV (J. Garnier [ed.], In S. Basilii Opera. Vol. 1.2, Paris 1839, coll. 530B–531A). Wiśniewski, 2018, 12–13 considers the passage from the early third-century Acts of Thomas an interpolation from ca. 355, which fits his thesis that the cult of relics began over the fourth century. Matt  9:20–22; Mark  5:25–34; Luke  8:43–48. This model of dispersion of grace through physical contact was called “holy contagion” by J.G.  Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, New York 1922, ch. 3.3. On “holy contagion” in Late Antiquity, see G.  Vikan, Art, Medicine, and Magic in Early Byzantium, in: DOP  38 (1984), 67–74; Frankfurter, 2018, 94–96. Acts 5:15–16 and 19:11–12, respectively. Ev. Phil. 108 (W.C. Till [ed.], Das Evangelium des Philippus, Berlin 2011, 52–54; H.-M. Schenke (trans.), The Gospel of Philip, in: W. Schneemelcher (ed.), New Testament Apocrypha. Vol. 1: Gospels and Related Writings, Louisville 2003, 188–206 [201]), a second- or third-century text preserved only in Coptic: ⲙⲟⲛⲟⲛ ⲓⲥ︦ ⲥⲟⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲡⲧⲉⲗⲟⲥ ⲙ︦ⲡⲁⲉⲓ ⲡⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ϥⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ̀ϣⲁ ϩ ⲣⲁï ⲉⲡⲉϥ ̀ⲥⲱⲙⲁ ⲉϣϫⲉ ⲁϥϫⲓ ⲅⲁⲣ ⲙ︦ⲡⲟ ⲉⲓⲕ̀ ϥⲛⲁⲁϥ ̀ⲉϥ ̀ⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲏ ⲡⲡⲟⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ˙ ⲏ ⲡⲕⲉⲥⲉⲉⲡⲉ ⲧⲏⲣϥ ̀ⲉⲧϥϫⲓ ⲙ︦ⲙⲟⲟⲩ ⲉϥ ̀ⲧⲟⲩⲃⲟ ⲙ︦ⲙⲟⲟⲩ. See also Vict., laud.s. 2 (Mulders /

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Demeulenaere [eds.], 1985). Vict., laud.s. 2.12–13 (Mulders / Demeulenaere [eds.], 1985, 72; G. Clark [trans.], Victricius of Rouen: Praising the Saints (Introduction and Annotated Translation), in: JECS 7 (1999),

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Usually made of reflective materials such as marble, gold, or silver decorated with gilded elements or jewels, reliquaries reproduced the divine light Christian authors claimed was surrounding the martyrs’ bodies.75 (see Fig. 22) We find the concept depicted on the walls of the sixth-century cathedral in Poreč. The mosaicist used lighter tesserae to create a dim, full-body halo for certain figures, including Zachariah.76 Standing, the saint holds a lit censer in his right hand and a reliquary in his left. Made of precious metal, decorated with images in repoussé, and studded with jewels, the reliquary emanates the same luminous shimmer as the prophet’s body. (see Fig. 23)

Figure 22

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Late antique reliquary. Silver with traces of niello, 6.8 × 7.2 × 7.2 cm, early 5th century, from Kaper Koraon, Syria. The Walters Art Museum (inv. no. 57.638)

365–399 [378]) Nam si curavit attacta leviter fimbria Salvatoris, procul dubio curabunt amplexata, domicilia passionum. On the visual functions of reliquaries, see C. Hahn, What Do Reliquaries Do for Relics?, in: Numen 57 (2010), 284–316; J. Elsner, Relic, Icon and Architecture: The Material Articulation of the Holy in East Christian Art, in: C. Hahn / H.A. Klein (eds.), Saints and Sacred Matter: The Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond, Washington 2015, 13–40. On ‘Konturlicht’, see F.W. Deichmann, Geschichte und Monumente, Wiesbaden 1969, 252.

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Figure 23

Zachariah holding a censer and reliquary. Mosaic, apse of the Basilica Euphrasiana, Poreč, ca. 559. (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici)

The visual effect of reliquaries was enhanced through the ways in which they were displayed. Beginning in the fifth century, as the interior of churches grew darker, the pairing of reliquaries with sources of artificial light focused the audience’s gaze on them.77 As pointed out by Rico Franses, the combination of reflective materials with a light source made it seem as if the light emanated from within – an effect the designers of these settings knew, as testified

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On churches in the West receiving less natural light beginning in the fifth century, see F.A. Ladi, I finestrati laterali delle chiese di Roma dal IV al IX secolo, in: F. Guidobaldi / A. Guiglia Guidobaldi (eds.), Ecclesiae urbis: Atti del congresso internazionale di studi sulle chiese di Roma (IV–X secolo), Vatican City 2002, 875–890.

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by Paulinus of Nola.78 A photograph taken in the Church of Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos reproduces the visual effect of these reliquaries during evening liturgical services. Made of the same precious materials as late antique reliquaries, an Athonite coal container is carried inside a church that is lit exclusively by wax candles and oil lamps, as late antique churches were. Like Zachariah in the Poreč mosaic, the deacon wears a purple and white garment with golden elements, censing with his right hand while holding the container with his left one. The metal box glows dimly, like Zachariah’s body and reliquary. (see Fig. 24) Thus, the materiality and mise-en-scène of reliquaries allowed clergy members to preserve the luminosity of the martyrs and ‘summon’ it as needed.

Figure 24

Deacon carrying a coal container while censing. Nocturnal liturgical service, Vatopedi Monastery, Mount Athos. (Photo: www.pemptousia.com)

Beginning in the fourth century, some relics were embedded in the very structure of shrines.79 Since Christians donated precious objects and perpetual 78

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R.  Franses, When All that is Gold Does Not Glitter: On the Strange History of Viewing Byzantine Art, in: L.  James / A.  Eastmond (eds.), Icon and Word, Aldershot 2003, 13–24 (19). See Paul. Nol., c. 28.180–185 (W. de Hartel [ed.], S. Pontii Meropii Paulini Nolani Opera. Vol. 2: Carmina, CSEL 30, Vienna 1894, 299). On the embedding of relics in churches, see Yasin, 2009; ead., Sacred Installations: The Material Conditions of Relic Collections in Late Antique Churches, in: C. Hahn / H.A. Klein

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lights as thanks for the martyr’s help, one could assess the power of a shrine by the amount of votives and lights present inside, which created a luminosity reminiscent of heaven.80 Thus, the power of the relics reflected in the richness and luminosity of the sanctuary. The setting of relics helped transfer the iconicity of martyrs to their material remains and allowed Christians to continue to see the divine light even after state persecutions had ended. As a result, the relic became synonymous with the martyr. Speaking about the relics arriving at Rouen, Victricius states that “you are the body of Christ and it is God the Spirit who dwells in you.”81 Thus, as in the case of cult statues, an anthropomorphic vessel – here the body of the martyr – was consecrated by the indwelling presence of the divine and functioned as a point of contact and screen of the divine. Relics allowed the martyr to be present in multiple places at once, the same way statues multiplied the presence of the gods. The analogy to statues would be completed in the ninth century, when anthropomorphic reliquaries began to be made, as the memory of ancient polytheistic practices faded.82 While the theophanic aspect of the martyr’s iconicity was transferred to their remains through the aesthetic of their containers and setting, the performative one deriving from their imitation of Christ was ascribed to other categories of living overachievers. 3.5

Preserving the Martyrs’ Iconicity: People

For a mimetic movement such as early Christianity, the disappearance of those whom for two centuries had been its main exemplary figures represented a momentous change. As a result, after 313, other types of suffering for Christ were recognised as martyrdom. Almsgiving, fasting, ascetic withdrawal from the world, and celibacy came to be praised as similar to martyrdom.83 The

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(eds.), Saints and Sacred Matter: The Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond, Washington 2015, 133–151. On martyria, see above, n. 68. h. Ch. et D. 9 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Latina. Vol. 121, Paris 1852, 673–682, coll. 676); C.  Hahn, Seeing and Believing: The Construction of Sanctity in Early-Medieval Saints’ Shrines, in: Spec. 72 (1997), 1079–1106 (1083). Vict., laud.s. 1.35 (Mulders / Demeulenaere [eds.], 1985, 70; trans. Clark, 1999, 377) vos estis corpus Christi, et spiritus divinus est qui habitat in vobis. On early medieval anthropomorphic reliquaries, see B. Fricke, Fallen Idols, Risen Saints: Sainte Foy of Conques and the Revival of Monumental Sculpture in Medieval Art, SVCMA 7, Turnhout 2015. On the liberalisation of the notion of martyrdom, see L. Canetti, Frammenti di eternità. Corpi e reliquie tra antichità e medioevo, Rome 2002, 35–42. On ascetics as martyrs, see

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title carried with it part of the martyr’s iconic quality, as the struggles of these overachievers reproduced versions of Jesus’s sufferings. Thus, while the luminous, theophanic dimension of martyrial iconicity was bequeathed to relics, such living heirs inherited the suffering one. Nevertheless, the Church’s turn towards the world after 313 stimulated the adoption of the splendid, statuelike model of iconicity embodied by rulers. As a result, the iconicity of these suffering types also acquired a beautiful, luminous dimension. Baptisands and bishops (to be discussed in later chapters), as well as ascetics and consecrated virgins, exemplified the phenomenon. Georgia Frank dissected the imaginative process that was used to make Christians see the bodies of desert ascetics as angelic and luminous.84 Thanks to rhetorical artifices that shaped their perception of the desert fathers and mothers, visitors could interpret the white hair covering the bodies of ascetics as luminous, their emaciated bodies as angelic, and “recognise Christ in each person.”85 One of many fragments dedicated to the matter in Christian hagiography demonstrates a typical insistence on the Abba’s iconicity but is exceptional in its use of several of the analogies authors of the time turned to in order to present ascetics as iconic:

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S. Elm, Pierced by Bronze Needles: Anti-Montanist Charges of Ritual Stigmatization in their Fourth-century Context, in: JECS 4 (1996), 409–439 (435); Frank, 2000. On catechumens as martyrs, see G.P. Jeanes, Baptism Portrayed as Martyrdom in the Early Church, in: StPatr 23 (1993), 158–176; V. Ivanovici, Manipulating Theophany: Light and Ritual in North Adriatic Architecture (ca. 400–ca. 800), Berlin 2016, 39–41. Frank, 2000 cf. also P.C.  Miller, Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture, Princeton 1994. Our main sources on hermits are the anonymous Historia Monachorum in Aegypto (late fourth century), Palladius’ Historia Lausiaca (419–420), and Theodoret of Cyrrhus’ Historia Religiosa (ca. 444). The literature on asceticism in Late Antiquity is extensive. Key studies include D. Chitty, The Desert a City: An Introduction to the Study of Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism Under the Christian Empire, Oxford 1966; P.  Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian, Oxford 1978; S. Elm, “Virgins of God”. The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity, Oxford 1994; D. Brakke, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism, Oxford 1995; id., Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity, Cambridge 2006; J.E. Goehring, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert: Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism, Harrisburg 1999. A bibliography of over 10.000 titles is available at: http://www.earlymedievalmonasticism. org/bibliographymonasticism.htm (updated March 15, 2021). One of the effects of prolonged fasting, hairiness was probably behind some of the accounts documenting the luminosity of ascetics, in particular when the hair covered the whole body and, due to the advanced age of the person, was white. See K. Upson-Saia, Hairiness and Holiness in the Early Christian Desert, in: Upson-Saia / Daniel-Hughes / Batten (eds.), 2014, 1–18. On “recognising Christ in each holy man”, see Hieron., e. 108.14 (I.  Hilberg [ed.], Hieronymus. Epistulae 71–120, CSEL  55, Vienna 1912, 324) per singulos sanctos Christum se uidere credebat.

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They said the following about Abba Pambo: just as Moses received the image of Adam’s glory when his face was glorified, so also did Abba Pambo’s face shine like lightning, and he was like an emperor seated on his throne.86

This short fragment tells us a lot about the evolution of the iconic phenomenon. On the one hand, the comparison of the ascetic’s iconicity with the emperor’s, despite the antithetical social condition and material setting of the two, attests to imperial iconicity becoming the model of iconic living. Thus, being a living image of the divine in the fourth and fifth centuries typically meant wearing rich garments and jewellery that conferred a luminous aura.87 On the other hand, the fragment (and others like it) attests to Christians now exploiting the biblical passages that could be interpreted in iconic terms, such as the creation of Adam in the image of God and Moses’ luminous face; which attests in my opinion to the popularity iconicity was gaining among Romans.88 Ascetic literature both attests to the Christians’ desire to see the divine reflected in the features of a living person, and promoted the phenomenon by recurrently mentioning the hermits’ iconicity and how some worshippers travelled just to gaze upon their faces and catch a glimpse of the divine.89 Thus, Pachomius (d. 346) – the ascetic credited with founding coenobitic monasticism and one of the persons said to have become God’s living image – stated that nothing is greater than to “see the invisible God in a visible man who is his temple.”90 86

87 88

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Apophth. Patr.: Pambo 12 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 65, Paris 1864, coll. 372; trans. B.G. Bucur) Ἔλεγον περὶ τοῦ ἀββᾶ Παμβὼ, ὅτι ὡς ἔλαβε Μωϋσῆς τὴν εἰκόνα τῆς δόξης Ἀδὰμ, ὅτε ἐδοξάσθη τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ οὕτως καὶ τοῦ ἀββᾶ Παμβὼ ὡς ἀστραπὴ ἔλαμπε τὸ πρόσωπον, καὶ ἦν ὡς βασιλεὺς καθήμενος ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ. Τῆς αὐτῆς ἐργασίας ἦν καὶ ὁ ἀββᾶς Σιλουανὸς, καὶ ὁ ἀββᾶς Σισόης. See W. Harmless, Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism, Oxford 2004; B.G. Bucur / V. Ivanovici, ‘The Image of Adam’s Glory’: Observations on the Early Christian Tradition of Luminosity as Iconic Garment, in: Bacci / Ivanovici (eds.), 2019, online. Brown, 2012, 255. It is indicative that the Devil appeared as an emperor to convince Saint Martin that he is Jesus in Ven. Fort., v.M. 2.285–291 (M. Reydellet [ed.], Venance Fortunat: Vie de Saint Martin, Paris 1996, 41). Various traditions circulated also regarding the iconicity of patriarchs, with several of them being presented as exceedingly beautiful, luminous, or as carrying the image of God, like Adam. See A.A. Orlov, The Greatest Mirror: Heavenly Counterparts in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha, Albany 2017, with bibl. Frank, 2000. V. Pach. (First Greek) 48 (A.N. Athanassakis [ed.], The Life of Pachomius: Vita Prima Graeca, Missoula 1975, 70–71) τὸν ἀόρατον Θεὸν ἐν ὁρατῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ναῷ αὐτοῦ ἰδεῖν. See Frank, 2000, esp. 85–91 on ascetics enabling a face-to-face encounter with God. On Pachomius, see P.  Rousseau, Pachomius: The Making of a Community in Fourth-century Egypt, TCH  6, Berkeley ²1999.

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Consecrated virgins represented the urban and female counterpart of desert asceticism.91 Christian authors and bishops constructed the iconicity of these voluntary virgins through a complex strategy that included extolling their purity and controlling their look, behaviour, and display.92 Playing on their physical and spiritual purity, authors credited virgins with emanating the serene glow of Roman sages which, as discussed in the first chapter, was thought to indicate one’s partaking in the divine: […] show yourself so that your heavenly birth appears and your divine freeborn status shines forth. Let there be in you an unusual gravity, admirable dignity, and amazing reserve, astonishing submission, virginal gait, and the appearance of true chastity, speech that is always measured and brought forth in its correct time, so that whoever sees you will marvel, and say: What kind of dignity is this, so unusual among people? […] This is not a human arrangement or a mortal discipline. Here, something heavenly glistens in a human body. I suppose that God is dwelling in certain people.93

Keeping with the time’s view of female anatomy as a vessel for children, the virgins’ bodies were likened to various containers of the divine – e.g., the Temple in Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, or reliquaries.94 Their hollow bodies hid a soul consecrated by virtue. Like the bodies of martyrs and the surface of reliquaries, consecrated virgins glowed from the indwelling presence. Taught to abstain from social interaction and to live indoors, these women were enveloped in precious garments and displayed inside late antique churches where their pale, sun-deprived bodies appeared as ethereal

91 92

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Just as desert asceticism was typically but not exclusively a male phenomenon, consecrated virgins were typically but not exclusively female. On the phenomenon, see Brown, 1988; Elm, 1994; K.  Cooper, The Virgin and the Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 1996; T.M.  Shaw, The Burden of the Flesh. Fasting and Sexuality in Early Christianity, Minneapolis 1998; S. Undheim, Borderline Virginities. Sacred and Secular Virgins in Late Antiquity, London 2018. (Ps.)Hieron., e. 13.12 (K.  Halm [ed.], Sulpicius Severus: Opera. Pseudo-Sulpicius Severus: Epistulae, CSEL 1, Vienna 1866, 244–245; trans. K. Wilkinson, Women and Modesty in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 2015, 96) Ita te exhibe, ut in te coelestis nativitas appareat, et ut divina ingenuitas clarescat: sit in te nova gravitas, honestas admirabilis, et stupenda verecundia, mira patientia, virginalis incessus, et verae pudicitiae habitus, sermo semper modestus, et suo in tempore proferendus: ut qui te videtur, admiretur, et dicat: Quae est haec nova inter homines gravitas? […] Non est ista humana institutio, nec disciplina mortalis. Coeleste hic aliquid in corpore humano refulget. Puto quod habitet in quibusdam hominibus Deus. V. Ivanovici / S. Undheim, Consecrated Virgins as Living Reliquaries in Late Antiquity, in: Bacci / Ivanovici (eds.), 2019, online.

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presences; a glow that bishops likened to the Virgin’s pregnant body, glowing from the luminous presence of Christ.95 3.6

Conclusions

Early Christian martyrs embodied the notion of ‘tabernacling’ John the Apostle had introduced to contrast the Temple in Jerusalem with the living, itinerant body of Jesus. When placed in a wider context, John’s presentation of Jesus as a living container of the divine emerges as another expression of the belief that humans had the capacity to act as vessels and images of the divine. This vessellike state was established as iconic by Paul’s writings, which claimed that sufferings for the Christian faith and the physical marks they left attested to the indwelling presence of God. As martyrdom became a Mediterranean wide phenomenon, followers of Christ had to ensure acknowledgment of the martyrs’ sanctity across communities with different traditions and values. Thus, the one element all recognised as indicative of divinity, namely luminosity, became the mark of iconicity.96 Therefore, the performative iconicity of martyrs, rooted in their imitation of Christ, gained a theophanic quality. As anthropomorphic vessels of the divine characterised by sturdiness and luminosity, martyrs drew close to cult statues. Martyrdom depended on the Roman authorities’ decision to persecute Christians, with it almost disappearing after the edict of tolerance of 313. In the following period, Christian communities redirected their gaze, seeking the image of Christ in other individuals. Bishops, baptisands, consecrated virgins, and desert ascetics inherited part of the martyrs’ iconicity and combined it with their own types of performative iconicity, which they gained through their different methods of imitating Jesus. Alongside this trend, relics legitimised inanimate matter as a medium for interacting with the divine, thus allowing for the recognition of churches and of places in Palestine as sacred.97 95 96 97

On the effect of their pale bodies, see Brown, 1988, 269. On their garments and display, see Ivanovici / Undheim, 2019. On light as a characteristic of theophanies in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, see Platt, 2011; in early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, see A.A. Orlov (ed.), Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism, SVigChr 160, Leiden 2020; in Late Antiquity, see Ivanovici, 2016. On the recognition of places in Palestine as holy, see P. Maraval, Lieux saints et pèlerinages d’Orient: Histoire et géographie des origins à la conquête arabe, Paris 1985; P.W.L. Walker, Holy City, Holy Places? Christian Attitudes to Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the Fourth Century, Oxford 1989; B. Bitton-Ashkelony, Encountering the Sacred: The Debate on Christian Pilgrimage in Late Antiquity, TCH 38, Berkeley 2005.

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The increased frequency and visibility of ascribing material things the capacity to mediate interaction with the divine in the fourth century made scholars propose a significant change in the Christian relationship with the material world.98 Nevertheless, if one considers the continuity of attitudes existing viaà-vis living bodies, their material remains, and the places they inhabited, the process emerges as linear, if accelerated in the fourth century. Emerging at the intersection of cultures that codified character and status in physical appearance and deportment and held bodies capable of becoming images of the divine, the Christian movement was set around the event of the Incarnation, which established the living body of Jesus as the instrument of humanity’s salvation. When considering the several types of sources available, we discover that there has never been a break in Christian tradition in the belief that the living body has the capacity to enclose and impart the divine. From the moment when the multitudes sought to touch the body of Jesus, through Paul’s aprons, Peter’s shadow, Polycarp’s “holy flesh,” Fructuosus’s sandals, to the desert ascetics’ hairs and phlegm.99 Doubts arose only in the minds of erudite individuals such as Origen, who nevertheless also had to admit the body’s participation in the divine when faced with the reality of martyrdom. Throughout this process, the ‘temple’ was preferred to the ‘statue’ as the analogy for the martyr’s body, but the notion of the human body as vessel and image of God prepared the adoption of the statue as analogy. Proving that it was the popularity of a splendid, imperial-like iconicity that led to the grafting of luminosity on Paul’s notion of suffering iconicity is the role ascribed to corporeal luminosity in Christian baptism; a ritual designed with a Roman audience in mind.

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E.g., P.C. Miller, Shifting Selves in Late Antiquity, in: D. Brakke / M.L. Satlow / S. Weitzman (eds.), Religion and the Self in Antiquity, Bloomington 2005, 15–39 (23–24). On the hairs and phlegm of ascetics, see below, Chapter 6.

Chapter 4

Initiates Sometime around the middle of the second century, Aelius Aristides (117–181), an aristocrat from Asia Minor who studied rhetoric in Athens and rose to fame in Rome, turned to the god Aesculapius for help with his many illnesses.1 The god appeared to him in a dream, thus marking the beginning of a close relationship. Aristides, who documented his oneiric encounters with the god, tells us that one night he saw a statue of himself that continued to change into a statue of Aesculapius.2 Aristides’s subliminal desire to function as a statue of his god was representative of the time. Attesting to this is the fact that several cults that competed for the allegiance of Romans offered those who joined the possibility to momentarily become living images of their gods. Because rituals that mark one’s acceptance into the group are designed to attract outsiders, they best encapsulate a period’s desired status. Recurrent promises of iconic status and the use of strategies for corporeal staging that rendered one statuelike point to many of Aristides’s contemporaries longing for the same status his dream revealed. The secrecy characterising such rituals limits the information we have on them. Nevertheless, the scarcity of data is partially compensated by the fact that an iconic status was promised in several of the known cases. In addition, the recurrence of similar motifs and strategies across the various cults allows us to use the better attested rituals to understand what the lesser-known ones promised. Thus, after discussing how other cults conferred an iconic status to their initiates, I turn to the conceptual, material, and ritual setting of the best documented initiation of the time, namely Christian baptism. My analysis of the baptismal experience shows that many of the references to initiates as luminous and statue-like in Christian texts of the time – which have been interpreted by modern scholars as metaphorical or as referencing the white

1 On Aristides, see W.V. Harris / B. Holmes (eds.), Aelius Aristides between Greece, Rome, and the Gods, Leiden 2008. 2 Aristid., h.l. 1.17 (W. Dindorf [ed.], Aristides, Leipzig 1829, 401). On the meaning of his dream, see P.C. Miller, Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture, Princeton 1994, 33–35.202–203; Elsner, 2007, 11 n. 25. On dreams and their interpretation in Antiquity and Late Antiquity, see Miller, 1994; W.V. Harris, Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity, Cambridge 2009.

© Brill Schöningh, 2023 | doi:10.30965/9783657790821_005

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garment received at baptism – described the baptisands’ bodies, rendered iconic by the ritual.3 4.1

Visions, Ascensions, and Transformations in Late Antique Initiations

Rituals that removed the fear of death by promising a happy afterlife in the company of the gods had been staged since as early as the fifth century BCE.4 During the Common Era, such experiences were made available to all, not only to the few who could travel to Eleusis, Samothrace, or other specialised sanctuaries. Followers of Mithras, Christ, and other deities promised similar results in one’s hometown. Despite being offered by various cults, philosophical schools, and individuals, such initiations emerge from the sources as surprisingly consistent in imagery, promises, and corporeal effects in the timeframe we are focusing on here. This coherence was given, I believe, by a common view of the cosmic structure. Ptolemy’s (d. ca. 170) geocentric cosmology, which postulated the existence of a layered cosmos, where the Earth was at the centre and each planet represented an additional level, disseminated rapidly across the Roman world. Both old and new cults adapted their views to it, with them locating the realm of the gods in the upper cosmic levels and presenting salvation as an ascension through the lower levels. The zodiac constellations marked the border between the two regions of the cosmos, with their circular pattern providing a portal through which to ascend. Writing to Emperor Valentinian II (r. 375–392) on account of the aristocracy in Rome, Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (d. 402) pointed out that: It is just that all worship should be considered as one. We look on the same stars, the sky is common, the same world surrounds us. What difference does it make by what pains each seeks the truth?5

3 I use ‘baptisand’ rather than ‘catechumen’ or ‘neophyte’ because the catechumenate could take several years, and one was considered a neophyte for at least one year after baptism. ‘Baptisand’ indicates the person undergoing the ritual. 4 On ancient mysteria, see Bowden, 2010; Bremmer, 2014. 5 Symm., rel. 3.10 (R. Klein [ed.], Der Streit um den Victoriaaltar, Darmstadt 1972, 104–106; trans. NPNF 2.10, 415) Aequum est, quidquid omnes colunt, unum putari. Eadem spectamus astra, commune caelum est, idem nos mundus involvit. Quid interest, qua quisque prudentia verum requirat?

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Like his ancestors, Symmachus had put his hopes in the worship of the old gods and in the practice of virtues.6 Others chose to take the promises made by the representatives of newer gods. Nevertheless, as Symmachus points out, the same cosmic structure conditioned their path to the heavens, with only the identity of the deity and life choices that allowed them to attain immortality differing. The eastern gods that grew popular among Romans in the imperial period were often advertised as having created the cosmic path to salvation. Cutting through the cosmic levels, these gods opened passages that their followers claimed to control. As John Chrysostom (d. ca. 407) put it regarding Christ, “[scil. he] cut a path through the midst of all the angels, archangels, thrones, dominations, principalities, virtues, all those invisible powers, the cherubim and seraphim, and set the thoughts of the faithful right before the very throne of the King.”7 The concept was expressed visually through the depiction of the god at the centre of the zodiac ring, as exemplified by a second-century relief from Augusta Treverorum (Trier), which shows Mithras as a child in the act of opening the cosmic passage with his right hand, while holding the sphere of cosmic dominion in his left one.8 (see Fig. 25) Private individuals used the same imagery to express their hope in salvation. The main side of the early fourth-century Seasons Sarcophagus, now in the Dumbarton Oaks collection in Washington, D.C., is the most famous scene of this kind.9 On the main side of the sarcophagus, personifications of the four seasons are represented standing, with the two central figures holding up the ring of the zodiac. The ring functions as an oculus that reveals the upper half of the bodies of a couple. The truncated image points to the man and woman inhabiting a space distinct from that in which the personified seasons are found. Just as the zodiac stood for the threshold between the upper and lower regions of the cosmos, the seasons were commonly used in Roman art

6 See the ivory panel showing the apotheosis of Symmachus (or of one of his relatives), now in the British Museum (inv. 1857,1013.1), where Sol takes his soul across the zodiac belt. 7 Chrys., ad illum. cat. 7.20 (A.  Wenger [ed.], Jean Chrysostome: Huit catéchèses baptismales inédites, SC 50bis, Paris 1957, 238–239; P.W.  Harkins [trans.], John Chrysostom: Baptismal Instructions, Westminster 1963, 112) Πάντας γὰρ διατεμὼν ἀγγέλους, ἀρχαγγέλους, θρόνους, κυριότητας, ἀρχάς, ἐξουσίας, πάσας τὰς ἀοράτους ἐκείνας δυνάμεις, τὰ χερουβίμ, τὰ σεραφίμ, παρ’ αὐτὸν τὸν θρόνον τὸν βασιλικὸν ἔστησε τῶν πιστῶν τὰ φρονήματα. 8 On the stele, see M.J. Vermaseren, The Miraculous Birth of Mithras, in: Mn. 4 (1951), 285–301. For other depictions of the zodiac, see H.G. Gundel, Zodiakos. Tierkreisbilder im Altertum. Kosmische Bezüge und Jenseitsvor Stellungen im antiken Alltagsleben, Mayence 1992. 9 G.M.A. Hanfmann, The Season Sarcophagus in Dumbarton Oaks, 2 vols., Cambridge 1951.

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Figure 25

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Relief showing Mithras as a child opening a passageway through the cosmos. The zodiac ring marks the threshold between the upper and the lower cosmic regions, while the personified winds represent the lower regions or Earth. Below, watching the god’s descent, are characters of his myth. Limestone, 94 cm, second half of the 2nd century. © Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier. (Photo: Th. Zühmer)

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to symbolise the lower cosmic regions, which were characterised by continuous change.10 Thus, the composition shows the couple in the upper cosmic regions, beyond the zodiac ring.11 To confirm this is the woman’s billowing cape, a visual formula commonly used in scenes of apotheosis to indicate cosmic ascension.12 (see Fig. 26) The scene on the sarcophagus encapsulates the couple’s hope in joining the gods in the upper cosmic regions, thus adding to the crowding of their realm that Lucian of Samosata ridiculed, as we have seen in Chapter 1.

Figure 26

Frontal side of the Seasons Sarcophagus. Marble, 112 cm × 224 cm × 116 cm, ca. 330, possibly from Rome. © Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C. (inv. no. BZ.1936.65) (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici)

Similar imagery adorned the settings of late antique initiations, which often claimed to offer a vision of the god ruling over the cosmic path to salvation, or to allow ritual participants to ascend while still in the body. To this end, various artifices were used, along with ingenious ways of influencing the perception of the experience. Apart from Christianity, for which a rich documentation exists, the information available on other cults tends to reflect local practices. Nevertheless, regardless of the cult and area, the iconic quality of the initiate

10 11 12

Hanfmann, 1951, vol. 1; A.M. McCann, Roman Sarcophagi in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1978, 135–136. Ivanovici, 2016, 75–76. A. Strong, Apotheosis and After Life: Three Lectures on Certain Phases of Art and Religion in the Roman Empire, London 1915, 177.

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emerges as central of the experience, which in my opinion points to iconicity becoming a highly desired status. The second-century novel Metamorphoses culminates with the initiation of the main character into the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis. The described ritual seems to be a pastiche of initiations of the time, which could have played a role in the text’s popularity.13 In the book, the hero’s life runs the full span of human existence as envisioned in the period, from donkey-shaped person to living statue of a god. As in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Lucius’s character dictated his bodily form, with him being transformed into a donkey because of his mundane interests. In the last section of the book, following a vision of the goddess Isis, who instructs him to travel to Kenchreai (Corinth), Lucius is changed back into human form, fasts in preparation of the ritual, and is eventually taken by the priests to the temple’s most secluded chamber to be initiated. What happens inside is described in generic but telling terms: I approached the boundary of death and treading on Proserpine’s threshold, I was carried through all the elements, after which I returned. At the dead of night, I saw the sun flashing with bright effulgence. I approached close to the gods above and the gods below and worshipped them face to face.14

Often considered to be the only visible part of the upper heavens, the sun was identified in the late antique period as the “uplifter of souls”, with several cults claiming the subjection of Sol to their gods and having him assist believers during the ascensions they staged.15 As a result, initiations were often held at night or in dark settings, to allow the cult personnel to stage the apparition of the sun through artifices.16 In the presence of the nocturnal sun, Lucius died, ascended through the cosmic levels, encountered the gods face to face, and returned a changed being. His new status was indicated by the costume he received from the priests of Isis. The costume was made of twelve pieces – a reference to the constellations of the zodiac – and included a lit torch and a palm-leaf crown that, we are told, appeared as the radiant crown of Sol. Lucius’s 13 14

15 16

J. Alvar, Romanising Oriental Gods. Myth, Salvation and Ethics in the Cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras, RGMW 165, Leiden 2008, 217–222.337. Apul., m. 11.23 (Gaselee [ed.], 1924, 580; J.G. Griffiths [trans.], Apuleius of Madauros: The Isis-Book (Metamorphoses, Book XI), Leiden 1975, 99) Accessi confinium mortis et calcato Proserpinae limine per omnia vectus elementa remeavi; nocte media vidi solem candido coruscantem lumine, deos inferos et deos superos accessi coram et adoraui de proximo. Proclus, hymnus soli 34 (R.M. van den Berg [ed.], Proclus’ Hymns: Essays, Translations, Commentary, Leiden 2001, 148). See R. Merkelbach, Mithras: Ein persisch-römischer Mysterienkult, Wiesbaden 1998, esp. figs. 55, 62, 87, 99, 134, 145, 164; Ivanovici, 2016, 19–108.

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iconicity was not left to interpretation but emphasised, with the priests placing him on a podium in the temple of Isis and revealing him from behind a curtain. “Adorned like the sun and set up in the manner of a divine statue” – as the author points out – Lucius stood for three days on the stage as testimony of the goddess’s power to transform her followers.17 Thus, the hero of the novel gained the status Aristides was longing for at the same time in Aesculapius’s healing centre in Pergamon. Mithraism offered similar status to its members. Our knowledge of the cult is limited to the remains of mithraea, extant cultic artefacts, and information provided by Christian authors. What can be determined indicates that the followers of Mithras were organised in small groups, which allowed them to identify each with a character of the god’s myth. After an initiation ceremony, which at least in some cases was staged as a death and resurrection, the person reached the first of seven levels, each corresponding to a mythological figure and to a planet of our solar system.18 Later, as one advanced in the congregation, they were identified with higher cosmic levels and more prominent characters. Given that each level was associated with a planet, this advancing within the cult involved one’s gradual ascension through the cosmos.19 The last level of initiation allowed one to take on the guise of Mithras, wear the god’s costume and play his part during the cult’s main ritual. The latter was a reenactment of the meal shared between Mithras and Sol after killing the primordial bull and was held in the presence of fabricated suns and other luminaries inside cave-like spaces. During the ritual, the followers of Mithras performed their respective characters and fleshed out the solar system inside the space, as indicated by written sources, depictions, the structure of mithraea, and cult paraphernalia. A sculpted relief from Konjica (modern Bosnia and Herzegovina) depicts the impersonators of Mithras and Sol eating. Those who embodied Cautes and Cautopates – the servants of Mithras – tend to them, while those who had reached the levels of Crow (the planet Mercury) and Lion (the planet Jupiter) are shown at the sides.20 While the impersonation of Mithras, Cautes, and 17 18 19

20

Apul., m. 11.24 (Gaselee [ed.], 1924, 582; Griffiths [trans.], 1975, 101) sic ad istar solis exornato me et in vicem simulacri constituto, repente velis reductis, in aspectum populus errabat. On the cosmic dimension of Mithraism, see R. Beck, The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire, Oxford 2006; Alvar, 2008, 364–381. On the levels, Or., Cels. 6.22 (Marcovich [ed.], 2015, 399–400); Hieron., e. 107.2 (Hilberg [ed.], 1912, 291–292); M.J. Vermaseren / C.C. van Essen, The Excavations in the Mithraeum of the Church Santa Prisca in Rome, Leiden 1965, 155–172; R.L. Gordon, Ritual and Hierarchy in the Mysteries of Mithras, in: ARYS 4 (2001[2005]), 245–274. On the relief, see M.J. Vermaseren, Mithras the Secret God, London 1963, 101–103.

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Cautopates was expressed visually through the wearing of these characters’ distinctive garments, those who ‘played’ the other ranks used props. As visible in the Konjica and other reliefs, and is confirmed by material finds, masks were used to assimilate believers to the Crow and Lion levels and radiate crowns to allow them to impersonate Sol.21 (see Fig. 27) According to a Christian source that mocked the ceremony, during the ceremony “some flap their wings like birds, imitating the call of the raven; others roar like lions.”22 Thus, Mithraism offered various levels of iconic status, allowing its members to be iconic during the ritual, while also creating a hierarchy among them.

Figure 27

Relief showing followers of Mithras impersonating the god and the characters of his myth during the celebration the ritual banquet. Limestone, 59 × 85 cm, likely of the 4th century, Konjica. Zemaljski Muzej Bosne I Hercegovine / National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina

As we will now see, bishops used the interpretative potentialities of the biblical notion of a humanity created “in the image and after the likeness of God” 21

22

On the Mithras mask recently found in Turkey, see A.F. Erol / S.Y. Şenyurt, A Terracotta Mask of Mithras Found at Camihöyük-Avanos, Cappadocia, Providing New Evidence of the Mithraic Cult and Ritual Practices in Anatolia, in: Tüba-ar 14 (2011), 87–106. On other props, see K. Kortüm / A. Neth, Mithras im Zabergäu: Die Mithräen von Güglingen, in: Imperium Romanum – Römer, Christen, Alamannen – Die Spätantike am Oberrhein. Katalog der Landesausstellung Karlsruhe 2005/06, Stuttgart 2005, 225–231; I.  Siemers-Klenner, Archäologie des Mithraskultes: Architektur und Kultpraxis am Beispiel der Tempel von Güglingen, Kreis Heilbronn, Wiesbaden 2020. Ambrosiast., quae. vet. nov. test. 114.11 (A.  Souter [ed.], Pseudo-Augustini Quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti CXXVII, CSEL 50, Vienna 1908, 308; trans. R. Beck, Ritual, Myth, Doctrine, and Initiation in the Mysteries of Mithras: New Evidence from a Cult Vessel, in: JRS 90 (2000), 145–180 [146]) Alii autem sicut aves alas percutiunt vocem coracis imitantes, alii vero leonum more fremunt.

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(Gen 1:26) to promise iconicity to all who joined the Church. To stress the neophytes’ functioning as images of the Christian God, the Church Fathers referenced statues, thus rendering explicit what had been obvious but remained unexpressed since the first century, namely that Christianity was proposing its own religious overachievers as alternatives to this mechanism of interaction with the divine. 4.2

New Bishops for a New Church

Following the faith’s legalisation in 313, the Church turned towards the world. Seeking to promote the faith among Romans, fourth-century bishops adapted rhetorical, ritual, architectural, and decorating strategies that already existed in Roman society. As pointed out by Dominic Janes, the adoption of common motifs allowed the Church to communicate more efficiently and to persuade more people to join.23 The artisans of this process were persons educated in the tradition of paideia who rose to the episcopate. Over the fourth century, these bishops enacted what Susanna Elm called “the most far-reaching intellectual project” of the time, namely “the integration of the account of creation in Genesis into a variety of Platonic and Neoplatonic cosmological traditions.”24 Part of this synthesis involved reading Adam’s creation “in the image” of God in iconic terms drawn from late Roman society. Modern scholars have advanced the idea that the passage from the book of Genesis describing the creation of the first human was influenced by rituals through which cult statues were animated in Ancient Near Eastern societies.25 Consequently, the biblical text would imply that “Adamic beings are animate icons […] The peculiar purpose for their creation is ‘theophanic’: to represent or mediate the sovereign presence of the deity within the central nave of the cosmic temple, just as the cult-images were supposed to do in conventional sanctuaries.”26 This idea appears in the third century in the ­writings of Clement 23 24 25

26

D. Janes, God and Gold in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 1998, 45.117–118. Elm, 1994, 297. E.g., D. Steenburg, The Worship of Adam and Christ as the Image of God, in: JSNT 39 (1990), 95–109; A. Goshen-Gottstein, The Body as Image of God in Rabbinic Literature, in: HTR 87 (1994), 171–195; Herring, 2008. F. Horst, Face to Face: The Biblical Doctrine of the Image of God, in: Interpretation 4 (1950), 259–270 (259–260) pointed out that the words used in Hebrew for ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ both mean ‘statue’ in the sense of sculpted idol. S.D. McBride Jr., Divine Protocol: Genesis 1:1–2:3 as Prologue to the Pentateuch, in: W.P. Brown / S.D. McBride (eds.), God Who Creates: Essays in Honor of W. Sibley Towner, Grand Rapids 2000, 3–41 (16). See also Schüle, 2005, 6 “[scil. humans] represent God in the created world as the cultic image would do.”

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of Alexandria, who states that humans to have been set up as statues dedicated to God.27 Over the following two centuries, the presentation of Adam and ideal Christians as statues carrying the image of God that grew popular among Christian authors. In the East, Methodius of Olympus (d. ca. 311) argued: If anyone, therefore, will keep this beauty [scil. the image of God in humanity] spotless and intact and just as it was when the Creator Artist Himself fashioned it according to type, in imitation of that eternal and intelligible nature of which man is the image and expression, then, becoming like some beautiful sacred statue transported from this world to the city of the blessed in the heavens, he will dwell there as within a temple.28

A century later, Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428) held that God, like an artisan, “established humankind to serve as the image for his household, so that all creation would by their care and veneration towards humans render the honour due to God.”29 In the West, Zeno of Verona (d. 371) asserted that Adam had been made as “a statue initially unaware of itself.”30 Later, Peter Chrysologus of Ravenna (d. 450) identified Adam and his descendants as “visible likenesses” that make “the invisible Creator present on earth.”31 Similar statements were

27 28

29

30 31

Clem., str. 7.5.8 (Le Boulluec [ed.], 1997, 110; trans. ANF  2.530–531) Πᾶν γὰρ τὸ μέλλον πιστεύειν πιστὸν ἤδη τῷ θεῷ καὶ καθιδρυμένον εἰς τιμὴν ἄγαλμα ἐνάρετον, ἀνακείμενον θεῷ. Meth., symp. 6.2 (H.  Musurillo / V.-H.  Debidour [eds.], Méthode d’Olympe. Le Banquet, SC  95, Paris 1963, 168; H.  Musurillo [trans.], Methodius of Olympus. The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity, ACW 27, Westminster 1958, 91) Ἐὰν οὖν ἀμόλυντον τοῦτο τηρήσῃ τις τὸ κάλλος καὶ ἀσινὲς καὶ τοιοῦτον, ὁποῖον αὐτὸς ὁ συστησάμενος αὐτὸ καὶ ζωγραφήσας ἀπετύπωσε, τὴν αἰώνιον ἀπομιμησάμενος φύσιν καὶ νοητήν, ἧς καὶ χαρακτήρ ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ ἀπεικόνισμα, γεγονὼς οἷον ἄγαλμά τι περικαλλέστατον καὶ ἱερόν, ἐντεῦθεν μετενεχθεὶς εἰς τὴν μακάρων πόλιν τοὺς οὐρανούς, ὥσπερ ἐν ναῷ κατοικισθήσεται. Thdr. Mops., fr.s. 1 (ed. F.  Petit, L’homme créé ‘à l’image de Dieu’: quelques fragments grec unédits de Théodore de Mopsueste, in: Le Muséon 100 (1987), 269–277 [274]; trans. F.G. McLeod, The Christological Ramifications of Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Understanding of Baptism and the Eucharist, in: JECS 10 [2002], 37–75 [55]) τελευταῖον δὲ τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐν τάξει παρήγαγεν εἰκόνος οἰκείας, ὡς ἂν ἅπασα ἡ κτίσις ἐν τῇ περὶ τοῦτον σπουδῇ τε καὶ θεραπείᾳ τὴν προσήκουσαν ἀναφέρῃ τιμὴν τῷ θεῷ. Zeno, tract. 1 56.2.3 (G. Banterle [ed.], Zeno di Verona. I discorsi, Milan 1987, 198–199; my trans.) Construitur mobile totumque se nesciens simulacrum. Petr. Chrys., s. 148.2 (G.  Banterle et  al. [eds.], Pietro Crisologo. Vol. 3: Sermoni 125–179 e Lettera a Eutiche, Rome 1997, 154; G.E.  Ganss [trans.], Saint Peter Chrysologus: Selected Sermons. Saint Valerian: Homilies, Washington 1953, 249) in te imaginem suam ponit, ut terris inuisibilem conditorem uisibilis imago praesentem poneret esset que terrenus cf. also s. 147.8 and s. 150.

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made through art, with Adam being depicted reigning over the created world, at times in the nude and with a perfect body that visually referenced statuary.32 Textual and material sources documenting the baptismal theory and practice of Christian communities across the Roman Empire attest to this view of humankind as iconic and reigning over the rest of Creation becoming commonplace during the fourth and fifth centuries.33 It appears that in an effort to render the faith more appealing to Romans, bishops promised neophytes a status they knew was desired. The presentation of baptism as a life-altering ritual that prompted a vision of God and the physical transformation of the initiates, who regained the image of God lost by Adam, is discernible before the fourth century in the Gospel of Philip, as well as in the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Methodius of Olympus.34 Over the fourth and fifth centuries, bishops popularised this concept of iconic baptism, while also rendering it more conceptually coherent and producing, as we will now see, mechanisms through which the vision and physical transformation were produced. To stress the ritual’s transformative power, bishops switched baptism’s main analogy from the baptism of Jesus to his death and resurrection, building on Paul’s statement that “as many as were baptized to Christ Jesus, to his death were baptized.”35 Cast in terms of a ritual death and resurrection, baptism was set during the night of Easter so that initiates could rise together with Christ.36 32 33

34

35

36

See the Carrand ivory diptych, now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence. H. Maguire, Earth and Ocean: The Terrestrial World in Early Byzantine Art, University Park 1987, 68–72. On the theology and practice of baptism in this period, see M.E. Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation, Collegeville 1999; E.  Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries, Grand Rapids 2009; R.M. Jensen, Living Water: Images, Symbols, and Settings of Early Christian Baptism, SVigChr 105, Leiden 2010; ead., Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity: Ritual, Visual, and Theological Dimensions, Grand Rapids 2012; D. Hellholm et al. (eds.), Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism: Late Antiquity, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity, 2 vols., Berlin 2011. On the ritual’s transformative dimension, see E.J. Yarnold, The Awe-inspiring Rites of Initiation: The Origins of the R.C.I.A., Collegeville 1972; Ivanovici, 2016, 19–108. For Clement, see above; Meth., symp. 8.6 and 8.8 (Debidour / Musurillo [eds.], 1963, 214– 216.218–220). The Gospel of Philip, a text of the second century, refers to baptism as the putting on of the form of Christ, to the chrism as a garment of fire and light, and to baptisands as Christs. See Ivanovici, 2016, 34–36. Rom  6:3. On the change in symbolism, see G.  Winkler, The Original Meaning of the Prebaptismal Anointing and its Implications, in: Worship  52 (1978), 24–45; ead., The Blessing of the Water in the Oriental Liturgies, in: Conc(D) 178 (1985), 53–61; V. Saxer, Les rites de l’initiation chrétienne du IIe au VIe siècle. Esquisse hist. et signification d’apres leurs principaux temoins, Spoleto 1988, 136. The secrecy, Easter date, and other features cannot be attested in all communities, but they grew popular over the fourth century and generalised during the next.

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The details of the experience were sworn to secrecy and its perception was shaped through a forty-day programme of intense instruction that was psychologically and physiologically straining.37 A vision of God and the regaining of the image of God lost by Adam were often promised to those preparing for the ritual, with statues becoming a key analogy for those who underwent it: When a man takes and melts down a gold statue which has become filthy with the filth of years and smoke and dirt and rust, he returns it to us all-clean and shining. So, too, God takes this nature of ours when it is rusted with the rust of sin, when our faults have covered it with abundant soot, and when it had destroyed the beauty He put into it in the beginning, and He smelts it anew. He plunges it into the waters as into the smelting furnace and lets the grace of the Spirit fall on it instead of the flames. Then He brings us forth from the furnace, renewed like newly molded vessels, to rival the rays of the sun with our brightness. He has broken the old man to pieces but has produced a new man who shines brighter than the old.38

Several other formulas and motifs were used by authors of the time to describe the iconicity baptisands gained through baptism: “putting Christ on,” “regaining the luminous garment of Adam,” “becoming like God,” “becoming sons and coheirs with Christ,” “receiving the seal of Christ,” being “remade in the form of Christ,” “gaining the Divine Image,” shining like angels, becoming a portrait of the King, becoming “another Christ,” being impressed with the image of Christ, or the baptismal font as the womb of Mary or as furnace reshaping baptisands in the form of Christ.39 Many of these formulas have an unmistakable visual 37 38

39

Ivanovici, 2016, 19–57. Chrys., ad illum. cat. 1.3 (J.-P.  Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 49, Paris 1862, coll. 227C; P.W. Harkins [trans.], John Chrysostom: Baptismal Instructions, Westminster 1963, 138–139) Ὥσπερ οὖν ἀνδριάντα χρυσοῦν πολλῷ τῷ χρόνῳ καὶ τῷ καπνῷ καὶ τῇ κόνει καὶ ἰῷ ῥυπωθέντα λαβών τις καὶ χωνεύσας, καθαρώτατον ἡμῖν καὶ ἀστράπτοντα ἀποδίδωσιν, οὕτω καὶ τὴν φύσιν τὴν ἡμετέραν ὁ Θεὸς ἰωθεῖσαν τῷ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἰῷ, καὶ πολὺν δεξαμένην τὸν καπνὸν τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν πλημμελημάτων, καὶ τὸ κάλλος ἀπολέσασαν, ὅπερ παρ’ αὐτοῦ παρὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐγκατέθηκε, λαβὼν ἄνωθεν ἐχώνευσε, καὶ καθάπερ εἰς χωνευτήριον ἐμβαλὼν τὰ ὕδατα, καὶ τὴν τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐπαφεὶς χάριν ἀντὶ φλογὸς, εἶτα νεοπαγεῖς ἐκεῖθεν καὶ καινοὺς γενομένους ἀντιβλέψαι λοιπὸν ταῖς ἡλιακαῖς καινοὺς γενομένους ἀντιβλέψαι λοιπὸν ταῖς ἡλιακαῖς ἀκτῖσι μετὰ πολλῆς ἀνάγει τῆς λαμπρότητος, τὸν μὲν παλαιὸν συντρίψας ἄνθρωπον, νέον δὲ κατασκευάσας τοῦ προτέρου λαμπρότερον. cf. also id., hom. in Col. 7.3 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 62, Paris 1862, coll. 346); Meth., symp. 6.2 (Debidour / Musurillo [eds.], 1963, 168); Nar. (d. ca. 500), hom. 21.343:33–344:5; S 343:20– 344:3 (A. Mingana [ed.], Narsai doctoris syri homiliae et carmina. Vol. 1, Mosul 1905). E.g., Bas., bapt. 1.3.1 (J. Ducatillon [ed.], Basile de Césarée, Sur le baptême. Texte grec de l’édition U. Neri. Introduction, traduction et annotation par Jeanne Ducatillon, SC 357, Paris 1989, 192); Chrys., ad illum. cat. 1.2, 2.11, 5.18 (J.-P.  Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 49, Paris 1862); Gr. Naz., or. 40.13 (C. Moreschini [ed.], Grégoire

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dimension that referenced, I argue, the ways in which the baptisands’ bodies were treated during the ritual. 4.3

Making Golden Statues of Christ

Although still marked by local differences, the concept and practice of baptism became remarkably consistent during the fourth century.40 The new type of ritual experience bishops proposed to those who joined the Church – which culminated with the ‘melting and recasting’ of the initiates into images of the Christian god – was designed integrating what cults around the Mediterranean had learned about the staging of life-altering experiences, the knowledge Greek and Roman philosophical schools had accumulated on the mechanics of human perception, as well as experiments made by early Christian communities in staging visions and transformations.41 Thus, bishops combined secrecy on the precise nature of the experience with promises of visions of God and of corporeal transformation, which they made using a vocabulary that referenced the concept of cosmic ascension we have seen popular across the late antique religious landscape. This strategy stirred the audience’s curiosity and led them to expect the type of ritual they knew to be transformative, namely a vision/ascension followed by the initiate’s transformation into a living image of their deity.42

40 41

42

de Nazianze, Discours 38–41, SC  358, Paris 1990, 226); Cyr., in Jo.  1.9 (J.-P.  Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 37, Paris 1862, coll. 120); Ivanovici, 2016, 37–56. See the summary of the various traditions in Ferguson, 2009. Early Christian communities experimented various ways of staging the light theophany that an apocryphal tradition placed at the baptism of Jesus cf. A. Cosentino, Il fuoco nel Giordano, il cero pasquale e la columna del Battistero Lateranense, in: L’edifìcio battesimale in Italia. Aspetti e problemi. Atti dell’VIII Congresso Nazionale di Archeologia Cristiana (21–26.9.1998), Bordighera 2001, 521–540; Ivanovici, 2016, 22–37. Ancient rhetoric’s interest in the mechanics of perception and cognition, as well as in how to manipulate audiences is clearest in Quintilian’s Institutio Oratoria. For an introduction to ancient rhetoric, see G.A.  Kennedy, The Art of Rhetoric in the Roman World 300 BC–AD 300, Princeton 1972; Y.Z. Liebersohn, The Dispute Concerning Rhetoric in Hellenistic Thought, Göttingen 2010. On the effects of secrecy, see Ambr., d.m. 1.2 (O. Faller [ed.], Ambrosius. Explanatio symboli, De sacramentis, De mysteriis, De paentientia, De excessu fratris, De obitu Valentiniani, De obitu Theodosii, CSEL  73, Vienna 1955, 89). On its use in ancient initiations, see D.L. Schwartz, Paideia and Cult: Christian Initiation in Theodore of Mopsuestia, Washington 2013, 48–62. Modern scholars have debated the relationship between ancient mysteria and Christian sacraments. See the recent summary in Bremmer, 2014, 142–147. For baptism as similar to late antique rather than ancient initiations, see Ivanovici, 2016, 19–21.

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Speaking of the vision offered in baptism, Bishop Maximus of Turin (d. ca. 420) stated that: … heaven must be open to those requesting baptism, since it is still closed to them. For heaven is closed to them because they do not yet see the mystery of the Trinity. Inasmuch as heaven is closed to them they are unaware of what is taking place above heaven, nor can they know what the substance is of the Son and the Father unless they first transcend the elements of the world. […] Therefore, when the heavens have been closed to a person they must be opened to him so that he may see Christ standing above the heavens, for as long as they are closed to someone he is unable to see Christ reigning.43

Across the Mediterranean, John Chrysostom repeatedly mentioned in his prebaptismal sermons the exalted state the ritual would grant baptisands, using terms that alluded to an iconic state such as the one we saw conferred by other initiations of the time: Remember me, then, when you come into that kingdom, when you receive the royal robe, when you are clothed with the purple which has been dipped in the Master’s blood, when you put on your heads the diadem whose lustre leaps forth on every side with a brightness which rivals the rays of the sun.44

Such promises were fulfilled inside the spaces dedicated to the ritual, i.e., baptisteries. Although typically small, baptisteries were carefully built and decorated to complement the ritual.45 In addition, they were the last in a series of spaces, each dedicated to a different part of the pre-baptismal preparation. Thus, the perception of the baptistery’s interior and of the ritual performed inside was prepared through a sequence of teachings, actions, and spaces. 43

44

45

Max. Taur., s. 52.3 (A.  Mutzenbecher [ed.], Maximus Taurinensis: Sermones, CCSL  23, Turnhout 1962, 211; B. Ramsey [trans.], The Sermons of St. Maximus of Turin, ACW 50, New York 1989, 127–128) Reserandum igitur conpetentibus nostris est caelum, quoniam adhuc clausum est apud illos. Clausum enim est illis caelum, quoniam mysterium nondum peruidet trinitatis. Clauso enim sibi caelo super caelum quid agatur ignorant, nec scire possunt quae sit filii patrisque substantia, nisi prius mundi aelementa transcenderint. […] Ergo cui clausi sunt caeli agendum est, ut aperiantur illi, quatenus super caelos Christum ‘possit aspicere’; nam quamdiu clausi sunt homini, Christum non potest uidere regnantem. Chrys., ad illum. cat. 1.1 (Migne [ed.], 1862, coll. 223B; Harkins [trans.], 1963, 132) Μνήσθητε οὖν, ὅταν ἔλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν ἐκείνην, ὅταν τὸ ἱμάτιον τὸ βασιλικὸν ἀπολάβητε, ὅταν τὴν πορφύραν περιβάλησθε τὴν αἵματι βαφεῖσαν Δεσποτικῷ, ὅταν διάδημα ἀναδήσησθε τῶν ἡλιακῶν ἀκτίνων φαιδροτέρας ἔχον πανταχόθεν ἐκπηδώσας λαμπηδόνας. On the architecture of late antique baptisteries, see S. Ristow, Frühchristliche Baptisterien, Münster 1998; O. Brandt, Understanding the Structures of Early Christian Baptisteries, in: Hellholm et al. (eds.), 2011, 1587–1609.

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Inside baptisteries, frescoes, mosaic, and opus sectile were used to construct iconographic programmes that converged with the scene of Jesus’s baptism or with the depiction of his symbol (i.e., cross, chi-rho).46 Extant spaces and written allusions attest to the use of the same imagery found in other initiations of the time, namely nocturnal suns, cosmic oculi, and divine apparitions. Dated to the beginning of the fifth century, the San Giovanni baptistery in Naples has the symbol of Christ depicted at the centre of a nocturnal sun.47 Playing on the expectation to find an oculus at the centre of the dome, the designer of the space used a visual trick to make a nocturnal sun seem to appear on the sky. The dome’s interior surface was covered with dark blue mosaic that melded with the night sky outside. Against this dissipating surface, elements in golden glass mosaic created the contour of an eight-rayed sun, whose disk and rays structured the other elements depicted in the dome.48 Together, the expectation of a nocturnal sun, the receding effect of the blue background, the contrast between the blue and golden elements, and the animation of the parts in gold by the flickering light of the lamps and candles present inside the baptistery made the sun-shaped frame prominent. At the apex of the dome, the disk of the sun opened to become a cosmic oculus. Through it, the baptisand in the font could gaze into the upper regions of the sky, where the symbol of Christ was visible. (see Figs. 28 & 29) A few decades later we find the same strategy used in a more daring manner. While in Naples baptisands were offered a vision of the highest heavens as a distant space, in the Orthodox Baptistery in Ravenna “devices developed in Antiquity to create the illusion of a reality beyond the picture plane began to be used as a means of projecting the image into the audience’s own space.”49 As noted by Annabel  J.  Wharton, the design in Ravennate baptistery materialises Jesus and the apostles inside the space, thus allowing baptisands to share the same space with the divine. Looking up from the font, the person 46 47

48 49

On the decoration of late antique baptisteries, see Jensen, 2010; ead., 2012; Ivanovici, 2016, 19–115. On the baptistery, see C.  Croci, Una “questione campana”: La prima arte monumentale Cristiana tra Napoli, Nola e Capua (IV–VI sec.), Rome 2017; ead., C.  Croci, La narration dans l’espace de la coupole: une rencontre compliquée? Autour des mosaïques du baptistère de San Giovanni in Fonte à Naples ( fin IV e–début Ve siècle), in: Croci / Ivanovici (eds.), 2018, 65–84. Ivanovici, 2016, 80–83; id., Soleils nocturnes. Visions progressives dans les édifices à coupole de l’Antiquité tardive, in: EDL 2 (2018), 103–122. A.J.  Wharton, Ritual and Reconstructed Meaning: The Neonian Baptistry in Ravenna, in: ArtB 69 (1987), 358–365 (358). On the baptistery, see S.K. Kostof, The Orthodox Baptistery of Ravenna, New Haven 1965; C. Muscolino / A. Ranaldi / C. Tedeschi (eds.), Il Battistero Neoniano: Uno sguardo attraverso il restauro, Ravenna 2011.

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Figure 28

Mosaic decoration of domed ceiling inside the San Giovanni in Fonte baptistery in Naples. Ca. 400. (Photo: Domenico Ventura)

undergoing the ritual saw the disk of a nocturnal sun created by the golden light emanated by the body of Jesus.50 Around the golden disk containing the depiction of Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan, twelve vegetal candelabra and twelve standing apostles stood as golden sunrays. (see Fig. 30) Thus, the setting likened Christ with the sun and the apostles with his rays, a favourite analogy of local bishops.51 Thanks to the curved surface of the dome, to the play of con50 51

On the body of Jesus being the source of the golden light in the central disk, see F.W.  Deichmann, Ravenna: Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes. Kommentar  1, Wiesbaden 1974, 143. Zeno, tract. 2 12.2.3 (Banterle [ed.], 1987, 284–287); Chrom. Aquil., in M. 19.1.2 (G. Banterle [ed.], Cromazio di Aquileia: Commento a Matteo, Milan 1990, 128–129); Max. Taur., s. 29.1 and 62.2 (Mutzenbecher [ed.], 1962). On the motif, see F.J. Dölger, Das Sonnengleichnis in

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Drawing showing the location of golden mosaic tesserae in the decoration of the domed ceiling inside the San Giovanni in Fonte baptistery in Naples. Ca. 400. (Graphic development by Lorenzo R. Pini)

trasts between the dark background and the elements rendered in gold, and to the reflectivity of the materials – which simultaneously animated and fleshed out the depicted elements – the initiates could share the space with their new god and his apostles.52

52

einer Weihnachtspredigt des Bischofs Zeno von Verona. Christus als wahre und ewige Sonne, in: AuC 6 (1937), 1–50; M. Wallraff, Christus verus Sol: Sonnenverehrung und Christentum in der Spätantike, Münster 2001; Ivanovici, 2016, 66–80. Ivanovici, 2016, 57–108; id., Soleils, 2018.

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Figure 30

Mosaic decoration of the domed ceiling of the Orthodox Baptistery. Mosaic, ca. 458, Ravenna. The blue mosaic tesserae of the background faded over the centuries, thus the contrast was a lot stronger initially. (Photo: Longo Editore, with the kind concession of the Opera di Religione della Diocesi di Ravenna)

In baptisteries where canopies were set up over the font – which make up almost one-third of extant cases – the decorative programme converged at the centre of the pavement decoration, on the bottom of the font rather than on the ceiling.53 The image depicted on the font’s floor revealed itself to the baptisand through the lustrous surface of the water, which was mixed with the anointing oil from previous initiates and animated by the flickering of the lights placed in the vicinity.54 In cases where the fonts were decorated with 53 54

For the statistic, see Ristow, 1998, 33. V.  Ivanovici / N.S.  Dennis, Light, Vision(s), Transformation. Experiencing Baptism in Canopied Fonts (ca. 230–ca. 500), in: HAM 26 (2020), 97–108.

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complex iconographic schemes, as that from Kelibia, Tunisia, the font’s internal steps and its bottom created a layered image like the one in the dome of the baptistery in Naples.55 Thus, although they showcased less complex iconographies, such baptisteries allowed baptisands to physically enter the vision. With each downward step, the baptisand advanced into the image, sensation reinforced by the presence of the water that enveloped one’s body. This downward journey offered a twist on the expected, upward experience. The material frame provided by the canopy and the columns that supported it reinforced the statue-like quality of the neophytes, as similar settings were used in Roman public spaces to display statues. The vision of the image or symbol of Christ during the ritual was presented as the catalyst of the ontological transformation the ritual promised. Discussing the workings of the Holy Spirit, Basil of Caesarea turned to the moment of baptism, when people were cleansed of their sins, had the image of God in them renewed, and were allowed to see and recognise themselves in Christ: Only then, after a man is purified [scil. in baptism] from the shame whose stain he took through his wickedness, and has come back again to his natural beauty [scil. Adam’s and Christ’s], as it were cleaning the Royal Image and restoring its ancient form, only thus is it possible for him to draw near to the Paraclete. And He, like the sun, will with the help of your cleansed eye show you in Himself the image of the invisible, and in the blessed spectacle of the image you will behold the unspeakable beauty of the archetype.56

As with the promised vision of God, the bishops used an artifice to render visible the regaining of the image of God lost by Adam. The popularisation of the nocturnal setting for baptism during the fourth century allowed for the wet and anointed bodies of baptisands exiting the font to be made luminous as 55

56

The Bardo Museum, where the font is located, was the site of a terrosist attack in 2015 and has since remained closed. The Museum’s contact page is suspended, so the image rights could not be secured, but the font can be seen on the website: http://www.bardomuseum.tn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93:baptistere-de-demnacuve-baptismale&catid=45:periode-byzantine-&Itemid=74&lang=en. On the font, see O. Perler, Die Taufsymbolik der vier Jahreszeiten im Baptisterium bei Kelibia, in: A. Stuiber / A. Hermann (eds.), Mullus: Festschrift Theodor Klauser, Münster 1964, 282–290; É. Palazzo, Iconographie et liturgie: La mosaïque du baptistère de Kélibia (Tunisie), in: ALW 34 (1992), 102–120. Bas., Spir. 9.23 (B. Pruche [ed.], Basile de Césarée. Sur le Saint-Esprit, SC 17bis, Paris ²1968, 326–328; trans. NPNF 2.8,15) Καθαρθέντα δὴ οὖν ἀπὸ τοῦ αἴσχους ὃ ἀνεμάξατο διὰ τῆς κακίας, καὶ πρὸς τὸ ἐκ φύσεως κάλλος ἐπανελθόντα, καὶ οἷον εἰκόνι βασιλικῇ τὴν ἀρχαίαν μορφὴν διὰ καθαρότητος ἀποδόντα, οὕτως ἐστὶ μόνως προσεγγίσαι τῷ Παρακλήτῳ. Ὁ δέ, ὥσπερ ἥλιος, κεκαθαρμένον ὄμμα παραλαβών, δείξει σοι ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ ἀοράτου. Ἐν δὲ τῷ μακαρίῳ τῆς εἰκόνος θεάματι τὸ ἄρρητον ὄψει τοῦ ἀρχετύπου κάλλος.

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the light from the several lamps and candles placed in the vicinity of the font bounced off their skin.57 The shimmer of their bodies – not unlike that of a gilded cult statue in the penumbra of its temple cella – was identified by bishops as the image of God lost by Adam and regained in baptism. Because bishops typically praised the baptisands’ luminous bodies using Paul’s garment imagery, modern scholars thought that they referred to the white garments one received upon leaving the baptistery.58 Nevertheless, a close analysis of the texts, mise-en-scène of the ritual, and culture of the time reveals that what was meant was the luminosity of their wet and anointed bodies. This is confirmed by Theodore of Mopsuestia, who states that “when you go out [scil. of the font] you wear a garment that is wholly radiant”; by Ephrem the Syrian and Augustine of Hippo, who identify the chrism as a luminous garment carrying the image of God; or by John Chrysostom, who distinguishes between the luminous garment and the white clothes.59 Therefore, the recurrent mention of ‘shining robes’ in baptism-related writings of this period should be seen as referencing both the anointing and the white garment.60 Interpreting anointed bodies as luminous was not novel. The effect is mentioned in the first-century text 2Enoch – where the biblical patriarch is anointed by angels in heaven and thus gains angel-like luminosity – and is depicted in mosaics dated from the first to the fourth century.61 The interpretation of the 57

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Johnson, 1999, tables on pp. 154 and 199 shows that most communities practiced a sort of pre-baptismal anointing (whether of the body, head, or unspecified). On the location of lights in late antique baptisteries, see V.  Ivanovici, Luce renobatus: Speculations on the Placement and Importance of Lights in Ravenna’s Neonian Baptistery, in: D. Mondini / V.  Ivanovici (eds.), Manipulating Light in Premodern Times. Architectural, Artistic, and Philosophical Aspects, Cinisello Balsamo 2014, 18–29; Ivanovici / Dennis, 2020. On the garments, see Ambr., d.m. 7.34 (Faller [ed.], 1955, 102–103); J.E. Farrell, The Garment of Immortality: A Concept and Symbol in Christian Baptism, Washington 1974; G.-H. Baudry, Le baptême et ses symboles. Aux sources du salut, Paris 2001, 89–123. Thdr. Mops., On the Lord’s Prayer 4 3,201:26–202:11 (A. Mingana [ed. / trans.], Christian Documents in Syriac, Arabic, and Garshūni. Vol. 5: Commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia on the Lord’s Prayer and on the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, Cambridge 1933, 68) ‫ ; ܡܦܪܓ ܡܐ ܕܝܢ ܕܣܠܩܬ ܡܟܝܠ ܡܢ ܬܡܢ ܠܒܫܬ ܠܒܘܫܐ ܕܟܠܗ‬Ephr., h.v. 7.6–7 (E. Beck [ed.], Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen de Virginitate. Vol. 1.2, CSCO 223, Louvain 1962) and id., h.e. 13.1 (E. Beck [ed.], Des heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Hymnen De Nativitate (Epiphania). Vol. 2.2, CSCO 187, Louvain 1959); Aug., s. 227 (S. Poque [ed.], Augustin d’Hippone, Sermons pour la Pâque, SC 116, Paris 1966, 234–238); Chrys., ad illum. cat. 7.24 (Wenger [ed.], 1957, 241). The white garment was likely also meant to capture and reproduce the momentary effect of the chrism. 2 En  22:8–9. A single edition of the text does not exist. See the trans. by F.  Andersen, 2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of ) Enoch, in: J.H.  Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament

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anointing as a luminous garment had been made by certain Christian communities during the early centuries, but was generalised during the fourth, along with the nocturnal setting and the accent placed on baptism as conferring the iconic, statue-like status lost by Adam. The anointing was a symbolically pregnant gesture that allowed bishops to liken baptisands to athletes preparing to fight the Devil, to biblical prophets receiving the Holy Spirit, and to Jesus.62 Since Christ literally meant ‘anointed one,’ bishops could refer to baptisands as ‘Christs’ on account of the anointing, thus stressing the exalted state conferred by the initiation.63 The visual effect of the chrismation rendered the “putting on” of Christ visible in the form of light, which likened them to the gods, the gods’ statues, and the iconic emperors. Thus, the Christian initiation momentarily offered the status we have seen that Paul’s correspondents in Corinth and Aelius Aristides desired. Since the details of the experience were usually not discussed beforehand, people perceived what took place inside baptisteries through the prism of the contemporary symbolic vocabulary and through the expectations created by the allusions the bishops made in their pre-baptismal sermons.64 As such, baptism must have appeared to those who joined the faith as the Christian version of the experiences we saw staged in the cults of Isis and Mithras. Confirming that baptism had been designed to respond to the expectations of its audience are similarities between the visions offered inside the baptisteries in Naples and Ravenna, on the one hand, and a Neoplatonic ritual, on the other.

62

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Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols., New York 1983, vol. 1, 91–221. On the text, see A.A.  Orlov, The Enoch-Metatron Tradition, Tübingen 2005. On corporeal luminosity and its symbolism, see M. Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, Oxford 1993, 40; Fletcher-Louis, 2002; Kim, 2004. Cyr. H., catech. m. 3 (A. Piédagnel [ed.], Cyrille de Jérusalem, Catéchèses Mystagogiques, SC 126bis, Paris ²1988, 120–134); G.  Winkler, The Original Meaning of the Prebaptismal Anointing and its Implications, in: Worship  52 (1978), 24–45; Baudry, 2001; J.  Day, The Baptismal Liturgy of Jerusalem: Fourth- and Fifth-century Evidence from Palestine, Syria and Egypt, Aldershot 2007, 65–77. Gr. Naz., or. 18.13 (J.-P.  Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 35, Paris 1857, coll. 1000C–1001A) and 40.10 (Moreschini [ed.], 1990, 218); Meth., symp. 8.8 (Debidour / Musurillo [eds.], 1963, 218–220). The Christian symbolism of baptism was explained to neophytes through a series of post-baptismal catecheses. See H.M. Riley, Christian Initiation: A Comparative Study of the Interpretation of the Baptismal Liturgy in the Mystagogical Writings of Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Ambrose of Milan, Washington 1974; C.A. Satterlee, Ambrose of Milan’s Method of Mystagogical Preaching, Collegeville 2002; Day, 2007.

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Sarah Iles Johnston identified the description of a Neoplatonic theurgic ritual in a fourth-century text erroneously called The Mithras Liturgy.65 Theurgy (lit. god-work) was introduced by the philosopher Iamblichus (ca. 245–325) and consisted of various rituals meant to stimulate one’s divine potential.66 With it, the philosophical school adapted Platonic thought to contemporary beliefs by recognising the iconic potential of living humans and designing rituals to attain it. The ritual described in this text prompted the ascension of the theurgist who, like Lucius, the followers of Mithras, and baptisands, rose through the cosmic structure. With the help of a spell, the theurgist opened the disk of the sun to gain access to the cosmic realm of the gods. As in Naples and Ravenna, the disk of the sun becomes an oculus through which the divine appears, in this case as a young god with fiery hair and wearing a white tunic, scarlet cloak, and blazing crown.67 Such rituals were said to allow Neoplatonists to regain the perfect, sun-like body humans had had before their fall into matter. Consequently, theurgists became “vehicles of the gods” and functioned as living statues of the divine.68 The philosophical school’s use of the same motifs and imagery to promise a status we saw offered by several other cults points to the central place iconic status had come to play in fourth-century Roman culture. In light of this information, it is safe to assume that Christianity’s growing popularity in this period can also be attributed to its leaders’ willingness to design baptism as a life-altering experience that conferred iconic status through the integration of popular motifs, strategies developed by other cults, and a brilliant new type of mise-en-scène that offered not only a vision of the upper heavens, but also rendered the bodies of initiates temporarily luminous. The synaesthetic character of the experience – represented by the spreading of the chrism on one’s body by deacons or deaconesses, contact with the water, sight of the lustrous chrism, its perfumed odour, sight of heavenly beings, and awareness of being watched by them – created a lasting memory that marked a turning point in one’s life.

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S.I. Johnston, Rising to the Occasion: Theurgic Ascent in its Cultural Milieu, in: P. Schäfer / H.G. Kippenberg (eds.), Envisioning Magic: A Princeton Seminar and Symposium, Leiden 1997, 218–233. G. Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus, Kettering 2014. Mithras Liturgy 634–638 (H.D.  Betz [ed.], The “Mithras Liturgy”: Text, Translation, and Commentary, Tübingen 2003, 53–56). Iamb., d.m. 115.4–5 (E.C. Clarke / J. Dillon / J.P. Hershbell [ed. / trans.], Iamblichus: On the Mysteries, WGRW 4, Atlanta 2003, 129); Shaw, 2014, 51–57.

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Beyond Baptism

Although unacknowledged in modern scholarship, the iconicity neophytes gained through baptism was a key component of Christian identity in the later fourth and the fifth centuries, since those who had been baptised as adults in this period were taught to act in the world as images of Christ. Gregory the Theologian (ca. 329–390) – Bishop of Sasima and Nazianzus and later Archbishop of Constantinople – taught the newly baptised to reject the Devil by saying to him “I am the Image of God; I have not been cast down from heavenly Glory as you were due to your pride; I have put on Christ; I have been transformed into Christ by baptism. Worship me!”69 Considered metaphorical by modern scholars, such formulations evoked the experience of baptism and the physical transformation underwent inside the baptistery. The new Christians’ awareness of their embodying of a state that many of their contemporaries desired must have shaped the way in which they interacted with the rest of society, in a period when the faith was spreading among Romans at a fast pace. Bishops played on this self-perception in order to shape the post-baptismal behaviour of their congregations. By reminding them of their iconicity, they urged Christians to adopt an irreproachable way of life: Having been baptized into Christ, and put on Christ, you have been made conformable to the Son of God; for God having foreordained us unto adoption as sons, made us to be conformed to the body of Christ’s glory. Having therefore become partakers of Christ, you are properly called Christs, and of you God said, ‘Touch not My Christs’, or anointed. Now you have been made Christs, by receiving the antitype of the Holy Ghost; and all things have been wrought in you by imitation, because you are images of Christ.70

Those who managed to preserve the iconic status gained in baptism were praised as statue-like, exemplary figures, thus consecrating the absorption of the statue motif within Christian culture. This is the case with Gregory’s father, 69 70

Gr. Naz., or. 40.10 (Moreschini [ed.], 1990, 218; trans. NPNF 2.7, 363) Εἰπέ, τῇ σφραγῖδι θαρρήσας. εἰκών εἰμι καὶ αὐτὸς Θεοῦ. τῆς ἄνω δόξης οὔπω δι’ ἔπαρσιν, ὥσπερ σύ, καταβέβλημαι. Cyr. H., catech. m. 3.1 (Piédagnel [ed.], 1988, 120–122; trans. NPNF  2.7, 149) Εἰς Χριστὸν βεβαπτισμένοι καὶ Χριστὸν ἐνδυσάμενοι σύμμορφοι γεγόνατε τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ. Προορίσας γὰρ ἡμᾶς ὁ Θεὸς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν, συμμόρφους ἐποίησε τοῦ σώματος τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Μέτοχοι οὖν τοῦ Χριστοῦ γενόμενοι, χριστοὶ εἰκότως καλεῖσθε, καὶ περὶ ὑμῶν ἔλεγεν ὁ Θεός· “Μὴ ἅπτεσθε τῶν χριστῶν μου” Χριστοὶ δὲ γεγόνατε, τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος τὸ ἀντίτυπον δεξάμενοι, καὶ πάντα εἰκονικῶς ἐφ’ ὑμῶν γεγένηται, ἐπειδὴ εἰκόνες ἐστὲ Χριστοῦ. Being a statue of God was possible also for women cf. Bas. Anc., d. virg. 36 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 30, Paris 1888, coll. 740D–741A).

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whose body had shone as he stepped out of the font and who subsequently “set himself before them [scil. his congregation] as an example, like a spiritual statue, polished into the beauty of all excellent conduct.”71 As a result, it became common to refer to Christians in terms such the ‘handwork,’ ‘housemates,’ ‘images,’ or ‘statues’ of God.72 A fragment from one of the many theological debates on the nature of Jesus attests to how the statue-like state started to become conventional among Christians: Otherwise, as the heretics say, God would be in the Lord Jesus Christ as in a statue or in an instrument, i.e., He would dwell as it were in a man and speak as it were through a man, and it would not be He who dwelt and spoke as God of Himself and in His own body: and certainly He had already thus dwelt in the saints and spoken in the persons of the saints. In those men too, of whom I spoke above, who had prayed for His advent, He had thus dwelt and spoken.73

Thus, in addition to exploring in detail what role the promise of joining a community whose members could claim iconic status played in attracting Romans to the Church, it is worth further considering how the status gained in baptism shaped the neophytes’ perception of the world, their social behaviour, and how this popularisation of iconicity within Christianity influenced the theological debates of the time.

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On his father’s luminosity at baptism, see Gr. Naz., or. 18.12–13 (Migne [ed.], 1857, coll. 1000–1001C; trans. NPNF 2.7, 258–259) Ἐξελθόντα δὲ αὐτὸν ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος, φῶς περιαστράπτει καὶ δόξα τῆς διαθέσεως ἀξία, μεθ’ ἧς προσῆλθε τῷ χαρίσματι τῆς πίστεως· On his becoming a statue-like exemplary figure, see id., or. 18.16 (Migne [ed.], 1857, coll. 1004C; trans. NPNF 2.7, 259) καὶ τῷ προθεῖναι τύπον ἑαυτὸν, ὥσπερ ἀνδριάντα πνευματικὸν, εἰς κάλλος ἀπεξεσμένον πάσης ἀρίστης πράξεως. Gr. Naz., carm. 1.10 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 37, Paris 1862, coll. 469 v. 58) Σαρκὸς μὲν, ὡς σύνοικος, ὡς δ’ εἰκὼν, Θεοῦ· and id., p.m. 1.2.34 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 37, Paris 1862, coll. 947) Ἄνθρωπός εἰμι, πλάσμα καὶ εἰκὼν Θεοῦ. Jo. Cass. (ca. 360–ca. 435), c.N. 5.14 (M. Petschenig [ed.], Ioannis Cassianis. De institutis coenobiorum; De incarnatione contra Nestorium, CSEL 17, Vienna 2004, 323; trans. NPNF 2.11, 590) Alioquin si, ut haereticus ait, deus futurus in domino Iesu Christo erat uelut in statua et in organo, id est ut habitaret tantum quasi in homine et loqueretur quasi per hominem, non ut ipse esset qui habitaret atque ex se et suo corpore loqueretur deus, iam utique sic et habitarat in sanctis et locutus fuerat e sanctis, in his quoque ipsis quos supra dixi, qui aduentum ipsius precabantur, sic erat ac loquebatur.

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Conclusions

Texts and rituals reflecting the views of various individuals, communities, and religions indicate that taking on the functions of cult statues became a highly desired status among Romans as early as the second century. Holding similar views of the structure of the cosmos and pursuing similar goals – namely iconic status on earth and ascension to the realm of the gods after death – differences between the late antique systems of belief diminished. Christian leaders made full use of the interpretative potential of the text in Genesis that presented Adam as God’s living, anthropomorphic image, as well as of Paul’s presentation of baptism as the “putting on” of Christ. Bishops produced and disseminated an impressive synthesis of biblical, apocryphal, and non-Christian motifs and practices to offer iconic status to those who joined the Church. The efficient strategy they designed to render baptisands iconic helped popularise the notion of iconic, statue-like living, which came to be, as we have seen, the natural state of baptised Christians by the fifth century.74 In this context, the statue as an analogy for living Christians became increasingly popular. In addition to identifying Adam and baptisands as statues of God, bishops also referred to children and lay Christians as being chiselled by their parents and clergy into statues of God.75 There were also unwanted side effects to conferring iconic status through baptism. By making the Church a community of iconic individuals, the prestige of being the image of the Christian God was unavoidably diluted. To preserve their distinction from the rest of the brethren, bishops gave an obvious, ritual and visual dimension to their own iconic status, as we will see in the following chapter.

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Bas., ep. 2.3 (Y. Courtonne [ed.], Saint Basile. Lettres. Texte établi et traduit. Vol. 1, Paris 1957, 9); Chrys., hom. in I Cor. 13.3 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 61, Paris 1862, coll. 110), id., ad illum. cat. 2.4 (Migne [ed.], 1862, coll. 237–238). Chrys., ad illum. cat. 2.3 (Migne [ed.], 1862, coll. 235–236); Aug., s. 336.1 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Latina. Vol. 38, Paris 1865, coll. 1471D–1472A); Bas. Anc., d. virg. 30 (Migne [ed.], 1888, coll. 729–731).

Chapter 5

Bishops The episcopate is the best documented case of a high clerical order held to be iconic. Bishops claimed to be iconic on several grounds and made use of both simple and complex strategies to establish their iconicity. Although some of these strategies were borrowed from the emperors, studies on episcopal iconicity do not exist. Thus, it is impossible to treat here episcopal iconicity in the summarising manner I did imperial one. Instead, I address the origins of the bishops’ iconicity, then look in detail at two influential episcopal models that crystallised in this period. 5.1

From Martyr-bishops to Teacher-bishops

During the first four centuries, the bishops’ attributes were not fixed.1 One of the earliest functions of the episcopal office, evident already in Ignatius of Antioch’s (d. 117/140) letters, is the bishop’s exemplarity. The author of the letters sought to establish bishops as performative images of Christ by making the case that their overseeing of their communities mirrored Christ’s similar care of humanity.2 This performative iconicity was reinforced by their Christ-like behaviour in daily life and by their performance of actions that reproduced those of Jesus during rituals. In addition, the consecration of bishops through the laying of hands was held to bring about their habitation by the Holy Spirit, which made them into vessels or temples of God alike to the confessors we discussed in Chapter 3.3 As we have seen, such a cohabitation with the divine in one’s body was expected to become visible through the body. Thus, members of their congregations would carefully observe bishops in search of signs that were interpreted as the divine manifesting through the body and becoming available to the human senses, such as corporeal luminosity or pleasant odour. Finally, several bishops were martyred, especially in the first waves of persecution, which targeted the leaders of Christian communities. This confirmed 1 On the episcopate during the first centuries, see F.A. Sullivan, From Apostles to Bishops: The Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church, New York 2001; Brent, 2007; A.C. Stewart, The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities, Grand Rapids 2014. 2 Ign., Magn. 3.1 and 6, id., Trall. 2.1 and 3.1 (Camelot [ed.], 1969). 3 Acts 8:17–19.

© Brill Schöningh, 2023 | doi:10.30965/9783657790821_006

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their iconic function, as the bishops perfected their imitation and impersonation of Christ by dying, thus allowing their congregations to witness Christ’s self-sacrifice. After  313 the likelihood of martyrdom decreased, but Christian authors equated martyrdom with asceticism, celibacy, or other types of suffering.4 Bishops thus had several ways to reinforce the performative iconic dimension of their office. In addition, from the end of the third century, it became normal for the office to be held by educated persons. Since most Christian rituals of the time included a didactic component in the form of sermons held by bishops, the figure of the bishop was enriched with the iconic quality we have seen Romans ascribed to erudite teachers. The Church Fathers of the late fourth century, who had received the education of patricians, confirmed the image of the bishop as iconic by combining the composure of well-mannered Roman gentlemen with ascetic habits, erudition, and, we will see, ritual actions that recommended them as living images of Christ.5 Gregory of Nazianzus’s description of Basil of Caesarea’s community, to which I referred already elsewhere in this book, is worth quoting here in full because it shows how the Roman culture of exemplarity shaped the perception of bishops in this key generation: So great was his virtue, and the eminence of his fame, that many of his minor characteristics, nay, even his physical defects, have been assumed by others with a view to notoriety. For instance his paleness, his beard, his gait, his thoughtful, and generally meditative, hesitation in speaking, which, in the ill-judged, inconsiderate imitation of many, took the form of melancholy. And besides, the style of his dress, the shape of his bed, and his manner of eating, none of which was to him a matter of consequence, but simply the result of accident and chance. So you might see many Basils in outward semblance, among these statues in outline, for it would be too much to call them his distant echo. For an echo, though it is the dying away of a sound, at any rate represents it with great clearness, while these men fall too far short of him to satisfy even their desire to approach him.6 4 See above, Chapter 3. 5 On the episcopate in the late antique period, see É.  Rebillard / C.  Sotinel (eds.), L’évêque dans la cité du IV e au V e siècle: Image et autorité, Rome 1998; A. Sterk, Renouncing the World Yet Leading the Church: The Monk‐Bishop in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 2004; C. Rapp, Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition, Berkeley 2005. 6 Gr. Naz., or. 43.77 (Bernardi [ed.], 1992, 294–296); trans. NPNF 2.7, 421) Τοσαύτη τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ἡ ἀρετὴ καὶ ἡ τῆς δόξης περιουσία ὥστε πολλὰ καὶ τῶν ἐκείνου μικρῶν, ἤδη δὲ καὶ τῶν σωματικῶν ἐλαττωμάτων, ἑτέροις εἰς εὐδοξίαν ἐπενοήθη· Oἷον ὠχρότητα λέγω καὶ γενειάδα καὶ βαδίσματος ἦθος καὶ τὸ περὶ λόγον μὴ πρόχειρον σύννουν τε ὡς τὰ πολλά καὶ εἴσω συννενευκός, ὃ, τοῖς πολλοῖς μὴ καλῶς ζηλωθὲν μηδὲ νοηθέν, σκυθρωπότης ἐγένετο· Ἔτι δὲ εἶδος ἐσθῆτος καὶ σκίμποδος σχῆμα καὶ τρόπος βρώσεως, ὧν οὐδὲν ἐκείνῳ διὰ σπουδῆς ἦν, ἀλλ’ ἁπλῶς ἔχον καὶ συμπῖπτον ὡς ἔτυχεν. Καὶ

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Denounced by Gregory because it produced “statues in outline” rather than imitators of the bishop’s virtues, this instance shows how Christians came to perceive their bishops through the lens of Roman canons of social interaction. This invites us to analyse episcopal self-presentation and what it entailed – that is, the spaces, decorative programmes, rituals, garments, and insignia of bishops – against this background, since bishops were aware of this dynamic and used it to expand their authority. Thanks to Emperor Constantine, the ways in which bishops constructed their public personae were shaped by imperial self-presentation strategies. Constantine’s integration of the episcopate in the imperial administration by granting bishops the right to act as judges, to display the insignia of higher imperial magistrates, and to use spaces inspired by imperial ones for the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy tied episcopal iconicity to imperial one.7 In the decades that followed, the growing richness of the Church, the favour shown by subsequent rulers, and the ambitions of certain bishops led to the Inszenierung of episcopal presence in ways that competed with the imperial one. Thus, bishops and Roman emperors entered a competition for the role of Christ’s living image on earth that lasted for over a millennium. Depending on their formation, interests, and local context, bishops could choose which of the office’s iconic dimensions to bring to the fore. Figures who ended up shaping the image of the episcopate, such as Ambrose of Milan and John Chrysostom, managed to weave all types together, having them reinforce each other in their public personae.8 Their familiarity with high Roman culture that, as we have seen, taught one how to design complex settings that used space, decoration, objects, garments, and gestures to communicate specific identities allowed these bishops to adapt the spaces and rituals of the Church to support their iconic quality. Thus, the Eucharistic liturgy as rewritten and performed by these bishops drew attention to their impersonation of Christ, with it becoming a ritual re-enactment of the story of the Incarnation. πολλοὺς ἂν ἴδοις Βασιλείους ἄχρι τοῦ ὁρωμένου, τοὺς ἐν ταῖς σκιαῖς ἀνδριάντας· πολὺ γὰρ εἰπεῖν, ὅτι καὶ τὸ τῆς ἠχοῦς ὑστερόφωνον· Compare with the right way of emulating described in Chrys., Melet. 1–2 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 50, Paris 1862, 515–517). 7 On the social status of bishops following Constantine, see R. Lizzi Testa, The Bishop, vir venerabilis: Fiscal Privileges and Status Definition in Late Antiquity, in: StPatr 34 (2001), 125–144; C.  Rapp, The Elite Status of Bishops in Late Antiquity in Ecclesiastical, Spiritual, and Social Contexts, in: Arethusa 33 (2000), 373–399. On the insignia, spaces, and gestures that bishops could now make use of, see T. Klauser, A Short History of the Western Liturgy: An Account and Some Reflections, New York 1969, 33–34. 8 On Ambrose, see N.B. McLynn, Ambrose of Milan, Church and Court in a Christian Capital, Berkeley 1994. On Chrysostom, see W. Mayer / P. Allen, John Chrysostom, London 2000.

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In parallel, the basilical plan inherited from Constantine was refined, with liturgical furnishings and the decoration focusing the believers’ attention on the officiating bishop. The switch to carefully choreographed rituals held in spaces decorated with iconographic programmes that created associations between the officiants and heavenly characters represented a momentous change in Christian history. The gestures and garments of those officiating the religion’s main ritual, the decoration of the spaces, the scriptural passages that were read or sung, the manipulation of objects such as gospel books, crosses, reliquaries, or censers, and the interaction between the categories of believers created a multilayered, dynamic visual discourse that – like the very spaces which hosted them – converged in the person of the officiating priest/bishop.9 (see Fig. 31) As has been discussed, such layered settings were being used by emperors of the time to establish themselves as iconic. Bishops not only imitated the concept but, taking advantage of the opportunity given by Constantine’s gift of the basilica, recast the Eucharistic liturgy as a sort of imperial advents and ceremonial reception where the bishop played the role of Christ and emperor.10 Christian communities around the Mediterranean combined this way of framing episcopal presence with local building, decorative, liturgical, and theological traditions, with the result that several formulas of episcopal authority were developed. Two of the most complex and influential examples are found in fifth-century Rome and sixth-century Byzantium. It is to them that I now turn. 5.2

Rome’s Aristocratic Bishops

Constantine’s gifts to the bishops of Rome created the conditions for their selfpresentation as iconic. The basilica Salvatoris, commissioned by Constantine in the Lateran, reproduced the aesthetic of contemporary imperial spaces.11 Marking the threshold between the nave and the transept, an imposing frame 9 10

11

V. Ivanovici, The Ritual Display of Gospels in Late Antiquity, in: D. Ganz / B. Schellewald (eds.), Clothing Sacred Scripture: Book Art and Book Religions in the Middle Ages, Berlin 2018, 221–232. H. Brandenburg, Santo Stefano Rotondo in Roma: Funzione urbanistica, tipologia architettonica, liturgia ed allestimento liturgico, in: MNIR 59 (2000), 27–53 argued that the episcopal entrance imitated the imperial adventus. On other aspects of Christian culture of the time that absorbed the prestige of the adventus, see Dufraigne, 1994. See the recent reconstruction and analysis in L. Bosman / I.P. Haynes / P. Liverani (eds.), The Basilica of Saint John Lateran to 1600, Cambridge 2020.

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Figure 31

Plan and section of the church San Vitale in Ravenna (ca. 548) showing the spaces converging in the episcopal cathedra. (Plan: Jäggi 2013: 241, section: Johnson 2018, fig. 7.43)

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established the bishop as a living image of Christ. (see Fig. 32) The fastigium was likely similar to the entrance of Diocletian’s palace and to the framing device depicted on the missorium of Theodosius, which we discussed in Chapter 2.12 For the upper part, Constantine had silver statues of Jesus, the apostles, and angels made. On the side facing the nave, Jesus was shown sitting on a stool (Lat. in sella), flanked by the twelve apostles. On the other side, towards the apse, he sat enthroned (Lat. in throno), surrounded by four angels.13 Since Jesus was likely at the centre, above the main opening of this permeable screen, the object created an analogy between him and the bishop, as the latter stood underneath it or sat on the cathedra (i.e., episcopal throne) in the back of the apse. As I argued in Chapter 2, such framing devices referenced representations of temples and placed the living person in the position of the deity’s cult image. Thus, the fastigium simultaneously conferred the bishop of Rome an imperial allure and established him as the image of Christ.14 Despite this impressive bequest, it took the bishops of Rome a century to ‘grow into the costume’ gifted by Constantine. After the emperors left Rome, the local aristocracy revived many of the city’s Republican traditions.15 As a result, local bishops had to negotiate their status with representatives of senatorial families who took pride in Rome’s polytheistic past.16 This negotiation was made in the vocabulary of power used by the local aristocracy, which the bishops had to first learn and then master. To further complicate the situation, bishops also had to struggle to impose their authority over their congregation, which was divided on geographic, ethnic, confessional, and political grounds.17

12

13 14 15 16 17

As proposed by S. de Blaauw, Cultus et decor: Liturgia e architettura nella Roma tardoantica e medievale: Basilica Salvatoris, Sanctae Mariae, Sancti Petri, 2 vols., Vatican City 1994; id., Imperial Connotations in Roman Church Interiors: The Significance and Effect of the Lateran Fastigium, in: J.R. Brand / O. Steen (eds.), Imperial Art as Christian Art – Christian Art as Imperial Art: Expression and Meaning in Art and Architecture from Constantine to Justinian, AAAHP 15, Rome 2001, 137–146; H. Geertman, Il Fastigium lateranense e l’arredo presbiteriale. Una lunga storia, in: id. (ed.), Il Liber Pontificalis e la storia materiale. Atti del colloquio internazionale, Rome 21–22 February 2002, Rome 2001/2002, 29–43. L.P. 34.9 (L.M.O. Duchesne [ed.], Le Liber pontificalis: Texte, introduction et commentaire, vol. 1, Paris 1891, 172). Cf. De Blaauw, Imperial, 2001, on the imperial dimension. Machado, 2010; id., Urban Space and Aristocratic Power in Late Antique Rome, Oxford 2019. J.A. Latham, From Literal to Spiritual Soldiers of Christ: Disputed Episcopal Elections and the Advent of Christian Processions in Late Antique Rome, in: ChH 81 (2012), 298–327 (306). For this cultural dynamic in context, see Brown, 1992. On the problems faced by local bishops, see Latham, 2012; id., Battling Bishops, the Roman Aristocracy, and the Contestation of Space in Late Antique Rome, in: J.D.  Rosenblum /

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Figure 32

Axonometric model of the Lateran Basilica (320) showing the fastigium. (Image: Bosman / Haynes / Liverani [eds.], 2020, fig. 8.19)

This dual, internal and external struggle for authority generated a specific episcopal image. During the fifth century, the bishops of Rome successfully merged the image of the summus sacerdos as impersonator of Christ with that of the local aristocrat. In the process, the costume, self-presentation, and spaces designed by the bishops of Rome gained an aristocratic, Roman quality.18 The city was made aware of the bishops’ changing image through the processions they led across the city. In a cultural context where “the very act of being seen imparted dignitas,” displays at the head of a large entourage were a powerful instrument of self-promotion.19 While the leaders of other cults would typically stage

18

19

L.  Vuong / N.  DesRosiers (eds.), Religious Competition in the Third Century CE: Jews, Christians, and the Greco-Roman World, Göttingen 2014, 126–137. On Christian material culture in fifth-century Rome, see the contributions in I. Foletti / M. Gianandrea (eds.), The Fifth Century in Rome: Art, Liturgy, Patronage, Rome 2017. On the episcopal look in this period in Rome, see B.  Jussen, Liturgy and Legitimation, or How the Gallo-Romans Ended the Roman Empire, in: id. (ed.), Ordering Medieval Society: Perspectives on Intellectual and Practical Modes of Shaping Social Relations, Philadelphia 2001, 147–199. Favro, 2008, 14 on late Republican / early Imperial Rome. On visibility as a source of prestige in late antique Rome, see Machado, 2019. On the various types of processions taking place in late antique cities, see L. Lavan, Public Space in the Late Antique City. Vol. 1: Streets,

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­ rocessions with the full clerical apparatus, the cultic objects, and the commup nity of believers once a year, the bishop did it constantly due to the stational system, which had the bishop celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy in churches across the city.20 In addition to the stations, the bishop also led processions towards the martyr shrines that surrounded the city on all sides. New routes were constantly added through the creation of churches in the city’s most populated areas, thus expanding the urban network of the bishop.21 Otherwise similar in form to the processions of other cults, the Christian ones focused on the bishop in the absence of a cult image.22 Modern scholars have typically studied separately how bishops interacted with their cities and with their own congregations. As a result, church interiors have been analysed in relation to the internal logic of the cult, rather than in the context of their cities. Nevertheless, once adopted, Roman norms of social interaction did not stop at the church door. Several texts attest to this by denouncing that worship was being informed by socio-political habits, such as one’s social class dictating their place inside the church.23 Thus, it is important to analyse Christian spaces and the rituals they hosted also in relation to local patterns of social interaction. For fifth-century Rome, the latter were summarised by Jerome (ca. 347–420), who knew the city intimately from the years he spent in its upper-class circles: “It is true that Rome has a holy Church […] but the display, power, and size of the city, the seeing and the being seen,

20 21 22

23

Processions, Fora, Agorai, Macella, Shops, Leiden 2020, 150–234. On episcopal processions outside Rome, see F.A. Bauer, Urban Space and Ritual: Constantinople in Late Antiquity, in: AAAHP 15 (2001), 27–61; L. Brubaker, Topography and the Creation of Public Space in Early Medieval Constantinople, in: M.B. De Jong / F. Theuws / C. van Rhijn (eds.), Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages, Leiden 2001, 31–43; N. Andrade, The Processions of John Chrysostom and the Contested Spaces of Constantinople, in: JECS 18 (2010), 161–189. On the stational system in Rome, see J.F.  Baldovin, The Urban Character of Christian Worship: The Origins, Development, and Meaning of Stational Liturgy, OCA  228, Rome 1987, 105–166; De Blaauw, 1994, vol. 1, 53–70. On the location of new churches, see D. Kinney, Expanding the Christian Footprint: Church Building in the City and the Suburbium, in: Foletti / Gianandrea (eds.), 2017, 65–97. On the form of the processions, see De Blaauw, 1994, vol. 1, 73–74; id., Following the Crosses: The Processional Cross and the Typology of Processions in Medieval Rome, in: P. Post et al. (eds.), Christian Feast and Festival: The Dynamics of Western Liturgy and Culture, Leuven 2001b, 319–343; V.  Ivanovici, Building Prestige: Processions, Visual Codes, and Episcopal Power in Fifth-century Rome, in: N. Zimmermann et al. (eds.), Die Päpste und Rom zwischen Spätantike und Mittelalter: Formen päpstlicher Machtentfaltung, Mannheim 2017, 11–27. See Hieron., e. 22.32 (Hilberg [ed.], 1910, 193–195); L. Grig, Throwing Parties for the Poor: Poverty and Splendour in the Late Antique Church, in: M.  Aitkens / R.  Osborne (eds.), Poverty in the Roman World, Cambridge 2006, 145–161.

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the paying and the receiving of visits, the alternate flattery and detraction, talking and listening […] [scil. are] fatal to the repose of the monastic life.”24 Rome’s history and the presence of several families who could trace their origin back to the times of the Republic had a gravitational pull that shaped local Christianity’s form. Luckily, several churches erected in Rome during the fifth century survive in various states of preservation.25 Their features attest to the local Church’s search for social recognition. The architecture, furnishings, and architectural sculpture have a civic quality, gained through the imitation of public buildings in the city.26 On this symbolic substratum, a Christian visual discourse was added through liturgical furnishings, figurative decoration, and ritual actions. These aspects, too, reflected local customs, with the costumes of depicted biblical characters and the architectural details of represented buildings imitating those in Rome.27 In addition, Jesus was shown in urban contexts on artefacts produced in the city, perhaps in an effort to create analogies with the bishop’s urban activity.28 Local bishops were the artisans and main beneficiaries of these strategies, as representatives of the Christian community in its dialogue with the city. The church of Santa Maria Maggiore (ca. 435) is the best preserved and most complex representative of this group of buildings.29 Commissioned by the bishops, the space combines the classicising gusto of the city’s elite with the late antique appreciation of reflective marbles and mosaics, and with a

24

25 26 27 28 29

See Hieron., e. 46.11 (Hilberg [ed.], 1910, 342; trans. S. Undheim, Veiled Visibility: Morality, Movement and Sacred Virginity in Late Antiquity, in: I.  Östenberg / S.  Malmberg / J.  Bjørnebye (eds.), The Moving City: Processions, Passages and Promenades in Ancient Rome, London 2015, 59–72 [61]) Est quidem ibi sancta Ecclesia […] sed ipsa ambitio, potentia, magnitudo urbis, videri et videre, salutari et salutare, laudare et detrahere, vel audire vel proloqui, et tantam frequntiam hominum saltem invitum videre, a proposito Monachorum et quiete aliena sunt. On late antique churches in Rome, see H. Brandenburg, Le prime chiese di Roma IV–VII secolo, Milan 2004. Cf. R. Krautheimer, Rome: Profile of a City, 312–1308, Princeton 1980, 43–53; S. de Blaauw, Richard Krautheimer and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in: Foletti / Gianandrea (eds.), 2017, 99–104; Kinney, 2017. R. Warland, The Concept of Rome in Late Antiquity Reflected in the Mosaics of the Triumphal Arch of Santa Maria Maggiore, in: AAAHP 17 (2003), 127–141. See the fourth-century sarcophagus from the Vatican Necropolis (Vatican Museums, inv. no. 174) and the apse mosaic of the church of Santa Pudenziana (ca. 415). On the church, see R.  Krautheimer, Mensa, coemeterium, martyrium, in: Cah. Arch.  11 (1960), 15–40 (1–60); De Blaauw, 1994, vol. 1, 335–355.

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complex iconographic programme.30 The use of Ionic capitals and of architraves in the intercolumniation rather than arches gave the nave an antiquated look, likening it to the spaces in the local fora.31 This announced the bishops’ willingness to share in the culture of the local elite. (see Fig. 33)

Figure 33

View from the main doors towards the apse. Virtual reconstruction of the interior of Santa Maria Maggiore, ca. 432, Rome. (Image: © Bernard Frischer)

The local buildings that influenced the design of Santa Maria Maggiore are now lost (or severely altered), but the Sebasteion in Aphrodisias (Caria, Asia Minor) allows us to grasp the classical dimension of our church’s interior.32 Dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite and the Julio-Claudian emperors, the Sebasteion was built in the first century, the same period as many of Rome’s public buildings that still stood at the construction of our church. A monumental entrance gave access to an unroofed processional path that led to a temple and was flanked by three-story porticoed buildings. (see Fig. 34) The spatial configuration of the complex is similar to that of the Roman church. Both cases have columns 30 31 32

Bishop Celestine (sed. 422–432) is credited with commissioning the church and Sixtus III (sed. 432–440) with finishing it. On the popular ‘jewelled style’, see M. Roberts, The Jeweled Style: Poetry and Poetics in Late Antiquity, Ithaca 1989, 66–121. Cf. Krautheimer, 1980, 43–53.66. On the Sebasteion, see R.R.R. Smith, The Marble Reliefs from the Julio-Claudian Sebasteion, Mainz 2013; G.  Thommen, The Sebasteion at Aphrodisias: An Imperial Cult to Honor Augustus and the Julio-Claudian Emperors, in: Chronika 2 (2012), 82–91.

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with architraves and panels with narrative scenes (the second register being replaced by windows in Rome). In both instances, the threshold between the processional space and the sanctuary was marked: in Aphrodisias through the contrast between the open-air courtyard and the roofed temple, and in Rome through the triumphal arch and the steps that separated the nave from the apse.

Figure 34

View from the former temple of one of the two stoas that flanked the interior courtyard of the Sebasteion and of the remains of the propylon. Marble, 1st century, Aphrodisias. (Photo: ‘Following Hadrian’ – CC BY-SA 2.0)

Like the Lateran fastigium, the triumphal arch separating the nave and presbytery in Santa Maria Maggiore promoted the living bishop as an image of Christ. Damaged in 410 by the Visigoths of Alaric, who looted its precious metals, the fastigium was not reproduced in other churches, but its functions seem to have been passed on to such apsidal arches, where the figurative decoration established similar analogies between the bishop and Christ. In the church on the Esquiline Hill, the heavenly throne of Christ (occupied by a jewelled cross) is depicted above the episcopal cathedra.33 The alignment drew attention to the bishop as Christ’s representative. In addition, through the representation of 33

On the mosaic, see M.R.  Menna, I mosaici della basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, in: M.  Andaloro (ed.), L’orizzonte tardoantico e le nuove immagini (312–468), Roma 2006,

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Christ as a symbol rather than in human form – the same visual strategy found above the palace gate in Constantinople – the bishop became Christ’s human ‘face.’ This visual statement on the bishop’s iconicity confirmed his role in the liturgy and vice versa. Upon arriving at the church for the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy, the bishop stopped in the narthex and changed into liturgical vestments while lay congregants filled the nave and aisles.34 Then, under the congregation’s eyes, he walked from the door to the cathedra accompanied by deacons carrying the cross and Gospel book.35 This association with the two symbols of Christ drew attention to the bishop as his image. Later in the ritual, his iconicity was confirmed through his interaction with the Gospel book and the Eucharist. Just before the Gospel was read, the bishop would descend from the cathedra, remove his stole (i.e., a scarf indicating the episcopal rank), and cense the holy book. The gesture, according to on an eastern source, was meant to recognise the book’s precedence as a symbol for Christ: For the bishop fulfils his work being in the image of Christ, and by his costume he shows to all that he is the imitator of the good and great shepherd, the one who has been appointed to carry the weaknesses of the flock. And note well, when the true shepherd should draw near through the opening of the venerable Gospels, the bishop both rises and takes off the costume of imitation, showing that Lord himself is at hand.36

The theatrical gesture did not strip the bishop of his Christ-like quality and instead stressed that for most of the liturgy his was a Christic performance. A similar effect was reached through the imparting of the Eucharist. Like Jesus during the Last Supper, the bishop distributed the consecrated bread and wine to the members of the congregation.

34

35 36

306–346 (339–341); I. Foletti, ‘Sicut in caelo et in terra.’ Observations on the ‘cathedra vacua’ in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, in: Foletti / Gianandrea (eds.), 2017, 41–63. Cf. De Blaauw 1994, vol. 1, 71–85. The seventh-century O.R.P. 1.46 (M. Andrieu, Les Ordines Romani du Haute Moyen Age II: Les Textes, Louvain 1948, 82) is the earliest description of Roman liturgical practice that deals with the matter directly cf. J.F. Romano, Liturgy and Society in Early Medieval Rome, Burlington 2014. Nevertheless, it is likely that the main steps of the ceremony were already established in the fifth century. De Blaauw, 1994, vol. 1, 71–85; Ivanovici, The Ritual, 2018. Isid. Pel. (ca. 360–ca. 435), epp. 136 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 78, Paris 1864, coll. 272; trans. W.T.  Woodfin, The Embodied Icon: Liturgical Vestments and Sacramental Power in Byzantium, Oxford 2012, 20) Ὁ γὰρ ἐπίσκοπος εἰς τύπον ὢν τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὸ ἔργον ἐκείνου πληροῖ, καὶ δείκνυσι πᾶσι διὰ τοῦ σχήματος, ὅτι μιμητής ἐστι τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ μεγάλου ποιμένος, ὁ τὰς ἀσθενείας φέρειν τοῦ ποιμνίου προβεβλημένος·

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The civic, religious, and iconic dimensions of the office met and merged in the episcopal cathedra. A traditional symbol of authority in Roman society, the seated position had been ascribed to Jupiter and other supreme gods in Roman art.37 Christ, too, was given a throne in Christian art, first that of teachers and later that of emperors.38 Inside churches, the cathedra drew attention to the bishop as a figure of civic authority and through analogies with depictions of Christ enthroned, as God’s human representative. In addition, the immobility implied by the seated position likened the bishop to a statue. In Santa Maria Maggiore, the bishop’s statue-like immobility was rendered more evident through a particular configuration of the presbytery. While in most cases the cathedra was placed against the back wall of the apse, in the Esquiline church it was set toward the altar.39 This allowed the creation of an ambulatory space from which people could observe the bishop, with the effect that the dynamic audience circled the immobile bishop, as the angelic ranks were said to circle the throne of Christ in heaven.40 Thus, entwined in the design of Santa Maria Maggiore and other local churches of the time were civic and religious dimensions that established the bishop as iconic. Civic authority carried iconic implications through the analogies it created with the now iconic emperor, as well as with Jupiter/Sol/Christ. The religious component of the space promoted the bishop as the human face of Christ. Finally, the bishop’s statue-like immobility and impersonation of Christ during the liturgy confirmed and reinforced his iconicity. The polysemy of the space inside Santa Maria Maggiore is typical for fifthcentury churches in Rome. Other churches in the city showcase similarly layered programmes. On the civic quality of the architecture and non-figurative decoration, the iconography was used to claim the symbolic capital of local religious phenomena. In the church of Santa Pudenziana, located in the vicinity of a large sanctuary of Serapis, the fifth-century apsidal mosaic shows

37

38 39 40

On the symbolism of being enthroned, see H.U. Instinsky, Bischofsstuhl und Kaiserthron, Munich 1955; N.  Gussone, Thron und Inthronisation des Papstes von den Anfängen bis zum 12. Jahrhundert: Zur Beziehung zwischen Herrschaftszeichen u. bildhaften Begriffen, Recht u. Liturgie im christl. Verständnis von Wort u. Wirklichkeit, Bonn 1978; B.  Jussen, Über ‘Bischofsherrschaften’ und die Prozeduren politisch-sozialer Umordnung in Gallien zwischen ‘Antike’ und ‘Mittelalter’, in: HZ 260 (1994), 673–718 (699–702). Grabar, 1936; Mathews, 1993. De Blaauw, 1994, vol. 1, 387–388. On the moving audience, see L.P. 100.60 (Duchesne [ed], 1892, 60). On the motif of the circular dance in late antique and Christian culture, see D. Tronca, Spectacula turpitudinum. Christian Schemata of the Dancing Body, in: Bacci / Ivanovici (eds.), 2019, online.

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Christ with facial features borrowed from the Egyptian god.41 On the arch of the church of San Paolo fuori le mura, decorated ca. 450, rays emanating from Christ’s head liken him to Sol.42 On the doors of the church of Santa Sabina (ca. 432), in a scene that was said to reproduce the image depicted on the conch of the apse (now lost), Christ is represented in the so-called Ascension/Second Coming panel in a manner reminiscent of Mithras, whose nearby mithraeum had been destroyed by Christians a decade or two before.43 Although the complete decoration of these sites has not been preserved, and thus we cannot know the exact ways in which these images fit into their programmes, they point to a strategy to absorb the prestige of local religious phenomena. Seated in the apses of these churches on the liturgical days assigned to them, the bishop was invested with the symbolic capital each space generated. When the role of the bishop is considered in conjunction with the design and use of these spaces, the first type of monumental Christian art emerges in a new light. Churches of the time combined narrative cycles on the side walls with an apsidal programme that placed the image or symbol of Christ in various combinations with other motifs. As it has been pointed out, the architectural setting, size, frontality, and luminosity of these apsidal depictions reproduced the relationship one had when standing inside the cella of a temple in front of the cult statue of a god.44 (see Fig. 35) This effect occurred in 41

42 43

44

See  I.  Foletti, Dio da dio: La maschera di Cristo, Giove Serapide nel mosaico di Santa Pudenziana, in: CONVI 2 (2015), 60–73 on the portrait of Christ as Jupiter Serapis. For the large temple of Serapis on the Quirinal, see G.J.F. Kater-Sibbes, Preliminary Catalogue of Sarapis Monuments, Leiden 1973, 115–136. See  C.  Ihm, Die Programme der christlichen Apsismalerei, Wiesbaden 1960, 135–137; J. Miziołek, The Mosaics on the Triumphal Arch in S. Paolo fuori le mura in Rome, in: ACr 82 (1994), 245–260. On this panel, see I. Foletti / M. Gianadrea, Zona liminare: Il nartece di Santa Sabina, le sue porte e l’iniziazione cristiana a Roma, Rome 2015, 163–167. On the mithraeum on the Aventine, see M.J. Vermaseren / C.C. van Essen, The Excavations in the Mithraeum of the Church Santa Prisca in Rome, Leiden 1965. An article is in preparation on the Santa Sabina panel and its relation to mithraic imagery. See  B.  Brenk, Apses, Icons and ‘Image Propaganda’ before Iconoclasm, in: AT  19 (2011), 109–130 on church apses drawing on settings found in nymphaea and temples. A.F. Bergmeier, Vom Kultbild zur Kirche: Veränderte Materialisierungsformen von Heiligkeit in der Spätantike, in: A.F. Bergmeier / K. Palmberger / J.E. Sanzo (eds.), Erzeugung und Zerstörung von Sakralität zwischen Antike und Mittelalter: Beiträge der internationalen Tagung in München vom 20.–21.10.2015, Heidelberg 2016, 63–80; id., Visionserwartung: Visualisierung und Präsenzerfahrung des Göttlichen in der Spätantike, Wiesbaden 2017 argued that Christian apse images represent a new type of representation, whose main feature is their theophanic quality. This quality, though, was shared with cult statues set in temples and with the cultic art of Mithraism, which revealed the god in the penumbra of mithraea.

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particular when one visited the space when the Eucharistic liturgy was not celebrated. Then, one was ‘alone’ with the apse image, while other people inside the space lit candles, prayed in the vicinity, or brought ex votos; actions found also in temples.

Figure 35

Apse mosaic showing Christ as a theophanic vision. Late 5th century, Church of Hosios David, Thessaloniki. (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici)

Nevertheless, the spaces had been designed for a specific ritual experience, which should be considered first when analysing them. The perception of the apse image during the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy, ideally with the bishop present and seated under the image, is different: the image provides an apex to the iconographic programme in the same way that the bishop was the pinnacle of the human community on the floor level. Given that the spaces were commissioned by bishops, who directed the artisans in designing the iconography, we can address these complex mises-en-scène as mechanisms for self-legitimation, in the tradition of Roman aristocrats and emperors. Thus, as in the case of the baptisteries we discussed in the previous chapter, the depicted image of God was only half of the vision that was offered to those present inside the space because below it stood its living counterpart.45 45

The change taking place in the sixth century, when the representation of Christ is no longer a vision offered to the human audience but, as pointed out by J.-M. Spieser, Images du Christ: Des catacombes aux lendemains de l’iconoclasme, Geneva 2015, 369–397, it becomes part of a scene in which Jesus is seen by other depicted characters, reinforced the bishop

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Although they addressed God in prayer through the mediation of the image, believers who gathered inside the church received his response through the bishop in the form of wisdom (the sermon), the Eucharist, and contact with other consecrated objects that the bishop handled. When we recognise the seated bishop as the main focus of these settings, the diverse ways in which Christ is represented in fifth-century apses in Rome can be understood more easily.46 The bishop’s absence from the church during the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy – which was the case most of the time in Roman churches – reminded those inside that each church was part of a group of similar spaces with complementary iconographies.47 Thus, the wandering bishop of Rome brought the distinct iconographic programmes together. As the congregation grew, the Church’s position within Roman society consolidated. This made the episcopal office attractive to the better educated Romans.48 Some of these made use of the growing resources of the Church to create the hybrid visual culture we see in Santa Maria Maggiore and other churches of the time. Along with phenomena that weakened the polytheistic elite, the bishops’ willingness to cast their leadership in terms of not only religious but also social authority pushed the bishop to the top of the city’s leadership. Thus, while in 408 the bishop opposed but was unable to prevent the performance of sacrifices that were supposed to protect the city from Alaric’s attack, in 500, it was the bishop who led the welcoming party that greeted King Theodoric as he entered the city.49 The synthesis of Roman and Christian elements made by the city’s fifth-century bishops was to remain a characteristic of the Roman episcopate as it evolved into the Papacy. In addition, the political evolution of the western Roman provinces helped popularise this episcopal model outside the city. As the western provinces began to drift apart politically and culturally, their bishops often turned to Rome for validation and adopted the visual rhetoric of power developed there.50

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as the image of Christ on account of him becoming the main anthropomorphic image of Christ that interacted directly with the congregation. On the various ways in which Christ was represented, see Mathews, 1993, esp. 98. It is unlikely that in this period officiating priests could sit on the cathedra when the bishop was not present, as indicated by a source that mentions that priests who had been given the right to administer baptism could, in exceptional fashion, sit on the cathedra on the day when the sacrament was celebrated. On the social status of those acceding to the episcopate, see Rapp, 2005, 172–207. On the two episodes, see Latham, 2012, 301.318–321. On this process, see Jussen, 2001.

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Emperor Justinian’s Living Mirrors

Following Constantine’s rule, bishops around the Mediterranean established their iconicity by combining the imitation of Christ in daily life and during the Eucharistic liturgy with the type of Inszenierung used by rulers, which combined built space, garments, insignia, and ritual gestures in symbolic ways. The bishops of Jerusalem, for example, made brilliant use of the biblical topography that allowed them to impersonate Christ in ritualised recreations of his life’s key moments.51 In Alexandria in Egypt, Bishop Athanasius (sed. 328–373) combined elements from the imperial adventus with Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem to stage his return to the city after one of his many exiles.52 Thus, while emperors in Constantinople were reworking their image to establish themselves as images of Christ rather than Jupiter and Sol, bishops proposed their own types of iconic leadership to their communities. As a result, as pointed out by Hal Drake, for the first time, emperors “had to share the privilege of access to the divine with a class that had established its own, independent lines of communication with that very potent source.”53 The encounter between Basil of Caesarea and Emperor Valens (r. 364–378) brings us to the heart of this competition: The emperor entered the holy place with his bodyguard (it was the feast of Epiphany, and crowded) and took his place among the people, thus making a token gesture of unity  … But when he came inside, he was thunderstruck by the singing of psalms that assailed his ears and saw the ocean of people and the whole well-ordered array around the bēma [scil. the raised platform on which the liturgy was performed]… Basil stood completely still, facing his people, as scripture says of Samuel [1 Sam 19:20], with no movement of his body or his eyes or in his mind, as if nothing unusual had occurred, transformed, so to speak, into a stele dedicated to God and the bēma, while his followers stood around him in fear and reverence.54 51 52 53 54

See It. Eger. 31.3 (P. Maraval [ed.], Egérie, Journal de voyage (Itineraire), SC 296, Paris 1982, 274); J.W. Drijvers, Cyril of Jerusalem: Bishop and City, Leiden 2004, 79–80. See Gr. Naz., or. 21.29 (J.  Mossay / G.  Lafontaine [eds.], Grégoire de Nazianze, Discours 20–23, SC 270, Paris 1980, 172–174); MacCormack, 1981, 64. H.A. Drake, Intolerance, Religious Violence, and Political Legitimacy in Late Antiquity, in: JAAR 79 (2011), 193–235 (216). Gr. Naz., or. 43.52 (Bernardi [ed.], 1992, 236; trans. S. Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome, TCH 49, Berkeley 2012, 476) Εἰς γὰρ τὸ ἱερὸν εἰσελθὼν μετὰ πάσης τῆς περὶ αὐτὸν δορυφορίας – ἦν δὲ ἡμέρα τῶν Ἐπιφανίων καὶ ἀθροίσιμος –, καὶ τοῦ λαοῦ μέρος γενόμενος, οὕτως ἀφοσιοῦται τὴν ἕνωσιν. Ἄξιον δὲ μηδὲ τοῦτο παραδραμεῖν. Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἔνδον ἐγένετο καὶ τὴν ἀκοὴν προσβαλλούσῃ τῇ ψαλμῳδίᾳ κατεβροντήθη, τοῦ τε λαοῦ τὸ πέλαγος εἶδε καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν εὐκοσμίαν, ὅση τε περὶ τὸ βῆμα καὶ ὅση πλησίον, ἀγγελικὴν μᾶλλον ἢ ἀνθρωπίνην, τὸν μὲν τοῦ λαοῦ προτεταγμένον ὄρθιον, οἷον

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Like Constantius during his Roman adventus and, we can imagine, the bishops of Rome inside Santa Maria Maggiore, Basil used the symbolic implications of a statue-like immobility to establish himself as an image of the divine. Although our source avoids referencing statuary, preferring the more neutral image of “stele,” the combination of anthropomorphic vessel and immobility would have made the analogy to cult statues obvious. Valens’s reaction to the episcopal performance was negative. According to Gregory of Nazianzus, “When the emperor saw this spectacle, which he could relate to no previous experience, he reacted as an ordinary man would – his vision and his mind were filled with darkness and dizziness from the shock.”55 Caught in the competition between emperors and bishops for the status of God’s living image, Gregory argues that it was the novelty of the Inszenierung that shocked Valens. Rather, the emperor’s anger would have sprung from Basil’s plagiarising of imperial ceremonial. Emperor Justinian  I (r. 527–565) sought to resolve this tension by further integrating the episcopate into the state apparatus. Like Constantine before him, Justinian promoted the shaping of the episcopal image after the imperial one. The self-isolation of late Roman and early Byzantine rulers, which we discussed in Chapter 2, forced them to delegate some of their functions. Thus, generals led armies in their stead and judges imparted their justice. Consuls were designated to embody imperial iconicity. For a year, the consul got the right to use the spaces, garments, and aesthetic of light that emperors used to construct their iconicity.56 As such, the consul functioned as both a reminder of imperial iconicity and a surrogate for the imperial presence. The limited duration of the office, the consuls’ display together with the ruler’s portrait, and a number of differences between the consular garment of the ruler and of regular consuls established a clear distinction between the two. Nevertheless, the consuls’ temporary embodiment of what was becoming the main imperial characteristic – namely iconicity – made them competitors for the throne.57 After he was forced to kill thousands of subjects to keep the throne in 532 – among those, his acquaintance and former consul Flavius Hypatius, who had

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τὸν Σαμουὴλ ὁ λόγος γράφει, ἀκλινῆ καὶ τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὴν ὄψιν καὶ τὴν διάνοιαν ὥσπερ οὐδενὸς καινοῦ γεγονότος, ἀλλ’ ἐστηλωμένον, ἵν’ οὕτως εἴπω, Θεῷ καὶ τῷ βήματι, τοὺς δὲ περὶ αὐτὸν ἑστηκότας ἐν φόβῳ τινὶ καὶ σεβάσματι. Ibid. On the image of consuls in Late Antiquity, see R. Delbrueck, Die Consulardiptychen und verwandte Denkmäler, Berlin 1929; C.  Olovsdotter, The Consular Image: An Iconological Study of the Consular Diptychs, Oxford 2005; ead., Representing Consulship: On the Concept and Meanings of the Consular Diptychs, in: Opuscula 4 (2011), 99–123. On consuls as images of the ruler’s iconicity, see Ivanovici, 2019.

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been nominated emperor against his will – Justinian made the consulate an imperial prerogative.58 After that, the promotion of the living ruler as an image of the divine was, I believe, transferred by Justinian onto bishops, whom he helped adopt a version of his own look. The process made iconicity a key aspect of the episcopal function across the eastern parts of the Roman Empire and homogenised its expression. Justinian took several measures to assure the dissemination of an episcopal model shaped by the imperial one. In the capital, his church of Hagia Sophia functioned as a magnificent stage on which imperial and episcopal iconicity reflected each other.59 Inside the Great Church, the imperial court headed by Justinian and the clerical order headed by the archbishop of the capital were shown as pyramidal structures that reinforced one another. Justinian also commissioned churches in the main cities of the empire and in places that were essential to the Christian faith, such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Sinai. In Bethlehem, Justinian executed the person in charge of the new church of the Nativity on account of the building’s ordinary aspect, thus demonstrating his direct involvement and the importance he ascribed to this programme.60 If we are to believe Procopius of Caesarea (d. after 565), who documented Justinian’s building activity, the emperor placed a monopoly on the construction of churches across the empire.61 This statement might refer to his desire to control the ways in which the episcopate and priesthood were staged inside cathedrals and churches. This is confirmed by Justinian’s legislation, which regulated several aspects that shaped the congregations’ perception of the

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Flavius Hypatius and Flavius Probus had been consuls together in 500. See G. Greatrex, Flavius Hypatius, ‘Quem vidit validum parthus sensitque timendum’: An Investigation of His Career, in: Byz. 64 (1996), 120–142. On Hagia Sophia in general, see R.J. Mainstone, Hagia Sophia: Architecture, Structure and Liturgy of Justinian’s Great Church, London 1988; N. Isar, XOPÓΣ: The Dance of Adam. The Making of Byzantine Chorography. The Anthropology of the Choir of Dance in Byzantium, Leiden 2011; N. Schibille, Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience, Farnham 2014; Pentcheva, Hagia, 2017; J. Bogdanović, The Framing of Sacred Space: The Canopy and the Byzantine Church, Oxford 2017, 267–294. On Hagia Sophia as setting for iconic persons, see Ivanovici, 2016, 132–137; id., Pseudo-Dionysius and the Staging of Divine Order in Sixth-century Architecture, in: F. Dell’Acqua / E. Mainoldi (eds.), Pseudo-Dionysius and the Origins of Christian Visual Culture, London 2020, 177–210; Pentcheva, Hagia, 2017. See M. Bacci, The Mystic Cave: A History of the Nativity Church at Bethlehem, Rome 2017, 61–77. Proc. Caes., d.ae. 1.8.5 (G. Wirth / J. Haury [eds.], Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia. Vol. 4, Leipzig 1964, 33–34).

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liturgies, such as the artificial illumination of churches and the loudness of liturgical utterances.62 Archaeological finds indicate that Justinian also used the imperially controlled marble quarries at Proconnesus and Thasos to provide churches around the empire with liturgical furnishings. These sculpted elements structured congregations inside churches in the same pyramidal pattern of the imperial court.63 In addition, the presence of materials and a decorative style found in imperial spaces stressed the official quality of church spaces, while the figurative decoration showed bishops as images of the emperor and of Christ. Finally, Justinian seems to have promoted (if not commissioned) theological writings that established the notion of hierarchy as a characteristic of divine order, thus naturalising an order that put him in the position of God’s human counterpart.64 Adapting a concept that Neoplatonic thinkers had developed by combining the thought of Plato with the geocentric cosmology of Late Antiquity, members of Justinian’s intelligentsia posited that each level of creation reproduced the characteristics of the one above and, ultimately, of the uppermost heaven, which was inhabited by Christ, saints, and high-ranking angels.65 This specular mode of existence was detailed by the anonymous author known as Pseudo-Dionysius, who argued that the episcopal order represented a perfect image of Christ’s court.66 Organised pyramidally inside cathedrals – thanks also to Justinian’s marble furnishings – Christian communities reproduced this divine order and established bishops as living images of God. The practice legitimised the episcopal and imperial orders simultaneously, since the two followed the same pattern. Consequently, each community led by a bishop 62

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Cf. Nov. 67 proem. ad c. 2 (R. Schöll / W. Kroll [eds.], Corpus iuris civilis. Vol. 3: Novellae, Berlin 1912, 344); K. Onasch, Lichthöhle und Sternenhaus: Licht und Materie im spätantikchristlichen und frühbyzantinischen Sakralbau, Dresden 1993, 132 and Nov.  137 (Schöll / Kroll [eds.], 1912, 695–699); D.  Krueger, Liturgical Subjects: Christian Ritual, Biblical Narrative, and the Formation of the Self in Byzantium, Philadelphia 2014, 106–107, respectively. Ivanovici, 2020. E.S. Mainoldi, Dietro “Dionigi l’Areopagita”. La genesi e gli scopi del “Corpus Dionysiacum”, Roma 2018 argued that Justinian might have helped disseminate the Corpus Dionysiacum across the Empire, if not commissioned its writing. On the Corpus promoting the notion of hierarchy and the episcopal system as the human image of divine order, see Ivanovici, 2020. The concept is summarised by Macr. (395–423), s.S.  1.14.15 (J.  Willis [ed.], Macrobius: Opera. Vol. 1: Commentarii in somnium Scipionis, Leipzig 1944, 58). E.g., (Ps.)Dion. Ar., c.h. 1.3 (G. Heil / A.M. Ritter [eds.], Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, De Coelesti Hierarchia, De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia, De Mystica Theologia, Epistulae: 2., überarbeitete Auflage, Berlin 2012, 3–59 [8–9]).

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reproduced the imperial system on a smaller scale, and each bishop reminded people in his congregation of the emperor’s iconic quality. The church of Hagia Sophia was at the centre of this process. Characterised by spaciousness and luminosity, the interior of the capital’s cathedral reproduced the aesthetic of the gods’ mythical palaces, which Christians had adopted for Christ’s heavenly city. The interior decoration recapitulated the created world, with the grey marble floor reproducing the shimmering seas, the variegated marble opus sectile on the walls mirroring the blossom of nature, and the gold mosaic ceilings exemplifying the luminosity of heaven.67 On this magnificent stage, the episcopal and imperial hierarchies embodied humanity’s perfect expression, shaped by Christ’s court in heaven.68 The sunlight flooding the church through the numerous windows and the artificial light produced by the countless lamps installed inside interacted with the incense smoke to create a luminous haze that enveloped the space and those in it.69 This haze referenced the Shekinah – the Presence of YHWH in the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon – and rendered credible the merging of heaven and Earth during the Eucharistic liturgy.70 (see Fig. 36)

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On the floors of Hagia Sophia, see F. Barry, Walking on Water: Cosmic Floors in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, in: ArtB  89 (2007), 627–656; B.V.  Pentcheva, Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics, in: Gesta 50 (2011), 93–111; on the opus sectile, see Schibille, 2014; V. Ivanovici, Divine Light Through Earthly Colours: Mediating Perception in Late Antique Churches, in: C.N. Duckworth / A.E. Sassin (eds.), Colour and Light in Ancient and Medieval Art, Abingdon 2018, 79–91; on the mosaics, see Isar, 2011; Schibille, 2014; N.B. Teteriatnikov, Justinianic Mosaics of Hagia Sophia and Their Aftermath, Washington 2017. In Justinian’s time, Hagia Sophia’s personnel was composed of 525 people: 60 priests, 100 deacons, 40 deaconesses, 90 subdeacons, 110 lectors, 25 singers, 100 doorkeepers cf. Nov. 3.1 (Schöll / Kroll [eds.], 1912, 21). On the natural light inside the church, see L.O. Grobe / O. Hauck / A. Noback, Das Licht in der Hagia Sophia – eine Computersimulation, in: F. Daim / J. Drauschke (eds.), Byzanz – Das Römerreich im Mittelalter. Teil 2.1 Schauplätze, Mainz 2010, 97–111. On artificial lights, see M.L. Fobelli / P. Cesaretti, Procopius, Santa Sofia di Costantinopoli: Un tempio di luce (De aedificiis I 1,1–78), Milan 2011. On incense, see Pentcheva, Hagia, 2017, passim. On the luminous haze, see Ivanovici, 2016, esp. 150–157. On the merging of heaven and Earth inside churches of the time, see R. Bornert, Les commentaires byzantins de la Divine Liturgie du VIIe au XVe siècle, Paris 1966; H.-J.  Schulz, The Byzantine Liturgy: Symbolic Structure and Faith Expression, New York 1986; R.F. Taft, Church and Liturgy in Byzantium: The Formation of the Byzantine Synthesis, in: K.K. Akent’ev (ed.), Liturgy, Architecture, and Art in Byzantine World, St. Petersburg 1995, 13–29; Ivanovici, 2016; Pentcheva, Hagia, 2017.

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View of the nave towards the apse. Hagia Sophia, 537, Constantinople. Study of light in apse, 1948. Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks fieldwork records and papers, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.

This design principle was exported outside the capital. Using the same combination of elements – i.e., orientation of the building and its openings, the use of lamps, reflective surfaces, and incense – churches across the eastern and

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western Roman provinces reproduced the luminous haze.71 The effect made more plausible the presentation of the bishop as a living image of Christ during the liturgy. In fact, the impact of this new type of setting and the impressiveness of the liturgical rite based on imperial ceremonial were so powerful that the iconic status was extended to all those present inside the church. While the bishop stood in for Christ, the rest of the participants were soon identified with the various angelic orders serving him in heaven.72 Thus, like the followers of Mithras during the previous centuries, Christians inside Justinianic churches took up specific roles by identifying with characters within the religion.73 While in baptism the catechumens were all brought to the same iconic status, the Eucharistic liturgy, as celebrated beginning in the sixth century in the East, imposed distinct iconic stances on the different categories of celebrants – e.g., men, women, clergy members – through the ascribing of specific liturgical roles. For most people the iconic status was limited to the duration of the liturgy, but the bishops and the emperor absorbed it into their personas. In Hagia Sophia, the splendour of the setting and the imperial court, as well as the popularity of the idea that the ruler functioned as an image of God made the iconic implications of the performance obvious to all. In churches outside the capital iconographic programmes were used to render explicit the meaning of the pyramidal display of celebrants. The promotion of the bishop, priests, presbyters, and acolytes as images of Christ and the various levels of martyrs, saints, and angels can still be seen on the walls of these churches. Above the semi-circular bench at the basis of the apse (i.e., the synthronon), on which the bishop sat flanked by priests, we often find depicted Christ’s court.74 (see Fig. 37) To underline that the bishops’ iconicity reflected the emperor’s, the same principle used to distinguish between the ruler and his court members was used.75 Thus, the bishop wore purple while priests and presbyters wore white for contrast. The same chromatic code occurred in the decoration to distinguish 71 72

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Ivanovici, 2016, 126–216. See  K.  Ware, The Meaning of the Divine Liturgy for the Byzantine Worshipper, in: R. Morris (ed.), Church and People in Byzantium, Birmingham 1990, 7–28 (11); Taft, 1995, 20; D.  Krueger, Christian Piety and Practice in the Sixth Century, in: M.  Maas (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian, Cambridge 2005, 291–315 (295–296); C.A. Tsakiridou, Icons in Time, Persons in Eternity: Orthodox Theology and the Aesthetics of the Christian Image, Burlington 2013, 71; Pentcheva, Hagia, 2017, 74–85; Ivanovici, Soleils, 2018. The practice is detailed in Krueger, 2014, with focus on the period from the sixth century on. Apsidal representations are discussed in Ihm, 1960; Bergmeier, 2017. On garments and social ranking in late Roman society, see M. Parani, Defining Personal Space: Dress and Accessories in Late Antiquity, in: Late Antiq. Archaeol. 5 (2007), 495–529.

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Christ from saints and angels. Thus, the living bishop simultaneously became an image of the emperor and of Christ. We find the clearest expression of this design principle in the churches of Ravenna. As Justinian attempted to bring the western provinces under his control, he made the Adriatic city the centre of his forces in the West. The city’s status gave its Christian buildings an official, programmatic quality that can still be discerned thanks to the survival of several structures.76 Among these, the churches of San Vitale (consecrated in 547 or 548) and Sant’Apollinare in Classe (549) shed light on episcopal iconicity and its relationship with the imperial one. The construction of San Vitale began before the city was occupied by Justinian’s armies, but its design was nevertheless influenced by Constantinopolitan architecture, as it follows the centralised plan en vogue in the capital since the 520s.77 Furnishings and decorations imitating those in Justinian’s Constantinopolitan churches reinforced the imperial dimension of the space. The hierarchical principle discernible in all Justinianic churches is found there in its clearest expression. The volumes of the spaces, the richness, texture, and chromatic of the materials used inside, the subjects of the scenes represented on the walls, and the amount of natural light established a hierarchy between the narthex, ambulatory, nave, presbytery, and apse. Like other church interiors of the time, the space inside San Vitale not only displayed the notion of hierarchy but enacted it. The space divided the congregation into several categories based on spiritual purity, displayed along the church’s axis: sinners and the unbaptised (narthex), regular believers (nave, aisles, galleries), monks and consecrated virgins (the front of the nave), acolytes, presbyters, and deacons (presbytery), priests (synthronon), and the bishop (cathedra). The person entering San Vitale through the main doors thus was presented with a sequence of five increasingly luminous spaces populated by increasingly holy people.78 (see Fig. 31) At the apex of this impressive setting was the bishop, seated on the cathedra at the intersection of the space’s horizontal axis – thus at the top of the community of believers – and of the vertical axis that ran through the mural 76

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On Ravenna’s late antique buildings, see Deichmann, 1969; id., 1976; D. Mauskopf Deliyannis, Ravenna in Late Antiquity, Cambridge 2010; C.  Jäggi, Ravenna: Kunst und Kultur einer spätantiken Residenzstadt. Die Bauten und Mosaiken des 5. und 6. Jahrhunderts, Regensburg 2013. San Vitale was begun in 526 and consecrated in 547 or 548. On the church, see Deichmann, 1969, 226–249; id., 1976, 47–230; Deliyannis, 2010, 223–250; Jäggi, 2013, 238–259; M.J. Johnson, San Vitale in Ravenna and Octogonal Churches in Late Antiquity, Wiesbaden 2018. Ivanovici, 2020, 143–213.

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decoration. The immobility inherent to the enthroned position integrated the bishop into the heavenly hierarchy depicted above him, while the materiality of his body ascribed him to the human community. Thus, as in the theoretical schema described by Pseudo-Dionysius in the very same period, inside San Vitale, the bishop functioned as a point of convergence between the human and the divine, with him embodying the image of Christ to his congregation: The divine order of the hierarchs [scil. the bishops] is therefore the first of those who behold God. It is the first and also the last, for in it the whole arrangement of the human hierarchy is fulfilled and completed. And just as we observe that every hierarchy ends with Jesus, so each hierarchy reaches its term in its own inspired hierarch.79 (see Fig. 37)

Inspired by San Vitale and other churches in Ravenna, the church of Bishop Euphrasius in Poreč (finished ca. 560) has the only synthronon that preserved the sixth-century decoration.80 The setting in Poreč allows us to observe how this space found at the intersection of the pavement level, occupied by the congregation, and the mural surface populated by depicted characters worked to establish the bishop’s iconicity. Decorated with all thirty types of marble available to Romans, and further embellished with coloured glass and mother of pearl, the synthronon in Poreč created a reflective and variegated background for the seated clergy.81 Two opus sectile candlesticks flank the cathedra. Since candlesticks often surrounded bishops during processions and the liturgy, the depicted ones would have created a mise-en-abîme effect that helped blur the distinction between the real and the depicted when looking from the nave toward the apse.82 A similar effect can be ascribed to the halo the seated 79

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(Ps.)Dion. Ar., e.h. 5.6 (G. Heil / A.M. Ritter [eds.], Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, De Coelesti Hierarchia, De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia, De Mystica Theologia, Epistulae: 2., überarbeitete Auflage, Berlin 2012, 61–132 [108–109]; C. Luibheid / P. Rorem [trans.], Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, New York 1987, 236, amended). On the iconicity of the bishop, see also his c.h. 12.2 (Heil / Ritter [eds.], 2012, 42–43) and e.h. 2.3 (Heil / Ritter [eds.], 2012, 75). On the church, see A.R.  Terry, The Architecture and Architectural Sculpture of the Sixth-century Eufrasius Cathedral Complex at Poreč, PhD diss., Urbana-Champaign 1984; A.R. Terry / H. Maguire, Dynamic Splendor: The Wall Mosaics in the Cathedral of Eufrasius at Poreč, 2 vols., University Park 2007. On the synthronon, see Deichmann, 1976, 5.135–136; A.R. Terry, The ‘Opus Sectile’ in the Eufrasius Cathedral at Poreč, in: DOP 40 (1986), 147–164; Ivanovici, 2016, 164–166. On the materials, see Terry, 1986. On the candlesticks that accompanied bishops, see Ven. Fort. (d. ca. 600), carm. 5.5b.125– 126 (M.  Reydellet [ed.], Venance Fortunat: Poèmes. Tome II: Livres  V–VIII, Paris 1998, 25); O.R.P. 1.30 (Andrieu [ed.], 1948, 72); Sophr. H. (d. 638), liturg. 13 (J.-P.  Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 87, Paris 1863, vol. 3, coll. 3993C).

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Apse of the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna (ca. 548). (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici, with the kind concession of the Opera di Religione della Diocesi di Ravenna)

bishop received through the placing of a porphyry roundel behind his head, which brought him into the heavenly group of beings shown haloed above. (see Fig. 38) Carefully constructed through the mise-en-scène, the ontological ambivalence of the bishop was used to establish him as a credible image of Christ.

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Figure 38

Cathedra and part of the flanking synthronon in the Basilica Euphrasiana. Ca. 560, Poreč. The bishop received a red porphyry, round halo topped by a cross, while the two priests who sat to his sides received rectangular haloes. (Photo: Vladimir Ivanovici)

Attesting to this is the purple garment and the similar display of the bishop and Christ. In the apse of San Vitale, Christ is depicted above the episcopal cathedra wearing the purple colour bishops sported in a darker hue. Since the first century, purple had been used to indicate one’s wealth and social standing.83 In the late antique chromatic system, which ranked colours based 83

See Cod. Thds. 10.21.3 (T. Mommsen / P.M. Meyer [eds.], Theodosiani libri XVI cum constitutionibus Sirmondianis et leges Novellae ad Theodosianum pertinentes, Berlin 1905, 566); Cod. Iust. 11.9 (T.  Mommsen / P.  Krueger [eds.], Corpus iuris Civilis. Vol. 2: Codex Iustinianus, Berlin 1888, 431–432); A.  Carile, Produzione e usi della porpora nell’impero bizantino, in: O.  Longo (ed.), La porpora: Realtà e immaginario di un colore simbolico: Atti del convegno interdisciplinare di studio dell’Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (Venezia 24–25 Ottobre 1996), Venezia 1998, 243–269.

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on their luminosity, purple was considered the brightest. Its rarity, cost, and radiance made it ideal for indicating the divinity of late Roman rulers and the iconicity of early Byzantine ones.84 Lent to Christ along with other imperial symbols, purple was used in Justinianic art to promote rulers and bishops as images of Christ and of each other, with all three figures wearing the colour. Nevertheless, the darker hue that bishops wore ranked them below rulers, who were depicted with the same bright purple as Christ.85 The philosopher’s garment worn by Christ, the military garb of the ruler, and the clerical costume of the bishop indicated the distinct function each fulfilled within the economy of salvation, while the shared material and colour of the three garments drew attention to the emperor, bishop, and Christ sharing the same splendour. (see Fig. 37) The famous mosaic showing Justinian in San Vitale clarifies the dynamic between rulers and bishops.86 Located in an intermediary register, in between the synthronon and the image of Christ in the apse, the image shows the imperial and episcopal hierarchies together, thus reproducing the concept embodied by the Church and state apparatuses inside Hagia Sophia. In the panel, both the imperial court and the clergy are displayed hierarchically. The former has a pyramidal structure, with Justinian at the forefront, two high functionaries aligned behind him, and a group of guards amassed behind them.87 The clergy is represented by a single line of three characters: the bishop and two deacons. The number of persons, their positioning inside the panel, the gold

84 85

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L.  James, ‘Pray Not to Fall into Temptation and Be on Your Guard’: Antique Statues in Christian Constantinople, in: Gesta 35 (1996), 12–20. The distinction between the shades of purple was established through imperial legislation cf. Ed. dioc. 24 (T.  Mommsen [ed.], Der Maximaltarif des Diocletian / Edictum Diocletiani de pretiis rerum venalium, Berlin 2011, 39); G. Steigerwald, The Purple Varieties in the Price Edict of Diocletian of the Year 301, in: Byzantine Research 15 (1990), 241–253. See also fol. 14r of the sixth-century Rabbula Gospels (Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, cod. Plut. I, 56, Florence), where monks and bishops wear dark purple in the presence of an emperor dressed in lighter purple. On the various interpretations of the panel, see T.F.  Mathews, The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy, University Park 1971, 146–147; Deichmann, 1976, 180–181; M.C.  Carile, Imperial Bodies and Sacred Space? Imperial Family Images between Monumental Decoration and Space Definition in Late Antiquity and Byzantium, in: J.  Bogdanović (ed.), Perceptions of the Body and Sacred Space in Late Antiquity and Byzantium, New York 2018, 59–86 (63–66). Rather than mutually exclusive, complementary meanings of such scenes are a characteristic of the art of the period, which was designed to ‘work’ on various levels cf. Maguire, 1987, 83. The third high functionary, located towards the clergy, is a later addition cf. I. Andreescu-Treadgold / W. Treadgold, Procopius and the Imperial Panels in San Vitale, in: ArtB 79 (1997), 708–723, who studied the material features of the mosaic.

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halo of Justinian, and the superior brightness of his purple compared to the chasuble of the bishop attest to the precedence of the imperial hierarchy. Although the details of the process are unclear, it appears that the presence of the imperial administration in the city at the time when the decoration of the church was made led the bishop of Ravenna who supervised the construction to include the court in the iconographic programme. While it allows us to observe how the iconicity of the emperor and bishop were constructed visà-vis Christ and each other, the added imperial dimension renders episcopal iconicity less clear in San Vitale than in other instances. In Poreč, Bishop Euphrasius used similar visual strategies to claim both a spot in heaven – by depicting himself in the Virgin’s entourage on the conch of the apse – and authority on earth through the aligning of his cathedra with the image of Christ and of an angel holding the globe of cosmic dominion.88 It is, nevertheless, at Classe – Ravenna’s seaport – that the full capacity of Justinianic church interiors to establish bishops as iconic is discernible. There, Bishop Maximian of Ravenna (sed. 546–556) designed what is held to be “an apotheosis of the episcopal office that has no equal in Christian art.”89 Named bishop by Justinian himself, Maximian made full use of the emperor’s support of an iconic episcopate inspired by the imperial model.90 Although parts of the sixth-century interior were altered in various moments of the building’s life, what is preserved shows Maximian’s ambitions.91 On the conch of the apse, a stylised representation of the Transfiguration shows Peter, John, and Jacob as sheep, Jesus as a large cross with his portrait at the intersection of the cross’ arms, and Moses and Elijah in human form, appearing through the clouds. The placing of the gold and jewelled Cross inside a depicted oculus gives it a revelatory quality. Below this scene, in the middle register, the mythical founder of the Church in Ravenna, the secondcentury confessor Apollinaris is shown standing in the orans position, flanked by twelve sheep, six on each side. His cruciform posture, his alignment with the Cross, and his position amongst the twelve sheep – which the depiction of Peter, John, and Jacob as sheep in the Transfiguration scene above helps us identify with the apostles – establish the first bishop of Ravenna as an alter Christus. (see Fig. 39) 88 89 90 91

On the mosaics in the Poreč cathedral and their symbolism, see Terry / Maguire, 2007. O.G. von Simson, Sacred Fortress: Byzantine Art and Statecraft in Ravenna, Princeton 1948, 41. The iconographic programme is attributed to Maximian because underdrawings of a different composition were found, indicating last-minute changes, which are dated to Maximian’s episcopate. On the church, see Deliyannis, 2010, 259–274; Jäggi, 2013, 259–282. On the iconography, see A. Michael, Das Apsismosaik von S. Apollinare in Classe: Seine Deutung im Kontext der Liturgie, Frankfurt 2005.

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Figure 39

Main nave and apse of the Church of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (549). (Photo: Steven Zucker, Smarthistory, by concession of the Ministero della Cultura – Direzione regionale Musei dell’Emilia-Romagna. All rights reserved).

As in other cases we discussed throughout the book, the depiction of the god as a symbol rather than in human form made the person below its human image. In Sant’Apollinare in Classe, this status is ascribed to the bishop of Ravenna. Below the register of Apollinaris, just above a now lost synthronon, four other bishops of the city are shown standing inside depicted niches. This register contained two other scenes that were remade in the seventh century. Completing the iconographic programme were the decoration on the apse’s arch – which we have in a later, remade version – and that of the nave, now lost.92 As in San Vitale and the Basilica Euphrasiana in Poreč, purple is used to establish specific relationships between the depicted characters. Apollinaris wears a dark purple chasuble speckled with gold. Below him, the two centrally placed bishops have yellow-green chasubles like the one worn by the bishop 92

On the representations of archangels Michael and Gabriel on the arch, see Deliyannis, 2010, 266–267.

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in Justinian’s panel in San Vitale. The remaining two bishops wear the regular, dark episcopal purple. This chromatic scheme finds an explanation in the inscriptions. While all four bishops in the lower register are identified by name, the two central ones are indicated as saints and are framed by niches that are gilded and jewelled. It thus appears that the dark purple chasuble stood for the episcopal rank and that the green hue was supposed to visually translate the holiness of the person wearing it. In San Vitale, restorers noted that the face and name of Maximian had been added to the imperial panel, which initially depicted another bishop.93 The green tint of the chasuble could indicate that the bishop whose face Maximian usurped was one considered a saint by the local community. Nevertheless, it has been pointed out that although it is generally agreed that the depicted emperor is Justinian, the absence of an inscription identifying the ruler by name allowed the portrait to represent the imperial office in general.94 In similar fashion, the accompanying bishop could have been a generic representation of the Ravennate episcopate, not necessarily of Bishops Ursicinus (sed. 533–536) or Victor (sed. 538–545), who supervised the church’s construction. In this case, the sanctity of this specific bishop, indicated by the golden hue of his purple garment, would have stood for the holiness of the episcopal office in general. Thus, in Sant’Apollinare in Classe the chromatic of the episcopal chasubles established a hierarchy among the depicted bishops, who were displayed in a pyramidal pattern. At the basis and towards the sides were Ecclesius and Ursicinus in the episcopal purple. Towards the centre, the sanctity of Severus (sed. 308–348) and Ursus (sed. 399–426) shone through the purple, giving it a dim glow translated visually by the green-golden tesserae. Finally, the superior holiness of the bishop-confessor Apollinaris – reinforced by his halo and Christ-like presentation – shoots out through the purple chasuble in the form of golden arrows. The holiness of local bishops, built through the spatial relationship between their portraits and Christ’s stylised portrait and through the chromatic code of the chasubles was channelled downwards, into Maximian. Seated on the cathedra, the living bishop embodied the spiritual authority and iconic dimension his predecessors had slowly accrued. The impersonation of Christ during the Eucharistic liturgy would have reinforced Maximian’s iconicity. In Classe, the iconography draws our attention to the beginning of the Eucharistic liturgy, when the bishop reached the presbytery and, before sitting on the cathedra, he would pray and bless the congregation while in the orant 93 94

Adreescu-Treadgold / Treadgold, 1997. J. Elsner, Art and the Roman Viewer: The Transformation of Art from the Pagan World to Christianity, Cambridge 1995; 184–187; Deliyannis, 2010, 243.

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position.95 In the moment, as he uttered Christ’s words to the community, “Peace to all!,” the Cross on the conch of the apse, the portrait of Apollinaris, and Maximian aligned perfectly, with the living body of Maximian fleshing out the presence of Christ in front of the congregation.96 The churches Justinian commissioned, those to which he provided the furnishings that organised the congregation inside the space, those built by the bishops he named, and those commissioned by others who imitated his foundations all showcase the pyramidal structure of Christ’s heavenly court, which legitimised the imperial order. In doing so, the spaces promoted the officiating bishop as an image of Christ during the liturgy. The similarity of episcopal and imperial self-display strategies in this period is confirmed by the throne room in the palace in Constantinople, inside which we saw Emperor Justin II ‘playing’ a living statue of the Christian God in Chapter 2. Now lost, the building is known from descriptions that confirm it looked like a small-scale San Vitale in Ravenna.97 Towards the end of his rule, Justinian’s state entered a period of deep crisis that over time changed how the eastern Romans related with the divine.98 The confident self-image we saw in Justinianic churches, inside which all those taking part in the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy embodied various heavenly powers would be replaced with one influenced by the Old Testament.99 Like the people of Israel, Byzantines would be required to recognise their sinfulness as the origin of the state’s continuous problems, and to repent liturgically.100 The crisis, nevertheless, also made bishops the main representatives of imperial administration in the territory, thus confirming their functioning 95

Germ. CP (sed. 715–730), h.e. 26 (P.  Meyendorff [ed. / trans.], Germanus of Constantinople, On the Divine Liturgy, New York 1984, 76–77). Ravenna likely followed the Constantinopolitan liturgical practice in this period cf. A. Doig, Liturgy and Architecture from the Early Church to the Middle Ages, Farnham 2008, 80. 96 The church of San Giovanni Evangelista, built in Ravenna by Galla Placidia ca. 440, had the image of bishop Peter Chrysologus – alive at the time – depicted in the orant position above the cathedra cf. Agn., lib. pont. rav. 27 (Deliyannis [ed.], 2006, 174); M.C.  Carile, Piety, Power, or Presence? Strategies of Monumental Visualization of Patronage in Late Antique Ravenna, in: Religions 12 (2021), online. 97 See M. Featherstone, The Chrysotriklinos Seen through “De Cerimoniis”, in: L.M. Hoffmann (ed.), Zwischen Polis, Provinz und Peripherie: Beiträge zur byzantinischen Geschichte und Kultur, Wiesbaden 2005, 845–852. 98 On the crisis, see Haldon, 1997. 99 L. Brubaker / J. Haldon, Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era (680–850): A History, Cambridge 2011, 9–25; S. Eshel, The Concept of the Elect Nation in Byzantium, MM 113, Leiden 2018, 26–43. 100 Krueger, 2014.

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as images of the ruler’s authority and iconicity.101 For centuries, bishops and Byzantine rulers would reinforce each other as images of Christ.102 Even in areas that were left outside the state’s borders, Justinianic churches continued to influence the form of the episcopate through their spaces, furnishings, and figurative decoration. 5.4

Beyond the Living Bishop

Despite the resistance of some bishops, who objected to the adoption of a garment that symbolised their office, the episcopal rank came to be signified by a number of objects, in primis the stole, but also the chasuble, cross, and gospel book.103 The cathedra, too, gained the power of ‘make’ bishops, with rushing to sit first on the episcopal throne deciding the new bishop in at least two instances.104 Thus, one’s recognition as bishop came to a certain extent to depend on their display with these objects, each of which created a symbolic analogy to Christ, thus establishing the bishop as iconic. This transfer of episcopal authority from the holders of the office to the garments, objects, and spaces that signified it does not seem to be as radical as in the case of imperial insignia, perhaps due to the ways in which bishops interacted with their congregations, which did not allow them to escape their humanity and individuality in the same way as emperors did. 5.5

Conclusions

Given the omnipresence of bishops and the cultural and theological differences existing between the communities that were part of the Roman Empire, the episcopal expression is one of the most diverse of the iconic phenomenon. With roots in the apostolic period, when the community in Galata received Paul “as if Jesus Christ Himself” and “saw” Christ’s crucifixion in the Apostle’s sufferings, episcopal iconicity was later confirmed through the persecution 101 On changing in the role of the episcopate, see Haldon, 1997, 97–99.129.281–323; M. Angold, Church and Society: Iconoclasm and Latter, in: J.  Haldon (ed.), The Social History of Byzantium, Oxford 2009, 233–256. 102 Dagron, 1996. 103 On the resistance, see Jussen, 2001. On episcopal stoles, see S.A. Schoenig, Bonds of Wool: The Pallium and Papal Power in the Middle Ages, Washington 2016. 104 Gr. Tur., h.f. 2.13 and 2.23 (W. Arndt / B. Krusch [eds.], Gregorii episcopi Turonensis, Libri historiarum X, MGHM 1.1, Hanover 1884, 63.69); Jussen, 2001, 158–159.

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and martyrdom of several bishops.105 The image of the episcopal office continued to evolve during the fourth and fifth centuries, as the Christian faith went from persecuted to tolerated, favoured, and eventually dominant. Towards the end of this period, complex episcopal models took shape in some of the regions of the Empire. As the western regions began to develop independently, bishops continued to impersonate Christ amid communities that were ethnically and confessionally mixed, often turning for inspiration and legitimation toward the bishops of Rome. Their impersonations found support in those staged by the leaders of the new political structures, who, in seeking ways to legitimise their authority, utilised Roman and early Byzantine models and added the impersonation of Christ to their strategies.106 In the East, Justinian’s measures homogenised the image of the episcopate. During his reign, bishops became local images of imperial iconicity and their cathedrals mechanisms that popularised the notion of hierarchy. For the imperial office, Justinian’s strategy amounted to a replacement of the imperial cult with a Christian alternative. Justinianic cathedrals were the new temples of the imperial cult, where the emperor’s privileged relationship with the divine could be seen through the living bishops rather than the ruler’s cult statue. The process naturalised episcopal iconicity but also subjected it to the imperial one, as shown by instances such as Patriarch Photios’s (d. 893) failed attempt to usurp the emperor’s iconic function by stating that the patriarch of Constantinople represents the “living and animate image of Christ.”107

105 Gal 4:14 and 3:1, respectively. 106 On western medieval rulers claiming iconic status in ways that integrated the Roman heritage and Byzantine model, see E.H. Kantorowicz, Deus per naturam, Deus per gratiam: A Note on Mediaeval Political Theology, in: HTR 45 (1952), 253–277; R. Pizzinato, Vision and Christomimesis in the Ruler Portrait of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram, in: Gesta 57 (2018), 145–170. 107 Phot., eis. 3.8 (I. Zepos / P. Zepos (eds.), Jus Graecoromanum. Vol. 2, Aalen 1962, 242; trans. J.A. Cotsonis, The Religious Figural Imagery of Byzantine Lead Seals II. Studies on Images of the Saints and on Personal Piety, London 2020, 70) Πατριάρχης ἐστὶν εἰκὼν ζῶσα χριστοῦ καὶ ἔμψυχος, δι’ ἔργων καὶ λόγων χαρακτηρίζουσα τὴν ἀλήθειαν. See V. Stanković, Living Icon of Christ: Photios’ Characterization of the Patriarch in the Introduction of the Eisagoge and its Significance, in: I. Stevović (ed.), Symmeikta: Collection of Papers Dedicated to the 40th Anniversary of the Institute for Art History, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Belgrade 2012, 39–43 on the context.

Chapter 6

Stylites Known as ‘stylites,’ ascetics who lived on top of columns occupy a special place in the phenomenon discussed throughout the book.1 Unlike other categories of iconic persons, who imitated statues intermittently to draw attention to their own functioning as vessels and images of the divine, stylites imitated statuary in their daily life. The stylite phenomenon thus represents a privileged instance for studying how statuary influenced the perception of and interaction with iconic persons. In addition, stylites generated one of the main types of objects that preserved and multiplied the presence of iconic persons, with their dossier documenting in detail the progress from cult statue to living humans and, finally, to artefacts. Because they emerged in the fifth century, Christian stylites existed in a world that took for granted the human possibility to embody, impart, and display the divine. As a result, they represent a well-defined form of iconicity. In addition, by that time, Christians had admitted the capacity of inanimate matter to act as vessel and image of the divine. Apart from relics, which were now being enclosed in structures whose scale and decoration reflected (and established) their power, the places where Jesus had lived in Palestine were being recognised as holy.2 During the fifth and sixth centuries, other types of objects were created that helped humans interact with the divine. Stylites coexisted with several of these, while also generating a distinct category, that of stylite tokens. Thus, after discussing how the stylites’ relationship to statues shaped their iconicity, I focus on how their power transferred to objects. Finally, I ponder what this process teaches us about the origin and function of icons that emerge in the same period.

1 From the Greek word for pillar or column, i.e., στῦλος. Stylites are often referred to as ‘pillar saints’ but in the late antique phase of the phenomenon, their pedestals were typically round with square bases, closely resembling the columns used for statuary. On the terminology, see L.A. Schachner, The Archaeology of the Stylite, in: Late Antiq. Archaeol. 6 (2010), 329–397. 2 On churches, see C.  Sotinel, Les lieux de culte chrétiens et le sacré dans l’Antiquité tardive, in: RHR 4 (2005), 411–435; on martyria, see Grabar, 1946; Yasin, 2012; on the Holy Land, see Bitton-Ashkelony, 2005.

© Brill Schöningh, 2023 | doi:10.30965/9783657790821_007

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Living vs. Animated Statues

Most ascetics performed their askesis (Greek: training) in ways that stood in opposition to civilisation, such as living in caves, walling themselves up in cells, grazing like animals, or living in exclusively male communities. Contrastingly, stylites chose a practice inspired by urban culture and imitated the columns with statues of gods or rulers that often stood in town fora.3 In addition, while other ascetics typically shied away from human contact, stylites set their columns in accessible locations.4 The recognisability of their stance and their accessibility invited interaction. As a result, they quickly became the stars of the ascetic movement, gaining admirers across and beyond the empire, attracting pilgrims, converting pagan tribes, and even legitimising emperors.5 When Symeon Stylites the Elder (ca. 390–459) climbed atop his first column in 412 and marked the beginning of the stylite phenomenon, columns supporting anthropomorphic statues were a common presence in Roman towns.6 The ones displaying gods had not yet been brought down by the increasingly Christian communities because they enjoyed a particular status, as objects that were simultaneously cultic, apotropaic, memorial, and public landmarks.7 Such columns were also found in rural contexts, as centrepieces of ad hoc shrines established in the vicinity of towns or on large domains.8 (see 3 A. Eastmond, Body vs. Column: The Cults of St Symeon Stylites, in: L. James (ed.), Desire and Denial in Byzantium, Aldershot 1999, 87–100 (88) pointed out that the column was the only element differentiating stylites from other ascetics. The size of their pillars associated them to such columns with statues, rather than with honorific statues of citizens placed on shorter pediments. See the dimensions of imperial columns and honorary statues in L. Lavan, Public Space in the Late Antique City. Vol. 1: Streets, Processions, Fora, Agorai, Macella, Shops, Leiden 2020, figs. E6B and B22A. On those of stylites, see below. 4 Schachner, 2010 maps the presence of stylites, showing their predilection for important routes across Syria. 5 On stylites in general, see H.  Delehaye, Les saints stylites, Brussels 1923; H.J.W.  Drijvers, Spätantike Parallelen zur altchristlischen Heiligenverehrung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des syrischen Stylitenkultus, in: G. Wiessner (ed.), Erkenntnisse und Meinungen II, Wiesbaden 1978, 77–113; D. Frankfurter, Stylites and phallobates: Pillar Religions in Late Antique Syria, in: VC 44 (1990), 168–198; Eastmond, 1999. Although typically male, there were also female stylites cf. H. Delehaye, Les femmes stylites, in: AnBoll 27 (1908), 391–393. 6 Three late antique vitae of Symeon the Elder were preserved and are translated in R. Doran, The Lives of Simeon Stylites. Trans. with an Introduction, Kalamazoo 1992. 7 On these statues, see Kiernan, 2020, 175–177; on their survival, see H.  Saradi-Mendelovici, Christian Attitudes toward Pagan Monuments in Late Antiquity and Their Legacy in Later Byzantine Centuries, in: DOP 44 (1990), 47–61; L. Lavan, Political Talismans? Residual ‘Pagan’ Statues in Late Antique Public Space, in: Late Antiq. Archaeol. 7 (2011), 437–477. 8 See Gr. Tur., h.f. 8.15 (Arndt / Krusch [eds.], 1884, 380–383); E.W.  Sauer, Religious Rituals at Springs in the Late Antique and Early Medieval World, in: Late Antiq. Archaeol. 7 (2011), 503–550.

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Fig. 40) In addition, columns that supported statues of emperors continued to be erected in this period in the Empire’s main cities, as part of the emperors’ self-presentation as iconic.9 Thus, the combination of column and anthropomorphic object on top was an easily recognisable one.

Figure 40

Detail from larger mural showing a simple shrine consisting of a statue set on a column, placed on a rock on the seashore. Such shrines were found across the Roman world. Fresco, late 1st century, from the villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (inv. no. 20.192.17)

Over the years, as Symeon’s powers drew attention to his becoming a vessel of divine power, his askesis gained the quality of a challenge between his living body and the similarly shaped but inanimate statues of the gods.10 As with Psyche’s beauty rendering the statues of Venus obsolete, and the emperors’ bodies becoming the focus even in the presence of cult statues, the iconic stylite claimed precedence over the animated statue. This agonistic dimension is explicit in the case of Vulfilaic. Inspired by the eastern stylites, Vulfilaic set up

9 10

Eastmond, 1999 credited the stylites’ appeal to their analogy to imperial columns. On stylites seeking to replace statues, see L. James, ‘Pray Not to Fall into Temptation and Be on Your Guard’: Antique Statues in Christian Constantinople, in: Gesta 35 (1996), 12–20 (18).

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his column next to a statue of the goddess Diana, in the region of Trier.11 From the column, he preached the worthlessness of the statue, while becoming one himself. After the local community saw his determination during the cold season, they were convinced to switch their allegiance from Diana to the god he followed. As pointed out by David Frankfurter, the process shifted the community’s piety from one statue to another.12 Like other types of iconic persons we discussed throughout the book, stylites were proving more plausible images of the divine than statues. This plausibility reflected a changing worldview. As the number of Romans adopting Christianity grew during the fourth and fifth centuries, so did the population born into the faith.13 As we have seen, the former category underwent baptism as adults and witnessed the iconic potential of their bodies during the initiation. In contrast, those born and raised as Christians were taught from childhood to perceive the world through the perspective of the Church. During the fourth and fifth centuries, the religion slowly Christianised natural phenomena and the flow of time, and it designed Christian solutions to the problems that had long been solved through polytheistic mechanisms.14 Together, these processes shaped how people interacted with and understood the functioning of the world. The body’s potential to share in the divine would have appeared natural to people growing up with stories about glowing martyrs and desert ascetics; who heard stories of Elijah and Enoch being taken to heaven while alive; and who hoped to one day travel to Palestine and visit the empty tombs of Jesus and Mary, which proved their physical bodies lived on in heaven. Like other ascetics, stylites were credited with combining Adam’s life in Eden, Jesus’s life on earth, the martyrs’ willingness to suffer, and the sages’ prioritisation of the spiritual over the corporeal.15 As such, they were charac11 12 13 14

15

Gr. Tur., h.f. 8.15 (Arndt / Krusch [eds.], 1884, 380–383). Frankfurter, 1990, 197 n. 72. The exact pace at which Romans adopted Christianity is still under debate cf. T.A. Robinson, Who Were the First Christians? Dismantling the Urban Thesis, Oxford 2017 but the later fourth and fifth centuries saw a significant increase in numbers. See  P.  Brown, Introduction: Late Antiquity: Anomaly and Order Between a Pagan and a Christian World, in: A. Lazaridou (ed.), Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd– 7th Century AD, New York 2011, 21–25 (25) on Christianity’s “slow, hard labour on the imagination of an entire society” in this period. See Frankfurter, 2018 on how Christianity’s holy figures provided alternatives to old mechanisms of interaction with the divine. On ascetics as Adamic, see Apophth. Patr.: Pambo 12 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 65, Paris 1864, coll. 372); Brown, 1978, 86 n. 18; S.A. Harvey, Asceticism, in: G.W. Bowersock / P. Brown / O. Grabar (eds.), Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World (Cambridge 1999), 317–318. On ascetics as Christ-like, see Hieron.,

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terised by a performative type of iconicity, gained through their embodying of divine models, and a theophanic one, represented by their emaciated and immobile bodies. The presence of the column conditioned the ways in which people interacted with the stylites’ bodies, and shaped their iconicity. Upwards of seven meters tall and going as far up as nineteen, the columns prevented the close observation of the ascetics’ bodily features.16 Instead, the columns required immobility and implied an endurance to the climate.17 Their immobility confirmed the stylites as statue-like, while their endurance established them as material vessels reinforced by the indwelling presence of the divine, in the manner of martyrs.18 Finally, the lower halves of their bodies were hidden from onlookers by balusters, dents carved into the column’s top, or tent-like structures.19 (see Fig. 41) As a result, their upper halves seemed to be morphing with the columns.20 Observable in their representations, this assimilation of the person with the stone column invited further analogies with statuary and, as we will see in the following section, shaped the ways in which people interacted with the stylite. Although the tall columns with a standing human figure on top recalled the monumental columns holding statues of rulers or gods, the truncated image of stylites allowed their association to expand into other types of statuary, namely bust images placed on colonettes and with herms. Bust images on colonettes were a common presence in Roman homes and had been used as symbols of idolatry in Christian art since the fourth century.21 Thus, to an audience familiarised with Christian art, stylites and their representations carried the potential of an anti-idolatrous discourse, rooted in the same type of

16 17

18 19 20 21

e. 108.14 (Hilberg [ed.], 1912, 324), quoted above; Frank, 2000. On ascetics as martyr-like, see Cyr. H., catech. m. 2.7 (Piédagnel [ed.], 1988, 118); G.P. Jeanes, Baptism Portrayed as Martyrdom in the Early Church, in: StPatr 23 (1993), 158–176. On the dimensions of stylite columns, see Schachner, 2010, Table 1. On their immobility and its implications, see G.  Frank, Traveling Stylites? Rethinking the Pillar Saint’s Stasis in the Christian East, in: O. Delouis / M. Mossakovska-Gaubert / A.  Peters-Custot (dir.), Les mobilités monastiques en Orient et en Occident de l’Antiquité tardive au Moyen Âge, Rome 2019, 261–273. On stylites as vessels of the Holy Spirit and Christ, see B.V. Pentcheva, The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium, University Park 2010, 18–44. On the balusters and huts, see Schachner, 2010, 353. The assimilation of bodies and columns in depictions of stylites was pointed out by most scholars writing on stylites. See T.M. Kristensen, Using and Abusing Images in Late Antiquity (and Beyond): Column Monuments as Topoi of Idolatry, in: S.  Birk / T.M.  Kristensen / B.  Poulsen (eds.), Using Images in Late Antiquity, Oxford 2014, 268–282.

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Figure 41

Stylite tower, early 6th century, 13.5 m, Umm ar-Rasas (Jordan). (Photo: Hubert Bartkowiak – Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0)

“contrast imitation” between living statues and stone ones we have seen characterising the iconic phenomenon throughout. Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393–ca. 466), who chronicled the lives of thirty ascetics and is one of our main sources on the life of Symeon the Elder, points to stylites being likened to herms. According to Theodoret, while Symeon was still alive, his images were placed on columns at the entrances of shops in Rome for protection.22 The apotropaic function of the images, their location at thresholds, and their placement on columns shows that they were held to function as herms, which were initially sculpted pillars ending with the head of Mercury that had been used since archaic times to mark and protect thresholds.23 (see Figs. 3, 6 & 42) The presence of genitalia midway down the pillar emphasised that the rectangular object represented the person’s body, rather than a pedestal for the head. Over time, visual variations in designing herms appeared, with some coming close to how stylites were depicted, which 22 23

Thdt., h.r. 26.11 (P.  Canivet / A.  Leroy-Molinghen [eds.], Théodoret de Cyr. Histoire des moines de Syrie. Vol. 2, SC 257, Paris 1979, 182; Doran [trans.], 1992, 75). On herms, see J. Fejfer, Roman Portraits in Context, Berlin 2008, 228–233; C.A. Faraone, The Transformation of Greek Amulets in Roman Imperial Times. Empire and After, Philadelphia 2018.

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would have further fuelled the association of the stylite-and-column with herms. Thus, the ways in which the stylites’ bodies were displayed prompted their association not to one, but to several types of statuary. Although each type of depiction had specific functions, they all imaged the divine. Consequently, whether positive or agonistic, the association with statuary invested stylites with a similar, iconic quality. In addition, the systematic association of the stylites’ bodies with statuary through their display as statues, their immobility, and resistance to climate reified them, thus allowing the transfer of their functions to artefacts.

Figure 42

Herm of Hermes, late 1st century, 149 × 24 × 21 cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California (inv. no. 79.AA.132). (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program)

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Multiplying the Stylite’s Body: Eulogia, Relics, Columns

While some pilgrims visited ascetics to see the divine reflected in their transformed features, most came for help with specific problems. Most frequently, they sought advice on various issues or to be healed.24 For healing, pilgrims typically tried to have direct physical contact with the ascetic, whose touch was credited with miraculous effects: A crowd of sick people went out to see him every day, and laying his hand on them through the window, he would send them away cured. One could see him with the face of an angel giving joy to his visitors by his gaze and abounding with much grace.25

Those who were not so fortunate as to be touched by the ascetics, or who wanted to bring home the ascetics’ healing power, tried to touch matter that had been in direct contact with them, which was believed to have been imbued with the ascetics’ power.26 The most desired objects included body parts – typically hairs that ascetics distributed, or which bold pilgrims plucked themselves, but also phlegm or maggots from their wounds.27 Next were personal objects, such as a piece of clothing belonging to the ascetic, an object they handcrafted, an amulet they prepared, or a text (prayer, letter) by their hand.28 Finally, there was the soil around their cells.29 Ascetics tried to control the phenomenon by 24 25

26 27

28 29

On the reasons why people visited ascetics, see Brown, The Rise, 1971; Frankfurter, 2018. h. mon.: Theon 1 (A.-J. Festugière [ed.], Historia Monachorum in Aegypto. Édition critique du texte grec et traduction annotée, Brussels 1961, 43–44; N. Russell [trans.], The Lives of the Desert Fathers: The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto, Mowbray 1981, 68) ἐξήρχετο γὰρ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡμέριον τὸ πλῆθος τῶν ἀσθενούντων καὶ διὰ θυρίδος ἐπιθεὶς αὐτοῖς τὴν χεῖρα ὑγιεῖς ἀπέλυεν ἀπελθεῖν. ἦν δὲ ἰδεῖν αὐτὸν τὸ πρόσωπον ἀγγέλου ἔχοντα, χαροποιὸν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς καὶ πολλῆς χάριτος ὅλον μεστόν. Maraval, 1985, 186 argues that ascetics are treated as relics but, as we have seen, it is relics who are being treated in this period as living persons. On the principle of ‘holy contagion’, see above, p. 89 n. 71. E.g., h. mon.: Paphnutius 4 (Festugière [ed.], 1961, 102–103); Steph. H.M., p.a. 19 (T. Kuhn [ed.], A Panegyric on Apollo, Archimandrite of the Monastery of Isaac, by Stephen, Bishop of Heracleopolis Magna. Copt. 40, CSCO 395, Leuven 1978, 35); Thdt., h.r. 21.9 (Canivet / Leroy-Molinghen [eds.], 1979, 78). See, e.g., Thdt., h.r. 3.9 (Canivet / Leroy-Molinghen [eds.], 1977, 264) and 21.6 (96); Vikan, 1984, 67–74; Frankfurter, 2018. Thdt., h.r. 21.4 (Canivet / Leroy-Molinghen [eds.], 1977, 74); h. mon.: Paphnutius  4 (Festugière [ed.], 1961, 102–103); G.  Vikan, Early Byzantine Pilgrimage ‘Devotionalia’ as Evidence of the Appearance of Pilgrimage Shrines, in: E. Dassmann / J. Engemann (eds.), Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses für Christliche Archäologie. Bonn 22.–28. September 1991, Vatican City 1995, 77–88; id., Early Byzantine Pilgrimage Art, Washington ²2010; C.  Hahn, Loca Sancta Souvenirs: Sealing the Pilgrim’s Experience, in: Ousterhout

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setting ‘visiting hours’ during which they saw, listened, and touched pilgrims, and by preparing objects to distribute.30 Desert pilgrimage thus attests to the same mindset observable earlier in the treatment of the bodies of Jesus and of confessors. In all these instances, the desire to touch or have an object touched by the person was rooted in the belief that, as in the interaction between Jesus and the woman with the blood loss, the divine power indwelling the person’s body permeated their flesh and its immediate material context. Like the hem of Jesus’ garment, Paul’s aprons, or Peter’s shadow, the bodies and objects of desert ascetics were imbued with the divine and imparted healing power. A seventh-century mosaic from the church of Saint Demetrius in Thessaloniki illustrates this function of the saints’ bodies. Known to us from a watercolour, the scene showed Demetrius in front of the hexagonal silver chamber dedicated to him inside the church.31 (see Fig.  43) Seated, the saint touched with one hand a child presented to him by a woman, while his other one reached upward, toward an oculus from which Christ leaned forward to touch the saint’s hand. Thus, like Neoplatonic theurgists, the saint was a “spiritual and somatic amphibian” who bridged the human and the divine, allowing divine power to flow into the world.32 Stylites were, by definition, untouchable, with only their caretakers and a select few (typically other ascetics, members of the clergy, and emperors) being allowed to climb the ladders that led up to them.33 Nevertheless, the texts and artefacts documenting their cult attest to the ingenious solutions utilised to circumvent the problems posed by their untouchability. Symeon the Elder had pilgrims ingest maggots falling out of his wounds.34 Relevant for its Eucharistic overtones and for its confirmation of the principle of ‘holy

30 31

32 33 34

(ed.), 1990, 85–95; C. Rapp, Saints and Holy Men, in: A. Casiday / F.W. Norris (eds.), The Cambridge History of Christianity. Vol. 2 Constantine to c. 600, Cambridge 2007, 548–566. Cf. Schachner, 2010, 340 n. 37. For stylites, see Delehaye, 1923, cxliv–clxxvi. On the mosaic, see R.  Cormack, The Mosaic Decoration of S. Demetrios, Thessaloniki: A Re-examination in the Light of the Drawings of W.S. George, in: Annu. Br. Sch. Athens 64 (1969), 17–52; C.  Bakirtzis / E.  Kourkoutidou-Nikolaidou / C.  Mavropoulou-Tsioumi, Mosaics of Thessaloniki: 4th–14th century, Athens 2012, 143–178. Quote on theurgists from G. Shaw, Theurgy: The Language of the Embodied Soul: A Study of the Work of Iamblichus of Chalcis, PhD diss., Santa Barbara 1987, 117. On accessibility, see H.  Hunter-Crawley, Divinity Refracted: Extended Agency and the Cult of Symeon Stylites the Elder, in: V. Gasparini et al. (eds.), Lived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World, Berlin 2020, 261–286 (264–265). Anton. Hag., v. Sym. Styl. 18 (H. Lietzmann [ed.], Das Leben des heiligen Symeon Stylites, Leipzig 1908).

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Figure 43

Watercolour of lost mosaic showing devotee present small girl to St Demetrius. North inner aisle, Church of Saint Demetrius, Thessaloniki, 7th century. (British School at Athens, with kind permission)

contagion,’ the gesture did not offer a suitable solution for the mass of pilgrims.35 More effective was the identification of the soil around the stylites’ columns as carrying their power. This strategy is ascribed by biographers to the 35

Several elements from the stylites’ lives were cast in Eucharistic terms, possibly to equate meeting the stylite with the Eucharistic liturgy and thus maintain the stylites’ independence from bishops. See S.A. Harvey, The Stylite’s Liturgy: Ritual and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity, in: JECS 6 (1998), 523–539 (530–533); Pentcheva, 2010, 28–36.

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stylites themselves, who invited pilgrims to use the dust to be healed: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, take some of the dust in front of you and rub it all over your body.”36 The dust around the column enacted the same effect people expected of the ascetics’ bodies, namely healing. At some point, members of communities that formed around stylites began to produce tokens out of the dust mixed with oil.37 Stamped with a depiction of the stylite on one side and carrying the imprint of the producer’s palm on the other, such eulogia (Greek: blessings) freed the stylite’s power from the bounds of place.38 (see Fig.  44) The divine power that stylites attracted through their askesis imbued their bodies and, through the column, was channelled into the soil from which the tokens were made. The combined power of the image imprinted on the token and the matter consecrated through direct contact with their bodies proved extremely effective, with stylites successfully industrialising iconicity through their eulogia: “… take this eulogia made of my dust, depart, and when you look at the imprint of our image, it is us that you will see.”39 36 37

38

39

Syriac Life (of Symeon the Elder) 89 (P. Bedjan [ed.], Acta Martyrum et Sanctorum: Tomus Quartius. Vol. 4.7, Leipzig 1894; Doran [trans.], 1992, 168) .‫ ܘܫܘܦ ܒܟܠܗ ܦܓܪܟ‬: ‫ܩܕܡܝܟ‬ ̇ ‫ ܒܫܡܗ ܕܡܪܢ ܝܫܘܥ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܣܒ ܡܢ‬cf. also 38 and 51. ‫ܗܘ ܥܦܪܐ ܕܐܝܬ‬ These were made of local dust, terracotta and, at times, wax cf. J.-P. Sodini, Qal’at Sem’an. Ein Wallfahrtszentrum, in: E.M.  Ruprechtsberger (ed.), Syrien. Von den Aposteln zu den Kalifen, Linz 1993, 128–143 (141). C.R.  Sweeney, Holy Images and Holy Matter: Images in the Performance of Miracles in the Age before Iconoclasm, in: JECS  26 (2018), 111–138 (121–122) places the process after Theodoret wrote his chronicle, thus after 440. M. Ritter, Do ut des: The Function of Eulogiai in the Byzantine Pilgrimage Economy, in: A. Collar / T.M. Kristensen (eds.), Pilgrimage and Economy in the Ancient Mediterranean, RGMW 192, Leiden 2020, 254–284 (266–274) points out that blessed soil was being sent to heal people off site already during the fifth century and that stylite tokens were simultaneously the eulogia and the container. On eulogia and stylite tokens, see Vikan, 1984; id., 2010; D. Caner, Towards a Miraculous Economy: Christian Gifts and Material ‘Blessings’ in Late Antiquity, in: JECS  14 (2006), 329–377; Miller, The Corporeal, 2009; Pentcheva, 2010, 18–44; Hunter-Crawley, 2020; Ritter, 2020. On tokens multiplying the presence of the stylite, see P.C. Miller, 1997 NAPS Presidential Address: ‘Differential Networks’: Relics and Other Fragments of Late Antiquity, in: JECS 6 (1998), 113–138; ead., The Corporeal, 2009, 128–129; ead., Subtle Embodiments: Imagining the Holy in Late Antiquity, in: C.  Boesel / C.  Keller (eds.), Apophatic Bodies: Negative Theology, Incarnation, and Relationality, New York 2022, 45–58 (56); G.  Vikan, Sacred Images and Sacred Power in Byzantium, Aldershot 2003. On palm imprints, see Vikan, 2010, 56; S.  Steiner, Tokens Touched and Touching, in: G.  Peers (ed.), Byzantine Things in the World, New Haven 2013, 109–114 (109). Life of Simeon the Younger 231 (P.V. den Ven [ed.], La vie ancienne de S. Syméon Stylite le Jeune (521–592). Vol. 1, Bruxelles 1962, 6) Λαβὼν οὖν τῆς κόνεώς μου τὴν εὐλογίαν, ἀπότρεχε καὶ ἐν τῇ σφραγῖδι τοῦ τύπου ἡμῶν βλέπων ἐκεῖνο βλέπεις ἡμᾶς. cf. also 116 and 163. Sweeney, 2018, 121–122 spoke of an industrialisation of contact relics when referring to stylite tokens.

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Figure 44 Pilgrim token with the image of Symeon Stylites the Elder. Angels carrying crowns flank the saint. The Baptism of Jesus and the Adoration of the Magi are shown below. Red clay, 6th century, from Qal’at Sem’an, Syria. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (inv. no. 48.1939)

The principle underlying the objects’ power was the one we discussed above, which saw holy individuals capable of ‘contaminating’ their material setting: “the holy man is altogether holy, including his body. For if he has received the bread, he will make it holy, or the cup or anything else that he receives, purifying them.”40 The idea was widespread among Christians and lay at the grounds for the cult of relics. We find none other than the archbishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom supporting it: So great even is the power of the ashes of the saints that it doesn’t just sit inside the remains, but extends beyond them and repels the unclean powers and abundantly sanctifies those who approach with faith. The grace of the Spirit that accompanies these bones and dwells with the saints both extends towards others who follow it with faith and flows from mind into body, and from body into clothing, and from clothing into shoes, and from shoes into a person’s shadow. That’s precisely why it infused not just the bodies of the holy apostles, but also their kerchiefs and aprons. Indeed, it wasn’t only their kerchiefs and aprons but Peter’s shadows also that performed deeds more powerful than those of any living things (cf. Acts 5:15). Even before then, it seems, a sheepskin placed over Elisha’s body brought upon him a twofold blessing. It wasn’t just Elisha’s body, but the piece of clothing too that became filled with grace (cf. 1 Kgs 19:19; 2 Kgs 2:13–14). Precisely the same phenomenon occurred with the three boys. It wasn’t only their bodies that the character of the flame respected, but even their 40

Ev. Phil. 108 (Till [ed.], 2011, 22; Schenke [trans.], 2003, 201), Coptic text quoted above, p. 89 n. 73. For a critique of this ‘contamination’ model, see Hunter-Crawley, 2020. Nevertheless, since the case of Jesus and the woman with the blood loss established also unintentional transmission, the concept of ‘contagion’ (or ‘limited contagion’, since the persons who came into contact with the living saint or the object were healed, but unable to transmit the power further), best defines the phenomenon.

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shoes (cf. Dan 3:27). And in the case of Elisha [scil. the grace] didn’t even [scil. diminish] when he was dead.41

Chrysostom thus confirms that the power was first credited to the living body, and it extended from it to various types of consecrated matter. Just how popular the notion of holy contagion was among Christians of the time is indicated by his attempts to set limits to it. Indeed, Chrysostom had to return to the topic and remind his audience that contact with the martyr did not consecrate the torturer’s hand, neither the gospel book consecrates the heretic. Eulogia thus combined the belief in the holy persons’ capacity to transfer their power to objects with that in the possibility to multiply one’s presence through artefacts that bore their image. The latter was a well-established practice in the late antique Mediterranean, where statues set in towns across the empire functioned as surrogates for the living emperor’s presence.42 The simple iconographic formulas decorating stylite tokens both reflected and established the ways in which stylites were perceived. By showing stylites morphed with their columns, the tokens reproduced the ways in which the ascetics appeared to their visitors and confirmed the sanctity of the soil from which the tokens were made by documenting its contact with the column. The images also promoted stylites as a point of contact between the human and the divine by showing their upper half flanked by angels and their lower, stone part surrounded by people. Thus, like Demetrius in the depiction discussed above and 41

42

Chrys., hom. I 1 (Migne [ed.], 1862, coll. 469; Mayer / Allen [trans.], 2000, 87) Διά τοι τοῦτο καὶ ἡ φιλόχριστος αὕτη παρείπετο τοῖς λειψάνοις, συνεχῶς ἐφαπτομένη, καὶ τὴν εὐλογίαν ἐπισπωμένη, καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσι διδάσκαλος γινομένη τῆς καλῆς ταύτης καὶ πνευματικῆς ἐμπορίας, καὶ διδάσκουσα πάντας ἀρύεσθαι ἀπὸ τῆς πηγῆς ταύτης τῆς ἀεὶ μὲν ἀντλουμένης, οὐδέποτε δὲ κενουμένης. Καθάπερ γὰρ τὰ νάματα τῶν πηγῶν βρύοντα, οὐκ εἴσω τῶν οἰκείων κόλπων κατέχεται, γῶν βρύοντα, οὐκ εἴσω τῶν οἰκείων κόλπων κατέχεται, ἀλλ’ ὑπερβλύζει καὶ ὑπερχεῖται· οὕτω δὴ καὶ ἡ τοῦ Πνεύματος χάρις ἡ τοῖς ὀστέοις παρακαθημένη καὶ τοῖς ἁγίοις συνοικοῦσα, καὶ εἰς ἑτέρους πρόεισι τοὺς μετὰ πίστεως ἐφεπομένους αὐτῇ, καὶ ἀπὸ ψυχῆς εἰς σώματα, καὶ ἀπὸ σωμάτων εἰς ἱμάτια, καὶ ἀπὸ ἱματίων εἰς ὑποδήματα, καὶ ἀπὸ ὑποδημάτων εἰς σκιὰς ἐκτρέχει. Διά τοι τοῦτο οὐ τὰ σώματα ἐνήργει μόνον τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ σουδάρια καὶ τὰ σιμικίνθια· καὶ οὐ τὰ σουδάρια μόνον καὶ τὰ σιμικίνθια, ἀλλὰ καὶ αἱ σκιαὶ τοῦ Πέτρου τῶν ζώντων δυνατώτερα εἰργάζοντο. Ἤδη που καὶ μηλωτὴ κατενεχθεῖσα ἐπὶ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Ἑλισσαίου διπλοῦν αὐτῷ χάρισμα κατήγαγεν· οὐ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα Ἑλισσαίου μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον ἐκεῖνο τῆς χάριτος ἦν ἐμπεπλησμένον. Διά τοι τοῦτο καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν τριῶν παίδων· οὐ γὰρ τὰ σώματα αὐτῶν ᾐδέσθη μόνον τῆς φλογὸς ἡ φύσις, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὰ τὰ ὑποδήματα· καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ Ἑλισσαίου οὐδὲ τελευτήσαντος, οὕτως ἐλύετο θάνατος, εἰς τάφον τοῦ προφήτου ῥιφέντος ἑτέρου νεκροῦ. On imperial portraits multiplying the physical presence of the ruler, see Sever. (d. ca. 410), creat. 6.5 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 56, Paris 1862, coll. 489); M. Kahlos, The Emperor’s New Images – How to Honour the Emperor in the Christian Empire?, in: ead. (ed.), Emperors and the Divine – Rome and its Influence, Helsinki, 2016, 119–138.

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a bishop mentioned by Augustine of Hippo, who held a flower while carrying relics, with the result that the flower was imbued with the relics’ capacity to work miracles, the stylites’ bodies mediated between the human and divine.43 Apart from eulogia, stylites and other desert ascetics also bequeathed their power to relics. As in the case of Polycarp of Smyrna and the North African confessors we discussed in Chapter 3, the corporeal remains of ascetics were treated in the same way their living bodies had been. Thus, the desire to touch and own parts of the ascetics’ living bodies (or objects that came into contact with them) continues to manifest after their deaths with their remains. Stylite relics were hotly disputed and were typically buried in the vicinity of their columns.44 In this way, their remains continued to consecrate the tokens produced at the site. The columns, too, inherited the stylites’ power and gained the capacity to replace their living bodies. As it’s been often pointed out, Symeon the Elder’s column attracted more people than his corporeal remains did, which had been transported to Antioch and later to Constantinople.45 This success could be related to how the cultic complex at Qal’at Sem’an allowed visitors to interact with Symeon’s power.46 The massive cultic complex built around the column after the saint’s death allowed pilgrims to touch the column, obtain tokens made of local dust, get holy water, be baptised, and take part in the Eucharistic liturgy. The power of the sanctuary emanated from the column at the centre, which had become part of Symeon’s body through the forty-seven years he had spent on it. As the setting for the archetypal stylite, Qal’at Sem’an was exceptional. Nevertheless, stylite columns gained a life of their own in other instances, too. Typically, this manifested when a column imposed the presence of a stylite. Upon Abraham’s death, in the early sixth century, his brother, Maro, climbed the column despite his own reluctance, so that his brother’s place would not 43

44 45 46

Aug., c.d. 22.8.10 (E.  Hoffmann [ed.], Augustinus, De civitate dei (pars 2: lib. 14–22), CSEL 40, Vienna 1900; 604–505). On Symeon the Elder bridging the human and divine, see Evagr., h.e. 1.13 (J. Bidez / L. Parmentier [eds.], Évagre le Scholastique, Histoire ecclésiastique. Livres I–III, SC 542, Paris 2011, 158–170). Eastmond, 1999; Schachner, 2010, 358. Eastmond, 1999, 94. On Qal’at Sem’an, see J.-P.  Sodini / J.-L.  Biscop, Qal’at Sem’an et Deir Sem’an: Naissance et dévelopment d’un lieu de pèlerinage durant l’Antiquité tardive, in: J.-M.  Spieser (ed.), Architecture paléochrétienne, Paris 2011, 11–59; H.  Hunter-Crawley, Movement as Sacred Mimesis at Abu Mena and Qal’at Sim’an, in: T.M. Kristensen / W. Friese (eds.), Excavating Pilgrimage: Archaeological Approaches to Sacred Travel and Movement in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East, London 2017, 187–202.

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be left vacant.47 Several centuries later, at Jbeil in Lebanon, a chapel was built around a four-meter stylite column.48 Like stylite representations, where the column was often used to symbolise the saint, the stone column replaced the living stylite. It is not surprising that the transfer of the living person’s power to the material setting is clearest around stylites given the degree of reification brought about by their immobility, lithic-like endurance, and systematic assimilation to statuary. In the context of a growing belief that “the sensible world, including human sense-perception, the body, and objects in the material realm, could be viewed not as distractions but as theophanic vehicles,” the iconicity of living persons could now be shared with artefacts.49 The process marks a shift in the relationship between the human and divine spheres, similar to the one taking place in the Archaic period, when cult statues had been recognised as potential containers and images of the divine. As noted previously, the late antique artefacts that took up these functions were directly dependent on living persons, whose power they inherited. Relics, eulogia, and icons reproduced the living person’s iconicity, thus multiplying it while they were alive and preserving it after their death. The process lacks clear temporal margins because the iconicity of living beings survived this transfer back to matter. As pointed out by Bissera Pentcheva, the concept of embodied iconicity resurfaces in the midst of the iconoclastic dispute in the writings of Pseudo-Leontios of Neapolis (8th ct.), who argued that the “image of God is the human being who has transformed himself according to the image of God and especially the one who has received the dwelling of the Holy Spirit.”50 In addition, Katherine Marsengill showed that during the following centuries, the bodies of religious overachievers continued to be analysed in search of indications of divine presence, with the difference that their referent had become the icon rather than the cult statue.51 Icons appeared in the same period as stylite tokens and shared important 47 48

49 50

51

Joh. Eph. (ca. 507–ca. 588), v.s. 4 (E.W. Brooks [ed.], John of Ephesus: Lives of the Eastern Saints [I], PO 17.1, Paris 1923, 59–60). See V. Menze, The Transformation of a Saintly Paradigm: Simeon the Elder and the Legacy of Stylitism, in: M.  Blömer / A.  Lichtenberger / R.  Raja (eds.), Religious Identities in the Levant from Alexander to Muhammed: Continuity and Change, Turnhout 2015, 213–226 (219–220). Quote from Miller, The Corporeal, 2009, 41. Leont., c.J. 117–118 (V. Déroche [ed.], L’Apologie contre les Juifs de Léontios de Néapolis, in: TMCB  12 (1994), 61–63.65–71.79–84 [69]; trans. Pentcheva, 2014, 124) Εἰκὼν τοίνυν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστιν ὁ κατ’ εἰκόνα Θεοῦ γεγονὼς ἄνθρωπος, καὶ μάλιστα ἐκ Πνεύματος ἁγίου ἐνοίκησιν δεξάμενος. Marsengill, 2013; ead., 2018, 87–103.

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similarities with them. As such, they help us understand the context in which the artefacts consecrated by iconic persons came to gain precedence over them during the sixth and seventh centuries. 6.3

Preserving the Iconic Body: Icons

The origin, initial functions, and even period when icons appeared are still debated.52 It is likely that icons began as a popular practice during the fourth and fifth centuries, when texts began mentioning such panels, and continued to develop in private settings, where they would have fulfilled functions similar to those of the statuettes of the gods in the lararia of Roman homes. Over time, they would have made their way into churches and other shrines, brought as ex votos by people.53 The panels painted with images of Jesus, Mary, 52

53

Literature on icons is too large to reproduce here. Key studies on early icons include E. Kitzinger, The Cult of Images in the Age before Iconoclasm, in: DOP 8 (1954), 94–100; A. Cameron, The Language of Images: The Rise of Icons and Christian Representation, in: The Church and Byzantion 41 (1971), 205–267; ead., Images of Authority: Elites and Icons in Late Sixth-century Byzantium, in: PaP  84 (1979), 3–35; K.  Weitzmann, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. Vol. 1: The Icons. From the Sixth to the Tenth Century, Princeton 1976; R.  Cormack, Painting the Soul: Icons, Death Masks, and Shrouds, London 1997; Belting, 1990; L.  Brubaker, Icons before Iconoclasm, in: A.  Cameron (ed.), Morfologie sociali e culturali in Europa fra tarda antichità e alto medioevo, Spoleto 1998, 1215–1254; J. Elsner, The Origins of the Icon: Pilgrimage, Religion and Visual Culture in the Roman East as ‘Resistance’ to the Centre, in: S.E.  Alcock (ed.), The Early Roman Empire in the East, Oxford 1997, 178–199; M.  Andaloro, Dal ritratto all’icona, in: M.  Andaloro / S. Romano (eds.), Arte e iconografia a Roma da Costantino a Cola di Rienzo, Milan 2000, 31–67; D. Krueger, Christian Piety and Practice in the Sixth Century, in: M. Maas (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian, Cambridge 2005, 291–315; Pentcheva, 2010; Marsengill, 2013; T.F. Mathews / N.E. Muller, The Dawn of Christian Art in Panel Paintings and Icons, Los Angeles 2016. P.  Speck, Wunderheilige und Bilder: Zur Frage des Beginns der Bilderverehrung, in: W. Brandes / S. Kotzabassi / C. Ludwig / P. Speck (eds.), Varia III, Bonn 1991, 163–247 and Brubaker / Haldon, 2011 contested the sixth-century origin of the phenomenon and proposed a late seventh century date, while other scholars pointed out that textual references to icons appear already in the fourth century. See Iren., haer. 1.25.6 (A. Rousseau / L. Doutreleau [eds.], Irénée de Lyon, Contre les hérésies, Livre I, tome II: Texte et traduction, SC 264, Paris 2008, 342–344); Eus., ep. Constant. (J.-P.  Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Vol. 20, Paris 1857, coll. 1545) and h.e. 7.18 (G.  Bardy [ed.], Eusèbe de Césarée, Histoire ecclésiastique. Tome II. Livres V–VII, SC  41, Paris 1955, 192–193); Chrys., Melet. 1 (Caillau [ed.], 1842, 305); Mir. Cosm. Dam. 15 (L.  Deubner [ed.], Miracula Cosmae et Damiani, Leipzig 1907, 137–138); K. Bowes, Christian Images in the Home, in: AT 19 (2011), 171–190; B. Brenk, Apses, Icons and ‘Image Propaganda’ before Iconoclasm, in: AT 19 (2011), 109–130. On the use of icons in the private sphere before becoming official cult-objects of the Church, see P. Schreiner, Der byzantinische Bilderstreit: Kritische Analyse der zeitgenössischen Meinungen und das Urteil

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and other persons said to have had a privileged relationship with the divine were produced using the same techniques the Romans used for portraits of their gods, deceased family members, absent friends, and exemplary figures.54 (see Fig. 45) The medium thus enmeshed icons in a web of connotations that scholars sought to elucidate. In addition, the way in which icons functioned, that is, as material surrogates for a person’s presence, likened them to imperial images. Finally, icons spread among followers of Christ in parallel with stylite tokens and eulogia produced at various sites in the Holy Land and at the healing shrines of Menas, Thekla, and other martyrs. As a result, an icon could have been understood in relation to none, one, several, or all these contemporary phenomena, depending on the person interacting with it. Such symbolic potentialities were grafted on the icon’s main function, namely to substitute the presence of the depicted person.55 The material and iconographic features of some of the earliest icons point to a similar role as stylite eulogia. In the case of eulogia, the tokens’ materiality reproduced the ascetics’ desiccated bodies while the soil’s colour referenced their sunburnt flesh. In the case of icons, physiognomic conventions (eikonismos) showed the saints’ virtues, emaciated bodies were used to indicate their ascetic lifestyle, and haloes represented the luminosity often ascribed to them.56 Although different means were used, both eulogia and icons strove to offer a surrogate for the presence of the living body.57 In both cases, the artefacts reproduced those elements that had been transformed by the indwelling presence of the divine,

54

55

56

57

der Nachwelt bis heute, in: Bisanzio, Roma e l’Italia nell’alto medioevo, Spoleto 1988, vol. 1, 319–407. On painted panels of other gods, see Mathews / Muller, 2016; R.  Sörries, Das MalibuTriptychon: Ein Totengedenkbild aus dem römischen Ägypten und verwandte Werke der spätantiken Tafelmalerei, Dettelbach 2003; on funerary portraiture, see T.K.  Thomas, Late Antique Egyptian Funerary Sculpture: Images for this World and the Next, Princeton 2000; on domestic portraiture, see Marsengill, 2013; ead., 2018; on honorary and domestic portraiture, see Sande, 1993; ead., Pagan Pinakes and Christian Icons: Continuity or Parallelism?, in: AAAHP 4 (2004/2005), 81–100. On the icons’ relationship with their models, see G.B. Ladner, The Concept of the Image in the Greek Fathers and the Byzantine Iconoclastic Controversy, in: DOP  7 (1953), 1–34; A. Cameron, The Language of Images: The Rise of Icons and Christian Representation, in: SCH 28 (1992), 1–42; M.-J. Mondzain, Image, Icon, Economy: The Byzantine Origins of the Contemporary Imaginary, Stanford 2005. On eikonismos and individuality in icons, see Kitzinger, 1954, 150; G. Dagron, Holy Images and Likeness, in: DOP 45 (1991), 23–33; id., Decrire et peindre: Essai sur le portrait iconique, Paris 2007. On physiognomic conventions being used to indicate holiness in other types of late antique Christian portraiture, see C. Croci, In Search of a Divine Face: Physiognomy and the Representation of Sanctity in Christian Art, in: Bacci / Ivanovici (eds.), 2019, online. As in the case of relics, icons came to be credited with the functions formerly performed by living persons. See Leont., c.J. 82–84 (Déroche [ed.], 1994, 68) on relics and icons performing exorcisms.

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Figure 45

Portrait of a bearded man. Tempera on wood, 36 × 37.5 × 3 cm, 1st century, Egypt. The J. Paul Getty Museum (inv. no. 74.AP.20) (Photo: Digital image courtesy of Getty’s Open Content Program)

that is, the stone-like materiality of the stylite and the spiritualised body and luminosity of the painted person. Elements indicating individuality were instead reduced.58 As a result, the person holding the token or gazing at the icon could encounter the iconic body. (see Fig. 46)

58

Frank, 2000, 164 related the reduction of individuality discernible in hagiographic writings to that present in icons and noted that in both cases “Individuality is approximated but never fully achieved.”

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Figure 46

Painted panel with a saint/martyr called Victor. Encaustic(?) on wood, possibly 6th century. (Photo: su concessione del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze, Direzione regionale Musei della Toscana)

Because the early icons seem to distil and reproduce the very elements that made the living person interesting to seek out, they tend to replace the living person, rather than serve as remembrance of them. Like Symeon’s tokens, the icons fulfilled the same functions as the living saint. Thus, while the Iconoclastic clash of the eighth century had theologians stress the ‘absence’

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and point out how the icon differed from its model, pre-iconoclastic images strove to replace living bodies, as it emerges from their features.59 That icons functioned as surrogates for living persons is confirmed by their use for living bishops and rulers in official contexts.60 Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of information on the practice, which involved setting painted portraits of bishops in churches and sending portraits of the emperor and empress to cities around the empire upon their accession to the throne.61 Given that the arrival of the imperial portraits was staged like an adventus, with the respective communities addressing them as they would have done the living rulers, they substituted the rulers’ living bodies in the manner of imperial statues.62 Like the famous portraits from the Fayoum, but unlike most panels with images of the gods with which these early icons were compared, the persons on the earliest extant icons had a direct, piercing gaze that established the panel as a person, rather than a representation.63 (see Figs. 45 & 46) The forward gaze sought out the onlooker’s, inviting interaction; an effect that was strengthened in icons with nearly life-size dimensions.64 In addition, the icons’ materiality completed their likeness to living persons. The use of bright colours, contrasts, and gold foil that interacted with moving natural and artificial light, conferred an animated quality to the panels. Finally, in several cases, architectural frames were depicted around the saints to emphasise their corporeality. While their depiction as hieratic and static attested to their spiritual and ascetic lives, these frames showed that they occupied a real space. Thus, rather than a passive portrait, the icon strove for the agency of a living person, with it seeking 59 60

61

62

63 64

On the concept of holy image in Byzantium, see, e.g., C. Barber, Figure and Likeness: On the Limits of Representation in Byzantine Iconoclasm, Princeton 2002. The icon held to show Bishop Abraham of Hermonthis (ca. 595–ca. 621), now in the Skulpturensammlung und Museum für Byzantinische Kunst, Berlin, is dated to 590–600, when he was still alive; Belting, 1990, 107–110. In addition, throughout the sixth century, living bishops had themselves represented in the churches they commissioned, as we have seen in Chapter 5. On imperial icons, see Gr. Mag., r.e. Appendix 8.10–15 (D. Norberg [ed.], S. Gregorii Magni Registrum epistularum, CCSL 140–140A, Turnhout 1982, 1101); Jo. H., v.G.M. 4.20 (J.-P. Migne [ed.], Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Latina. Vol. 75, Paris 1862, coll. 185); Lavan, 2020, 155–156. A sixth-century manuscript illumination shows the Philistine city Gerar using cities of the time as a model (Vienna Genesis, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. theol. gr. 31, fol. 16). A canvas portrait of the ruler hangs above the city’s main gate, attesting to a change in preference from other media to painted portraits to represent rulers in official contexts. See the panels of the gods discussed in Mathews / Muller, 2016. The Sinai icon of Christ is 84 x 45 cm, the Sinai icon of Peter is 92.8 x 53.1, and the Kiev icon of John the Baptist is 46.8 x 51.1 cm cf. Weitzmann, 1976, 13–15.18–21.23–26, respectively.

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out the onlooker’s gaze and establishing its agency through materiality, chromatic, and iconographic features. Typically showing persons who had been dead for centuries, the early icons appear as a mechanism used to flesh out their presence. As we have seen, the notion of ‘holy contagion’ allowed the transferring of living people’s power to matter that came into contact with them. Believers thus could interact with living but physically absent holy people. Such material surrogates of living persons accustomed people to relate to holy figures through artefacts, thus opening the way to multiplying their presence. As a result, those who could not travel to Syria or Egypt to see the ascetic could still engage in a close relationship with them through the eulogia brought by another.65 Once the principle was established, there was no reason to restrict it to persons currently on Earth. Held to be alive in heaven, the saints could be substantiated through artefacts carrying their images. Thus, icons could function simultaneously in the manner of portraits that preserved the features of a departed friend, of imperial images inviting reverence and establishing the iconicity of their subject; of cult images that allowed one to see and interact with the divine; and of portraits of exemplary figures who reminded onlookers the right way of living. The precise combination of connotations was ‘in the eye of the beholder’ and ultimately unavailable to us, who are left with identifying its semantic potentialities. What is common to all these media is their substitution of the absent person through the artefact. It has been argued that through the combined effect of their substance, materiality, and imagery, stylite tokens and ampullae with eulogia from other holy sites enabled a surrogate pilgrimage to their place of origin.66 If a stylite’s token allowed one to find themselves in front of Symeon’s column, the icon allowed believers to be in the presence of the depicted person.67 Since several early icons were made to be carried on one’s person, like the eulogia, Christians could now interact with the divine in any moment and location.68 Thus, while 65

66 67

68

Life of Simeon the Younger 163 (Den Ven [ed.], 1962, 145) on stylite tokens being given to the poor and ill who could not travel. P. Brown, A Dark-Age Crisis: Aspects of the Iconoclastic Controversy, in: EHR 88 (1973), 1–34 (13) argued that “The icon merely filled a gap left by the physical absence of the holy man.” H. Hunter-Crawley, Pilgrimage Made Portable: A Sensory Archaeology of the Monza-Bobbio Ampullae, in: JHRMC 1 (2012), 135–156. Sweeney, 2018 proposed that during the sixth and seventh centuries, images came to be credited with powers like those of relics, which transformed them into icons. The process he sketches brings the portraits closer to the effect of living persons, thus supporting my interpretation. On early icons being small in order to be carried on the person, see Brenk, 2011, 114.

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eulogia liberated iconic presence from the bounds of place, icons marked a step further in the process by transcending place and time. In the icon, the person could see the divine in a perfected human form, witness a glimpse of the divine light, and ask for help. All these were functions formerly held by cult statues. Similarities to cult statues do not end here. Like the gods and their statues, the Christian saints and their icons tended to become specialised in the solving of specific problems. Like statues, icons allowed saints to manifest simultaneously in multiple locations and were believed to reproduce the features of their models in various degrees of similitude. Finally, like cult statues, icons depicting the same person had various levels of power, depending on the workmanship, richness, and the human or divine origin of the artefact. It was, I believe, the prominence of iconic persons in fifth- and sixth-century culture that made icons acceptable to many Christians, despite such striking similarities with cult statues. The embodying of these functions by living emperors, bishops, and ascetics allowed their transfer to relics, eulogia, and icons. Nevertheless, the image crisis of the following century showed that the process was not uncontested and, as Pseudo-Leontios of Neapolis (8th  ct.) attests, some still considered that the “image of God is the human being who has transformed himself according to the image of God and especially the one who has received the dwelling of the Holy Spirit.”69 6.4

Conclusions

Stylites combined the iconic dimension of ascetics – gained through their imitation of Adam’s life in Eden before the Fall and through a martyr-like resilience through sufferings – with a setting that referenced imperial iconicity. This capacity to simultaneously reference distinct models of iconic living made them into potent expressions of the anthropological model whose emergence and evolution we have been following in this book. In addition, the cruciform posture stylites often adopted made them into performative images of Jesus on the cross.70 The stylites’ integration into the clergy – often against their own will – enriched them also with the clerics’ iconicity. Most importantly for our analysis, stylites rendered explicit the principle underlying the phenomenon 69 70

Leont., c.J.  117–118 (Déroche [ed.], 1994, 69; trans. Pentcheva, 2014, 124), quoted above, p. 173 n. 50. On Byzantine Iconoclasm, see Brubaker / Haldon, 2011; Dell’Acqua, 2020. On the stylites’ cruciform posture, see the discussion in C.M. Stang, Digging Holes and Building Pillars: Simeon Stylites and the ‘Geometry’ of Ascetic Practice, in: HTR 103 (2010), 447–470 (452–425).

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championed by iconic persons, namely that living people had taken up the functions of cult statues. The ways in which the stylites’ desiccated and sunburnt bodies were treated, as well as multiplied through tokens provide a clear expression of the process that saw matter credited with the qualities of iconic persons, a process we have seen occurring also with imperial insignia, martyr relics, and episcopal cathedrae. With stylites, their eulogia, and the appearance of icons, we come full circle in our study, which began with the conditions that made possible the competition between living persons and cult statues for the status of image and vessel of the divine, and then saw the affirmation of the iconic person as a focus for Christian and other religious communities. As the figure of the iconic person became naturalised in the fifth century, its power could be transferred to artefacts.71 These objects then took centre stage and filled the space statues had occupied in private devotion, thus stabilising personal communication with the divine.

71

The transfer was never complete, I am referring to the paradigm that was predominant.

Chapter 7

Conclusion In the opening of his The Making of Late Antiquity, Peter Brown argues that “the changes that came about in late antiquity can best be seen as a redistribution and re-orchestration of components that had already existed for centuries in the Mediterranean world.”1 This idea can be applied to the figure of the iconic person. As we have seen, one’s body, deportment, and behaviour had long been used to ascertain character. In addition, prophets and oracles had functioned as living vessels of the divine, and the principle that allowed humanity to claim divinity had been established as early as Homer’s time. Finally, even iconicity had existed, with Hellenistic rulers who ‘played the god’ and persons of extraordinary physical beauty being credited with becoming images of the divine in the manner of cult statues. In Late Antiquity, these elements came together in a new combination that made iconicity a common human potentiality and iconic persons the main way of seeing and interacting with the divine. One could become a vessel and image of the divine in various ways. Similarly, the ways in which iconic status was communicated to others were shaped by the person’s social status, religious affiliation, personal choices, as well as by local customs. Within this diversity, the cult statue remained a constant element, with it providing the main analogy for iconic persons. Spontaneous at first, the association with statuary was later sought after and, as I have shown, staged in increasingly complex ways that involved a transfer of settings, aesthetic, vocabulary, and gestures from statues to living people. As argued in the Introduction, differences existing between the ways in which the human capacity to function as an image and vessel of the divine manifested have hindered recognition of their belonging to the same phenomenon. Thus, we have failed to understand the full effect of such iconic states, by ignoring that they grew out of the common background we discussed in Chapter  1 and that they developed in dialogue and competition with one another. Nevertheless, the specificity of each type of iconic living must also be recognised. More work is necessary to shed light on how the various expressions complemented each other. For example, we know how the popularity of desert ascetics influenced the self-presentation of late antique bishops, but it remains to be ascertained what role the definition of rabbis and Neoplatonic 1 Brown, 1978, 8.

© Brill Schöningh, 2023 | doi:10.30965/9783657790821_008

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practitioners as iconic played in shaping the figure of the bishop.2 In addition, as it emerges from this book, the search for iconic status might have played an important role in the popularity of Christianity, as the movement interweaved several traditions that promised iconic status and was willing to design experiences that conferred iconicity. As we have seen, iconicity affected a person’s body differently. The emperors’ iconicity did not seem to change the ontological status of their bodies. The same was the case with baptisands, whose momentary physical transformation did not render their bodies vessels of the divine. Bishops engaged in complex interactions with relics, gospel books, crosses, and the Eucharist to render their bodies desirable in the same way those of martyrs and ascetics were. The stars of the phenomenon were those who combined several sources of iconic status, such as bishops or emperors who lived ascetically, or ascetics who behaved like statues and sages. A turning point in the phenomenon can be identified in the fourth century, as Christians came to capture the iconicity of persons in artefacts. The possibility to transfer the power of a living holy person or a shrine to relics or eulogia not only made iconicity portable but it also made it ownable. Romans were used to wearing amulets and having statuettes of the gods, but owning martyr relics was similar to having a xoanon, a cult statue of divine origin. The discovery of the True Cross (ca. 326), the removal of the apostles’ remains to Constantinople (ca. 357), the discovery of Stephen’s relics (415) meant as many waves of consecrated matter sweeping the Mediterranean world. In parallel, large shrines were being established, which specialised in the cure of problems and offered different types of consecrated objects. Menas’ ampullae, Thekla’s soap, John’s manna, the stylites’ tokens, the dust from the places in Palestine, and water from the Jordan travelled far and wide, disseminating the power of living and dead persons. The icon was part of the same process, and its emergence can be related to the practice of capturing an iconic person’s power in objects. The idea that the body of a human who enjoys a privileged relationship with the divine functioned as a mirror on which others can see the divine was not lost after the sixth century. The emperor and the archbishop of Constantinople continued to embody the image of Christ; holy men and women continued 2 On the bodies of sages as holy and iconic in Rabbinic Judaism, see M.  Bloom, Sacred Ceremony and Magical Praxis in Jewish Texts of Early and Late Antiquity, PhD diss., Brunel 1999; C. Hezser, Rabbinic Body Language: Non-Verbal Communication in Palestinian Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity, SJSJ 179, Leiden 2017. On the iconic functions of Neoplatonic philosophers and theurgists, see G. Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus, Kettering 2014; id., Taking the Shape of the Gods, in: Aries 15 (2015), 136–169.

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to be visited in the hope of seeing the divine in their transfigured bodies; and bishops across the empire ‘performed’ Christ during the Eucharistic liturgy. Nevertheless, the traumatic events of the seventh century – when the Roman state was repeatedly on the brink of annihilation – brought about a loss in confidence and change in self-perception. As shown by Derek Krueger, the form and content of liturgies changed to ensure eastern Romans internalised humble biblical models.3 As a result, for most persons, iconicity became a status they could hope for in the afterlife, and which on earth was reserved to religious overachievers. For several centuries, iconicity functioned as a barometer of human-divine relations. Thus, its study sheds light on this core aspect of ancient and medieval societies, which shaped material and immaterial production. Recognition of the prominence of this anthropological phenomenon in ancient and medieval (i.e., Byzantine) Roman society invites us to reconsider how we analyse the dynamic of social interaction, and to factor in that individuals were seeking to be recognised as iconic, as well as how material culture was used to this end. Emperor Constantine had the possibility to design a new capital as a sort of monumental frame for his living person, with him reworking the plan of Roman cities to put his living body at the centre and establish himself as iconic. Others built palaces, churches, homes, or selected specific combinations of garments and jewellery pieces to this end. Often adapted from the mise-en-scène of statuary, strategies that were used to construct one’s body as iconic invite consideration of not only how statues were integrated in these performances, but also of how belief in the iconicity of humans shaped inanimate representations of the divine. Going forward, art historians should consider the existence of iconic persons as a category in-between cult statues and humans. Similarly, social and ritual historians, sociologists, and anthropologists studying the period’s anthropological models, self-presentation strategies, and ritual and social performances should reconsider the role of representations, since ontological margins were blurred wherever iconic persons were present. Finally, the study of iconic persons shows that the new formulas that emerged in Late Antiquity to enable communication and interaction with the divine – such as relics, eulogia, and icons – were directly dependent on living people, whose physical presence and image they multiplied and preserved.

3 Krueger, 2014.

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Index of Ancient Names Notes 1. Given the high the number of occurrences, ‘Paul’ and ‘Jesus/Christ’ were not indexed. 2. Names of gods and literary characters were not included. 3. References to figure captions are given in italics. Abba Pambo 95, 162 Abraham (stylite) 172 Abraham of Hermonthis 178 n. 60 Adam XXIV, 34, 74, 95, 107–110, 117–119, 123, 162, 180 Aelius Aristides 99, 105, 119 Agapetus 56 n. 64 Agnellus of Ravenna XXV, 156 n. 96 Agrippa Postumus 78, 161 Alaric 135, 140 Alexander of Abonouteichus 30 Alexander Severus 20 n. 83 Alexander the Great 12 Ambrose of Milan 60, 111 n. 42, 118 n. 58, 127 Ambrosiaster 106 n. 22 Ammianus Marcellinus 48 n. 39, 62 n. 84, 63 Anastasius I 56, 68 Andronikos Komnenos 68 Antonius Musa 15, 39 Apollinaris 153–156 Appius Claudius Pulcher 39 Apuleius 15 n. 60, 17 n. 62, 104 n. 14, 105 n. 17 Arcadius 64, 67 Aristotle 14 n. 50 Athanasius of Alexandria 141 Augustine of Hippo 1–2, 74 n. 75, 118, 172 Augustus XXV, 15, 37, 39, 41–42, 47, 51 n. 52 Aurelian 51 Barnabas (author) 82 n. 39, 83–84 Basil of Ancyra 2, 121 n. 70, 123 n. 75 Basil of Caesarea 8, 89 n. 70, 110 n. 39, 117, 123 n. 74 and 75, 126–127, 141–142 Bayezid I 37 Blandina 77, 79

Caligula 33, 47 Caracalla 47 Cassius Dio 47 n. 36, 48 n. 43, 51 n. 53 Celestine (Pope) 134 n. 30 Celsus XXIX, XXXI, 18, 30, 41 Chariton 15 n. 61 Choricius of Gaza 12 n. 39 Chromatius of Aquileia 114 n. 51 Cicero 3–4, 12–15, 24, 38–39, 41 n. 22 Claudian 58, 60, 63 n. 88 Claudius 38 n. 6 Clement of Alexandria XXXIV, 81–82, 84, 108–109 Commodus 44, 46, 48, 51 Constantine the Great 30 n. 16, 37, 49–50, 56–57, 62, 127–130, 141–142, 185 Constantinus Porphyrogennetus 56 n. 65 Constantius II 60–63, 142 Corippus 56 n. 64, 66 n. 95 and 99 Cyprian of Carthage 71 n. 1, 77 n. 24, 83 n. 43, 85–87 Cyril of Alexandria 111 n. 39 Cyril of Jerusalem 119 n. 62, 121 n. 70, 163 n. 15 Demetrius 167, 168, 172 Dio Chrysostom 21 n. 87 Diocletian 51–55, 60, 62, 66, 69, 130, 152 n. 85 Ecclesius 155 Elagabalus 51 Elijah 153, 162 Elisha 170–171 Enoch 118, 162 Ephrem the Syrian 118 Eunapius of Sardis 17 n. 63

234

Index of Ancient Names

Euphrasius of Poreč 149, 153 Eusebius of Caesarea 56 n. 64, 57, 174 n. 53 Evagrius Ponticus 172

Justin II XXV, 37, 56, 66–67, 156 Justinian I 56, 141–148, 152–158 Justinian II XXV, 68

Felicitas 80 Flavius Hypatius 142, 143 n. 58 Flavius Probus 143 n. 58 Fructuosus of Tarragona 98, 85 n. 52, 88 n. 65 and 69

Libanius 32 n. 115 Lucian of Samosata 10, 23 n. 89 and 91, 30 n. 109, 32 n. 115, 85 n. 54, 103 Lucius Verus 23 n. 91, 42 n. 26 Lucretius 21 n. 86 Luke (evangelist) 76 n. 21, 80 n. 29, 88 n. 64, 89 n. 71

Gaius Julius Helius 15, 16 Galerius 62 Galla Placidia 156 n. 96 Gallus 60 Genesis XXXIV, 34–35, 107, 123 Germanus of Constantinople 156 n. 95 Gracchi (brothers) 47 Gregory of Nazianzus 8 n. 25, 110 n. 39, 119 n. 63, 121–122, 126, 141 n. 52 and 54, 142 Gregory of Nyssa 77 n. 24 Gregory of Tours 157 n. 104, 160 n. 8, 162 n. 11 Gregory the Great 178 n. 61 Hadrian 48–49, 50, 54 Hesiod 35 Homer 12, 183 Honorius 58, 60, 67 Iamblichus 120 Ignatius of Antioch 74 n. 12, 80 n. 30, 83 n. 45, 88 n. 65, 125 n. 2 Irenaeus of Lyon 174 n. 53 Isaiah XXX Isidore of Pelusium 136 n. 36 Jacob (apostle) 153 Jerome 88 n. 65 and 68, 94 n. 85, 105 n. 19, 132, 133 n. 24, 162 John (the Apostle) 32, 34, 81–83, 97, 153, 184 John (the Baptist) 178 n. 64 John Cassian 122 n. 73 John Chrysostom 44 n. 31, 60 n. 77, 64 n. 93, 101, 110, 112, 118, 123 n. 74 and 75, 127, 170–171, 174 John of Ephesus 173 n. 47 John the Deacon 178 n. 61 Julius Caesar 12–13, 40 n. 20, 47

Macrobius 144 Manilius 33, 34 n. 122 Manuel I Komnenos 37 n. 2, 68 Marcus Aurelius 8, 48–49 Marcus Cornelius Fronto 43 Marcus Ulpius Crotonensis 15 Marius 12, 47 Mark (evangelist) 39, 80 n. 29, 89 n. 71 Maro (stylite) 172 Martial 29 Mary (Virgin) 97, 110, 153, 162, 174 Matthew (evangelist) 80 n. 29, 89 n. 71 Maximian (emperor) 53–54 Maximian of Ravenna 153, 155–156 Maximus of Turin 112, 114 n. 51 Menas 175, 184 Methodius of Olympus 108–109, 110 n. 38, 119 n. 63 Michael Italikos 37 n. 2 Minucius Felix 82 Moses 30, 32–34, 73, 83, 95, 145, 153 Myron 33 Narsai 110 n. 38 Nero 29, 35, 48 Nicolaos of Damascus 12 n. 40 Niketas Choniates 68 n. 104 Optatus of Milevis 88 n. 65 Origen XXIX n. 14, 82, 82 n. 39, 98, 105 n. 19 Ovid 4–5, 104 Pacatus 44 n. 31, 52 n. 58 Pachomius 95 Palladius 94 n. 84 Paphnutius 166 n. 25

235

Index of Ancient Names Paulinus of Nola 92 Pausanias 17 n. 65, 26 n. 99 Perpetua 75 n. 18, 76 n. 22, 77 n. 24, 80 n. 30 and 31, 85–86 Pertinax 32 n. 116 Peter (apostle) 89, 98, 153, 167, 170, 178 n. 64 Peter Chrysologus 108, 156 Petronius 24, 50 n. 48 Pheidias 33 Philip the Arab 54 Philo of Alexandria 7 n. 23, 32–33, 41 n. 21 Photios 158 Pionius 75 n. 18, 76 n. 22, 86, 88 n. 66 Plato 7 n. 24, 8, 19, 144 Pliny the Elder 40 n. 13 Pliny the Younger 44 n. 31 Plotinus 7 Plutarch 7 n. 21, 31 n. 112, 32 n. 117 and 119, 33, 47 n. 35, 73 n. 6 Polycarp of Smyrna 79, 85, 98, 172 Polycleitus 33 Pompey the Great 12, 47 Pontius 86 n. 60 Procopius of Caesarea 56 n. 66, 143 Proclus 104 n. 15 Prohaeresius 17, 23 Prudentius 76 n. 23, 82 Pseudo-Aristotle 7 n. 20 Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite 144, 149 Pseudo-Jerome 96 n. 93 Pseudo-Leontios of Neapolis 173, 175 n. 57, 180 Ptolemy 100 Quintilian 3 n. 8, 7 n. 22, 8 n. 26, 111 n. 41 Sabina (wife of Hadrian) 54 Samuel 141 Saturus 86 Seneca 14 Septimius Severus 49, 51

Severian of Gabala 171 n. 42 Severus of Ravenna 155 Sixtus III (Pope) 134 n. 30 Sophronius of Jerusalem 149 n. 82 Statius 48 n. 40, 52 n. 59 Stephen (protomartyr) 82, 184 Stephen of Heracleopolis Magna 166 n. 27 Suetonius 13 n. 43, 15 n. 59, 47 n. 38, 51 n. 52 Sulla 12 Symeon Stylites the Elder 160–161, 164, 167, 169 n. 36, 170, 172, 177, 179 Symmachus (Quintus Aurelius) 100–101 Synesius of Cyrene 64, 66 Tacitus 31 n. 114, 39–40, 76 Tamerlane 37 Terentius Neo 5, 6 Tertullian 40 n. 14, 80 n. 30, 82, 85 n. 54 Thekla 175, 184 Theon 166 n. 25 Theodore of Mopsuestia 108, 118 Theodoret of Cyrrhus 94 n. 84, 164, 166 n. 27–29, 169 n. 37 Theodoric 140 Theodosius 60, 67, 130 Trajan 42, 43, 66 Ursicinus 155 Ursus 155 Valens 141–142 Valentinian II 67, 100 Venantius Fortunatus 95 n. 87, 149 n. 82 Vespasian 13, 39 Victor 177 Victricius of Rouen 88 n. 66, 89, 93 Vulfilaic 161 Zachariah 90–92 Zeno of Verona 108, 114 n. 51

Index of Places Notes 1. Given the high the number of occurrences, ‘Rome’ was not indexed. 2. References to figure captions are given in italics. Alexandria (Egypt) 39, 44, 46, 141 Ancient Near East 3 n. 11 Ankara 37 Antioch 172 Apamea on the Orontes 44, 45 Arch of Beneventum 42, 43 Arch of Constantine 49, 50, 62 n. 83 Arch of Galerius 62 Asia Minor 39, 99, 134 Athens 37 n. 3, 99 Basilica Euphrasiana 91, 151, 154 Benevento 43 Bethlehem 143 Boscotrecase 77, 78, 161 Caria 134 Carthage 86 n. 60 Chrysotriklinos 67, 156 Cilicia 39 Classe 148, 153–155 Colosseum (Flavian amphitheatre) 51 Constantinople 48 n. 40, 56–57, 60, 66–67, 121, 136, 141, 146, 156, 158, 172, 184 Corinth 18, 73, 104, 119 Cyrenaica 64 Delphi 32 n. 117 Egypt 38–39, 44, 46, 58, 141, 176, 179 Eleusis 17, 100 Esquiline 48, 135, 137

Herculaneum 26, 27 Hispania 60 Hosios David 139 Isola Sacra 24, 25 Italy 22, 54 Jbeil 173 Jerusalem 141, 143 Jordan (river) 114, 184 Jordan (area) 164 Kaper Koraon 90 Kathisma (in Constantinople) 66, 67 Kelibia 116 Kenchreai 104 Kiev 178 n. 64 Konjica 105–106 Lateran Basilica (Basilica Salvatoris) 128, 131, 135 Lebanon 173 Libya 64 Liguria 58 Lyon (Vienne) 77, 79 Manhattan 29 Mausoleum of Diocletian 52, 69 Mesopotamia 3, 38 Milan (Mediolanum) 53 Mount Athos 92

Galata 157 Greece 3 n. 11

Naples 113, 114, 115, 117, 119–120 Nativity Church (Bethlehem) 143 Nazianzus 121 Nicomedia 62 n. 83 North Africa 77, 85

Hagia Sophia 143, 145–147, 152 Haterii Tomb 13–14

Orthodox Baptistery in Ravenna 113, 116 Ostia 24, 25

Fayoum 178

237

Index of Places Palace of Diocletian 52–53, 60, 62, 66, 130 Palatine 48 Palestine 97, 159, 162, 184 Pergamon 105 Pompeii XXVII, 5, 6 Poreč 90–92, 149, 151, 153–154 Porta Fontinalis 15, 16 Proconnesus 144 Ptolemais (Cyrenaica) 64 Pulvinar (in Rome) 66 Qal’at Sem’an 170, 172 Ravenna 113, 116, 119–120, 129, 148–149, 150, 153–156 Rouen 2, 5, 93 Saint Demetrius in Thessaloniki (church)  167, 168 Samothrace 17, 100 San Giovanni Evangelista in Ravenna  156 n. 95 San Giovanni in Fonte Baptistery 113, 114, 115, 116–117 San Paolo fuori le mura 138 Santa Maria Maggiore 133–135, 137, 140, 142

Sant’Apollinare in Classe 148, 154, 155 Santa Pudenziana 133 n. 28, 137 Santa Sabina 138 San Vitale in Ravenna 129, 148–156 Sasima 121 Sebasteion in Aphrodisias 134–135 Sinai 143, 178 Split (Spalatos) 52, 53, 62, 66, 69 Syria 44, 45, 54, 90, 160 n. 4, 170, 179 Tabernacle of Moses 145 Tabor 34 Temple of Solomon 145 Temple in Jerusalem 33, 34, 82, 83, 85, 96–97 Thasos 144 Thessaloniki 62, 139, 167, 168 Tomb of Constantine the Great 57 Trier (Augusta Treverorum) 101, 162 Tunisia 116 Umm ar-Rasas 164 Vatopedi Monastery 92 Via Labicana (Rome) 13