Romanos the Melodist may be considered the most important Byzantine hymnographer. His kontakia are mostly of religious content, with an exception: the hymn On Earthquakes and Fires, in which the poet recalls some recent tragic events that frightened the population of Constantinople: drought, quakes and in particular a great fire that caused many victims and the destruction of entire quarters of the town’s centre as well as that of public and religious buildings (among which the church of Hagia Sophia). According to Romanos’ account, those events were cast by God as punishments on the capital’s inhabitants, because of their moral corruption. Thanks to emperor Justinian and his piety, however, God eventually forgave the Constantinopolitans. This is what Romanos tells us: but he omits to say that those fires that partially destroyed the capital were the consequence of the famous stasis of Nika, a huge riot of the urban plebs, primarily due to Justinian’s misgovernment and finally stifled in blood by the emperor’s army. This paper will analyze the rhetorical and narrative strategies by means of which Romanos succeeds in transforming an historical event, a cruel repression carried on by the emperor showing no mercy, into a mystical event, the punishment sent by God in order to redeem his people, and in presenting Justinian not as a tyrannos, but as a saviour, whose intervention rebuilds the alliance with God and restores peace on earth.
The Antapodosis has been seen as many things, most commonly as the vengeful ramblings of a slightly unbalanced man, the self-justification of a traitor or as a votive offering to Otto I from a budding courtier. My research, whilst not excluding these possibilities, argues that Liudprand was an independent actor, rather than just an Ottonian mouth piece, in a contemporary political debate concerning the future of the Italian kingdom. In this I look at Liudprand’s attitude towards his prospective audience, the Antapodosis’ reception and the ways in which the audience may have influenced the second redaction of this work.
The legend of Barlaam and Josaphat was well known all over Europe in medieval times. It is based on the biography of Buddha and narrates the conversion of the pagan prince Josaphat by the hermit Barlaam. Josaphat’s father, the king of India, continues in persecuting and murdering Christians. The story travelled with returning crusaders all over Europe and was adapted in several national languages. The iconographic representation covers illuminations, woodcuts, pen drawings, and wall paintings of particular scenes and cycles. In 2007 during the renovation of a medieval building a large cycle from the 3rd quarter of the 13th century which covers four walls of a reception hall was uncovered.