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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 1738: Materialities and Religion in Medieval Byzantium

Thursday 4 July 2019, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Jonathan Jarrett, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Paper 1738-aRepresentation of Material Objects in Medieval Culture: Statue or Doll in Byzantine Mythography?
(Language: English)
Katherine Anna New, Faculty of Medieval & Modern Languages, University of Oxford
Index terms: Art History - Sculpture, Byzantine Studies, Language and Literature - Comparative, Learning (The Classical Inheritance)
Paper 1738-bMedieval Byzantine Coinage in the Patrimonio Nacional: Image, Materiality, and Religion
(Language: English)
Carmen Morais Puche, Colecciones Reales, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid
Index terms: Art History - General, Byzantine Studies, Numismatics

Paper -a:
The paper traces the origin and functions of the material representation of the heroine's dead husband, as described by a 12th-century Byzantine mythographer Ioаnnis Tzetzes in The Chiliades (2.20). The Medieval material representation ('a wooden image of Protesilaus' shape') is traced back to its Classical sources (The Iliad 2. 695-704; Cypria, fr. 1.10; Pausanius IV.2.74; Euripides' Protesilaus, recorded by Aristides, Lucian, Apollodorus, Eustathius, Hyginus; Ovid's Heroides XIII; Catullus' Elegy 68). The paper argues that Tzetzes' version reflects mythological views on the reanimation of a dead likeness, corresponding to the transformation of a living being into an immobile object, which is deprived of life. In contrast to Classical mythology, in medieval culture a statue receives an ambivalent treatment: on the one hand, as an object of art, designed for the appreciation of the audience which becomes a receiving addressee; and on the other hand, as an object endowed with the functions of play. The conflation of a living subject with a statue (as in the Ancient tradition) or a doll (as in medieval culture) is capable of generating not only a playful but also tragic conceptualization, prefiguring a later mythological image of a threatening (potentially perilous) statue.

Paper -b:
Patrimonio Nacional Numismatic Collection is still a great unknown among the Spanish Royal Collections, although it is comprised by more than 15,000 coins. These include 200 items of Byzantine coinage. For the last year we have been carrying out inventories, photography, and studies in a systematic manner (by series and provenances) to enhance its value. A large proportion of the numismatic collection belonged to Baldiri de Riera, former worker of Reales Loterías who became Numismatic at the Royal Library by giving his substantial collection of coins to Ferdinand VII in 1815

This paper is seeking to provide a glimpse of the Byzantine series, its variety and richness to make an approach to the materiality of the coins and the religious iconography on monetary types of either face of the coin. On the reverse, the representation of Christ's facing bust is to a considerable degree generalized and conventionalized at the 10th and 11th centuries, following Justinian II types. Meanwhile on the 'heads' we will find a portrait gallery depicting Byzantine Emperors. This allows us to highlight the power of the money to represent the political and religious authority.