Henry Maguire

in Nectar and Illusion

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199766604
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950386 | DOI:

Series: Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture


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  • Ancient and Classical Art (to 500 CE)


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Byzantine attitudes toward terrestrial nature were complex and ambivalent. On the one hand, Byzantine literature and art celebrated nature as a reflection of the glory of its Creator; on the other hand, the Byzantines viewed the natural world as fleeting and corruptible, and mistrusted it as a distraction from spiritual reality and the permanent rewards of their faith. This book sets out to explore the contradictions created by the Byzantine reception of nature. A key theme is the characterization of the iconoclastic period of the eighth and ninth centuries as a watershed in Byzantine attitudes toward nature. The book aims to study the changing Byzantine attitudes toward nature as revealed by art and by literary texts. It will attempt to account for the relative weight given to nature-derived and anthropomorphic images in Byzantine art of different times and contexts, and to show how the Byzantines embraced or distanced nature through its representation, whether verbal or visual.

Keywords: nature; literature; art; contradictions; anthropomorphic images

Chapter.  3049 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient and Classical Art (to 500 CE)

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