Art and Text

Henry Maguire

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Art and Text

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Rhetoric occupied a central place in Byzantine literature. One of the genres of rhetoric is ekphrasis, defined in the ancient rhetorical handbooks as the description of "persons, deeds, times, places, seasons, and many other things". By the late antique period, ekphraseis were commonly devoted to works of art and architecture, and the ekphrastic description of art continued to be a popular literary form in Byzantium until the fifteenth century. Ekphrasis deployed the conventions of ancient rhetoric, especially the use of topoi, or quotations. The Byzantines also composed numerous epigrams either as inscriptions to be written on works of art, or as independent poems that responded to works of art. This article examines Byzantine art and text, focusing on the use of ekphrasis, epigrams, metaphors and symbolic imagery, and synkrisis and antithesis.

Keywords: Byzantine literature; rhetoric; Byzantium; topoi; ekphrasis; epigrams; metaphors; symbolic imagery; synkrisis; antithesis

Article.  3701 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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