The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is pleased to announce the first two lectures in our 2023–2024 lecture series.
Thursday, September 28, 2023 | 12:00 PM EDT | Zoom
Byzantium as an Indian Ocean Society
Rebecca Darley, University of Leeds
Much of the current move towards global history is focussed on connections. Viewed from this perspective, there is no very good reason for seeing Byzantium in the first millennium CE as an Indian Ocean society. Its direct contact with the Indian Ocean was attenuated in comparison with earlier Roman contact and increasingly mediated by others, most notably from the seventh century onwards, citizens of the Umayyad then Abbasid Caliphates. There are other ways to think about both Byzantium and global history, though. This paper examines Byzantium not as a player in an Indian Ocean defined by mercantile networks, but as one of many societies around the Indian Ocean littoral, shaped by common forces. Between the fourth and the ninth centuries, understanding Byzantium as an Indian Ocean society, in direct comparison with complex states from the Horn of Africa to peninsular South Asia provides a new insight into the development of governmental structures, state religion and economic practices that all affected the lives of millions of people in profound and sometimes unpredictable ways.
Rebecca Darley is a scholar of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Indian Ocean in the first millennium. She is currently employed as Associate Professor of Global History, 500-1500 CE at the University of Leeds.
Advance registration required at https://maryjahariscenter.org/events/byzantium-as-an-indian-ocean-society
Friday, October 6, 2023 | 12:00 PM EDT | Zoom
A Song of Theology and Emotion: Romanos the Melodist’s Hymn on Pentecost
Andrew Mellas, St Andrew’s Theological College and University of Sydney
While Romanos the Melodist composed hymns rather than theological treatises, the theology of his poetry echoed the festal orations of the fourth-century Cappadocian, Gregory the Theologian. Articulating the mystery of the Trinity through the performance of his hymn for the feast of Pentecost, Romanos wove together sacred song and theology, retelling the scriptural stories that defined the Byzantines, and shaping an emotional and liturgical community in Constantinople. Poetry and music showed forth the hidden fears and desires of scriptural characters amidst the overarching narrative of Pentecost, inviting the faithful to become part of the biblical narrative unfolding before them and experience the mystery of the Trinity. This paper will explore how Romanos the Melodist reimagined the events narrated in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, amplifying the biblical story, echoing the theology of Gregory’s oration on Pentecost and providing an affective script for his audience.
Andrew Mellas is a Senior Lecturer at St Andrew’s Theological College and an Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney’s Medieval and Early Modern Centre.
Advance registration required at https://maryjahariscenter.org/events/a-song-of-theology-and-emotion
Contact Brandie Ratliff (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture with any questions.