A helping hand from the divine. Notes on the triumphalist iconography of the Theodosian dynasty

Antti Lampinen

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Abstract

This article will provide a contextualised look at the variegated manifestations of how Theodosius and his immediate successors sought to refer to divine support in their triumphalist propaganda. In it, particular attention will be devoted to the ambiguities and double-meanings of a set of intentionally polysemic signifiers with both iconographic and rhetorical roots in the earlier Roman triumphal ideology. These compromises between Christian and more ambiguously ‘non-denominational’ references to divine favour were, I will argue, deployed in an open-ended fashion especially during Theodosius’ early rule – a legitimating technique that seems to have been successful, although its contents should alert us to the insufficiency of seeing Theodosian rulership as monochromatically ‘Christian’. After having been elaborated during the decades around 400, these forms of projecting imperial triumphalism came to play a long-standing part in the East Roman and Byzantine ideology of divine favour.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalActa Byzantina Fennica
Volume4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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