Abstract detail

Title Romanos the Melode: Hymnography as a political exercise

The seemingly harmless occupation of hymnwriting could assume political dimensions only in the context of a theocracy such as that existing in Byzantium. In an environment in which religious dissension amounted to treason it was vital to maintain conformity of religious outlook, and it was the Byzantine Melode, Romanos in particular, who played a key role in instilling desirable political attitudes in the populace. Exploiting the dramatic power of the great liturgical form, the kontakion, the Melode drew upon the rhetorical concept which equated logos with graphe (word or picture) which, in the context of the Divine Liturgy as celebrated in Hagia Sophia - the greatest audio-visual spectacle of its time - created a universal means of communication ideally fitted to control by visual and aural means the compliance of the masses.

Primary author
Margaret Cominos