Beauty and the Male Body in Byzantium: Perceptions and by M. Hatzaki

By M. Hatzaki

A missed element of Byzantium, actual good looks appears to be like as a top quality with an unmistakable darkish aspect, bearing on ambiguously to notions of energy, goodness, evil, masculinity, effeminacy, lifestyles and loss of life. tested as an characteristic of the human and, particularly, of the male physique, this examine of good looks refines our knowing of the Byzantine international.

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Extra resources for Beauty and the Male Body in Byzantium: Perceptions and Representations in Art and Text

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Pleasurable in appearance, Botaneiates is described as a second sun upon the earth. 76 The description of the beauty of Romanos Diogenes is equally important in terms of the development of the narrative, and is in fact presented as playing a crucial role in the unravelling of the story. 78 In the Epitome of John Kinnamos (1180–1182) beauty is presented as a key feature of a number of the female characters discussed in the narrative. 80 In his account of the beauty of men, however, Kinnamos links good looks to the flow of the narrative.

24 Yet if demons were ugly it does not necessarily follow that all Byzantine saints were beautiful; ascetic saints, for instance, were often spoken of as emaciated, dark-skinned, and even filthy. 26 Despite their rough exterior, however, ascetic saints are not actually termed ‘ugly’, but rather paralleled to angels in praise for their renunciation of the flesh. 27 Looking at the image of St Onouphrios from the Protaton Monastery in Karyes, Mount Athos, the viewer would note the wrinkled face of the saint, his drawn features, emaciated arms, prominently visible ribs, and in particular the unsightly hair that covers all of the saint’s body – all in poignant antithesis to the Byzantine ideal of beauty, or the beautiful youthfulness of figures like the military St Demetrios from the same church (Figures 13 and 14).

42 Added or eliminated, beauty could play a part of the preordained agenda served by a visual representation, just as it could serve the aims of a literary description; it could be used to propagate a message, whether visual or literary. 1182/3), the portrait-image of the founder of the monastic community, St Neophytos the Recluse, seems to make this point; it appears as an image of a holy man which uses physical features to create a sophisticated self-propagatory message. Prominently depicted in the sanctuary of the Enkleistra in a large scene painted on the wall opposite the altar, St Neophytos is seen in full length, his hands crossed on his chest, his gaze directed at the viewer, ascending to Heaven (Figure 7).

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